Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

Turkey Curry Salad Sandwich

This morning, my day started in a bit of panic mode.  I was getting ready to attend an all-day training seminar and realized that we were supposed to pack a lunch so that we could also listen to a guest speaker during that time. I’m really not good at bringing my lunch, even when I work fulltime, so I was sort of stumped as to what to do.

Rummaging around in the fridge I happened upon a bit of a surprise.  Shoved into the back of the top shelve was leftover Turkey Curry, from post-Thanksgiving.  Remember when I talked about how turkey was the gift that kept on giving in my family?  I conducted the “smell test,” and it seemed o.k.  (Oh, you know the one: When someone opens up that random jar of stuff in the back of the fridge and asks you to shove your nose in it to see if it smells bad.)  All I needed to figure out was how to recycle it as something to take for lunch today.

From the Pita Chips / Crisps that I made last week, I still had a couple of extra pita pockets.  I also discovered that I had some extra almonds from the Almond Butter Crunch and a jar of Squadrilla Chutney. This made my creative culinary wheels start to kick into motion, even if my morning caffeine hadn’t quite gotten into my system.  What if I created a Turkey Curry Salad Sandwich?

So, I took the leftover turkey curry, which was about a cup, and figured out what I need to do next, based upon another curry salad that I’d eaten ages ago.  I added a dollop* of the chutney, a couple of squirts of mayonnaise, a small handful of almonds, and, then, for some freshness, put in about a tablespoon of chopped cilantro.  What I was looking for was a citrusy, tangy, tart balance to the spiciness of the curry.  The turkey really needed something to perk it up at this point.

When I unwrapped my sandwich a few hours later, I wasn’t disappointed.  This was much more interesting than your usual chicken or turkey salad sandwich.  It had several different flavors going on in every bite, with nothing too overpowering in any one of them.  I don’t usually opt for sandwiches for lunchtime, so it was nice to have something that was flavorful and multi-dimensional.  Best of all, I saved money by not buying something to eat, and I finally got rid of the last of the Thanksgiving turkey.

Buon appetito!

*Kitchen Witch Tip:
I know that not all of my readership is based in the U.S. and that not all measurements are standard.  To assist in using my recipes, I’ve included a Measures / Conversions page on the site.

What to do with leftover Thanksgiving Turkey? Turkey Curry, of course!

Turkey Curry

I can hear it already, the sigh emanating from kitchens around the country.  The fridge door is open and the containers of Thanksgiving leftovers are just sitting there challenging you to figure out what to do with them on the third day after the holiday.  Can you really take eating a plate of turkey and the fixings all over again?  Even my own father made a comment today about how he was on his fifth meal of leftovers, and he is usually the first one to figure out how to make a sandwich with everything.

My folks had several creative solutions to this culinary dilemma when we were growing up. Last week, my sister and I reminisced about a few of their choices.  There was Turkey Leftover Soup.  Mmmm…I can visualize the murky grey-brown broth even now, a few decades later.  Chunks of mashed potato floated on top of it.  Green beans rubbery and chewy provided that extra touch of texture.  Some vague semblance of shredded turkey meat would sometimes appear in the thick depths.  Then, a few weeks (or months!) later, we’d find a leftover container of it in the back of the fridge, fuzzy stuff growing on top of it.

Visualize this, but made with Turkey instead of Tuna

Another leftover treat was Turkey Tettrazini.  Just swap out the tuna in Tuna Tettrazini for cooked turkey and voila!, you have a new post-holiday recipe for your files.  I really do believe in not wasting good food, so I’m only sort of tongue-in-cheek about this.  One of the dishes that I did actually like was one that my mother made using recycled Thanksgiving turkey is Turkey Curry.  It is not a fancy dish, or even a typical Indian-style or Thai curry, but, rather, just basic and simple.

This is a take on my mother’s classic Chicken Curry recipe.  Interestingly enough, I don’t actually think that she had an index card in her files for it, so I had to improvise a bit from what I remember the last time I made it under her watchful eye.  I think I managed to capture the spirit if not the essence of it.  I had a meal similar to this one at Gadsby’s Tavern in Old Town Alexandria many years ago, so I don’t think that this version of a curry is that atypical.

Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey Curry (can also be made with chicken)

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Serving Size: 4 portions

2 tsp. Canola Oil
1 small Onion, chopped into small pieces
1 large clove Garlic, minced
3-4 cups shredded cooked Turkey (light and dark meat)
2 tsp. Curry Powder (I used McCormick’s), plus more to taste
1 1/2 c. Chicken or Turkey Stock
1/2 tsp. Salt

To serve:
1 c. cooked Rice (white or brown)
1/4 c. Taisins
1/4 c. chopped Banana
1/4 c. chopped Walnuts
2 chopped hard-boiled Eggs

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over low heat.  Add the onion to the pan and cook for two minutes until soft and translucent.  Add the garlic and cook for one minute more.  Then, add the turkey (or chicken) and curry powder.  Stir to mix everything together well.

Pour in the stock and bring it to a boil.  Turn down the heat and let the mixture simmer for 20 minutes, until it is rich and thick.  Add the salt and taste.  Adjust the seasoning as necessary.

Turkey cooking in Curry Sauce

To serve, put 1/4 of the rice in the center of each plate.  Pour 1/4 of the curry mixture on top of the rice.  Garnish each plate with equal parts of the raisins, bananas, walnuts, and eggs.  Optional garnishes could also include dried cranberries or leftover cranberry relish or chutney.  The idea is to have a contrast between the spice of the curry and the sweetness of the additions like the dried fruit or the tenderness of the meat with the crunch of the walnuts.

Turkey Curry served up with all the fixings

Buon appetito!

This entry will also be cross-posted at Blogher.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Now that the pies are baked, the squabble about the side dishes has been resolved (this year it was over sweet potato fries), and the turkey is roasting in the oven, it’s time for the annual holiday trivia fest (and Christmas present name drawing in my family).  What was the first Thanksgiving celebration like, what did they eat, and who was really around the table?  Like every other American child, I grew up with the ideal of dourly-dressed Puritans gratefully sharing their harvest meal with the uncivilized Native Americans after a winter in which the former almost starved to death.  Long planks were filled with turkeys, pies, corn, potatoes,and every other imaginable autumn food.  

At a lecture at the 92nd Street Y Tribeca on I attended last Wednesday, Dr. Libby O’Connell, Chief Historian at The History Channel, gave an engaging talk on the real origins of this festival and how the picture of it that we have in our minds today matches up with what that feast would have looked like almost four centuries ago. One of the first things that she set about doing was to clarify the name“thanksgiving.”  Festivals with that name as well as feasts celebrating the bounty of the harvest have been around for centuries prior to Plymouth. These traditions are evident from the earliest societies.

As Dr. O’Connell pointed out, as soon as farming is seen in civilization, we see homage paid to the gods of growing food. The harvest festivals involved large meals and some type of singing and/or dancing. Thanksgiving ceremonies, however, were of a more somber nature and involved fasting, prayer,and religious ceremony. A good yield in any year would have been a cause to be celebrated.  It would also have been appropriate to thank the local god/diety/saint that the people deemed responsible for providing them with the abundance to sustain them for the upcoming colder weather. 

This is the background for the traditions that the earliest European settlers brought with them to the New World.  In fact, some of the surviving written accounts reflect accounts of them giving thanks in ceremonies that pre-date the one that we honor today,including the one at Berkeley Plantation in Colonial Virginia.  As we know from our history studies, life was not easy for those who came to these shores from Europe.  In their first year here,many of the settlers died from disease and food-related illnesses, and it was throught he generosity of the native peoples who taught them how to grown food in this new climate that they were able to survive and eventually to thrive.  Edward Winslow, one of the Plymouth colonists described this first harvest feast that they had. This is what is referred to as “The First Thanksgiving” (with apologies to my VA peeps who claim that the first one was held there).
What isinteresting to me was the food items.  Animals were slaughtered in the fall, so that they wouldn’t have to be fed during the harsh winter months.  Crops would have been brought in to be stored.  When the Virginia contingent talks about this holiday, themenu might include things like ham and oysters. Articles about the feast also clarify that pumpkin pie (or anypie) would not have been possible, as the colonists didn’t have the white flouror sugar with which to make it. Mashed potatoes would not have been at the table, as they had not yettraveled back from Europe via South America.  Apples were also not native to this area, so I couldn’t have had my favorite pie.  There might have been turkey, but therewould also have been other types of fowl. 

Lobster might also have been on the menu, as it was plentiful in thewaters in that area at that time. There might even have been fresh venison, something not found on manymodern holiday tables.  What wouldhave been on the table, too, was corn or maize. This wasn’t like the warm buttery ears that we eat today, but rather a hard grain andmeant to be ground into meal before using.  Corn pudding is probably a close approximation of a dishthat might have been on the Puritans’ table.  They also might have eaten squashes, spinach, beans, andnut, and some type of stuffing might have been part of the meal, too. 
From this first meal grew a mythology and after several more iterations developed the currentvision of Thanksgiving Day.  It wasduring the Victorian era that the more modern tradition started to take place,much like our modern Christmas holiday celebrations did. Atmy parents’ house, the meal seemed to me to be very picture-perfecttraditional: roasted turkey with stuffing (if I was lucky, without oysters),creamy mashed potatoes, crisp green beans with almonds, giggly cranberry sauce(and cranberry relish if I had my way), and sweet pie for dessert, usuallyapple.  I would love it if lobster could make an appearance during the day.  The concept of a slow-roasted pumpkin stuffed with bread and savory ingredients is kind of appealing and might be something I attempt next year.  

Really, however, it doesn’t matter exactly what is on the table at Thanksgiving.  I’ve celebrated it with family and friends in several different cities and in a few countries. Some of the thrill comes from bringing everyone together around the table, even the last-minute extra guests, much as the Native Americans were that first celebration.  Everyone chips in bringing his or her traditions and from that new ones might be born.  I still haven’t managed to convince my father, though, that pizza or dumplings were part of that early feast.  Maybe next year…

Buon appetito!

Thanksgiving Dishes – A Roundup

This year things are going to be a bit different for me for Thanksgiving.  As I’m no longer working in an office, the annual ritual of folks passing by my cube, looking for those last-minute recipe hints or swapping holiday cooking disaster stories (for the record, I don’t have any of those) is not going to be taking place.  This also means that I don’t have to confess to anyone that I’ve never actually made the centerpiece of the meal: the turkey.

My mother always made the turkey and gravy.  I wasn’t even allowed near it, except when it came to pulling out the innards (which, thankfully came stored in a plastic bag shoved down its inside).  At every other meal to which I’ve been invited, it is usually the host who takes care of this.  Even when my roommates and I had folks over to eat many years ago, I was able to get out of poultry duty.

I’m the first one to volunteer to bring dessert or a side dish to the meal, if it is a potluck, and will almost-willingly peel the mounds of potatoes it takes to feed my large and carb-friendly family (although I’m really looking for someone in the next generation who can take over from me on that), but I’ve never tackled cooking the big bird.  This year will be no different, as far as I know.

So, what I’ve been promising everyone is that I’ll pull together some of the side dishes that I’ve posted previously that might be suitable for the occasion.  I’ve also linked to two other new dishes that I created recently using products that I recently discovered via Schoolhouse Kitchen.  These might not all be the same things that were served at the first harvest celebration held by the Puritans in Plymouth, but they should be very tasty and might give you some new ideas to carry over to your own family’s annual table.  I hope that you enjoy them.

Buon appetito!

Spiced Pumpkin-Pecan Muffins with Maple Butter

Buttermilk Biscuits
(I’m partial to the ones with Cheddar and Chives)

Pears and Cheese
(without the salad, this could also be a dessert course)

Winter Squash Soup with Gruyère Croutons

Spinach Salad

Spiced Pecan and Pear Salad

Baked Couscous with Spinach and Pine Nuts 
(a potluck standby, this can also be made vegan by omitting the cheese)

Farro Risotto with Roasted Butternut Squash and Thyme-Roasted Mushrooms 
(this can also be made vegan by omitting the butter and cheese)

Roasted Parsnips with Schoolhouse Kitchen’s Bardshar Chutney

Sweet Potato Mash with Schoolhouse Kitchen’s Squadrilla Chutney

Chocolate-Pecan-Bourbon Pie

Egg-in-a-Hole Grilled Cheese

On Friday, while the rest of America (and maybe some of the rest of the world) was trying to figure out how to concoct the perfect sandwich from the previous day’s Thanksgiving leftovers, I was trying to find something that would appeal to my cold-starved body. There was no turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, potatoes, or veggies to reheat. Most of all, there was also no extra slice of pie to eat for breakfast.

A few weeks ago, I had seen Aida Mollenkamp on The Food Network doing a show all about eggs. One dish she made was basically a twist on a bacon, egg, and cheese on a roll, the deli hangover staple. My brain decided that this Egg in a Hole Grilled Cheese was just the kind of food that my body was ready to tackle after several days of chicken soup and cold medicine.
I was surprised to see how many shops were closed in my neighborhood the day after Turkey Day. It was very quiet. Among the places that were open was the Italian deli. Knowing that I had eggs and butter in the fridge, as I was supposed to have made a pie to take to Thanksgiving dinner, I just needed to pick up bread, ham, and cheese.

I guess I sort of cheated a little bit to suit my own tastes, but this recipe is flexible like that. I used a Comté cheese instead of regular Swiss. They are cousins, so the flavor is similar. The deli had proscuitto cotto, which I used instead of Canadian bacon. I think that you could also substitute sliced ham and get the same effect. Bacon would make this sandwich too greasy and regular proscuitto would be too dry, but there are many various that you could do.
The honey mustard I used was Honeycup – also very good for Southern ham biscuits. It has a nice sharp-sweet tang with a bit of a bite, especially if you slather it on the bread the way that I do. I used a farm bread which worked well, but has as its downfall that you end up with lots of bread in the filling-to-bread ratio. I recommend using something more square-shaped.
Once you end up adding the cheese and ham and topping the egg side with the mustard side, you end up with something like this in the pan. Although not in the recipe, I realized that I needed to add more butter to the pan after I flipped the entire sandwich so that there would be some fat to cook the second side of the bread. Instead of adding the butter to the pan, which would make it turn brown instantly due to the now very hot pan, I buttered the non-mustard side of the bread after I placed that slice on top of the egg bread and before I flipped it to toast in the pan. This seems to work very well.

After a few minutes more, my lunch was ready. A softly cooked egg surrounded by gooey cheese and smoky ham all wrapped up in buttery, crunchy toast. I added a small side salad dressed with a simple vinaigrette to round out the meal. I wish I could eat more mid-day repasts like this, although not with the cold that my body is still fighting.
Buon appetito!

Spicy Red Lentil, Coriander & Coconut Soup with Chicken Dumplings

That’s the sickbed, to be specific. There’s only one thing worse than being all alone on a holiday weekend. Being sick and alone on a holiday weekend. That really stinks. For the past couple of days, I’ve been fighting off some nasty bug. So, I decided to pull the plug on my trip to see my family in Virginia for Thanksgiving.

This means no turkey, no stuffing, no Dad’s mashed potatoes, no pie, and none of the other treats that go along with that day. Oh, yeah, and no family either, which is a shame as some of my relatives whom I haven’t seen in a while were going to be at my folks’ house. Instead, I got to eat chicken soup, lots of soup, along with cold medicine and fluids.

A few months ago, when there were still lots of summer vegetables at the Greenmarket, I made a batch of one of my favorite soups to keep on hand. Peter Gordon’s Spicy Red Lentil, Coriander & Coconut Soup with Chicken Dumplings* is definitely not your grandmother’s chicken soup. Heck, it’s not my mother’s or my grandmother’s chicken soup.

Although the title says “spicy,” it is not hot in the sinus-clearing kind of way. Rather, it has layers of flavor from spices, vegetables, broth, and coconut milk, along with citrusy backnotes. It is comfort food for a different palate. It is light and hearty at the same time. The other plus is that it freezes well, so I can make it when inspiration hits and then keep it on hand for when I feel under the weather or for when I feel like I need a bowl of something warm and comforting.

Buon appetito e buona festa!

*I tried to find an on-line version of this recipe, but couldn’t locate it. I recommend tracking it down in his Sugar Club Cookbook, which I saw for sale on eBay for under $10.00. I was fortunate enough to be able to eat at that restaurant when I lived in London many years ago and had one of the top two vegetarian meals I’ve ever eaten.