thanksgiving

What a wonderful time to focus on the many blessings in life. I just might have the best family in the world.

We were fortunate enough to host Thanksgiving this year. The feast usually takes place at my Father-In-Law’s house, but he graciously humored my over anxious, newly wed fantasy of cooking Thanksgiving dinner for the whole family in our modest San Francisco apartment. As I’ve led on before, I’ve had a menu in mind for this very opportunity since about, I don’t know, June. At first, I had an illustrious list of dishes that would take days and would impress the most dedicated foodie, but as I sought the wise counsel of those who had previously tackled these types of things, I decided it would be best to stick to simple, tried and true items that would be a sure success.



Biscuits are foundational to the Thanksgiving meal. They serve a number of purposes including, but not limited to, dipping, sandwiching, buttering and smothering. I wanted to make sure they were light, flaky and perfectly golden. Check, check and check.


Brussel Sprouts are perfect any time, especially when sauteed with pork. How can that ever be wrong? This delicious side could not have been any easier. Just slice the mini cabbages lengthwise, cube some pancetta, and saute in a tablespoon of olive oil until tender. Top with freshly grated parmesan. Ridiculously delicious.



“These carrots are an explosion in my mouth!”, as stated by one guest at the table.There is definitely a lot going on in this side, but it is all crucial for the fantastic flavor that makes this dish explode.



Grandma thought this was the best turkey she had ever had. I think that pretty much seals it. This turkey is the product of Americas Test Kitchen. Those people really do know how to narrow things down until they work perfectly. This particular bird was brined and then air chilled overnight and then smothered with an herb paste inside and out to make the crispiest and tastiest skin you’ve ever had.


Stovetop has nothing on homemade stuffing. Even those at the table that are wholly dedicated to the stuff, asked for seconds and leftovers.My goal for Thanksgiving was to make everything from scratch. Part of this was because I’m stubborn and let’s face it, a bit of a food snob, but also it was in part to deliver the best possible result I could manage with the freshest ingredients.



After all of us had slipped into a tryptophan coma, we somehow managed to shovel down some pie a la homemade vanilla ice cream. My Father-in-Law makes the best homemade ice cream and it proved to be the epitome of perfection atop pumpkin pie.

This year, my husband and I are most thankful for the wonderful people in our lives. Although it wasn’t possible for all of them to be with us this holiday, a few could and we couldn’t have been more honored to have them with us.

Grandma G

Kevin, loving those brussel sprouts!

Auntie and Karen

The whole gang minus the handsome photographer. Karen is showing us her card.
Shortly she’ll realize this was not a good plan.
Buttermilk Biscuits
Gourmet, June 2005
makes 6 biscuits

I multiplied this recipe by 4. It was just right for 10 people with leftovers for a fabulous Friday morning breakfast.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar*
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Rounded 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 3/4 cup well-shaken buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon milk or cream for brushing biscuits

Preparation:

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 425 F.

Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda onto a sheet of wax paper, (or into a bowl) then sift again into a bowl (or into a new bowl). Blend in butter with your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add buttermilk and stir with a fork until a dough just forms (dough will be moist).

Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead gently 6 times with well-floured hands. Pat out dough on a floured surface with floured hands, re-flouring surface and hands if necessary, into an 8 by 5 1/2 inch rectangle. Trim all 4 sides with a knife, dusting knife edge with flour before each cut. Cut rectangle in half lengthwise, then into thirds crosswise to form 6 (2 1/2 inch) squares, flouring knife between cuts. Transfer biscuits with a metal spatula to an ungreased baking sheet, arranging them 2 inches apart, and brush tops with milk or cream. Bake until pale golden, 12 to 15 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool to room temperature.

* I found these to be a little too sweet. I would suggest only using 1 tablespoon of sugar.





Brussel Sprouts with Pancetta and Parmesan
serves 10

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds brussel sprouts
  • 1/2 pound 1/2 inch thick pancetta, cubed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Shaved parmesan to taste

Preparation:

Rinse brussel sprouts and pat dry. Thinly slice brussel sprouts lengthwise.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in large skillet over medium high heat.

Chop pancetta into 1/4 cubes and add to heated skillet. Saute until lightly browned about one minute. Add brussel sprouts and saute until tender about 8-10 minutes. Shave parmesan over brussel sprout mixture and serve.


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November 28, 2009. bread, pumpkin, sides, turkey. 4 comments.

pumkin zucchini chocolate chip muffins

pumpkin muffin

Can you tell that I’m trying to get rid of some pumpkin puree? It’s amazing how many things can be made out of just one can! I made two batches of muffins and creamy pasta sauce! My husband will be so proud of my thriftyness!

My dear friend, who is in all rights a mother to me, used to make chocolate chip pumpkin muffins and I loved them. They were so moist and perfectly sweet. Although this is not her recipe, the muffins are characteristically the same. They are soft, buttery and delicious. With a few adjustments to the orginal recipe, I believe the result is a perfect pumpkin (zucchini) muffin that is made even more perfect by a crunchy, sugary crust.

The addition of zucchini was another attempt on my part to clear out the fridge. In this recipe, it adds some extra moisture as well as some extra nutrients. I shared these with some friends on Sunday and I over heard one of them tell the person next to them, “There is broccoli in this muffin!”. It’s not broccoli, but it is green. Don’t let the vegetable fool you. It adds nothing to the flavor, only some color and supurp moisture. If I had never told you it was in there, you would have never known!

Pumpkin Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins
Adapted from www.allrecipes.com
Makes 24 regular sized muffins

Ingredients:

Muffin Batter:

  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour 
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini

Cinnamon Sugar:

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preparation:

For batter:

In a mixing bowl, combine eggs and 1 1/2 cups sugar. Add pumpkin, butter and vanilla. Combine dry ingredients; gradually add to pumpkin mixture and mix well. Stir in zucchini. 

Mix reserved cinnamon and sugar in small bowl.

 Divide evenly into two 12 cup muffin tins. Top generously with cinnamon-sugar mixture.  Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. If you are baking both tins at the same time, make sure to rotate them at a little under 10 minutes to ensure even baking.  Cool in pans 10 minutes. Remove to a wire rack.

 

November 13, 2009. bread, dessert, pumpkin. 1 comment.

pasta with creamy pumpkin sauce and chicken sausage

pumpkin pasta sauce

Pumpkin could very well be my favorite ingredient this year. It’s incredible in it’s versatility. As I’ve told you before, I have pumpkin married to sweet in my head, but as a savory item, it is surprisingly wonderful.

In honor of Halloween, I made mini pumpkin muffins for a department potluck. They only called for 1 cup of pumpkin puree, so I was left with a whole bunch and couldn’t bring myself to waste it. So, I set out to use the very last drop. One night this week the husband and I needed a quick meal and since I was already in my pajamas, it had to be something I could throw together out of the pantry, so I turned to the pumpkin. I remembered that some time ago I had fallen in love with butternut squash ravioli and figured pumpkin was a close cousin so it must be equally delightful paired with pasta. I set out to find a recipe for a pumpkin pasta sauce, since I did not have the slightest idea of what ratios would be used in something like this. I came across a recipe from The Washington Post that looked easy and had an ingredient list that was mostly available to me, if not easily tailored to fit what I had on hand.

This recipe calls for the usual things you would think make up a sauce. Garlic, shallots, cream, salt and pepper. It is simple in it’s construction and subtle in it’s taste, but has a kind of ‘wow’ factor. When I put the first taste to my tongue, I said to myself, “This might be the best thing I’ve ever tasted.” This is a perfect week night meal for fall. It’s also a spectacular way to use up extra pumpkin puree.

Pasta with Creamy Pumpkin Sauce
The Washington Post, Nov 14,2007
Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 8 to 10 ounces multigrain angel-hair pasta or any other of your choice
  • 1 medium shallot*
  • 3 medium cloves garlic
  • 2 sprigs sage leaves*
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 cup canned unsweetened pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth (make your own!)
  • 1/2 cup low-fat milk*
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese*
  • 2 chicken sausage links, casings removed

Preparation:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions (6 to 7 minutes).

Meanwhile, mince the shallot and garlic; finely chop the sage.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic; cook for 3 minutes, stirring, until they have softened. Add the pumpkin puree, chicken broth, milk and half of the sage. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the sauce is slightly thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste; keep warm on the lowest setting.

Heat a medium non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage links and break up into crumbles with a wooden spoon. Saute until cooked and browned. Set aside.

Drain the pasta and add to the sauce, then add 2 tablespoons of the cheese and mix well. Divide among individual plates and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of cheese, sausage and the remaining sage.

*NOTE!

I made the following changes based on what I had in the house:

  • 1/4 cup of onion instead of 1 shallot.
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried sage.
  • 1/4 cup half and half for the low fat milk.
  • I omitted the cheese completely.

November 11, 2009. Italian, pumpkin, sauces. 3 comments.