Friday, November 26, 2010

Not Your Traditional Thanksgiving

When I was a little girl, my desire was for my family to celebrate, as all American families did, the traditional holiday of Thanksgiving. I didn't know my family wasn't American, not really. We didn't have loads of relatives to celebrate with, we ate with our hands and by the way, we didn't eat meat on Thursdays.

Last night my dad told me how I really wanted a turkey for Thanksgiving when I was old enough to know what you were supposed to eat. And yet there were only three of us to feed on this holiday, when we didn't have other families to join us and even if we did, they were other Indian families with no interest in turkey or mashed potatoes that weren't burnt yellow with turmeric. So he brought home a chicken. Was I fooled, I asked. Of course I was! My little unsophisticated palate didn't know any better.

Over the years, our Thanksgiving celebrations evolved. Some years we did actually have turkey (I checked the label), one year there was ham. Eventually we switched to celebrating on Friday at a friend's place so we could have the meatiest of meals, and Thanksgiving Thursday became either a non-event or a time for me to join other friends for a meal.

The last three or four years Thanksgiving has evolved again into a vegetarian feast. Last night, for example, we had butternut squash soup with chopped apples, fettucine alfredo, spinach and pear salad, sweet potato biscuits with honey butter, brussel sprouts, fruit and ice cream. I hardly missed the turkey.

Thanksgiving is actually a holiday made for immigrants, and I love the idea of making it fit my family's immigrant needs. And I'm all for two delicious meals instead of one!

Here's the sweet potato biscuits I made yesterday, which could go with any traditional or untraditional meal. Appropriately, they are from an "American" cookbook, but then what is American other than a blend of a myriad of cultures?

Sweet Potato Biscuits (from Bobby Flay Cooks American)
Makes 12

2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon plus 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter cut into pieces
7/8 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup mashed cooked sweet potato (about 1)
1 tablespoon honey

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or use a nonstick baking mat. Sift the dry ingredients together into a large bowl. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles rolled oats.

Make a well in the center of the mixture and add the buttermilk, sweet potatoes and honey. Stir vigorously until the dough forms a ball. Knead lightly for about 30 seconds, until the dough just begins to look smooth.

On a floured surface, pat the dough out 3/4-inch thick into a 7 by 8 inch rectangle. Either cut into 2 inch rounds with a biscuit cutter or slice into 12 squares (which eliminates the need to reroll all scraps into another biscuit). Transfer to the prepared pan and bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly browned.

Serve with honey butter: Mix four tablespoons of softened butter with two tablespoons of honey, or more to taste.

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