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Thursday April 17th 2014

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Make It or Fake It


By: Jessica Forbes and Sarah McCartan
The Thanksgiving holiday is the start of one of the most hectic times of the year for many people. And the decisions surrounding Turkey Day menus are usually the tipping point for most, as this is often the first special meal to plan. Whether you choose to go with a more traditional, do-it-yourself approach or are willing to allow a few pre-made dishes into your Thanksgiving meal, we’ve compiled a few options that will hopefully help you execute a delectable spread with a little less hassle so you can spend more time simply being thankful.

And for those who aren’t up to it, or just need a break from the intensive cooking and cleanup involved with a homemade Thanksgiving, a handful of local restaurants are serving Thanksgiving meals on Thursday, Nov. 28, offering you an opportunity to enjoy all the customary fixings without the customary hustle and bustle, at least when it comes to mealtime.

Whether you plan on making or faking it this Thanksgiving—or faking it until you make it—from the turkey to the pies, here is a rundown of Thanksgiving options to consider.

ALL THE FIXIN’S
Make It
Even the most determined and capable DIY-ers can use a few pointers from time to time. Perhaps you are interested in deviating from your Grandma’s recipes and incorporating some new ones into the mix, but have grown weary scouring the Internet for inspiration. Perhaps you are making your first foray into holiday meal planning. Perhaps you just love to cook and want to break away from the Food Network as your main source of information. Whatever the case, if you would like to learn more before stepping into the kitchen this holiday season, local culinary coaches Pensacola Cooks are offering several classes between now and Thanksgiving Day that can help you sharpen your skills and your menu.

Cooking Wise: The 50 Items Pantry – A Thanksgiving Focus
WHEN: 6 – 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 21
WHERE: Ever’man Natural Foods Cooperative, 315 W. Garden St.
COST: $40
DETAILS: pensacolacooks.com or 456-0743

Thanksgiving Heirloom Garden Lunch
WHEN: 12 – 1 p.m. Monday, Nov. 25
WHERE: The Bodacious Olive, 407-D S. Palafox
COST: $20
DETAILS: pensacolacooks.com or 456-0743

Non-Traditional Thanksgiving Lunch
WHEN: 12 – 1 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 27
WHERE: The Bodacious Olive, 407-D S. Palafox
COST: $25
DETAILS: pensacolacooks.com or 456-0743
* If you’re looking for a little extra help and feel up to some reading, pick up a copy of “Thanksgiving: How to Cook it Well” by Sam Sifton. From the former restaurant critic for New York Times comes a definitive, timeless guide to Thanksgiving dinner—preparing it, surviving it, and pulling it off in style. Out for one year, many an anxious food preparer has lauded its encouraging and humorous instructions for making it through what can seem like a culinary minefield. Not going to lie, we’ve heard so many good things about it, there’s a good chance you may find us in the aisles of Barnes & Noble reading up the week of Thanksgiving.

Fake It
At best, preparing the centerpiece of the traditional Thanksgiving meal—the turkey—is usually the most time-consuming of all holiday food efforts. At worst, at least for those unskilled in the culinary arts or those just not accustomed to preparing large quantities of meat for friends and family, the turkey prep can be one of the most worrisome aspects of the day. And botching up the turkey has the potential to turn into a small-scale disaster in a number of ways. If you would like the turkey but not the responsibility of cooking one up, happily there are plenty of food purveyors offering pre-cooked bird options for you to choose from. From fried to crawfish-stuffed, the following local establishments have pretty much all the turkey bases covered, as long as you call in time to reserve a bird.

Apple Market
Apple Market will be selling 10-pound smoked, boneless turkeys for $39.95. Pre-orders are required, just call before 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 26 to secure your Thanksgiving dinner’s centerpiece. The deli will also have a range of Thanksgiving side dishes for sale starting on Nov. 26, including sausage and cornbread dressing, sweet potato casserole with pecans and marshmallows, and au gratin potatoes. The market will be open on Thanksgiving Day from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. for turkey pick-ups and any last minute shopping you might need to do. 1021 Scenic Hwy. 433-4381.

Cajun Specialty Meats
When this company named itself, they weren’t kidding around. Cajun Specialty Meats is selling turkey for the holidays virtually any way you can imagine, including stuffed with smaller foul á la the Turducken. Cornbread dressing, rice dressing, crawfish etouffee, and shrimp etouffee are the market’s other pre-stuffed turkey filling options. The shop will sell 12-14 pound turkeys for $49.95 prior to Thanksgiving and $64.99 on the day of. A limited number of fried turkeys are available as well. Remember to call ahead to reserve one of the specialty turkeys. Be prepared to wow your guests when you serve any of these things up. 690 E. Heinberg St. 469-9400.

J’s Pastry Shop
Although commonly known for its sweet treats, J’s Pastry Shop also sells deep fried turkeys to accompany their impressive selection of Thanksgiving desserts. Call ahead to reserve a limited number of turkeys, timed for pick up every 15 minutes from 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. The shop will accept orders until 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 27. The turkeys are $35; a $10 deposit is required for each 10-12 pound bird, which will be fried in peanut oil. The remaining $25 of the total is due upon pick up. You can grab a few Parker House rolls, back for the season, too, when you collect your turkey. 2014 N. 12th Ave. 432-4180.

JUST DESSERTS
Whether you are eagerly awaiting the chance to pull out your festive apron and get to baking or prefer to leave that particular labor of love to another set of hands, we present to you some prime pie, cake, and cookie options this season—both the kind you make and the kind you pick up, ready-made—that are sure to please.

Make It
If you do go the home baked route, after you’ve escaped your Tryptophan slumber, get ready to fall into a deep sugary coma on behalf of these festive desserts provided by Pensacola area chefs.

Maple Bourbon Apple Pie
By Kiley Bolster, The Magnolia
(As pictured on cover, Pre-made pie crust used for recipe to simplify)

Ingredients:
Pre-made roll-out pie dough (2)

Filling
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced thinly (I use a mandolin)
2 teaspoons bourbon
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Egg wash
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon of cream

Method:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place apple slices in large bowl. Sprinkle with sugar, flour and spices. Using your hands, toss the apples to coat each apple slice well. Add bourbon, vanilla and maple syrup and mix again.
Place pie dough into greased 9-inch pie dish, fill with apple filling. Top with second pie crust and crimp edges with a fork. In a small bowl, whisk together egg yolk and cream to make egg wash. Brush egg wash over top of pie crust. Cut slits into top crust to allow steam to escape. Bake pie 20 minutes at 375 degrees then drop temperature to 350 degrees. Bake for additional 35-40 minutes. If the crust begins to get too brown, tent crust with aluminum foil. Let stand for 1 hour before serving.

Raw Lemon & Fresh Fruit Cheesecake
By Betsy LeGallais, Sagacity Wellness
Ingredients:
Crust
1 cup cashew flour
1 cup pecan flour
1 tablespoon agave nectar
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch Himalayan sea salt
2 teaspoons lemon juice

Method: In a food processor, process cashews and pecans (process cashews first and remove from bowl; then process pecans – pecans will give off their oil if over processed). Add remaining ingredients and process again. Press into the bottom of a 9 inch springform or tart pan. Cover bottom with Saran Wrap and place in freezer while preparing the filling.

Filling
3 cups cashews, soaked for 4 hours
1 cup coconut oil or coconut cream
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon Himalayan sea salt
1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
1/2 cup agave

Method: Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender until smooth. Pour filling into crust. Place in the freezer till set. Top with favorite fresh berries or fruit and serve. Keep refrigerated.

Fake It

Although we may not have a specialty pie shop or a Cronut delivery service just yet, Pensacola has an array of area locales that are serving up a mix of traditional and more out of the box holiday desserts this season. And they are ready and willing to customize their sweets to fit your needs.

Pies on Pies
In the spirit of all things pastries, J’s Pastry Shop will have a table set up with pies, sweet breads and more between now and the holidays. On top of keeping a plethora of pies on hand, they will be taking pie orders. They encourage these orders to be placed 1-2 days before desired pickup. The pies are even available for pick up on Thanksgiving Day, with the latest orders accepted at 11 a.m. an hour before they close for the day. Staple pie selections include flavors such as Chocolate Meringue, Egg Custard, Peanut Butter Mousse, Pecan, and those of the fruit variety. Plus there are those pies special to the fall season, like pumpkin and sweet potato. 2014 N. 12th Ave. 432-4180.

Cookies & Cake
If you’re looking for grab and go vegan treats this season, Sluggo’s Vegetarian Restaurant has you covered. In addition to the highly demanded oatmeal cream pies, peanut butter banana cookies and “cheese” cakes that are available on the regular, this week Sluggo’s begins offering their holiday lineup of extraordinary baked goods. Goodies include pecan brittle, rose apple pies, mini pies on a stick, sugar cookies, jar cakes, butterbeer cupcakes, snowman balls and more. If you have any questions or special requests, feel free to give them a ring. Special treat orders can be accommodated if made at least 48 hours in advance. 101 S. Jefferson St. 791-6501.

GIVE UP, GO OUT
If you choose to forgo the entire set of activities related to making and eating a Thanksgiving meal at home, these local restaurants are keeping their doors open on Thanksgiving Day.

Hilton Pensacola Beach
11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
If an elegant, gulf side day of thanks sounds like a welcome alternative to your regular routine, the Hilton on Pensacola Beach will be serving a Thanksgiving Brunch in its Grand Ballroom. The Hilton is also covering the Thanksgiving bases for family members of all ages with complimentary Kids Club activities and an NFL Football Lounge. Adults can dine for $40.95, children ages 6-12 for $10.95, and children under age 5 are admitted free. 12 Via de Luna Dr. 916-2999.

Jackson’s Steakhouse
11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
In addition to their fall dinner menu, Jackson’s is serving a Fresh Herb-Rubbed Roasted Turkey Dinner Plate on Thanksgiving. The Thanksgiving Plate is complete with Chef Irv Miller’s take on trimmings including green beans, stuffing, and sweet potatoes, all for $28. Reservations encouraged. 400 S. Palafox. 469-9898.

Fish House
11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Like Jackson’s, its Great Southern Restaurant Group sibling, Fish House will be offering a Thanksgiving Plate in addition to their regular dinner menu, served throughout the day. Chef Billy Ballou has created a menu of slow-roasted garlic and herb breast paired with green bean casserole, garlic mashed potatoes, giblet gravy and more for $24. 600 S. Barracks St. 470-0003.

Margaritaville Beach Hotel
11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Though it’s already sold out, for those who are determined to get in on Margaritaville’s Thanksgiving Grand Buffet, which promises “sumptuous creations” from Executive Chef Eric Troup, it may be worth periodically calling back to see if any reservation cancellations have cleared a place at the table. 165 Fort Pickens Rd. 916-9755.

New York Nicks
10 a.m. until
Are you ready for some football? In many households, football is almost as ubiquitous as turkey on Thanksgiving Day. Known year-round as one of the best places in Pensacola to catch a game, New York Nick’s will be open on Thanksgiving so the sports fans among us don’t have to miss a game, or can maybe watch while taking a mental break from the barrage of distant relatives who’ve shown up for dinner. The sports bar will open at 10 a.m. on Thanksgiving and will stay open until the last game is over. Nick’s regular menu will also be served throughout the day. NFL fans can enjoy the Packers vs. Lions at 11:30 a.m., Raiders vs. Cowboys at 3:30 p.m., and Steelers vs. Ravens at 7:30 p.m. Expect other games to be showing on the bar’s 40 high-definition screens, as always. 911 S. Palafox. 469-1984.