Last day of school! Last day of peace. Where’s my bourbon?
Going to keep it brief today because, after all, nobody cares about anything except Thanksgiving. So today’s lunch is leftovers from dinner last night — hummus topped with ground beef and onions with a sprinkle of cheese.
Meanwhile, here is my Thanksgiving menu annotated with recipes and instructions, etc. Hope everyone enjoys an amazing holiday with friends, family and heaps of food. And bourbon.
- Cheese and fruit platter
Just your average assortment of yummy cheese and fruit, stuff to nibble and overeat before the real feasting begins.
- Warm phyllo cups with brie, cranberry sauce and bacon
Plan is to fill mini phyllo cups (the ones I use for Parker’s mini quiches) with a hunk of brie, a spoonful of whole-berry cranberry sauce and a hunk of cooked bacon, then bake them until the cheese is melty and delicious. I’ll assemble them ahead and bake off just as people arrive.
- Apple-liver pate with homemade seed crackers
The pate was simple. I sauteed some onion in bacon fat, then added a diced peeled apple, 1 pound of chicken livers and a bit of salt and pepper. Once the liver was lightly browned, I deglazed with 1/4 cup of apple brandy. Dump the whole thing in the food processor and pulse until smooth. I’ve frozen it and will thaw it 24 hours in the refrigerator before serving. The crackers are from a book/blog — recipe here. I’m not a follower of this diet, but these crackers are fantastic and easy to make.
- Warm Triscuits topped with manchego-stuffed dates and wrapped in bacon
I’ll be filing this recipe to the wire tomorrow, but meanwhile it’s pretty simple. I stuff dates with hunks of manchego cheese, then set each one on a Triscuit. Then I wrap each in half a strip of bacon (bacon overlapping on the underside of the cracker) then bake at 400 F for about 10 minutes. I’ll assemble these in the morning and bake off as people arrive.
- Cucumber cups filled with smoked salmon, creme fraiche and dill
I love these. I cut English cucumbers into 1-inch rounds. Then I use a melon baller to scoop out the seeds (but not all the way), creating tiny cups. In a processor, I combine 8 ounces smoked salmon, 8 ounces creme fraiche (sour cream works, too), fresh dill, salt, pepper and a healthy splash of Sriracha. I pulse until mostly smooth, then spoon some into each cup. If I’m feeling fancy, I’ll top each with a caper.
- 23-pound turkey dry-brined with bacon salt
God help me. I don’t even like turkey. And we’re getting enough of a crowd that I may actually roast two birds! One is 23 pounds, the other is 18. I made bacon salt the other night. It was easy. I cooked off about 12 ounces of bacon, then dumped it and about 1 1/2 cups of kosher salt in the processor. Then I processor until the bacon was the same consistency as the salt. Today I will dry brine the birds using that salt. First, I’ll arrange fresh sage under the skin of one bird and salami slices under the skin of the other. Then I’ll liberally (1/2 teaspoon per pound) sprinkle bacon salt all over and inside both birds. Back in the refrigerator they will go until Thursday around 11, when I’ll cram them into a 350 F oven and hope for the best.
We’re aren’t Greek, but in my family it isn’t Thanksgiving unless Mom makes spanakopita. She makes it with kale instead of spinach. It’s incredibly good and we crave it all year. We always make enough for leftovers because it’s like pizza — even better cold. Time magazine wrote about our Thanksgiving a few years back and included Mom’s recipe.
- Squash rolls
- Sourdough bread
I buy all bread items from an amazing local baker, The Crust and Crumb.
- Homemade truffle butter
Stupidly easy, but so insanely good. Get yourself a quart of heavy cream. Dump it in the food processor and processor for about 5 to 10 minutes. First it becomes whipped cream, then it breaks and pretty soon you have a huge lump of the most intense butter ever sitting in a pool of buttermilk. Strain it, then dump the butter in a bowl. Use a wooden spoon to work the butter, pressing it against the bowl. This extracts additional liquid. Pour off the liquid. Season the butter with flaked salt (I use truffle salt). Don’t refrigerate it. It’s best as is. You will be astounded.
- Cranberry sauce
I usually make this recipe. But this year a guest is bringing the cranberry sauce, so I decided to experiment. See below.
- Cranberry “salami” (a thick, sliceable sauce)
I was intrigued by this recipe in Tyler Florence’s new cookbook — “Inside the Test Kitchen.” I made it the other night. Very easy, pretty yummy. This is the recipe.
- Vegan mashed potatoes (for mom)
- Not-vegan mashed potatoes (for the rest of us)
My approach to mashed potatoes is simple. I peel a whole lot of yellow potatoes, then I boil them all until tender. I drain them, then set a small amount in one pan and the rest in a larger pan. I set both pans over a medium flame for a minute or two to help dry them out. This makes them fluffier and absorb more yumminess. Next, I add vegan butter and vegetable broth to the smaller batch and mash away. In the larger batch, I add whole milk and as much butter as humanly possible.
- Roasted sweet potato wedges glazed with orange bitters
This is a recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi’s new book, “Plenty More.” These sweet potatoes are outrageously addictive. This is the recipe.
- Turkey drippings stuffing
No real plan on this one. Bread crumbs, butter, celery, onion, sage and thyme moistened with turkey drippings and stock, then dumped in a casserole. I don’t stuff the bird. Too much trouble.
- Vegan stuffing with pine nuts, dried cherries, thyme and sage
Same idea as above, but will use vegetable stock and add some funky stuff.
- Roasted butternut squash with shaved Brussels sprouts, lemon juice and ricotta salata
So excited to make this. Plan is to cube and roast some butternut squash, then toss it with raw Brussels sprouts that have been shaved using a mandoline. The whole thing gets tossed with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, then topped with pine nuts and shaved ricotta salata.
- Roasted carrots tossed with butter and topped with honeycomb
Going to cut carrots into 3-inch lengths, toss them with olive oil, salt and pepper, then roast until tender. Just before serving, I’ll toss them with melted butter and heap them on a serving platter. Then I’ll top them with gobs of whipped honey, which should ooze and melt over them. Might sprinkle some thyme on there, too.
To go with starters. I also bought extra because the chef likes to start the day with mimosas while cooking.
- Bourbon (duh!)
Also for starters. And going to make this cocktail as a pitcher cocktail to have out.
I am seriously addicted to my Soda Stream device. Will serve the seltzer at the table in repurposed bourbon bottles.
- Red Wine
Got the have some cab.
- White wine
For those who insist.
- Sparkling cider (for the kiddies)
- Apple pie
- Pumpkin pie
- Chocolate pumpkin pie
- Coconut cream pie
- Apple cake
I don’t bake, so most are being purchased from my local bakery. A friend is bringing the apple pie and my mom is experimenting with a recipe for the apple cake.