Any time is a good time to be thankful for our health, our family, our friends and for all we've been given, but November is the traditional time to outwardly show our gratitude. One of the ways we express our gratitude is sharing time and food with others...and Thanksgiving Dinner is the centerpiece of this tradition.
I shared some Thanksgiving preparation ideas in this month's Hamakua Times newspaper article - Getting ready for Thanksgiving, but did not share any side dishes appropriate for this holiday meal...here are a few of my favorites from the past.
Hawaiian Sweet Potato Ali'i
This is my local version of the traditional sweet potato or southern yam soufflé.
4 cups cooked and mashed purple sweet potatoes
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk
3 Tablespoons melted butter
Combine all above ingredients and beat at medium speed with a hand mixer or in a food processor until smooth. You will notice something weird; the eggs will make the purple sweet potatoes turn green at first. Don't let this throw you..., it will turn purple again as you continue to mix. Pour into a buttered 11 x 7 x 1-1/2 baking dish. Set aside.
3 Tablespoons melted or softened butter
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup chopped and roasted unsalted macadamia nuts
1 cup flaked coconut
Combine all above ingredients, stirring with a fork; sprinkle over sweet potato mixture. Bake at 350 F for 35 minutes.
One of the side dish last year for Thanksgiving, was a version of Mac & Cheese seen above - cooked, thin egg noodles to which I added half an 8 ounce block of cream cheese, some gratings of Gouda, some gratings of medium Cheddar and Sour Cream, topped with Panko and dotted with butter. Baked until nice crust formed on top and bubbly on the edges. It was soooo goood...Both of us had seconds!
Another side dish enjoyed during a past Thanksgiving
Apple Rice Pilaf with Cranberries & Almonds
1 - 2 Tablespoons olive oil, butter, or margarine
1 medium onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped (*)
Rind of 1 orange, grated
1 cup white or brown rice
1/4 cup parsley, minced, divided
2 cups apple cider or apple juice
1/2 cup dried cranberries or raisins
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat oil, butter, or margarine in saucepan. Add onion, celery, and orange rind, and sauté until vegetables are limp. Add rice and continue cooking just until rice is golden. Add half the parsley, the cider or juice, and cranberries or raisins.
Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 25 minutes for white rice and almost an hour for brown rice. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle remaining parsley on top just before serving.
(*) SONIA'S notes - I used butter and one fresh Granny Smith apple instead of the celery and added 1/4 cup nuts (sliced almonds) to this dish.
The rice I use is a combination of rice and herbs I buy called Jasmine Medley. Thai Jasmine rice and wild rice with a blend of garden herbs and (dried) vegetables, but a combination of jasmine and brown rice would work well also.
Instead of grating the orange peel, I used my zester and zested it in very thin ribbons.
I used cranraisins. I did not sprinkle with parsley on top. I added all of the
parsley to the recipe itself.
Yield: Serves 6-8
Original source © 1999 "So Easy, So Delicious" cookbook by Ellie Deaner - shared by Portia Little in the Providence Vegetarian Examiner
Kabocha is an Asian variety of winter squash. The word has come to mean a general type of winter squash in many English-speaking countries.
This is one of our favorites in the squash family. To give it a bit more flavor, I like to roast the Kabocha before puréeing
1 Tablespoon olive, avocado or macadamia nut oil
1 Tablespoon sweet butter
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
1 Tablespoon grated or minced ginger
4 cups Kabocha squash, roasted and puréed
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
½ cup whipping cream or half & half
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Roast the squash and purée with a hand blender, hand mixer or food processor until smooth. Sauté the onions and ginger in the oil and butter in a large saucepan until soft and translucent; add the purée and the stock. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer until soup is heated. Add the cream or half & half (constantly stirring ); season with salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste.
Garnish with a dollop of sour cream, yogurt, a drizzle of Crème Fraîche (Notes, page 115) or a sprig of sage.
Yield: 4 - 6 servings
Source: My "From Soup to Nuts" cookbook - page 20
NOTE: for the presentation in the photo, I roasted two of them - one of them I roasted longer than the other (so that the other could keep the shape and be used as a tureen) and used all of the pulp from one and part of the one I cooked less.
4 medium baking potatoes, peeled
1/3 cup butter, melted and divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon unseasoned fine dry breadcrumbs (I used fine Panko)
1 Tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan cheese (I used a Parmigiano-Romano mix)
Preheat oven to 425°. Slice each potato crosswise at 1/8-inch intervals, cutting to within 1/4 inch of the bottom. Arrange potatoes, fan side up, in a buttered 10-inch pie dish. Drizzle 2 tablespoons melted butter evenly over potatoes, and sprinkle with seasoned fine Panko and or shredded or grated cheese in between and on top of the slices if you wish.
Bake potatoes at 425° for 30 minutes. Sprinkle more breadcrumbs or Panko over potatoes, drizzle with remaining melted butter, and bake 20 more minutes; baste with butter in pan, and bake for 5 more minutes or until potatoes are golden.
Our Favorite Dressing
We prefer to not stuff our turkey, so I cook the stuffing as a dressing in a separate baking dish. One year I decided to bake the dressing in muffin tins instead of the baking dish. I made a carrot and ginger 'sauce' instead of gravy to serve with it...it was a delicious combination!
Even though I like to experiment with other recipes, this is the one that my kids loved and my son Anthony still requests. We not only use this as a side dish during our Thanksgiving dinner, but also cook it to serve with a regular meal at any time during the year.
1 large onion, chopped
1 celery bunch, chopped, leaves included
2 bay (laurel) leaves
Olive or vegetable oil for sautéing
2 cups chicken livers, rinsed and chopped
5 to 6 cups chicken broth, separated
A few sprigs of fresh sage – leaves only
1 large package herb blend stuffing
4 large eggs
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 F
Slowly sauté onions, celery and bay leaves in small amount of olive or vegetable oil until onions are translucent. Add the chicken liver pieces and cook thoroughly. Add 2 cups of broth and the sage leaves and cook, simmering, for about half an hour.
Empty dressing mix in a large bowl. Add the cooked vegetables and liver and mix well. Add the eggs and mix well. Add the rest of the broth, little by little to make sure the dressing is thoroughly wet but not soupy, test for seasonings and add if needed. Take out the bay leaves. Transfer to a baking dish and bake for about 20 to 30 minutes or until top is golden brown, but still moist.
If you try any of the above recipes, I would love to hear your comments and of any changes or tweaks you made!