It is close to Thanksgiving and I have been thinking of my friends Beverly and Mark who are now living once again in the US. This post was first published on Nov 28, 2012 and I am updating it.
I never thought that I would go to a Thanksgiving dinner but here I am in Melbourne Australia with my Canadian-American friends, Beverly and Mark, sharing their 2012 Thanksgiving dinner with me. It was a real treat and my first experience to the feast that my friends provide on this occasion. As you can see, they have a wonderful view.
Our Canadian-born friends have lived in the US for a long time. They are old hands at this celebration, Beverly says she’s been doing it for 37 years and more) made a roasted, stuffed turkey. The stuffing was made with bread and herbs and tasted marvellous having absorbed some of the juices and flavours of the meat while cooking.
The juices were also used to make an excellent gravy – this was made with broth (from the turkey’s neck and giblets) and mushrooms. As instructed, we made small hollows in the centre of our very creamy mashed potatoes and filled them with this very flavourful gravy.
We had roasted butternut pumpkin presented with its seeds – these had been dry roasted in salt beforehand. (Beverly called the pumpkin “squash” and says that it is different to the type of squash she uses at home).
How amazing! And Southern Italians, Greek and Turkish people enjoy pumpkin seeds prepared this way. The Italians call the semi di zucca tostati, (toasted pumpkin seeds) passatempi (pass the time – pass-times).
With the turkey and the pumpkin and the potatoes and the gravy with the mushrooms (she must have been cooking all day!) we had green beans, and cranberry sauce. Beverly was a little put out because she was not able to purchase fresh cranberries to make the sauce.
I brought the starters, but I was asked not to bring as many as I had originally planned. Wanting to keep within the culture of what I understood Thanksgiving to be, I was going to use what, from my reading, were some common ingredients: Camembert cheese, cream cheese, walnut or pecans, prawns (shrimps), smoked salmon or trout. I decided to make a smoked salmon and smoked trout terrine; it turned out well. We ate this with our Pumpernickel bread as we drank our Pimms on the balcony.
The left over cream cheese mixture can be thinned with a little cream and with the addition of some chives it can be served as a sauce to accompany the log. The orange coloured sauce is a rouille – I made it in case we were having prawns. It was a good accompaniment for this dish.
I later wrote a recipe for this log in my second book, Small Fishy Bites (published in Oct 2013) and called it:
Log of smoked trout wrapped in smoked salmon and silverbeet
3–4 large silverbeet leaves (also called chard), cooked, left whole
9 oz/250 g cream cheese, a little cream or mascarpone, enough to make the cream cheese spreadable
1 teaspoon fresh horseradish, finely
grated, or prepared horseradish
juice of 1 lemon
black or pink pepper, coarsely ground
1 tablespoon chives or scallions/spring onions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon capers
extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper and
a little lemon juice, for dressing (optional)
a little extra olive oil,
5–6 slices smoked salmon
smoked trout fillet skinned, boned
4 asparagus spears, cooked
Rinse the silverbeet and remove the thick white stalks at the bottom of the
Cook the silverbeet leaves carefully. I usually cook them in a little salted
water, drain them and then lay on kitchen paper to absorb further moisture.
Mix the cream cheese with the cream or mascarpone (this makes the mixture
lighter and more spreadable). Using a wooden spoon, add the horseradish,
lemon juice, pepper, chives and capers.
On a piece of plastic wrap, place a single layer of whole cooked silverbeet
leaves. You may not need to use all four leaves but they come in useful in case
you need to patch up holes. I usually drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil, salt,
pepper and a little lemon juice to dress the leaves, but this is optional.
Top with a very thin layer of cream cheese mixture.
Place a layer of smoked salmon on top of the cream cheese.
Repeat with a very thin layer of cream cheese mixture.
Add a thick strip, or shreds, of smoked trout in the centre. Lay some cooked
asparagus spears on either side.
Cover with more cream cheese mixture.
Use the plastic wrap to roll the layers into a neat log. Use the extra leaves of
silverbeet if necessary. Press it firmly together so that the different layers stick.
Leave for at least an hour or overnight in the refrigerator to set.
Slice and serve.
Being renowned as a caponata maker, I wanted to also bring one of the seven Sicilian recipes for caponata in my first book (Sicilian Seafood Cooking, published Oct 2011). I selected the Catanese version of caponata (as the people of Catania make ). They use peppers as well as eggplants as their main ingredients.
The caponata on this occasion was better off in Sicily – we certainly did not need it.
And as the grand finale, Marianna, a professional pastry cook of Sicilian heritage presented a Millefoglie, (the French call Mille-Feuille – flaky puff pastry inter-layered with a rich chocolate crema – creamy custard- in the bottom half and Chantilly cream on top).
As you can see from the photo chocolate swirls and strawberries added flavours as well as decoration to this elegant dessert. In spite of the ingredients it was light, not too sweet and perfect for that occasion. If you live in Melbourne, Marianna’s pastry shop is Dolcetti – her sweets can be ordered and are perfect for a festive occasion.)
And it was a fantastic evening and all of what we ate could also be perfect for an Australian Christmas.