Monday, November 21, 2011

Repost: Thanksgiving 2009

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It's festive yet not as hectic as Christmas; it's predictable, since it always on a Thursday, thus I know I can actually rest after two days of cooking and baking; and it comes during my favorite time of year, autumn.

Every year, I have 6 people over for Thanksgiving, to complete a group of 8, including me and Bill. These are friends who, like myself, have no family in Atlanta and we have each other for family.

Thanksgiving preparation starts on Sunday before. I shop for the ingredients and order in my meat and turkey for pickup Wednesday. Wednesday night is when I make the pies, soak the cornmeal for the cornbread and brine the turkey & crown roast. Some of the Thanksgiving guests spends the night to help make the pies. I usually prepare a light dinner, but this year, Nikita took care of dinner and she prepared an authentic "Chinese Hot Pot" for us, yummy!!

I am notorious in my kitchen, my non-cooking friends calls me the Kitchen Nazi. I've asked friends to leave my kitchen on numerous occasion because they are kitchen disasters (and yes, they are still my friends!) ha ha! But on Thanksgiving, I usually leave them to their own accord, for real! Oh well, not entirely. I supervise and make sure they follow the recipes and read and re-read them before they embark on their tasks. Some, like my poor Biljana and Nikita this year, still got the "beatings". Biljana got confused with the fractions when portioning the butter for the pie crust and Nikita started dumping ingredients for the pumpkin pie in a bowl without reading the recipe.. ha ha!!

Thursday morning is when everything comes to life. I start with the fixins -- cornbread, dressing, green beans, mac & cheese and mashed potato. The turkey then goes in the oven, and while it roast, the blueberry pie get piped with mascarpone cream and the table gets set for place setting. I always put out these party crackers at Thanksgiving ever since Bill brought me some from England 6 years ago. When the Turkey comes out of the oven, the crown roast goes in. I then prepare the gravy by deglazing the roasting pan and use the drippings & some bacon fat. I then clean up and get ready while the crown roast finish cooking.

Dinner was delicious! We all ate with abandon, and everyone sort of took a nap in the living room after, then everyone pitched in cleaning up. After the last guest left, I went to sleep peacefully... Thankful that I am truly blessed in all aspects of my life.

The Stars of the Show -- Roasted Turkey Breast and Crown Roast of Pork

Brine for both Turkey and Crown Roast

1 cup of Williams Sonoma brining salt
4 cups water

Combine brining salt and water and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve sugars and salts. Remove from heat, cool to room temperature and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. In a large container, combine brine solution with 6 cups of ice water & add meat. Cover & refrigerate for 6 to 12 hours. Turn meat once, halfway through brining. Just before roasting, remove meat from the brine and rinse thoroughly with cold water. Pat dry with paper towels. Roast as directed.

A long soak in a seasoned saltwater brine ensures the turkey and crown roast will emerge juicy and flavorful. The salt penetrates the meat, drawing in moisture and other seasonings.

Roasted Turkey Breast

Stuff the turkey with --

bouquet garni (rosemary,sage,thyme & bay leaves)
a lemon, poked all over
an apple, poked all over
1 red onion, peeled and cut in half

To rub under the skin of the turkey--
4 tbsp of butter, softened (or Olive Oil)1 tbsp lemon juice

Separate the flesh and the skin and rub down with the butter and lemon mixture. I add lemon to the butter since this helps the butter not to burn.

To rub on the skin of the turkey-- Coarse sea salt

To roast the turkey--
Position the rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 425 F. For best results, roast your turkey on a wire rack in an open roasting pan. Roast the turkey for 25 minutes, breast side down. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 F and roast for 45 minutes more, then turn breast up and roast until done. Depending on the weight of the turkey, cook until the breast registers 165 F and the thigh at 175 F. The total roasting time should be about 3 to 3-1/4 hours.

To serve the turkey--
Transfer the turkey to a carving board, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 20 minutes before carving.

Crown Roast of Pork

Have the butcher prepare the crown roast for you. I ordered mine from Harry's market.

Position a large apple in the center of the roast to hold its shape. Bake pork roast at 350 F for two hours. Top the apple with kumquats and bake an hour more or until a a meat thermometer inserted between ribs 2 inches into meat registers 160 F. Let pork roast stand 15 minutes before slicing.

The Fixins --Peter Reinhart's Cornbread, Sage Sausage & Chestnut Dressing, Green Beans with Herbed Butter, Fried Garlic & Almonds and Marja's Mac & Cheese

Corn Bread
Peter Reinhart of The Bread Bakers Apprentice

This cornbread had been the "Corn Bread" in my household every year for Thanksgiving since I got the book. It takes two days to make since the cornmeal needs to soak overnight in buttermilk. Fresh corn kernels are added in the bread and topped with bacon. Need I say more?

Sage Sausage, French Chestnut, Apples and Homemade Croutons Dressing

I found this Sage Sausage the week before and decided to use it for the dressing this year. Sage to me is the star herb for Thanksgiving, it's almost on everything! For the dressing, I browned the sausage and tossed it in a casserole with some chopped onions, diced fuji apples & french chestnuts, about 6 cups of home made french bread croutons, a tbsp of chopped sage, a tsp each of chopped rosemary and thyme, salt, pepper, a drizzling of bacon fat and about a cup of chicken stock. Cook it covered with foil for about 30 minutes in a 350 F oven, removed the foil and browned the top for another 10-15 minutes.

Green Beans with Herbed Butter, Fried Garlic and Almond

Mix some softened butter, chopped sage and thyme and fried garlic in a bowl.

Parboil the green beans (I prefer to cut them into 2" sticks). Boil about 5 cups of water, toss some salt in it. When it gets into a rolling boil, add the green beans. As it begins to boil again, turn off the heat, drain the green beans in a colander and run it under cold water to stop from cooking. Heat a pan, add the butter mixture and toss in the green beans. Saute for about 3 minutes to coat the green beans with the butter. Add the almonds and season with sea salt and freshly cracked white pepper.

Marja's Mac and Cheese
Food and Wine, July 2008

I adapted this recipe from Global Superchef Jean-Georges Vongerichten's wife Marja. Bill prepared the recipe to the tee and it came out perfect!

3/4 lb elbow macaroni
extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup half and half
1 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
1/2 t freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 t kosher salt
1/4 t freshly ground white pepper
4 oz shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
4 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese
4 oz shredded monterey jack cheese
4 oz cold cream cheese, cut into 1/2 in cubes
=Bacon Fat=
Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the macaroni for 3 minutes (it will still be very chewy). Drain the macaroni and return it to the pot. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and toss well. Butter a 10-by-15-inch baking dish. In a large bowl, whisk the heavy cream with the half-and-half, milk, eggs, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Stir in the cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses and the macaroni. Spread the mac and cheese in the prepared baking dish and scatter the cream cheese cubes on top.

  1. Bake the macaroni for 5 minutes. Using the back of a large spoon, spread the melted cream cheese cubes evenly over the surface. Bake for 40 minutes, until bubbling. Remove the baking dish from the oven and preheat the broiler. Broil the mac and cheese about 3 inches from the heat source until richly browned, about 2 minutes. Let stand for at least 10 and up to 20 minutes before serving.

Classic Pumpkin Pie, Blueberry Pie with Mascarpone Cream and Traditional Apple Pie

Classic Pumpkin Pie
Williams Sonoma

1 1/4 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 T cornstarch
1/ t salt
1 1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t ground ginger
1/4 t freshly grater nutmeg
1/8 t ground cloves
2 cups pumpkin puree
3 eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup milk
Prebaked and cooled deep dish pie crust (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 375 F. In a bowl, mix all the dry ingredients. In another bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients just until combined. Pour the filling into the prepared pie crust and bake until center is set, 60-065 minutes. Transfer the pie to a wire rack and let cool completely, at least 2 hours. Pipe with the Mascarpone Cream before serving.

Blueberry Pie with Mascarpone Cream

3 bags of frozen organic blueberries
8 T granulated sugar
3 T cornstarch
2 T lemon juice
Prebaked and cooled deep dish pie crust (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix all the ingredients in a saucepan and cook until thickened. Pour the filling into the prepared pie crust and bake until set, about 40-45 minutes. Cool in a wire rack before frosting.

Mascarpone Cream
Food & Wine, July 2009

1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 vanilla beans, split & seeds scraped
2 T light brown sugar
1/2 t finely grated lemon zest
1 oz mascarpone
1 t fresh lemon juice

In a bowl, beat the cream with the vanilla seeds, brown sugar and lemon zest until soft peaks forms. Add the mascarpone and lemon juice and beat until blended.

Traditional Apple Pie
(Sandi Anderson)

Sandi Anderson's recipe for Traditional Apple Pie is very straight forward. It cannot get any better than this. Although, I used Rose Levy Beranbaum's Basic Flaky Pie Crust for all my pies.

Basic Flaky Pie Crust

The Pie and Pastry Bible, Rose Levy Beranbaum

This Pie Crust
recipe is fool proof. Making the pie crust from scratch is a bit of a pain in the ass, but so worth it.


  1. the pie turns out great and all the foods looks delish. Happy Thanks Giving =)

  2. Happy Thanksgiving, Raquel. What are you having for Thanksgiving this year?

  3. All recipes looks amazing! Great blog!

    1. Thanks, Lavinia. Hope you had a great holiday!

  4. I was browsing through some blogs and I ran across these awesome looking cookies. These look delicious. I'm going to have to save the recipe.