Friday, November 25, 2011

Giving Thanks

"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever."
(1 Chronicles 16:34)

Another Thanksgiving has come and gone. We have so many things to be thankful for, not only on one day of the year, but at all times! One of the things I'm thankful for is my family. My father actually had to go to the ER on Thanksgiving Day for eye problems, but he'll be fine. I suppose I should be thankful that I was the one tasked to plan and cook everything this year!

Thanksgiving Dinner Menu

Roasted Rosemary Turkey
Brussels Sprouts with Maple and Cayenne
Carrots with Thyme
Creamy Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Jalapeño-Cheddar Cornbread
Kim Classic Stuffing
Turkey Gravy
Cranberry-Pomegranate Relish

Pumpkin Pie
Cherry Pie & Mini Cupcakes 
Argentine Torrontés
Sparkling Cider

Roasted Rosemary Turkey

I've been involved with cooking Thanksgiving dinner for many years, but mostly as a sous chef to my father and sister, or pastry chef. This year was the first time I really dealt with a turkey head-on (not literally), by myself. I bought a 12-13 pound fresh turkey a few days before Thanksgiving and kept it in the refrigerator. I thought about brining it the night before, but didn't. It was, after all, my first time with the bird and I wanted to take things slowly. 

I took in various recommendations and read a few recipes before deciding ultimately to just wing it. As suggested by Esther of Ambitious Deliciousness, I placed carrot, onion, celery, orange, and rosemary inside the cavity after stuffing it. I massaged the turkey with my own rosemary-garlic-orange-oil I had infused on the stove and then cooled, an idea I got from the November 2010 issue of Martha Stewart's Everyday Food, which featured a roasted turkey brushed with rosemary-lemon oil. Then I roasted it in a 325°F oven with a timer set to go off every 60 minutes so that I could baste and rotate. The turkey was well-done after 3 3/4 hours, which I confirmed with a handy dandy digital thermometer, and then it rested at room temperature while I cranked up the heat and baked cornbread.


Brussels Sprouts with Maple and Cayenne & Carrots with Thyme

Roasting is such a wonderful and easy way to prepare vegetables. For the Brussels sprouts, I used a recipe from the October 2011 Everyday Food. After roasting them in a 400°F oven with extra-virgin olive oil and coarse salt, I added a little pure maple syrup mixed with cayenne pepper for a sweet but subtle kick. For the carrots, I simply roasted them with extra-virgin olive oil, coarse salt, and freshly ground pepper, and then tossed them with finely chopped fresh thyme.


Creamy Garlic Mashed Potatoes

I enlisted my brother David and his girlfriend Tina to help make the mashed potatoes using an Alton Brown recipe. I had purchased red and gold potatoes for this dish. They peeled the Yukons, and kept the skin on the red potatoes for color. If you don't like garlic or creaminess, this recipe is not for you: it calls for several cloves of garlic, heated in a pint of half-and-half, mixed with Parmesan cheese.


Jalapeño-Cheddar Cornbread
The cornbread was the last item to be cooked, after the turkey was done. When I took it out of the oven, I thought it was a disaster, but it just hadn't finished baking so I put it back in the oven and we started eating dinner. After 10 minutes, it was done and delicious! I used the Classic Cornbread recipe from Everyday Food, and stirred in 3/4 cup fresh corn kernels, 1/3 cup chopped pickled jalapeño peppers, and 1 1/4 cups grated cheddar to the batter, and then topped it off with more cheddar before baking.


Kim Classic Stuffing & Turkey Gravy

These are special Kim recipes. Even as my father was getting ready to go to the hospital on Thanksgiving, he was chopping onions since I had assigned him the stuffing. He also made the gravy from the turkey neck and giblets.

Cranberry-Pomegranate Relish

This is a cranberry sauce recipe I began using last year, when I brought it to a Thanksgiving potluck and also made it for our family dinner. It's from the November 2010 issue of Everyday Food, made with fresh cranberries, pomegranate juice and seeds, brown sugar, and shallot. It has a great combination of sweet, tart, and savory flavors.


Pumpkin Pie

For dessert, I baked a Libby's Famous Pumpkin Pie with a homemade pie crust. Super yummy, even though I was stuffed! I also had some cherry pie that my cousin bought from Crumbs, along with mini cupcakes. I had thought about making something other than pumpkin pie, since it's ubiquitous this time of year, but then again so is turkey. Both are synonymous with Thanksgiving, so I knew I had to make a pumpkin pie.

Ready for pie and coffee


I almost forgot about the wish bone. I had broken off the larger half, but forgot to make a wish! I'll make a wish right now...

Happy Thanksgiving! Whether you were surrounded by dozens of people, had a small dinner like we did, or were alone or in another part of the world, I hope you were able to count your blessings.