You know what November means? It means red, orange, and yellow leaves. It means scarves and chilly mornings. It means getting those coupons ready for Black Friday so you can get a great deal on some future presents.
But, above all else, November means giving thanks over a splendid meal on Thanksgiving evening.
We borrowed two delicious recipes from Flavors from Home: Refugees in Kentucky Share Their Stories and Comfort Foods, Revised Edition by Aimee Zaring to get everyone in the mood for some Thanksgiving cooking! In addition to sharing recipes from all across the world, Flavors from Home offers fascinating and moving stories from Kentucky’s resettled refugees, giving readers the chance to understand the courage and hardships of the tens of thousands of legally resettled refugees that use the kitchen to be able to return “home.”
Irene’s Chicken Paprikás
Chicken paprikás (PAP-ree-cahsh) is a classic Hungarian comfort food. Hungarians generally use a combination of dark and white chicken meat in their paprikás, but for a healthier version, substitute boneless, skinless chicken breasts or chicken tenders.
Serves 4 to 6
Ready in about 45 minutes
“Anything could have happened to us, but God had a purpose for my life.” –Irene Finley
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 1⁄2 teaspoons sweet paprika (preferably Hungarian)
Ground cayenne pepper to taste (optional)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 whole chicken, separated into legs, thighs, wings, etc.
1 (8-ounce) container sour cream (preferably regular) 1⁄4 cup all-purpose our
1⁄2 cup 2 percent milk
Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large saucepan. Over medium heat, sauté onion until translucent. Add paprika, cayenne pepper, salt, and black pep- per. Stir to combine. Add chicken and just enough water to cover.Bring to a boil, then turn down to medium-low heat. Cook with the lid partially covering the pan until the chicken becomes tender, about 30 minutes or less. (For chicken tenders, adjust the cooking time to 15 to 18 minutes.) Stir occasionally. Make sure not to overcook the chicken. When the chicken is done, remove it from the pot and set aside. Reserve the liq- uid and keep it warm over low heat. Cover the chicken with aluminum foil to keep it warm.
CoCo’s Soft Spring Rolls and Peanut Sauce
Spring rolls are a traditional and ubiquitous appetizer in Vietnam. Serve them at your next party and impress your friends, but keep in mind that spring rolls dry out quickly and are meant to be eaten right away. They also make a light, delicious, healthy meal.
Serves 8 to 10 (makes about 25 to 30 spring rolls)
Ready in about 1 hour and 45 minutes
“I love to create. I love to bring the new idea to this town.” –Huong “CoCo” Tran
Olive oil for sautéing
2 carrots, shredded
1 to 2 celery stalks, cut in half lengthwise and on the bias 1 small head white cabbage, shredded
Salt and pepper
1 pound firm tofu (1 16-ounce package)
1⁄2 pound vegetarian mock (meatless) ham (optional)
1 (12-ounce) package rice paper (9-inch diameter)
Fresh mint or basil leaves
11⁄4 to 2 cups hoisin sauce
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 to 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper or hot pepper sauce
1⁄2 to 1 cup hot water
Ground peanuts (optional)
To Prepare the Spring Roll Filling
Boil enough water for the amount of rice noodles being used (refer to package directions). Cook for 5 to 10 minutes or until the noodles are softened. Rinse with cool water, drain well, and set aside.
Heat enough oil to cover the bottom of a fry pan (preferably non- stick) over medium-high heat. Stir-fry carrots, celery, and cabbage until soft. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer vegetables to a plate or storage container to cool until ready to use.
Clean out the same fry pan and heat enough oil to cover the bot- tom over medium-high heat. (Make sure the pan is very hot before fry- ing.) Drain tofu of excess moisture. Cut tofu blocks widthwise into about 7 or 8 (1⁄2-inch-thick) slices. Fry the tofu slices until lightly brown on both sides, 5 to 10 minutes per side. Flip only once for best results. Remove and transfer to paper towels to remove excess oil, if desired.
If using vegetarian ham, slice and pan-fry like the tofu, adding more oil as needed. Transfer to paper towels to remove excess oil, if desired.
Cool all filling ingredients before assembling the spring rolls.
To Prepare the Peanut Sauce
In a medium bowl, combine hoisin sauce, peanut butter, and cayenne pepper to taste. (For a slightly sweeter sauce, add more peanut butter. For less sweetness, add more hoisin sauce and hot pepper.) Add hot water, a little at a time, until the ingredients are well mixed and the texture is smooth and creamy and of the preferred consistency. Serve cool or at room temperature. Garnish with ground peanuts just before serving. Store left- overs in the refrigerator.
To Assemble the Spring Rolls
Take one sheet of rice paper and quickly dip it into a large bowl of warm water (for about 2 to 3 seconds), making sure it is completely immersed. If you’re using a shallow bowl, you may need to rotate the paper. (Do not leave the paper in the water too long, or it will break down too quickly and be harder to roll.) Remove the paper (it should still be slightly firm) and hold it over the bowl to let the excess water drip off . Place the paper on a clean counter, a sheet of plastic wrap, or a plastic cutting board. (The paper will continue to soften and become gelatinous as it absorbs water during assembly.)
Place 1 tablespoon of the cooled vegetable filling in the middle of the rice paper, spreading it out lengthwise (to approximately 31⁄2 to 4 inches). Top the vegetables with about 1 tablespoon of tofu and ham (2 to 4 pieces), followed by 1 tablespoon of rice noodles and 2 mint or basil leaves. Do not overstuff to avoid tearing the paper.
Fold the end of the rice paper closest to you over the filling. Make sure the filling ingredients are tucked in, then fold in the sides. Slowly roll the rice paper away from you, keeping the ingredients tight and the edges straight, until the paper ends. Transfer to a serving plate, seam side down. Repeat the wrapping process until all the spring rolls and filling have been used.
Serve cold or at room temperature with peanut sauce. These are best served immediately or within an hour of making; otherwise, the rice paper will dry out. To keep them fresh, wrap each roll individually in plastic wrap, or store them in a single layer in a lightly oiled airtight container. Use plastic wrap to divide multiple layers so the rolls won’t stick together and tear. Keep refrigerated.
Fall means football, tailgating, and family gatherings, and this is the perfect recipe for all of the following occasions! This delicious shareable serves a crowd, is easy to make, and few things are more uniquely Kentucky than beer cheese. For more amazing recipes like this, check out Garin Pirnia‘s THE BEER CHEESE BOOK.
Beer Cheese Cheese Ball
Makes 1 6-inch ball
8 ounces cream cheese
4 ounces beer cheese
¼ cup parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon onion, minced
½ cup pretzels*, ground
*(Note: In place of pretzels, you can grind up Ritz crackers or pecans and coat
the ball with them).
Allow the cream cheese and beer cheese to come to room temperature. Mix the
two in a bowl. Add the parsley and onion and stir until well blended.
Shape the mixture into a ball using either your hands or a spatula. Chill
the ball in the refrigerator for a few hours.
Place the pretzels in a food processor and grind them for 30 seconds, or
Immediately before serving, take the beer cheese ball out of the fridge.
Spread the ground pretzels on a plate and roll and sprinkle the pretzels on the
ball until it’s coated. Serve with crackers.