The Tradition ... and the Twist!

The holidays are all about tradition. It’s everywhere, dripping from the holiday trees in shopping centers — that were put out way too early, as usual — to family dinners in homes around the world. While we love tradition, wouldn’t be fun if we shook things up?
 
This season, the chef and I decided to put a twist on familiar holiday traditions with Holiday Food 2.0. We’ll show you how to jazz up what everyone’s expecting and make it part of your celebration. In order to create our “Traditions and the Twist” menu, we asked people from all walks of life about what traditions they  celebrate during the holidays, and whether they had updated anything that seemed a little stale. We discovered that people were open to change, and that two major complaints included anything sweet potato-oriented and that good ol’ cranberry in a can.
 
If you have the distinct privilege of hosting some sort of holiday shindig, this is your chance to start something new — an un-tradition of sorts, and a delicious one at that!
 
After determining that sweet potatoes were a good starting point for an extreme makeover, the chef put together a sweet deal that brings an innovative element to the table. We were happy that we got to eat the “research” after our photo shoot.
Here’s a quick rundown of the recipe that was downright delicious … and yes, you CAN do this!! 

THE TRADITION: Sweet potato casserole with marshmallows
THE TWIST: Maple-soaked sweet potatoes with
 toasted coconut
 
Maple-soaked sweet potatoes with toasted coconut
 
Sweet Potatoes: 
6 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into half-inch cubes
2 oz. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Maple Dressing (makes 2 cups): 
1 cup mayonnaise
2 cups maple cream syrup 
1/2 cup honey
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened toasted coconut 
1/2 cup dried golden raisins 
1/2 cup dried cranberries 
 
1.   Place the diced potatoes into a mixing bowl, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper
2.   Roast on baking sheet in oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until tender. 
3.   Set aside potatoes to chill
4.   Reserve small amount of dried fruits and coconut for garnish. Whisk together
all ingredients for the maple dressing until smooth and blended. Chill.
5.  Combine potatoes and dressing and toss gently; garnish with remaining dried fruits and coconut.  

 

THE THE TRADITION: Can-shaped cranberry sauce (obviously, from a can!)
THE TWIST: Candied red peppers
 
Candied red peppers
 
2 pounds chopped
sweet red peppers 
2 tablespoons olive oil 
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup cornstarch
Salt and pepper to taste
 
1.   Saute' peppers over medium heat with olive oil, salt and pepper, stirring every few minutes for an hour.
2.   Add in sugar and cook for 5 minutes. 
3.   Add in cornstarch and simmer for 20 minutes until thickened.
4.   Serve hot or cold.

 

Another dish that is often underrated for its versatility is the ever-present turkey. Instead of roasting up a whole bird, the chef grabbed a turkey breast from his local butcher and seared it up, sliced it thin, and drizzled it with a balsamic glaze. Paired with the sweet potato upgrade and a garnish of candied red peppers, the flavors jump off the revamped holiday dish.
At least when the holidays come a knockin’, yours will be delicious, innovative, and even a bit twisted. Bon Appetit!

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