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 secondsĀ 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.


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

spaghetti and meatballs

spaghetti and meatballs

When I was a kid I called it “Pasketti”. Apparently for me, the “sp” sound was too difficult to make. Thankfully, my mother spoke child and would satisfy my request for the Italian noodle often. My mothers’ spaghetti and meat sauce was wonderful. It was the first thing I asked for when I was coming home from 5 months overseas, where all I ate was rice and beans. I made sure to tell her a couple of days ahead of time so that she would be ready with five servings, because I was ready to eat. Last weekend, while out to breakfast with my Mom, I reminisced with her about her spaghetti and meat sauce, and she quickly said, “It’s Ragu Rachel. I added some onion and some ground beef and that was it.” Well, Ragu, you taste good to me, but I think I found you some competition. This sauce is a major contender. There are chunks of homegrown tomatoes, the perfect amount of onion, a hint of garlic and it’s even better heated up the next day.

Spaghetti and Turkey Meatballs
serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb whole wheat spaghetti (or more if you like it heavy on the pasta)

For meatballs:

  • 1 1/4 lbs lean ground turkey (italian seasoned)
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 oz soft fontina
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil for sateeing

For Sauce:

  • 5 roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 cup pesto
  • 1/2 red onion, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

Bring a large pot of water to boil. When the water is boiling, follow cooking directions on the package for your pasta. It’s good to time it so that the pasta comes out of the water just as everything else is done so that it doesn’t dry out.

Sauce:

1. Mix all ingredients into a medium sauce pan. Let simmer on low until the onions are translucent and it is heated through. This sauce can be made a day ahead. Like I said, it tastes better the next day, so feel free to save some time and crank it out the day before you want to serve it. Cook it, let it cool and then place it in the fridge in an airtight container.

Meatballs:

1. Mix the first five ingredients in a medium sized bowl.

2. Cut fontina into small chunks.

3. Form turkey mixture into tablespoon sized balls. Place one piece of fontina in the middle of each meatball.

4. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

5. Place meatballs into pan and brown on each side. About 2-3 minutes each side. Then reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Cook, covered until done, about 3-5 minutes depending on size.

September 12, 2009. Italian, quick and easy, sauces, turkey. 3 comments.