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Caribbean Cooking: A Traditional Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Day is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States and the second Monday of October in Canada. It is a traditional North American holiday, which is a form of a harvest festival.

EASY PUMPKIN SOUP WITH CHILI CRAN-APPLE RELISH

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 50 minutes
Serves: 8

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup diced celery
2 Tbsp chopped garlic
1 (16 oz) can pure pumpkin
2-1/2 cups chicken broth
1/8 tsp ground ginger or 1 tsp fresh grated ginger
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg or 1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger
Salt to taste
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk, half & half, or regular milk

In a large pot sauté onion, garlic, and celery in olive oil over medium heat, until onions and celery are soft, but not browned. Add pumpkin, chicken broth, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Simmer about 15 minutes. Add coconut milk, cream or milk. Purée in blender. Serve hot or cold with Relish.

Relish:
1 crisp apple McIntosh or Granny Smith, finely chopped
1/4 red onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup dried sweetened cranberries, chopped
1 tsp chili powder
2 tsp honey
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Combine apple, onion, lemon juice, cranberries, chili powder, honey, and cinnamon. Serve soup in bowls and garnish with relish.

ROASTED HERBED-STUFFED TURKEY BREAST WITH BAY LEAF BUTTER AND GRAVY

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 50 minutes
Serves: 8

2 Tblsp olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
Zest of one lemon
10 fresh sage leaves
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp salt
4 Tbsp butter
8 fresh bay leaves
2 (2-1/2 lbs) boneless turkey breast halves, skin on
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (good) brandy
2-1/2 cups apple cider
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 450ºF. Oil a baking dish and set it aside. Put the onion into the bowl of a mini food processor. Add lemon zest and chop both until fine. Add the sage, parsley, olive oil, and salt and pulse until it forms a coarse paste.

Put butter in a small pan, add three bay leaves and heat over low heat until the butter is bubbling. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Place the turkey breasts on a work surface then carefully run your fingers between the skin and the flesh from one end, but leaving the other end intact, creating a pocket. Season the turkey then stuff half of the herb paste under the skin of each breast and spread it evenly. Transfer turkey breasts to the roasting pan, and place three bay leaves underneath each one. Baste breasts with half of the bay butter. Place the turkey in the oven and immediately decrease the temperature to 400ºF. After 20 minutes, baste the turkey breasts with the remaining butter and roast for an additional 20 minutes, until cooked through, and a thermometer placed in the thickest part of the breast registers 170ºF.

Remove from the oven, transfer to a warm platter, cover, and let rest for 15 minutes before carving.

Gravy: Put the roasting pan on a burner at medium heat. Sprinkle the flour over the pan juices, stir for a few minutes with a wooden spoon while it is cooking. Add the brandy and scrape the pan to lift the bits that are stuck to the bottom. Cook for a minute more, then, while stirring, pour in the apple cider. Bring to a simmer, and stir until thickened. Season with salt and pepper.

Slice the turkey breast on the diagonal, and serve with the warm gravy.

FENNEL AND POTATO GRATIN

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Sitting time: 10 minutes
Serves: 8 -10

2 small fennel bulbs
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
3 Tbsp virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp butter
4 large potatoes (about 2 lbs), peeled and thinly sliced
2 cups plus 2 Tbsp half and half
2-cups plus 1 cup grated Gruyére cheese
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Place potatoes in a large bowl of ice water. Butter the inside of a 9 x 16 x 2-inch, oven-to-table baking dish. Remove the stalks from the fennel and cut the bulbs in half lengthwise. Remove cores and thinly slice the bulbs crosswise. Heat olive oil and butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add fennel and onions and cook for about 15 minutes or until tender.

Pour out ice water from potatoes, pat dry, then mix the potatoes in the bowl with 2 cups of half and half, 2 cups of cheese, salt and pepper. Add the sautéed fennel and onion; mix well. Place the potatoes in the baking dish. Combine the remaining 2 Tbsp of half and half and the one cup of cheese. Spread on top of potatoes. Bake for 1-1/2 hours or until potatoes are tender and top is browned. Remove from oven and let sit for about 10 minutes before serving.

Note: This recipe can be cooked several days ahead and reheated for about 30 minutes in a 350ºF oven

EDAMAME BEANS AND SAUTEED ONIONS

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves: 8

2 (16-ounce) bags Edamame beans (shelled soybeans)
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium yellow skinned onion, peeled and finely sliced
1 cup apple cider
Salt and pepper

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and the onions and cook until beginning to caramelize, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the cider, raise the heat to medium high and cook until liquid is reduced and syrupy, about 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix in the beans and cook 5 minutes more. Keep warm until ready to serve.

ROASTED CARROTS

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves: 8

14 carrots, peeled
1/4 cup olive oil
1-1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Slice the carrots diagonally into about 2-inch slices. Place in a baking dish in one layer and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place in oven and roast until tender. Sprinkle with parsley.

ROASTED BRUSSELS SPROUTS

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Serves: 8

2 lbs Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest, fresh
2 tsp lemon juice
Garnish: Grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Put Brussels sprouts in a bowl with olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper; toss to coat. Place in a roasting dish and cook for about 15 minutes or until crisp-tender. Shake the pan from time to time, to cook evenly. Sprinkle with lemon zest and juice; toss to coat. Garnish.

DELICIOUS TRIFLE

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Chilling time: 1 hour
Serves: 8

4 ripe firm bananas, peeled and sliced
2 cups fresh raspberries or halved strawberries
2 cups fresh peaches or fresh mangoes
1/2 cup pecan pieces or slivered almonds
1 (3-3/4 oz) pkg vanilla pudding
1 pound cake, sliced and cut in about 1-inch pieces
2 oz. (good) brandy
Garnish: 1 cup heavy cream whipped with 1 tsp brandy, and coarsely grated chocolate

Select a glass serving bowl about 7-inches in diameter and 4-inches deep. Mix gently all fruits and nuts. Prepare vanilla pudding as directed on pudding package and let cool. Arrange a layer of pound cake pieces in the bowl. Top with a layer of mixed fruits and nuts. Sprinkle with brandy. Continue layers, ending with fruits and nuts. Spread vanilla pudding evenly over top. Place in refrigerator for 1-hour or more for flavors to mingle.

To serve: mound whipped cream over trifle, sprinkle with chocolate. Spoon down through trifle so that each serving consists of whipped cream, pudding, fruit and cake.

Hint: If time permits, place the fruit decoratively inside the bowl against the glass. Looks and tastes great!

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