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Thanksgiving Supper 2006

While this isn't a food blog, anyone who knows me, or has followed my blog, knows that I'm a foodie and that I usually post holiday menus and recipes here, as well as some of my offbeat tastes. Those who really know me, know that in my career path from energy research to aerospace to information technology, I took one fork that wasn't linked to the others by data management and advanced analysis: food in the late '80's/early '90's, both through my desert sauce company, Montara Magic, and by cooking with Pasta Moon and some of the caterers around the Coast.

I don't normally post Thanksgiving recipes for two reasons.

  1. Our tradition has been to go to the Sardine Factory in Monterey - but when we do, I often wind up cooking on the weekend anyway, so that we have "leftovers"... But why blog Thanksgiving recipes after the day is done?
  2. I do a very traditional Thanksgiving day meal.

But this year, as last, my iMac loving parents are having cold like reactions to their flu shots. And Robert Scoble, now a fellow coastsider, has asked for recipes. I'm also cooking everything but the turkey today, so I'll have time to blog as I cook.

Don't forget to preheat your oven(s) and simmering bricks. ;)

Right now, I'm doing the cranberry sauce. First let me say, that I'm most impressed with the Paradise Meadows Premium Cape Cod Cranberries that I bought this year - only 10 rejects and 5 stems in three full bags. Here's a "per bag" recipe:

Spiked Spiced Cranberry Orange Sauce

  • 12 ounces fresh, whole cranberries, washed and picked over for stems or wrinkly, bursting, rotting rejects
  • 1 glass [~6 oz.] of red wine - this year, I'm using a 2004 Caldora Montepulciano d'Abruzzo
  • 2 or 3 Satusuma mandirin oranges - remove the rind, cut in half along the torus cross-section and remove any seeds
  • one cup turbinado [raw] sugar
  • a bouquet garni consisting of a cinnamon stick and 5 cloves
  • Put it all in a heavy pan [I use porcelain coated cast iron] and over a high heat, stirring often during the cooking, until the cranberries start to pop, about five minutes, than remove to a lower heat [I use simmering bricks over a gas flame] to simmer until the oranges release their juices [get mushy], remove the spices and cool overnight in a heavy crock or non-metallic bowl - may be served whole or passed through a food mill or processor
  • Update: I forgot to say that one reason to use the Satusumas is to buy the ones with leaves attached, and then use any remaining whole oranges and leaves to decorate around the bowl of cranberries on the groaning board.

I'll update throughout the day as I finish, but I'll list the dishes now.

Wild Mushroom Bread Pudding

A vegetarian version in a pan that can also be mixed with mild sausage and stuffed into the bird, this is an incredible dish.

Update 20061121;11h56: I use a mix of dried and fresh mushrooms, so the first step is to soak the dried ones [this year porcini and morel] for an half-hour in a 50/50 mix of white wine and warm water [never use stale water from the hot water tap for cooking]. The only fresh mushrooms I'm using this year are cremini and portabello. And while they're soaking, maybe I'll have lunch.

Update 20061122;12h41: The dried mushrooms have soaked, so it's time to cook again.

  • 1 medium red onion, Italian torpedo if you can find it, sliced
  • two cloves of garlic, two carrots and two stalks of celery, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon each of unsalted butter and olive oil
  • sautée until the vegies are soft
  • About 1-1/2 pounds of fresh mushrooms and four ounces [dry weight] of the dried mushrooms are used; remove the dried mushrooms from the soaking liquor and pass the liquor through cheese cloth or coffee filter or white paper towel; rinse and squeeze the soaked dried mushrooms and then mince them; clean and slice the fresh mushrooms, and sautée the mushrooms
  • Add fresh sage, chiffonade, and fresh thyme leaves, salt and freshly ground peppercorns, finish the sautée, and add a glass of white wine - whatever you'll be serving with the meal is always best and at least a cup of the reserved mushroom soaking liquor
  • Set aside the vegies and start on the bread pudding
  • Cube some bread - less than 1/2-inch on a side; you can use heavy bread, light bread, even brioche; I prefer a potato rosemary batard and use about two loaves
  • Make the "custard" from 1-1/2 cups of heavy [not sweetened] cream, 2 cups of milk, 6 eggs, salt and pepper to taste
  • Pour the liquid custard over the bread cubes and squeeze the custard into the bread cubes until they are saturated; lightly toss in the sautéed vegies, and place in a heavily buttered casserole dish or lasagna or roasting dish [glass or ceramic, not metallic]
  • Bake at 350°F for about an hour, until the top is brown and a knife stuck in slight to the left of center comes out clean
  • If your going to use this to stuff the bird, reserve the amount that you'll need later in the day, or, if you cooked the bread pudding more than 24 hours in advance of stuffing the bird, reserve the vegies and bread that you need, and make up custard to use the day you'll be dressing the bird; add two-to-four links of broken up, cooked mild sausage to the vegie mixture before tossing

Mashed Roots with Garlic and Brown Butter Sage

Ok, ok, basically mashed potatoes with added rutabaga and turnip goodness, boiled with garlic and using a brown butter sage sauce as well as cream to get to the finished product.

Update 20061122;14h26: That really says it all, but let's just add some measurements: 1/2 potato per person, 1 rutabaga and 1 turnip for every 4 potatoes [potatoes of choice are yukon gold or red creamers], 1 clove of garlic per potato. Leave the potatoes whole, skin on or not as you like, cube the rutabagas and turnips, add the root vegetables, including the garlic, to salted boiling water and boil until a fork easily pierces a potato [15 minutes maybe], drain, [if you left the skins on the potatoes, cool and remove now if you want]. Put 1 teaspoon of unsalted butter per potato into the hot pan, leave the butter to melt and then wait until the edges of the melted butter turns brown, add chiffonade sage [1 leaf per potato or to taste], let it sizzle for a minute, add 2 tablespoons of cream per person and stir until the cream bubbles, add the root vegetables back and mash 'em with a potato masher, keep stirring until heated through. One alternative is to stir in a consistent direction until the mash is like taffy - about three hours. :p

Sweet Potato Casserole

Roasted and mashed, or sliced thin with a mandolin and layered with the custard, this is a must for Thanksgiving.

Update 20061122;14h55: You could be roasting the sweet potatoes whilst the bread pudding is baking. You need three cups of mashed roasted sweet potato, so start with two 8-inchers.

  • sweet potatos, roasty, toasty and mashed
  • 1/2 cup of turbinado [raw] sugar added to the mash
  • salt as you like it and you might like parika, cayenne or black pepper, or not
  • this custard is 2 large eggs, 1/2-cup of milk, a tablespoon of cream and you can even add pure bourbon vanilla [I have about a gallon left from my Montara Magic days] or maple syrup; add the custard to the potato mixture
  • top with a mixture of 1/2-cup brown sugar, 1/2-cup flour, 4 tablespoons melted butter and a 1/2-cup of toasted whole pecan halves
  • bake at 350°F for 30 to 45 minutes

Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts

Maybe not that traditional, but the best way to prepare those little green balls that I've ever found.

Update 20061122;15h20: I really do like this dish, though I can't remember where I found it. It's not a family tradition.

  • Clean the outer leaves, and any loose, damaged or brown leaves from around the brussels sprout, slice off the woody stem, cut an X in the bottom and let sit in salt water for about 15 minutes - oh, and use about 10 sprouts and 4 chestnuts per person
  • Cut an X in the shell of each chestnut and roast at a low temperature up to an hour or at a high temperature for 10 or 15 minutes, or buy vacuum packed or jarred cooked, shelled chestnuts, for as much as I like old fashioned cooking, in this case it is a real pain in the nicta and very time consuming
  • Heat a pint of vegetable cooking stock, and add the sprouts and chestnuts, cook until tender which I've seen take as little as 15 minutes and as long as 45

Wild Mushroom and Giblet Gravy

Or leave out the giblets if you're going for Tofurkey instead. :)

Update: The gravy won't be done until tomorrow, but here's how I do mine. Take the pan drippings from cooking the turkey and separate off the fat. While that is settling, in a pat of butter and a splash of olive oil, sauté the minced shallots, diced up giblets, and sliced mushrooms [maybe reserved from the bread pudding, maybe not]. I reserved some of my minced wild mushrooms that I had soaked earlier - add those now. Remove from the pan. Add [per cup of finished gravy desired] a tablespoon of butter and allow to brown slightly, then add a tablespoon of flour, mixing into the butter until all the butter is absorbed. Keep scraping from rue from the bottom of the pan, until the flour is cooked - about 3 minutes. Add a glass of your white wine, slowly, mixing it into the flour, and then add a glass of the dried mushroom soaking liquor that you reserved, stirring it in. Cook down to the desired thickness - there should be a cup of gravy. Add a chiffonade of sage, and some thyme leaves.

Stuffed Turkey

I won't be cooking that until tomorrow. But here's the basics: remove the fresh turkey from the brine that its been soaking in overnight, take enough of the Wild Mushroom Bread Pudding recipe [don't mix this more than an hour in advance of stuffing the bird] with added, broken up and cooked mild sausage, to fill the body and neck cavities of the bird, put peeled garlic cloves under the skin of the bird [usually takes at least one head of garlic], brush bird with a rosemary twig dipped in olive oil and herbs de Provence before putting in the oven and as the basting method, cook it as you normally would. Add white wine and maybe stock [vegie stock, white stock - chicken and veal - or turkey stock made from the neck] to the bottom of the pan. This year, I'm sticking with the mushroom bread pudding, so I'll just have onions, carrots, celery and rosemary twigs in the cavity of the bird. Get the skin nice and brown, and cover with aluminum foil to keep if from burning if it's browned before the turkey is done. If you do that, uncover the bird for the last 15 minutes of cooking.

Update: I've been using the term chiffonade. Let me explain. One can only chiffonade larger leaves: think basil, sage, mint. Wash and dry about eight leaves, and make a "cigar" out of them. That is, layer them by overlapping them about half-way along the long axis, and roll them up so they look something like stogies. Sharpen your knife, the sharper the better. Slice along the "cigar" cross-section, so that your getting very thin slices of herb.

Update 20061122;19h47: I totally forgot about the Pumpkin Soup. I guess because the first step - roasting the pumpkins, was done over the weekend. And, of course, there will be a green salad, breads, cheese plate, olives, other marinated vegetables and dessert: pumpkin pie and cranberry walnut apple pie.

Pumpkin Soup

  • Take the "lid" off two sugar pumpkins, scrape out the seeds and fibers, and roast for two hours at 325°F
  • Scrape out the meat of the pumpkin, and allow to cool
  • Toast the pumpkin seeds in the oven - they make great garnish later
  • Bring 8 cups of fire roasted vegetable stock to a boil, add the roasted pumpkin meat, fresh thyme, fresh ginger grated, a bouquet garni of bay leaf, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, dry sherry and sautéed onions
  • Cook for two hours, then purée in the pot or by passing it through a food mill
  • bring back to a boil and tip in a cup of heavy cream right before serving

Rest coming up throughout the day. Have a great Thanksgiving. Enjoy.

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I'm Joseph A. di Paolantonio and my web log provides ideas on the best of the best in news. technology, practices, services and people supporting and living the TeleInterActive Lifestyle, impacting buisnesses, people, communications, life and work styles, and pretty much anything else that seems appropriate. I'm an executive with over 25 years of commercial experience with a technical focus in developing advanced data analysis methods. I'm a part of InterActive Systems & Consulting, Inc.

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