Monday, December 1, 2008

Thanksgiving Feast

I've been bad for slacking on updating my blog's been kind of busy, but I have been cooking! So it's fitting that my first entry in a while is our Thanksgiving dinner.

So here's the menu:

Marbled Pumpkin Cheesecake
Apple -Cider Brined Turkey with Herb Gravy
Whiskey Glazed Carrots
Corn Bread Dressing
Cranberry Sauce with Apple Cider
Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Thyme Roasted Sweet Potatoes

I wish I had taken more/better pictures, but after an afternoon of cooking, I was tired and hungry and just wanted to dig into all the food. I chose an apple theme for some of the dishes, and the cider added so much great flavor.

I was supposed to make green beans with caramelized shallots, but I forgot...oh well! Regardless, all of the dishes worked well with one another, and the house smelled delicious!!!

** This is the first cheesecake that I've ever made that turned out perfectly baked, and although I didn't achieve the marbled effect very well, it was wonderful.

Marbled Pumpkin Cheesecake

Prep Time: 30 Minutes Cook Time: 1 Hour 10 Minutes
Ready In: 7 Hours 40 Minutes Yields: 12 servings

1 1/2 cups crushed gingersnap
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1/3 cup butter, melted
2 (8 ounce) packages cream
cheese, softened
3/4 cup white sugar, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). In a medium bowl, mix together the crushed gingersnap cookies, pecans, and butter. Press into the bottom, and about 1 inch up the sides of a 9 inch springform pan. Bake crust 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Set aside to cool.

2. In a medium bowl, mix together the cream cheese, 1/2 cup sugar, and vanilla just until smooth. Mix in eggs one at a time, blending well after each. Set aside 1 cup of the mixture. Blend 1/4 cup sugar, pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg into the remaining mixture.

3. Spread the pumpkin flavored batter into the crust, and drop the plain batter by spoonfuls onto the top. Swirl with a knife to create a marbled effect.

4. Bake 55 minutes in the preheated oven, or until filling is set. Run a knife around the edge of the pan. Allow to cool before removing pan rim. Chill for at least 4 hours before serving.

**This is the first time I have brined a turkey - and it won't be the last, it made the meat so moist! I roasted the turkey at 500 for 15 minutes, and then reduced the heat, but I should have put a foil tent on the bird or started roasting at a lower temperature from the beginning to prevent from getting too brown too quickly, but the breast meat was cooked perfectly.

Apple-Cider Brined Turkey with Savory Herb Gravy
Cooking Light

8 cups apple cider
2/3 cup kosher salt
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon black peppercorns, coarsely crushed
1 tablespoon whole allspice, coarsely crushed
8 (1/8-inch-thick) slices peeled fresh ginger
6 whole cloves I omitted
2 bay leaves
1 (12-pound) fresh or frozen turkey, thawed
2 oranges, quartered
6 cups ice

Remaining ingredients:
4 garlic cloves
4 sage leaves
4 thyme sprigs
4 parsley sprigs
1 onion, quartered
1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and divided
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided

Savory Herb Gravy - I did not use the recipe on the site, I strained the pan drippings, added some chicken broth and fresh sprigs of sage, freshly chopped parsley, 1/2 tsp black pepper and brought to a boil. In a bowl, I dissolved some cornstarch in water and whisked into the broth and cooked till thickened. Strain the gravy and remove the sage before serving.

To prepare brine, combine first 8 ingredients in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook 5 minutes or until sugar and salt dissolve. Cool completely.

Remove giblets and neck from turkey; reserve for Savory Herb Gravy. Rinse turkey with cold water; pat dry. Trim excess fat. Stuff body cavity with orange quarters. Place a turkey-sized oven bag inside a second bag to form a double thickness. Place bags in a large stockpot. Place turkey inside inner bag. Add cider mixture and ice. Secure bags with several twist ties. Refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours, turning occasionally.

Preheat oven to 500º.

Remove turkey from bags, and discard brine, orange quarters, and bags. Rinse turkey with cold water; pat dry. Lift wing tips up and over back; tuck under turkey. Tie legs together with kitchen string. Place garlic, sage, thyme, parsley, onion, and broth in the bottom of a roasting pan. Place roasting rack in pan. Arrange turkey, breast side down, on roasting rack. Brush turkey back with 1 tablespoon butter; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bake at 500º for 30 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 350º.

Remove turkey from oven. Carefully turn turkey over (breast side up) using tongs. Brush turkey breast with 1 tablespoon butter; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bake at 350º for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into meaty part of thigh registers 170º (make sure not to touch bone). (Shield the turkey with foil if it browns too quickly.)

Remove turkey from oven; let stand 20 minutes. Reserve pan drippings for Savory Herb Gravy. Discard skin before serving; serve with gravy.

**This is the first holiday dinner in Tennessee, so I thought this dish would be perfect was to add a little local flavor.

Whiskey-Glazed Carrots
The Pioneer Woman

2 - 3 pounds carrots, peeled and cut into thick circles
1 stick (1/2 cup…1/4 lb) butter
1/2 cup Jack Daniels or other whiskey
3/4 to 1 cup brown sugar
1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper

Melt 1 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over high heat. Add carrots in two batches, cooking for 60 to 90 seconds each batch. Remove from skillet.

Pour in whiskey and allow to evaporate 30 seconds. Reduce heat to medium, and add remaining butter. When butter melts, sprinkle brown sugar over the top. Stir together, then add carrots to skillet.

Cover, and continue cooking for 5 minutes. Remove lid and add salt and pepper. Continue cooking until carrots are done and glaze is thick, about 5 more minutes. Pour onto a platter and serve immediately. Sprinkle with chopped chives if desired.

Corn Bread Dressing
from a friend

**I cut the recipe in half

6 cups 1-inch cubes white bread, crusts removed (from 1 loaf Italian or country-style bread)
6 cups crumbled day-old corn bread (from 8-inch pan)
2 1/4 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped, plus additional for garnish
4 celery stalks, chopped
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 large cloves garlic
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and diced (about 4 cups)
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground mace (optional) I omitted
3 eggs, beaten

Heat oven to 350° F. Spread the bread cubes on a baking sheet. Bake for 8 minutes; let cool.

In a large bowl, combine the bread cubes, corn bread, and enough broth (at least 2 cups) to make a fairly mushy mixture. Season with the salt and pepper. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the parsley, celery, onion, and garlic. Cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the onion mixture to the bread mixture, along with the apples, nutmeg, and mace (if using); let cool.
Add the eggs and gently combine. Spread the dressing in an unbuttered 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

Bake until golden brown and warmed through, about 1 hour. If you want a crispy topping, leave uncovered; otherwise cover with foil halfway through cooking. Sprinkle with additional parsley before serving, if desired.

I forgot to take a picture of the cranberry sauce or mashed potatoes separately, so here they are on the dinner plate.

Cranberry Sauce with Apple Cider
Cooking Light

1 cup sugar
1 cup apple cider or apple juice
1 (12-ounce) package fresh cranberries

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes or until cranberries pop, stirring occasionally. Chill.

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

1 head of garlic
2.5-3 lbs potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 inch piece
1/4 freshly chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup half & half
2 tbsp butter

Heat oven to 350, slice the top of the garlic head, drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil and a dash of salt and pepper. Wrap in foil and bake for 45 minutes. When cooled, squeeze garlic out of the skins and mash with a fork, set aside.

Boil potatoes and cook till tender for about 15 minutes. Drain and add to a large bowl.

Meanwhile, heat butter and half and half in a small saucepan over low heat, but don't let it boil. Add mixture to potatoes, along with salt, pepper, roasted garlic paste and parsley and beat with a mixer till smooth and creamy.

Thyme Roasted Sweet Potatoes

**I made the sweet potatoes again to eat with leftovers - the first time for the dinner I baked them at 35 for an hour in the middle rack, resulting in softer potatoes as in the picture in with all the food. The next time I made them, I used the recipe below. Both were wonderful!

3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a baking dish with extra virgin olive oil cooking spray. Add potatoes.

In a small bowl, mix together garlic powder, thyme, salt and pepper and pour onto potatoes and toss to coat.

Bake on the middle rack for about 50 minutes, carefully turning a couple of times to cook thoroughly.

Remove potatoes from oven, increase heat to 450-500 degrees, put the rack in the top part of the oven and return potatoes to bake for another 5-10 minutes until the crisp.


Joelen said...

What a delicious spread of dishes! Hope your TG went well because it obviously looked tasty!

Melissa said...

Everything looks beautiful!

Lisa said...

Looks so good! We brined for the first time as well and it worked out great - made the meat so moist and flavorful! We brined in a salt/sugar mix.