November 14, 2012

Soup to Nuts: This Thanksgiving, change the ending

Chefs and a cheese expert offer ideas for trying something besides pie for Thanksgiving dessert.

By Meredith Goad mgoad@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 3)

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A pumpkin trifle created by Ilma Lopez, the pastry chef at Grace restaurant in Portland, is a festive and light combination of pumpkin, apples and cranberry flavors that doesn’t require a lot of preparation time.

Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

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Ilma Lopez with her pumpkin trifle at Grace. She says it can be made in a big bowl if smaller dishes aren’t available.

Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

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5. Beating on low speed, beat in half the date mixture. Still on low speed, beat in half the flour mixture. Add the remaining date mixture and the remaining flour. Pour into the prepared cake pan or ramekins and place in the oven. Bake for 25 minutes (15 minutes for ramekins). Rotate the pan or ramekins from front to back and bake for another 25 minutes (10 minutes for ramekins), or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

6. Meanwhile, make the toffee sauce: Place the brown sugar, cream, butter, vanilla seeds, milk and corn syrup in a heavy saucepan and simmer over medium-high heat until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon, about 5 to 7 minutes. Continue to cook until golden brown. Remove from heat and keep warm.

7. When the cake is done, remove from the oven. While the cake is still hot, spoon half the sauce over the surface of the cake(s) and serve. This dessert can be made a day ahead, reheated and served with the warm, remaining toffee sauce.

8. Serve twith orange segments and whipped cream.

TWO THANKSGIVING CHEESE PLATES

Shannon Tallman at Whole Foods says that when you're considering putting a cheese plate together, working in odd numbers is always best because it stands out to the eye. She tends to work with either three or five cheeses when the plate is to be served before a meal, or three when it's to be presented after a meal.

For a dessert plate, Tallman leans toward sweeter, nuttier and creamier cheeses that tend to be paired with dessert wines or Champagne, and stays away from the assertive, dense or meaty-type cheeses that make a better before-meal option.

Tallman's first suggestion for a Thanksgiving cheese plate focuses on regional cheeses. Here are her selections and reasons for choosing them, in her own words:

THE REGIONAL PLATE

"Nettle Meadow's Kunik from Warrensburg, N.Y., in the Adirondack area of upstate New York. Kunik is a triple-creme brie that is made with goat's milk that's had Jersey cow cream cut into it. The cow's cream takes the tanginess of the goat's milk down a level and adds more richness to the cheese. It's unbelievably buttery and rich, with a great brightness that you get from any goat's milk cheese.

"Landaff Creamery's Landaff from Landaff, N.H. This is a great cheese for those who love cheddar, though it's not technically a cheddar. It's a raw milk cheese that has a little bit of spice from the unpasteurized milk, but overall, is a wonderfully creamy, grassy and mild cheese. It's also cave-aged in the Cellars of Jasper Hill Farms.

"Jasper Hill Farms Bayley Hazen Blue from Greensboro, Vt. The holidays tend to be the season for Stilton from England. I actually prefer this raw-milk cousin to it from Vermont. It's more mild than its English counterpart and has lovely notes of toasted hazelnuts and, sometimes, licorice."

A FAVORITES PLATE

"For the second plate, I would choose three 'desert island' cheeses," Tallman said. "These are favorites that I go back to again and again to bring to family and friends around the holidays.

"Delice D'argental: A gorgeous triple-creme brie from the Burgundy region of France. Where the Kunik is cut with cows milk, this has the added level of creme fraiche mixed in. Add that onto a higher-than-usual butterfat, and you have one of the most luxurious, indulgent bries out there. I call it the 'Oh, my!' cheese, because that's the reaction most people have when they try it for the first time. I would take a wedge of this over a dish of ice cream any day of the week.

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Additional Photos

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Karen Voter, sous chef at Sea Glass at Inn by the Sea in Cape Elizabeth, serves a sticky toffee pudding cake that is good for busy Thankgiving cooks because it’s easy to make and can be done at least a day ahead.

John Ewing/Staff Photographer

  


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