The Passionate Chef
I received an unexpected phone call last evening from a dear friend that reached out to invite my family and me for Thanksgiving. This may seem like a common gesture of kindness but for most of my friends, it’s daunting to invite me over for a meal of any kind. What they may not realize is that they all inspire me with their unique holiday, family and recipe traditions that have been passed on to them from loved ones, which model what a perfect Thanksgiving table should include. From experiencing “Corn Tortilla Stuffing” to enjoying Thanksgiving appetizers served in an authentic Asian Tea House, my culinary senses are always fed with the most precious gift of all - sharing who we are through our food traditions with friends and family.
As I got off the phone, my thoughts were already in full swing with the excitement of this invitation. My friend lives on 200 acres, which includes pinot grape vineyards, olive trees, rose gardens and even “The Meadow”, which is a well-tended red wood forest surrounded by manicured lawns and indigenous wild flowers. She said that if the weather holds up with its current 70-degree afternoon temperatures, we would be enjoying Thanksgiving appetizers and wine in the meadow! She hadn’t even finished the sentence and I was already envisioning the magnificence of the moment. For me, eating in the great outdoors has to be one of the most authentic reenactments of the first Thanksgiving! Oh, did I mention that this meadow comes with resident stags! Three gorgeous full rack bucks that she has named “Her Boys”.
Of course, as most family Thanksgivings are structured, food assignments are given to guests requesting a variety of festive flavors. This year, I am contributing a Harvest Salad made with broccoli slaw, sweet potatoes, apples and cranberries and my daughter Shannon’s favorite homemade pumpkin ravioli with brown butter sage sauce and toasted pine nuts. For my appetizer contribution, I am creating an artichoke hummus. This is definitely one of my crowning glory recipes that is enjoyed by all, including the vegetarians and gluten-free guests that may find Thanksgiving a food challenging day.
My version of hummus is so easy to make ahead of time. It actually gets better as it rests in the refrigerator for a few days, which means I can make it on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. This allows all the ingredients to have time to get to know each other and blend together to make up an appetizer that pleases the palate with every bite. I serve this hummus inside a cooked, whole artichoke. Surrounding the hummus-filled artichoke bowl is a variety of colorful veggies, which include tricolored fresh sweet pepper strips, blanched broccoli florets, cauliflower florets and of course Ocean Mist Farm’s tender artichoke petals.
As the holidays arrive and we are all in the kitchen creating our own delicious memories for the next generation to remember, don’t forget to give thanks for all the glorious recipes handed down from our loved ones. Even though these special folks may no longer be with us in body, the love they have left us in the form of a family recipe will continue to leave a lasting impression on our hearts and taste buds.