It’s almost Thanksgiving, folks! All hail the national day of sloth, football and pigging out. There has been a bit of discussion around these parts of what to serve on the big day, so I thought I’d let you know what we’re whipping up Chez Scootie, where we are eating this year at the godforsaken time of NOON, due to Scootie’s niece and nephew having to play in a hockey tournament at 4:30PM. (Who in the f**k has such upside down priorities that they think scheduling young children for competitive "recreational" sports on a national holiday is a good idea?)
Now, Chez Scootie we don’t worry about Bad Things in our Thanksgiving food. On the fourth Thursday in November, we don’t fret about carcinogens or transfats and whether saturated or unsaturated fat will kill you first, we don’t stress about sodium levels or the evils of high fructose corn syrup, we welcome e-numbers and red dye #2 into our lives (the more the merrier!) to join the party with the bad cholesterol and arterial plaque. Come one, come all, everyone’s welcome here. Let’s give thanks!
Artichoke Heart, Prosciutto and Gorgonzola Gratin
A few years ago, an American friend in London introduced me to this miracle of an appetizer at the Thanksgiving dinner she hosted. After hoovering up the entire dish, I threatened physical violence unless she gave me the recipe before I left. Miracle of miracles, it was from Epicurious, as are most of my Thanksgiving recipes. I cannot recommend it enough as the first place you should go when you are looking for a decent suggestion.
If you hate Gorgonzola, just use more Parmesan.
2 14-ounce cans artichoke hearts, drained, quartered
6 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
1 cup whipping cream
1 1/2 cups crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
1/2 cup pine nuts (about 2 ounces), toasted
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
Pat quartered artichoke hearts dry with paper towels. Cut each prosciutto slice crosswise in half. Wrap each artichoke heart quarter in halved prosciutto slice. Place wrapped artichoke hearts in single layer in 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Pour cream over. Sprinkle with Gorgonzola, pine nuts, Parmesan, and sage. Bake until gratin is bubbling and sauce thickens, about 25 minutes. Serve warm with crusty bread.
This is one of the easiest appetizers to make for a crowd.
One 1-lb round brie in its rind (President makes a particularly good one)
One sheet of frozen puff pastry (Pepperidge Farm is fine, but La Boulange makes a great one if you’re at Whole Foods or Mollie Stones)
A few tablespoons of a good fruit chutney
One egg, beaten
Preheat the oven to 350F. Roll out your puff pastry into an 11-inch round. Spread the chutney into a fist sized circle in the middle of the puff pastry. Place the brie on top of the chutney, and fold the puff pastry up and over the brie, until it’s completely covered. Dampen the edges of the puff pastry with water where they overlap to seal them. Flip the brie over, so the seams are on the bottom, and place on a parchment covered cookie sheet. Use a pastry brush to paint the egg all over the puff pastry.
Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until golden brown and puffy. Remove from oven and let sit for about 15 minutes, then serve on a plate with either Breton whole wheat crackers or sliced baguette. Make sure your plate has a raised rim, because it will be runny at first!
The Side Dishes
When people ask me what I miss about London, I often respond, "Paris." And what do I miss about Paris, other than its amazing shopping, charming men, stunning architecture and delicious pastries? Well, its pommes purées, of course, particularly that of über-chef Joël Robuchon. To enjoy this recipe, you have to pretend that butter has no calories, but trust me, once you do you will be the happiest little mashed potato eater on earth.
Joël Robuchon’s Pommes Purées
Two pounds of russet potatoes
Two sticks of unsalted butter, melted
3/4 to 1 1/4 cups of whole milk, heated to just boiling
Sea salt to taste
Starting with cold water, boil unpeeled potatoes until a fork inserted into them meets barely any resistance (takes a while -- could be up to 30 minutes). Drain the potatoes and peel while still hot. Push the potatoes through a ricer into a pot and stir until steam no longer escapes, about 5 minutes. Add the butter while vigorously stirring the potatoes until it is fully incorporated. Add 3/4 cup of milk while stirring vigorously (with a whisk is ideal) to incorporate some air into the mixture. Add salt, and more milk if necessary, until you reach your desired consistency and flavor.
A ricer is a tool that forces the potatoes through small holes in the bottom of a sieve-type bowl (kind of like a huge garlic press). It makes potatoes that are fluffier than if you mash them with a masher, and that have no lumps. Ricers are widely available for a little more than $10. I strongly suggest the investment - so worth it.
M. Robuchon is hard core and also uses a tamis after the butter and milk are added, but I have limits to how much labor (and kitchen storage space) I am willing to devote to my mashed potatoes.
There are so many delicious ways to serve green beans for Thanksgiving. This one's a favorite in my family, and it emulates the green bean, cream of mushroom soup and French's fried onion casserole that everyone's mom/granny made when they were little, but with fresher, more vivid and adult flavors. It uses shiitake and oyster mushrooms and fried leeks, but I often substitute caramelized onions for the leeks. The beauty of a dish like this is you can substitute anything you like and it doesn't really screw it up.
3 tablespoons butter
6 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
6 ounces oyster mushrooms, sliced
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
3 tablespoons chopped shallots
1/2 cup Madeira
1 cup whipping cream
1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed
Vegetable oil (for deep-frying)
2 large leeks (white and pale green parts only), thinly sliced crosswise
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add all mushrooms and thyme; sauté 5 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons shallots; sauté until mushrooms are tender, about 3 minutes. Add Madeira and simmer until almost all liquid evaporates, about 2 minutes. Add cream and simmer until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Set sauce aside. Cook beans in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, 5 minutes. Drain. Transfer to bowl of ice water; cool. Drain. (Sauce and beans can be made 6 hours ahead. Cover separately; chill.)
Pour enough oil into large deep saucepan to reach depth of 4 inches. Heat oil to 350°F. Place 1/4 of leeks in small metal strainer. Lower strainer into oil; fry until golden, 40 seconds. Lift strainer from oil. Drain leeks on paper towels. Repeat with remaining leeks in 3 more batches. Season leeks with salt.
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add beans and remaining 1 tablespoon shallots; toss to heat through. Season with salt and pepper. Place beans on platter.
We are going with the tried and true this year, but I am also intrigued by this wild mushroom and green bean salad with goat's cheese, and may force that on the guest list next year.
This recipe has been in my family since I was a little kid. It is allegedly from the old prime rib restaurant Gulliver's, but I have no idea whether or not that is really true.
1 lb frozen yellow corn
1 cup whole milk
1 cup whipping cream
pinch white pepper
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter
Bring cream, milk, and salt to a boil and simmer five minutes. Add sugar and pepper and stir to combine. In another medium saucepan, melt the butter, add the flour and whisk to make a roux. Stir the roux over medium-low heat for about five minutes until very lightly browned. Pour the milk mixture into the roux in a continuous stream while whisking vigorously to make a cream sauce. Add the corn. Transfer to a casserole and bake in a 325F oven for 30 minutes.
Baked Butternut Squash with Apples and Maple Syrup
Nobody in my family likes sweet potatoes except my mom, and since she’s off in Mexico with her new eHarmony lov-ah, we have shaken off the yams like Andrew Luck did to Sean Cattouse (too soon?).
Instead we are going with this recipe which I first made for my first Thanksgiving-for-32-guests in London. It was pretty non-labor intensive, and easy to make ahead, and it delivers the sweet/savory flavors of your favorite sweet potato/marshmallow disaster without quite the same cloying sugariness.
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup apple juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 small butternut squashes, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, cut crosswise into 1/3-inch-thick slices
4 6-ounce Granny Smith apples, peeled, halved, cored, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Stir butter, maple syrup and apple juice in small saucepan over medium-low heat until butter melts. Increase heat and boil until mixture is slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; whisk in cinnamon, allspice and salt.
Arrange 1/3 of squash slices in prepared dish. Top with half of apple slices, then 1/3 of squash slices. Arrange remaining slices of squash and apple atop, alternating squash and apple slices and overlapping slightly. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Pour maple syrup mixture over. Cover baking dish tightly with foil.
Bake casserole until squash is almost tender, about 50 minutes. Uncover and bake until squash is tender, basting occasionally with syrup, about 20 minutes longer. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with foil and refrigerate. Rewarm, covered, in 350°F oven about 25 minutes, or microwave on high about 8 minutes.) Spoon syrup from dish over vegetables and serve.
1 cup frozen cranberry juice cocktail concentrate, thawed
1/3 cup sugar
1 12-ounce package fresh or frozen cranberries, rinsed, drained
1/2 cup dried cranberries (about 2 ounces)
3 tablespoons orange marmalade
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
2 teaspoons minced orange peel
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
Combine cranberry juice concentrate and sugar in heavy medium saucepan. Bring to boil over high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add fresh and dried cranberries and cook until dried berries begin to soften and fresh berries begin to pop, stirring often, about 7 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in orange marmalade, orange juice, orange peel and allspice. Cool completely. Cover; chill until cold, about 2 hours. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Keep refrigerated.)
Did you ever have dinner at The Meetinghouse, a restaurant in an old apothecary’s shop that used to be on the corner of Octavia and Bush in San Francisco? It was a fantastic place, where I would almost always have the pork chop for dinner and the mint chip ice cream sandwich for dessert, but the best part of the meal was invariably the amazing southern style biscuits they gave you instead of bread on the table. Well, you can buy those biscuits, frozen and unbaked, to cook up at home and pretend you made yourself. They’re not as cheap as Pillsbury, but they are ten times better and made with actual, real ingredients!
Cornbread, Sausage and Apple Stuffing
2 Tbs olive oil
2 cups coarsely chopped yellow onion
1 Tbs dried sage
2 lbs. raw (not smoked) chicken apple sausage, from the butcher case
1 cup chopped leeks, white and light green parts only
1/4 cup dry white wine
8 to 10 cups cubed, stale cornbread (I usually use Jiffy, made the day before. Allegedly the La Brea cornbread stuffing mix from Williams-Sonoma is AMAZING though, so I’m trying that out this year)
4 cups peeled, cored and diced apples (I use gala or honeycrisp, you can use any you like)
2 to 3 cups chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 350F. Fry sausage in the olive oil in a heavy skillet, breaking it up as it cooks. Add onions, leeks, sage and wine. Cover and cook until vegetables are soft, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. In a large bowl, mix sausage mixture, cornbread and apples. Moisten with stock until the mixture holds together when molded in a large spoon. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Bake in a foil covered casserole with the rest of the stock added to keep it moist, for 45 minutes.
If you like to stuff your turkey, don’t add any more stock once the stuffing holds together, as the stuffing in the bird will absorb a lot of juice.
This turkey is seriously idiot-proof. One year, my friend Matt and I started 'cooking' (read: drinking champagne) at 1PM to be ready for guests at 4PM. We prepared the bird per the recipe and stuck it in the oven. We drank more champagne. We opened another bottle. We drank that. We kind of forgot about the turkey. We remembered it. We poured some maple syrup over the turkey and opened another bottle of champagne. We giggled, thinking we were geniuses. We forgot about it again, remembered again God knows how much longer, poured more maple syrup over, finally took it out of the oven, carved and served it, and it was EPIC. Note: this is not the recipe, but I wouldn't try to dissuade you from trying it at home. All I am saying is, you want to get drunk? This recipe can handle you.
2 cups apple cider
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme or 2 teaspoons dried
2 tablespoons chopped fresh marjoram or 2 teaspoons dried
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, room temperature
1 14-pound turkey, neck and giblets reserved
2 cups chopped onion
1 1/2 cups chopped celery with leaves
1 cup coarsely chopped carrot
2 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
3 cups (about) canned low-salt chicken broth
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1 small bay leaf
2 tablespoons apple brandy (optional)
Boil apple cider and maple syrup in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat until reduces to 1/2 cup, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Mix in half of chopped thyme, half of marjoram and 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon peel. Add butter and whisk until melted. Season generously with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until cold, about 2 hours. (Can be prepared 2 days ahead. Keep refrigerated.)
Position rack in lowest third of oven and preheat to 375°F. Pat turkey dry with paper towels. Place turkey on rack set in large roasting pan. Slide hand under skin of turkey breast to loosen shin. Rub 1/2 cup maple butter over breast under skin. If stuffing turkey, spoon stuffing into main cavity. Rub 1/4 cup maple butter over outside of turkey. Reserve remaining maple butter for gravy. Tie legs together loosely to hold shape of turkey. Arrange onion, celery, carrot and reserved turkey nick and giblets around turkey in pan. Sprinkle vegetables with remaining 1 tablespoon thyme and remaining 1 tablespoon marjoram. Pour 2 cups broth into pan.
Roast turkey 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Cover entire turkey loosely with heavy-duty foil and roast until meat thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 180°F or until juices rum clear when thickest part of thigh is pierced with skewer, basting occasionally with pan juices, about 2 hours 25 minutes for unstuffed turkey (2 hours 55 minutes for stuffed turkey). Transfer turkey to platter. Tent turkey with aluminum foil and let stand 30 minutes; reserve mixture in pan for gravy.
Strain pan juices into large measuring cup, pressing on solids with back of spoon. Spoon fat from pan juices. Add enough chicken broth to pan juices to measure 3 cups. Transfer liquid to heavy medium saucepan and bring to boil. Mix 3 tablespoons reserved maple butter and flour in small bowl to form smooth paste. Whisk paste into broth mixture. Add chopped fresh thyme and bay leaf. Boil until reduces to sauce consistency, whisking occasionally, about 10 minutes. Mix in apple brandy, if desired. Season gravy to taste with salt and pepper.
Brush turkey with any remaining maple butter and serve with gravy.
Use the recipe on the can of solid-pack pumpkin, no lie. It's good. If you want to make it better, instead of the spice measurements they suggest (this is for the big [two pie] can), use 2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp cloves, 1/2 tsp dried ginger, and 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice. And I still haven't found a scratch shortcrust pastry recipe I like more than Betty Crocker's piecrust mix, so I use that. Horrified? Well then, you can't have any. :-P
Barefoot Contessa's Apple Crostata
This is an amazingly yummy free-form apple pie. The crust is delicious (but not suitable for the pie above, as it's slightly sweet).
For the pastry:
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated or superfine sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 pound (1 stick) very cold unsalted butter, diced
2 tablespoons ice water
For the filling:
1 1/2 pounds McIntosh, Macoun, or Empire apples (3 large)
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup granulated or superfine sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced
For the pastry, place the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter and pulse 12 to 15 times, or until the butter is the size of peas. With the motor running, add the ice water all at once through the feed tube. Keep hitting the pulse button to combine, but stop the machine just before the dough becomes a solid mass. Turn the dough onto a well-floured board and form into a disk. Wrap with plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Flour a rolling pin and roll the pastry into an 11-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Transfer it to a parchment-lined, unrimmed baking sheet.
For the filling, peel, core, and cut the apples into 8ths. Cut each wedge into 3 chunks. Cover the tart dough with the apple chunks leaving a 1 1/2-inch border. Combine the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and allspice in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture is crumbly. Pour into a bowl and rub it with your fingers until it starts holding together. Sprinkle evenly on the apples. Gently fold the border over the apples to enclose the dough, pleating it to make a circle.
Bake the crostata for 20 to 25 minutes, until the crust is golden and the apples are tender. Allow to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Are you full yet? Do you need to put on your sweats and go lie on the couch until the feeling that stuffing might seep out of your eyeballs passes? Well, good. You've done it right.