Food Buzz

Because maybe you do care what I had for lunch...

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Thanksgiving countdown: Day 2

The evil villain Jasper tried to thwart my pie-making endeavor by clinging to my body, demanding I play with him, raiding the refrigerator, and running off with my cooking implements. But I preservered and produced one pumpkin pie (with candied pumpkin seed topping) and one slightly over-baked (NOT burned, she said defensively) pecan pie.

Thanksgiving Rule #2: if your small child puts you in danger of breaking Thanksgiving Rule #1, have a little drink, even if it's only 2:00 in the afternoon.

That was my bad side; now here's by good side, the spiced sweet potatoes I make every year. I'm going to cook and strain the potatoes tomorrow and then finish them Thursday while the turkey is resting and the gravy is thickening.

Spiced Sweet Potatoes

6 large sweet potatoes
4 cinnamon sticks
6 star anise
1 lb. unsalted butter (cut into chunks)
1/2 cup maple syrup
salt to taste

Start by peeling the potatoes. Cut into 2-inch chunks and boil until soft. Drain, removing cinnamon and star anise. Mash with one stick of butter. I usually then push the potatoes through a strainer four or five times to get rid of the fibers and achieve a silky texture. Put back on low heat, add the remaining butter and the maple syrup, mix well, and salt to taste.

And here is the cornbread stuffing recipe I'm transcribing from the November Living.

Cornbread, Wild Mushroom, and Pecan Stuffing
(Makes about 8 cups)

6 T unsalted butter, plus fore for dish
Cornbread cut into 2-inch-thick slices
5 shallots, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
1 celery stalk, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
10 ounces wild mushrooms, such as shiitake, chanterelles, or mores
1 t fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 t fresh rosemary, finely chopped
3/4 t coarse salt
1/4 t freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 1/4 cups pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup chicken stock

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Melt 2 T butter in a medium skillet. Place cornbread on a rimmed baking sheet. Brush with melted butter. Toast in oven until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let cook completely.

2. Heat remaining 1/4 cup butter in the skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots and celery; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms, herbs, salt, and pepper; cooked stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, about 4 minutes. Stir in wine; cook until it has been absorbed, about 1 minute. Stir in cream. Cook 30 seconds; remove from heat.

3. Crumble cornbread into a large bowl. Add the mushroom mixture, pecans, and stock; toss. To bake all of the stuffing in the oven: spoon it into a buttered 13-by-9-inch baking dish; bake at 425 degrees until golden brown, about 30 minutes.

To stuff or not to stuff? I will toss and turn on this question. Stuffing prolongs the cooking time, which may not be good for the breast (the turkey's, I mean). And to truss or not to truss? Some friends and I have been debating these important issues, and other turkey strategies, at length over e-mail recently. At least I know one thing: our turkey's name is Taffy. I let Jasper name it and that's what he came up with, perhaps because it's the favorite candy of a character on Lazy Town. Taffy, should we truss you and stuff you?


liz said...

we don't stuff- it's easier.

love the mean look- I get that look from Z all the time and it's very evil and I hope I don't make that same face when I get frustrated with him.

I got 2 frozen gluten free pies today from whole foods. wish i was able to at least smell yours.

shaunamama said...

Taffy...sounds chewy. tee hee!
Where do I get star anise in our fair state of Utah? I'm making your sweet potatoes this year for our Turkey Soiree.

Adriana Velez said...

Star anise in Utah -- I'd try Wild Oats. They have a lot of spices. Also, you could call Liberty Heights Fresh. They may not carry it, but they would probably know who does.

Jasper picked up "shooting" from the other little boys at the playground this summer. Arghh! According to the Raising Cain guy agression is part of the boy package and it's best to just help sons channel it appropriately. So I've been encouraging Jasper to invite kids to play the shooting game instead of just shooting. Seems to be working so far...