Thanksgiving 2011

It seems a bit odd to be posting about my Thanksgiving meal after the fact,  but you will have to forgive me. I don’t want to look at another piece of pie or serving of mashed potatoes either, but alas I will share all of the things I made with you, dear reader. It also makes me slightly sad for all the food magazine and website editors who have to plan for Thanksgiving months in advance. I feel so sad for their perfectly brined and basted Turkeys left uneaten in photo studios in the heat of late September. Most of us start planning our menu at the start of November and have already been scanning the food blogs and websites for weeks.  So, I just wanted to say I’m thankful for all the recipes you’ve tested, so that I may find them, shop for them and enjoy them when Turkey Day rolls around.

You may recall from an earlier post that I do not like Turkey.  Yes, it’s true…it’s boring and often dry and I just don’t like it. So, this year I stocked up on the vegetable sides. You may also notice that these recipes have appeared elsewhere on my blog, so I’ll provide links to those posts rather than rehashing the recipe again.

My menu included:

Roasted and sauteed Spaghetti squash

Roasted Brussels sprouts with panchetta-garlic sauce

Persimmon cranberry sauce

Chanterelle and Pear Stuffing

Pumpkin Flan

With limited oven space, it’s best to get vegetables roasting early in the day, so the first thing to go in was the spaghetti squash. Next came the Brussels sprouts.

Roasted Brussels sprouts with panchetta-garlic sauce

My Brussels sprouts are famous among friends and family and really there isn’t a trick. Okay, maybe there is a bit of a trick.

You will need:

1 pound of smallish Brussels sprouts

1/t tsp Maldon salt or other extremely fancy and flaky or chunky sea salt

1/2 cup olive oil (this is an estimate, but I know it’s quite a lot)


1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

2. Cut the sprouts in half and toss in a bowl with some of the olive oil so they are just  coated. Sprinkle a tiny bit of salt on them.

3. Smear about a table spoon of the oil on a large rimmed baking sheet. Spill the sprouts out and flip them over so at least 85% of them are facing inside up (round side down).

4. Pour lots and lots (or drizzle if you must) of olive oil on the sprouts and sprinkle with tons of Maldon. Bake for about 40 minutes or until they look like they are burning. Burning is good.

(optional)  pancetta-garlic sauce

You will need:

1 shallot

3 gloves garlic

1 1/4 inch thick slice of pancetta

2 tbs olive oil


1. Chop the shallot and garlic cloves into very tiny pieces. Cut the pancetta into small cubes.

2. Fry together in a pan with the olive oil

Persimmon cranberry sauce

This recipe comes from and I think for once in my life I actually had all the ingredients and followed the recipe perfectly.

You will need:

  • 3/4 lb fresh or frozen cranberries (3 1/2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 star anise or 1/4 teaspoon star-anise pieces
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 firm-ripe Fuyu persimmons (about 1 lb total), peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice

Bring cranberries, wine, water, star anise, 1/2 cup sugar, and a pinch of salt to a boil in a 2-quart heavy saucepan, stirring occasionally, then reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Add more sugar, to taste (up to about 2 1/2 tablespoons), and discard star anise. Fold in persimmons. Transfer to a bowl and serve at room temperature or chilled. Stir gently before serving.

Chanterelle and Pear Stuffing

Above you will find a link to the recipe, but this is what this year’s batch looked like.

Pumpkin Flan

You all know how much I love Martha, but her baking recipes always seem a bit above and beyond me. After all, I’m not really a baker. Exhibit A, Pear Terrine, one of the most beautiful deserts I’ve ever seen, but next to impossible to execute. The Pumpkin Flan suffered a similar fate, well not the flan but the pastry crust it was supposed to be served in. I went through all the steps of the Patte Brisee, but found the construction and baking just too damn complicated, so I served the Flan naked…and boy was she beautiful.

Recipe link here. I’ve made edits below since it seemed way too eggy and came out more like Creme Brûlée rather than Flan. Too bad I left my torch at home.

You will need:

  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 1/4 cups milk
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 large whole eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract


  • 1. In a small saucepan, combine 2 cups sugar and 1 cup water; set over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until sugar has dissolved. Cover, and bring to boil; cook until condensation washes down sides. Remove cover; boil until syrup turns deep amber in color. Quickly submerge pan in ice-water bath. Working quickly, divide caramel among the pie pans; swirl each to coat bottom. Set aside to cool.
  • 2. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Pour milk into a saucepan, and set over high heat. Bring just to a boil; set aside.
  • 3. In a large bowl, combine pumpkin puree, remaining 1/3 cup sugar, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, whole eggs, and egg yolks. Mix in vanilla and warm milk; pass through fine sieve, discarding solids. Divide mixture among pie pans, filling two-thirds full. Transfer pie pans to a roasting pan.
  • 4. Loosely drape piece of foil over top of roasting pan, transfer to oven, and add enough boiling water to the roasting pan to come halfway up sides of pie pans (always fill roasting pan with boiling water after transferring to oven, to avoid burning). Bake until centers are nearly set — a thin-bladed knife inserted into centers should come out clean (about an hour.) Transfer roasting pan to wire rack to cool. Remove flans from water, and dry bottoms of pie pans. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate flans overnight or just stick them outside for a few hours while you eat dinner.

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