I think I've cooked turkey for the past 13 years or so. I am slowly starting to break that tradition. Why? A.) I don't like turkey, it is are too gamey for me. B.) It takes up too much space in the fridge, in the oven, everywhere. C.) More and more people have family obligations on the very day, so our yearly dinner is always a week (or two) before the actual date, when turkey isn't easily available yet. So I decided to host a dinner with turkey-themed, but not turkey breast like last year.
Also I am busy getting ready for my month-long trip to Japan, Melbourne, and Sydney, so creating a menu, and making seating cards totally slipped my mind.
This was the final menu:
Curried carrot soup with crispy pumpkin ravioli
Lasagna rolls with zucchini and turkey bolognese
Roasted kabocha pumpkin stuffed with ground turkey and vegetables
Concord grape tart
Carrot soup was pretty basic. Sauté 1 onion, and add 2lb of chopped carrots, then add chicken stock. Once they are all cooked, blend until smooth. I added a touch of milk, and 1 tbsp of curry powder, plus about 3tbsp of honeIt was very smooth. I had leftover pumpkin raviolis (in wonton wrappers), and sprayed oil on top, and baked them until crispy.
Soup was very creamy, despite there aren't that much cream, and crunchy from ravioli added a good texture. The curry powder definitely minimized the strong carrot flavor.
For stuffed kabocha, first cut out the top, and get rid of the seeds. Sauté 1 onion, 2 leeks, and about 3 stalks of celery until tender. Let cool. Process about half a bag of fresh cranberries, mix with 2 tbsp of sugar, and set aside. Mix 1 package of ground turkey, sauteed vegetable, cranberries, salt, pepper and 1 egg. Mix until well combined. Shove mixture inside kabocha.
Bake on 350˚F for about 2 hours, until inside temp reaches 160˚F.
This is not necessary, but I boiled chicken broth with salt and pepper, then added corn starch to serve as a gravy alongside the kabocha.
For the lasagna roll, cool lasagna sheets for about 5 minutes, and line them on cookie sheet (be careful not to overlap, since they will stick). Cut zucchini into about 8th (I did 5th, which was a bit too thick), and cook them until a bit tender for easy roll up.
Make turkey bolognese with ground turkey, onion, celery and carrots. I added regular marinara sauce (out of a jar) to this, with red wine. Simmer everything down until you reach your preferred flavor.
I made cheese mixture without using cheese. Semi firm tofu is a great substitute here. Squeeze water out of tofu by wrapping it in paper towel, and microwave for about 1.5 minutes. Let cool. Mix it with thawed frozen spinach, salt, pepper, 1 egg, and handful of grated parmesan cheese. Set aside.
Now it's time to roll the lasagna. Place a sheet of lasagna, add tofu mixture, put zucchini, and add mozzarella cheese, and roll.
Put it on baking dish with bolognese on the bottom. Pour remaining bolognese over the lasagna rolls, and sprinkle cheese (parmesan and mozzarella).
Bake until bubbly.
I overcooked a bit, but the crunch on top was good as well.
For dessert, I've made concord grape tart before, but totally forgot how I did it. I know they have pretty large pits, and I can't remember what I did in the past, so I googled around and decided to follow the most annoying, time consuming method...
Take grapes off the vines. Wash them gently.
Separate skin and fruit. So annoying.
Don't you dare throw away the skins. They are the most flavorful part of this grape.
Cook fruit for about 10 minutes, then sieve through to get rid of the pits.
Mix pitted fruit, grape skins, 1/2 cup of sugar, juice of half a lemon, 2 tbsp corn starch and heat up together.
Looking at this, the color is not right at all.
Thank you grape skins! They totally changed the color and flavor of the mixture to proper concord grape!! After the mixture turns thick and dark red, you are done.
In the future, I will chop up the grape skins a little before making the mixture.
I made the crust the same way when I made blueberry tart, with 1 stick of butter, 1 cup of flour and 1/3 cup of sugar, and pre-baked it for about 20 minutes until golden brown. Pour grape mixture in, and a beautiful concord grape tart is done.
This is more comfort food than a decked-out Thanksgiving Day dinner, but all the dishes were great. Turkey is overrated.
This was better than regular breast meat.
I'll be in Miami this Thursday, sipping margaritas poolside. Happy Thanksgiving, suckers!