For many of life's most memorable meals, three's a crowd. Just you, your sweetie and maybe a little candlelight. Somehow that doesn't seem to apply to the holidays, when a throng of family and friends seems de rigueur. And because most holiday recipes are portioned for the hordes, making Thanksgiving for two can be a little tricky. You needn't punt on the whole thing, beg an invite from neighbors or consign yourself to mountains of leftovers. It's possible to make a meal on a smaller scale that's festive, seasonal and fairly fuss-free. The following recipes yield dinner for two with just enough leftovers for Friday noshing. For easy appetizers, grab a wedge of delicious cheese, herbed toasts and a little bowl of good olives. And for dessert, your favorite ice cream goes holiday-fancy with a rich homemade chocolate sauce.
Laura Reiley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 892-2293. Her blog, the Mouth of Tampa Bay, is at www.blogs.tampabay.com/dining.
Around the holidays, many grocery stores offer fresh or frozen whole turkey breasts in vacuum-sealed bags. This is usually both breasts of the turkey; for this recipe, use only one side and freeze remainder for another use (and if it comes on the bone, reserve bones for soup or stock).
1 (1 1/2-pound) boneless turkey breast
1/4 cup butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed and chopped finely
1 package frozen, chopped spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed out
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
3/4 cup dry bread crumbs or panko
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/3 cup chopped, toasted pecans
Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
1 sheet ready-made puff pastry dough, at room temperature
1 egg, slightly beaten, for egg wash
Remove and discard skin from turkey and butterfly with a sharp knife. Starting from thickest side, carefully cut turkey meat almost in half horizontally so that it will open like a book. If it's uneven or still more than ½ inch thick, pound it slightly between two sheets of waxed paper until thin and even in thickness. To make filling, in large skillet over medium heat, melt butter and saute onion and garlic until onions are lightly golden. Add spinach, wine and salt and cook 5 minutes until mixture is dry. Remove from heat, stir in bread crumbs, egg, pecans and nutmeg.
Spread filling evenly over flattened turkey breast. From long side, roll up turkey, jelly roll-style. Place, seam side down, on lightly greased baking pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On lightly floured surface, stretch out puff pasty, rolling to 1/3-inch thickness. Drape over turkey roll, trim away excess dough, leaving ½-inch edge, and tuck under turkey roll snugly. With sharp knife, cut remaining dough into leaf shapes, score leaves to make veins. Brush dough covering turkey with 1 beaten egg, arrange leaves on top of turkey and brush leaves with egg.
Bake turkey roll 45 to 55 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 170 degrees on a meat thermometer. Allow to stand 10 minutes before slicing into ½- to ¾-inch slices.
Serves 2 with leftovers.
Source: Adapted from Claudia Vestal
Doctored Store-Bought Gravy
A simple mustard cream sauce or even a can of condensed golden mushroom soup, thinned with equal parts cream and white wine, make quick sauces. This takes it just one step more festive.
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup chopped onion
3 tablespoons sherry
1 (32-ounce) can turkey gravy
Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Saute onion about 5 minutes, until tender. Add sherry, cook 1 minute. Stir in prepared turkey gravy and cook until heated through.
Makes 4 cups of gravy.
Source: Adapted from Claudia Vestal
Quick Cranberry Sauce
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
Half of a 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
Bring water and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Add cranberries and zest and simmer, stirring occasionally, until berries just pop, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool.
Makes just over 1 cup.
Source: Laura Reiley
Brussels Sprouts Hash With
2 tablespoons butter, divided
3 shallots, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
12 brussels sprouts, end trimmed
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup water
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in medium skillet over medium heat. Add shallots; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Saute until soft and golden, about 10 minutes. Add vinegar and sugar. Stir until brown and glazed, about 3 minutes. Remove from pan and reserve. Halve brussels sprouts lengthwise. Cut across into thin ribbons. Heat oil in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add sprouts; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Saute until brown at edges, 6 minutes. Add water and remaining tablespoon butter. Saute until most of water evaporates and sprouts are tender but still bright green, 3 minutes. Add shallots; season with salt and pepper.
Source: Adapted from Bon Appetit