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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Holidays & Occasions

FOOD 101: Is It Stuffing Or Dressing?

Classic_Herb_Stuffing_mccormick-230

Plain stuffing with just the basics: bread,
celery and onions. It really needs some
augmentation. Mushrooms make a huge
difference. Photo courtesy McCormick.com.

 

What’s the difference between stuffing and dressing, readers ask?

Stuffing the cavity of animals with another dish is an ancient practice. The earliest documentary evidence is the Roman cookbook, “De Re Coquinaria,” “On Cooking, from about 100 C.E. (It is still in print, in English translation. Get a copy on Amazon.com.) The book contains recipes for stuffed chicken, hare, pig, and, yes, dormouse.

In addition to stuffing the body cavity of birds, fish and mammals, various cuts of meat are stuffed after they have been deboned, or a pouch has been cut into them. Examples include stuffed chicken legs, stuffed pork chops and stuffed breast of veal.

Vegetables can also be stuffed, from cabbage, where the individual leaves are stuffed and rolled, to potatoes and zucchini, where the flesh is removed, combined with other ingredients, and stuffed back into the shell.

Names for stuffing in the English language evolved as well. Wikipedia mentions farce (~1390), stuffing (1538), forcemeat (1688) and dressing. After 1880, the “stuffing” was replaced by “dressing” in Victorian English.

 

WHAT’S IN STUFFING?

Most of the stuffings described in “De Re Coquinaria” consist of vegetables, herbs and spices, nuts, spelt (also known as dinkel wheat or hulled wheat) or other grain. Other popular ingredients included brains, chopped liver and other organ meats.

Similar ingredients are still used today. The main difference is that bread is often the base into which the other ingredients are mixed. Turkey stuffing usually consists of day-old (or older) bread, cut into cubes or dried into croutons, mixed with celery, onion, poultry seasoning, salt, pepper and herbs such as sage or summer savory. Add-ins range from fruit and oysters to giblets and pancetta.

 

WHY ARE BOTH “STUFFING” & “DRESSING” USED IN THE U.S.?

There is a difference.

“Stuffing” is self-explanatory: The ingredients are stuffed into the cavity. But in the South, “dressing” is the prevailing term, even if the bird is stuffed in exactly the same way.

Why? Because old Southern tradition dictated that holiday fowl be hunted and cooked on the day of the feast itself. It was a time crunch to get the bird cleaned and cooked in time for dinner, and a hollow bird cooks faster than a stuffed bird. Thus, the side dish was not stuffed into the bird, but cooked alone.

In the process, stuffing is cooked at a higher temperature for a longer period than a separate pan of dressing; so it is usually drier. Older dressing recipes were created to have more of a sauce-like consistency, so it could be poured over the food.

So if the discussion arises at your Thanksgiving dinner, consider yourself prepared!

 

stuffing-bellasunluci-230

Cornbread stuffing dressed up with sundried tomatoes, fresh sage and grapes. Photo courtesy Bella Sun Luci.

 

  

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TIP OF THE DAY: Rose Champagne With Turkey

Each year at this time we get queries about the best wine to serve with turkey. Click over to see our list of “turkey wines”: delicious, affordable choices in red, white and sparkling wines.

One wine we left off of our original list is a crowd pleaser: rosé Champagne. The dark fruit flavors make it a delightful match for turkey, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, butternut squash soup, roasted Brussels sprouts and the rest of the menu.
 
Party Favors

Not only will it thrill at the table; if you’re into nice party favors, you can use splits as place settings. Tie a ribbon around the neck and thread a card with the person’s name. We’ve seen rosé splits from Nicolas Feuillatte’s and Moet & Chandon and Pommery (from $12-$15); your retailer may have others.

But for only $10 for a full-size bottle, we really enjoy [yellow tail] Bubbles Rosé from Australia (yes, it’s spelled lower case and in brackets) and Martini Sparkling Rosé Wine from Italy.
 
Dessert & Brunch

For dessert, the delicate sweetness of a demi-sec rosé, such as Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte’s D’Luscious and Moet & Chandon Nectar Imperial Rosé, pairs with most desserts. Those who don’t indulge in dessert—or have no room left for it—will enjoy sipping a glass.

   

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Quarter bottles of Champagne are sparkling party favors. At left, Brut; at right, Brut Rosé. Photo courtesy Nicolas Feuillatte.

 

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Sparkling rosé wines from Australia and Italy are very affordable—some just $10 for a full-size bottle. Photo courtesy Martini.

 

Recork any leftover bubbly with a Champagne recorker and mix it with pink grapefruit juice for a Grapefruit Mimosa. There’s a recipe below.
 
WHAT IS ROSÉ WINE?

  • Also referred to as blush wine, rosé can be made as a still, semi-still or sparkling wine.
  • Still rosé wines can be made from almost any red grape varietal, or from a blend of varietals. Sparkling rosé wines, including rosé Champagne, are exceptions because they also can be made with white grapes. The wines get their rosy color from contact with the red grape skins.
  • Depending on the grape, terroir and winemaking techniques, the color can range from the palest pink to deep ruby red to hues of orange or violet. Styles range from bone dry Provençal rosé to sweet White Zinfandel and other blush wines from California.
  • Still rose wines are not made to age, and should be drunk at 1-3 years old. The exception is top-quality rosé Champagne. A 15-year-old Dom Perignon Rosé, for example, is a joy.
  •  

    RECIPE: GRAPEFRUIT MIMOSA COCKTAIL

    This recipe, from Emeril Lagasse, can be made sweeter by adding more juice and less Champagne—a proportion that also stretches the Champagne if you don’t have enough left over.

    Ingredients For 4 Flutes

  • 4 tablespoons triple sec or other orange liqueur (e.g. Cointreau, Grand Marnier)
  • 1/2 cup pink or red grapefruit juice
  • 2 cups Champagne
  • Garnish: grapefruit wedge
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE 1 tablespoon of liqueur in each flute. Top with 2 tablespoons of grapefruit juice and 1/2 cup of Champagne.

    2. GARNISH with a grapefruit wedge and serve.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT & GIFT: Pumpkin Granola

    Artisan granola specialist My Favorite Indulgence slow-roasts gourmet granola in small batches. The result is very flavorful, and crunchier than most granolas.

    Flavors include Granola With Nuts, Nut Free Granola and Chocolate Mocha Granola. But a timely seasonal gift is the Pumpkin-Spiced Granola (it’s available year-round).

    Made with certified non-GMO ingredients on a base of oats, the rich flavors derive from real pumpkin, spices (cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg), almonds, walnuts, dried cranberries, brown sugar and maple syrup.

    A 10-ounce pouch is $9.95. There’s free shipping with a purchase of three pouches or more. Handsome gift wrapping is available.

    Alas, the individual snack pack size is temporarily sold out, but keep checking: They make great stocking stuffers and party favors.

    Get yours at MyFavoriteIndulgence.com.

     

    my-favorite-indulgence-granola-pumpkinpkg-230

    Gourmet and giftable: Pumpkin-Spiced Granola. Photo courtesy My Favorite Indulgence.

     

    THE HISTORY OF GRANOLA

    Granola was invented as a healthy breakfast food in 1863 by Dr. James Caleb Jackson, owner of a sanatorium* in upstate New York. It was the world’s first dry, manufactured breakfast cereal.

    At that time, the standard American breakfast was a cholesterol-laden hot meal of eggs, bacon, sausage and beef or chicken, hot cereal, biscuits, toast, butter and jam—a British tradition that evolved to fortify the gentry for a day of sport. (The less wealthy had a ready supply of eggs from their own eggs; fresh eggs also were easily accessible to city folk.)

    Granula became granola when Dr. John Kellogg, who founded a sanatorium in the midwest, produced a similar product with the same name. So, “granola” was born of a trademark lawsuit.

    Check out the history of granola and the difference between granola and muesli.
     
    *Also spelled sanitorium and sanitarium, it indicates a medical facility for long-term illness. While many specialized in the treatment of tuberculosis and other diseases that were not curable before the advent of antibiotics and other medications, others catered to the affluent in a more spa-like environment, where their digestive problems and other discomforts were treated with a regimen of rest and good nutrition.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Party Plate Decals For Any Occasion

    christmas-plate-decals-createURplate

    Just a few of the Christmas decal choices. Photo courtesy Create UR Plate.

     

    We absolutely love this line of plate decals, created by party planner Sandy Casey of Create UR Plate.

    Hundreds of choices let you tailor your dishes to any party occasion. The “magic” comes from adhesive decals, which adhere to the base of glass or plastic plates from the underside.

    Made in sizes to fit both dinner plates and dessert plates, they’re $1.99 each and are reusable. The company also sells glass and plastic plates.

    Can you think of a more elegant—and fun—idea for party plates? The many decal themes include:

  • Anniversary
  • Baby Shower
  • Birthday
  • Bridal Shower
  • Easter
  • Graduation
  • Halloween
  • Hanukkah
  • New Years
  • Passover
  • Patriotic
  • St. Patrick’s
  • Tailgaiting
  • Thanksgiving
  • Valentine
  • Wedding
  •  

    You can also create your own custom design with your own photos and jpgs. Perhaps some Bark Mitzvah plates for Fido?

    See why we find this product so exciting. Check out the plates for

  • Thanksgiving
  • Christmas
  •  
    You can also create plates as gifts, with photos of the kids, pets, team logos and so forth.

    Party on!

     

    giving-thanks-230sq

    One of many different ways to customize your holiday dishes with reusable decals. Photo courtesy Create UR Plate.

     

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Crispy Sweet Potato Roast

    sweet-potato-chips-reclaimingprovincial-via-vtcreamery-230

    This roasted potato dish is similar to a
    Provençal tian. Even if you’re serving a
    traditional sweet potato dish, make these,
    too! Photo courtesy Reclaiming Provincial |
    Vermont Creamery.

     

    During the holiday season, one of America’s great producers of artisan butters, Vermont Creamery, creates a variation of their award winning Cultured Butter: Cultured Butter with Maple & Sea Salt.

    The contrast of salty crunch with the sweetness of maple is delicious on pancakes and waffles, stirred into hot oatmeal, baked into cookies, melted over roasted squash or other veggies, potatoes and rice, or simply spread over a warm piece of crusty bread or toast. The combination of sweet and savory is a hit.

    WHAT IS CULTURED BUTTER?

    In France and other parts of Europe, butter is cultured by adding live bacteria to the cream before churning. The fat content of the butter has to be a minimum of 82% (in the U.S. it can be as low as 80%). The culturing process enhances the sweetness of the butter and brings out a subtle tanginess.

    In the U.S, most butter isn’t cultured; the cream goes straight to the butter churn without added bacteria. This is known as sweet cream butter.

     

    Vermont Creamery’s cultured butter has an 86% butterfat content—the highest fat content you can obtain when making butter. Higher fat content means less moisture, and it provides a higher smoke point when pan searing, a more tender crumb or crust for baking and a much more flavorful table butter.

    RECIPE: CRISPY SWEET POTATO ROAST WITH HERBED COCONUT CRÈME FRAÎCHE

    This recipe comes to us Carey Nershi of the blog Reclaiming Provincial via Vermont Creamery. The combination of coconut milk, crème fraîche and sriracha add an unexpected twist. Find more exciting recipes at ReclaimingProvincial.com.

    For a related dish, check out the French Provençal dish, tian.

    This looks so great in the pan that we made ours in a casserole dish that could go straight from oven to table.

    Note that you can substitute quality unsalted butter (like Cabot’s) for the Vermont Creamery cultured butter. Add 1/8 teaspoon of maple sugar (or to taste) and a pinch of sea salt as a substitute.

     

    Ingredients

  • 4 pounds sweet potatoes (approximately 2.5 inches in
    diameter)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1.5 tablespoons Vermont Creamery Cultured Butter
  • 1.5 tablespoons Vermont Creamery Cultured Butter with Sea
    Salt & Maple
  • A few pinches of coarse sea salt
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • Heaping 1/2 cup crème fraîche (purchased or homemade)
  • 4 teaspoons sriracha* or other hot sauce
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, minced
  •  

    cultured-butter-maple-2-230sq

    So delicious, and well worth the splurge. Photo courtesy Vermont Creamery.

     
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F. Melt the butters over low heat on the stove top, then mix together with olive oil and set aside.

    2. PEEL the sweet potatoes, then slice crosswise as thinly and evenly as possible (between 1/8” and 1/16” is ideal). A mandoline will make the task far easier.

    3. BRUSH a healthy coating of the butter and oil mixture over the inside of an 8” or 9” baking dish or skillet and sprinkle with a pinch of coarse sea salt. Arrange the potatoes in the dish, brush with the remaining butter and oil and sprinkle with the remaining salt.

    4. ROAST the potatoes for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the middle of the potatoes are tender and the tops begin to brown and crisp. (The exact time will depend on your oven and on how thinly you’ve sliced the potatoes. Test them with a fork to make sure they’re tender in the middle.) Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes. While the potatoes are resting…

    5. WHISK together the coconut milk, crème fraîche, and sriracha in a saucepan over medium heat, until just warmed.

    6. POUR half of the sauce over top of the potatoes and sprinkle with half of the minced cilantro. Combine the remaining sauce and cilantro and serve alongside the potatoes, for guests to use as desired.
     
    *Sriracha, pronounced see-RAH-jah, is a Thai hot chili sauce. It is made from red chiles, distilled vinegar, garlic, sugar and salt; and is aged for three months or longer. Unlike American hot sauces such as Tabasco, which are vinegar sauces that are infused with hot chiles, sriracha is primarily puréed chiles, making it a much thicker sauce. The sauce is named after the coastal city of Si Racha in eastern Thailand, where it was first made and marketed.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Pumpkin Flan, Delicious & Gluten Free

    pumpkin-flan-kimptonhotels-230

    Pumpkin flan. Photo courtesy South Water Kitchen | Chicago.

     

    Unless you bake with gluten-free flour, Thanksgiving guests following a gluten-free diet can’t enjoy your pumpkin pie. So Roger Waysok, executive chef of South Water Kitchen in the Chicago Loop, suggests a gluten-free alternative: pumpkin Flan.

    His recipe, below, is easy for to prepare and doesn’t require a novice baker to deal with the challenges of gluten-free flour. (You can’t simply substitute gluten-free flour for regular flour; you need a recipe developed with gluten-free flour*).

    Flan is the Spanish name for a particular type of custard made with carmel syrup. The french term is crème caramel. It is the national dessert of Spain. In Mexico, dulce de leche is often used instead of caramel syrup.

    Check out the different types of custard in our delectable Custard Glossary.

     
    RECIPE: PUMPKIN FLAN

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • Caramel syrup (see Step 1 below)
  • 2 cups sugar (for syrup)
  • Nonstick spray
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 cup egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice†
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling‡)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the caramel syrup: Cook 2 cups of sugar and 4 tablespoons of water over medium-high heat until it turns amber in color. Stir frequently to avoid burning.

    2. SPRAY 4-ounce custard cups or foil cups; cover the bottoms with thin layer of caramel.

    3. COMBINE milk, vanilla and salt over heat until steaming (do not scorch).

    4. COMBINE the sugar, eggs, egg yolks, spices and pumpkin purée in a separate bowl. Whisk until combined; then add the warm milk mixture until a custard forms.

    5. FILL the cups with custard. Bake in water bath at 325°F for 30 minutes. Serve warm or chilled

     
    *Gluten-free flour can sometimes require extra ingredients to bind the dough mixture, in order to create the same chemical reaction that occurs with regular flour.

    †Pumpkin pie spice is simply a blend of the traditional spices that go into pumpkin pie. Combine 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger and 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves.

    ‡Pumpkin pie filling has spices blended in. Pumpkin purée is not seasoned; the appropriate spices are included in the recipe.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Goat Cheese Sweet Potato Parfait Appetizer

    If you run with a gourmet crowd, here’s a suggestion for a first course that’s easy to make, yet impressive and unique. It is especially elegant when you use a ring mold to create a free-standing tower. However, an easy alternative is to layer the ingredients in a dessert glass or juice glass.

    You can find many more special recipes at VermontCreamery.com.

    RECIPE: GOAT CHEESE SWEET POTATO PARFAIT

    Ingredients
     
    For The Parfait

  • 3 medium apples
  • 2 sweet potatoes (about 1½ pounds)
  • Fine sea salt
  • Freshly ground white pepper*
  • 3 tablespoon olive oil
  • 10 ounces fresh goat cheese (chèvre), plain
  • 6 ounces crème fraîche
  • 1 small shallot, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 tablespoon chives, sliced
  •  
    For The Crème Fraîche Sauce

  • 4 ounces crème fraîche
  • 1 tablespoon shallots, minced
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chives, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  •    

    sweet-potato_goat_cheese_parfait-vtcreamery-230b

    For a sophisticated first course: sweet potato and goat cheese parfait. Photo courtesy Vermont Creamery.

     
    If you can’t find crème fraîche at the store, you can make it from scratch from heavy cream and buttermilk, with this recipe.
     
    For The Salad

  • 1 cup celery leaves
  • 2 tablespoons black olives, diced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon, diced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons lemon oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • ¼ cup celery, sliced on a bias about ¼ inch long
  •  
    Special Equipment

  • 6 ring molds, 2 inches in diameter by 3 inches high
  •  
    *White peppercorns are black peppercorns with the outer black skin removed. They lose some of the heat and flavor, which is contained in the skin. In the halls of haute cuisine, this was done to prevent black flecks of skin from marring the perfect whiteness of a sauce. However, today we live in a much more relaxed culinary society and are not bothered by black flecks.

     

    creme-fraiche-in-pail-beauty-vtcreamery-230

    Crème fraîche. Photo courtesy Vermont Creamery.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F. Season the apples and sweet potatoes with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.

    2. INDIVIDUALLY WRAP the sweet potatoes and apples in aluminum foil, and place them in the preheated oven. The apples will be tender in about 20 minutes; the sweet potatoes will need about 35 to 40 minutes of cooking time. Once they are tender, remove them from the foil. When the apples and sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel and dice into ¼-inch pieces and set aside. While the apples and sweet potatoes are cooling…

    3. COMBINE the parfait ingredients, the chèvre and and the crème fraîche in a bowl and mix completely. Stir in the shallot and chives. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Reserve in the refrigerator.

    4. MAKE the crème fraîche sauce: Mix the crème fraîche, shallots, parsley, chives and lemon juice in a stainless steel mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Twenty minutes before serving, remove the chèvre mixture from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature.

     

    5. PLACE a ring mold in the center of each plate and spread 1 tablespoon of the chèvre mixture in the bottom. Top the chèvre with the diced sweet potato, then add another dollop of chèvre, then the diced apple, another dollop of chèvre, then the diced sweet potato. Finish with a layer of chèvre.

    6. TOSS the celery leaves, slices of celery, black olives, and lemon together. Drizzle with lemon juice and lemon oil and season with salt and pepper. Top each parfait with a bit of the celery salad, and then remove the mold. Place the parfait in the middle of a plate and drizzle the crème fraîche sauce around the plate and decorate with celery. Serve immediately.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Pumpkin Risotto

    pumpkin-risotto-andrea-watman-230

    Pumpkin Risotto. Photo courtesy Zabars.

     

    The Italian mother of a friend always serves pumpkin lasagna and pumpkin risotto at Thanksgiving, along with the turkey. In addition to combining traditions, they offer a bonus: enticing vegetarian options for people who won’t eat the turkey.

    This pumpkin risotto recipe is from Zabars’ late, great creative director, Andrea Watman. For a vegetarian dish, use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.

    Andrea makes the recipe memorable by serving individual portions in scooped-out small pumpkins, but you can go the traditional route and bring the risotto to the table in one serving bowl—or scoop out one larger, prettier squash like a buttercup or kabocha (see the photo below and check out the different types of squash).

    In terms of the pumpkin cut up for the risotto, Andrea suggests that you can use a jack-o-lantern pumpkin, cheese pumpkin pumpkin or butternut squash. (But for pies and desserts, The New York Times’ Melissa Clark tested different pumpkins and squash and gave a hands-down recommendation to butternut or acorn squash. Here’s the full article.)

     

    The risotto can be made as a main course, you can add mushrooms and even sausage meat (for a non-vegetarian version). Andrea’s recipe is easy to make. “Get ready to take a bow,” says Andrea, “because this is a crowd pleaser.”

    Here’s a more complicated pumpkin risotto recipe from Pom Wonderful, which uses pomegranate juice and arils.

    RECIPE: PUMPKIN RISOTTO

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 6 small pumpkins (for serving)
  • 1 medium pumpkin
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Optional: 1 cup mushrooms, sliced/diced
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 5 cups of chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • Garnish: 4 ounces shelled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • Optional garnish: fresh sage leaves, whole or chiffonade
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 325°F.

    2. NEATLY CUT the tops off of the six serving pumpkins; remove the seeds and fibrous strands. Place the serving pumpkins and the pumpkin tops on a baking sheet. Lightly coat the inner flesh with olive oil (we used olive oil spray). Bake for 15 minutes; the skin will begin to wrinkle. Don’t overbake the pumpkins or they won’t hold their shape.

    3. BRING a large pot of salted water to boil. Cut up the medium pumpkin, remove the seeds and fibrous strands and peel the outer skin with a vegetable peeler. Cut into cubes and add to the boiling water. Cook as you would potatoes for mashing, about 20 minutes.

    4. DRAIN well; mash with 1 stick of butter. Do not add salt or pepper.

     

    pumpkin-risotto-berlucchi-61-franciacorta-230sq

    You can use a larger squash such as kabocha (shown) as a serving bowl. Photo courtesy Berlucchi ‘61 Franciacorta.

     

    5. HEAT the olive oil in a large, heavy saucepan and sauté the chopped onion, garlic and mushrooms until tender. Do not brown.

    6. ADD the rice and stir with a wood spoon until the rice is coated. Then add 1 cup of white wine and 2 cups of stock, stirring continuously (or as often as possible) until all liquid is absorbed. Add the remaining wine and 1 cup more of stock and keep stirring. Once the liquid is absorbed add 1 more cup of stock, stir until absorbed and add the remaining stock if necessary. You want the rice to be cooked but not mushy.

    7. REMOVE from the heat and stir in the mashed pumpkin. Return the pan to the heat and stir in the remaining stick of butter and Parmesan. The rice will be almost creamy. Taste, and if you need to add salt or pepper, do it now.

    8. SPOON into the small pumpkins or a serving dish. Top with pumpkin seeds and optional sage; serve immediately.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT & GIFT: Zhena’s Pumpkin Spice Tea

    Instead of a chocolate turkey party favor, this year we’re sending our Thanksgiving guests home with a tin of pumpkin spice tea from Zhena’s Gypsy Tea.

    Zhena blends caffeine-free rooibos tea (pronounced roy-boss) into a warm, soothing cup that mimics the flavors of pumpkin pie with vanilla, orange peel, and a trio of pumpkin pie spices: cinnamon, clove and nutmeg. The line is organic, Fair Trade Certified and certified kosher by KSA*.

    Rooibos is a bush that grows in South Africa. The name means red bush in the Afrikaans† language; the leaves steep into a red-colored brew. Honeybush is a cousin to rooibos, also cultivated in South Africa. It is similar in flavor (slightly sweeter with a fuller body) but its flowers have the aroma of honey; hence the name.

    Rooibos is very healthy: no caffeine, high levels of antioxidants and low levels of tannin. Children—even infants—can drink it.

    We’ve been fans of Zhena’s since we first reviewed the teas in 2007 (here’s the review).

     

    zhena-pumpkin-spice-tea-230

    Caffeine-free tea to cap your Thanksgiving dinner or as favors. Photo courtesy Zhena’s Gypsy Tea.

     

    Zhena Muzyka is a proponent of giving back (a percentage of sales goes to very worthy causes), and was an early champion of sustainable, organic and Fair Trade agriculture. She sells more than 70 Fair Trade blends, which support the mission of providing better wages and working conditions for agricultural workers (more about Fair Trade).

     
    PARTY FAVORS & HOLIDAY GIFTS

    Airtight tins of 22 sachets are $6.67, with free shipping on orders over $35, at Amazon.com.

    For a sampler gift, Zhena’s Harvest Stackable has four tins, each with four sachets of Caramel Apple, Chocolate Truffle, Cranberry Bliss and Pumpkin Spice. They’re $8.99 at Zhenas.com.

     
    TEA TALK

    Learn the language of tea and be inspired to try different types of tea in our delicious Tea Glossary.

     
    *Some Zhena products are not certified kosher, however the rooibos teas are kosher.

    †Afrikaans is a West Germanic language spoken in South Africa and Namibia and, to a lesser extent, in Botswana and Zimbabwe. It began to develop independently in the 18th century, an offshoot of several Dutch dialects spoken by the mainly Dutch settlers of what is now South Africa.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Butternut Squash Mashed Potatoes

    butternut-squash-mashed-potatoes-potatogoodness-230r-rev

    Combine butternut squash with mashed
    potatoes. Photo © United States Potato
    Board.

     

    What do you get when you combine Roughly mash potatoes with mellow butternut squash and finish with fresh sage leaves crisped in brown butter? A hit!

    This combination will be a crowd pleaser at the Thanksgiving table, as well as for family dinners throughout the fall and winter.

    RECIPE: SMASHED POTATOES & BUTTERNUT SQUASH WITH BROWN BUTTER & SAGE

    Ingredients

  • 1 pound (3 medium) yellow-flesh potatoes, cut into 3/4-inch chunks
  • 1 small butternut squash (about 1 pound), peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • Salt
  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 8-10 fresh sage leaves (2 to 3 inches long), stacked and cut across into ¼-inch strips
  • ½ cup or so milk
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  •  

    Preparation

    1. COOK potatoes and squash: In 3-quart saucepan, cover the vegetable chunks with water; add 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to boil over high heat; reduce heat, cover and cook until tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile…

    2. COMBINE 2 tablespoons of the butter and all the sage in small skillet or saucepan over medium heat. Tilting pan and watching closely, cook about 3 minutes, until the butter foams and begins to brown. Keep warm.

    3. DRAIN the cooked potatoes and squash, return to pan and shake 1 to 2 minutes over low heat. Roughly mash with a hand masher, leaving the mixture chunky. Over low heat, gently mix in the remaining tablespoon of butter and enough milk for consistency desired.

    4. SEASON with salt and pepper. Spoon into a serving bowl and drizzle with the brown butter and sage.

     

    butternut-duo-beauty-goodeggs-230

    Butternut squash. Photo courtesy The Good Eggs.

     

    MASHED POTATOES VS. SMASHED POTATOES

    What’s the difference? Unlike mashed potatoes, which ideally are almost as smooth as a purée, smashed potatoes are a rough mash. More rustic (chunky) in appearance, they taste the same and require less labor to mash. A win!

      

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