In culinary terms, the amuse bouche refers to the tiny bite-sized morsel that precedes the first course, an introduction of the chef and preview of the meal to come. Amuse My Bouche refers to the food column that you find here on Providence Daily Dose, promising local restaurant reviews, Providence food&bev industry gossip, and general sass on the subject of eating & drinking.
This Holiday Season, Stick It To The Man
Right after Halloween, or on even years, right after the elections, an inexplicably dark cloud enters my world and my mood begins to shift. It’s cold and grey outside. I’m forced to sleep in two sweaters over a fleece onesie, a hat, and two pairs of socks, all in the name of energy conservation. And finally, the coup de grace, my mother calls me to make plans for thanksgiving. Now, I LOVE my family. LOVE them. But there’s something about the holiday season that rings an alarm of terror inside of me. I know what to expect. There’s my father’s strange political rebuttals (usually precipitated by my own misplaced rant) that are a hybrid of proud working-class populism and redneck prejudice, the latter softened and the former strengthened over the past few years by his two progressive feminist daughters. My stepmother will invariably ask why I don’t have a boyfriend. And this year, my mother will bring along her hot 26-year-old boyfriend, making me feel just fantastic about the dating season I’ve had. The next morning, mom will wake up at 5 am to hit the Black Friday sales, with my adorable little anarchist sister screaming after her, something about “Buy Nothing Day.” I’m sure many of you, like me, are different from your family. For the past few holidays, I’ve sulked in a corner and pretended to be straighter and more conservative than I actually was. But the truth is, if we’re lucky enough to have a family that loves us unconditionally, maybe it’s time to start taking advantage of it. This year, I say we all take steps to shamelessly hold onto whatever values we carry in our regular lives. I am planning to do it with food. Here are a few tips should you decide to sign my Thanksgiving Manifesta. Buy a locally raised turkey, or at least a free range, organic turkey: Believe me, a bird that’s treated better tastes better. I’m not going to go into the specifics of how factory farms treat animals, but if you can trust that your turkey was fed a grain diet and had the freedom to roam around, your meal will be a thousand times more delicious and a million times healthier. Where to get a good turkey? I had to order a free range, organic one from my FL hometown’s local gourmet market, but if you are staying in Rhode Island you have an amazing resource in the website for the organization Farm Fresh Rhode Island. They have listings for hundreds of small farms in Rhode Island and almost every farmer’s market in the state, so it’s always possible to find what’s in season and where to get it. I’ve included a link to their special local turkey page here. Make your own vegetarian main dish: I’ve abandoned my vegetarian roots to become a locavore, but I’ve spent many past holiday dinners sucking down mashed potatoes and vegetable side dishes. If your family just doesn’t know what to do with you, here are a few delicious vegan recipes that I picked up over the years from my other family: my friends. The T(of)urkey Loaf with Chickenless Gravy has been a hit with meat lovers and vegans alike. I swear this is good. I don’t even like tofu and I crave this meal every November. T(OF)URKEY LOAF Ingredients: 1 cake of firm tofu ½ cup wheat germ 1 ½ tbs fresh or dried parsley 1 tbs onion powder 2 tbs soy sauce 2 tbs nutritional yeast ½ tbs Dijon mustard 1/2 tsp garlic powder ¼ tsp pepper oil Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix everything but oil together in a food processor. Use oil to coat pan. Bake for 1 hour. CHICKENLESS GRAVY Ingredients: 2 cups water 2 cups vegetable oil 3 tbs nutritional yeast 1 vegetable bullion cube 1 cup diced mushrooms ½ cup chopped onion salt to taste flour as needed Simmer all ingredients except flour over medium heat in a saucepan for five minutes, stirring frequently. Gradually add flour until desired thickness is reached. Screw the fascist pumpkin pie monopoly on desserts: Actually I have no problem with pumpkin pie, but this recipe for pumpkin tiramisu requires no baking. It is also super-easy, looks beautiful and fancy, and tastes even better than the week-old pie and Cool Whip your aunt bought at Stop n Shop. Just remember to make it one day ahead. PUMPKIN TIRAMISU Ingredients: 1 ½ cups whipping cream ¾ cup sugar 8 oz. mascarpone cheese 1 can pure pumpkin ¼ tsp each of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg 2 packages ladyfingers ¼ cup dark rum Whip cream and sugar together until it forms peaks. Add mascarpone, pumpkin, and spices, whip until smooth. Line the bottom of a glass casserole dish with 1 package of ladyfingers, pour half of the rum over it. Smooth half of the pumpkin filling over the ladyfingers. Repeat with another layer of ladyfingers, rum, and filling. Refridgerate overnight. And finally, remember that your elected officials are people, too: I’d like to spend a special Thanksgiving message to Governor Carcieri on the heels of his layoff announcements. Karma’s a bitch, Don. Make sure you carve that turkey carefully. (So maybe this song is about a cheating man, but the chorus accurately reflects my current sentiments.) [youtube:http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=VoYXzFblq6g]