Elderflower Fennel Turkey Gravy

Elderflower Fennel Turkey Gravy on turkey slices

I LOVE this rich, silky, savory Elderflower Fennel Turkey Gravy. It’s slightly floral sweetness pairs perfectly with the brightness of the juniper brine on my Juniper Brined Turkey Breast Roast and provides a lovely contrast to the salt. This Elderflower Fennel Turkey Gravy is a great make ahead dish. While it’s in now way complicated, it is a little slow. So make sure you’re multi-tasking while you cook it. You’ll have plenty of time while it’s simmering and reducing to work on other things and the payoff is a rich gravy that’s perfectly paired with it’s bird. Another little secret to this Elderflower Fennel Turkey Gravy is the butter. Use your absolute favorite. The slowly sauteed-in-butter shallots essentially dissolve into the butter and white wine to build a savory foundation. The final notes of sweet elderflower and anise make this gravy stand out from others and round out flavor profile. Because I made this gravy to pair with a breast only recipe, the richness of this Elderflower Fennel Turkey Gravy feels essential, rather than over-the-top decadence. … Continue reading

Lima Bean Gratin

Lima Bean Gratin in mini cocotte

Sometimes the Thanksgiving dish that really blows you away is what you were least expecting, like this Lima Bean Gratin did on my Caribbean Thanksgiving Menu. I often make a gratin for Thanksgiving, but it rarely steals the show. Gratins are great make ahead dishes, and this Lima Bean Gratin is no different in that regard. Gratins are rich and creamy and something you wouldn’t make for a normal dinner, so that makes them special. Also, since I love really spicy things and tend to cook spicy even at Thanksgiving, (for example, my Thanksgiving Jerk Turkey Drumsticks) a gratin is excellent for cooling off your less spice inclined friends. This Lima Bean Gratin does all that and more. In fact, this was the most commented on dish of my Caribbean Thanksgiving Menu. It has just a touch of heat in the cream and lots and lots of leeks and shallots for lots and lots of flavor. Add some parmigiano reggiano and parsley laced breadcrumbs for the crunchy topping. Hey, I would never steer your wrong, and you’re onto something great with my Lima Bean Gratin. In the case of this Lima Bean Gratin, the dish that’s supposed to be the … Continue reading

Baked Goat Cheese and Homemade Pepper Jelly

Baked Goat Cheese and Homemade Pepper Jelly with pita chips

Baked Goat Cheese and Homemade Pepper Jelly is one of those dishes that was absolutely inspired by the hosting skills of others. Some friends of mine have a lovely Christmukkah party annually that often includes the crowd-pleasing cream cheese with pepper jelly appetizer. In fact, they always have lots of fun old school apps and cocktails. Mike is one of those people who is good at guessing which spirit comes next in the trend book. He was mixing 60’s cocktails before Mad Men was all the rage. In fact, I’m still waiting on the rum explosion he swears is coming, because I believe him. Next to their Mad Men style revival cocktails you’ll find lots of appropriately 60’s snacks, including, the aforementioned cream cheese with pepper jelly, which is one of those appetizers that I forget all about in between Christmukkahs. It’s a funny little dish, and not particularly my style; perhaps I am even a little surprised to realize I absolutely love it. Then again, how could you not? Cream cheese and spicy sweet jelly as an excuse to have fresh baguette… Fair point, well made. So last Thanksgiving, when I was perusing magazines for recipes that might fit … Continue reading

Leftover Thanksgiving Enchiladas

butternut squash enchiladas with cranberry relish

Every year I yearn for Thanksgiving turkey just so I can have these Leftover Thanksgiving Enchiladas. I’ve been making these for years, but I never get sick of them. This year, I started making a vegetarian version with mushrooms instead of turkey so I don’t have to wait for Thanksgiving. I bet you’ll follow in my footsteps after you’ve had these just once. The squash makes it fall and cozy, and the leftover cranberry relish is perfection in these Leftover Thanksgiving Enchiladas. 2 cups onions 2 cups poblanos and/or green bell peppers 2 cups celery 2 cups butternut squash 2 cups shredded or chopped turkey (sautéed mushrooms to make it vegetarian) ¼ cup flour ¾ cup milk 8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese shredded, plus a little extra for the top 2 tablespoons olive oil ½ cup green salsa salt 16 tortillas green salsa Sour cream leftover cranberry relish Dice the onions, peppers (poblanos will be hotter, bells milder), and celery. Sauté the onions, peppers, and celery in the olive oil until softened. (If you’re making them vegetarian, sauté the mushrooms first, then set aside and use the same pan for the rest of the veggies). Meanwhile, dice the butternut squash. … Continue reading

Cornbread Stuffing with Cotija, Figs and Sage

fig sage cornbread stuffing with cotija

When I set myself upon a Mexican menu, I knew that all of those cornbread stuffing recipes I’d seen over the years would finally have their day in my Cornbread Stuffing with Cotija, Figs and Sage. I started with a favorite cornbread recipe and subbed sage for rosemary to make it a little more Thanksgiving in nature. Then I diced it and toasted it. Finally, it was time to get down to the stuffing. (That said, you don’t need to wait for Thanksgiving to enjoy this amazing cornbread; just keep in mind the preheat and butter the pan trick works like a charm for that crunchy, crusty outside to the cornbread). This sweet, savory Cornbread Stuffing with Cotija, Figs and Sage soaked up the mole sauce like a charm. And it paired perfectly with the tart and tangy cranberry relish. 1 ½ cups yellow stone-ground cornmeal ¾ cup all-purpose flour 2 tablespoons sugar 1 tablespoon baking powder 2 tablespoons chopped sage leaves 1 teaspoon kosher salt 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk 2 large eggs 8 small, plump dried Black Mission figs, diced ½ cup crumbled cotija cheese 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted 1 tablespoon vegetable oil 1 cup pine nuts; … Continue reading

Tequila Cranberry Relish

tequila cranberry relish

This Tequila Cranberry Relish is a variation on the cranberry relish my mom always makes. People often ask about her secret recipe, but it’s really just the recipe on the back of the ocean spray cranberry bags. 1 bag of cranberries, 1 orange, 1 cup sugar. I use less sugar, and mix a tequila sauce with the relish. It adds just a little more depth of flavor that keeps us in our Mexican theme. Whether you update yours, or go with the original, you can’t lose on this Tequila Cranberry Relish; it’s amazing. 12 ounces cranberries 3 tablespoons tequila (white) ½ cup granulated sugar zest and juice of ½ grapefruit In a small pot, combine the cranberries, tequila, sugar, zest and juice. Cook on medium high, stirring occasionally until all the berries have burst. Stir together an remove from heat. 16 ounces cranberries ¾ cup sugar ¼ grapefruit 1 orange (two ends removed) In a food processor, add grapefruit, orange and sugar and pulse a few time, until the citrus is beginning to break down. Add the cranberries. Pulse until the cranberries are well diced but still distinctive. Combine the sauces in a serving bowl. This makes ahead very well. … Continue reading

Drumstick Mole

drumstick mole

We’re finally onto the main course: Drumstick Mole. For Mexican Thanksgiving 2012, I served this drumstick mole from Fine Cooking. Drumstick Mole is admittedly an ambitious project. But it’s an amazing mole sauce. Trust me, I tested a lot of recipes and this was a favorite. The upside of all the hard work is that you can make it ahead of time and just reheat it in a crock pot and set it out the day of Thanksgiving. Also, it’s a great way to handle a large crowd. I bought as many drumsticks as would fit in my large stock pot and then scaled up this recipe. We had some nice leftovers and I can attest to the fact that Drumstick Mole froze well, too. For the poached drumsticks: 6 cups lower-salt chicken broth; more as needed 2 medium yellow onions, peeled and each studded with 4 whole cloves 6 medium unpeeled cloves garlic 6 whole allspice berries 4 fresh or dried bay leaves 2 teaspoon cumin seeds 2 teaspoon black peppercorns 2 teaspoon coriander seeds 2 teaspoon dried oregano 1 teaspoon fennel or aniseed One 4-inch cinnamon stick 4 large turkey drumsticks (about 3 pounds total) For the mole sauce: 3 … Continue reading

Sweet Potato Chipotle Soup

sweet potato chipotle soup

This creamy, sweet and spicy Sweet Potato Chipotle Soup was a perfect fit with my Mexican theme. The crunch of the apple corn salad gave it both textural and visual intrigue. Mike and Rebekah served an amazing applejack ginger beer cocktail with it and all in all, this course was an easy success. The Sweet Potato Chipotle Soup also stayed on the soup rotation in our house because it’s healthy as well as flavorful. This recipe serves 6-8, but I tripled it for Thanksgiving. It scales well. 2 tablespoons oil 2 cups sweet yellow onion; large dice 2 cups fennel; large dice 2 cups celery; large dice 2 garlic cloves, smashed 1 bayleaf 1-inch piece fresh ginger; sliced 2 Granny smith apples—peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped 2 pounds sweet potatoes; peeled and sliced or roasted and scooped out 1 cup white wine 1 quart vegetable stock 2 cups water 1 cup apple cider 1-2 small canned chipotles in adobo sauce Salt 1 pink lady apple; cut into ¼ inch cubes fire roasted frozen corn 1 tablespoon lime juice 1 teaspoon lime zest salt In a medium soup pot, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil until shimmering. Add the onion, celery, fennel, garlic, … Continue reading

Roast Pumpkin with Cheese “Fondue”

roast pumpkin fondu plated

This Roast Pumpkin with Cheese “Fondue” is an old Gourmet magazine recipe that I’d wanted to try for years. Last year, I finally did it. I used a giant squash called a Cheese Pumpkin at the suggestion of a local farmstand. It was huge! Somewhere between 15 and 21 pounds. Last year I was serving 19, so I figured go big or go home. I scaled the Roast Pumpkin with Cheese “Fondue” recipe up by about 2.5. It worked perfectly. Because the squash variety the farmer picked has a nice skin that’s good at holding its form, the squash stayed intact, even as I sliced it. The result was miraculous really. I could not believe the gorgeous, perfect pie slices that transferred onto the plates with ease. I served it with a very simple bitter green salad that was a nice contrast to the richness of the pumpkin. It was paired with a dry riesling and was by far the most dramatic dish of Thanksgiving 2012. I really didn’t alter the recipe at all, other than to scale up. Also, I’ve included some notes on the cheese and you should consider carefully how to pick a pumpkin. But other than that, … Continue reading

Clementine Rosemary Margaritas

clementine rosemary tequila

Clementine Rosemary Margaritas started off Thanksgiving 2012. Good parties do have a tendency to start with cocktails. And like good cocktails often do, Clementine Rosemary Margaritas started with fresh citrus and herbs and good tequila and mezcal. Clementine Rosemary Margaritas are amazing on a cold fall night and perfect with a Mexican themed Thanksgiving. Cheers. 2 parts tequila blanco for a smooth effect, or for a smoky effect, mezcal ½ part lemon juice 1 part clementine or other tangerine juice 2 parts seltzer ½ part rosemary simple syrup salt for the rim If you’re making one, part = ounce or shot glass full. When making it for a group, part = cup. If you’re making it for a party, part = quart. Because I wanted to up the rosemary ante and use a simple syrup, tangerine juice alone left the cocktail unbalanced. The lemon juice fixes that and balances out the sugar. How to choose between mezcal and tequila? Simple. Smoky or bright and smooth? I loved it both ways, so it’s a fun excuse to do a taste test. Mix well in a pitcher. Use a lemon or clementine to wet the rim of the glass. Dip in salt. … Continue reading

Pumpkin Crème Brûlée

cracking the sugar pumpkin creme brulee

Something truly terrible happened this week. I had leftover cream and pumpkin purée at the same time. I know. Tragic. What’s a girl to do? I decided to face the tragedy head on and make Pumpkin Crème Brûlée. Okay, you got me. Crème brûlée also happens to be one of my very favorite desserts. The creamy, silky, rich custard protected by a shard of smooth smoked sugar glass just begging for me to crack it open. Yeah. I really like crème brûlée. But since it’s Thanksgiving prep time, and I had the pumpkin purée ready anyway, it was time to up the ante and make Pumpkin Crème Brûlée. The richness of the brown sugar, rather than white and a touch extra salt give the custard a caramel essence and the purée gives the custard a festive golden hue. Also, it afforded me the opportunity to break out my torch. I know. I shouldn’t really admit to owning a torch, but I do. So I may as well use it; besides, it’s really fun. And this is the month it comes in handy for all sorts of things. Crisping the skin of turkey that’s ready on the inside but you left … Continue reading