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Thanks for the Smaller-Scale Supper

November 17, 2005 By:
Ethel Hofman, JE Feature
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With gas prices soaring - and train and airline fares skyrocketing - folks in some U.S. metropolitan areas may soon be forking over nearly 10 percent of their salary to get to work. And for the first time in many years, traveling to celebrate Thanksgiving with family is now a serious consideration.

But all over America, folks will still celebrate with a traditional Thanksgiving feast, no matter that there may be fewer guests seated around the holiday table. For some, it offers an exciting opportunity. For those planning their first Thanksgiving, cooking for six is far less intimidating than cooking for a crowd.

For those who've always delighted in cooking for an enormous gathering, here's the chance to be a bit more adventurous. You might update cherished favorites, add a vegetarian dish and, instead of gobs of stuffing and kugels, bake the mixtures in pans or mini-muffin tins.

Though we like to think that we're duplicating the first Thanksgivings cooked by the Pilgrims, the first feast was sparse by modern standards. It's not certain that a turkey was even the main dish. Venison was almost certainly served, but the term "turkey" was used by the Pilgrims to correlate to any sort of wild fowl.

There were no breads or pastries; the supply of flour had been long gone. There was no pumpkin pie, only boiled pumpkin. Since there were no domestic cattle, there were no dairy products. Yet the feast did include a plentiful supply of fish, berries, dried fruits and even watercress.

In 1863, by the time magazine editor Sarah Hale had finally convinced President Abraham Lincoln to proclaim the last Thursday in November as a national holiday, Americans were creating the glorious tradition of a feast of turkey and trimmings, followed by sweet desserts.

Today, with the vast variety of good-quality, ready-to-cook produce and convenience items, it's easy to serve up a fuss-free, bountiful meal. Instead of a large turkey that would have been devoured by a crowd, consider a small turkey breast or a choice of zesty lamb chops.

Pumpkins and chestnuts are in season, but there's no shame in using canned pumpkin or vacuum-packed chestnuts. And this year, the stuffing can be baked in a pan, rather than inside of a large bird - something that surely will please the vegetarians among us.

Now, take stock of the pie situation. There's Dark-Chocolate Pecan Pie; just prepare the filling and pour into a prepared, frozen pie shell. Our pumpkin pie, so essential to Thanksgiving, is pareve, so that it can be included on the menu.

Pumpkin-and-Chestnut Soup
[Pareve]

Water- and vacuum-packed chestnuts are available in specialty food stores. To cook fresh chestnuts, simply cut an "X" on the bottom of each one. Cook in boiling water till soft, about 20 minutes. Drain and cool. Peel, quarter and use as needed.

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup frozen chopped onion
25 canned chestnuts, drained or 25 cooked chestnuts
2 cups canned pumpkin
3 cups vegetable broth
2 Tbsps. frozen apple-juice concentrate
2 tsps. sugar
2 tsps. pumpkin spice or to taste
1/2 cup nondairy creamer
very thin apple wedges to garnish (optional)

Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.

Add the onion and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes.

Mash the chestnuts with a fork. Add to the saucepan along with the pumpkin, vegetable broth, apple-juice concentrate, sugar and pumpkin spice. Mix well. Add the nondairy creamer.

Stir over a medium heat to blend thoroughly; heat through. Do not boil.

Pour into cups. Float an apple wedge on top or insert onto rim of cup.

Serves 6.

Approximate nutrients per serving: calories, 230; protein, 3 g; carbohydrates, 41 g; fat, 6 g; cholesterol, 0 mg; sodium, 507 mg.

Maple-Glazed Turkey Breast
[Meat]

1 turkey breast (5 to 7 lbs.)
salt and pepper
1 large orange, cut up
1/4 cup maple syrup, warmed
1 Tbsp. orange marmalade, warmed
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
2 tsps. cornstarch
1/2 cup low-sodium, kosher chicken broth

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Line a small roasting pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil with an overhang of about 8 inches.

Rub a sprinkling of salt and pepper into the bone side of the breast. Place the turkey breast, bone-side down, in the pan on top of the cut-up orange.

In a small bowl, mix the maple syrup, marmalade and garlic. Spoon half of the mixture over the turkey breast. Bring the foil together pinching to seal.

Roast for 30 minutes.

Reduce heat to 325 degrees. Fold foil back to uncover turkey breast. Baste with remaining maple-syrup mixture.

Roast 1 hour longer, or until an instant-read thermometer reaches 170? F, basting often with pan juices. If browning too quickly, cover lightly with aluminum foil.

When correct temperature is reached, place the turkey breast on a warm serving platter. Let stand 15 minutes before slicing.

To make the gravy, pour pan juices and any sediment into a small saucepan. Blend the cornstarch and broth until smooth. Stir into pan juices.

Stir constantly over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil. Cook for 1 minute.

Pour into a warmed gravy boat and pass to pour over turkey.

Serves 6 to 7.

Approximate nutrients per serving: calories, 493; protein, 63 g; carbohydrates, 12 g; fat, 20 g; cholesterol, 184 mg; sodium, 174 mg.

Rosemary-Spiked Lamb Chops
[Meat]

2 tsps. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. lemon-pepper seasoning
1 Tbsp. dried rosemary
12 lamb chops (about 3 lbs.)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
rosemary sprigs to garnish (optional)

Mix the garlic powder and lemon-pepper seasoning in a cup. With a sharp knife, make a half-inch cut into the meatiest part of each lamb chop. Press about one-quarter teaspoon rosemary into each cut. Sprinkle the garlic mixture all over the chops.

In a large, nonstick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the chops, cooking about 3 minutes each side for medium-rare. This may have to be done in two batches, depending on size of skillet.

Serve garnished with rosemary sprigs (optional).

Serves 6.

Approximate nutrients per chop: calories, 263; protein, 28 g; carbohydrates, 0 g; fat, 16 g; cholesterol, 107 mg; sodium, 185 mg.

Cornbread Stuffing
[Meat]

The olives, water chestnuts and fennel add global flavor to this traditional stuffing. If preferred, celery may be substituted for fennel. Cornbread may be bought from your market's bakery section or made from a mix.

6 Tbsps. pareve margarine
1 cup chopped fresh or frozen onion
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fennel
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup diced water chestnuts
1/4 cup sliced black olives
1/2 cup finely snipped parsley
4 cups day-old cornbread, crumbled
11/2 cups low-sodium kosher chicken broth
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a 9-inch square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large pan, melt the margarine over medium heat. Add the onion and fennel. Cook until vegetables are beginning to soften, about 5 minutes, stirring often.

Stir in the mushrooms, water chestnuts, olives and parsley. Raise heat to high; heat through.

Stir in the cornbread and just enough chicken broth to moisten. Mixture should be fluffy.

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon into prepared baking dish.

Bake for 35 minutes or until golden-brown.

Makes about 8 cups.

Approximate nutrients per cup: calories, 146; protein, 3 g; carbohydrates, 13 g; fat, 12 g; cholesterol, 12 mg; sodium, 327 mg.

Brandied Cran-Cherry Relish
[Pareve]

Orange juice may be substituted for the brandy.

3/4 cup cranapple cocktail
1 cup sugar
1 package (12 oz.) fresh cranberries
1/2 cup dried cherries
2 Tbsps. brandy

In a medium saucepan, combine the cranapple cocktail and sugar over high heat. Bring to boil, stirring to dissolve sugar.

Add the cranberries and the cherries. Return to boil.

Cook until cranberries begin to pop. Remove from heat. Stir in the brandy.

Serve at room temperature.

Makes about 3 cups.

Approximate nutrients per quarter-cup: calories, 110; protein, 0 g; carbohydrates, 28 g; fat, 0 g; cholesterol, 0 mg; sodium, 1 mg.

Savory Mini-Kugels
[Pareve]

1 large Granny Smith apple, unpeeled, cored and coarsely chopped
3 cup fine egg noodles, cooked and drained
2 Tbsps. Italian salad dressing
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 Tbsps. pareve margarine, melted
3/4 tsp. dried sage
1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a tray of muffin tins with nonstick vegetable cooking spray.

Place apples in a large bowl.

Add the noodles, salad dressing, eggs, margarine, sage, pepper and salt. Mix well. Taste; add more pepper and salt, if desired.

Divide equally between the muffin tins. Spray tops lightly with nonstick cooking spray.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until tips of noodles are nicely brown and center is firm to touch.

Cool slightly.

Run a knife around the edges to loosen and turn out.

Makes 12.

Approximate nutrients per mini-kugel: calories, 90; protein, 2 g; carbohydrates, 9 g; fat, 5 g; cholesterol, 44 mg; sodium, 162 mg.

Ragout of Root Vegetables
[Pareve]

18 baby carrots
2 medium onions
2 small parsnips
6 Tbsps. pareve margarine
2 Tbsps. olive oil
11/2 tsps. caraway seeds
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Cut carrots lengthwise into quarters. Slice onions and parsnips thinly.

In a large, nonstick skillet, melt the margarine over medium heat. Stir in the oil.

Add the carrots, onions and parsnips. Reduce heat to low.

Partially cover. Cook 25 minutes, stirring often until onions are soft and yellow, and carrots and parsnips are soft. Toss with the caraway seeds.

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot.

Note: This may be made ahead of time and reheated in the microwave.

Serves 6.

Approximate nutrients per serving: calories, 152; protein, 0 g; carbohydrates, 3 g; fat, 16 g; cholesterol, 0 mg; sodium, 143 mg.

Apple-Pear Sauce With Ginger

For best flavors, use a combination of apples such as Granny Smith, Braeburn and Gala. No need to peel the apples or pears.

8 medium apples, cored and cut in chunks
4 Bosc pears, cored and cut in chunks
2 Tbsps. fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup sugar or to taste
2 Tbsps. honey
2 Tbsps. grated fresh ginger
pinch nutmeg

Place apples in food processor. Process to chop coarsely. Place in a heavy saucepan.

Repeat with the pears. Add to apples.

Stir in the lemon juice, sugar, honey, ginger and nutmeg. Partially cover.

Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until fruits are beginning to break down and mixture is juicy, about 30 minutes.

Add more sugar, if desired.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes about 6 cups.

Approximate nutrients per cup: calories, 281; protein, 1 g; carbohydrates, 73 g; fat, 1 g; cholesterol, 0 mg; sodium, 1 mg.

Dark-Chocolate Pecan Pie
[Pareve]

3 eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
3/4 cup dark corn syrup
4 Tbsps. pareve margarine, melted
3/4 tsp. orange extract
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pareve dark chocolate
11/2 cups pecan halves
1 frozen deep-dish pie shell (9-inch), thawed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs with the sugars. Stir in the corn syrup, margarine and orange extract. Add the chocolate and pecans. Stir to mix.

Pour into the pie shell. Bake for 55 minutes.

If pastry rim is browning too quickly, cover with foil strips.

Bake until filling is puffy and still a bit shaky in center. Cool completely before serving.

Serves 8 to 10.

Approximate. nutrients per serving: calories, 399; protein, 5 g; carbohydrates, 36 g; fat, 27 g; cholesterol, 64 mg; sodium, 229 mg.

Pumpkin Pie
[Pareve]

4 eggs
6 Tbsps. (rounded) brown sugar
11/2 cups canned pumpkin
1/2 cup cold coffee
1/2 tsp. salt
21/2 tsps. pumpkin-pie spice
9-inch frozen pie shell, unbaked

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk eggs lightly. Add the sugar, pumpkin, coffee, salt and pumpkin-pie spice. Whisk to blend.

Pour into pie shell.

Place on a baking sheet to prevent spillage. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 325?.

Bake 35 minutes longer, or until mixture is set and slightly puffed up.

Serve at room temperature.

Serves 8 to 10.

Approximate nutrients per slice: calories, 134; protein, 3 g; carbohydrates, 17 g; fat, 6 g; cholesterol, 85 mg; sodium, 228 mg.

 

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