The Phoenix Reporter and Item (http://www.phoenixvillenews.com)

Thanksgiving all-stars: Recipes from chef Jose Garces, Lisa Thomas-Laury and Philly native Frankie Avalon

Three sides and a dessert

By Emily Ryan, For Digital First Media

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

This holiday, add some star power to your meal with celebrity recipes that will have guests giving thanks.

“When I think about Thanksgiving, I remember the turkey and my father’s chicken giblet gravy,” described Iron Chef and restaurateur Jose Garces, whose parents emigrated from Ecuador and served “Ecuadorean staples as well.”

“Now, every Thanksgiving with my kids includes a little bit of Latin flair,” he continued, “with dishes like meat-filled empanadas, sweet corn tamales and my Catalan-inspired sweet-and-sour spinach.”

Featuring currants, pine nuts, honey and sherry vinegar, the spinach is “relatively light, which makes it a great addition to a hearty Thanksgiving menu.”

Can’t get enough sides? Try singer, actor and Philadelphia native Frankie Avalon’s green beans with red potatoes, a chart-topping alternative to green bean casserole. Or hit one out of the park with extra-creamy mashed potatoes from Phillies broadcaster and former major leaguer Ben Davis. The secret: cream cheese, sour cream and milk for “a better consistency.”

“Being 100-percent Irish, we tend to have some sort of potato with just about every dinner, and Thanksgiving is no different,” he explained. “Mashed potatoes go the best with turkey!”

And for dessert, Action News icon Lisa Thomas-Laury offered peach/apple cobbler, a family favorite.

“My cousin, Linda, shared it with me in my early years after I moved to Philadelphia,” recalled the retired anchor and author of a new memoir: “On Camera and Off: When the News Is Good and When It’s Not.”

“I find that cobbler’s a little easier because you usually make it in a square dish,” she said. “The crust doesn’t have to be as perfect.”

But the taste sure is.

“My husband loves it with ice cream.”

Sweet-and-Sour Catalan Spinach

Ingredients

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 shallot, minced

½ cup sherry vinegar

1 thyme sprig

1 tablespoon honey

¼ cup pine nuts

2½ pounds baby spinach

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper

¼ cup currants

Instructions

In a small saucepan, heat 2 teaspoons of the canola oil. Add the shallot and cook over low heat until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the vinegar and thyme sprig and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat until the vinegar is reduced to 2 tablespoons, about 20 minutes. Discard the thyme sprig and stir the honey into the vinegar. In a small skillet, toast the pine nuts in the remaining 1 teaspoon of canola oil over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer the pine nuts to a plate and let cool. Fill a soup pot with ½ inch of water and bring to a boil. Add the spinach in handfuls, stirring until wilted. When the spinach is wilted, transfer to a colander and squeeze out the excess water. Wipe out the pot. Heat the olive oil in the pot and add the spinach. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until heated through, about 5 minutes. Transfer the spinach to a platter and garnish with currants and toasted pine nuts. Drizzle the sherry vinegar syrup and serve right away. Total time: 45 minutes.

RECIPE COURTESY OF CHEF JOSE GARCES

Green Beans with Red Potatoes

Crisp vegetables can be good, but so can vegetables that have been cooked until they are very tender, just like these green beans paired with potatoes in a tomato sauce. All of the flavors mix together to become a fantastic side dish for simply prepared meats and seafood.

Ingredients

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound red-skinned potatoes, scrubbed but unpeeled, cut into 1/2-inch wedges

1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup water

½ cup dry sherry

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon dried oregano

8 ounces green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces

½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed

3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until it is very hot but not smoking. Add the potatoes, cut sides down, and cook, turning once, until golden brown on both sides but not tender, about 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the potatoes to a serving bowl, leaving the oil in the skillet. Add the onion and garlic to the skillet and reduce the heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion has softened, about 3 minutes. Add the water, sherry, tomato paste and oregano and stir to dissolve the tomato paste. Return the potatoes to the skillet and scatter the green beans on top. Season with the ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover the skillet tightly. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are tender and the liquid has thickened, about 20 minutes. Season with additional salt and pepper as needed. Transfer the potato mixture to a serving bowl. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and serve hot. Makes 6 servings.

RECIPE FROM FRANKIE AVALON’S ITALIAN FAMILY COOKBOOK, COPYRIGHT 2016 BY FRANKIE AVALON WITH RICK RODGERS, REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION OF ST. MARTIN’S GRIFFIN

Ben Davis’ Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients

5 pounds russet potatoes, skinned, sliced and boiled

2 sticks of butter, sweet-cream and salted

½ stick Philadelphia cream cheese

2 tablespoons sour cream

Salt and pepper, to taste

½ cup whole milk

Instructions

Drain potatoes. Whip with a mixer or ricer. I feel the best way to make sure there are no lumps is to slightly overboil the potatoes. I put the cream cheese, butter and sour cream in the bottom of the mixing bowl before adding the potatoes and milk. The hot boiled potatoes help melt everything underneath.

RECIPE COURTESY OF BEN DAVIS

Lisa Thomas-Laury’s Peach/Apple Cobbler

I must give credit to my cousin, Linda Hamilton, for this delicious recipe.

Ingredients

3 Granny Smith apples

2 large (32-ounce) cans of sliced peaches

1 cup sugar

5 tablespoons sifted flour

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ stick butter

1 box refrigerated ready-made pie crusts

1 tablespoon milk

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease bottom and corners of square baking dish; lay out pie crusts to soften; peel apples and cut into small pieces. Drain and cut peaches, saving small portion of the juice (set aside); mix cinnamon, flour and sugar (set aside). Flour one side of one pie crust. Place in bottom of baking dish and pour in fruit; spoon sugar mixture evenly over top; slice and add pats of butter. Put remaining pie crust over top, pinching corners to side of dish; put several slits in top. Spread 1 tablespoon of milk on top of crust; sprinkle sugar; bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Additions and changes: Choose peaches in heavy syrup. Put the baking dish with the bottom pie crust in the oven (350 degrees) for 5 to 10 minutes before adding fruit. I now use 1 tablespoon allspice instead of 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. I also cook the peaches and peeled apples in the peach syrup on stovetop for 15 minutes before adding them to the baking dish.

RECIPE COURTESY OF LISA THOMAS-LAURY