Thanksgiving has always been a pure excuse to cook for us. When we lived in the Boston area we would invite all the friends of ours who didn’t have family to go back to for the holidays (or who didn’t want to visit family, or whose family was too far away) and feed them a ton of food. It was great fun. Since we’ve moved away, it’s a smaller group—my husband and I, usually an old college friend of mine who comes to stay for a week or two, and a friend or two from the Maryland area.
This year, however, it was just the two of us. We weren’t about to let that stop us from cooking, of course, particularly seeing as we have holiday cookbooks to review! The one big change we made, however, was that instead of planning one big feast day, we made the various dishes whenever we felt like it over the long weekend, so we could take things slowly and enjoy ourselves.
Here’s what we made:
Before Thanksgiving day we made cranberry walnut scones, pumpkin pie, and cheddar rolls. These are all things that can be made ahead of time with no problem. All three recipes tasted amazing; the pie recipe had a few logistical errors, but that’ll come out when I review the cookbook soon.
We roasted a turkey, of course. We brined it as we always do—this contributes so much to a juicy, flavorful turkey that I can’t imagine not doing it now. Then we roasted it the Alton Brown way. This means half an hour in a “NASA-hot” oven (ie 500 degrees F), followed by putting a triangular foil ‘hat’ over the breast meat, and a temperature probe in the breast meat (not touching the bone), and reducing the temp to 350. The bird is done when the temperature probe indicates that the breast meat has reached safe temperature, about 165 F.
Why such a complicated method? Well, dark meat and white meat are safe at different temperatures. By the time the dark meat is safe, the white meat is usually overdone and dry. By tenting the white meat with foil, you end up with both types of meat done around the same time. The initial time in the super-hot oven then ensures an evenly, beautifully browned turkey, which you wouldn’t get if you kept the foil on the entire time.
We made a pear salad with chevre and pomegranate that was to-die-for; a four-bean salad with homemade robust Italian dressing; cheesy potatoes in milk; mushroom pancetta stuffing; sweet potato slices (oven-roasted with herbs, olive oil, seasonings, and orange zest—yum!); Mexican camp bread (wide, flat, pan-fried biscuits, essentially); date cupcakes with toffee filling and coconut frosting; green bean & bacon bundles; turkey dripping gravy; and apple & pear chutney.
My favorite dishes: pumpkin pie; cheddar rolls; stuffing; bean salad; sweet potatoes; pear salad; camp bread; cupcakes; chutney. The potatoes were a bit disappointing, and the green beans were overly greasy (at least the first night), but otherwise the rest of the dishes were quite good too. I’ll be able to review a handful of cookbooks quite soon!
Other things I’m working on and hope to make progress on this week: more T-shirt designs; a review of a book called Thirteen; playing some games (have I mentioned that I cannot WAIT until Pirates of the Burning Sea comes out?!); catching up with some blog reading; catching up with some email.
I hope everyone had a yummy weekend!