November 1, 2023
November 2023: Deeply Thankful
November 2023: Deeply Thankful
Our gratitude for the people in our lives feels even more precious this year but our message remains the same. Our Classic team is truly awesome, creatively accepting challenges and turning them into opportunities for growth and magical moments. We are incredibly thankful to our team of superheroes. 
Thank you to our clients and community as well, who continue to connect with us for special occasions.  To our loyal patrons who have partnered with us for all of your events, and to our new clients who have invited us into their lives for the first time: please know we are grateful for your many kindnesses and your continued conversations. 
Many thanks to our vendors who share the roads, detours, and roundabouts with us every day, and to our families for their support, love, and understanding.

To show our appreciation, and with guidance from our schools, we will continue our Thanksgiving tradition of providing holiday dinners for families who need an extra hand this year. 


The history of Thanksgiving stuffing in the United States is as rich and diverse as the flavors that grace our holiday tables. You’ll find a delightful cornucopia of stuffing traditions across the nation including adding oysters up in New England and cornbread in the south.
At the tables of our team members, stuffing takes on its own quirkiness. Katelyn West’s family is “raisin” the bar, adding a bit of sweetness to their recipe. Jenny Gaintner is a bit more adventurous (despite her family’s wishes for a more traditional recipe so she makes two!) and she tries out a new stuffing recipe each year. Her all-time favorite is a fruit and nut sourdough stuffing that is “apricot-tively” amazing. Mark’s family includes a “gourd-geous” addition of roasted pumpkin, a recipe that was a favorite of his great-grandfather. Gabby Watson, our pastry chef, bakes gluten-free cornbread stuffing as an alternative to the traditional dish and has perfected the recipe proving that sometimes, “changing sides” can be quite delightful. Chef Bas is boldly “liver-al” with his recipe adding chicken livers for extra flavor. On the flip side, Fredy’s family skips stuffing and goes for a hearty stew of vegetables and ground beef, spicing things up with their favorite flavors; we don’t want to forget the punch line here – so we’ll add that they partake in fruit punch as they enjoy their meal.
So, when it comes to Thanksgiving stuffing, it’s clear that the United States is a land of culinary adventure and tradition. From raisins to chicken livers, gluten-free to chestnuts, or even skipping the stuffing altogether, our diverse team celebrates the holiday with a multitude of approaches. After all, Thanksgiving is about coming together, sharing stories, and enjoying a meal – and whatever you stuff in that turkey, it’s bound to be a tasty memory.

Savory Snap Shots: A Croatia Culinary Journey

Before there was a slow cooker there was peka, a traditional Dalmatian cooking implement and cooking method dating back hundreds of years.  Peka (bell) is a metal dome cover, used to cook food in a fire pit by covering it with burning ashes so the vessel is heated on the top and the bottom. Typically, veal, lamb, or octopus are placed in the bottom pan of the peka vessel with salt and oil (which sometimes replaces the traditional lard) to steam and roast with seasonal vegetables.  Salt and onion are the main seasonings with wine or additional broth added if needed.  The entire process takes several hours, the meat and vegetables slowly cooking in their own juices.  Bread is often cooked under the dome as well. Simple, seasonal, and succulent sums up this time-honored tradition.
Strolling through the gardens after our peka lunch at a rural family estate in the fertile valley of Konavle in Dubrovnik, we heard rustling in a near-by bush which led to our first taste of a jujube. An engaging young man was harvesting small red fruits, slightly larger than a berry, and snacking on them at the same time. He stretched out his jujube-laden hand in the universal gesture of try one, you’ll like it and soon he was teaching us how to tell which ones were ready to eat.  He told us that they are sometimes called the apple of the Adriatic with their unmistakable apple like taste, but I now know they are more often referred to as a red date. Our new friend was picking them for rakija (fruit brandy) but jujubes are also used in jams and juices.  They are a rich source of iron and antioxidants which might be why we were offered a small glass of rakija wherever we went.  Zivjeli!

Soparnik- the original pizza?
Another fire dependent Croatian specialty is soparnik from Poljica which has been traditionally prepared in Dalmatia for centuries.  The techniques are passed down from one generation to the next and it is listed in the Register of Protected Geographical Indications.  While the ingredients are simple and were comprised of “what was available”, our host’s hands clearly had years of experience rolling the dough and tending the quick, skillful cooking in the fire. The dough is thinly rolled out onto circular wooden disks about 90 cm in diameter. A mixture of finely chopped chard, onion, olive oil, and salt is spread out almost to the edges and then topped with another thin layer of dough.  First the edges are crimped and then it is slid into a hot open hearth and covered with ashes.  In a matter of minutes, it is declared done and the ashes are brushed off (traditionally with a small broom, untraditionally with an air hose). The top is then massaged with garlic and more olive oil. Warning: it is still HOT. A special measuring guide is used to cut the soparnik into the traditional diamond shaped pieces. Most Croatians stick to their claim that this delicious vegetarian treat is the original pizza. I for one am not taking sides.

We were offered a lot of pork specialties in Croatia (coincidently there are numerous “caution wild boar crossing” signs on the highway) but my first taste of kulen stood out.  We stopped for a lunch break on a farm on the island of Hvar. Our meal was about as local as it can get. The kulen was on the traditional charcuterie board of salami, anchovies and homemade cheese that is often served before the main course.  When we raved about the sausage our host informed us that the pork came from the black Slavonian pig which freely roams the land and eats acorns from the Slavonian oak.  The sausage meat had a pleasant and varied texture and appeared to be minced and chopped.  Garlic and paprika season the sausage which it turns out is considered the most prestigious of all Croatian sausages.  We agree.
Black Risotto
Since Croatia hugs the Adriatic, fish, tiny and large were featured in many meals. Oysters, shrimp, octopus, anchovies, tuna and Adriatic fish pate appeared frequently. As did, another iconic Croatian dish, crni rizot or black risotto.  We tend to associate the color with squid ink, but in Croatia the ink was traditionally extracted from cuttlefish.  Cuttlefish, like squid, have an ink sac that can release ink to scare off predators.  While the risotto is often served on Christmas Eve, we found it on many menus during our travels and it was offered at many small family restaurants
From Our Library, Harriet’s Pick: Mil by Pia Leon, Virgilio Martinez, and Malena MartinezMil is an extraordinary, one-of-a-kind restaurant located in Moray rising over the Sacred Valley of Peru at 11,000 feet above sea level. Dining at Mil overlooking the terraced concentric circles of the Moray archeological ruins and walking the surrounding land is a profound experience infused with moments of wonder and connection that is difficult to put into words. Fortunately, the proprietors, Virgilio Martinez, Pia Leon, and Malena Martinez have captured the experience with their exquisite book Mil.
Mil is a stunning masterpiece like its namesake restaurant and Mater, the interdisciplinary research organization that supports and informs the group’s restaurants and projects, its producers and their products as well as cataloguing Peru’s wide biodiversity. The work is based on a partnership with the community, sharing knowledge and deep respect.  The book reflects this well.  The story of each producer, their product and the members of the team is artfully narrated both with words and gorgeous photography.  The journey of each person connected with the project, the collaborative creative work and the meaningful connections between people, place and time touched my heart and left me with an even deeper appreciation of this special place. Smack in the middle of Mil are pullouts with pictures and recipes for the courses served at the restaurant which give the reader a taste of what to expect if they are willing to make the beautiful journey through the sacred valley of Peru.  Inspiring, informative, and well done. Thinking ahead this would make a great holiday gift for any traveler or lover of fine food.
 From our Kitchen: Ube PieChef Marie Cris Garay

Ube halaya with latik (purple yam jam with caramelized coconut cream) was one of my favorite desserts growing up. When I think of ube, I think of my mom making halayang ube or purple yam jam in our kitchen.  My mom buys fresh ube from the market and makes jam in her heavy, deep kawali (frying pan). When I was little, she let me stir the jam only if I promised to be very careful.  She told me to use a small towel to hold the pan’s handle with my left hand and use my right to stir the jam until it thickens. 

The beloved ube occupies a special place in my heart. This Thanksgiving, I wanted to bring it to my family in pie form. This recipe is a rich, vibrant “move-over pumpkin pie” for the holiday dessert lineup.  
For the filling: 
Ube halaya /Purple yam jam 1 package (16 ounces)
frozen grated ube, thawed 
1 can (13.5 ounces) coconut milk
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
½ cup butter 
2 to 3 drops ube extract (optional)

Directions: In a wide, heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat, combine grated ube, coconut milk, condensed milk, and evaporated milk.
Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
Add ube extract, if using, and stir until mixture is evenly colored. Lower heat and continue to cook, stirring regularly, for about 30 to 40 minutes or until a soft, sticky dough forms. 
Add unsalted butter and stir until melted. Continue to cook for another 10 to 15 minutes or until mixture is thick enough to cling to the back of the spoon.

Flaky pie crust
325 grams all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbs sugar, optional
230 grams very cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (2 sticks)
4 to 6 tablespoons ice water 

Add flour, salt, and sugar (optional) to a food processor. Pulse 2 to 3 times until combined. 

Scatter butter cubes over flour and process until a dough or paste begins to form, about 20 seconds.  (Dough should look broken up and a little crumbly).

Transfer to a medium bowl then sprinkle ice water over mixture — start with 4 tablespoons and add from there. Using a rubber spatula, press the dough into itself. The crumbs should begin to form larger clusters. If you pinch some of the dough and it holds together, it’s ready. If the dough falls apart, add 2 to 4 more tablespoons of water and continue to press until the dough comes together.Remove dough from bowl and place in a mound on a clean surface. Work the dough just enough to form a disc. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days. You can also freeze it for up to 3 months (just thaw it overnight in the fridge before using it).
Roll out the chilled pie crust: Remove disc of pie dough from the refrigerator. On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough out into a 12-inch circle. Make sure to turn the dough about a quarter turn after every few rolls. Carefully place the dough into a 9″ pie dish. Tuck it in with your fingers, making sure it’s tightly pressed into the pie dish. Fold any dough overhang back into the dish to form a thick rim around the edges. Crimp the edges with a fork or flute the edges with your fingers. Par-bake the crust: Line the pie crust with parchment paper. Crunching up the parchment paper is helpful so that you can easily shape it into the crust. Fill with pie weight or dried beansMake sure the weights/beans are evenly distributed around the pie dish. Par-bake the crust for 10 minutes. Carefully remove the parchment paper/pie weights. Prick the bottom of the crust all over with a fork to create steam vents and return crust (without weights) to the oven for 7-8 more minutes or until the bottom is *just* starting to brown. Pour ube halaya filling into the warm crust. Only fill the crust about 3/4 of the way up. Bake the pie until the center is almost set, about 55-60 minutes Once done, transfer the pie to a wire rack and allow it to cool completely for at least 3 hours and top with fresh whipped cream.
Click here to print the recipe.