Open House Antipasto Salad


antipasto

antipasto (Photo credit: freakgirl)

Whenever it is time for a holiday gathering, especially for those open house parties that are held at the end of the year, we like to serve up a variety of salads.  One of our favorites is this Italian style antipasto salads of which you can mix and match the vegetables and meats to suit your own tastes.  This one features traditional Italian cold cuts that can be obtained at your supermarket deli counter or in Italian food specialty shops.  Sometimes, I switch the ingredients around, using julienned turkey or reduced salt ham and cheeses for the saltier Italian cold cuts and replace the plain iceberg lettuce base with varied leafy greens to line the platter as a base.  It’s you choice whether to make the traditional Italian style salad or whether you would rather have the reduced-salt, lower calorie version.  As long as the vegetables are the marinated version, the taste should remain close to the original.  I often use leafy greens like iceberg,  romaine, red leaf and Bibb lettuce as well as the mixed greens like Mesclun, spinach and Italian blend that come in large bags at warehouse stores.

The amounts of ingredients in this salad can be increased so the measurements are not exacting.  Change the ingredient amounts to suit your taste.  We use less cold cuts and more vegetables to make a colorful display.  Serve up with a fancy spoon and fork set and a colorful platter. (We sometimes use a turkey platter).  The recipe is as follows:

INGREDIENTS:

Lettuce (of your choice)
Large jar marinated mushrooms
Black olives (Sicilian, Greek, black pitted, or green olives)
2 large jars artichoke hearts – drained and cut in half
2 jars roasted peppers, slice in strips
one jar anchovies, drained (amount used to your taste)
1 small onion – peeled and cut into rings
1 pound Genoa salami – sliced into strips or matchsticks
1 pound prosciutto – sliced into strips or matchsticks
1/2  pound capiccola – sliced into strips or matchsticks
1 pound Provolone cheese
(your may also use turkey, any cheese desired, ham, or other deli meat as desired)

Line a large platter with layers of lettuce or greens making salad as large as you like.  Place in order on top of greens – peppers, artichokes, olives, mushrooms, onion,  peppers, and anchovies.  Decoratively top with sliced cold cuts.

I use a homemade Italian dressing to top this, but some like just a bit of olive oil and vinegar with the addition of a bit of oregano.
You may use any dressing that suits you or serve with a variety of dressings presented with holiday spoons and bowls.

I hope your holiday parties are fun and festive.  Happy Holidays from my house to yours!!!

Gail’s Cranberry-Orange Sauce


Cranberries popping

Cranberries popping (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For those of you who are having diabetic friends or family to your home for the Thanksgiving holiday dinner, or if you are a diabetic yourself and trying to cut down on sugar consumption, here is a nice cranberry sauce recipe that you might find useful.  Instead of using gelatin or a cornstarch mixture to thicken the sauce up, I’ve substituted a sugar-free marmalade or jelly that does the trick and lends the sauce a nice flavor.  You could try substituting a different light flavored jelly for the sugar-free marmalade I use here for a unique taste.

GAIL’S CRANBERRY-ORANGE SAUCE—

INGREDIENTS:

3/4 dry white  sugar substitute (Splenda or other cup for cup substitute)
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar-free orange marmalade or jelly (or apricot, lemon or strawberry is good, too)
1 twelve (12 oz.) ounce package ‘fresh’ cranberries

In a 1  1/2 quart saucepan, mix sugar and water and stir to dissolve the sugar.  Bring to a boil, then add the cranberries.  Bring mixture back to a boil and simmer on reduce heat.  Cook on low simmer for approximately 10 minutes or until cranberries pop and are softened.  Liquid should be reddened.  Add marmalade or jelly and simmer slowly for approximately 4 minute, stirring frequently, until sauce thickens and takes on a sheen.  For a thicker sauce, add a bit more jelly to taste.  Remove pan from heat.  Cool sauce completely to room temperature.

Place in container and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Makes about 2  1/2 cups.  Recipe can be doubled.

This is just a little snippet for you before I start cooking my thanksgiving desserts.  I expect to be too busy to add much in the way of wisdom and light between all the fussing, cleaning, cooking and fidgeting that we’ll be doing before our Thanksgiving repast.

“I hear the tread of
pioneers of nations yet to be,
The first low wash of waves where soon
shall roll a human sea”

—WHITTIER

HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO YOU ALL.

Italian Ricotta Pie


Ricotta cheese.

Ricotta cheese. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Usually during this time of year, holiday tables are full of dessert pies made of a variety of fruit fillings.  On our table for Thanksgiving Day is a variety of ethnic dishes including one for this Italian basic ricotta pie.  It’s very rich, but it can be made with part-skim ricotta to cut down a bit on calories.  This is a quick and easy pie to make and should add a very distinct flavor to your holiday meal.

Crust:

 

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 stick margarine
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 egg yolks (from large or extra large eggs)

Filling:

2 pounds Ricotta cheese (or part-skim_
1  1/2 cups confectioners sugar
2 egg whites (from large or extra large eggs)
2 teaspoons lemon and rind
1  1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (not imitation)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit

 

 

For the crust, place 2 cups flour in large mixing bowl with baking powder, stir dry ingredients to blend.  With fork, cut in margarine until small balls form.  Add vanilla and slowly put milk in while blending with fork until ball forms.  Add egg yolks and continue stirring until a large ball forms.  If it is too dry to roll, add just a small amount of milk until of rolling consistency.  Roll out dough onto waxed paper – one for top and one for bottom.  Put half of dough into bottom of 10 inch pie plate.  Reserve other half for top of ricotta pie.

For the filling, in mixer bowl place ricotta cheese, egg whites,  lemon and rind, mix.  Then add the confectioners sugar and vanilla extract.  Blend for approximately 7 minutes of medium speed or until smooth.  Pour into pie crust.  Place reserved pie crust on top of filling and crimp the edges as desired.  Brush top crust lightly with egg white and place four small cuts to vent steam.  Cover edges with aluminum foil to protect rim of pie.

Bake at 425 degrees for 40 minutes or until lightly browned.

 

Over the River…….


English: Lydia Maria Child (February 11, 1802 ...

English: Lydia Maria Child (February 11, 1802 – July 7, 1880) was an American abolitionist, women’s rights activist, opponent of American expansionism, Indian rights activist, novelist, and journalist. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For this post I don’t have to go far from home to remind me of the holiday season, of  Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I’m reminded of one day in the 1980’s when I toured the home of Lydia Maria Childs’ grandparents who had owned an old Georgian Colonial on the other side of the Mystic River in Medford, Massachusetts in the U.S.A.  I had saved up enough money for a down payment on a house and Lydia Maria Childs’ grandparents old home was for sale.  I toured the house with my husband and I was extremely excited by the prospect of owning such a wonderful piece of American history. I said yes to the real estate agents offer of a purchase price of only $42,000.  Unfortunately, after adding up the costs of owning and maintaining such a large structure, we decided against the purchase and moved on to other options.  At a later date, Tufts University bought the home for a huge sum and the house remains on the U.S. Trust for Historic Preservations’ registered historic homes list.

Lydia Maria Child was a author, abolitionist and activist who was born into a prominent New England family in Medford, Massachusetts.  She was schooled in her early years in Medford Schools.  She would often visit her grandparents at their home and wrote this song as an adult.  Sometimes when the snow is deep and the air is chill, you can almost see the her sleigh coming across the old Craddock Bridge in Medford Square.

Over the River and Through the Woods to Grandfather’s House We Go

By Lydia Maria Child

Over the river, and through the wood,
to Grandfather’s house we go:
the horse knows the way to carry the sleigh
through the white and drifted snow.

Over the river, and through the wood,to Grandfather’s house away!
We would not stop for doll or top,
for ’tis Thanksgiving Day.

Over the river, and through the wood
oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes and bites the nose,
as over the ground we go.

Over the river, and through the wood,
and straight trough the barnyard gate,
We seem to go extremely slow,
it is so hard to wait!

Over the river, and through the wood,
when Grandmother sees us come,
She will say, ‘o, dear, the children are here,
bring a pie for every one.’

Over the river, and through the wood,
now Grandmothers cap I spy!
Hurrah for the fun! Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!

May your holidays be as filled with joy as the young Lydia Maria Childs’ was on that long ago Thanksgiving Day.

Mexican Christmas Eve Salad


English: fresh fruit salad

English: fresh fruit salad (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fresh fruit and vegetable of Mexico in Mexico ...

In this salad I use the original beets as it lends a festive air to this Mexican style salad.  If you want to use this for a dessert instead, leave the beets out.  Fresh beets are best, but for ease of preparation canned beets may be used if thoroughly drained.  Fresh fruit is preferred.  Sugar is the only sweet added or it may also be served with a thinned mayonnaise.  I like the following combination, but you can substitute a fruit ingredient for some other that you prefer.

INGREDIENTS:

1  3/4 cups orange sections or mandarin orange sections
1 cup apples, unpeeled, cored and thinly sliced
1 3/4 cups pineapple chunks
1 cup sliced bananas
3/4 cups roughly chopped unsalted peanuts
seeds from 1 medium pomegranate
1 cups cooked sliced or diced beets
1/4 cup finely chopped peanuts

Mix all fruit pieces together.  Top with pomegranate seeds and chopped nuts

Sprinkle with superfine sugar (or granulated) or serve with thinned mayonnaise.

This makes a wonderful dessert or dinner starter served before a holiday meal.  It is usually served as part of the Christmas Eve meal in some parts of the world.

A Real New England Roast Turkey


English: Thanksgiving Dinner, Falmouth, Maine,...

English: Thanksgiving Dinner, Falmouth, Maine, USA 2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Having been raised in the land of the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving feast here in New England, I know firsthand that we take our selection of a Thanksgiving turkey very seriously.  It is that time of year again when the markets and supermarkets stock turkeys of all brands and varieties making selection a daunting task.  I don’t have room in a small post to list everything there is to know about selecting, thawing and preparing a turkey dinner, but I’ll try to break down the process into several smaller writings.

To those unfamiliar with the process of selecting and handling poultry, especially large American bred turkeys that can weigh over 24 pounds, I will simply give you this link to the United States Department of Agricultures’  fact sheets on the safe handling of turkey and poultry products:

http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Fact_Sheets/Lets_Talk_Turkey/index.asp

Here’s my familys recipe for roast turkey which is the way it was done by my great-aunt Julie.

ROAST TURKEY

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahreheit.

15 – 16 lb. thawed turkey
Aunt Julies’ stuffing (or of your choice to fill cavity of turkey)
1  1/2 sticks margarine or butter
1 1/2 Tablespoons sage (dried is fine)
1 Tablespoon thyme (dried o.k.)
1 Tablespoon rosemary (dried o.k.)
2 teaspoons pepper
2 teaspoons salt
1 can chicken broth (16 ounces)
1 1/2 cups water

Remove giblet packet and neck from inside of cavity of turkey.  Sometimes the neck is loose inside the neck cavity.  Thoroughly wash turkey with cold water and place on counter on a platter and dry it completely with clean cloth or paper towels.  Do not let the raw turkey touch surfaces of counter.  Wash up behind yourself and periodically wash your hands with hot soapy water.

Stuff the turkey with stuffing mixture and  place on raised roasting rack in a deep sided large roasting pan.  Baste the turkey with melted butter or margarine, then sprinkle liberally with dried herbs, salt and pepper.  Pour broth and water into the bottom of the pan and cover with heavy duty aluminum foil, tenting slightly in the middle away from the top of turkey.    Place the stuffed turkey in the oven on the lowest oven rack and roast for 5 1/2 – 6 hours.  About 40 minute before roasting is complete, uncover the turkey so that it may brown.  Cook for additional 40 minutes until turkey is golden. Remove turkey from oven and check internal temperature with meat thermometer.  The thermometer should read 165 degrees when place in the thickest part of the thigh and, also, it should measure 165 degrees when placed in the thickest part of the breast.  Stuffing, likewise should be thoroughly done at 165 degrees.  Juices at leg joint should run clear.  Let stand for 30 minutes. Carve and serve.

Serves 12 with leftovers

My hopes are that you have a very happy Thanksgiving season.
Aunt Julie’s Stuffing recipe follows in my next post.

Thank you for following my blog.

HOLIDAY SCALLOP APPETIZER


First Course: Scallops

First Course: Scallops (Photo credit: ulterior epicure)

This is a quick and fairly simple appetizer recipe that has been in my family for a while.  It can be used for any number of special occasions and cooks up very quickly.  It has gone over well at Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Years and for a variety of other holidays and events.

SCALLOP APPETIZER:

One pound scallops (thawed if frozen)
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1  1/2 Tablespoons sweet pickle relish
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 stiffly beaten egg whites

Put thawed (or fresh scallops in large saucepan and just cover with water.  Add salt.  Cover the pan and bring to low boil.  Turn down heat and bring to low simmer.  Simmer slowly for 12 minutes.  Drain scallops and cool.  Cut scallops in halves.  Combine relish, parsley, juice, salt and pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and mayonnaise.  Fold in the whipped egg whites.  Top each scallop half with the mayonnaise mixture and place baking sheet under your oven broiler.  Broil scallops for four minutes or until lightly browned.  Serve while still hot.
Makes 24

These are best if made with fresh scallops, but if you must use frozen, they can be found in your supermarket freezer isle.