Courtesy of Danny Bonvissuto
Image courtesy of Neighborhood Restaurant Group
The Thanksgiving meal is largely about tradition. No matter how you slice it, there'd better be turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie or someone's going to pout.
But you can always branch out with fun appetizers like sweet potato biscuits, pickled cucumber salad and roasted red pepper and feta spread. They'll warm up everyone's palates with something substantial and keep them out of the kitchen and in the den where they belong.
Baked Sweet Potato Biscuits
"Sweet potato biscuits are one of my favorite things about fall. They are useful for sweet (breakfast or tea) or savory (sliders) preparations, so the recipe is a great one to keep in your back pocket." And you can freeze the cut out, raw dough wrapped for up to three months and enjoy them long into winter. Just bake from frozen but add 5 minutes to the cook time." —Tiffany MacIsaac, executive pastry chef of the Neighborhood Restaurant Group in Washington, D.C..
Yields 12-18 biscuits, depending on size
- 2-3 medium-sized sweet potatoes
- 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/3 cups firmly packed brown sugar
- ½ cup unsalted, chilled butter (1 stick), cut into pieces
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- To make the glaze, blend 1 egg with 1 tablespoon of heavy cream.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Poke sweet potatoes, wrap individually in foil with a little water and bake in the oven for an hour to an hour and a half. Let cool completely. Remove skins and mash well.
Mix dry ingredients together. Add brown sugar. Cut butter into flour mixture until it resembles sand; but try not to over-mix.
Mix in sweet potatoes. Add the heavy cream (I usually wind up using more than 2 tablespoons). Form into a dough ball (it will be sticky). Wrap in plastic and put in refrigerator for 1-6 hours to chill and relax.
Roll out on a floured surface to about ¾ inch thickness. Fold in half once and roll to 3/4” thickness again. Cut out with a biscuit cutter in the size you want. Brush the glaze on top and garnish with either black pepper/sea salt or raw sugar (we use salt for savory sliders and sugar for sweet breakfast biscuits.)
Bake for 14-17 minutes or until they are golden on top and seem done. Don’t overcook; they are best served a little soft.
Pickled Cucumber Salad
"Made with hot-house cucumbers, this pickled cucumber salad is a perfect cold Thanksgiving appetizer. We like it because you can make it up to three days in advance, allowing for more time to focus on your turkey and hot sides on the big day." —Bruce Bromberg, chef at Bromberg Bros. Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken in New York City.
- 2 pounds hot house (seedless) cucumbers, sliced ¼ inch thick
- 8 ounces Spanish onion, quartered and cut across the grain into 1/8 inch slices
- 4 cups distilled white vinegar
- 1 cup white sugar
Dissolve white sugar into vinegar. Add the cucumbers and onions and refrigerate. Marinate for 24 hours before use.
Roasted Pepper and Feta Spread
"This traditional spread resembles a Greek romesco. It goes well with just about anything and is wonderful as a dipping agent for crudités or potato chips." —Michael Psilakis, chef, restaurateur and author of How To Roast A Lamb.
- ½ Spanish or sweet onion, thickly sliced
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
- 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 2 fire-roasted red bell peppers, home roasted or store-bought, cut into strips
- 1 to 2 pepperoncini (pickled yellow peppers) to taste, sliced
- ½ teaspoon dry Greek oregano
- 2 pinches ground coriander
- 2 pinches ground cumin
- 4 small picked sprigs dill
- 1 tablespoon snipped chives or scallion greens, sliced
- ½ teaspoon dried lemon zest or ¼ teaspoon grated lemon zest
Brush the onion slices with a little olive oil and season with kosher salt and pepper. On a hot grill pan or in a cast-iron skillet, grill the onion until tender and slightly char-marked. Separate into rings.
In a food processor, combine all the remaining ingredients and process until very smooth. Taste for seasoning, but be careful not to add too much salt, as the feta is very salty.
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