A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving – The Appetizer Reboot

  • By Kim
  • 26 November, 2013
  • Comments Off

Last year I was pretty aggressive in announcing that A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving was the best Charlie Brown special of all time. I mean, even Kanye agrees with me:

 CharlieBrownKanye2

While I have not strayed from my original opinion, I figured that this year I would be a little more subtle and persuasive about it. I would use the movie itself to show you why it’s awesome. This movie can actually help you with your real life! Not like that depressing It’s Arbor Day, Charlie Brown special. Baseball glove tree, really?! Yes, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving can help you with your actual Thanksgiving Day food preparations. Allons-y!

Here is a picture of the meal Snoopy puts together for the gang. It consists of toast, popcorn, pretzel sticks and jelly beans. This is pretty damn good for a beagle, and Peppermint Patty is basically being an ingrate.

Snoopy is a gracious, generous host.

Snoopy is a gracious, generous host.

While I think that you could serve a similar meal unashamedly to your friends and family, it IS rather carb-heavy. You’ll want to avoid the dreadful, bloated carb face lest some tactless relative remarks, “Putting on some pounds, huh? Heh heh heh!” Not to worry! You can still put together some nifty appetizers or amuse bouche for your guests, inspired by Snoopy’s Thanksgiving menu. Seriously. You’re Not Elected, Charlie Brown isn’t going to help you out like this.

1.) Toast = Crostini. Everybody likes a little bit of toast with toppings. You can make the toppings in advance and then assemble the finished bite. I love the combination of flavors in the crostini below. Big flavors, kitty cats.

Goat-Cheese-Crostini-with-Basil-and-Sundried-Tomato-Pesto-7Goat Cheese Crostini with Basil and Sundried Tomato Pesto
From Live Love Pasta

Ingredients
6 ounces chevre cheese
1/2 cup sun dried tomato pesto
1/4 cup basil pesto
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1 clove garlic
1 loaf of French bread

Directions
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Slice the bread in 1/4 inch thick slices. Lay flat on a baking pan and brush with olive oil. Bake in the oven for 5 minutes. The bread should be toasty and lightly browned. Rub the hot bread with a clove of garlic. The garlic will melt into the bread. Spread about 1 tablespoon of chevre over the bread. Put a spoonful of sundried tomato pesto over the goat cheese. Top with a small spoonful of basil pesto and a few pine nuts. Bake another 2 minutes.
Note: I used the same sundried tomato pesto that I used for my pasta salad. But you can use store bought if you’d like.

 

2.) Pretzels = Soft Pretzel Bite with Dipping Sauce. Instead of a crunchy pretzel stick out of a bag, up the ante a little with a warm soft pretzel bite. They’re irresistable regardless if they are sweet or savory. Our favorite is a pretzel bite with a mustard sauce.

pretzels2-4Pretzel Bites with Homemade Honey Mustard
From Cooking and Beer
Serves 12

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 teaspoons sea salt, fine
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
2 tablespoons olive oil
10 cups water
2/3 cups baking soda
1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon cool water
coarse sea salt

FOR THE HONEY MUSTARD SAUCE
1/2 cup dijon mustard
1/4 cup whole grain mustard
3/4 cups honey
3 tablespoons mayo
1 tablespoons lemon juice
salt
pepper

Directions
1.) In the bowl of your stand mixer (with dough attachment fixed), combine the water, yeast and honey. Let sit for 5-10 minutes until the yeast begins to foam slightly. To the bowl, add the butter, fine sea salt, whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour. Knead on low until the flour is completely incorporated and then increase the speed to medium and knead for 10 minutes. At this point, the dough should start to pull away from the sides of the bowl. If it does not, gradually add more flour, a tablespoon at a time until it does. The dough should be sticky, but not so sticky that you can’t handle it.

2.) Roll the dough over onto a flat surface sprinkled with flour. Form into a ball. Drizzle the olive oil into a large bowl, and add the ball of dough. Toss to coat so that a skin does not form while it is rising. Cover with a damp towel and sit in a warm place to rise for an hour (or until it has doubled in size).

3.) Once the dough has risen, transfer back to your flat surface (sprinkled with flour). Cut into 8 equal pieces. Taking each piece individually, create 1 inch by 12 inch ropes. Cut the ropes into equal pieces of about 1 inch each. Set aside, and repeat this step for the rest of the dough.

4.) Preheat your oven to 450 degrees and grease 2 large lipped baking sheets. Set aside. Combine the 10 cups of water and baking soda in a large dutch oven and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Once the water has reached a boil, gently add the bites in batches of 12 with a slotted spoon. Boil the bites for 30 seconds and then remove (again with your slotted spoon). Transfer immediately to your prepared baking sheets and spread out so that no two bites are touching. Repeat this step for the rest of your bites. Brush each bite with the egg and water (egg wash) and sprinkle with coarse sea salt.

5.) Bake at 450 degrees F for 10-12 minutes or until the pretzels are golden brown (this happens very quickly so be careful). Remove from oven and transfer to a cooling rack to cool slightly before serving.

6.) For the honey mustard, combine the mustards, honey, mayo and lemon juice in a small bowl. Whisk until smooth and then season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with the pretzel bites. Will store for about a week in the refrigerator.

 

3.) Popcorn = Kettle Corn. There are a bunch of savory popcorn options to make, but since it’s a Thanksgiving party, I thought kettle corn would be a little more festive. Of course, unless you’re like Laura Ingalls Wilder with some big honking outdoor cauldron, you’re probably going to have to make this on the stove. Use caution! Kettle corn takes a little bit of practice since the sugar burns quickly. Get some more tips at The Kitchn below.

KettleCornHow To Make Kettle Corn at Home
From The Kitchn
Serves 6-8 (approx 10 cups)

Ingredients
3 tablespoons oil, like coconut oil, canola oil, or other vegetable oil
1/2 cup corn kernels
1/4 to 1/2 cup white granulated sugar, to taste
1 teaspoon salt
Equipment
Baking sheet
Parchment paper
4-quart sauce pot with lid
Long-handled spoon for stirring
Instructions

1.) Prep the Baking Sheet: Line a baking sheet with parchment and set it near the stove. You will pour the popped corn out onto this sheet to cool.

2.) Warm the Oil: Pour the oil into the pot and drop three kernels of corn over the top. These three kernels will be your indicator for when the oil is hot. Cover with the lid and set over medium-high heat.

3.) Add the Corn Kernels, Sugar, and Salt: When you hear one of the kernels pop, uncover the pot and pour in the rest of the kernels, sugar, and salt. Use 1/4 cup of sugar if you like slightly sweet kettle corn and more if you like sweeter. Quickly stir everything together to coat all the kernels and replace the lid.

4.) Shake the Pan While the Popcorn Pops: Shake the pan occasionally as the popcorn starts to pop, and then more frequently and vigorously as the popping increases. Rest the pot on the burner every few seconds to maintain the heat.
? Some wisps of steam toward the end of popping are normal — don’t confuse this with smoke! However, if you smell smoke, stop popping and proceed with the next steps.

5.) Remove from Heat When Popping Slows: Listen closely — when you hear the popping begin to slow, 1 to 2 seconds between pops, remove the pan from heat. Don’t wait for every kernel to pop or you’ll end up burning the popcorn; as soon as you think it might be starting to slow down, take it off the heat. Total popping time is about 2 to 3 minutes on my electric stove.

6.) Pour the Popcorn Onto the Baking Sheet: When the popping slows, immediately uncover the pot and pour the popcorn on the prepared baking sheet. Use the long-handled spoon and your fingers to spread the popcorn into an even layer to cool and pick out any burnt pieces (there are always a few in every batch!).

7.) Cool the Popcorn: Let the kettle corn cool for at least five minutes — the popcorn will crisp as it cools. Eat immediately or store in an airtight container for several days.

 

4.) Jelly Beans = Fruit Gelées. This is the one your guests will ooh and ahh over. Fruit gelées are so pretty! They look like little sugar-covered jewels, depending on the fruit concentrates you use. Now, you have to plan a little in advance to make these. It requires pectin and optional citric acid or fruit oils. Check out the handy notes Not So Humble Pie has given for making these lovely morsels.

FruitGeleeFruit Gelées
From: Not So Humble Pie (adapted from Baking at Home with The Culinary Institute of America)
Yields 120 pieces

Ingredients:
3/4 cup frozen juice concentrate, thawed
1 1/4 cups water
2 1.75oz packages of powdered fruit pectin
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/3 cups light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon fruit extract or oil (optional)
1/4-3/4 teaspoon citric acid (optional)
food coloring as needed (optional)
Superfine sugar for dusting

1.) Lightly coat a 9 x 13-inch heat-safe pan with a little non-stick spray (or a light coating of flavorless oil and thoroughly wipe out the excess). Line the bottom of your pan with a piece of parchment paper and lightly coat it with non-stick spray.

2.) Pull out two large saucepans. In one, combine the fruit juice concentrate, the water, pectin and baking soda (it will foam up).

3.) In the second pan, combine the corn syrup and sugar.

4.) Place both pans over medium high heat. Bring both mixtures to a boil and then reduce the heats to medium. Cook both for roughly 8 minutes.

5.) For the sugar solution, I’m not going to call for a candy thermometer since we’re going rely on a simpler visual cue. Once the sugar solution begins to turn a little yellow (barely starting to caramelize) it’s ready. Pull the pan off the heat and slowly pour the sugar mixture into the boiling fruit mixture. It’s going to bubble violently, so pour slowly.

6.) Cook this mixture for a minute longer stirring constantly to ensure the sugar is completely melted and then remove from heat.

7.) Now you can adjust the flavor with a little citric acid and/or flavoring oils. To test the flavor of the syrup, spoon a little onto a plate and allow to cool before tasting. Adjust the flavor as desired, add a little food coloring if needed and then pour into your prepared pan.

8.) Place the pan on a level surface and allow to cure at room temperature for 2 hours.

9.) When the candy has cured and set, scatter some superfine sugar onto a flat baking sheet. Peel the candy from the pan and lay onto the sugared baking sheet. Using a pizza cutter coated in a little nonstick spray cut the candy into simple cubes. If you’re feeling fancy, you can use small cookie cutters or aspic cutters to cut out shapes.

 

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Airs on Thanksgiving Day at 8pm on ABC

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving images from United Feature Syndicate
Crostini image from Live Love Pasta
Pretzel images from Cooking and Beer
Kettle Corn image from jecathre, Flickr
Fruit gelee image from michelle@TNS, Flickr

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