We have a lot to be thankful for. Friends. Family. For being able to do what we love each and every day. For all of you, who make this all worthwhile. We’re thankful for our health. Our happiness. And our three cats who run our lives but also warm our hearts.
It’s silly that it takes a holiday to remind us of that, sometimes.
As in past years, I’m not the type to make and post Thanksgiving recipes in the weeks leading up to the big day. I like to enjoy my holiday, ON the holiday, and not be sick of the food by the time it actually gets here.
Also like in past years, I’m using this space as more of a personal reference than anything. I doubt anyone is going to go out and make this turkey recipe right now (in fact, you’re probably still stuffed from your own bird), but next year, when we’re sitting around wondering exactly what it was that we put in those potatoes, we can just come back here. This blog is as much my space as it is yours, and I love how easy it is to go back and see a visual record of each and every thing we’ve cooked, baked, and eaten on this special day for the past 5 years.
Every year we’ve done this we’ve gotten better and better at cooking an appropriate quantity of food for 2 or 3 people. We’ve never hosted more than that and we’ve come to love our casual little gatherings. This year, Taylor’s sister, Vanessa, replaced my sister (who’s got a fancy new job and has to earn her vacation days). Vanessa had never been to Nashville before, and so we’ve spent the last few days running around and showing off our lovely city.
This year, we managed to procure an adorable little 7 1/2 pound turkey from local Wedge Oak Farms. I mean, it’s practically a chicken. But for 3 people it couldn’t have been more perfect. Just one of the advantages of buying local.
The Turkey: Brined and roasted with soy sauce, mirin, and rosemary glaze. We turned to our favorite brine recipe from Emeril, and paired that with a semi-traditional roasted turkey recipe from Bon Appetit. While I wouldn’t say you tasted the soy sauce in the final product, it sure made for a beautiful golden brown skin.
The Potatoes: The Definitive Mashed Potato with Roasted Garlic has always been a favorite, except we’ve discovered that they are still plenty good with about 1/3 of the cream and butter. As delicious as butter is, I don’t exactly feel the greatest after consuming an entire stick of it in my potatoes.
The Veggie: Eschewing the idea that there has to be something green on the table, we had to take advantage of the gorgeous rainbow carrots we received with our CSA this week. I mean, can you say food blogger’s dream? We roasted these gorgeous roots simply, with a splash of olive oil, salt, pepper, and few sprigs of thyme.
The Dressing: I am and never have been a fan of stuffing. Or dressing. Or whatever you call it. Yet it appears on our table each and every year. That’s all Taylor. This year he picked the Simple Is Best dressing from Bon Appetit, halved and studded with sweet potatoes and sunflower seeds.
The Cranberry Sauce: Well this one was easy. Seeing as I had the foresight to can a few jars of sauce last year, we just pulled out a jar. Thank you, past Lindsay, for thinking of us all the way in 2012!
The Gravy: Can I just say Taylor has a knack for gravy? After one year of unbearable salty gravy (a side-effect of a brined bird, we quickly discovered) he’s mastered it. He starts with some homemade turkey stock and a golden brown roux, then adds in some of the pan drippings a little bit at a time until the flavor is perfect. And because he has a deep seated fear of running out of gravy, I think we have enough gravy to last us for weeks.
The Pie: Ah, the pie. My nemesis. It seems that just about every year comes with a pie-crust disaster of one sort or another. And this year was no different. I attempted the Perfectly Flaky Yogurt-Butter Pie Crust from Food & Wine, intrigued by the addition of yogurt. It came together well enough, no easier or harder than most pie crust recipes. But it shrunk like a shrinky dink as soon as I took out the pie weights, forcing me to severely under-fill it (but don’t worry, the overage went into ramekins to be enjoyed later). For the pie itself I used Grandma’s Pumpkin Pie recipe from Bon Appetit (is that sacrilege, using the pie crust recipe from one magazine and the pie filling from another?), which uses maple syrup in place of sugar. How was it? Well, I think the turkey has finally settled in my stomach which means it’s just about time for pie. All I need to do is whip up some fresh cream, maybe spike it with a little bourbon, then I’ll be sure to let you know.
Simple, but so satisfying… that’s the best kind of Thanksgiving meal.
Here’s wishing you a truly happy Thanksgiving! I sincerely hope all of you (who are in the US, at least) had a truly wonderful and delicious holiday.
Now go eat some pie!
I’ve has this vision of molasses buttercream floating around my head ever since Heather came to town. She brought some delightful espresso macarons to her book signing this past summer, filled with a surprising molasses buttercream.
I haven’t forgotten it.
I first attempted to re-work the bourbon layer cake, intending to use it as a base for this inspired buttercream, and also playing with the recipe as it has never completely satisfied me in terms of consistency. Unfortunately, my modifications, which I thought would help make the cake lighter and fluffier, only made things worse.
With another cake failure settled into the garbage and me not wanting to give up just yet, I still needed a vehicle for my molasses buttercream. So I turned to my faithful stand-by: Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes. In it was a recipe for a delightful sweet potato cake. Seeing as how we’ve been getting a steady 2 pounds of sweet potatoes each week with our CSA and a whopping 10 pounds this past week, I had no shortage of sweet potatoes. It seemed it was meant to be.
While it isn’t the simplest cake to prepare, the extra step of whipping and folding in the egg whites make the cake light, with a delicate crumb that most sweet potato or pumpkin cakes lack. In fact, I may have to try this trick on the aforementioned bourbon cake as it could definitely use some lightening up.
The cake itself has a very light sweet potato flavor and subtle spiced undertones. It’s like a milder version of pumpkin pie, only with sweet potato, and cake instead of custard (ok, so maybe it’s not like pumpkin pie at all). But my intuition that it would be delightful in combination with a sweet and sticky molasses buttercream? Spot on.
I’ve slowly realized, over the years of making cakes and cupcakes, that buttercream has distinct seasons (and I’m talking about straight up American buttercream here, don’t even get me started on the meringues and other varieties). Summer means soupy buttercream, so you better have some shortening handy. Spring and fall are ideal for buttercream-preparation, where the temperature of “room-temperature” is, apparently, perfect. But I never thought I’d have trouble with winter buttercream, even more so than the pesky summer stuff. It definitely requires some more experimentation on my part to figure it out, but I assume that the butter is simply too cold. Even at room temperature it’s still a chilly 65 degrees. My winter buttercream often stays thick, bordering on buttery/greasy in texture (even though the powdered sugar makes it plenty sweet). Adding more milk/cream to lighten it up only works to a certain extent, after which adding more doesn’t change things one bit. Poor, sad, moody buttercream.
Guess you can add American buttercream to the ever-growing list of seemingly-simple things with which I constantly battle (including, but not limited to: chocolate, chocolate ganache, chocolate candy coating, caramel, and pie crust).
Perfectly fluffy or not, luckily, it still makes for a fantastic cake.
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A good biscuit is bliss. A bad biscuit is little more than a glorified hockey puck. But what a lot of people don’t realize is just how easy it is to make delicious, flaky biscuits in no time at all.
I’ve been playing around with the specifics of the recipe (and seeing that there are a total of 4 biscuits or biscuit variations in the new book, I’ve done a lot of testing), and have realized a few things in the process:
1. Use self-rising flour. White Lily if you can find it. For some reason all-purpose with leavening added just isn’t quite as light.
2. Get yourself a pastry blender. For quick-mix jobs like biscuits and pie crust, it’s so much easier than lugging out the food processor (which I don’t really like to use for this anyway—I find the dough becomes too dry and crumbly).
3. Less is more. When it comes to working the dough, the less you can stir/mix/knead the better, and the lighter and flakier your biscuits will be.
While you can’t beat a classic biscuit—and I like to brush mine with butter and sprinkle with sea salt—don’t be afraid to experiment. Add a hefty pinch of black pepper for a savory biscuit perfect for your Thanksgiving dinner. Or finely chopped fresh herbs. Add some grated parmesan or cheddar cheese. Replace the buttermilk with cream and sprinkle with some sugar for a lightly sweet dessert biscuit (hello, shortcake!)
You can also choose to use either butter, shortening, or lard, all with equally good results. Biscuits made with butter will be flaky. Biscuits made with shortening or lard will be more on the fluffy side (and I’ll tell you that if you’re looking to recreate the authentic, traditional Southern biscuit—like those made at the famous Loveless cafe—you better get over any qualms you have about using lard).
So, as they say at the Loveless cafe: “Praise the lard and pass the biscuits!”
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As if this week hasn’t been filled with enough good news already…
1. QVC! Tune in on Wednesday, November 14th at 8pm EST. I’ll be appearing on In the Kitchen with David promoting the Cookie Dough Lover’s Cookbook. Eep. It’s totally, 100% live, so please don’t poke fun if I pass out on camera. (I don’t know precisely what time I’ll be on yet—I’ll tweet or something when I do—but the show runs from 8 to 11pm).
2. Spice Islands! Taylor and I are super excited to be working with Spice Islands as official Flavor Explorers this quarter. We’ve developed about 12 recipes featuring Spice Islands’ fabulous products, and they’ll be appearing on the Flavor Explorer blog all season long (pictured above are our Spaghetti Squash Bruschetta and Chorizo Frittata)
3. The Sweet Relief bake sale this Saturday was a resounding success! The grand total is in and we raised $1,542 for the Community Food Bank of New Jersey! A huge thank you goes out to everyone who donated baked goods, all the sugar-fiends who stopped by and loaded up on delicious sweets, and also to The Well coffeehouse for being such gracious hosts, and Parnassus Books for donating 10% of their sales during the time of the bake sale to the cause. Y’all are awesome.
4. Food Blog South! I attended this fabulous conference in Birmingham last year, and am super excited to be heading back again this year as a speaker! I’ll be speaking on a panel about day-to-day strategies & secrets for keeping a blog going, along with Paula of bell’alimento, Celeste of Sugar & Spice by Celeste and Susan of DoughMessTic. You should totally come.
5. Did I mention I’m going to be on QVC? Gulp.