Sunday, November 30, 2014

Turkey Day Roundup - Thanksgiving Nibbles + Mac and Cheese

Ricotta & Roasted Grapes Crostini, Photo: NK
Hopefully you too are coming down from the glorious food hangover that is Thanksgiving. While we all know that the Turkey is supposed the main event, there are many of us that look forward just as much to the apps, sides and other accoutrements that make the meal so memorable. 

This year, I decided to chronicle our household's contribution to an already smashing family feast. 

You'll find one Neurotic Kitchen hors d'oeuvre favorite, two new and different small bites that we tried making for the first time, and last but not least, my husband's traditional contribution to Turkey Day, and the ONLY Mac and Cheese recipe you'll ever need, Martha Stewart's Perfect Mac and Cheese.

Make Your Own Hors D'oeuvre, Photo: NK
First thing's first: when your don't have time to assemble each hors d'oeuvre, why not create an equally lovely "make your own" platter.
Be sure to include a little card with the "how to" for guests so they know how to assemble. Pictured above is our quickie, deconstructed version of NK's very popular Soppressata, Truffle Goat Cheese and Pepper Jelly Crostini. It was tasty as ever. 

Next up, I was really delighted with the results of my first time trying Ina Garten's Blue Cheese and Walnut Crackers. So savory and easy, these are made using good quality Blue Cheese, in this case, Stilton. I was able to mix up the very simple cracker dough several days before Thanksgiving. You simply roll it in a log and freeze it. When ready to serve just slice and bake! I chose to bake them a day ahead to minimize my Turkey Day morning workload. These crackers need no accompaniment as they are really flavor-packed and hearty just as they are. Check them out below and click HERE for the recipe. 

Ina Garten's Blue Cheese Crackers (middle) Photo: NK

Beautiful Roasted Grapes, Photo: NK
It was our third small bite (pictured at the top of the page) that got the biggest raves from the hors d'oeuvres table - my adaptation of Athena Calderone's Ricotta and Roasted Grape Crostini. Roasting deepens and concentrates the flavor of Grapes, and fine quality fresh-made Ricotta (we just love the artisan Ricotta from Salvatore BKLYN) is the perfect creamy foil. My changes to the original recipe included using finely chopped Pecans instead of pricey Pignoli (Pine Nuts), and Fig Balsamic Vinegar rather than regular Balsamic for a little extra flavor dimension. I roasted the grapes Thanksgiving morning and put the crostini together at our host's house, just before guests arrived. I also opted to use French Grey Salt over regular Sea Salt. I would absolutely make this wonderful recipe again. It tasted as beautiful as it looked!

Finally, the main event: turkey and lots and lots of sides. Our addition to the impressive spread my Mom-in-Law made was Martha Stewart's incredibly decadent classic, Perfect Mac and Cheese. This stuff should come with a warning label. It is that good. So addicting, in fact, that we affectionately refer to it as "Crack and Cheese." The secret? An ungodly amount of Cheddar and Gruyere plus a crunchy topping of toasted breadcrumbs (chunks of fluffy white bread soaked in butter creates the decadent crispiness). Do not miss this dish or attempt to alter the recipe. It is perfect, just like its name. Do note that you will end up with a ton of cheesy goodness (a plus, in my book), so if you aren't serving a crowd and do not want tempting leftovers (why??) you may opt to cut the recipe in half. 

Prepping the most delicious Mac and Cheese, Photo: NK
One more Thanksgiving in the books! I hope you've enjoyed our recipe roundup and that your holiday was filled with happiness, family, and wonderful food!

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