Going home! The sheltering arms of a golden maple, lasting stone walls, a family going home for the holidays — enduring images of a safe and secure time and place.
In our family, the day before Thanksgiving has become as rife with the ritual as the feast itself. It’s in vogue now to say “the whole family gathers in the kitchen.”
Our guys are known for replicating the time-honored recipe for escarole soup, which Papa called zuppa di scarola. Enjoyable the day before Thanksgiving Day.
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, prosciutto ends, soppresato, or pepperoni remnants from a generous butcher
4 quarts of chicken stock
6 garlic cloves, minced
freshly ground black pepper
1 pound dry white beans, washed and drained
2 heads escarole, roughly chopped (about 4 cups worth, available bagged and cleaned at Tops)
1/4 teaspoon oregano
3 to 4 leaves fresh basil
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
salt to taste
freshly grated Romano cheese
Brown the sausage or meat ends, in a large soup pot. Remove meat and set aside.
Add the stock, garlic and several grindings of black pepper to the soup pot.
Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, scraping all the browned bits from the bottom of the pot.
Add the beans and herbs, and cook, covered, for about 30 minutes, then add the meat back in.
Simmer on lowest heat until the beans are tender.
Add the escarole, and cook until the escarole is soft.
Taste and adjust the seasonings.
Serve with plenty of freshly grated Romano cheese and garlic bread for dipping.
Thousands of “home chefs” call Foster Farms at 1-800-255-7227, to speak live with specialists on call to provide you with tasty recipes and fool-proof cooking for the big day.
Foster Farms, a family-owned business in the western United States since 1939 has thousands of calls even on Thanksgiving Day.
Butterball.com also has home economists and nutritionists on board with their toll-free Turkey hot lines, 1-800-288-8372.
The Butterball Turkey Talk-Live number at 1-800-323-4848 invites callers to speak live with a cooking expert at the other end of the line, and even on Thanksgiving Day starting at 6 a.m. at 1-800-288-8372. This goes on throughout the entire month of November and December.
Character actor and producer, Stanley Tucci provides two “guy” recipes for the day after Thanksgiving, reminiscing about his late maternal grandmother, Concetta Tropiano. His love of food has shaped his life and career in which cooking and eating seem to be ever present. Grandmom Concetta pickled her own tomatoes, canned her own pears, curdled her own ricotta, brewed her own beer, and fattened her own chickens, rabbits and goats in Verplanck, about an hour’s drive north of Manhattan.
1 pound ground pork
1 pound ground beef
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 cup fine bread crumbs
Combine all the meatball ingredients; roll into about 65 balls, using one teaspoon of meat for each.
In a large non-stick frying pan, cook as many meatballs as will fit in one layer over medium heat, turning occasionally, for about 20 minutes.
Repeat as necessary.
Set aside in a bowl at room temperature.
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium carrot, minced
1 medium rib of celery, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
4 tablespoons of chicken stock, or white wine
2 28-ounce cans Italian plum tomatoes, (remove the seeds and squeeze the tomatoes)
1/2 cup shredded fresh basil
2 teaspoons salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
In the same pan used to make the meatballs and utilizing the fat left in the pan, cook the carrot, celery and garlic over medium heat for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Dissolve the tomato paste in the stock or wine, and then stir into the vegetables.
Cook the mixture for about 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes and basil.
Simmer for about 30 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper.
Pumpkin is everywhere this year ... in high-end cocktails, bagels and in the pioneering Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte, about $4 for a small cup.
Pumpkin drink offerings have increased 400 percent during the past five years. Believe me, the secret of some of these lattes, is that it’s just a latte spruced up with flavored syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. The semiotic power of pumpkins is so great, in fact, that pumpkin dishes don’t even need any actual pumpkin in them. A pumpkin dish, in the era of the locavore, makes one think of something farm-grown and wholesome, even when what you’re eating is mainly just sugar and spice.
The annual and very popular dessert for Thanksgiving and Christmas feasting is John’s flaming hearth pumpkin pie, which graces countless tables throughout the state. Fellow Pennsylvanians have adopted this recipe and it has even reached California’s
Hearth pumpkin pie
1 baked 9-inch, deep dish pie shell
1 quart vanilla ice cream
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon each of nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup cooked pumpkin
dash of salt
3 tablespoons of confectioners sugar
Spread the ice cream in the pie shell.
Place in freezer until firm.
Blend pumpkin, sugar, salt and spices.
Whip cream until stiff.
Add confectioners sugar while beating.
Reserve about 3/4 cup for garnish when serving and blend the rest with pumpkin.
Spoon mix over ice cream in the pie shell.
Place in freezer until ready to serve.
Marija Vukcevich is a freelance writer from Lewiston. Contact her at email@example.com.