“Give thanks in all things.”
Happy Thanksgiving to you all. I hope for a great meal, joy in the kitchen and many moments of shared thanks.
“Give thanks in all things.”
Happy Thanksgiving to you all. I hope for a great meal, joy in the kitchen and many moments of shared thanks.
I have one last suggestion for you to complete your Thanksgiving meal. And I do believe it’s a good one, dare I say I saved the best for last?
It’s time we talk about your Thanksgiving cocktail. Now there are a couple ways you can go about this: If your family is like mine Thanksgiving beverages are nearly as traditional as the marshmallow topped sweet potatoes – red wine with my family, while sparkling cider is the drink of choice with Gabe’s family. With the meal drinks set this could be the cocktail that greets your guests as they pluck a few baby carrots off the vegetable platter or (and this is my favorite idea) this is the cocktail you enjoy while sliding the turkey into the oven. It’s the cocktail you sip in between stirrings of the mashed potatoes or tastes of the gravy. It’s what you are drinking as you set the last fork and stand back to marvel the scene. This is the cook’s cocktail.
Cider punch is the ideal cocktail for the busy cook as there are only two ingredients plus a couple flourishes if you so desire (and I do). While the turkey roasts and the potatoes boil pour an ounce or two of rum into a glass. Top that with apple cider (I like one part rum to four parts apple cider). You could have it over ice or warm the cider – the choice is left to the cook. Top with a touch a of cinnamon and nutmeg. If you happen to have some bitters a few drops really makes the cook quite happy, especially if your bitters, like mine are heady with cinnamon and rosemary and little wisps of clove, cardamom and orange.
If you don’t have bitters and are interested in making your own I just so happen to be teaching at class in Seattle, December 6. We will be making an assortment of gifts from the kitchen including homemade bitters. In fact today I made nearly 20 different infusions for class. (Pretty slick how I just slid that class plug right in there, huh? Sorry, I really do not like that sort of thing but I promised I would and I’m quite excited about this class.
If you aren’t in Seattle I’m thinking I just may put a post up here about the process so you won’t miss out on all the fun. I don’t claim to be a bitters expert but I do claim to be pretty darn excited to have a collection of my own bitters and I’m even more excited to be teaching you all how make your own.
Cheers and happy cooking!
*This simple cocktail was inspired by something I drank at Skillet Diner. Go there. Really.
It is easy to overlook the meager Brussels sprouts for the more traditionally appealing pumpkin pie or mashed potatoes. Those are not difficult to win over fans – wrapped in a flaky crust, layered with spice, whipped with butter and cream – it’s no wonder those dishes get the fame. But today I’m here as an advocate for the tender sprout.
Last year I attempted to woo sprout followers with a dish of charred Brussels sprouts made sweet by an extended stay in a hot oven. Combined with creamy white beans and sharp pecorino it was an easy sell.
This year I’m going raw which may prove a more difficult challenge. But, for me this salad is perfect for the traditionally hefty Thanksgiving meal. Sitting next to a mound of mashed potatoes with a near lake of gravy this bright salad softens its neighbor’s richness. And while taking up prime real estate on your holiday plate you may possibly feel more entitled to a slightly larger piece of pie.
But more important than that this salad stands alone as a great dish. I’ve taught it in a class, made it for friends, told many about its sour, slightly sweet and fresh taste and have had it for lunch and dinner on many occasions. (Never for breakfast but now that I think about it with a fried egg it would make for a mighty way to start the day).
Frilly tendrils of sprouts soften under a tart vinaigrette while pungent red onions and pecorino add richness and the marks the bite as a memorable one. If you feel so inclined a few walnuts tossed in or maybe even toasted breadcrumbs would be a nice addition. But in its simplicity there is greatness.
Brussels Sprout Salad with Red Onion and Pecorino
A microplane makes the shaving of these little vegetables a quick and simple task but I realize many are fearful of the ridiculously sharp blade of those machines. If that’s the case a sharp knife does the job well. The red onions spend some time soaking in the vinaigrette, softening their pungency and giving them a quick pickle (thanks for this tip, Rachel). The vinaigrette can be made several days in advance and the red onions can bathe in the dressing for a day in advance leaving only the combining of a few ingredients to be done right before dinner.
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cups Brussels sprouts (use larger sprouts if possible)
1/2 cup finely grated pecorino romano
In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, honey, mustard and a pinch of salt and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil until the dressing is emulsified. Add the sliced onions and set aside.
Trim all of the brussels sprouts, cutting off any bruised outer leaves and slicing off a good portion of the hard root end. Using a mandoline, shave the sprouts one at a time. When you’re done, use your fingers to gently separate the leaves so that the shredded sprouts resemble a very fine slaw.
Put the sprouts in a serving bowl and toss gently with the onions and the dressing. Fold in the pecorino, taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Finish with a bit more pecorino on top then serve immediately.
“We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts.”
My facebook feed is scattered with friends and family who have dedicated an update of thankfulness for everyday in November. The political rants are becoming less and less while the thanks for family, friends, health are increasing. I appreciate their thankfulness but then quickly return to my own state of longing leaving me feeling dissatisfied.
Instead of feeling thankful for my home I lament it’s size. The sun shines and yet I focus on the cold. My body is eager, warm and alive and I concentrate on the slight tinge of a sore throat that is forming. The pantry is stocked and the fridge is filled with fresh food but I moan over having to cook another meal.
Thankfulness is as much a habit as brushing your teeth or making a cup of coffee in the morning. It’s about shifting your focus to the things that you do have rather than longing for what is not yet yours. In the midst of thankfulness we see all we are unnecessarily given and joy overwhelms the dissatisfaction.
A small home becomes a warm home filled with joyful, healthy children. The cold weather turns to thoughts of brightly colored fall leaves and anticipation of snow and warming drinks. When the time comes for me to cook my family dinner I should be overwhelmed by the fact that I have a family to feed and there is food to cook with and a stove to prepare it on with electricity to heat the pan and clean water to wash my fresh vegetables – I could go on and on.
I’m writing this post while thinking this through and am peeling back the blinding scales as I write. These last few days I’ve successfully felt sorry for myself – overwhelmed with work, exhausted by the responsibilities of being a wife and a mother and blinded by dissatisfaction. I didn’t come to this space to write about thankfulness but I’m so glad I did as I can see now how selfish I’ve been and am so thankful to be aware.
Joy returns and reroutes me outward. With a focus on thankfulness rather than lamenting over what I want differently in my life the resulting joy presses me to love and serve which ultimately leads to satisfaction greater than any “want” could ever give.
I did indeed come here to tell you about our turkey and I’m so thankful for this space to share it with you all because you need to know about this turkey.
This year will mark the second in which we’ve made a boneless turkey. A quick call to the local market and a boneless turkey is ready for pickup the next day. The bones are then saved for stock and used to make a rich gravy or saved to make the traditional leftover turkey soup.
The advantage to a boneless turkey is that carving is simple and clean, the dark meat and white meat mingle in the roll creating a harmonious flavorful meat and the options for stuffing are endless and provide even more flavor which can sometimes be lacking in turkey.
The turkey that ceremoniously lands on our Thanksgiving table this year will be stuffed with an herby, sausage-laden stuffing dotted with dried cherries and toasted hazelnuts. I’m already feeling thankful for that day and for the opportunity to enjoy this turkey again.
What a great time of year to be reminded to exercise the habit of thankfulness.
inspired by Ina Garten
The most difficult part about this recipe is tying the stuffed turkey just prior to roasting. It makes the job much easier if you have an extra set of hands help you get the turkey to submit. It’s going to be messy and you’ll feel a bit clumsy. Be brave and confident as it will come together and your reward for such bravery will be a flavorful and moist turkey that will sure evoke elation and cheers as it’s brought to the table for (easy) carving.
3/4 cup dried cherries (or cranberries)
1/2 cup brandy
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 ½ cups diced onions (2 onions)
1 cup (1/2-inch-diced) celery (3 stalks)
3/4 pound pork sausage, casings removed
1 ½ teaspoons paprika
1 ½ tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
3 tablespoons chopped hazelnuts, toasted
3 cups herb-seasoned stuffing mix (homemade recipe below)
1 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 large egg, beaten
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons good mustard
1 whole turkey boned (save bones, wings and giblets for gravy and stock)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Place the dried cherries in a small saucepan and pour in the brandy and 1/4 cup water. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, then lower the heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large (12-inch) skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and celery and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the sausage, crumbling it into small bits with a fork, and saute, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes, until cooked and browned. Stir in 1 teaspoon paprika and a pinch of salt. Add the cherries with the liquid, the chopped rosemary, and hazelnuts and cook for 2 more minutes. Scrape up the brown bits with a wooden spoon.
Place the stuffing mix in a large bowl. Add the sausage mixture, chicken stock, egg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and stir well. (The stuffing may be prepared ahead and stored in the refrigerator overnight.)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place a baking rack on a sheet pan.
Lay the butterflied turkey skin side down on a cutting board. Sprinkle the meat with 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper and spread the mustard over the turkey.
Spread the stuffing in a 1/2-inch-thick layer over the meat, leaving a half-inch border on all sides. Don’t mound the stuffing or the turkey will be difficult to roll. (Place any leftover stuffing in a buttered gratin dish and bake for the last 45 minutes of roasting alongside the turkey.)
Starting at 1 end, roll the turkey like a jelly roll and tuck in any stuffing that tries to escape on the sides. Tie the roast firmly with kitchen twine every 2 inches to make a compact cylinder.
Place the stuffed turkey seam side down on the rack on the sheet pan. Brush with the melted butter, sprinkle generously with salt and pepper and remaining ½ teaspoon paprika, and roast for 1 3/4 to 2 hours, until an instant-read thermometer registers 150 degrees F in the center.
Cover the turkey with aluminum foil and allow it to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes. Carve 1/2-inch-thick slices and serve warm with the extra stuffing.
Homemade Stuffing Mix
3 cups ½” diced rustic bread
½ cup chopped fresh herbs (parsley, chives, tarragon, sage, rosemary, thyme etc.)
½ teaspoon garlic powder
3 tablespoons olive oil or melted butter
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
Combine everything in a large bowl and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 350*F until bread is golden and dried out, about 20 minutes. Stir the mixture halfway through the baking process. Taste and add more salt if desired.
It seems we’ve begun a new tradition in our family. That is, if you consider two weeks of loaf cakes on Sunday a tradition. I certainly do and it’s one that I don’t intend to quit.
It’s these loaves that mix up in minutes, spend an hour in the oven (giving the right amount of time to sit with my coffee then cook up a few eggs to add more substance to our Sunday breakfast) and taste more complex than their recipe asks, that have us deeming it a new tradition.
There’s another, far more selfish reason for the Sunday loaf: It’s Monday when the cake is best and in a moment of settled quiet I enjoy another slice. With an overnight rest the flavor both richens and mellows and the texture settles into itself. With most cakes I’ve found this to be true. The second day cake is tender and springy. In this particular loaf the spices weave their way into the loaf and boost the pumpkin flavor while the texture relaxes and easily submits.
My Sunday slice is shared around the table with little fingers grabbing for crumbs and eager for seconds. Monday’s slice is savored slowly as the crisp sugary edges are eaten first, followed by the soft, spicy interior. Each bite is enjoyed in between pages of my book and sips of coffee. The kids have had their breakfast and are entertained with legos, coloring or Curious George while I sit on the couch with my pumpkin bread.
Around the table on Sunday I love the fluttering murmur of excitement around the still-warm loaf. I love the anticipation that builds when traditions are firmly established. But I also love having a bit of incentive to get out of bed early on a Monday morning and to start the week with a lovely loaf cake made the day before. Either way this tradition is destined to linger awhile.
Pumpkin Graham Bread
Makes 1 loaf
This recipe pulls inspiration from a couple sources. From Grandma’s recipe box I decided to marry pumpkin with Graham flour as there are multiple versions of Graham bread scattered throughout. But since I was fresh out of “sour milk” I went with Elise’s recipe for pumpkin bread as the foundation.
Graham flour is essentially whole wheat flour with more texture. The parts of the wheat kernel are ground separately then joined together at the end of the milling process.
In order to ensure Sunday’s loaf leaves enough for Monday you may want to double this recipe to produce two loaves. You’ve been warned.
¾ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup Graham flour (whole wheat flour could be substituted)
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch white pepper (optional)
1 cup pumpkin puree
½ cup olive oil (or other neutral oil)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons honey
¼ cup water
¼ cup seeds/nuts (I used sliced almonds and sunflower seeds but you could use anything really)
Preheat your oven to 350*F and butter a loaf pan.
In a bowl combine the flours, salt, brown sugar, baking soda and spices with a whisk.
In another bowl mix the pumpkin, oil, eggs, honey and water. Add the wet mixture to the dry and stir to combine.
Scrape batter into prepared loaf pan and top with seeds, nuts and a sprinkling of turbinado sugar (regular sugar is fine). Bake about 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
Turn out of the pan and let cool on a wire rack.