I know it has been a while since I posted anything new...there was traveling and then thesis work...all these things conspired to keep me from making anything noteworthy. Until Thanksgiving! Jocelyn & Nick took the train down from Philadelphia for the long weekend and we had a great time. Lots of basketball watching, 3-D movies, walks with small dog...and of course, cooking and pie-making. The turkey was made the same way I made it last year--if you are actually curious on the step-by-step or how to carve and all that, see the post from November 2006. It's a high-heat cooking method that makes the time much shorter--our 14.8 pound bird cooked up in just over 2 hours. As always, a good digital meat thermometer is essential--you want to make sure the temperature at the thickest part of the thigh is 170 degrees before you pull it out. Then it gets a resting period of 30 minutes, during which the temperature continues to rise to 175, which is perfect. Here's what we made this year that was noteworthy and different from last year:
Cranberry-port-tangerine relish! This was fantastic and remarkably easy. We only had 7 people for dinner so I just used one 12 ounce bag of fresh cranberries but you may wish to double it. Pour a healthy 1/2 cup of port wine into a large saucepan and heat it to boiling. Dump in your bag of fresh cranberries (wash and pick them over first) and stir around. When they begin to pop (maybe 3-5 minutes over medium-high heat, if that) add 1/2 to 3/4 cup of sugar, zest from 2 tangerines and the juice of one tangerine. Stir it all up and continue to cook for about 5 minutes, then cover & turn off the heat. That's it! After it is cooled off some, pour it into a container and stick it in the fridge for whenever dinnertime is. It will get all jelly-like and awesome.
We also made butter beans. They are sort of like lima beans but I think they are more tasty. They're probably hard to find outside of the south though, so you could probably just use frozen baby limas. Wash 3 cups butter beans well and boil until soft but not mushy. Drain and set aside. In the same pot, lightly saute 1/4 cup minced shallots in 2 tablespoons of butter, but don't let them brown or anything. Add the beans back in, add salt, plenty of fresh ground pepper, 1 tablespoon minced parsley and 1 cup heavy cream. Stir occasionally over medium heat until cream has cooked down a little bit--about 5 minutes. Delicious! You could also use chives instead of shallots, if you wanted to. I also put in about 1/2 cup of frozen corn kernels to cook with the cream for added sweetness and to make Jocelyn think it was succotash.
Let's see, what else did we have? There was the turkey, of course, and gravy. We made mashed potatoes, but I have discussed those at length in the past. Also, green salad with fennel, goat cheese and pomegranate seeds that I know I mentioned a couple weeks ago. And roasted kabocha squash and roasted brussels sprouts. Those were really neat--the ones in the the bin at the market were too big so I ended up buying a whole stalk and cutting them off myself. They were much tinier and really delicious. Ryan and Betsy made cornbread. For appetizers we had roasted garlic and the goat cheese crostini with cherry preserves that I made a couple weeks ago also. Jocelyn made awesome stuffed mushrooms. She's really good at it. You clean and de-stem a bunch of largish mushrooms, then chop the stems up very fine and combine them with bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, parsley, sage (anything else, Jocelyn?) then stuff the caps , mounding the stuffing up attractively on top. Then you bake them at 350 for about 10 minutes, I think. I'm not sure how she does it but they are simple and delicious.
We also made two pies--one pumpkin and one that was chocolate-pecan pie. That one was really particularly good. I have seen recipes for it before but Gourmet ran one this month so I thought we'd give it a shot. It's really easy, especially if you are too lazy to make your own pie crust. Melt one bar of bittersweet chocolate (you can do this in a bowl over boiling water if you don't have a double boiler). Spread it into a crust that you have ready in a 9-inch pie plate. Let it harden up, then cover with 2 cups toasted pecan halves. Whisk in a bowl 3 eggs, 1/3 cup light brown sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla and a pinch of salt. When it is all mixed up, whisk in 3/4 cup dark corn syrup. Pour this over the pecans in the pie plate and stick in the oven at 375. Keep an eye on it--ours took about 50 minutes. It gets all puffy and golden and irresistibly delicious looking. Jocelyn and I felt perhaps this recipe was a little bit too sweet--perhaps you could cut down the sugar to 1/4 cup or maybe some bourbon in the mix would temper the sweetness a little. But it is a really good pie, especially with the whiskey whipped cream that Jocelyn made to go with. We had lots of Baileys and hot chocolate, and also this cocktail called a Dark and Stormy that Melanie made--I think it was ginger beer, lime juice and rum, shaken with ice. Between that and the many sparkling wines, it was a highly successful Thanksgiving, regardless of food.