Friday, December 30, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011: Three Side Dishes from Two Sisters

It's not that I haven't cooked, or taken pictures while cooking, and I have a backlog of half-started un-posted articles (virtually) stacked higher than a cord of wood.

In the words of someone from long ago, "There are reasons, but no excuses." so no long winded explanation of why it has been so long between posts.

My goal is to post as many of these as possible before the end of the year - or by Monday the 2nd. 

I think Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday - and not just for the food.

It is the time for family (your bio family or the family you've chosen) to get together without the ugly and crazed season - now starting in September - that has taken over Christmas, like a face-hugging alien (see the video below). My family has dialed-down the gift madness in that, within the siblings, we give each other small or hand-made gifts.

So, because this post was the closest to completion, I'm going to feature two of my sisters' side dishes from our bio-family Thanksgiving. For the past decade (longer?) I have spent Thanksgiving Thursday in San Francisco and then flown north to spend Thanksgiving Saturday with my bio-family. It was very kind of them to make the change and it allows me to spend time with both my bio- and non-bio families as well as double my turkey deconstruction pleasure. I LOVE turkey deconstruction! I could give lessons or compete professionally -- if there was such a contest.
From my sister Chris: (first picture left) Sally's Dressing and (first picture right) Chris' Curried Onions and from Cathy, who blogs over at Lo-Carb World (Second Picture): Thanksgiving Sweet Potatoes with Herbs and Pancetta.

Sally's Dressing and Chris' Curried Onions (recipes after the jump, below)

Cathy's Thanksgiving Sweet Potatoes with Herbs and Pancetta over at her blog, "Lo-Carb World" is linked, below.

 - Sally's Dressing;
 - Chris' Curried Onions; and
- Cathy's Thanksgiving Sweet Potatoes with Herbs and Pancetta (Over at her Lo-Carb World blog)

SALLY'S THANKSGIVING DRESSING -------------------------------------------------------------------
(Nancy's Note: How stupid was I not to have written down my mom's recipe for making dressing? Fortunately Chris has worked it out, adding a few twists of her own.)

  • About 10 cups of oven-dried dense white sandwich bread pieces pieces in about 1- 1.5"chunks
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cups diced yellow onion
  • 2 cups finely diced celery-- the "hearts of the hearts" of 2 bunches including inner leaves
  • 1 bunch stemmed, finely chopped kale
  • 6 - 9 finely minced medium to large cloves of garlic
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 4 cups low sodium organic chicken broth
  • 1 large carrot in 4 pieces
  • 1/2 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley plus 2 large stalks, divided
  • 6 -8 large finely minced sage leaves plus 2 leaves, divided
  • 2 tablespoons thyme leaves plus 2 stalks, divided
  • finely minced leaves of 1/4 cup fresh rosemary plus 1/4 whole branch, divided
  • turkey drippings
Preheat oven to 350.  Grease or oil 9 x 13" pan.

Gently simmer chicken broth on low in a covered saucepan with carrot pieces, bay leaf and reserved whole herb pieces (parsley, sage, thyme, rosemary) while preparing rest of recipe.

Saute onion, celery and kale over medium to medium low heat with salt and pepper to taste until vegetables are wilted, onions are translucent and soft and the liquid from the vegetables has evaporated.  Make a clear space In the pan and saute minced garlic, stirring constantly, for 1 - 2 min.  Do not let brown.  Stir into onion mixture. Remove saute pan from heat and let mixture cool completely.

Remove broth from heat, uncover, and let cool completely.  Strain carrot and herbs out and discard.

in a very large bowl, add sauteed vegetables to bread cubes and combine thoroughly with hands.    Beat eggs with 3 c. broth, pour over dressing and mix thoroughly with hands.  Taste for seasoning and adjust.  Reserve remaining broth to moisten dressing during or after baking if necessary.

Put dressing in greased or oiled 9 x 13 pan and bake for 45 min or until the top is brown.  Drizzle with 2 T turkey drippings if desired.
CHRIS' CURRIED ONIONS ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
If there is a trick to it, it's to make the cheese sauce very thick.  The cooked onions exude a lot of water during baking no matter how well you drain them, so if you begin with a thick sauce, you'll end up with the perfect texture of sauce.

Leftovers reheat well in the microwave if you use one of the lower power settings and stir once every couple of minutes to make sure the sauce doesn't break.  I like leftovers best when they are thinned with chicken broth and gently heated in a saucepan on the stove top--it makes a delicious soup!  You can add diced ham or smoked turkey sausage to make it more hearty.
(Nancy's Note on Leftovers: a seriously delicious soup! You can whiz the stock - chicken or vegetable - and the leftover onions in a blender before heating or use a stick blender to puree.

  • 4-5 large yellow onions, cut in quarters or eighths
  • 4 Tablespoons each flour and butter
  • 2 1/2 - 3 cups milk
  • 4 cups shredded cheddar.  I usually use half sharp and half medium
  • 1-2 tablespoons curry powder. (I like Madras-style curry powder and I use 2 T, but we like curry)
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • salt and pepper
  • paprika for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, rack in the middle.  
Steam or boil onions for 10 - 15 minutes until fork tender.  
In a saucepan, make a light-colored roux with the flour and butter.  Stir in curry powder and cayenne.  Cook the roux over medium heat, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes.  Take the saucepan off the heat and slowly whisk in the milk, Worcestershire and mustard.  Add salt and pepper to taste.   Put the saucepan back on medium heat and stir until the white sauce comes to a full boil.  Immediately reduce the heat to low.  Stir in hand fulls of the shredded cheese, one at a time, until the cheese has fully melted.  Do not let the white sauce reach a simmer after you add the cheese.  Take saucepan off heat.  Taste for seasoning.

Put the drained onions into a 9"x 9" buttered or oiled casserole dish.  Spoon the sauce over the onions and then combine the sauce and the onions.  Sprinkle paprika on top.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 min. 
Check to see if casserole has begun to bubble around the edges; if so, remove from oven and serve.

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