Saturday, November 29, 2008

i am lebanese

what does thanksgiving day look like in a lebanese-american household?

-cooking all day. mostly this means mom and dad on their feet most of the day -- she roasted the turkey and made the stuffing , he made the turkey soup and the hummos -- and the offspring lounging around the kitchen keeping them company, getting up to bake a dessert or fix themselves a snack. mom and dad were pretty good sports about it though.

-sitting down to eat much later than most other families -- like 7 or even 8pm.

-looking forward to a just-us meal, no company or extended family this year, so that we can come to the fancied-up dining table in our sweatshirts and sockfeet. my mom used to hate that but i think she's given up.

-a roast turkey of course, but it's first parboiled to make a turkey soup and then finished off in the oven. yes, the turkey soup is a day-of dish for us, not a leftovers thing. in the bottom of the soup dish you put turkey pieces and some stuffing.

-the stuffing: it's not made with bread -- it's basically an equal-parts mixture of rice and ground beef, with aromatic spices, and topped with toasted pine nuts and almonds and/or pistachios.

-there is hummos. and the bread is pita bread.

-one sister makes apple pie from scratch and gets some vanilla ice cream to eat alongside it. this year another sister also contributed for the first time, with a cranberry-spice crumb-cake sort of thing. it was half from a box, but i was still impressed. i think she was too.

we kept it pretty simply this year by not doing roasted potatoes or even worrying about a salad. vegetables can wait. but i did make some sweet-potato biscuits, which were new to everyone else, at the last minute. we had so much food already, we didn't really bother eating them. so now i have a bunch left over.

2 cups mashed sweet potato (conveniently, this was exactly how much i got out of a large can of yams after draining the syrup; but i hear it's also about 2 spuds' worth)
2/3 cup milk
2/3 cup yogurt
1 stick (8 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted
2 1/2 cups flour
7 teaspoons baking powder
4 tablespoons sugar (more if you like)
1 teaspoon salt

preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

in a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.

in another bowl, combine the sweet potato, milk and butter, mixing well.

then gently mix the dry ingredients into the sweet potato mixture to form a soft dough. it helps to add about a quarter of the dry stuff at a time. don't over-mix.

drop the dough by large tablespoonfuls onto greased baking sheets. i got about 30 biscuits i think! bake for ~15 minutes, or until they get little hints of browning on the peaks.

set the baking sheets on wire racks to cool for a few minutes, then remove the sheets and move the biscuits from the sheets onto the racks or into a serving basket. serve with salted butter, or honey butter, or honey mustard maybe, or... etc.

notes: i think mine turned out a little underbaked. it might be because i was substituting yogurt for half the milk, so they stayed moist longer than expected; or it might be because i opened the oven halfway through, which is always a no-no.

also: i think lining the pans with a silicone baking mat would have helped prevent the bottoms from turning a lot darker than the tops.

also also: for a snack today i pulled out a leftover biscuit and sliced it in half, toasted the halves, and sandwiched some leftover vanilla ice cream in between them. it was a really good idea!


ManWomanMachine said...

P. Sandwich,
Could you substitute butternut squash for sweet potatoes? Could you substitute buttermilk for yogurt? Is it clear that these are the ingredients accessible to me right now? What do you think? Will you try it for me?

placenta sandwich said...

these sound like feasible substitutions to me. i am almost sure buttermilk and yogurt are interchangeable here; in fact buttermilk biscuits have a much longer history than my quick yogurt improvisation. i think butternut squash, or canned pumpkin if you want, would probably be decent replacement for the yams. the only thing is they need to be quite soft.