ust the other night, tiny vampires, ghosts and devils were spiriting themselves around the neighborhoods for treats and when the night was over, I thought I had time to take a breath. Just moments later the turkeys came trotting into town and summer’s overgrown squash were becoming table decorations for hoards of family members eating far too much and wondering how to holiday shop on such a full tummy.
It all goes too fast.
“Too much, too soon” describes the holidays for me.
However, you can liven up your overworked and waning spirits with a few fresh ideas for your turkey table — corn pudding for one, cranberry muffins for another, and bourbon balls to roll out as a finale.
First, make cranberry muffin dough and while the cranberries mate with the orange peel and the mix waits for the oven, get on with pudding.
- In a mixing bowl blend 2 cups of bread flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 2 heaping teaspoons of baking powder, a little salt, the grated rind of an orange, 1 generous cup of dried cranberries (soaked in warm water for an hour and drained well) and a pinch of cinnamon.
- Melt 1/2 cup of butter and quickly blend it into the mixture along with the juice from the orange and 2 eggs beaten with 1/2 cup of milk (walnuts are good in this mixture, too, but make the muffins a bit heavy). Do not over mix, allowing some lumps to remain in the batter. Butter a muffin tin well and proceed to the pudding.
Yes, there is really is corn in Italian markets. Not southern, tender, perfect ears of golden succulence but corn nice enough to make a pudding.
- Cut the nibs off of 4 ears, or, what the heck, buy one large package of frozen corn nibs and get on with it (or 1 can of niblets and 1 can of creamed corn). Heat the oven to 200 F and butter a 2-quart soufflé dish. Simmer the frozen corn in salted water until tender and drain.
- In a large saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons of butter, add the corn and pinch of pepperoncini or chili powder, and cook until slightly browned. Add 1 cup of cream and reduce by half. Let the mixture cool while you beat four eggs with a tablespoon of sugar, a tablespoon of baking powder and a 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add the cooked corn mixture (or the cans of corn), stirring well to blend, and transfer all to the buttered dish. Bake for 45 minutes or until a broom straw or long pointy anything comes out clean when you pierce the soufflé gently.
Since the oven is on and the pudding must cool a little, spoon the muffin mix into the muffin tins, brush each with a little melted butter and bake for 25 minutes or until puffed and golden.
Now the good part.
Once turkey, dressing (or stuffing, as many are wont to call it), green beans, creamed onions, mashed potatoes, grapefruit and avocado salad, pumpkin pie with whipped cream (unsweetened, honey, or it ain’t southern) and café are mere Proustian memories, bring out the bourbon balls!
Everyone knows that chocolate is a great digestive, (not in Fernet Branca’s league, but…), and they go well with the last sip of red wine or after-dinner Cognac.
- In the bowl of a food processor place 1 cup of plain vanilla cookies (there are many Barilla packages to choose from), 1 cup of walnuts, 1 cup of confectioner’s sugar, 3 tablespoons of a good quality unsweetened cocoa and blend until uniform.
- Add 2-3 tablespoons bourbon (Wild Turkey would be appropriate) and a spoon or two of sugar syrup found in good alimentary.
Cool the mixture in the fridge for an hour, then make into 1-inch balls and roll in more powdered cocoa. These are great for building up energy to face the next hurdle, your gift list. Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s are coming faster than a breeding pullet.