Turkey Day is coming up fast and far be it from me to ever suggest changing your Thanksgiving feast. The whole point of our annual feasts is to serve the same delicious food every year — and thus, a tradition is formed and maintained.
Still, things can become a bit boring and I thought I’d offer a few recipes in case you might like to try something new without unduly irritating your guests. Since this is a day when “getting stuffed” seems to be a motif, here are a few suggestions for a new hors d’oeuvre or side dish that makes the most of the market vegetables that are still available. These are three tried and true recipes that I have used many times and they are always eagerly and speedily devoured.
12 medium sized mushrooms
1 package of cream cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
1 half large onion, finely minced
1 – 2 garlic cloves (depending upon your own taste), minced
1/ 4 red pepper chopped finely
1 tbsp butter
1) Remove stems from the mushrooms. Chop them finely. Hollow out a space inside the mushroom caps for the filling.
2) Sauté the vegetables lightly and combine with the cheeses, holding back a bit of the Parmesan for topping just before baking.
3) Melt butter and add to the filling.
4) Spoon the filling into each mushroom cap — be generous.
5) Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan and cook in 400 degree F. oven for about 20 minutes until the tops are golden brown.
I serve this as an appetizer and the original recipe had buttered bread crumbs on top. I found that the bread crumbs were just “gilding the lily” and making the whole thing too heavy. It’s pretty rich and filling as is, so no matter how tempted you are, don’t double the amounts for everyone.
The following is a very colorful way to use up the end of the season corn and tomatoes.
Stuffed Tomatoes with Corn and Basil
recipe adapted from Epicurious
6 medium sized tomatoes
3 ears of corn, shucked
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup chopped basil leaves plus 6 sprigs for garnish
1 scallion, chopped fine
1 cup 1/4 inch bread cubes
1) Cut half inch from the stem end of each tomato and with a melon ball cutter and scoop out and discard the seeds and pulp, leaving a half inch shell. Sprinkle the shells with salt and let them drain, inverted, on paper towels for 10 minutes.
2) In a large saucepan combine the corn with enough salted cold water to cover it , bring the water to a boil and boil the corn for 5 minutes. Drain the corn, let it cool until it can be handled and, working over a bowl, cut the kernels from the cobs with a serrated knife.
3) Whisk together the vinegar and salt and pepper to taste, add the oil in a stream, whisking until dressing is emulsified. Add to the corn, along with the chopped basil, the scallion and salt and pepper to taste.
4) Melt butter in a skillet over moderately high heat, sauté the bread cubes until they are golden. Toss the croutons with the corn mixture, spoon the mixture into the tomatoes and arrange the basil sprigs decoratively on the tomatoes.
One of the tricks here is draining the tomato shells so that everything doesn’t become squishy and soggy. Also, don’t cook the corn kernels too long — they should be tender crisp.
And finally — I make this all year round — it’s great for Christmas. This is so pretty, the hors d’oeuvres are like little gems.
Cucumber Cups filled with Sour Cream and Smoked Salmon
adapted from a recipe in Gourmet magazine, 1990
1 cup regular sour cream
one 14 to 16 oz seedless cucumber
3 green onions, minced
1/3 cup minced from dill, plus some dill sprigs for garnish
1/4 pound thinly sliced smoked salmon
1) Cut the cucumber crosswise into sixteen quarter inch slices. (Don’t peel the cucumber.) Scoop the centre out of each slice without going all the way through so that you end up with little cucumber cups. Sprinkle the cups with salt and let them drain, inverted, on paper towels for 10 minutes.
2) Combine the sour cream, the scallions, the minced dill and salt and pepper to taste.
3) Gently pat the cucumber cups dry. Divide the sour cream filling among them.
4) Now – the tricky part: Cut the salmon into 8, 6 by 1/2 inch strips, halve the strips diagonally and roll them up, beginning with the pointed ends and turning the edges slightly to form rose shapes. Arrange the salmon roses and the dill sprigs on the cream cheese mixture.
These can be made an hour in advance and kept covered and chilled.
I hope that you will use your imaginations to concoct your own stuffed vegetables and that you will have a very happy and bounteous Thanksgiving.