Nov 29 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

Thanksgiving 2011 is one for the record books. We used our kitchen so thoroughly that it now feels like a shell of its former self. We also managed to run a “bed and breakfast” with our parents staying with us, bunked out on our sofa bed and an air mattress in my office! There were no disasters, food related or otherwise, and everyone left contentedly full.

Justin and I loved every minute of planning, prepping, and cooking the dinner and shocked our parents by also making a coffee cake for breakfast the following morning and a baked challah french toast for breakfast on Saturday morning. When I said that we’d be having baked french toast for breakfast on Saturday, my dad looked at me and said “oh yeah, I’m sure”, thinking I was joking. Do I joke about breakfast? No!

I hope your respective Thanksgivings were enjoyable, delicious affairs!

Scroll down to see the recipes we made, with the exception of the stuffing. My mom made that and brought it up from Virginia. It was filled with whole wheat bread, almonds, dried fruit, and mushrooms. Mmmm. I’m hungry again.

Herb Biscuits

Recipe Source: Real Simple

Active Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 35-45 minutes

Notes: These biscuits can be cut into bigger circles than what you see in the pictures. They’re quick to burn and/or harden, so be careful. I made these early in the day and then wrapped them in plastic wrap until dinner. The recipe indicated that I could reheat them, but unfortunately when I did that, some of the biscuits turned rock hard. In the future, I would rather eat cold biscuits than run that risk. If you want fluffier biscuits, add more baking powder!


4 cups all purpose flour

2 tablespoons baking powder

1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (we used thyme, sage, and rosemary)

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 1/2 sticks of cold butter, cut into small pieces

1 1/2 cups buttermilk


1) Heat the oven to 400. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, herbs, salt, and baking soda.

2) Add the butter and cut until crumbly, either with a pastry blender or your fingers. Add the buttermilk and stir until just moistened.

3) Transfer this dough to a lightly floured surface and knead it to bring it togther. Shape the dough into a 1 1/4 inch thick disk. Cut out as many biscuits as you can. Place the biscuits on baking sheets (I used two) and baking for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Be sure to rotate halfway through. Let cool on wire racks.

Potato and Celery Root Gratin with Leeks

Source: Bon Appetit

Active Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours

Notes: This was a total crowd-pleaser, but then again, what gratin isn’t? I loved the way the celery root brought an extra dimension to the potatoes. Gruyere cheese provided a pleasing tanginess. Everyone went back for seconds!


3 cups heavy cream

2 peeled garlic cloves

1 sprig of thyme and 2 teaspoons of thyme leaves

1/4 stick of unsalted butter

3 leeks, the white and pale-green parts halved lengthwise and then thinly sliced crosswise

2 lbs russet potatoes, peels and thinly sliced crosswise

1 lb celery root, peels and thinly sliced crosswise

2 cups grated Gruyere

salt & pepper


1) Preheat the oven to 350. Heat the cream, garlic, and thyme sprig in a small saucepan until bubbles begin to form around the edge of the pan. Remove from heat and set aside to let steep.

2) Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a skillet. Add the skillets and some salt and pepper and cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring often. Transfer these to a bowl and set aside.

3) Butter a casserole dish with the other tablespoon of butter. Layer 1/3rd of the potato slices and 1/3rd of the celery root slices over the bottom of the dish. Cover these with 1/3rd of the leeks and 1/3rd of the Gruyere. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and thyme leaves. Repeat these layers two more times.

4) Strain the cream mixture into a measuring cup and pour over the assembled vegetables.

5) Cover the gratin with foil and bake for 1 hour. Uncover and bake for 25-30 more minutes, until the top is golden brown and bubbly.

David Chang’s Brussels Sprouts

Recipe Source: Food and Wine

Notes: See my notes from last year! I have a feeling we’ll serve this dish every Thanksgiving from here on out!

Recipe HERE

Caramelized Cane Syrup Sweet Potatoes

Recipe Source: Farm to Fork

Active Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Notes: I thought that this dish would be too sweet. If you think about it rationally, it should be. You’re taking an already sweet vegetable and then baking it with not just sugar, but also butter AND cane syrup! I figured that if it tasted too sweet, there was one family member with a sweet tooth who would eat it all anyways (Arlene!). Luckily, the sweetness dissipated with baking and the resulting dish was comforting and soft--if the sweet potatoes had baked any longer they would have completely broken down!


3 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced crosswise into 1/2 inch thick rounds

2 tablespoons canola oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 stick of melted butter

1/4 cup of cane syrup

1/2 cup of dark brown sugar

1 cup of pecan pieces


1) Preheat the oven to 400.

2) Combine the sweet potatoes with the oil and salt and toss well to combine. Place the potatoes on a baking sheet in a single layer. Cook until they begin to carmalize and soften, 30 minutes.

3) Combine the remaining ingredients in a small bowl.

4) Transfer the potatoes to a casserole dish. Pour the syrup mixture over them and use a spatula to coat well. Return the casserole to the oven and cook until the potatoes are tender, 30 more minutes.

Skillet Apples and Onions

Source: Cooking in the Moment

Active Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Notes: Justin and I made this side dish last month and after eating it, I immediately put the dish on my short list of potential Thanksgiving dishes. The key to this dish is to let the onions and apples cook in the skillet until nearly burned. You want to see seared, dark brown edges on everything--the flavor isn’t satisfying until the apples and onions start to break down.


5-6 tart Apples (we used Empire)

3 tablespoons of lard (if you don’t have lard, you can use butter)

3 yellow onions, sliced into 1/4 inch rings

salt and light brown sugar


1) Core the apples. We didn’t have an apple corer, so I did my best!! Slice the apples into 1-inch thick rings.

2) Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium high heat. Add 1/2 tablespoon of the lard and half the onions. Season with salt and sauté until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Push the onions to the side of the pan, raise the heat, and add 1 tablespoon of the lard and half the apples. Toss the apples to coat them and add brown sugar.

3) Cook until the apples are just tender (5 minutes or so). Remove the apples and onions to a platter and add the next batch.

Cider-Brined Turkey with Star Anise and Cinnamon

Recipe Source: Anita Lo for Bon Appetit

Hands on Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 4-4.5 hours (excluding overnight sitting period)

Notes: Will we ever NOT brine a turkey again? Unless some incredible, must-make-this turkey recipe presents itself over the next years, I highly doubt it. I’ve never eaten a more flavorful, moist bird. And the gravy from this preparation? It tasted like the best sweet and sour sauce you’ve ever eaten. A huge reason this bird tasted so good was because it was such a well-raised (and well slaughtered) turkey. From Oink and Gobble Farm, this 18 pounder was pastured its whole life. If you can see beyond the fact that is a raw meat, the bird was beautiful to look at. I could envision the bird it used to be. We had never brined a turkey before and it took us awhile to find a system that would allow the turkey to brine over night, as it was a big bird and our refrigerator is not exactly the most user-friendly of appliances.

Ultimately, we used two chemical free trash bags (made from potatoes), put the bird in the trash bags, and then slowly poured the brine into those bags. We then sealed off any air that was in the bag, tied the bag, and gently placed the bag into the giant roasting pan. I cleared room in the refrigerator and the bird sat over night. I’m including the recipe for a 12-14 pound bird. Because our bird was much bigger, we added about 10% more of each ingredient.


2 quarts, plus 1 cup apple cider

1 cup salt

1 cup soy sauce

1/2 coup light brown sugar

16 whole black peppercorns

8 whole star anise pdos

6 garlic cloves, smashed

6 scallions, white parts only, trimmed and split lengthwise

6 1/4 inch thick slices of unpeeled ginger

5 dried mushrooms

2 cinamon sticks

2 sprigs of cilantro

1 14 lb turkey

2 apples, cut into sixths


Day 1

1) Bring 2 quarts cider, 1 cup salt, and the next 10 ingredients to a boil in a very large pot, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar. Let cool to room temperature. Stir in 1 1/2 gallons of water.

2) Add the turkey to the brine (see above for how we did this) and submerge it completely. Refrigerate overnight.

Day 2

1) Remove turkey from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Discard the brine. Season lightly inside and out with salt and apper. Place the turkey breast-side up on a rack in the roasting pan and tie the legs together wtih twine. Let stand for 1 hour.

2) Preheat the oven to 375. Combine the remaining cup of cider with 3 cups of water in the roasting pan. Scatter apples around. Brush the turkey with butter. Flip breast-side down.

3) Roast the turkey, breast side down, for one hour. Baste every 20 minutes or so. Use paper towels and gently flip the turkey.

4) Roast, basting every now and then, for another 2-2.5 hours, until an instant read thermometer reads 165.

5) Transfer to a platter and let cool for 20-30 minutes before carving.

6) To make the gravy, strain the juices from the roasting pan into a saucepan. Reserve the apples. Simmer over medium heat until the juices have thickened. Serve the cider jus with the apples and turkey.

Pumpkin Soup with Hazelnut Gremolata

Source: Harvest to Heat

Active Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: anywhere from 1.5 hours to 2

Notes: I love Oregon's Freddy Guys hazelnuts and this recipe proudly features them. Pulled from Harvest to Heat, this recipe is a collaboration between Vitaly Paley of Paley’s Place and Barb Foulke of Freddy Guys Hazelnuts. We unknowingly bought Caribbean pumpkin--which took 45 minutes longer to roast than a regular pumpkin and made the soup taste more squash-like than pumpkin-like. That fact aside, the soup tasted rich and textured.



1/4 cup dry roasted hazelnuts, coarsely ground

Zest of 1 orange

1/4 cup finely chopped parsley

2 cloves chopped garlic


1 2 pound pumpkin, peeled, halves and seeded

1/2 stick of butter

1/4 cup roasted hazelnuts

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 onion, thinly sliced

5 chopped cloves of garlic

4 cups vegetable broth

1 tablespoon lime juice

1/2 cup of creme fraiche


1) Mix all of the gremolata ingredients together and refrigerate until ready to use.

2) Heat the oven to 350. Lay the pumpkin cut side up on a roasting pan and put 1 tablespoon of butter onto each half. Season with salt and pepper, cover with foil, and roast until flesh is tender (a pie pumpkin should take 40 minutes).

3) When the flesh is cool enough to touch, scoop it out and set aside.

4) In a food processor, combine the nuts and oil into a paste.

5) In a large heavy-bottomed pot, add 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic, stirring until the onions have softened, about 8 minutes.

6) Stir in the cooked pumpkin and hazelnut paste. Add the veggie broth and bring to a simmer, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes. Season with lime juice.

7) Using an immersion blender (or working in batches with a blender), pulse the soup until liquefied.

8) Garnish with the gremolata and creme fraiche.