Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Pepperidge Farm’s Holidays In July Dinner: Bringin’ On The Turkey And All The Fixins Just A Little Early!

By: Anne M. Raso

In case you don’t already know, the famous (and highly nostalgic) brands Pepperidge Farm, Swanson and Campbell’s Soup are all owned by the same corporation these days and the PR folks from there wanted to come out swinging’ with their best holiday recipes from their test kitchens—featuring their most popular products. They wowed New York’s fussy foodie press with both new-fangled and traditional recipes using their most famous products, many of which bring a warmth to baby boomers’ hearts just upon the mention of their names! (They even created a gingerbread house featuring a roof made out of Pepperidge Farm Chessmen cookies to give it a little texture—it was so cute that no one wanted to take it apart and eat it at the Holidays In July dinner!)

We started out sipping Gingerbread Martinis topped with a Pepperidge Farm Gingerman cookie. Appetizers included Cream Of Pumpkin Soup with Cranberry Drizzle (made with Swanson Vegetable Broth) and a stunning Holiday Brie En Croute with Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry, Cracker Trio, Bake At Home Bread and Stone Baked Artisan Rolls. I was mighty happy to discover that Pepperidge Farm had a puff pastry—not to mention a diversified choice of bread and rolls—that help make up a quick cheese or appetizer plate. The PF Puff Pastry is already cooked and all you have to do if fill each individual portion so they are a must-have for any host or hostess around the holiday. Best of all, they work with both savory and sweet fillings. I have to also take this opportunity to say that I had never even heard of Pepperidge Farm Bake At Home breads or their Stone Baked Artisan Rolls, but they were up to snuff with the finer brands of homemade rolls served in New York’s most exclusive Modern American eateries.
The main courses were Red Wine Braised Short Ribs made with Swanson Beef Stock and Herb Roasted Turkey and Pan Gravy made with Swanson Chicken Stock. The short ribs were so tender that they made my hair stand on end and I had to have seconds. The turkey was tender and juicy (I just had the white meat) and I enjoyed pairing it with the Sausage Cornbread Stuffing made with one of the most classic items ever used in a Thanksgiving Dinner—Pepperidge Farm Cornbread Stuffing. The other two stuffing choices were equally mouth-watering: Carmelized Onion with Pancetta and Rosemary Stuffing made with Pepperidge Farm Herbed Seasoning and Swanson Chicken Brother and Baked Apple Cranberry Studding made with PF Unseasoned Studding and Swanson Chicken Broth.

The sides included Four Cheese Mac And Cheese topped with a Pepperidge Farm Goldfish crust, Sweet Potato and Parsnip Puree made with Swanson Chicken Broth, Ultra Creamy Mashed Potatoes (both white and sweet) made with Swanson Chicken Broth. (It was actually the folks at the Swanson test kitchen who invented the now legendary Skinny Mashed Potatoes made with their broth over 30 years ago.) All the sides were knockouts but it blew my mind that crushed Goldfish crackers could add such a delicate and buttery sweetness to Mac & Cheese!
The ace staff from the Pepperidge Farm test kitchens then laid out a giant table of desserts that was as pretty as it was tasty. Besides the aforementioned ginger bread house (with Christmas trees made from spearmint gumdrops), the “sweets table” included Bananas Foster Pudding topped with PF Chessmen Cookies (that got nice and moist after being refrigerated), Hazelnut Chocolate Bites and Mini Cheesecakes made with PF Puff Pastry, and a huge array of PF cookies including the fabulous seasonal items Milano Pumpkin Spice and Candy Cane cookies. I fell in love with two PF sweets I was not even aware of before—Dessert Shop Chocolate Brownies and Caramel Apple Cookies.

I walked away from this family style dinner stuffed like a Thanksgiving turkey and with a few easy recipes in my purse to try at home. The test kitchen cooks were kind enough to demo some of their super-easy dishes including five or six ways to fill the Puff Pastry with cream and fruit—and how to make a pastry bag out of a plastic storage bag by snipping the edge. My hats off to these legendary American brands that put together this dinner that was a hip take on all the great traditions of Thanksgiving and Christmas.

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