New Castle News

November 9, 2013

Culinary Conversation: Time to plan Thanksgiving meal

Lugene Hudson
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — The calendar doesn’t lie. Thanksgiving is less than three weeks away.

Then planning begins for all the other holiday meals. I have already made up a list of what we’re making on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. It’s a frenzy of preparation and two days of baking and cooking,  but I wouldn’t change any of it for the world.

On Thanksgiving, many cooks stick to the traditional. And why not? If it works, why change?

What will you be serving? Culinary Conversation would love to know.

When I was growing up, my relatives were content with the Turkey Day fundamentals when a group of us gathered around the table — the turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce. My mother dared to be different a few times — making such dishes as Rosalynn Carter’s cream of peanut soup. She and I loved it. The other 10 or 12 did a thumbs down. Same for the zucchini bars I made one year. Mom and I were pleased with the results, and you can guess what the opinion of the rest was.

So we returned to the familiar.

Now, we’re fortunate to have friends who are fabulous cooks and enjoy making the Thanksgiving meal, and we have been part of their celebration for the past 12 years.

As much as I love pumpkin pie, this year I’m going to try a pumpkin cheesecake that I found in a magazine for one of my contributions to the get-together.

Toady’s offerings also include pumpkin cupcakes with spiced mascarpone cream filling that sound incredible and some side dishes to enhance the star of the Thanksgiving show — the turkey.

Remember, Culinary Conversation is all about sharing. Your holiday recipes are a welcome addition.

Corn Pudding Casserole

Fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley, (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 Grease a 3-quart rectangular or oval baking dish; set aside. In a small bowl, cover tomatoes with boiling water. Let stand for 15 minutes; drain. Chop tomatoes; set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook and stir onion and garlic in the 2 tablespoons hot butter over medium heat about 4 minutes or until tender. Add zucchini; cook and sir for 2 minutes more. Stir in corn and chopped tomatoes; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and milk. Gradually whisk in cornmeal. Whisk in ricotta cheese, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Stir in the corn mixture and Parmesan cheese. Carefully pour into prepared baking dish (dish will be full.)

Bake for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, toss together panko and the 1 tablespoon melted butter. Sprinkle over top of corn mixture. Bake about 30 minutes more or until the top is brown and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. If desired, garnish with parsley.

Glazed Carrots With Pistachios

Preheat oven to 350. Trim carrots, leaving about 1 inch of the tops. In an extra-large skillet, combine water and salt. Bring to boiling. Add carrots. Return to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 10 to 12 minutes or just until carrots are tender. Drain carrots in a large colander; set aside.

Meanwhile, place pistachios in a single layer in a shallow baking pan. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until nuts are lightly toasted, stirring once. Set aside.

In the same skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add brown sugar and thyme, stirring until brown sugar is melted. Add drained carrots. Bring just to boiling; reduce heat. Cook, uncovered, over medium-low heat about 10 minutes or just until carrots are well glazed, stirring occasionally.

Transfer carrots to a serving platter or bowl. Sprinkle with toasted pistachios.

Toss pita strips and oil in a medium bowl. Top casserole with pita strips. Bake, uncovered for 30 minutes or until pita strips begin to brown and green bean mixture is heated through.

Pumpkin, Caramel

and Pecan Cheesecake

Heat oven to 315. Finely chop 1/4 nuts; place in medium bowl. Add ginger snap crumbs and butter; mix well. Press onto bottom of a 13x9-inch pan.

Beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl with mixer until blended. Add pumpkin, spice and vanilla; mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing on low speed after each, just until blended. Pour over crust.

Bake 45 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool completely. Refrigerate 4 hours.

Microwave caramels and milk in microwaveable bowl on HIGH for 1 1/2 minutes or until caramels are completely melted, stirring every 30 seconds; spoon over individual servings of cheesecake. Sprinkle with remaining nuts. Serve with whipped cream.

Pumpkin Cupcakes With

Spiced Mascarpone Cream Filling

Cream filling

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour 12, 2 1/2-inch muffin cups; set aside.

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and cloves. In a large bowl, combine eggs, pumpkin, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vegetable oil; whisk until smooth. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture, one-third at a time, stirring just until combined after each addition. Stir in raisins and walnuts. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each two-thirds full.

Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. Cool in muffin cups on a wire rack for five minutes. Remove from muffin cups. Cool completely on wire rack.

When cupcakes are cool, split each one horizontally in half. Spread spiced mascarpone cream filling over bottom halves of cupcakes; place top halves of cupcakes on filling. Spread filling on tops of cupcakes; sprinkle with crystallized ginger.

(*Recipes have not been tested.)