Thanksgiving dinner: The Dessert

Sopa de Gloria is one of the desserts you will find at every significant event/celebration in Panama. Sopa de Gloria would loosely translate to ‘Glorious Soup’, it is a rum-y, creamy trifle. My mom would make the syrup with raisins and prunes and would then add port wine, dark and light rum. As far as the cream goes, it usually includes ground almonds, which makes the flavors all the more delicate.

I took the basic Sopa de Gloria and tweaked it with the flavors of Thanksgiving by omitting the almonds and adding pumpkin puree and seeds. The results… Phenomenal! This is the Jimmy Choo of desserts! The syrup and cream both benefit from being made at least one day in advance. This dessert is best served cold.

Pumpkin Sopa de Gloria
8-10 servings

For the raisin syrup:
1 cp sugar
1-1/2 cps water
2-3 cinnamon sticks
5 whole cloves
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2/3 cp raisins
1/2 cp dark rum (Myer’s is great)

Combine all the ingredients except the raisins in a small saucepan and bring to a slow boil for about 5 minutes. Add the raisins and continue to simmer until the raisins are plump. Turn off the heat and add the rum. Allow it cool and keep at room temperature.

For the pumpkin cream:
1/2 can condensed milk (7 ozs)
1 can evaporated milk (14 ozs)
1-1/4 cp pumpkin puree
1/8 tsp mace
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cp dark rum or bourbon

In a small pan, combine the condensed and evaporated milks, heat them over medium temperature until you begin to see bubbles around the edges. Do stir frequently, to avoid it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Whisk in the pumpkin puree, mace and vanilla, simmer at medium-low for another 10 minutes, again, stirring continuously. Allow it to cool and refrigerate.

In addition to the above, you will need about 1/2 cp of toasted and chopped pumpkin seeds, as well as a sponge cake, you can find an easy recipe here.

Put it together:
I made individual triffles, but usually this is served in one large punch bowl, you can’t go wrong either way. Start with a layer of cubed sponge cake, followed by a drizzle of the syrup and raisins, then topped with cream that is topped with pumpkin seeds. Repeat. And serve cold.

Check out this post to see the rest of this meal or click here for the photostream.

Cookingly yours,
Anamaris

Advertisements

Thanksgiving Dinner: The Guest of Honor

Oh yeah. It’s time to talk about the bird. And this is a very special friend. This has to be my best turkey to date. I’m sorry to gloat, but this turned out perfectly. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a firm believer in brining turkey. It keeps it moist and juicy and adds a lot of flavor while cooking.

Different from what I’ve done before, I rubbed in an herbed butter before roasting this bird. And since I was going for that Latin flavor, I added achiote paste too. Let me tell you how this all came together.

Achiote & Herbs Turkey with Garlic Butter Gravy

First, the brine. I added a large onion, garlic cloves, bay leaves, celery, Jugo Maggi, salt, sugar and some spices to a large pot of water and brought it to a boil. Allowed it to simmer for about 15 minutes, to infuse the flavors in the water. I then allowed that to cool completely before pouring it into a cooler. Followed by the turkey (giblets removed), then filled with cool water and topped it with plenty of ice to keep it cold overnight.

If you go back a few months, you’ll remember a post I shared for roast chicken, I followed the same principles for the turkey. Incidentally, I want to give a shout out to Noelle over at Portland Palattes, she sent me a note after she followed the same post and ended up with a delicious chicken.

Back to the turkey. I combined 2 sticks of butter (I know!) with achiote paste, garlic, parsley, green onions, orange zest, salt and pepper. After draining and drying the turkey, I then squished the butter under the skin while the oven preheated to 475°. I filled the cavity with whole garlic cloves, quartered orange, celery and carrots, and threw some more at the bottom of the roasting pan.

After inserting the electronic thermometer (love that thing!) I placed the whole thing in the oven for 15 minutes, then lowered the temperature to 325° and roasted it, undisturbed until the internal temp read 185°–about 3 extra hours. No basting, no turning, no nothing.  Once it was done, it got a foil blanket and took a little nap for about 30 minutes before I began carving.

The fact that *I* had to do the carving this time explains why there are no pictures of that part. Sorry, I was in a panic at the thought of it. I didn’t do too badly. Look at these shots and tell me you don’t want some turkey like NOW!

Gravy. You see that pretty gravy? Of course, you can’t have turkey without some gravy, so gravy I made. I poured the cooking liquid out of the roasting pan. Once the fat raised to the top, I scooped out about 4 tablespoons of it and heated it in a saucepan. To that I added 2 cloves of garlic finely diced, cooked them for a couple of minutes before adding 4 tablespoons of flour, stirred it in and allowed it to cook for about 5 minutes stirring constantly.

Add the reserved liquid (not the fat), be sure to keep stirring or you’ll end up with lumps and bumps. Once it boils, it will begin to thicken. At this point you can adjust the seasoning as necessary. Keep warm and pour over the sliced turkey.

And here it is. I always always always have cranberry with my turkey. Straight out of the can, I love the stuff. But, this is a Latin Thanksgiving, so no cranberries for you. Instead…

Guayaba Sauce

Guayaba, or guava as it’s known in the US, is similar in color and temperament to cranberry. By temperament I mean they have very similar flavor profiles, they’re both sweet and tart, though guayaba doesn’t have that tangy bite cranberries do. This sauce was easy to make and DELICIOUS with the turkey.

I combined about 6 ozs of guayaba paste with the juice of 2 oranges and the zest of 1 and 1 diced shallot, brought it all to a boil and seasoned with a dash of salt just before serving. That’s it!

To see the recipes for the rest of this incredible meal, follow this link. To see the other food porn shots, click here.

Gobble gobble!
Cookingly yours,
Anamaris

Thanksgiving Dinner: The side

I know what you’re thinking. That doesn’t look like dressing and you’d be right. I was going for a non-traditional dressing-like dressing and this is what I came up with. Looks good, no? Let me tell you, it tastes better than it looks, seriously. I don’t know that I would call this a deconstructed dressing, but it does have all the elements of a dressing presented individually.

In Panama we eat corn tortillas for breakfast, they’re usually served with some sort of saucy protein. As you can see, our tortillas are different from what most people think of when they hear the word.  Ours are made with yellow corn, not white and they’re thick, about 1/2-inch. These discs are then deep-fried until crisp on the outside while they remain nice and creamy inside.

So, with that idea in mind, I set off looking for  a way to imitate my tortillas, but I didn’t want to find dry corn, cook it, grind it, shape it, etcetera, etcetera. Instead, I used polenta that I cooked in about 6 minutes then cooled and cut into discs. Frying them just before serving, provided a much needed textural contrast. Beware, polenta is feisty when being fried, because of the water content, it is very spitty!

For the topping my mind went straight to picadillo, the kind we make in Panama with olives and raisins. Instead of ground beef, I went for a traditional Thanksgiving ingredient: breakfast sausage. And I cooked fatty bacon to a crisp to have a similar texture to chicharrón. And, just like that, Polenta Tortillas with Sausage & Chicharrón Picadillo was born!

Polenta Tortillas with Sausage & Chicharrón Picadillo
serves 8-10

For the Polenta Tortillas:
5-6 cps water
1-1/2 cps dry polenta or coarse cornmeal
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp butter
1 ear of corn, shucked
1/2 cp queso fresco, shredded
Extra virgin olive oil for the pan and frying

Grease a 9×13 pan with olive oil and set aside. Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan, add the salt then whisk in the polenta. You’ll want to whisk briskly until the grounds have incorporated. You will continue to cook it over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes or so, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Turn off the heat and stir in the butter, corn and cheese.

Pour the polenta into the prepared pan and spread it out evenly. Allow it to cool and set. You can make this ahead of time. When ready to serve, unmold the polenta and cut into squares or with a round biscuit cutter or a glass.

Heat some butter and oil in a frying pan, and fry the polenta disks until golden brown on each side. Set on paper towels to catch the excess fat. Set aside and keep warm until ready to serve.

For the Sausage & Chicharrón Picadillo:
1 cp fatty bacon, diced
1 cp breakfast sausage (about 1/2 of a Jimmy Dean package)
1 cp red onion, diced
1/2 cp carrots, diced
3 green onions, finely chopped
1/4 cp Italian parsley, finely chopped
1/2 cp ripe tomato, finely chopped
2 tbsps ketchup
1/4 cp green olives, finely chopped
1/2 cp seedless raisins

Cook the bacon until golden and crisp, remove from the pan and pour out the excess fat, reserve. In the same pan, crumble the sausage and cook for a few minutes until it isn’t red anymore.

Add the red onion and carrots and cook until the onions have softened, then add the tomato, green onions, parsley, olives and ketchup, stir all the ingredients and allow them to cook for about 5 minutes. Add the raisins and also about 1/4 cp of water, stir and allow to simmer covered for another 5 minutes or so. Keep warm.

To assemble the dish: place the fried polenta at the bottom, top with 1 tablespoon of picadillo, and top that with a bit of the bacon chicharron.

For the rest of this meal, follow the link and visit the photostream for all the shots.

Cookingly yours,
Anamaris

Thanksgiving Dinner: The Starter

Every meal should have a beginning, a middle and end, just like a good story. The appetizer sets the mood and expectations for what’s to come. Consider it foreplay. You want it to make an impression, to tease but not overshadow.

When I thought about the components for this meal, I knew I wanted to incorporate the ‘traditional’ Thanksgiving ingredients. I also knew I would need to befriend the sweet potato, it’s not one of my favorites. You may recall another post where sweet potato was the star, but dressed in different wardrobe. That’s how I trick myself into liking it.

When I thought about a starter for this meal and considered using sweet potatoes, I wanted to remove most of that barely there sweetness and stay away from the common spices paired with it. The addition of chorizo made this soup even more savory and hearty. This soup is delicious! AND light AND easy. You should definitely try it. You can make the components for the cream ahead of time, then reheat and put it together just before serving.

Sweet Potato Cream with Chorizo
serves 6-8

3-4 medium sweet potatoes
1 bay leaf
2 cloves garlic, peeled
Chicken stock or water
Sea salt
1 tsp cumin
Crema fresca or creme fraiche

For the chorizo:
1 large onion, chopped
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsps balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp sherry or wine
8 ozs Mexican chorizo
Sea salt
Sugar
Black pepper

Peel and chop the potatoes before putting them in a medium saucepan with the stock/water, bay leaf, garlic and salt. Boil and cook until tender. Allow them to cool in the boiling liquid before running through a blender. The sweet potatoes will be very dense, you may need to add additional water in order to puree.

To prepare the chorizo: cook the onions in the oil over medium high heat until softened and the onions begin to turn golden. Add the balsamic vinegar and sherry, cook until it evaporates.

Add the chorizo into the onion mixture, making sure to break it apart so it is a crumble. Chorizo should be thoroughly cooked, but keep the temperature at medium to avoid burning it. Add a couple tablespoons of water and cover with a tight-fitting lid, lower the temperature and allow it to cook for about 10 minutes. Adjust the seasonings as necessary, if you find it to be too tart, add a pinch of sugar. Allow it to cool. Remove the excess fat once it cools down.

To assemble: Pour the hot soup into a bowl, drizzle with cream, then drop a dollop of chorizo in the center.

Enjoy! Check out the rest of this meal here.

Cookingly yours,
Anamaris

Thanksgiving Dinner: The Cocktail

You know how the say Disney is the happiest place on earth? I think cocktail hour is the happiest hour of the day. I don’t want you to think of me as a drunken floozie, though I am, but I love a good cocktail and I wanted to bring one to the table for the Thanksgiving dinner.

I have to say I’ve been thinking about this long and hard. I wanted to stay away from cranberries, because I wanted the drink to be in a shade of orange rather than red. I kept eyeing persimmons, but the price point is pretty high and I don’t even know what they taste like, do you? If you do, please share.

I also thought the drink should be flavorful, a nod to all the spices used throughout this holiday, but I wanted to keep it light. So, off I went to my local super liquor store and then I saw it. It was love at first sight.

Have you ever seen a prettier bottle? And filled with ginger goodness no less! I was in love for sure. The other components fell right into place and these cocktails are very special. Enjoy!

Apricot Gingersnap

2 ozs apricot juice
1-1/2 ozs spiced rum (Myer’s)
1 oz ginger liqueur
Ginger ale
Lime squeeze (optional)
Ice
Sugar to rim the glass

After you’ve rimmed the glasses with sugar, fill with ice before layering in the rest of the ingredients. Give it a stir and enjoy!

Salud! Check out the full photostream here and for the rest of the Thanksgiving meal, click this link.
Cookingly yours,
Anamaris

How to plan your Thanksgiving Dinner

I told you before I would make a pre-turkey day dinner for your benefit, but I lied. Don’t get me wrong, you do benefit from this, but I didn’t make this dinner just because of you. The truth is, I love turkey and would eat it year-round, so when this time of the year comes and the turkeys are plentiful… I eat and eat and, well, eat.

So, I set out to put together a Thanksgiving meal that spoke to my Latin roots while still honoring the traditional ingredients. With a little push from The Hubbz and an abandonment of safety nets, I came with what I believe is an incredible menu.

yep, that's the beginning of the menu

Pay attention, this is where you benefit: I’m about to share all of it with you! The menu. The thought process. The planning. The execution. I’m sharing it all with you in the hopes that you’ll be encouraged to recreate one or more of the dishes or that you’ll through caution to the wind and try something you’ve been thinking about for while.

The Thought Process:
Cocktails: I didn’t want anything too heavy or pumpkiny, but I still wanted to keep Thanksgiving colors in mind. I knew it needed to be spicy/flavorful.

Appetizer: I went for a soup, but wanted to keep it light while flavorful and I wanted to work sweet potatoes in the menu.

Turkey: Moist is always my first priority, so I knew I would brine it. I wanted to pick up on subtle Latin flavors without fussing too much over the bird.

Gravy: It’s like the chicken & the egg. Can’t have one without the other.

Accompanientment: Usually cranberry and, I’m sorry but I have to admit I love the canned stuff, but I needed to kick up a notch. I immediately thought guayaba! Or guava as its known stateside.

Dressing: Cornbread dressing is my absolute favorite even if traditional. My thoughts were to have corn patties topped with the extras usually found in dressing. I wanted to recreate a sophisticated version of a Panamanian tortilla.

Vegetables: Indispensable, and these pickled ones help cut through the heavy meal.

Dessert: A traditional dessert found at weddings in Panama. This is pumpkin brought to Jimmy Choo levels.

The Menu

Apricot Gingersnap Cocktail


Sweet Potato Cream with Chorizo Garnish


Achiote & Herbs Turkey
-Garlic Butter Gravy
-Guayaba Compote

Polenta Tortillas with Sausage & Chicharron Picadillo


Green Bean & Carrots Escabeche


Pumpkin Sopa de Gloria

The Planning

Putting a big meal together, particularly when you have to stick to a schedule or a set dinnertime can be overwhelming. Lists make it easier. It doesn’t matter what type of project I’m working on, a list always makes me feel at ease, like I can get it done. When I just think of the big picture or the end product I can’t help but feel a bit of anxiety, like I’m going to forget something or that I don’t have enough time to finish. Lists are good. Lists are your friend.

After I had finalized the menu, I wrote down each dish and broke it down by steps. I then prioritized the order in which to execute each step.

pardon my handwriting...

The Execution – for the recipes, click on the links.

Gobble, gobble!

Cookingly yours,
Anamaris

Carnitas, Mexican confit?

Sort of, but not exactly. See, confit is a French cooking and preservation method. The idea is to salt and flavor meats that are then slowly cooked in their own fat (or added fat) and later preserved in said fat. Carnitas are not preserved in the fat, though I don’t see any reason why they couldn’t be, except for the fact that they wouldn’t last that long at the Price household.

I’ve had incredibly beautiful and delicious duck confit in Paris. They usually use the leg and thigh portions of the duck because these are fattier cuts. When they bring it out, the duck skin is slightly crisp and glistening, almost see-through. The meat is super tender and flavorful, enhancing the duck’s earthiness to the umpteenth degree. It is very aromatic, you can pick up the scents of garlic, thyme, sometimes ginger and clove.

Similarly, carnitas are made with a fatty cut of pork, most often a butt or shoulder roast. It is seasoned and slowly cooked in its own fat. The resulting meat is fall-apart tender and flavorful. Some places will serve it slightly crisped and topped with grilled onions and peppers.

There are many reasons I love making these at home. It’s super cheap: pork butt/shoulder roasts can usually be found for as low as $1/lb. It’s incredibly easy to make: once the pork is sliced, there’s very little fussing about. It feeds an army and works well as an entrée, a taco, or pretty much anything you can dream up. And finally, I love pork. Do you need more reasons?

Of course, there are hundreds, if not thousands of versions and recipes. But I find that the simpler, the better and over the years I’ve come to figure out how I like ’em. I use just a few aromatics and pre-mixed fajita seasoning. If you can’t find the fajita seasoning, just use equal parts salt, black pepper and garlic powder. Here’s my super secret recipe…, yah. not really.

Carnitas (little pieces of meat)

1 Pork butt or shoulder roast, boneless (about 5lbs)
2 tsp fajita seasoning
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp oregano
2 yellow onions, sliced
1 poblano pepper, seeded & sliced
1 tbsp olive oil

Cut the roast into pieces that are about 1-inch thick and season with the next 3 ingredients (don’t discard too much of the fat). Place the seasoned in a dutch oven or heavy-bottom pan, trying to keep it on a single layer. Add about 1 cp of water, just enough to have it come up around the pork, but not necessarily cover it.

Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. It will simmer for about 45 minutes before the liquid evaporates and it begins to render the fat. At this point, remove the lid, lower the temperature and begin to brown the pieces of pork. Turning them a few times for the next 15-20 minutes.

You can cook cook the onions and peppers in a separate saute pan, just until softened. Serve with tortillas, rice and/or beans.

Cookingly yours,
Anamaris