The weather turned warmer today and the sun came out for a change. The leaves have all fallen off and now we have a view of the horizon from Studio B. This time of year is such a treat when the mountains in the distance reappear. I tried stitching a few of the photos taken from my back porch this morning.
For Thanksgiving, we usuinvite family, whoever is still in town, then serve anything but traditional Thanksgiving fare. I’ve never really been a big fan of the flavors of a traditional Thanksgiving, too much boring blonde food, usually over salted and over cooked. However, we have two young students with us who call Korea home, so I decided to give them the traditional Thanksgiving experience. I’m a big fan of the Food Network and I’ve learned a lot in the last year and decided that I was going to see if I could create a Thanksgiving that was traditional but also flavorful. (And since I'd served a killer delicious hot curry soup the evening before, we were ready for something with a *little* less flavor!)
The turkey was the first thing I started with this morning. I started with an Ina Garten recipe which was pretty simple and straight forward. The only thing I did different than she did was to slice a lemon on my mandolin, add thyme, garlic and olive oil and then I carefully worked this mixture between the skin and the meat. That's not how she does it but that's how I do it when I roast a chicken on the grill and it works really well for that. As the turkey roasted I basted it a few times with melted butter. After the bird turned a lovely brown I covered it with foil so that the skin wouldn't burn. It got done a little faster than I expected and so it came out of the oven at about 3:30 and I tented it under foil and it was still piping hot at 4:30 when I carved it up to serve at 5. It was moist and good, no real big flavors but not dry either. I was very pleased with how it turned out. This is how it looked before roasting, you can kind of see the lemon slices under the skin, it's buttered with salt and pepper on the skin.
The next order of the morning was the green bean casserole. I’ve developed a bit of a snobbery toward Cream of Mushroom soup lately and so I went hunting for the real thing. A combination of Tyler’s Ultimate and Alten Brown’s recipes were good inspiration but I did a two pounds of beans version of the recipe and I didn’t bake it in an iron skillet. I figured a pound of beans to a pound of shrooms would about do it. I blanched the beans and toasted up the onions for the top. I sautéed the shrooms, made a roux and then added chicken stock (that I made the day before) and then added some buttermilk. It calls for cream but I think buttermilk tastes as good and is lots less calories. These are the shrooms just after I poured in the buttermilk.
Next I started in on the dressing. I’m not a big fan of dressing, I usually fail to see the point of eating it at all. After some research though, I found a few ideas I wanted to try. First I found one recipe with apple and cranberries in it and that sounded good to me. Then I watched Ina Garten on tv making this recipe and it sounded even better. I followed the recipe fairly closely for the most part. I added some dried apricots and pecans and omitted the onions in the dressing. When it came out of the oven I threw on a handful of fresh green onion and it make it look beautiful and the heat from the dressing was perfect for the onions. It worked and people kept eating it, my father even requested some to take home. That tickled me.
I made a potato gratin recipe that I saw Tyler make that I thought sounded good. I did layers of white potatoes, shredded cabbage, Yukon gold potatoes, green and red peppers almost like it was a lasagna, between each layer was more Parmesan and sharp white cheddar cheese. I think the green and red peppers in it made it look like holiday food and I sliced all of it on my brand new mandolin (love it!) = ultra thin. Tyler made it with cream and the comments on the recipe online were that it was too rich. I made it with buttermilk and it was about right. I topped it with cheese, green onion and bacon and that was the best part of the whole thing! The students were very helpful making this dish, asking lots of questions and pealing potatoes. Cooking with students is fun.
Ina Garten makes gravy the day before and then just slowly brings it up to temperature when needed. I thought that was a great idea and so when I made chicken stock, I also made gravy yesterday. That way I could attend to other things at the last moment instead of working on gravy. I'll do that again!
My husband taught the students how to make bread in the bread machine and it turned out flavorful and tender, just perfect! They did a great job. A friend of ours gave us a jar of homemade apple butter, so we included that on the table. My father made his traditional cranberry salad that is still far better than anything I've ever tasted of a cranberry salad nature! I don't know what all is in there but I do hope the secrets are passed along to me soon! My Mom brought an apple pie, drizzled with caramel and topped with some toasted peanuts. It was amazing, the perfect ending to the meal.
The beauty of this kind of meal is that the prep is all done early in the day and the food goes into the fridge until it is time to bake and serve. That meant that all the dirty dishes had already been finished and the kitchen looked good. Afterward there were only a few things to wash up and dish washer loaded and the kitchen was quickly set back to rights. In no time we were all gathered around the kitchen table playing games until late. It was a lovely evening and I really enjoyed having them here.