As everyone should know by now, I have “issues” with Thanksgiving that are in great measure about my family’s utter inflexibility on the menu:
The year I declared “NO PASTA” and served them a spinach/eggdrop soup, they sat around the table like it was a funeral. They kept asking me if this was how Germans eat Thanksgiving, and wondering why the soup couldn’t have little macaronis and meatballs in it.
When I asked my mother-in-law if, these year, she was still including pasta in the gut-busting meal, she said, “yes, but only a manicotti, something light.”
For those of you named “Smith” or “Reynolds” and living outside of New York City be aware that manicotti is pronounced “mahn-ee-GOAT”, and it consists of a pasta crepe loaded with a mixture of ricotta (“ree-GOAT”) and mozzarella cheese (“Matza-lell!”) and folded, smeared with tomato sauce (“gravy”) and more shredded mozzarella. Does that sound like “light” fare to you?
“Ma,” I said, “manicotti, really? No one will eat the turkey!” (I am convinced this is the plan…)
“No, no,” she cajoles back at me, “I won’t make a lot, just three manicotti each, and that’s it! No more!”
“Ma, three manicotti! That’s a meal! The pasta is just supposed to be a little small-plate course. It’s supposed to whet the appetite, not nuke it!”
“Whaa, it’s fine! Okay, I know you get crazy with the pasta, so I’ll just make enough so everyone has two, and no one can fill up!”
I groaned a little, but it’s pointless to fight this. I got off the phone and relayed the conversation to my husband, who was delighted to hear he would be eating manicotti until it came out of his ears before the rest of this unchanging meal was served. “You know she’s going to make enough manicotti that we all have three, right?” he said.
I know. When I asked the Matriarch what I could bring to the meal, she said, “oh, you bring the broccoli cassarole, you know, the one everyone likes with the (no, really!) velveeta cheese and the ritz crackers” (aka Brocolli Belly Bomb) and the stuffed mushrooms? Yes? And something for dessert, but light! Nothing heavy!
As I said, this is unchanging. Fried Cauliflower, Broccoli Belly Bomb, Eggplant Parmesan, Sweet Potato Pie, Mashed Potatoes, on and on and on.
We are not free people.
This is one of the reasons, every year, I so enjoy exchanging recipes with Gabriel Malor, over at Ace’s place. Gabriel is free, and each year, he exposes me to something wily and new, and I get to fantasize about serving a Thanksgiving dinner I actually want to eat. This time, Gabriel is giving us a delicious-sounding Texas Chili — my family would plotz! — and I am giving him the secret recipe that insures that Lizzie and the Grandmas get a little bit happy somewhere between the coffee and the second round of dishes: Brandy Alexander Pie!
I made this a few years ago for a neighbor whose elderly mother had sprained her ankle — they wanted to make sure she would stay off her feet, and this thing will render you immobile.
Do not drive or operate machinery after eating this. Also, have a defribulator nearby.
Brandy Alexander Pie
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 tspn salt
3 eggs, separated
1/4 cup cognac. Don’t be cheap, use the good stuff.
1/4 cup creme de cacao
2 cups heavy cream
1 tspn sugar
1/2 tspn vanilla
1 9″ graham cracker crust
chocolate curls for garnish
Sprinkle gelatin over the cold water in a saucepan. Add 1/3 c of the sugar, the salt and the egg yolks. Stir to blend.
Heat over low flame while stirring until the gelatin dissolves and the mixture thickens. DO NOT BOIL.
Remove from heat and stir in the cognac and creme de cacao. Chill until mixture starts to set slightly.
Beat egg whites until stiff. Gradually beat in the remaining sugar and fold into the thickened mixture
Use 1 cup cream to make whipped cream and fold into the mixture.
Turn it all into the crust and chill for several hours or overnight.
Before serving, whip second cup of cream with a teaspoon of sugar and 1/2 tspn vanilla, spread that over the pie, then sprinkle with chocolate curls.
A large enough slice may get you loaded, but in truth, this is a very light, fluffy dessert.
This is also an excellent thing to bring to your New Year’s celebration, but do warn people that they are drinking while they eat it.
Personally, I think some of Gabriel’s chili and a bit of this pie is all anyone needs to feel a little thankful!
As ever, you can share your own favorite recipes below.
How about some Papal and Swiss Guard Recipes?