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Happy Thanksgiving!!

24 Nov

Thanksgiving is by far my favorite holiday (birthdays come as a very close second)! It is the one holiday where all of my family comes together and we eat all day, drink all day and have an overall amazing time.

       

This year we have 16 people coming to my parent’s house!

  • My mom, Barb,  is making 2 turkeys (one of which is obviously for the amazing midnight (or later) Thanksgiving sandwiches that are made by my Uncle Bernie). She also pretty much runs the show with beautiful flowers, tons of food and wonderful decorations
  • My sister Kim, our resident wine specialist, is bringing numerous bottles of wine.
  • My brother John will be setting up every video game we have to occupy my cousin Aiden and Zach (as well as occupy my uncle and my dad!)
  • My dad sets up the most amazing meat, cheese and cracker plate! It takes up majority of our counter.
  • My Aunt Christine and Uncle Bernie will be bringing Black & White Cookies from NY as well as a 7 layer cake and a couple dozen NY bagels (growing in Rockaway Beach, Queens, my parents have been spoiled by good bagels and sorry, but MA bagels are no match for the NY ones!)
  • Uncle Bernie will also be making his amazing Ceviche from a Stripped Bass that he caught on Monday.
  • I will be baking: Apple Pie, Rugelach, Crumb Cake and Baklava and somehow manage to make my way through Penn Station at 3pm on one of the busiest days of the year!

… And that’s just a few of the participants!

I wanted to make this entry a little different from the others by incorporating all aspects of our Thanksgiving.

A little about our cheeses:

This meal (yes, we do consider it a meal!) has become a weekly occurence in our house, but my dad definitely out does himself for Thanksgiving.

                

Meats:

  • Dried salami with herbed de Provence
  • Dried salami with garlic & herb
  • Prosciutto
  • Assortment of other Italian dried meats

Cheeses:

  • Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Horseradish Cheddar
  • Manchego
  • Gruyère
  • Le Roulé
  • Jarlsberg
  • Gouda
  • Baby Brie
  • Smoked Mozzarella

A little about our drinks:

Thanksgiving wine is something that people have questioned in families for years….  In my opinion, you should drink what you like.  Pairing wine on Thanksgiving is a near impossible task due to the copious amounts of side dishes, before dinner appetizers and of course the main event …. the Turkey.  Beaujolais pairs best with the actual bird.  The jammy strawberry notes produced by the Gamay grape are lovely with the subtle flavors of Turkey (if you have gone with the traditional fashion of baking a turkey).  Two other wines that pair particularly well with the thanksgiving feast, if you are really concentrating on pairing the meal, are a Riesling and a Pinot noir, I would choose the 2005 Trimbach Riesling Cuvee Frederic Emile, France, Alsace and the 2007 Au Bon Climate Pinot Noir California, Santa Barbara.

This year I chose the wine according to what the family likes:

  • Moet & Chandon Imperial Champagne NV Brut
  • Veuve Cliquot Rose NV Champagne (Pink Bubbles make everything better)
  • 2010 Santa Maragarita Pinot Grigio (Because Mom like it)
  • 2010 Livio Pinot Grigio Italy, Friulano
  • 2010 MauroSebaste Barbara d’ Alba Italy, Piemonte
  • 2009 Patricia Green Cellars Reserve Pinot Noir, Oregon, Willamette Valley

          

And I cannot forget a little something from my own small collection of wine….  a 1999 Chateau Musar, Lebanon, Bekaa Valley — a Killer wine from Lebanon made of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault and Carignan, one of my personal favorites…. full of dark fruits balanced with favors of earth balanced acidity and medium tannins.

And Just for fun….. Don Julio 1942.

      

Baking!

This year for Thanksgiving, as I mentioned above, I made:

              

Apple Pie                   Rugelach                  Crumb Cake                    Baklava

Baking this year ended up being a bit of an ordeal. I had 2 days to make ALL of this! Sunday was spent recovering from Steve’s Birthday, so there was no way any baking was going to take place then. That left Monday to make the Baklava and Puff Pastry and Tuesday to make the Rugelach, Crumb Cake and Apple Pie. Jeez, it makes me tired just typing it all out! Then I brought everything to work Wednesday morning (including clothes for 4 days, and for anyone that knows me that’s equivalent to clothes for roughly 2 weeks!) and then left around 2pm for Penn Station.

Somehow I made it through the madness, spent the night in Boston, ventured home Thanksgiving morning and had a fabulous time with family and friends.

I have so much to be thankful for this year and I hope you all enjoy your Thanksgiving as much as I’ve enjoyed mine.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Baklava

8 Jul

Coming to my parent’s house for any holiday, event or even a family dinner, it’s going to sound like there are 30 people when there are 10 and there will be enough food to last at least a week. It’s loud, it’s comical and it’s a great time! Some of these characteristics we get from my Mom’s Italian side and others we get from my Dad’s Greek side. In other words, I didn’t even stand at chance at being a shy or quiet person!

I’ve been told stories of how my Dad’s side of the family used to be a lot like that movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” where Windex is the cure to all, everyone’s talking at once and everyone lived around the corner. As the years progressed, we’ve lost some of those traits, but we still crack eggs on Easter, my Dad still loves his Baklava and when he starts talking to the waiter in Greek you know it’ll be a good time!

This is one of those desserts that looks and sounds very difficult to make, but it’s actually quite simple with only 5 ingredients; it just takes patience. The first time I made Baklava, I had a lot to live up to being that my Dad grew up in a Greek household; he knows good Baklava when he tastes it. Lucky for me, he loved it!

What You’ll Need

  • 1 package of Phyllo Dough
  • 4 Cups of Chopped Walnuts
  • 1/2 Cup of Sugar
  • 1 Tbs Cinnamon
  • 2 Cups of Melted Butter
  • 1/2 Cup of Honey

To Prepare

  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees F
  • Grease a 13″ x 9″ baking dish

Directions

Chop 4 cups of Walnuts, either with a knife or a food processor, until fine. Mix the nuts together in a large bowl with the sugar and the cinnamon. Once the ingredients are fully combined, set aside.

Unwrap the Phyllo Dough and lay out flat on the counter. To make sure it doesn’t dry out as you’re working, dampen a paper towel and lay it over the sheets whenever you aren’t using them; this is very important! Phyllo Dough can be purchased in the freezer section of your supermarket, but make sure you defrost it before you use it or the pieces will crack and fall apart.

To begin, take one sheet of Phyllo Dough and carefully lay it across the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Let the ends come up the sides. If there are a few cracks that’s ok, jut try not to tear or tug too much. Brush the sheet carefully with the melted butter.

Repeat this step 5 more times so that you have 6 sheets of Phyllo Dough stacked on top of each other. When it comes to buttering the Phyllo sheets, my theory is: You can never have too much butter! Especially with Phyllo Dough, in my experience,  I feel theat the dough bakes better and is a little less flakey and easier to handle when you use more butter in the preparation. Don’t let it get soupy, but be generous!

Once the 5 layers are done, scoop a 1 and 1/4 cup of nuts and spread evenly across the top of the sheets.

Repeat the layering of sheets, butter and nuts 2 more times so that you have 3 layers of nuts total. Layer and butter 6 additional sheets of Phyllo Dough on top of the last layer of nuts to finish it off. Butter the top generously and sprinkle with extra sugar and cinnamon.

Before putting it in the oven, with a knife, cut half way down into the Baklava to create 24 square pieces. Be sure to not cut all the way through just yet!

Place in the oven to bake for 1 hour. It won’t be completely done at this point, but you’ll want to take it out and brush more butter across the top to make sure that the sheets stays moist. Place the dish back in the oven for another 20 minutes until the top is golden brown.

While the Baklava is baking for the last 5 minutes, place the honey on a pan on the stove on low until it becomes less thick.

Once the Baklava is finished baking, take it out of the oven and drizzle the heated honey over the top evenly to finish it off. Let cool. Cut all the way through once the Baklava has cooled and you’re ready to serve!

Enjoy!

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