The Cook's Tour: Thanksgiving Potpourri!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving Potpourri!

Happy Thanksgiving, dear readers!  I've got so many cool things to tell you about that I thought potpourri was a fitting title.
First I must tell you about a wonderful (somewhat unconventional) alternative to cooking a turkey for the holidays. Based on an article in the NY Times a few weeks ago, we took the plunge and ordered a smoked turkey from Greenberg's Smoked Turkeys in Texas.  Look at that gorgeous bird! When it arrived snug in its' shipping box on Tuesday, we immediately refrigerated it until Thursday morning. Served at room temp, the only prep necessary was carving and plating. The smoky essence that filled the house was intoxicating! And moist? Even the white meat (which generally holds no interest for me) was luscious.  Greenberg's has been in business since 1938. A family-run operation to this day, they will sell about 200,000 birds this holiday season.  Most of their business is from repeat customers, and they can now count us among them.


I also want to tell you about a dessert I made for the holiday. A friend was bringing traditional pumpkin pie so I wanted to do something a little different, but still using pumpkin. I took a cue from my Italian heritage and modeled a dessert on the classic Tiramisu. Taking vanilla cake and layering it with a mascarpone pumpkin pecan frosting proved a delicious twist (frosting recipe here) on the usual T-day holiday desserts.  A generous spoon of fresh whipped cream completed the picture.


Next: the good folks at Pom Wonderful were kind enough to send me some samples of their pomegranate juice to sample.  I don't know about you, but I have not had the opportunity to try pomegranate juice. With the holiday, I haven't had a chance to be too creative with the juice, but I did come up with a delightfully refreshing drink mixing Pom Wonderful, orange juice, and a splash of seltzer over crushed ice. It is absolutely delicious, and I'm sure adding a shot of vodka to the mix would make a wonderful cocktail. And the red-orange hue is very festive.


On Tuesday, before starting our T-day preparations, we took a ride to Drew's Bayshore Bistro in Keyport, NJ. This restaurant has been on my list for a long time, given their bent toward all things Cajun.  But after they got a glowing review in the Times a few months ago, I knew I had to get there.  Of course, securing a reservation on a summer weekend at a Jersey shore restaurant proved near impossible.  But Tuesday of Thanksgiving week?  No problem!

A small, simply decorated restaurant that you enter via a bar area with an open window into the kitchen; we were greeted warmly and shown to our table.  Drew's is BYO and our wine was opened and served immediately after being seated (one of my restaurant pet peeves is letting guests languish at the table without pouring the wine). We started with Sweet Potato Empanadas filled with spicy Andouille sausage and served with a delicious fruit chutney.  For mains, we totally enjoyed the Crawfish Etouffee and the Pork du Jour, which was a good-size chop (perfectly cooked) served with cheese grits and fresh vegetables.  As one who has enjoyed grits in a few Southern locales, I can pleasantly say that Drew knows his grits!  We will definitely be back!


And saving the best for last, The Cook's Tour got a mention this weekend in JerseyBites! They liked my "Cows Outside" post from a few weeks ago and linked to it. JerseyBites is a New Jersey-centric web site focusing on all the cool food-related things found in the Garden State. Needless to say, I was thrilled!


Hope you all had a marvelous holiday weekend. Drop me a line and let me know what wonderful holiday treats filled your "horn of plenty" this week.

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