I'm so unorthodox with Thanksgiving (some crazy recipes)

... that I don't even do my post about it anywhere near November.

Anyway, Thanksgiving is a state of mind. It's an anytime, all the time kind of thing. Or at least it should be. Read this and you'll agree.

So, Thanksgiving... it's never really been a turkey kind of day for my family. First, my parents were from Asia. Nobody eats turkey in Asia. Nobody uses ovens there, either. Both facts aren't very conducive to late November turkey consumption. In our household, improvisation sometimes led to wonderful things, like my mom's sticky-rice stuffing. Other times, it led to microwaving the holiday bird to a nice grey hue (but to be fair, this was the early eighties when carousel microwaves were the new shiny thing, and the cookbook that came with ours told us it would be the juiciest thing we ever ate, and they were kind of right... it was the juiciest grey thing any of us ever ate).

Over the decades, we've since had our fair share of properly-prepared turkey. Some, like the deep fried variety, were better than others, but I still can't say I'm a fan. I'll eat it once or twice a year, but mostly to get into the spirit of the holidays. It's strictly ceremonial fare for me. Or in my case last year, a psychopathic ritual.

And like last year, Kikkoman sent me a box full of stuff and challenged me to make something with it. So I did. And these dishes were part of this year's Thanksgiving dinner. All of the following recipes are my own. However, they were all field tested on humans, and all of them ended the evening smiling, despite the lack of turkey on the table.

The two mainstays of the night were tried and true favorites that I've posted about in the past. Click on them to get the respective recipes:

Rib Roast (upon re-examination, there's no recipe. Only tantalizing pictures.)
BusyDad's Killa Clam Chowda

I also made sauteed green beans with almonds and a baked brie with fig jam, but I improvised those and did not write the recipes down.

Here are the dishes that I conjured up using Kikkoman ingredients:

Far Eastside Chicken Fried Steak

First time I ever had Chicken Fried Steak was in Texas, visiting my uncle about 30 years ago. I haven't been the same since. You just cannot go wrong taking a hunk of beef, deep frying it and drowning it in gravy. In fact, it may qualify you for sainthood. This is my version of the classic American dish, with a little Asian gangsta lean. It uses Kikkoman Kara Age coating (it's ginger-soy flavored breading, usually for chicken and fish) and a Terriyaki cream sauce... with bacon in it. You feeling me?

Ingredients:

For the steak

  • 1 pouch Kikkoman Kara-Age mix
  • 1.5 lb cube steak
  • Oil, for deep frying (the more the merrier)

for the sauce

  • 1 C Heavy Cream
  • 1/8 C Kikkoman Terriyaki Sauce
  • 1/2 bunch scallion (green onions)
  • 1 Tb butter
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
  • 1/4 tsp cornstarch dissolved in a bit of water
  • Toasted sesame seeds (for garnish)

Preparation:

  1. Pour the Kara-Age into a plastic bag (I used a gallon sized zip loc type bag).
  2. Add the cube steak into the bag and shake it like you used to help your mom make Shake n Bake.
  3. Deep fry the coated steaks for approximately 5-6 min. Set aside.
  4. To make the sauce, melt the butter and throw in the scallion and sautee for about 30 seconds.
  5. Add heavy cream and Terriyaki sauce, bring to a boil.
  6. Add cornstarch mixture. Simmer and stir.
  7. Add bacon bits.
  8. To plate this, cut up steaks on a diagonal, place on a mound of rice, drizzle with sauce and sprinkle sesame seeds over the whole thing.

Note: d Wife added this sauce to egg noodles a few days later. It was quite amazing. Pre-emptively apologize to your arteries, however.

Not-a-Vegetable Mac 'n Cheese

Now that congress has deemed pizza a vegetable, I have to try extra hard to make decadent foods for the holidays. Because who wants health food when you're celebrating? Where there's a will, there's a way. This version of macaroni and cheese is proof of that. d Wife really loves Brie. I love heavy cream and prosciutto. The crunchy, buttery topping is made from Kikkoman Panko Bread Crumbs (hands down the best on the market). Still with me? Read on.

Ingredients:

Macaroni:

  • 16 oz (6C), Macaroni cooked and drained
  • 4 Tb cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 6 oz Prosciutto randomly torn into little pieces
  • 3 C heavy cream
  • 2 C water
  • 4 Tb butter
  • 3 1/2 C shredded sharp Cheddar cheese,
  • 1 1/2 C shredded Brie (it's easier to shred if you freeze it first)
  • 1 granny smith apple, peeled and chopped into small pieces
  • 1 C peas, cooked

Panko Crumb Topping:

  • 2 C Panko Bread Crumbs
  • 2 Tb dried chives
  • 1 C shredded cheddar
  • 4 Tb butter, in slices/chunks

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease 3-quart casserole dish.
  2. Cook heavy cream, water, butter, cornstarch, salt, mustard and pepper in medium saucepan over medium-heat, stirring constantly until mixture comes to a boil. Boil a minute longer. Remove from heat. Stir in cheese until melted. Add macaroni; mix well. Add prosciutto, apple and peas. Reeeemix!
  3. Set aside. Make topping.
  4. Combine crumbs, chives and butter. Use two forks and roughly cream it so it's chunky, not smooth.
  5. Pour macaroni into prepared casserole dish. Top with the 1 C cheddar, and then crumb topping.
  6. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until topping is light brown.

Audacious Key Lime Crunch Pie

There are few foods that I believe should never be sullied with extraneous things: cheesecake, hummus, ribeye steak, oysters, cannoli, whiskey, coffee... and key lime pie. I had the audacity to mess with a classic. Thus, the name. This delicious aberration improves upon the standard graham cracker crust by using Anna's Ginger Thins. I have never been a fan of ginger snaps, but have you ever had Anna's Ginger Thins? They are unreal. I figured if I was going to mess with the tried and true, I had to go all out. I also added some texture to the key lime part by going with a Kikkoman Panko topping, into which I added lime zest. I still have a tupperware of extra topping in my fridge, into which I stick my tongue occasionally. Speaking of things to stick your tongue into, this is topped with homemade whipped cream.

Ingredients:

Crust:

  • 1 1/2 C Anna's Ginger Thins crumbs (1 pack)
  • 1 1/2 Tb sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 6 Tb unsalted butter, melted

Filling:

  • 1 14-oz can condensed milk
  • 1/3 C bottled key lime juice
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 Tb sugar
  • 3 Tb fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp salt

Panko Crumb Topping:

  • 1/2 C panko crumbs
  • 1/8 C sugar
  • 2 Tb butter
  • Zest of 1/2 lime

Whipped Cream:

  • 1.5 cups chilled whipping cream
  • 3 Tb powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Preparation:

For Crust:

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Mix crumbs, sugar, salt.
  3. Add butter, stir. Press into 9 in. glass pie dish.
  4. Bake 5 min. Cool.

For Filling:

  1. Preheat oven to 275.
  2. Whisk all filling ingredients in large bowl until smooth. Pour into cooled crust.
  3. Bake 10 min until center is partly set.
  4. Remove pie, turn temp up to 350.
  5. Sprinkle crumb topping over pie.
  6. Put back in oven and bake 25 more min.
  7. Let it cool, then stick in the refrigerator overnight, or a few hours if you can't wait.

For Whipped Cream:

With a mixer, beat all ingredients until it resembles whipped cream. Steal a few spoonfuls of it, then serve on pie.

Ninja training involves acts of self-deprivation

Dexter cooks. With Kikkoman.

The other day, I recieved a huge box from Kikkoman. You may know them as the soy sauce people. You're right. They do indeed make the best soy sauce this side of the Great Wall. What I didn't realize was that Kikkoman soy sauce makes an excellent brining solution for your holiday turkey too. What a killer concept!

Which naturally led me to think, "how would Dexter cook Thanksgiving dinner?" Ok, I'll be honest, pretty much anything prompts me to think "what would Dexter do?" because I'm a little bit obsessed over that show. Case in point? I made a video that answers my first question:

Speaking of meals to kill for, I did a little experimenting with some of the other items that came in my Kikkoman goodie box. Did you know that Kikkoman makes the best tempura batter mix and Panko bread crumbs, hands down? Totally makes you realize that buying that deep fryer was less an impulse buy, than a manifestation of destiny. Both of these recipes I made up put a new twist on some Thanksgiving staples:

Loaded Mashed Potato Patties

Every Thanksgiving spread needs mashed potatoes. This version makes them portable. And incorporates all the good stuff from another potato favorite: the loaded mashed potato.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups mashed potatoes
  • 2 eggs, beaten separately (you know, because each one deserves your full wrath)
  • 8 slices of cooked bacon, give or take 50 (hey, I get it. It's bacon.). Chopped.
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar
  • Some flour in a bowl - I didn't measure. That's why I write here and not on Food Network.
  • Some Kikkoman Panko breadcrumbs in a bowl - again, if you have a whole box, just add more as you need it. I'm not going to micromanage your cooking.
  • A deep fryer, or a pan with oil in it.

Throw the potatoes, ONE egg, bacon and chives in a mixing bowl. Take your hand and mash it all up good. Don't wimp out on me. Get visceral with your cooking. It's very satisfying, trust me. The following should be in bowls, lined up in a path toward your fryer or pan in the following order:

Cheese, flour, one beaten egg, Panko bread crumbs.

Take a small handful of the potato mixture and form a small pattie. Grab some cheese and place it in the middle. Grab more mixture and mash it on top, so now you have a pattie with cheese in the middle.

Dip the pattie in flour. Then egg. Then the Panko breadcrumbs. Then fry until golden brown.

Tempura Apples

Remember the old school McDonald's apple pies? How they were cinnamony and fried? I sure miss those. These are my attempt at finding a substitute. And they're pretty damn good. Desperation is the mother of invention.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Fuji apples
  • Cinnamon sugar (just mix a bunch of sugar with a bunch of cinnamon)
  • Kikkoman Tempura batter (mix up one serving; instructions on box)
  • A deep fryer, or equivalent
  • Caramel sauce

Slice up the apples and put them in a mixing bowl. Pour some cinnamon sugar on top and toss it. Let it sit for a few minutes while you mix up the batter.

Dip the apple slices in the batter and then drop them in the oil. Then after they are done, let them cool off for a bit. Sprinkle more cinnamon sugar on those bad boys and drizzle melted caramel on top. You can also top that with a scoop of vanilla ice cream instead. Or in addition. Awesome plus awesome is always more awesome. 

Want your own goodie box full of Kikkoman products and nifty swag? I'm giving one away. Just leave me a comment and I'll pick sometime this weekend. Maybe Sunday? Whatever. This isn't Food Network.