The end of November is a busy time for families, including Corey Milliman’s, owner of CC’s Low-Carb Kitchen, which is one of the reasons he gives his staff off on this holiday. “One side of my family celebrates [Thanksgiving] the weekend before; the other on Thanksgiving. Finally, we usually have a small Friendsgiving after the family holidays,” he says. Each of these celebrations has its own unique style: one features Wisconsin traditions, one features Kentucky traditions, and Friendsgiving is a mix of both.
Like a lot of people, Corey begins his preparation in advance. “I always make my pies on the days leading up to Thanksgiving,” he says. Sour Door County cherry pie, spicy pumpkin pie, and a cheddar apple galette are staples of the holiday. Some other “have tos” are turkey, sage stuffing, orange cranberry sauce, and yeast rolls. He says he has learned that sausage balls are a thing (that he doesn’t quite understand), but he makes them to keep his husband, Kevin Spalding, happy.
The turkey can look a little different each year. “Sometimes it’s roasted, sometimes it’s deep-fried, and other times it is smoked,” he says. One definite that never alters is that the turkey is always way too big for the group they host at 9am.
The pandemic, of course, has changed things. Many families, like Corey’s, are spending more time at home rather than moving from place to place. Laughing, cooking, eating, and drinking with a smaller group will be the norm for this second COVID-19 Thanksgiving, as will a sense of increased gratefulness. “[Kevin and I] are thankful for our families, our dogs, and the family we created at CC’s. We are fortunate to have ‘fallen into’ so much love and respect from our staff and customers,” Corey says.
Maple Goat Cheese Crostini
1 Loaf French bread
½ cup olive oil
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp cloves
15 ounce can pumpkin
11 ounce log Montrachet goat cheese (softened)
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp honey
1 cup pecan halves
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
8 slices thick cut bacon
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place a wire rack onto a baking sheet, and arrange bacon in a single layer. Bake until desired crispness, 15-25 minutes.
Transfer cooked bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and reserve bacon fat into a non-stick skillet.
Turn heat to medium-high, and add pecans to the skillet. Toss in oil to coat. Then add salt, pumpkin pie spice, and brown sugar. Stir to cover all pecans, and reduce heat to medium. Once sugar starts to bubble, remove from heat and set aside.
Place all filling ingredients (pumpkin, goat cheese, salt, cayenne, ginger, and honey) in the food processor and process until smooth. Depending on the saltiness of cheese, adjust salt and honey accordingly. Continue to process until smooth.
Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees.
Slice loaf of french bread in ¼–½” slices. Mix olive oil, salt, and cloves in a small bowl. Line the baking sheet with parchment paper. Place a wire rack onto a baking sheet. Arrange bread on the baking sheet and brush both sides of each piece of bread with the oil mixture.
Bake bread for 5 minutes. Check for your desired level of crispness. If you’re not using a convection oven, flip bread and bake as required to crisp the second side.
When bread is complete, transfer to a serving platter. Pipe out pumpkin filling onto each piece of bread. Slice bacon, and garnish each crostini with bacon, one candied pecan and dried cranberries.
Wisconsin Apple Cheddar Galette
200 g flour
2 tbsp finely grated sharp cheddar
1 ½ sticks Irish butter (cubed and cold)
2 tbsp finely grated cheddar cheese
1 tsp sugar
⅓ cup ice water
4 apples, cored and sliced
3 tbsp brown sugar (packed)
Juice of ½ lemon
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp sugar
¼ cup grated cheddar cheese
2 tbsp butter, cubed
1 tbsp honey
½ cup Irish butter, softened
1 cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
Additional shredded cheddar to garnish
Dice butter and place in the freezer while measuring out other ingredients.
In a food processor, combine flour, sugar, salt, and cheddar cheese. Process for about 20 seconds. Add butter and process for about 10 seconds. Sprinkle ice water over mixture and process until pastry starts to come together. Transfer to a lightly floured work surface, gather, and pat into a disk. Wrap pastry in plastic wrap and refrigerate while preparing filling ingredients.
Topping: In a medium bowl, use a pastry blender or fingers to mix butter, flour, and brown sugar. Set aside.
Filling: Fill a bowl with cold water (4 cups) and add lemon juice to water. Core, peel, and slice apples, and soak them in lemon juice/water mixture.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to about a 12″ circle, approximately 1/8 inch thick.
Combine brown sugar, cinnamon, and sugar mixture in a large bowl. Drain the apples, and gently toss them in the spice mixture to coat.
Arrange apple slices on top of dough, leaving about a 1.5-inch border around the edge. Fold edge nearest you towards the center, rotating sheet pan and repeating until all edges are folded towards fruit.
Drizzle honey over the apples and then sprinkle cheddar cheese over them. Finally, sprinkle the topping mixture over the apples.
Place in the oven and bake until the crust is golden and fruit is tender, about 40-45 minutes. Transfer to rack and let cool before slicing.
KY State Fair Winning Cranberry Orange Shortbread (Corey Milliman’s 2019 Blue ribbon winner)
1 cup dried cranberries
¾ cup sugar
2 ½ cups all purpose flour, spooned and leveled
1 cup Irish butter (cubed and cold)
¼ cup bourbon
Zest of 1 orange
Sanding sugar or additional sugar to coat cookies (optional)
Combine cranberries and bourbon in a bowl to soak. (Can be soaked overnight before making cookies.)
Drain cranberries, reserving bourbon. Place cranberries in a food processor with ¼ cup sugar and process until broken down into smaller pieces. Set aside.
Combine flour and remaining sugar in a large bowl. Using a pastry cutter, cut in butter until you have very fine crumbs.
Stir in cranberries, bourbon, and orange zest.
Knead dough by hand, working it until it comes together and forms a ball. If crumbly, add more bourbon 1 tsp at a time until dough comes together.
Shape dough into a log about 2″ in diameter and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for two hours or up to 48 hours.
When ready to bake, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Cut slices of cookie dough just over ¼” thick. Place sanding sugar or regular sugar in a bowl and coat each cookie slice with sugar.
Place cookies on a baking sheet, and bake for 12-15 minutes or just until cookies are set. Let cool for several minutes on a baking sheet before removing to the cooling rack. Let them cool completely, and then they can be stored in an airtight container.