Archive for October 2011

Thanksgiving On A Shoestring

by Nancy Hinchliff, Innkeeper/freelance writer

Enjoy the holiday

During this time when most of us are cutting back on our spending and trying to find ways to beat the economic slump, entertaining family and friends may be quite a challenge, especially during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Americans love to eat. Some wait all year for that one day they can “pig out” and feel okay about it. Everyone stuffs themselves with all manner of food and drink on Thanksgiving. It’s been a tradition since the pilgrims sat down with the Indians for the first Thanksgiving in Plymouth in 1621.

Keeping the cost down

Even if you are out of work, on unemployment or temporarily living with your parents, it is still possible to create an incredible Thanksgiving dinner if you give it some thought. The secret is in the planning and in doing most of the work yourself. Rather than rushing out and buying up expensive bags of ready made dressing, cans of cranberry sauce and canned gravy, you might want to consider making these things from scratch. It is much cheaper and, in most cases, costs less and tastes better.

Planning your dinner

You first have to decide whether or not you can afford to buy a turkey. That might depend on the size of your family and the amount of money you have to spend. Turkeys are more expensive than chicken or other fowl and are usually quite large, so you might consider buying a chicken instead or Cornish game hens, if you’re cooking for a smaller group. Chicken goes just as well with all the thanksgiving trappings. However, if you absolutely have to have a turkey, remember that if you buy one a little bigger than what you’ll need for the big day, you can have at least three meals out of it by making wonderful dishes with the left overs.

Food and Drink

After the meat, probably the easiest and least expensive dishes to include in your meal are potatoes (white or sweet), vegetables, dinner rolls, and pumpkin pie. The first two items will probably be on sale at your grocer during the season. Vegetables vary in cost from inexpensive green beans, corn, and broccoli and zucchini to more expensive mushrooms, artichokes and asparagus. A big cost saver would be to make your own dinner rolls or biscuits and pie, as well as the cranberry sauce, the dressing, and the gravy. They really are not difficult to make and you can actually have fun doing it, if you allow enough time. Figure your schedule out ahead of time and make some of your food and drink items the day before.

While the kids most likely will drink milk, and some of the adults, too, for something a little more festive, you might try a cranberry punch or serve a lovely white wine with your turkey. Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Grigio all go well with turkey , as does Pouilly Fuisse (which is a little more expensive, but might be an interesting choice if you are a guest and want to bring something special to the host or hostess). And, of course, after the main meal, lots of delicious strong coffee to keep everyone from falling asleep from the tryptophan in the turkey.

Making a fabulous pie

If you don’t like pumpkin, apple pie goes well with this type of meal. And if you have children, they really enjoy helping in the kitchen and can be assigned various jobs to help you out. Making pie crust seems to strike terror in the hearts of many cooks. So, buying them ready made has become common place. However, they are more expensive than homemade and, in most cases, don’t taste as good. For those of you who are adventurous, here is a video with exact instructions (see below). Once you have your crusts made, you can decide whether you prefer pumpkin pie or apple.

Nancy Hinchliff”s blog: A Memorable Time of My Life

Recipes:

Pie crust (video), Apple Pie, Pumpkin Pie

And for something very special
Fabulous Pumpkin Cheesecake

CHEESECAKE FACTORY PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE

Photo of Pumpkin Cheesecake

Crust:

1 1/2 cups graham crumbs
5 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 Tbsp. sugar

Filling:

3- 8oz.pkgs. cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup canned pumpkin
3 eggs
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. allspice
Whipped Cream

Instructions:

Mix crust ingredients together, just till coated and crumbly. Press onto the bottom and 2/3 up the sides of an 8″ springform pan. Bake for 5 min. at 350. Set aside.

Combine cheese, sugar and vanilla in large bowl, mix until smooth with an electric mixer. Add pumpkin, eggs, and spices, beat till smooth and creamy. Pour into the crust. Bake for 60-70 min. or till the top turns a bit darker. Remove from oven and allow to come to room temperature, then refrigerate. After it has thoroughly chilled, remove the pan sides and cut. Serve with whipped cream.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Cooking at the Cottage

by Nancy Hinchliff, Innkeeper/free-lance writer

If you’re looking for fun things to do while you’re in Louisville, here’s a unique idea. Cooking at the cottage opened in

The Gourmet Cottage, Louisville, Ky

November of 2010. It’s a cookware retail shop that carries of variety of items that any cook would love to have in their kitchen. But what is so unique about this establishment is that they conduct cooking classes right on the premises. As a retail store, they specialize in cookware, bakeware, decorating supplies, gadgets, coffee/tea/chocolate, and bridal & gift registries.

Classes are held at the retail store which is with ten minutes of any one of the member bed and breakfasts of the Louisville Bed and Breakfast Association. You can book your cooking class at the same time you make reservations at your favorite Inn. Louisville has wonderful local restaurants. The chefs who teach at the Cottage are all owners and/or executive chefs at one of Louisville’s fine restaurants. Many of them also teach at the local Culinary Arts School at Sullivan University.

“Our goal at the Cottage is to offer our customers old fashioned, personal service with a smile! If there is anything you need, just ask one of our staff members and we will be happy to help you find it or if you want, try to special order it for you. Remember, we have gift certificates available, for any amount, which can be used on merchandise and/or cooking classes. These make a wonderful gift for that special foodie in your life!

Participation in a Cooking at the Cottage hands-on class places you in a typical cooking environment with inherent risk. By registering for a Cooking at the Cottage event, you agree to release Cooking at the Cottage and its staff, employees and contractors, from all liability arising from direct or indirect damages or injury.” (Mark & Linda Kunz Bayens).

Pancakes in the Time of Pumpkins

by Nancy Hinchliff: Innkeeper/freelance writer

Fall is a great time to visit Louisville and stay in one of our wonderful bed and breakfasts. The weather is near perfect, sun shiny days but not too hot. The outdoor festivals are in full swing, and trips to the countryside to view the turning leaves, taste the fall wine, snd visit the beautiful working farms to pick up pumpkins for Hallowe’en and delicious apples is relaxing and fun.

Most of our Inns feature wonderful fall selections for breakfast like Pumpkin Pancakes, baked German Apple Pancakes, and fresh melon. You will not be disappointed. I have included a guest post from another blogger here and a couple of delicious recipes.

guest post by Teresa Rice

We are living in the time of pumpkins. Great boxes are filled with them at the local farm market–gone now to jack o’ lanterns, many of them and unceremoniously tossed out after their night of drama.

Some go on to be cooked and used now or saved for special holiday recipes. Many will go into pies, the iconic Thanksgiving dessert. Some will go to lovely warming soups or pumpkin bread or muffins. A few will go inmore exotic culinary directions. And don’t get me started on the squashes–so many varieties, from mirlitons to sweet dumplings, butternuts to buttercups.

I’m tempted and bewildered by my imagination as my table, loaded down with all manner of squash and pumpkin can testify. What to make and write about? Pumpkin ravioli–buttery, tender and delicious? Or a butternut soup, fragrant with saffron and rich with cream and ghee? I ponder long over a delicate pumpkin roulade, filled with sweetened mascapone. Then I think about swiss chard wrapped around sausage, pumpkin and barley mixture, or mirlitons filled with highly seasoned shrimp stuffing.

These, along with pies and cakes, muffins and breads, will be welcomed in my home as we travel the calendar into the holidays, to the winter solstice and on to a new year. But one special dish–an ultimate comfort food–comes first.

PUMPKINS AND PANCAKES

Saturday mornings were hotcake eating time at our house, also at my grandma’s. Mamma would get out her round twelve-inch griddle and she’d let me skitter water drops across the surface to test the heat. Then she’d ladle out five or six little hotcakes at a time. When bubbles formed and just began to pop the spatula would swoop down and flip them, splat splat splat. I’d watch their cooked tops rise up when the raw side hit the hot griddle. They’d hesitate, then sigh and lower themselves to the pan to finish cooking.

We’d gather around the table like baby birds, waiting our turns. Hot stacks piled onto our plates as they got done, never one by one, so you’d have enough to pile together with butter pats. We buttered them up and ate them down with Steen’s Cane Syrup–thick, dark and smoky flavored–or a lighter syrup my mother made with maple extract added to simple syrup.

The ettiquete was to use your knife to cut the stack into eight triangular wedges and load as much as you could get onto your fork. The fork became a mop and the hotcakes became hot, tender butter-and-syrup delivery devices. Wow.

Mamma’s hotcakes were always pristine and plain. No blueberries or pecans, no bananas or walnuts. But I remember my grandma making us pink and blue and green hotcakes at Eastertime. They didn’t taste any different, but they were crazy fun.

The pumpkin was not a familiar part of our lives and certainly didn’t find its way onto our table for hotcake mornings. The Louisiana yam filled its place in pies and cakes and anywhere else a pumpkin might be. They must have been somewhat available, though. On the road between Baton Rouge and Hammond a little sign indicated the turn off to Pumpkin Center, Louisiana–pronounced “punkin.” The sign actually gave the turn for Baptist, Louisiana and then Pumpkin Center so it looked like all the Baptist pumpkins must gather at the Baptist Pumpkin Center to do who knew what. This was a hilarious joke at the time and still makes me smile.

RECIPES

I would have found these incredibly exotic in my childhood, even as I do today. They are the deep old gold of spectacular winter sunsets. Spice aromas capture you the minute you begin to mix the batter and the hot griddle instantly careens the smell throughout the house. No one will sleep through breakfast when you make these. I find I close my eyes and breathe these long before I get to taste them. Once I finally get a butter-drenched pumpkin-butter-slathered bite, my tastebuds rise up to meet the flavors on a cloud of weightlessness.

Many recipes for pumpkin pancakes are dense and heavy from the added pulp. Leavening agents like baking powder and baking soda are too wan to carry pumpkin up to the lightness a pancake deserves. The secret is to beat the egg whites and delicately fold them in to assist with the rise. This batter, as a matter of fact, is very similar to an airy roulade recipe, frothy and tender. The pancakes must be baked quickly or the egg white advantage deflates. The optional sprinkle of pumpkin seeds gives a satisfying counterpoint. If you’re not fond of pumpkin seeds, try my favorite chopped and toasted pecans, which is not to say that they aren’t perfect without nuts of any kind.

The pumpkin butter–oh lordy, what can I say? A touch of rum for breakfast? Let the good times roll, dawlin’. I prefer a thick spread, particularly for my pancakes, but adjust the liquid to suit yourself once the cooking is done.

Pumpkin Pancakes

Ingredients

•1 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup fresh cooked pumpkin or canned pure pumpkin (not pie filling)

3 large eggs, separated, room temperature

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon each cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

Vegetable oil, butter or non-stick spray for the griddle

1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, optional

Instructions

Whisk buttermilk, pumpkin, egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla in medium bowl to blend; whisk in melted butter. Sift flour, spices, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into large bowl. Add dry ingredients to buttermilk mixture and whisk to combine. Beat egg whites in medium bowl until soft peaks form. Fold whites into batter.

Lightly oil or butter heavy large skillet set over medium heat. Working in batches, pour batter by 1/3 cupfuls onto skillet. Sprinkle a few pumpkin seeds on each pancake and cook until bubbles form on top, about one-and-a half minutes. Turn pancakes over and cook until second sides brown, about 1 minute. Transfer to plates. Sprinkle with nuts. Serve with Rum Pumpkin Butter and maple syrup.

Rum Pumpkin Butter

1 cup fresh cooked pumpkin or canned pure pumpkin (not pie filling)

1/2 cup orange juice or apple cider

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup butter

1/2 teaspoon each cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon dark rum, optional

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and cook over low heat for 5 – 20 minutes or until blended, stirring frequently. Add more orange juice or cider if mixture is too thick.

All text and images copyright 2010 Theresa Rice