Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

It's been three years since I was last lead cook for Thanksgiving. This year, I made all the side dishes and my own turkey legs. My mom made the big turkey and gravy and pies and my relatives brought the rest of the desserts. I came home Wednesday to give me plenty of time for cooking ahead and wrote out a schedule of food prep to follow on Thanksgiving day, which helped it all go smoothly. Except that I can never get the hang out how my mom's oven is consistently hotter than every other oven I've ever used and doesn't brown when roasting but goes straight to burn.

Roasted turkey legs
Roasted for about 90 minutes at 350, turned over halfway through.

My mom continues to insist on a free Shoprite turkey, so this year I did what I should have done in other years and brought my own portion of turkey from the farmers market to eat.

Rosemary no-knead rolls
Prepare the no-knead bread recipe, double it and add a bunch of diced fresh rosemary. The next day, two hours before baking, grease two muffin tins. Lightly press down the dough, pinch off pieces and roughly form them into balls and place in muffin tins. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Makes 24.

These rolls were a little tough on the outside. I think the crunchy crust that this no-knead method can create translates to toughness in rolls. Probably I need to try rolls made all in on day with milk for a fluffier texture.

Green beans with lemon, shallots and almonds
Sautee shallots and almonds. Meanwhile, steam green beans in a few inches of water for 5-10 minutes to desired tenderness. Combine in one dish with the juice of one lemon.

I don't like green beans that much but I liked this just fine.

Roasted Brussels sprouts
These sprouts were small enough that I didn't need to cut them in half first, just roasted at 400 for about 20 minutes on one side and ten minutes on the other.

A classic that pleased my grandfather who thinks boiled brussels sprouts taste terrible, despite being slightly overbrowned.

Mashed potatoes and celery root
I think celery root lends an elegant flavor to mashed potatoes. But I only used one large celery root to about 8 potatoes, so the ratio was off and it should have been more like two celery roots.

Hasselback sweet potatoes with maple syrup and sage
Slice sweet potatoes almost all the way to the bottom. Finely dice one bunch of sage and mix it in with two tbsp olive oil and two tbsp maple syrup with sage. This is messy, butuse your fingers to spread the sage, olive oil and mayple syrup mixture in between the potato slices. Bake at 400 for about 40 minutes. Can be made ahead and rewarmed.

My mom usually makes just straight up baked sweet potatoes, so this is classier and prettier and creates a nice hint of sweetness and sage. However, it was time consuming to carefully slice the potatoes and spread the sage mixture.

Roasted butternut squash with chickpeas and parmesan
Cut one large butternut squash into small one-to-two inch pieces. Roast in olive oil at 400 until browned. Afterward, add one to two cups of pre-cooked chickpeas and grate in a half cup of parmesan. Can be made ahead and reheated the next day in the oven.

A favorite combination of mine.

Stuffing with celery, apple and onion
Dice two red onions, one bunch of celery and three apples. Sautee in one stick of butter (!) until softened. Tear up two day-old baguettes into small pieces. Combine vegetables and baguette in a container of vegetable stock and add sage and poultry seasoning. Let sit in the fridge over night. Use some stuffing to stuff the turkey. The remainder will fill a casserole; bake at 400 until warmed through and browned on top.

This is the stuffing recipe I have been eating my whole life, made with baguette instead of pepperidge farm bread crumbs.


  1. Love your twists on traditional dishes! Hope you had a happy day :)

  2. Num, num!

    Oh, for the rolls - some recipes recommend brushing the tops with butter as soon as they come out of the oven. It helps keep them soft, which is nice in a roll. Of course, it's adding extra butter, but I figure you might as well go all in for Thanksgiving.

  3. Beautiful pictures--it looks delicious! But I have a question: I also try to get my mother to cook with locally sourced ingredients but she seldom listens to me. I'm a little too timid to bring my own food, for fear that it might cause some friction. How did you broach this topic with her?