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.
I started with a full pot and snapped a photo every couple of hours…
…until I couldn’t resist spooning it into my mouth.
Wednesday I made my pumpkin pie, but failed to snap a photo. I also made a cranberry sauce with roasted shallots and mandarin zest.
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!
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.
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.
Next, he assembled green beans in shallot butter topped with fried shallots.
We added the pan juices to the gravy base, carved the bird,
And set up a small buffet for them.
We can’t wait until next year!
I must admit- I’ve really started slacking at cooking since Sean and I met. He’s such a talented chef and spent the last year cooking for us many nights each week, regardless of his work schedule. All of that changed since taking on his new role as Kitchen Manager at Zeal. He spent a month getting the place up and running and now, almost two months into his new job, is hardly ever at home, so I have stepped back into my role as an avid home cook. He deserves it, and it’s fun for me, too.
As it’s winter, I thought something hearty would be enjoyed for dinner. I’m calling this one a Veggie Shepherd’s Pot Pie. It is pretty easy to prepare, but takes some time, so allow a few hours from start to finish.
First, I made the pie crust by basically following THIS RECIPE but adjusting it for just one cup of flower. After making the dough, I let it sit in the fridge for a little over an hour to chill.
While the dough was chilling in the fridge, I started chopping a yellow onion, four or five stalks of celery, four rather large carrots, and a peeled garnet yam. I added these to a sauté pan with a little olive oil and let them slowly start to cook. Next, I chopped up two Smoked Apple Sage Sausages (vegan sausages, of course) made by Field Roast, an artisan grain meat company. Sean introduced me to this company and I’ve come to really enjoy some of their products. It’s not typical fake meat trying to imitate meat and meat products. Field Roast makes a variety of sausages that are clearly not meat, yet are versatile and tasty additions that complete many of our vegetarian dishes here at home. And, the ingredient list on their sausages meets my high standards.
So, into the pan went the chopped sausage, a few splashes of homemade veggie broth, and I let this all cook on medium for thirty or forty minutes. Then I salted and peppered to taste, added a pinch of dried crumpled sage, a little parsley and thyme. I chopped a handful of kale and added it to the mix at the end and took my pan off the heat. It was now time to roll out my dough, make my bottom crust in a pie pan, and add the filling.
Don’t forget to PREHEAT THE OVEN, by the way, to 350 degrees.
I boiled water and cooked a white Hannah yam while making the filling, but set it to the side for the first 15 minutes the pie was in the oven. When the yam was cool enough to touch, I mashed it and spread it over the pie (which I had briefly taken out of the oven, of course) and then let it bake until the top was starting to develop a crust and turn brown and the pie crust was golden and crispy (20 more minutes or so). The look on Sean’s face when he returned home after another fifteen hour work day was all I needed to know I had really shown him how much I care. After all, we all know the way to a man’s heart…
One slice of this was definitely not enough for either of us. I must admit- this was one of my best dishes in a long time.
I hadn’t planned to blog about this dish, but it was so simple and good, I thought- Why not?
Kale was on sale at Whole Foods, so I came home with more kale than a single woman can consume without juicing it. That meant kale was going to be added in to whatever concoction I came up with for dinner. I also had a dozen eggs I hadn’t even touched in a week, so I decided to throw together an egg-based baked dish (or baked frittata, if that is even a culinary possibility, as frittatas are traditionally skillet-fried…) But, I’m calling this dish a Sweet Potato Kale Frittata. Sorry that it’s technically not a frittata.
I sautéed half of a chopped red onion in a few tablespoons of olive oil, and then added a peeled and cubed white sweet potato (2 cups or so). When the potato was soft, I added a couple cups of thinly sliced kale and a half cup of chopped parsley. Next, I transferred the potato kale base into a bowl and mixed it with 6 eggs that had been whisked with a few tablespoons of olive oil and a little bit of grated white cheddar cheese. After all of the potato and kale mixture was coated with egg, I salted, peppered and poured it into a pyrex baking dish.
I baked it for 40 minutes or so on 350 and it came out perfectly, which could have been a fluke as I was on the phone the entire time and not even paying attention to the oven.
As I was in a no-frills cooking mood, I topped it with my favorite condiment: Ketchup mixed with Red Rocks Hickory Smoke Seasoning from Savory Spice Shop. You can’t go wrong with that combo.
Call me old fashioned. But, when he calls me at 9 pm to say he’s coming over, I naturally ask if he’s eaten. When the response is “no,” I think it’s time to get cooking. Nine pm is generally considered late to start cooking, so I decided to make something simple with whatever I had in the kitchen. In this case, for my eighth dish in my 14-part series (or challenge:) of giving him a taste of how much I care, I made roasted sweet potato and carrot coconut soup topped with coconut baby bok choy. With a name so long, it might sound like a complex dish, but it was simple and delicious.
Here’s how I made it-
I started by roasting two garnet yams (peeled), four carrots (also peeled), and a sliced shallot in a tablespoon of coconut cream (or fat- the thick cream at the top of an undisturbed can of coconut milk) and a few tablespoons of maple syrup. This took approximately 30 minutes in a 400 degree oven.
When the yams and carrots are easily pierced with a fork, remove them from the oven and let them cool for 15 minutes or so. Meanwhile, skim off the rest of the coconut fat and separate it from the clear water. I LOVE this white temptress. I could eat it with a spoon.
Next, coarsely chop the baby bok choy and separate the leafy greens from the celery-like stalk. Chop a little red onion (maybe 1/2 cup), and you’re ready to assemble the meal.
Put the yams and carrots, the rest of the coconut water, and enough broth (veggie or chicken) to cover the yams into the Vitamix. Blend this into a perfectly smooth puree (it just takes a few seconds in my favorite 2 horse-power toy). Pour this into a stock pot and simmer on medium high. I seasoned it with some cinnamon, cayenne, Vietnamese Sweet Lemongrass Curry (a Savory Spice Shop original), and soy sauce. How much of those ingredients did I add? I don’t know… a little of this, a little of that. I’d say season to your liking.
While the soup was heating, I added the last dollop of coconut fat to a pan on medium high and started to sauté the onion. When that was translucent, I added the stalky part of the bok choy and got that soft before adding the chopped bok choy leaves. Then a splash of soy sauce, and it’s done.
Top the soup with coconut baby bok choy and enjoy.