Archive for November, 2010

Thanksgiving Feast

Posted in Cooking, Dinner, events, Food, Home Cooked Food, recipe with tags , , , , , on November 23, 2010 by helenphillips

So this Thursday is Thanksgiving, and as we have only been in the US for 7 months, it’s our first.

New England,  Autumn 1621 – the early settlers that had managed to survive the first harsh year (as a whole, they had arrived unprepared) gathered together for a celebration that was to consist of 3 days of eating, drinking, dancing and playing games. They were joined by their neighbours, the Wampanoag tribe, who had dropped by to see what all the shooting was about. However, Thanksgiving didn’t become an annual tradition until the 1780s, and became a national holiday in 1863. And now Thanksgiving is the day of the year (always the last Thursday in November) dedicated to eating copious amounts of food, and settling down to a game of football.

Thanksgiving is also a time for parades, the most famous (and largest) of which is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in Manhattan. Here in Minneapolis, Friday sees the start of the annual Holidazzle celebration, which will continue every weekend through December.

The day after Thanksgiving is known as Black Friday. As gloomy as it sounds, it actually marks the start of the Christmas shopping season, and is famous for it’s sales madness (people have been know to be trampled in the rush to get to the bargains). One chain of stores has been advertising that they will open at 3am on Friday, but I am determined to stick to internet shopping.

Our Thanksgiving Day will be spent with just the two of us eating and drinking more than is usually sensible. Having done some research into traditional dishes (most of which seem to involve copious amounts of butter and/or cream), I think it’s safe to say that the most traditional part of our feast will be the Turkey and the Cranberry Sauce. The trimmings are mostly influenced by our own British Christmas favourites – for this year at least. So here’s what’s on the Menu –

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The tomato soup recipe comes from Gordon Ramsay’s Secrets, and is the first of his recipes I ever tried. I remember being quite intimidated by the book back then, but excited by the beautiful and colourful images. Over time I have gained more confidence (and a roomier Kitchen), and the recipes don’t seem so daunting now. The soup has already been made, making life a tiny bit simpler on Thursday.

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The Turkey will be roasted – I’m not inclined to try the other method that is traditional in the US, which is deep frying. As there are only 2 of us eating on the day, we bought the smallest crown / breast we could find, which is still around 5lbs. I expect to be making lots of use of leftover turkey recipes in the months to come.

The Cranberry Sauce will the same that I’ve made for the previous 2 Christmas dinners. This year, we’ll also have Lingonberry sauce. Lingonberries come from Sweden, where Eddie spent most of his working life before we moved to the US, so an extra sauce was his suggestion after spotting the berries in the supermarket.

The Chestnut Stuffing will be based on a recipe from Nigella Lawson’s Feast. Unfortunately I am currently having difficulty obtained canned puréed chestnuts, so some modification may be required!

The rest of the accompaniments will simply be roast potatoes (the American favourite seems to be creamy mashed), parsnips, savoy cabbage (this at least will be buttery), peas, and pigs in blankets. For those not familiar with the term, these are sausages wrapped in bacon, and the omission of these would cause great consternation.

Finally (possibly after a break, and a walk), dessert will be Crème Brulee (Aha! There will be a creamy dish). This will be the most challenging dish of the day for me, as it is my first attempt. If it’s a success, maybe I’ll even blog about it….

Happy Holidays!

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Chicken Sliders

Posted in Dinner, Food, Home Cooked Food, recipe with tags , , , , , , , on November 17, 2010 by helenphillips

16th November 2010 - Chicken Slider

For the Non-Americans among you, sliders are simply miniature burgers. And as with most food in miniature, there’s something quite special about them. Inspired by the mention of chicken burgers in Gordon Ramsay’s Healthy Appetite, I decided it was time to break out the slider pan. Rather niftily, this press and pan in one makes 6 sliders at a time, which are around 2.5″ in diameter, and around 0.5″ in thickness. Very cute.

Usually home-made burgers are used by mixing minced meat (of whichever variety) together with the rest of the ingredients. I don’t have a mincer, so used the food processor to both chop and blend ingredients. So feel free to experiment!

The following ingredients were used to make a total of 12 sliders. I would estimate that the same amount would make 4 ‘normal’ burgers.

  • 3 chicken thighs
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon each of parsley & chives
  • 1 egg
  • Seasoning

First of all I used the food processor to finely mince the red onion. Next I added the minced garlic, herbs and chicken thighs (rather lazily I threw these in whole, but the blades easily coped!). Once I was satisfied with the chicken was adequately chopped, I added the egg, and seasoning, and ran the food processor long enough to blend the ingredients.

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If you are making burgers the traditional way, then the next stage should be to fashion the mixture into patties, wrap tightly in cling film, and then put them in the fridge for an hour to firm up. Luckily for me (as my burgers ALWAYS fall apart), using the combined press/pan eliminates this. I was able to simply scoop the mixture (using the provided measure) into the pre-heated pan, press, and cook away for about 5 minutes. Of course, there are several alternative ways to the cooking stage – oven grill, outdoor grill / barbecue, griddle. Whichever way you choose, I find brushing a little olive oil on the burger (or the griddle) before cooking prevents sticking. Depending on how thick you make the patties, they should take 5-10 minutes to cook using a medium heat, but as this is chicken, please ensure it is cooked right through before serving!

All that remains are the final touches – add the sliders/burgers to buns loaded with your favourite items. In my case, I had green salad, tomato, burger relish and ketchup. These sliders fit perfectly into just half a small bun! Out of view is the huge pile of oven cooked potato wedges that I served as a side dish.