It’s dark, now, as I leave the office in the evenings, and I’m finding it harder to motivate for anything but curling up in a big chair with a book and a cup of tea. But the “to do” list seems to double in length daily, and somehow it seems like time is being trimmed from the days along with the light. We’ve been up late for the last week trying to fit it all in – in bed at 3 a.m., tired at the 7 a.m alarm, and still the house grows messier, the plants go un-watered. We did finally finish painting our bedroom, and it is a calm, cozy oasis filled with books and our small plantation of coffee trees.
Tonight we’ll make a shopping list, and tomorrow try to prep what we can in anticipation of Thursday. We’re hosting Thanksgiving for the first time this year, which, in an odd way, feels more like a milestone than the 30th birthday I’ll be celebrating in a few weeks. Andy’s parents will be there, as well as my mom and my stepfather Ben, Andy’s cousin, our housemate Keith, and a few good friends. In lieu of a turkey, we’re preparing a whole, wild, line caught salmon, which we plan to parchment steam and serve with a Bearnaise sauce “gravy.” On the side, we’ll have a wild rice pilaf, potatoes mashed with garlic, wasabi, and savoy cabbage, cornbread, and a salad of citrus and bitter greens.
Will is also hosting a Thanksgiving celebration this year, and he is soon to add his more classic version of a menu. We’ll both be adding recipes as we find time today and tomorrow, but for now, I’ll leave you a starter . . .
Rose’s Thanksgiving Menu
- Dry champagne
- Angostura bitters (or homemade!)
- Sugar cubes
- Unsweetened dried cherries
Plump the dried cherries in brandy at least one hour beforehand. Thread the cherries onto toothpicks (about three to a toothpick is nice – two is bad luck according to old bartending lore) making enough for all of your cocktails. Place a sugar cube in each champagne flute and moisten the sugar with a few good shakes of bitters (be careful though, you can overdo it!) Fill glasses with champagne, and garnish with the brandy soaked cherries.
- Endive boats with Roquefort and caramelized walnut – I stole the idea for these from Le Zinc, a charming little French place in Noe Valley. They make a light and tasty accompaniment to the cocktails. Simply separate the endive leaves and place a small cube of Roquefort cheese and a caramelized walnut at the white end of each.
- Curried almonds
- Fruit and cheese plate
- Whole parchment steamed salmon stuffed with shiitake mushrooms and edameme beans
Eggless Bearnaise sauce “gravy”– The cooking juices made such a nice sauce that we did away with the additional “gravy.”
- Potatoes mashed with garlic, wasabi, and savoy cabbage – Cube and steam 3-4 lbs russet potatoes, leaving the skins on. While potatoes are steaming, thinly slice a small savoy cabbage and place in a large bowl with 3 cloves crushed or diced garlic and 3 tsp powdered wasabi (or to taste). When potatoes are very tender but still firm, toss them with the cabbage until it begins to wilt. Add about 2 tablespoons butter, 1/2 cup milk or cream, and plenty of salt and pepper to taste. Mash until potatoes are soft, but not entirely uniform.
- Citrus salad with bitter greens
- Wild rice pilaf - Combine 8 cups water, 1 1/2 cups wild rice, 1 1/2 cups long grain brown or white rice, 1/2 cup sliced almonds, 1/2 cup dried cranberries, and 1/2 tsp salt in a rice cooker, or add ingredients to the boiling water in a large pot with a tight fitting lid. Return the pilaf to a boil, lower heat, and cook covered for about 1 hour, or until the wild rice is firm but tender to the bite. Fluff and allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.
- Wine pairings
- Pumpkin pie
- Orange whipped cream
- Quady Essensia Orange Muscat dessert wine
Will’s Thanksgiving Menu
I’m not sure how classic this really is, but here goes:
The Gin Buck
- 2 oz. gin (I use Junipero Gin for its robust flavor and ability to stand up to a strong ginger beer)
- Ginger Beer ( I’m a huge ginger beer fan, and my favorite brand other than my homemade stuff, is Fentimans out of the UK, now available at Cost Plus World Markets)
- The juice of 1/2 lemon
- Lemon wedge to garnish
- Pour the gin and lemon juice into an ice filled highball glass
- Top off with ginger beer
- Add the lemon wedge as a garnish
- Enjoy one of the best highballs known to man
Fresh sourdough bread with butter
- Fresh (never frozen) pasture raised Heritage Turkey roasted to perfection with stuffing, leeks, carrots, and quince
- Mashed potatoes made the old fashioned way without any “new fangled” fixins
- Hashed Brussels Sprouts With Lemon Zest
- Fuyu persimmon salad with cumin-lime vinaigrette
- My original home cooked cranberry sauce (see recipe below)
- Wine pairings
Will’s Homemade Cranberry Sauce
- 1 bag fresh cranberries (rinse thoroughly and discard the rotten ones)
- 1 organic orange, zested and then squeezed
- 1/2 tsp. freshly grated ginger (heaping)
- 1 pinch black pepper (my grannies trick)
- 1 pinch grated nutmeg
- 2 dashes orange bitters (optional)
- 4 Tbs. real maple syrup
- 1/2 cup cane sugar
- 3/4 cup water
- Combine orange juice (about 1/4 cup), water, sugar, maple syrup, orange zest, ginger, bitters, black pepper, and nutmeg in a sauce pan over medium heat
- Stir to dissolve all the sugar
- Add the cranberries
- Stir often, and wait until all the berries have popped
- Continue stirring as the mixture foams up
- When the mixture calms down and turns a deep red it’s time to turn off the heat (the whole process should take less than ten minutes)
- Let cool
- This recipe keeps very well and can be made well in advance of Thanksgiving
- Mary’s Cranberry yam apple crisp
- Butternut squash pie
- Cointreau flavored whipped cream (I’ll let you know how it turns out)
- Bonny Doon Muscat “Vin de Glaciere” (ice wine)
With any luck things will turn out as delicious as they sound and i will be posting more recipes in time for the next round of holiday festivities.