Cooking at the Ward house is usually performed by Mom and Sous Chef Naomi bologna, but on Thanksgiving everyone jumps in, excited to be a part of helping their favorite Thanksgiving dish come to fruition.
Thanksgiving gastronomic traditions at Casa Ward include a whole, slow-roasted herb salmon, Southern cast iron skillet cornbread (crisp outside, moist inside… you know what I’m talking about!), myriad seasonal vegetable side dishes and time-tested salads, of course a fruit and cheese platter to end all platters… a simple with champagne cocktail dotted with frozen cranberries to boost the cooking spirits (pun intended). And wine (did I mention wine?) to pair with the meal.
Susan Lakin’s apple, chocolate chip and pecan cake I (The pièce de résistance!) is served with sweet whipped cream and decadent chocolate covered fruits for dessert.
The cake is the not to be missed finale to the meal – and a prefect pick-me-up with a cup of hot coffee on The. Morning. After. You are coming out of the phenomenal food coma and desire just a little something sweet. This year, we didn’t get around to making the chocolate covered fruit until the day after Thanksgiving… it was a chocolate coated breakfast of champions!
This cake was first served to Greg and me during his fourth year of medical school in Cleveland, Ohio in 2009. Our first of three children, Naomi, was expected to arrive any day! Absolutely lovely friends, Susan and Milt, invited us to share Thanksgiving with their family, which includes four grown sons. The cake Susan served for dessert brings back fond memories and is now a Thanksgiving tradition for our family of five.
Vegetables take center stage at our Thanksgiving table. Roasted savory and sweet Brussels sprouts and grapes…tender honey-thyme heirloom carrots… crisp, garlicky sautéed green beans and earthy baby bella mushrooms… tangy maple-dijon delicata squash with succulent caramelized onions and fresh rosemary… and beyond!
Once side not to be missed is curry cauliflower steaks with pine nuts and golden raisins. It is a dish hearty enough to serve as a vegetarian main course, yet delicate enough to enjoy as an elegant side dish. This recipe is adapted from Valerie’s Home Cooking. Naomi and I love to snuggle up and watch Val do her thing in the kitchen- and draw inspiration for our own culinary adventures. My three kids gobble this dish down in true turkey fashion, and yours will, too.
Naomi and I added subtle Indian spices, aromatic onion and orange sweet essence to the already fantastic dish. Cooking is all about drawing inspiration from delicious recipes and enjoying the act of preparing meals for those you love.
Enjoy the apple cake and cauliflower recipes, below, and add nascent sweet and savory staples to your holiday table!
Curry Cauliflower Steaks with Vidalia, Pine nuts and Golden Raisins
Adapted from a recipe by Valerie Bertinelli
Two heads of cauliflower, cored and cut vertically into 1/2 inch steaks
Two large Vidalia onions, halved and cut into 1/2 inch strips
extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
your favorite salt free, dry curry powder spice blend, for sprinkling
dry ginger powder, for sprinkling
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted lightly in a dry, hot pan with a pinch of salt
1/4 cup plump, golden raisins
1/2 a large orange
- Preheat oven to 425•F. Place the cauliflower steaks on an extra-large sheet tray. If they fall apart, don’t fear. Piece together on the tray and proceed on!
- Drizzle both sides with olive oil. Sprinkle both sides generously with salt and pepper and lightly with curry and ginger powder (to taste).
- Toss the onion slivers in a bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper and scatter over the cauliflower.
- Bake the cauliflower steaks for 25-30 minutes, flipping halfway through, until golden and perfectly roasted.
- Allow to cool slightly, then arrange to a large platter. Squeeze with fresh orange juice and sprinkle with raisins and pine nuts. Serve at room temperature or warm.
Susan Lakin’s Apple Chocolate Chip Cake
Serves 12 generously.
“It couldn’t be easier. The only thing that takes time is the apples. Enjoy!” – Susan
1 cup canola oil
3 large eggs
1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cup flour (I use Cup4Cup gluten-free flour blend)
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup chopped nuts
5 medium tart apples, peeled and diced (Susan always uses granny smith)
1 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup raisins (dried cherries are also sensational)
- Preheat oven to 350•F. Spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray.
- Mix the oil, eggs, sugar and vanilla until well-combined.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda and cinnamon. Fold the chocolate chips, nuts, raisins and apples into the flour mixture.
- Mix flour mixture into the oil mixture slowly, bit by bit, until completely combined.
- Bake in the 9×13 pan 50-60 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the cake will come out clean when done. I also bake this cake in a bundt pan with excellent results (allow for additional baking time).
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