1/4 cup chilled butter (1/2 stick), cut into small pieces
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place the sweet potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. Drain and cool until you can touch them. Gently pull off the potato skins and cut the potatoes into large chunks. Beat at medium speed in the bowl of a stand mixer or with a hand mixer until the potatoes are smooth. If you are appliance free, use a potato masher. Combine the half and half, maple syrup, cinnamon, vanilla, salt, and egg. Add the mixture to the potatoes and mix until evenly combined. Spoon the potato mixture into the baking dish.
To make the streusel, pulse the pecans a few times in a food processor leaving some large chunks and set aside in a small bowl. Pulse the flour and sugar to combine them. Add the chilled butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the pecans and pulse 2 or 3 times until the nuts are distributed. If you don’t have a food processor, chop the nuts with a knife. Mix the flour and sugar. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender, two knives, or a fork. Mix in the chopped nuts. Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the potato mixture. Cover and bake at 375 degrees F for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 25 minutes or until the topping is browned and the potatoes are thoroughly heated.
All you need to know about defrosting and roasting the perfect turkey for Thanksgiving.
Salt and Pepper
The star participant in most American Thanksgiving dinners is the turkey. For me, there were two key discoveries that I made over the years that made Thanksgiving preparations much easier.
The first discovery was what to do with the huge (18-25 pound) frozen turkeys I usually choose when refrigerator space is at a premium. For many, many years I have been purchasing a large frozen turkey four days before I need to cook it. I double-wrap it in store plastic bags. I double-wrap that in store paper bags. This is my first line of defense to keep the turkey insulated. I put it in a large well-insulated plastic cooler and leave it until marathon cooking day. I usually turn it over by the third day, ensure it is still cold enough in the cooler and if it seems like the thawing is getting close to done, I add gel ice packs to keep it under 40 degrees when the top of the cooler is closed. When I am ready to cook the turkey, it is defrosted enough to handle and there is still ice in the bird’s cavity. We have never had a problem with over-temperature birds and all my guests have survived without issues. Before putting the cooler back in storage, we wash it out well with chlorine bleach and water or antiseptic wipes.
The second discovery was the process of spatchcocking a turkey. What was that you say? Spatchcocking, sometimes called butterflying. It is simply the process of cutting out the backbone of the turkey with a pair of poultry shears and the help of a heavy, sharp knife. The turkey is then put on a sheet pan skin side up, and pressure is applied to the breastbones to crack them and flatten the turkey. One Thanksgiving, I was having trouble getting enough leverage to crack the breastbones of a very large turkey. I placed the turkey pan on the floor and got down on my knees to lean on the breast with more of my weight. At that point my sister came into the kitchen, looked at me poised over the turkey with my hands pressing on the breastbone and deadpanned with a doleful look, “I think it’s too late.” Your turkey will not need CPR! If you like, you can remove the wing tips at this point. Season with salt and pepper, brush with oil and bake at 450 degrees F until the turkey thigh reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F on an instant read thermometer. A 12 pound turkey will be done in a little over an hour. An 18 pound turkey will probably be done in an hour and forty five minutes. Check for doneness earlier than you think possible! The turkey will be golden brown and both the dark meat and the breast meat will be perfectly cooked in record time. It is magic that you can get moist breast meat and cooked dark meat all at once while freeing up extra oven space for sides because the turkey is not as tall as it would be with a traditional roasting method. Do not attempt to carve the turkey until it has set for at least 15 minutes to allow the juices to distribute through the meat. Carving before the turkey has had a chance to set will cause the juices to end up on your carving board, not in the turkey.
The turkey pictured here was moved from the roasting sheet pan to this aluminum foil lined pan for photos and so I could work on gravy using the lovely pan juices and browned bits while it set. The position you see it in is the position your unroasted turkey will sit in as you put it in the oven.
When the turkey had set, I carved it by taking the breast portions off the bones with my fingers and a small knife and cutting them crosswise into slices. The drumsticks and wing portions were left whole. The thigh meat was sliced.
This is a variation of the classic Pavlova dessert. It is a simple meringue, baked into crisp little nests for custard filling and ripe berries. I developed this recipe to enter a contest held by the local hospital for heart healthy recipes. This was a winner in the dessert category. The hospital’s chef prepared a wonderful dinner for us, serving our winning entries. It was a little early for strawberry season and that was the only berry he used as cost was probably a consideration, but he enhanced the flavor of the strawberries with a little lemon juice and thinly sliced mint leaves. You might choose to do the same. I find they make an elegant presentation when each person has an individual serving, but you must assemble the dessert just prior to serving or the custard and berries will start to melt your crisp meringue shell. If fat and calories are not an issue for you, you can use whole milk for the pudding and perhaps even serve the clouds with a pouf of whipped, sweetened heavy cream with a touch of vanilla extract. It would not even be outrageous if you decided to make only 8 servings with this quantity of ingredients. When making the meringue, separate the yolks from the whites while the eggs are cold so that the yolks won't break as easily. It is helpful to use a small bowl to put each egg white into while separating so that if you accidentally break a yolk, you will only lose the single egg white. Use a very clean bowl and beaters and ensure that not a bit of yolk has gotten into the egg whites. Any fat in the whites will stop them from beating up into a stiff meringue.
4 egg whites (room temperature for greatest volume)
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 small package Vanilla Instant Pudding (can use sugar-free)
Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar with an electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form. Add granulated sugar gradually, beating until stiff, shiny peaks form.
Spread the meringue into 12 small circles or one big circle on parchment-covered baking sheets, indenting center slightly. Bake 1-1/2 hours. Turn off the oven and leave the meringues in until cool. You can leave them overnight. If you make them ahead, store in an airtight container or they will absorb moisture and get sticky.
Whisk the pudding mix, milk and flavoring in a medium bowl for 2 minutes until thickened. Refrigerate. When you are ready to serve, stir the pudding to make it creamier, place the meringues on plates and fill the centers with the pudding. Top with berries and dust with powdered sugar. (If you have a tea strainer or mesh ball, that is an easy way to sprinkle the sugar without much mess.)
Recipe type: Beef, Chicken, Tofu, Entree, Vegetarian, Dinner Party
When I started work at my very first “real” job, I met a wonderful woman of Japanese descent who came from Hawaii. She was a great cook who was happy to share her expertise with friends, including me when I was a newly married young woman transplanted from the east coast to the west. This dish is the version of sukiyaki that Eiko taught me to make to wow dinner party guests. The ingredients can be arranged attractively on a tray or platter and cooked at the table in an electric skillet in front of your guests. It is actually very easy to prepare. A rice cooker can steam rice while you are preparing the dinner. Serve the sukiyaki with steamed rice (white or brown), a salad (with Asian-style dressing from a bottle or homemade), and a pickled vegetable such as Asian-style pickled cucumbers with sesame seeds. The sukiyaki can be made vegetarian by using only tofu as the protein component. You can eliminate the step with the meat and increase the amount of tofu used later or cut the additional extra firm tofu into cubes, dry them on a dish towel or paper towels, dredge them in cornstarch (pat off the excess) and sauté them in hot oil in a non-stick pan until they are golden brown on all sides. Continue with the recipe with the sautéed tofu in place of the meat.
2 lbs tenderloin or rib eye beef, sliced thin or 3 chicken breasts sliced thin
Oil for sautéing the meat
1 can of bamboo shoots (approximately 8 ounces)
1 can of water chestnuts (approximately 8 ounces)
1 bunch of green onions (tops included), cut in 1 inch slices
1/2 pound button mushrooms, sliced
3 bundles of dry rice noodles (~ 6 ounces total)
1 pound of bean sprouts
1 pound Extra firm tofu, cut into cubes
Several large handfuls of fresh spinach leaves
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce (low sodium or “light” soy is fine)
3 tablespoons dry white wine or mirin
Mix the sugar, soy sauce, and wine in a small cup, pitcher, or bowl. Set aside.
Heat the electric skillet or large pan and add some vegetable oil to film the bottom of the pan. Add enough meat to fill half the pan. Sauté quickly until the meat no longer looks raw. Add the sauce and bring to a boil. Move the meat to one side of the pan and add the vegetables, tofu, and noodles, ensuring the noodles are in the liquid to soften them. Cook for 10 minutes or until done.
Serve with rice, a green salad and a pickled vegetable for a complete meal. Serve tea at the end of the meal.
The easiest way to slice the meat thin is to freeze it for a while first so that it doesn’t move with the knife strokes. If you have a food processor, that is effective for slicing the slightly frozen blocks quickly. Just make sure that you cut the meat against the grain so that it will be tender. You can also buy the meat already sliced at Asian grocery stores or have your butcher do it, but it tends to be very expensive that way.
You can use any vegetables that appeal to you and except for including the sauce, most ingredients are optional and to your taste. Spinach leaves wilt down to almost nothing very quickly, so don’t worry about putting in a lot even if you have to do it little by little because of the size of your pan.
The rice noodles come in small bundles of about 2 ounces. They are the white crinkly ones you see fried in some Chinese dishes. In this recipe, they turn soft and glassy.