Malibu Beach Recovery Diet: Thanksgiving Turkey Breast with Crimini Mushroom Gravy, Butternut Squash Gratin, and Apple Tart with Chocolate Drizzle
I remember when my parents would go around the Thanksgiving table and ask us to state for what we were thankful. I wanted to say something that was personal enough that it sounded like I really made an effort to be sincere and was fully capable of measuring the importance of the celebration, and yet compete with my sisters’ thankfulness to shine in their eyes. You had to be witty in my family to shine!
I also remember my mother searching high and low for a decent turkey in France, a country that couldn’t care less about Thanksgiving. For the French, the history of the Americas started when they sent Lafayette to rescue General Washington’s American revolutionary war against the British. Like many bi-cultural families, we tried our best to preserve our American culture while being in France and vice-versa.
However, as I grow older, the meaning of “Giving Thanks” is so much more apparent than a once-a-year tradition. It is the acknowledgement that different cultures can coexist, that we can incorporate in our food choices many ingredients that were foreign to us only a short time ago and respect them as an added source of nutrition and curiosity.
The gift of food from a stranger or from a friend is an invitation to read into his soul. It is, in the case of this country, the inauguration by British settlers of a British tradition dating back to 1536 which became a celebrated American holiday. From the first they included in their New World festivities the resident population they had befriended, as well as the bounty of naturally and locally harvested goods.
We always come back to the notion that locally cultivated goods are the ideal source of nutrition and sustenance for our tired bodies and souls. Whether it is at our co-op, through your CSA boxes (don’t bother looking it up: it stands for “Community Supported Agriculture”!), or a co-worker who brings you lemons and avocados from their favorite trees, we have forgotten what it is to exchange food as gifts. Yet, we accept the gifts of chemicals, additives, genetically engineered corn or wheat, and all sorts of nasty additives that corrupt our relationship with food, create illness in our bodies, sustains our addictions and brings us to the brink of our graves.
Can we, for a short time, rediscover the pleasure of eating a diet that is actually good for us? That helps us think and be smart, that encourages the optimum balance of our major organs to nurture our natural defenses? That encourages us to be more active, in charge and discriminating and justifies choices we make to protect our immediate and larger-scale environments?
We can be thankful that the fastest growing means of communication allows us to realize that this is not just a local happening, but a global concern. We can realize that this is a movement that is far beyond an individual prayer at the dinner table. It is a choice of survival, both personal, deep-rooted, and intimate, and also at the level of our communities, our schools, our leaders and the rest of the world.
Yes, something to be really thankful for this month…Thanksgiving Turkey Breast with Crimini Mushroom Gravy, Squash Gratin, and Apple Tart with Chocolate Drizzle.
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- 1 (5- to 6-pound) turkey breast with skin and bones
- 2 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 1 cup water
- • 3 Tbsp agave nectar
- • 1/3 cup sherry vinegar
- • 4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
- • 1/2 cup water
- • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- • 1 to 3 Tbsp sherry vinegar
- • 3 cups crimini mushrooms
- • 3 Tbsp butter
- • Salt
- • Freshly ground black pepper
Equipment needed: A roasting pan fitted with a V-shaped rack; an instant-read thermometer
For the turkey breast:
The day before: pat the turkey breast until completely dry on all sides and rub with the sea salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Chill the breast in a baking dish, covered, overnight.
Let the turkey stand at room temperature 1 hour.
Heat the oven to 425 degrees with the rack in lower third of the oven. Position the turkey on the rack in a V-shaped pan and roast 30 minutes.
Reduce the oven to 400 degrees and scatter the onion slices in the bottom of the roasting pan. Add 1 cup water and continue to roast until a thermometer inserted in thickest part of the breast, close to but not touching the bone, registers 160 degrees, 30 to 40 minutes.
For the glaze:
While the turkey is roasting, stir together the agave syrup and the vinegar in a small nonreactive saucepan and boil, stirring occasionally, until the syrup is thickened and reduced to 3 tablespoons. Remove from the heat, but keep warm.
Brush the glaze on the turkey and roast until the thermometer registers 165 degrees, 3 to 5 minutes.
Transfer the turkey breast to a platter and let it stand, loosely tented with foil, 15 minutes.
For the gravy:
While the turkey is standing, remove the rack, scraping off any brown bits into the pan.
- 2 butternut squash
- 4 tablespoons butter, softened, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 package whole-berry cranberries
- 1/4 cup agave syrup
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds
Prepare the squash if whole. Cut off the top of the squash then cut it through the middle and remove the seeds. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil to catch drips. Place the squash, cut side down on the foil and roast for 45 to 50 minutes until soft. When cooked through, let cool and scoop out the flesh into a bowl and coarsely mash. You should get 4 cups of mashed squash. (note: you can also buy the squash already peeled and cubed, place it on the aluminum-line baking sheet and roast30 minutes, tossing occasionally) .
Make the cranberry sauce: Place the cranberries, the agave syrup and the water in a medium saucepan, over medium heat. When the cranberries open, gently mash them until you have a coarse sauce. Remove from heat and let stand.
In a large bowl, combine the squash, 2 tablespoons of the butter, the salt, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg. Transfer to a greased large baking dish. Spoon the cranberry sauce over the squash.
Combine the almonds and the remaining butter and sprinkle over the cranberry sauce.
Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.
Serves 8 to 12
- 1 1/3 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1/4 cup ice-cold water
- 2 Tbsp cold sour cream
- 1 Tbsp agave syrup
- 5 large juicy apples, such as Fuji or Braeburn, peeled
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 1/4 cup agave syrup
- 2 tsp whole-wheat pastry flour
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/3 cup + 3 Tbsp sugar-free apricot preserves (Smuckers)
- 1 1/2 Tbsp whole-wheat bread crumbs
- 3 oz bittersweet chocolate
- 2 Tbsp butter
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour and salt, then scatter the butter pieces over the top. Pulse the machine 8 or 9 times, just until the butter is broken into fine pieces. Do not over-blend it.
In a measuring cup with a spout, stir together the water, agave syrup and sour cream. Drizzle the liquid evenly over the flour mixture. Pulse the dough for about 8 short bursts, just until large, packable crumbs form.
Dust your hands with flour. Turn the crumbs onto the counter and pack the dough together as you would a snowball.
Place the dough onto a large sheet of plastic wrap and flatten it into a 3/4-inch-thick disk. Wrap it in the plastic and refrigerate it for at least 1 hour
Get out a large, heavy cookie sheet at least 14 by 16 inches in size. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit it and set the paper aside. Put the cookie sheet in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and place it on the parchment. Dust your rolling pin and the dough with flour as needed to prevent sticking, then roll the pastry into a circle roughly 13 1/2 inches across
Place the dough and parchment onto the sheet, and place the sheet back in the refrigerator. Move an oven shelf into the center position and heat the oven to 375 degrees.
Make the filling: quarter and core 3 of the peeled apples. With a sharp knife, slice the apples thinly — 1/8-inch thick or so. Put the slices into a bowl and sprinkle them with the lemon juice. Toss the slices so they’re coated and set them aside.
Quarter and core the remaining 2 apples. Cut them into1/4-inch-thick slices, then cut up the slices into fairly uniform 1/4-inch cubes. Place 2 1/2 cups of diced apples in a mixing bowl. Add the agave, the flour and the cinnamon, and stir well.
Put the apricot preserve in a small bowl and stir briskly with a spoon to smooth out any lumps. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and dot it with the preserves. Use the back of a spoon to gently spread the preserves over the dough, being careful not to tear it. Sprinkle the bread crumbs evenly over the preserves.
Pour the diced apples onto the center of the pastry and spread them very evenly across the surface, leaving about a 1 1/2-inch margin of dough at the edge.
On top of the diced apples, arrange an overlapping row of apple slices in a circle, making sure the circle isn’t as wide as the diced apples. (This way, the slices won’t poke through the pastry when you fold it up.) Arrange a second circle of slices inside the first, then a third circle for the center of the blossom. Put the tart back in the refrigerator for 10 minutes to re-firm the pastry.
Remove the tart from the refrigerator. Using the parchment to help you handle the dough, fold the dough in sections up and over the edge of the filling. The dough will form pleats naturally as you make the folds. If the dough tears, just pinch it back together.
Bake the tart on the center oven rack until it’s golden brown and bubbly, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. At the 30-minute mark, turn the sheet 180 degrees so that the tart bakes evenly.
Remove the tart from the oven. Heat the rest of the apricot preserve in a microwave until it melts, about 40 seconds. Use a pastry brush to paint the top of the apples with the jelly. Cool the tart on the sheet for at least 30 minutes.
Melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave in 30 seconds intervals until melted, making sure it doesn’t scorch. When melted, stir with a fork until smooth. Use the tins of the fork to drizzle zigzag patterns of melted chocolate onto the cooled pie.