Thanksgiving 2008

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

This year's Thanksgiving was a nice, quiet one with just us (me, Andrew and the kids and pooches). I have to say, I think I might make a tradition to have every other year be just us because all the usual holiday pressure is totally taken off and it makes for a very lovely Thanksgiving. No worries about getting everything done in time - you eat when it's ready. No rush to throw something on or risk getting your nice dress or shoes dirty with turkey grease or cranberry stains. No, this year we had a pj thanksgiving and it was wonderful.

Here's the setting in our dining room:

We actually got a chance to put our fireplace on as it was a wopping 60-something degrees in orange county! Woo hoo!! Hey, we'll take it.

And here's the place setting:

Nothing terribly fancy, but we do break out the crystal when we can because we do actually enjoy drinking from it and aren't scared to break anything.

But let's get on to the food!!!

This year I tried something new and stuffed our 9 pound turkey (named Chuck) with fresh herbs, onion, garlic and apples. A simple herbed butter rub all around the outside, some salt and freshly ground black pepper inside and out and roughly 3 and half hours later we had a very tasty bird.

With the turkey prepped and in the oven, we enjoyed some appetizers courtesy of Gourmet Magazine. I made the Sweet Potato Chips with Fried Sage and Goat Cheese Marbles. We also enjoyed the Beaujolais Nouveau that came out the same week. No, not the greatest wine, I know, but it's a tradition Andrew and I have since back east a few years ago.

The appetizers were extremely easy and tasty and we were very pleased with how they turned out. The sweet potato chips were very tasty (although I must mention I technically used yams) and I loved the contrast between the salt and sweetness of the "chip." And we didn't feel too quilty eating them because they were baked in the oven! The sage added a nice earthy spice to it too.
The goat cheest marbles were fantastic. Fresh goat cheese seasoned with cumin seeds and fresh finely chopped rosemary rolled into a bite-sized ball then rolled in brown sugar candied finely chopped pecans. I loved this appetizer and will probably make it again for Christmas this year. Both are definately going on my go-to appetizer list for parties and dinners.

Now on to the dinner!

Because I loaded the pictures out of order (and I'm too lazy to redo this whole blog), let's start with the sides.
Voila the simple yet delicious roasted brussels sprouts:

And instead of my usual mashed potatoes, this year being just the two of us I did a stuffing for the starch. We settled on trying Gourmet's Apple, Leek and Chestnut Stuffing:

And after 5 years of Thanksgiving dinners, I've finally found The One. It's a considerably drier stuffing, so if you like a wet one this is probably not your thing but definately still worth a taste. And so simple! Sauteed celery, leeks and apples tossed with bread and cream and seasoned with salt, pepper and lots of thyme, then baked until golden and delicious. I think the thing I love the most about this stuffing is its simplicity retains the integrity of the ingredients, and you can taste the earthiness that is supposed to be harvest. Love it.
And for tradition's sake, Green Bean Casserole:
Tender green beans tossed in a Parmesan-Gruyere cream sauce and topped with canned fried onions (because let's face it...there's just something about canned fried onions that is so naughty and good). Not the most sophisticated dish, but it's a nod to tradition.

A simple but satisfying medly of sauteed wild mushrooms:

For Thanksgiving I used creminis, shiitakes, and white buttons for really simple mushroom flavor. They're tossed with fresh garlic and the slightest amount of thyme, then kissed with brandy. The outside has a nice caramelized crust, the inside is moist, and the herbs and garlic just add so much flavor. It's a signature dish for me.

And finally, the turkey. Usually I make an herbs de provence turkey stuffed with garlic, fresh herbs and citrus, but this year Andrew wanted to try apples. With an herbed butter outer rub and fresh herb, apple, onion and garlic stuffing, the turkey came out perfectly this year:

And no, I didn't use a bag! Thanks to Giada's turkey roasting recipe, it came out moist, juicy and so flavorful. We really enjoyed this year's version, so I'll probably add it to my rotation.

And for cranberry sauce, I made my now-famous Cranberry Citrus Relish Laced with Bourbon:

Fresh cranberries, orange juice and zest, sugar, vanilla bean, black pepper (sounds odd, but it's great) and of course, Maker's Mark makes up my wonderfully tart yet sweet cranberry relish. It's great with the turkey and awesome in sandwiches the next day.

With a bottle of pinot noir, that completes our dinner. Now, on to the desserts!
Because I gave birth to Trajan just 7 weeks ago, I was looking for some low maintenance desserts to make this year. Usually I make Andrew's Favorite Pumpkin Pie but considering it takes me a good 12 hours to do, that so wasn't happening this year. Instead, I got a little help from Williams-Sonoma and made their Pumpkin Quick Bread:

To dress it up a bit I made a vanilla bean and cinnamon whipped cream. I originally was planning to do a vanilla bean and cinnamon cream cheese frosting, but I forgot to buy cream cheese. Oh well!

But this year I was particularly happy with the dessert I made up myself: Cranberry Pear Pecan Tart:

I was too excited to taste it, so I forgot to take a picture before. I took Ina Garten's plum tart recipe and tweeked it a bit by replacing the walnut crust with pecans, and chaning the plums with cranberries, pears, vanilla, and cognac. The result was a tart but sweet fruit filling with the cognac really rounding out the fruit flavors, and a nice pecan crust and crumble topping. I had to guess on the sugar proportions when I made it and was lucky to have guessed correctly. (Yay me!) We finished off the tart in 2 days!! And for me, was probably my favorite part of the whole dinner.

To wash it down, I made Irish Coffees with Jameson:

Unfortunately I don't own (yet) the clear Irish coffe mugs I'd prefer to use, so I had to use these suckers from my casual china set. I hope someone (Andrew, hint hint) will pick me up two sets at some point before Christmas. :)
All in all it was a wonderful, relaxing, tasty Thanksgiving and I tried out a few recipes I can add to my culinary arsenal.
Now... bring on Christmas!!!


bonnie said...

note to self: thanksgiving at mishy's next year.... everything sounds and looks fantastic! (as usual) ok now I'm hungry...

Mishy said...

ABSOLUTELY!!! We'd love to have you guys!!!!!

Andrew E. said...

Having tasted all this wonderful food, I can confirm that it was as good as it looked. Thanks babe!

Maryn said...

Those sweet potato "chips" sound great! I am a big fan of sage.