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POTATO ROLLS

This is another recipe I have not tried, but a friend gave it to me and it looks too good to pass up. She says it’s a must at Thanksgiving.

SweetPotatoRolls

Potato Refrigerator Rolls

1-1/2 cups warm water
1 pkg active dry yeast
2/3 cup sugar
1-1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup shortening
2 eggs
1 cup lukewarm mashed potatoes (I double this)
7 to 7-1/2 cups flour

In bowl, dissolve yeast in water.  Stir in sugar, salt, shortening,eggs, and potatoes.  Mis in flour with hand until dough is easy to handle.  Turn onto lightly floured board.  Knead until smooth and elastic.  Place grease-side-up in greased bowl.  Cover with cloth and place in refrigerator.  (I do all this the night before.)  About 2 hours before baking, punch dough down, shape dough into rolls, cover and let rise until double, about 1-1/2 to 2 hours.  Bake at 400 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes.  Makes about 4 dozen medium rolls.  I use cupcake pans and roll three little balls of dough for each roll.  I also have to triple this recipe.  To get them to rise I place the pans on my bed, cover them with waxed paper and a towel, and let them sit with the electric blanket on medium.

BRUSSELS SPROUTS SALAD

I haven’t actually tried this, but a friend posted it on Facebook and I need to keep this around somewhere so I can find it again.

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Pan Seared Brussels Sprout Salad

 

1 pound brussels sprouts, remove stems and cut in half
½ cup fresh cranberries
⅓ cup gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
½ cup pecans
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

1.Heat brussels sprouts, cranberries, and olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.
2.Season with salt & pepper. Cook for 8-10 minutes.
3.Add balsamic vinegar and maple syrup. Stir to coat and remove from heat.
4.Toss sprouts, cranberries, and pecans in a large bowl. Top with gorgonzola.

IT’S ONCE A YEAR. SUCK IT UP, PEOPLE.

 

annual-tradition-observing-people-thanksgiving-ecard-someecards

Anyone who knows me personally knows that (putting it mildly) I can be churlish and snappish and unforgiving. I’m a cranky old broad and don’t see that changing anytime soon. There are certain things that are set in stone for me and I won’t budge on them. I’m willing to discuss the merits (or lack of same) on many issues, but Thanksgiving isn’t one of those issues.

Many years ago I was living an unhappy existence 3000 miles from home – a life of my own choosing, but miserable and sad – with a man who was surly and unhappy and blaming. Thanksgiving of 1979 – I was 23 –  found us driving through New Jersey ( I don’t remember why) and we did not celebrate the day at all.  I found out later we had an invitation from his sister to come over for dinner, but he decided it was a “pity” invitation and declined to attend on behalf of us both. I was desperate to be part of something, anything, on that day, but was instead very, very alone. I was unable to articulate what I wanted and needed.

The next year I was back at home with my family. I vowed to never not celebrate Thanksgiving again, and to have a place at my table for those who were alone.

The New York Times ran an article about famous chefs and what they would prefer to serve on Thanksgiving other than turkey. They were uniformly scornful of turkey and dressing; they’d rather be eating Korean food or fried fish and pickles.  I took a kind of personal offense at it. Sure, you can have whatever you want on that day –  Helen Nearing wrote of one Thanksgiving where she rejected the entire day and its meaning, and instead consumed nothing but orange juice -and if that floats your boat, go for it. But that’s anathema for me. Thanksgiving, as I have said before, is my favorite holiday.  It’s a day in autumn – my favorite season – devoted to those close to you, to being grateful and thankful, to eating together the same meal you had last year.

You can read the article here. (The NYT limits non-subscribers to 15 articles every 30 days.)

Someone named M. L. Chadwick from Maine commented thusly:

You can eat foods from Africa, Asia the Caribbean, and elsewhere 364 days of the year. Why get into a tizzy because some hosts (perhaps parents or grandparents?) invite you to share a turkey dinner on Thanksgiving?

The menu is predictable, so if you can’t bear to eat turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce, and/or pumpkin pie for important reasons (dietary prohibitions, mortal loathing), simply explain when invited: “I’m so sorry! I would love to celebrate with you, but that just doesn’t work for me.” Then offer either to host THEM for a meal at your place or a restaurant, or to bring a meal to their home in the near future.

If these are relatives, they’re already well-aware that you loathe what they serve and will be relieved not to hear your gripes yet once again.

If you can’t bear the distress that your declining their invitation would cause them, eat before you go, push the turkey around on your plate, try to forget–just today–how very, very special you are, and ask about your hosts and the other guests with whatever interest you can muster.

And my comment replied to theirs:

B Rice

Northern California 

Exactly this. Even in my small town I can eat Korean, Ethiopian, or whatever other cuisine I choose any day of the year. It is the ritual, the predictability, the stability of Thanksgiving and its menu that makes it so appealing to me and my family.

As the hostess & chief cook, I know my part is to turn ordinary ingredients – a bland turkey, stale bread, sour cranberries – into delicious foods, replicas of what we had one year before. The guests know their part is to bring side dishes and wine, and stand around in the kitchen yakking and bumping into each other until I shoo them out. The grandparents ask the same old questions and we yell the answers at them because they won’t wear their hearing aids. We discuss who isn’t there and what we’ll do for Christmas and it certainly looks like it might snow, doesn’t it?

After dinner but before it gets dark, we take a walk to the cemetery (just down the road) to visit those sleeping there, who are not physically with us any more but who still sit around the table as surely as any of the living.

The next day people can go to a restaurant and eat Szechuan lamb or kim chee or whatever they want. But on Thanksgiving we gather together in my tiny house, stuff our resentments and petty squabbles into our pockets for a few hours, and eat turkey.

VACATION: VISITING THE FARMERS’ MARKETS

Last year we went to Amsterdam and I did three posts about food (which can be seen here, here, and here). We went there again in October and – surprise – we continued to eat. This time we did a lot more cooking in our apartment, partly to save money and partly to enjoy the really wonderful produce and ingredients available there.

We learned from the owner of an antique shop that The Netherlands has an enormous food-growing area near Den Haag (The Hague) and in fact supplies a lot of food to Europe.  You wouldn’t think so – I mean, it freezes in a serious way in the Netherlands – but they have developed some pretty efficient greenhouse techniques so even in the dead of winter it’s easy to get delicate produce like fresh mint (a staple in virtually every cafe for hot mint tea) and tomatoes (homemade tomato soup is hugely popular).

Our rented apartment sat a block from the Westerstraat Market and three blocks from the Lindengracht Market/Noorderkerk Market, so twice a week we got to prowl around and look at fresh produce, breads, cheeses, pasta, fish, sausages, poultry, and a lot of other wonderful foods. In addition, conveniently around the corner were two good supermarkets, an organic/gourmet store, and a daily produce stand.

This was the first time we visited in autumn, and the markets had some differences.

Bread and cheese are huge staples in the Netherlands so it’s not a surprise that they make more kinds of bread than anyone can imagine, primarily whole-grain but also some white breads – nothing soft and spongy like in the US, though. Specialty types are also popular, like pizza bread, olive bread, cheese bread, as well as sweet breads like raisin, fig, etc.

 

bread at street market

 

bread in display

 

This doesn’t even begin to show the many, many kinds of cheeses available. The cheesemongers will always happily give you a taste.

cheeses

Fresh pasta.

fresh pasta for sale

Since autumn was here, we saw a lot more emphasis on winter produce.

hazelnuts

 

lots of bread

Enormous multi-colored carrots.

multicolor carrots

And more mushrooms – wild and cultivated – than I’ve ever seen here.

mushrooms

 

mushrooms'

Loads of fresh-cured olives and spreads.

olives

Oysters from France and England.

oysters

“Stuks” means “pieces.”

persimmons

 

In the US, fresh pumpkins are almost exclusively for jack o’lanterns. In Europe, they’re for eating. I bought two, each about the size of a large grapefruit, and made curried pumpkin soup.

pumpkins

We could not believe this: three boxes of raspberries for 98 Euro cents (about $1.40).

raspnberries

Since the weather was getting cooler, you could buy a cup of hot soup at the market.

soup pots

Sweet quick breads, to be purchased and eaten on the spot.

sweet breads

In front of Cafe Thijssen is s statue of Theo Thijssen, a writer and educator. On market day, he holds up kale and cabbages.

thiessen statue

Fresh tomatoes (the brownish ones were especially good).

tomatoes

 

veggies

More mushrooms!

wild mushrooms

Winter squash, turnips, pumpkins – these are foods for a long winter.

winter veg

 

More pictures of Amsterdam foods to come.

ASIAN CHICKEN LETTUCE WRAP SAUCE

Sometimes you need to pull a rabbit out of your hat. On occasion you find that what you pulled out actually was more like a weasel or a marmot, but now and then it does turn out to be a rabbit, just as you’d hoped.

I’m preparing food for a cocktail party, which has to be all finger foods. I thought Asian chicken lettuce wraps would be good, never mind that I have never made them before. The filling part is easy enough – diced chicken, water chestnuts, peanuts, cilantro, scallions – but the dressing was another story. You can buy all kinds of bottled dressings and some of them taste okay, but it’s fun to mix your own. If you have a well-stocked pantry with Asian ingredients, it’s fast and easy.

Here is what I came up with. This started with a recipe for Vietnamese Chicken and Mint Salad from Nigella Bites by Nigella Lawson, and took off from there.

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SAUCE FOR ASIAN LETTUCE WRAPS

  • 2 small red Jalapenos, minced
  • 3 fat garlic cloves, pressed or minced
  • 2 Tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
  • juice of one lime
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 Tablespoon nam pla
  • 2 Tablespoons Thai sweet chili sauce
  • 1 teaspoon black bean garlic sauce
  • 1 star anise

Combine all ingredients. Store in refrigerator. Remove star anise before using. Toss with diced chicken or shrimp for Asian lettuce wraps or as a salad dressing.

Notes:

Use chili flakes, Sriracha, cayenne, or other hot peppers in place of the Jalapenos.

Nam pla (fish sauce) is available in Asian markets or well-stocked supermarkets. If necessary you can substitute soy sauce or tamari.

Black bean garlic sauce is available in Asian markets or well-stocked supermarkets. Leave it out if you can’t find it.

Thai sweet chili sauce is available in Asian markets, supermarkets, and Trader Joe’s. It is a thick sweet-spicy sauce that has a couple of million uses.

 

 

 

MRS. SUNDBERG

Now we know she is a real person. Her name isn’t Sundberg but she has been involved with Prairie Home Companion for years, and she has a cookbook out.

The scoop right here.

CHICKEN-AVOCADO ENCHILADAS

The first enchiladas I ever made were from the Sunset Cook Book of Favorite Recipes. The recipe called for 2 cups of sour cream and 1 pound of shredded Cheddar cheese plus additional sour cream to pile on each serving (and this was in the days long before there was such a thing as nonfat sour cream or low-fat cheese). I made it quite often for years. It was wildly popular among my co-workers when I brought it to potlucks. Between this and the cheesecakes I used to make, I probably single-handedly contributed to the early demise of of several people.

But we’re here now in the Dark Days Of High Cholesterol, so I needed to find a way to make luscious enchiladas without so much animal fat. Someone on Facebook – I have forgotten who, so I can’t give credit – posted a recipe for chicken-avocado enchiladas that looked pretty good. I messed around with the recipe a little, then called friends to come over for dinner. None of us could stop eating it. We  cleaned the pan out. I’m telling you, this is good.

If you must, you can substitute canned green enchilada sauce, but this sauce is totally worth making. Both the sauce and filling can be made a day ahead if necessary,but do not add the avocados until ready to assemble the enchiladas.

CHICKEN-AVOCADO ENCHILADAS

SAUCE:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced or minced
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 cup salsa verde (I used La Victoria)
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 cup fat-free sour cream
  • salt and pepper

 

Heat the oil in a saucepan and saute the garlic lightly for a minute. Do not allow garlic to brown.

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Stir in the flour, and cook & stir over medium-low heat for 2 more minutes.

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Add the chicken stock while stirring, and keep stirring until the sauce is lump-free. Add the cumin, salt, pepper, and salsa verde, and heat until thickened (it won’t be really thick – about the consistency of canned enchilada sauce). Taste and adjust seasoning with more salt, pepper, or cumin as needed. Add the cilantro. When sauce tastes good, remove from heat and stir in the sour cream.

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  • Do not boil sauce after sour cream has been added.

 

TORTILLAS

  • 18 6-inch corn tortillas (I used Guerrero brand)

Heat 1/2″ oil in small frying pan. Test by dipping the edge of  a tortilla into the oil. If the oil sizzles, it’s ready. Fry each tortilla for about 5 seconds on each side. Do not try to crisp the tortillas; this step is to soften them. Turn with tongs, then remove to a plate lined with paper towels, and press the tortillas between the towels to absorb excess oil. Use as many paper towels as needed – I arrange about 3 tortillas on each towel, then top with another layer of towels.

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FILLING

  • 4 cups diced chicken (I used poached chicken from this recipe)
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1/2 cup sliced pitted black olives
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon New Mexico chili powder
  • about 1 cup fat-free sour cream
  • 3 firm-ripe avocados, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese (I used Cheddar, but use what you like – low-fat cheese is good here) (optional)

Combine all ingredients except cheese, using as much sour cream as necessary to coat everything. Mix gently to avoid mashing the avocados.

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Spread about 1/2 cup sauce on the bottom of a large baking dish.

Fill each tortilla with equal amounts of filling – for this much filling/this many 6″ tortillas, figure around 1/3 to 1/2 cup filling, but YMMV.

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Tuck each tortilla into the baking dish, open side down. Here I decided to make a double layer of enchiladas, so when the baking dish had one full layer, I poured some sauce over the first batch and sprinkled with about 1/4 cup shredded cheese. Or just make one layer if the baking dish is large enough.

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Second layer – pour the remaining sauce over, top with about 1/4 cup cheese. If you like, top with sliced tomatoes,  roasted red bell peppers, chopped olives, sliced avocado, etc.

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Bake at 350 until hot and bubbling, about 25-30 minutes.

 

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Serve this with beans – I made plain boiled pinto beans served in little bowls with cilantro and chopped red onion – rice, and a green salad.

Gluten- free option for the sauce:

Saute garlic in oil, then add broth, salsa verde, and seasonings. Thicken with a cornstarch slurry – when sauce is thickened, add sour cream and proceed with recipe from there.

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