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Sunday, October 04, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

The family is coming but this year everyone is in a hurry, one family this morning, off to another’s this afternoon and then yet a third person to visit tonight. Time is of the essence, and essences are needful for all that baking. So why do it, save a turkeys life and go ahead and break the traditions. Keep the family coming but this time make a batch of appetizers along with a nice bowl of warming soup, spread them throughout the visiting rooms and enjoy everyone’s company. What good is it having the friends and family visiting when your locked away in the kitchen. Let the turkey live until Christmas at least and go for the hors d oeuvres.

Kickin Artichoke Dip

14 ounces of canned artichoke hearts
2 tbsp Habanero Hot Sauce (try Chef K’s Ogopogo’s Breath)
1 C mayonnaise
1 C Tillamook Cheddar cheese
1 C softened Philadelphia cream cheese
1/4 C diced green bell pepper
2 tbsp diced Vidalia onion
1 minced garlic clove
1 C real fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp onion powder
2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Preparing this warm artichoke dip is quite simple. To begin you will want to preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, or 175 degrees Celsius. While your oven is heating, take out a food processor, and plug it in. I use a Braun Food Processor, and it's absolutely awesome. Add into your food processor all the artichoke hearts, Habanero hot sauce, the mayonnaise, cheddar cheese, cream cheese, bell pepper, Vidalia onion, garlic clove, parmesan cheese, salt, black pepper, and onion powder. Once all of these tasty ingredients are in the food processor, pulse it a few times until the dip has a desired consistency and thickness. Both chunky and creamy artichoke dips are very good, so you are free to choose here how you want it. Next take out a large casserole dish, and grease it with extra virgin olive oil. Next spoon into the casserole dish the artichoke dip, making sure you scrape the sides of the food processor, so that you do not waste any of this wonderful dip. Once your dip is in the baking dish, slide it into the oven to bake for about twenty minutes, or until the cheese starts to bubble a little. Once done, let the dip cool off for about ten minutes before serving.

Pear, Prosciutto, Walnuts and Cherve Wraps

2 packages Cherve cheese
½ cup crushed walnuts
1/3 pound thinly sliced prosciutto, cut in long, narrow strips
6 ripe pears, washed, cored and sliced
1/2-inch thick (to prevent browning, gently turn pear slices in a bowl with juice of 1/2 of lemon)
60 arugula leaves

Mix the cheese with the walnuts. Place one slice of prosciutto on work surface. Top with pear slice, small dollop of cheese and arugula leaf. Wrap prosciutto around until secure.

Savoury Spring Rolls

1 medium carrot julienned
6 - 8 scallions julienned
2 medium cloves of garlic crushed
1/2 Lb. button mushrooms chopped
3/4 Lb. spinach stemmed and broken up
10 oz. cooked salmon
12 - 15 medium to large shrimp peeled, deveined, and chopped
2 Tbsp. Chinese cooking wine or dry sherry
2 Tbsp. dark Soy Sauce
1 tbsp Nam Plam (Thai fish sauce)
1 tsp Chinese five spice
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
1 Lb. package of Spring roll wrappers
¼ lb rice vermicelli cooked
1 - 2 C vegetable oil (for deep frying)

Filling Preparation:

In a fairly large sauce pan or fry pan, sauté garlic, scallions, and carrot in a little oil until vegetables are limp. Add wine, soy sauce, spinach, seafood and mushrooms and stir fry, while breaking up the salmon into small pieces. Be careful not to overcook. Shrimp should turn pink and mushrooms and spinach should have rendered their liquid and gone soft. Stir in the seasonings. Let this mixture cool before making the rolls.

Stuffing and Frying:

Lay out a sheet of wax paper for a work area, and have within reach a saucer with a little water. Place a well rounded teaspoon of filling in the lower third of each wrapper. Place small amount of the vermicelli on. Then fold the two sides part way over the mixture. Wet your finger in the saucer and use it to moisten the top end of the wrapper. Roll it up and seal it.

For frying, put enough oil in the pan to just cover the rolls. Fry for 3-5 minutes each until golden brown. You can fry maybe 5-8 at a time depending on the size of the pan but don‘t crowd the pan. Turn each occasionally to check doneness and color. Drain on paper towels.

Dipping Sauce:

2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. honey
1 tbsp
2 tbsp. dark soy sauce
1 tsp Nam Plam
¼ tsp red chilli flakes

Blend all together in a small mixing bowl.

Pumpkin Soup with Saffron and Black Beans

3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 (medium-sized) brown onion – peeled and roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic
1 leek – sliced
1 tbsp fresh thyme
½ cup flat-leaf parsley including stalks
2 1/2 lbs pumpkin – peeled, deseeded and cubed
2 tomatoes – peeled and deseeded
1 litre vegetable or chicken stock (I prefer chicken)
½ cup cream
Salt and white pepper to taste
½ cup black beans – canned , rinsed and heated gently
½ tsp saffron
½ cup crème fraiche

Heat oil in a heavy-based saucepan, add onion, garlic, leek, thyme and parsley and stir occasionally over medium heat for 5-7 minutes or until mixture has softened. Add pumpkin and stir to coat in olive oil, then add tomato, stock and simmer over medium heat for 30-40 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Using a blender, blend the soup until smooth, then return to the saucepan. Season to taste with salt and stir in cream. Simmer five additional minutes.

Ladle the soup into bowls, sprinkle with the black beans, place a dollop of crème fraiche and sprinkle of saffron sty’s.

Have a great Thanksgiving.