The Cheese Plate

The Cheese PlateThankful
Thanksgiving is a day dedicated to celebrating the blessings in our lives. It is not about tangible gifts but rather the gifts that cannot be seen. Thanksgiving is about spending quality time with friends and family to appreciate all that is good and to reconnect while seated at a table for a feast to remind ourselves what is the most precious.

The circumstances surrounding this year’s celebration have not changed the basic premise of the holiday. We will still celebrate and give thanks for all that we have but this year we celebrate friends, family, and the other blessings in our lives by not getting together. We are showing how much we care about the families we were born into and the families we choose by staying safe at home so that next year we can all come together to gather around the same table in good health.

This reality is not what we would choose, nor what we would prefer, but it is the right thing to do. So whether you’re a party of four, or two, or one for turkey this year, take heart that your are not alone. We are all in this together and together we will all get through it. So raise a glass to toast those whom you are missing at your table and to the hope that at this time next year, we will all be together around the table again.

A very Happy Thanksgiving to all of you from your family at Piedmont Grocery.

The Cheese Plate
A cheese plate is an easy appetizer to throw together and with some simple rules of thumb, you can create one that is delicious and varied. Cheese plates can be artful, with lots of room for improvisation. Read more…

Mushroom, Chestnut, and Sausage Stuffing

Mushroom, Chestnut, and Sausage StuffingThat’s The Stuff-ing
The past 48 hours have been immensely frustrating. A few weeks ago, in anticipation of having to talk about all things Thanksgiving, I was searching for different recipes for stuffing. And, I found one that I though looked so interesting. But now, for the life of me…I can’t find it anywhere.

I don’t know what it’s like in your household, but in mine, the stuffing is ridiculously important. If there were no stuffing on the Thanksgiving table it would be a major issue—no matter who is in charge of making the meal. As a general rule, my family likes to cook most of the stuffing in the bird. But, we also do some extra in a casserole so there is enough to go around. There is plenty of debate on which is best. Personally I am conflicted. I like the flavor of the stuffing cooked inside the turkey. But, I also like the crispy stuff that is cooked in the casserole. I‘m good either way. Stuffing that bird is a problem though…if you choose to spatchcock your turkey.

Since we are not doing Thanksgiving the normal way this year, I am cooking Thanksgiving for my immediate family. And, since my oven isn’t super huge I am forced to spatchcock my turkey if I want to have a bird big enough to allow for leftovers. And, there must be leftovers.

So, I was looking for stuffing recipes that aren’t cooked in the bird and I found one made with sausage, herbs, the usual breadcrumbs, and possibly mushrooms. It had been moistened, chopped fine (or possibly put in a food processor) molded into a log, cooked, and then sliced. It looked so cool and elegant—and definitely different. But, that is the recipe I can no longer find. Arrrrrrgggggh!!!

If this sounds at all like something anyone of you have heard of please let me know and pass along the recipe if you can. It’s going to drive me batty until I can find it again!

My frantic search has been good in one respect. I have found some really interesting possibilities for this year’s stuffing for those who are inclined to change things up. There are stuffings using rye bread and others with figs and kale. There’s traditional apple and sausage stuffing as well as some with chorizo. Below is a recipe for Mushroom, Chestnut, and Sausage Stuffing and it is the most appealing to me for this year. It’s a bit of a departure from our usual. But, then again everything about this year is new territory…

Mushroom, Chestnut, and Sausage Stuffing
Adapted from Anthony Bourdain in Food and Wine Magazine
Yields 8 to 10 servings

This recipe can be made the day of and timed to come out of the oven when the turkey is ready (or kept warm). Another option is to partially prepare the stuffing the day before and place in the fridge overnight—to be easily completed and popped into the oven about 50 minutes before serving. Read more…

Slow-Cooker Braised Butternut Squash

Slow-Cooker Braised Butternut SquashSlow Turkey
With a lot of people potentially making Thanksgiving for the first time this year, we at Piedmont Grocery have been looking for recipes that strive to make life a bit easier on the big day. The best option we found? Your slow cooker…

Stock
Good turkey stock is essential for many of the other dishes that make up a Thanksgiving feast. You use it for the stuffing, the gravy, and a little drizzle over the meat on the platter before serving helps keep it moist. Sure, you could buy turkey stock, and there are lot of good ones out there. But, nothing beats the flavor and nutrition of homemade stock. The drawback is the time it takes to make it.

Enter the slow cooker. Making stock in your slow cooker is the no-hassle way to have the good stuff on hand for the big day. Throw the ingredients in the cooker in the morning and walk away. By dinner time you have a rich tasty stock. Even better, set the cooker on low and do it in your sleep. Literally. Check out our post on making your own stock.

Sides
You can also use your slow cooker for the side dishes that you don’t have room for in the oven. No matter how big your oven is, chances are there will be something that just won’t fit. So, why not throw it in your slow cooker or Instant pot? There are so many Slow Cooker/ Instant Pot recipes out there for you to search that would work well for Thanksgiving or any day frankly. My favorites tend to be the squash recipes.

My favorite find is our recipe for Braised Butternut Squash with Pecans and Cranberries. It’s simple—but looks so festive on a platter. And, the best part is you put the ingredients in the crock pot and don’t have to think about it until you’re ready to eat.

If you’re one of those souls who is cooking for the first time this Thanksgiving, first, take a deep breath. There’s no need to make it more stressful than it needs to be. Nor does it need to be exactly like Mom would make. Everything is different this year so try to roll with it and think of ways to make it easy. No matter what you do to celebrate, the important thing is that you are celebrating.

Slow-Cooker Braised Butternut Squash Recipe
Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen
Yields 4 to 6 servings Read more…

Cranberry Curd Tart

Cranberry Curd TartBird of A Different Feather
Plans for Thanksgiving are different this year. Traditional, over-the-river-and-through-the-woods (or worse, the airport) get-togethers aren’t happening this year. For the vast majority of folks, the Thanksgiving celebration will be a much smaller gathering. And, while it is disappointing that you will not be with loved ones you haven’t seen in a while, there can be a few silver linings as well.

There will only be six of us at my house for Thanksgiving this year which means that I won’t need to make the usual amounts of food to make sure all of the favorite must-haves are on the table. Let’s face it, there are certain side dishes that have to be there (mashed potatoes) but there are always some dishes that only a few people actually eat (creamed onions = bad childhood flashbacks). Not having the usual crowd leaves room to set your imagination free and try something different.

Cranberry sauce is a must-have at my holiday table but there are a number of people who don’t like cranberry sauce, either the canned or fresh version. There are also a number of people who aren’t big fans of pumpkin pie—or pie in general. So, when I saw this recipe for Cranberry Curd Tart I was intrigued and I knew I had to try it out.

True, some may argue that a tart isn’t all that different from a pie. This is sort of true, but not really. At least not to me. In my mind tarts are a totally different experience and if they were exactly the same why give them a different name in the first place? Something to ponder…

If you like a good lemon curd tart, you will enjoy this gorgeous dessert as it has a very similar citrusy tart flavor. It’s also light—which can be a good thing after all of the carbs. The color is ridiculously vibrant and eye-catching especially when placed alongside the neutral colors of turkey and stuffing. This recipe is flexible enough that you could just as easily make smaller tarts to accommodate a smaller crowd.

While it’s definitely a bummer that the usual Turkey Day celebrations are on hold this year, try to have some fun with it. Switch things up. Get dressed up if you want or wear your jammies to the table if you so choose. For that matter you don’t even have to go to the table. Don’t like turkey? Make whatever you want. And for those who don’t want to celebrate at all? Go for it! You be you.

Cranberry Curd Tart
Recipe adapted from Cook’s Illustrated November/December 2020 issue
Yields 8 servings Read more…