Saturday, November 30, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

Well, another Thanksgiving has come and gone. If you've been following my blog, you probably know that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It happens in the fall (my favorite time of year) and centers on gratitude and food, two things I value tremendously.  This year I started my morning in the kitchen of the Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Athens, GA. This church prepares a huge meal for the community on Thanksgiving, and I went over to help with the cooking. What I received from the experience, however, was so much greater. Normally, I wouldn't write about this sort of thing because I believe what it says in Matthew 6:1-4 about letting your giving be done in secret. Today, however, I need to make an exception, because if I don't, I can't tell you what I learned. There was a gentleman working at the church (I won't use his name out of respect for his privacy) who has been helping to prepare this meal for over 25 years. He took the time to share the history of this event with me while he taught me to make his special turkey gravy. When the event started, they prepared the meal in a field with tubs of water, outdoor cookers, and bonfires to keep themselves warm. It eventually moved indoors (which he says is much easier), and it has had several other changes along the way. Nonetheless, the event has endured, and this gentleman has been there every step of the way. He told me how he learned to cook in his family's soul food restaurant, and how he raised his daughter on his own. He talked about the importance of family and even let me have the first taste of this year's gravy. Thinking back on my week of great memories, it was this experience for which I am most deeply grateful, and I dedicate this blog to my new friend.

After the gravy was finished, it was time to go home and make my own family meal. The weather was cold and crisp (pretty much a perfect day), and my menu was a combination of old and new recipes. Instead of a turkey for just four people, I decided to roast a chicken with herbs, butter, and white wine. This made for an absolutely delicious gravy afterwards (using my friend's tips of course!) My mom made her traditional stuffing to go with it, and I made the green bean and artichoke casserole I wrote about in last year's Thanksgiving blog. I also made the double cranberry-apple sauce from my 2012 Christmas blog, but I used half as many apples and the same number of cranberries. This made a tarter, slightly more traditional version that went really well with the meal. Now for the new....I made a roasted vegetable galette roughly following a recipe from My version of the recipe is below.

Roasted Vegetable Galette
1 sweet potato (peeled and cubed)
1 beet (peeled and cubed)
1 parsnip (peeled and cubed)
2 carrots (peeled and cubed)
1 onion (chopped)
12 Brussels sprouts (halved)
2 tsp kosher salt (or more to taste)
1 - 2 Tbsp olive oil
4 cloves of garlic (peeled and minced)
3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme (minced)
1 1/2 - 2 cups fresh kale (finely chopped)
6-8 ounces softed cream cheese
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp granulated sugar
2 sticks cold, unsalted butter (cubed)
cold water
1 egg (beaten)

To begin, make the pastry dough by combining the flour, sugar, and 1 tsp of the salt in a food processor. Add the cold butter and process it until the mixture is crumbly with small pieces of butter still visible. Add the cold water very slowly until the dough has the right consistency (sticky but not gooey - holds together when pressed). Dump the dough out on a sheet of plastic wrap, work it together ever so slightly with floured hands, wrap it tightly in the plastic, and put it in the refrigerator for no less than two hours.

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Peel and chop the roasting vegetables (sweet potato, beet, parsnip, carrot, onion, Brussels sprouts). Toss them in the olive oil and remaining salt, and roast them, covered, until they are tender but not completely soft - usually 30-40 minutes. Set the vegetables aside.

Combine the garlic, thyme, kale, and cream cheese in a separate bowl until the mixture is relatively smooth and creamy.

Roll out the pastry dough out on a floured surface to make a large circle approximately 1/4 inch thick and 18 inches in diameter. Move the dough to a baking surface (I like my pizza stone, but use what you have). Spread the cream cheese/kale mixture out in the center of the dough leaving a 2-3 inch margin around the edge. Spoon the roasted vegetables over the top, covering the kale mixture. Fold the dough edge over the vegetables in sections, allowing it to overlap at the corners. Brush the dough with an egg wash and bake (still on 400 F) until the crust is golden brown (approximately 30 minutes).

A couple of notes: I doubled several of the vegetables to serve on the side for some carb-minded family members. If that's the route you plan to take, I would finish the extra vegetables in the oven uncovered so they will brown. The vegetables on the galette with finish and brown as the dough cooks. My recipe calls for considerably more cream cheese than the original recipe. The kale didn't cook down as much as I expected, and this should help to smooth everything out. If, however, you want to use less cream cheese, I would recommend chopping the kale very finely and maybe even wilting it briefly before adding it to the filling. The recipe is good as is but could probably use some tweaking. Please let me know if anyone out there has a suggestion.

The galette was delicious and beautiful, though admittedly a lot of work. We finished the meal with my grandmother's famous pumpkin pie and proceeded into the usual Thanksgiving stupor. In closing, let me just say that I am so deeply grateful for all of the tremendous blessings in my life, and I wish everyone out there a safe, happy, and blessed holiday season.

Photos by Jenn Ballard

1 comment:

  1. I just have to say that it was all very good and the Roasted Vegetable Galette was awesome! I had never even eaten part of those veggies and it was worth every bite + it was beautiful!