The Beachcomber asked Lisa Cyra, Food Services Director of Vashon Island School District, for her advice on simple recipes to cook for upcoming celebrations of Thanksgiving.
This year, many local celebrations will be smaller than ever, as islanders have been asked to celebrate with their immediate household members only due to the coronavirus pandemic.
It’s the perfect time to try a new recipe, and who better to ask for advice on how to do that than Cyra? She is a professionally trained chef who has owned her own catering company and worked in hotels as a pastry chef. Despite an impressive culinary resume, Cyra now finds her role as the district’s Director of Food Service is by far the most satisfying position she’s ever held.
“It’s all about good nutrition and good ingredients,” she said.
Throughout the pandemic, Cyra and her staff at the school district have continued to provide nutritious meals cooked from fresh ingredients to hundreds of families each day, delivered by school bus to stops throughout Vashon, and also available for pick-up at Vashon High School.
For her outstanding work in the time of COVID-19, Cyra was awarded the school district’s covered Doors of Opportunity Award in 2020. The annual award honors a VISD teacher or staff member who best exemplifies by deed, a true spirit and grit that goes beyond their job description, opening doors and maximizing students’ potential.
Here are her recipes for a delicious start and a delicious end to your family dinners this Thanksgiving.
“Turnovers are a perfect start to a Thanksgiving gathering, or any intimate get together. These are the perfect pairing of our abundant fall produce, pears and leeks! The second recipe is an all-time favorite, and super comfort food — gingerbread. My mom used to serve this warm out of the oven with freshly whipped cream. It would get all melty and delicious.” — Lisa Cyra
Pear, Leek & Gruyere Cheese Turnover
- 1/2 cup butter
- 3 cups chopped leeks
Melt butter and add leeks – cook over medium heat for about ten minutes.
- 2 firm pears (such as Comice) – peel and chop
- 1 tbsp sugar
Add to leeks – stir until liquid evaporates (about three minutes), season with salt and pepper.
- Add 1 1/2 cup grated Gruyere with 2 tbsp fresh chives.
Puff Pastry – cut into 3” by 3” squares
Mound filling into the middle
Fold over into triangle into a pocket shape sealing with an egg wash.
Chill for 20 minutes.
Bake at 400 degrees for 18 to 20 minutes
- Cream together 1/2 cup butter, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup molasses.
- Add and beat until smooth 1 egg and 1/2 tsp salt.
- Combine together in a separate bowl 1 1/2 cup flour, 1 tsp soda, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 1/2 tsp ginger.
Add this to the butter mixture, alternating with 1/2 cup buttermilk.
In a buttered 8” square pan, bake at 350 degrees for 35 – 40 minutes.
Serve with whipped cream.