Tag: reason

Old-Fashioned Cracker Dressing & Stuffing – Do You Dare?

Here we go again, delving into the treacherous topic of
changing up your traditional Thanksgiving side dishes. This time, it’s an
old-fashioned cracker dressing vying to be that surprise, uninvited guest.


Sure some you alternative lifestylists may go for the
cornbread, but generally, bread-based variations rule the day. There’s a
great reason for this; they’re easy, delicious, and most importantly, very
familiar. Therein lies the problem.

Why mess with past success? Your loved ones wait all year
for your Thanksgiving feast, so why take the chance of disappointing them on
the big day? You have the entire rest of the year to do that.

Anyway, I’m not going to try and convince you that this is a
superior dressing, or that you should change your regular routine, but if
you’re someone who’s looking for a change of pace dressing, that’s still very familiar and
comforting, this could be the one.

Of course, you can use whatever ingredients you normally add
to your bread dressing, and it should work just the same. By the way, I never
stuff my turkey, so if you choose to use this as a stuffing, please refer to
the roughly one million Thanksgiving turkey cooking guide linked online. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 16 portions:
1 pound saltine crackers (4 sleeves)
1/2 cup butter
1 large or 2 small yellow onions, diced
3 or 4 ribs of celery, diced
1 tsp salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
cayenne to taste
1/2 tsp dried sage
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
2 3/4 cups chicken or turkey broth
1/2 cup cream or milk
1 or 2 eggs
*Tip: you can cook a small nugget in a pan and taste for
seasoning
Bake at 375 degrees F. for bout 45 minutes

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Banana bread. Again.

There is an American writer – dead now – called Richard Yates. You will know him because he wrote a book called Revolutionary Road, which was made into a film with Leonardo di Caprio and Kate Winslet a few years ago – 2007 I think, or 8.

Anyway he wrote loads of books and I read them all. That’s not a boast, they’re mostly very short. But I did also read his biography, which was really long. And then I wrote a very long piece, almost as long as the biography, for The Independent about him, which I think they still owe me my £90 fee for.

The thing about Richard Yates, the reason why you don’t know his name as well as you know other big American writers, is that he was just really obsessed with his mother. In every single book he wrote, there she is. Irritating, mad, feckless, vain, selfish, shrill, talentless, deluded. In Revolutionary Road she appears as an estate agent and because that’s the only book of his most people have read, they think nothing of it.

But she’s there, in all the others, lurking. And when you read one Yates book after the other, it ends up seeming really quite mad. After the third or fourth book you get a horrible psycho “ehhr ehhr ehhr” tingly feeling, like if you were to walk into the bedroom of a friend and it was plastered with photographs of you.

So the reason that Yates never really made it, died alone and mad in a tiny dirty flat, despite being a really terrific writer, was that he was unable to tackle the big themes that make you properly famous; instead he zeroed in, time after time, on miserable little people leading miserable little lives, every book, every page, stalked by his unbearable mother. Revolutionary Road was a hit by accident, while obsessing about how much he hated Ma, Yates also – almost as a side-line – struck a chord with discombobulated middle America. But it was a fluke.

I fell to thinking about Richard Yates and his unwitting, untherapised obsession with his mother when I found myself, almost trance-like, making yet another type of banana bread. Considering I am trying to get material for a book, it seems so mental and obsesseive compulsive to keep making the same thing over and over again with no reason, no explanation.

Although I suppose there is an explanation. And that is, banana bread is fucking delicious.

This recipe I found on a card in Waitrose, and it was originally a banana, chocolate and caramel cake, using a tin of Carnation caramel, but I got home and didn’t have any caramel but did have a tin of condensed milk, so I used that instead.

I know it’s just banana bread and I know there are already about fifteen recipes for it on this blog and I probably belong in a nuthouse but this is really terrific, all the same.

Banana and Condensed Milk Bread
Makes a 1kg loaf

75g butter
25g caster sugar
1 large egg
1 397g can condensed milk
225g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
3 ripe bananas, mashed

Preheat your oven to 180c or 170c for fan ovens. Grease and line your 1kg loaf tin. You can get away with just lining the sides with one long strip of greaseproof paper, but you must grease the ends well.

1 Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy then add the egg – do not worry too much if this curdles –  followed by your can of condensed milk. Mix the flour and baking powder together and fold into the mixture.

2 Fold in the banana and then pour into the tin. You can decorate this, if you like, bearing in mind that it is going to rise quite significantly. I dotted a spine of walnut halves down the middle, which then heaved away to the left – like a hip tattoo on a pregnant woman.

3 Bake for 1 hr

Eat, then ring your shrink.

 

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Make-Ahead Turkey Wing Gravy, Because You Have Better Things to Do

I’m not a big fan of “make-ahead” recipes, but when it comes
to Thanksgiving, the less we have to do before dinner, the better. This turkey
wing gravy will not only free up valuable kitchen time, but chances are it will
look and taste even better than those frantic, last-minute versions.


A world-class gravy, while not a difficult procedure, does
require a little bit of finesse and attention to detail. Of course, screaming
kids, chatty relatives, and alcohol consumption are the natural enemies of
finesse and attention to detail, so for that reason I’m a big fan of this
alternative technique.

By the way, as I mentioned at the end of the video, just
because you’re making this ahead of time, doesn’t mean you’re throwing away all
those amazing pan drippings. While your turkey’s resting (should be at least 30
minutes), pour off the juices, skim off the fat, and add it to your gravy.

For this reason, I’ll generally make the gravy a little
thicker than I want, knowing I’m going to dump another cup or so of liquid in
later. Speaking of thickness, as with all the sauces we do, you are in complete
control. If you want thicker gravy, use more roux and/or reduce further. If you
want something a bit lighter, use less roux and/or more stock.

Either way, making the turkey gravy ahead of time is just
smart logistics, and frees you up for more important things, like watching
football and fishing for compliments. I hope you give this a try. Enjoy!


Ingredients:
For the stock:
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
2 tsp vegetable oil
2 large turkey wings
10 cups cold water (1 or 2 to deglaze the pan, and 8 to add
to stock)
4 springs thyme
2 cloves garlic, optional

For the gravy:
2-3 tablespoons reserved turkey fat
3 tbsp butter
1/2 cup flour
about 6 cups reserved, strained turkey stock
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of cayenne

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