Thanksgiving 2015

We had the honor and pleasure of cooking Thanksgiving again this year for a really great family.

I bought a local turkey as I did last year from Long Shadow Farm in Berthoud, CO. Unlike last year when I arrived at the farm to find a woman seated at a desk in the garage near a large refrigerator distributing chilled birds to anyone who had pre-ordered, this year I walked into a slaughtering/de-feathering/cleaning of turkeys small-scale processing line that I was not expecting at all. Our bird hadn’t even been chilled as she had been slaughtered just a few hours prior to pickup. Talk about having a real understanding of where our food comes from! I have that image seared into my memory… and will spare you the few photos I took.

We’re very fortunate to purchase such a quality turkey, so it’s extra important to me to serve it with all made from scratch accompaniments and sides.

I made the caramelized onion gravy base on Tuesday night. I’ve been making this gravy for more than ten years now, and each year I think it tastes better than the last. The butter and onions cooked low and slow for six hours. Six. Hours.

caramelized onion gravy

I started with a full pot and snapped a photo every couple of hours…

caramelized onion gravycaramelized onion gravy

 

 

 

 

 

 

…until I couldn’t resist spooning it into my mouth.

caramelized onion gravy

Wednesday I made my pumpkin pie, but failed to snap a photo. I also made a cranberry sauce with roasted shallots and mandarin zest.

Cranberry Sauce

Thursday, Chef and I cooked the rest of the meal on site in their Boulder home. The beautiful bird went into the 325 degree oven after being rubbed with butter and herbs. She amazingly and somewhat surprisingly appeared done after just under two hours. That was a fast cooker!

Longshadow Farm TurkeyRoasted Longshadow Farm Turkey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I put together a wild rice stuffing while Sean made a sweet potato and chevre gratin, which has now become a Thanksgiving tradition for this family.

sweet potato chevre gratinSweet Potato Chevre Gratin

The ingredients in this dish are simply sinful- The health benefits of sweet potatoes are far outnumbered by the cheese and heavy cream combo. But, that’s what makes it so GOOD too!

While the gratin baked, Sean worked on maple glazed carrots in a cast iron skillet.

maple glazed carrots

Next, he assembled green beans in shallot butter topped with fried shallots.

green beans with fried shallots

We added the pan juices to the gravy base, carved the bird,

caramelized onion gravyRoasted Local Turkey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And set up a small buffet for them.

Thanksgiving 2015

We can’t wait until next year!

 

Pumpkin Peanut Chocolate Chip Cookies

Here’s one of my favorite Moosewood recipes.  They’re called “Sweet Pumpkin Cookies” in their New Classics Cookbook, and I’ve been baking them for years. As it’s pumpkin season, I picked up a local pie pumpkin and roasted it for this recipe rather than purchase canned pumpkin. Here are Moosewood’s ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup pumpkin purée
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp aluminum free baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup chopped toasted peanuts
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

I made a few changes for this batch- rather than one cup of sugar, I used 3/4 cups evaporated cane juice and 1/4 cup maple sugar, I used 1/2 cup peanuts, and skipped the raisins. I like the addition of maple sugar (which you can find at Savory Spice Shop) because maple makes most things better.

Preheat oven to 375

In your KitchenAid mixer, cream together the butter and sugar. Then add the pumpkin, egg, vanilla, and mix well. In another bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to your mixer and mix until a gorgeous batter is formed. Mix in your nuts and chips, and be patient- don’t eat it all raw.

Drop by spoonfuls onto an ungreased baking sheet and allow a little space for the cookies to spread while baking. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until they’re slightly brown on the bottom. Transfer to a cooling rack, and dig right in.

These cookies are very flaky and I often refer to them as delicate. They’ll store better in the fridge than in a cookie jar on the counter.

Fennel-Pollenated Salmon

I’ve been on a fennel pollen kick lately- Fennel pollen turkey burgers one week, then fennel pollen grilled tempeh, and now fennel pollen salmon. Maybe it’s just me and my taste buds, but it seems like everything I sprinkle with the spice of the angels tastes better.
Here’s what I created with a gorgeous piece of wild Alaskan salmon…
In the mortar and pestle I ground
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp Aleppo pepper (pick some up at Savory Spice Shop, or use red pepper flakes)
  • 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
Next, add a pinch of
  • Mexican Oregano
  • Dried Tarragon
  • Fennel Pollen
  • Maple Sugar
  • Sea Salt
Mix up the spice rub, get your nose really close to it, and breathe in. It smells fantastic. I bought a beautiful 1.8 pound piece of Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon.
After rinsing it in cold water, patting it dry, and tweezing out the bones, I sliced it in half (due to cooking restraints in a small space), rubbed it down, patted it with butter, drizzled it with a little Portuguese white wine (just happened to be the bottle I was drinking while cooking), and sealed it in heavy duty aluminum foil packets.

The fish grilled for approximately 10 minutes. I let it sit sealed in the packet a couple more minutes before squeezing a little fresh orange juice on top. That’s right- orange this time, not lemon.

Yum! I served this with some grilled red potatoes and parmesan peas (one of my favorites!).

Maple Scotch

There is something so seasonal about sipping maple scotch on cold nights, and it always reminds me of my dad’s bar, which is one of my favorite places to go. I plan to have some maple scotch in stock all winter. Here’s how I made it…
In a non-reactive sauce pan, bring the following to a boil:
  • 1 cup pure (bottled, filtered) water
  • 1/3 cup maple sugar (you can buy some at Savory Spice Shop)
  • 1/4-1/3 cup evaporated cane juice (use a little less if you want it less sweet)
  • 2/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 6 or 7 whole allspice berries (which you can definitely find at SSS)
  • 1/4 tsp caraway seeds (you know where I got mine…)
I boiled the allspice berries and caraway seeds in a reusable herb sack to keep them all together.
Boil this mixture until the sugar dissolves. Then let it cool completely before combining a 750ml bottle of scotch with the maple mixture. I used Ballantine’s and poured it into two different Ball jars, adding 2 cinnamon sticks to the smaller jar just to experiment. In the larger jar, I kept the seed sack to allow the flavors to blend.
This will be ready to drink in a couple weeks, but the longer it sits, the better. You also might want to remove the cinnamon sticks after a couple weeks to avoid making it too cinnaminy.
Enjoy!
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