So, I actually didn’t cook much for the actual holiday, but during the month of November I was in the festive spirit and decided to make some Thanksgiving inspired dishes ahead of time.
Two weeks prior to Thanksgiving, NYmag came out with this article, asking several top NY chefs for the favorite Thanksgiving recipe made by their mothers. I wanted to try almost all the recipes, but opted for Tom Colicchio’s Sausage Stuffing with Sage and Golden Raisins. Noah loves stuffing; I am not a fan but the only stuffing I’ve ever had came from a box, so I thought I would give it a whirl.
Sausage Stuffing with Golden Raisins & Sage
2 lbs breakfast sausafe (I used broccoli rabe sausage, which I think tasted better)
1 cup fennel, finely chopped
1 cup leeks, finely sliced
1/2 cup carrots, finely chopped
1/2 cup celery, finely chopped
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup golden raisins, soaked in hot water and drained
1 lb crusty French bread, cubed, placed on a tray and left out overnight (I forgot this step, so quickly toasted my bread)
6 sprigs thyme, stems removed
8 large sage leaves, chopped
2 tbsp fennel seeds
6 large eggs, lightly beaten
2-3 cups chicken stock
salt and pepper
1. Preheat oven to 350. In a large saute pan, cook the sausage over medium heat until browned. Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon, cut into 1/4 in pieces, and set aside. Place the pan of sausage fat over medium heat and add the fennel, leeks, carrots, celery, onion and garlic. Saute for 10 minutes.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sausage, vegetables, raisins, bread cubes, thyme, sage and fennel seeds. Stir in the eggs until mixed. Slowly add chicken broth until the mixture is moist. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a large gratin/casserole dish, cover with foil and bake for 30 mins in the oven. Uncover and bake until the top is browned.
Result: Good stuffing, but I think I’m learning that I’m not a huge fan of fennel. Also, next time I would use cranberries instead of raisins. The recipe claims to serve 8, but I believe the servings should be for 20. This made TWO ENTIRE casseroles, and I am almost certain that I did not overdo any of the portions. Oh, and stuffing is a TON of work; there’s a reason people make it from a box. I think I was slaving away in the kitchen for at least 3 hours making this one dish. Not so simple.
Soul Sweet ‘Taters
In all of the Thanksgiving hoopla, theKitchn posted a recipe for “Soul Sweet ‘Taters,” which I immediately wanted. Candied yams are my all-time favorite Thanksgiving dish, and this basically seemed like Candied yams minus the marshmallows (something I like at first, but then it gets a bit too much). As I prepared the “Soul Sweet Taters” I realized that basically, it’s a sweet potato crumble. Who doesn’t love a crumble? Wonderful and delicious!
Soul Sweet ‘Taters
- 4 whole Medium Sweet Potatoes
- 1 cup Sugar
- 1 cup Milk
- 2 whole Eggs
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 1 cup Brown Sugar
- 1 cup Pecans
- ½ cups Flour
- ¾ sticks Butter
1. Wash 4 medium sweet potatoes and bake them in a 375-degree oven until fork tender, about 30-35 minutes. When they are finished cooking, slice them open .
2. Add 1 cup of (regular grandulated) sugar, 1 cup of milk, 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and 1 teaspoon of salt. With a potato masher (I don’t own one, so I just use the bottom of a drinking glass), mash them up just enough—you don’t want to be perfectly smooth.
3. Now, in a separate bowl, add 1 cup brown sugar, 1 cup pecans, chopped (that means measure a cup of pecans, then chop them), ½ cup flour, and ¾ stick of butter. With a pastry cutter or fork, mash together until thoroughly combined.
4. Spread the sweet potato mixture into a regular baking dish and sprinkle the crumb mixture all over the top.
5. Bake in a 400-degree oven for 30 minutes, or until golden brown.
Lastly, on the actual day of Thanksgiving, my family went over to Noah’s family’s place and we all ate together. Our parents made most of the food, but I felt weird coming empty-handed and not making anything on such a food-themed day, so I baked a pear pie. Again, I used Martha Stewart’s pate brisee (short crust) recipe, but found the pear recipe part from Allrecipes.
Fresh Pear Pie
1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch double crust pie
1/2 cup white sugar (I used brown)
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 lemon, zested
5 cups peeled and sliced pears
1 tbsp butter
1 lemon, juiced
1. Combine sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon and lemon rind in mixing bowl.
2. Arrange pears in layers in a 9 inch pastry lined pan, sprinkling sugar over each layer. Dot with butter. Sprinkle lemon juice. Roll out remaining dough, cut slits for escape of steam. Moisten rim of bottom crust. Place top crust over filling. Fold edge under bottom crust, pressing to seal. Flute edge.
3. Bake at 450 degrees for 10 mins, Reduce temperature to 350 and bake for additional 35-40 mins.
Result: I added too much water (I used the max amount) to my pie crust, so it wasn’t flaky. The filling was good, but not amazing. I did really like Noah’s artistry in fashioning a turkey out of the extra dough and placing it on top of the pie.
Since we’re leaving for Seattle on Friday (and because we like their company), we invited some friends over to help us eat our vegetables and fruit.
Last Night’s Dinner Menu:
- Juice & Seltzer (thanks to the Hsus, I wonder I never discovered this sooner)
- Babaghanoush with crudites of green bell pepper and terrachips
- Summer squash sauteed with tomatoes, onions and basil (accompanied with pasta)
- Whole baked fish (Black Sea Bass and Blackfish) stuffed with lemon and leeks, and encrusted in… salt
- Arugula salad with cherry tomatoes, strawberries, walnuts and goat cheese
- Bowl of donut peaches and nectarines
I think when I planned this meal, I wasn’t entirely thinking straight. I think I was so consumed with using up all the produce that I didn’t consider whether the recipes I found would actually be appealing. I guess I just relied too much on people’s ratings of the recipes, without taking into account personal tastes. I mean, everything was palatable, but I think I really should have rethought the fish.
(the only produce I store-bought was the arugula and strawberries)
1) The babaghanoush. I usually don’t like babaghanoush, except for maybe two times, where it was just the perfect blend of flavors. Grace used her eggplant from last week to make an amazing babaghanoush. Mine was ok, but I think if I ever have another eggplant, I’ll ask for her recipe.
2) The Fish. Encrusted in salt – really? Weber seemed to really like it, but I think everyone else was just… eating it because it was on their plate, myself included. It. Was. Just. So. Salteeey! If I had been actually thinking through the recipe, I would have foreseen this problem… sigh.
3) The summer squash was good, but I think I added too much pasta, which was a concern of mine before making the dish, but then in the midst of cooking I stopped thinking about that for some reason. It made the dish a bit bland, which actually was a nice respite from the intense saltiness of the fish. I like that I got to put fresh basil into this dish, but next time would add it later, so the taste doesn’t get all cooked away since it simmers for 20 minutes.
4) The salad. I liked it! I had intended to put wedges of nectarines in the salad but then realized slicing strawberries was much easier than halving, seeding and cutting nectarines. I made a red wine vinaigrette instead of my usual lemon vinaigrette, which was good, but that lemon vinaigrette is just so excellent. And, anything is wonderful when you can add goat cheese to it!
5) Peaches & Nectarines. Nothing simpler than just washing and serving. 🙂 Yum! Carrie also made some homemade chocolate covered toffee and brought some ice cream. Excellent end to the meal.
Thanks friends for being polite and spending an evening with us! I kind of felt like Ina Gartner or Giada prepping and cooking for friends. 🙂
We’ve been privileged to partake of Lillian’s amazing fried rice, which is so simple yet so delicious with its crisped, fried garlic and ginger and gorgeous green leeks. She actually got the recipe from her friend Joy, who adapted the recipe from Mark Bittman, who adapted his recipe from THE Jean-Georges (Vongerichten).
When we received a bunch of leeks with this weeks CSA share, I suddenly had a craving for Lillian’s Amazing Fried Rice. And luckily we had every ingredient on hand, except for the minced ginger. The recipe calls for duck fat, the original calls for chicken fat, but we just used plain ol’ vegetable oil. Noah was afraid it would turn out bland; he even went to two stores and received quizzical looks when he asked if they had duck fat. He came back empty-handed, but we soldiered on and the end result was not as good as Lillian’s, but still a pleasant dish and meal. If you’d like to see it, here is Joy’s recipe (the one I was using).
Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Fried Rice (from Bitten)
makes 2 servings
1/4 cup duck fat
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 cup thinly sliced leeks, white and light green parts only, rinsed and dried
2 cups day-old cooked rice, preferably jasmine, at room temperature
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons soy sauce
In a large skillet, heat 1/4 cup duck fat over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp and brown. With a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels and salt lightly.
Reduce heat under skillet to medium-low and add 2 tablespoons duck fat and leeks. Cook about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until very tender but not browned. Season lightly with salt.
Raise heat to medium and add rice. Cook, stirring well, until heated through. Season to taste with salt.
In a nonstick skillet, fry eggs in remaining duck fat, sunny-side-up, until edges are set but yolk is still runny.
Divide rice among two dishes. Top each with an egg and drizzle with 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil and 1 teaspoon soy sauce. Sprinkle crisped garlic and ginger over everything and serve.
*You can add a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds and chopped scallions on top as well just for a little more texture and color.
Last weekend, after eating many very delicious but greasy meals, I was craving something simple, healthy and satisfying. I even searched google for recipes using those words, nothing really came up. So, I tried a new approach and tried to think of one ingredient that might satisfy these 3 adjectives. Somehow, I came up with leeks, which I actually have never cooked before.
Hence, I made a Leek, Spinach & White Bean Soup. It was good when it was fresh off the stove, but after heating some up for my lunch today… not so yummy. It was just really bland and gross. 😦 But, at least I know how to prepare leeks now!
The meal was not a complete bust, however. I also made the most delicious baked potatoes ever. The secret is that the skin is rubbed with olive oil and seasoned with salt. Most excellent!