What We Ate (Thanksgiving for Two)

In case you all were wondering, our ‘Thanksgiving for Two’ menu:
  • Brined and slow-roasted bone-in turkey breast with homemade gravy
  • Grandma Vera’s sage stuffing
  • Port and cranberry gelée
  • Kale salad with apples and hazelnuts
  • Brown sugar-roasted sweet potatoes
  • Homemade rolls
  • Maple pot de crème
  • Cardamom, orange, and chocolate ribbon cookies

I think I may have overdone it slightly.  But you know what?  It was worth it.  Totally.  And because I was cooking for two and not a huge crowd, I was less stressed and more able to take things one day at a time.  I feel that is key to any successful dinner party or holiday.  Take it easy, make a plan, and remember that it is supposed to be fun.
The port and cranberry gelée was one of the easier dishes I made for our Thanksgiving dinner.  If you’re a fan of cranberry sauce or cranberry jelly but don’t want to have it shaped like a can, then is recipe is for you.  The natural pectin in the cranberries makes adding gelatin unnecessary, and if you don’t have port, you can substitute with red wine or fortified wine like Maderia.

Canal House’s Cranberry-Port Gelée

1 cup port
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon juniper berries
10 black peppercorns
1 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries (frozen can be substituted)

Put the port, sugar, juniper berries, and peppercorns in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

Add the cranberries and return to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the cranberries burst and are very soft, about 10 minutes.

Strain the sauce into a bowl through a fine-mesh strainer, pushing the solids through the screen and scraping off with a rubber spatula.  Stir the thin and thick portions of the strained gelée together.

Transfer to serving bowl, cover, and refrigerate.  It will firm up in a couple of hours.

Makes approximately 2 cups.

My grandmother’s stuffing was always the dish I looked forward to the most when Thanksgiving rolled around each year.  For some, the turkey is where it’s at, for others, it’s the mashed potatoes and gravy.  No sir.  Not me.  My heart belonged to Vera’s sage stuffing.  Oh my.  I asked my mother for the recipe to use this year and I think I’m going to carry on the tradition of making it every Thanksgiving from now on.  It is just that good.

Grandma Vera’s Sage Stuffing

1 cup onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups celery stalks and leaves, finely chopped
1/2 of a granny smith apple, chopped
3/4 cup butter
9 cups soft bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
2 teaspoons fresh sage leaves, minced (or 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed dried sage leaves)
1-2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
1/2 – 1 cup chicken stock

Pre-heat oven to 325ºF.  Butter a 9- x 13-inch casserole dish.

In a large skillet, cook and stir onion, celery, and apple in butter until tender.  Stir in about 1/3 of the bread cubes.  Turn into a large bowl and add remaining ingredients.  Stir to combine.

Turn into prepared dish and bake, uncovered for at least an hour.  Add chicken stock to keep moist.  This is a matter of taste.  My mom and I like the stuffing to be the texture of mashed potatoes with some crispy bits on top.  Just try to keep it moist with the chicken stock.

Watch for over-browning – cover with foil if necessary.

These ribbon cookies look pretty ragged up close, but trust me, they are delicious.  Truly, how can you go wrong with cardamom, orange, chocolate, and pecans?  I’ve never been very good at sugar cookies, for they always turn out entirely too crispy and crumbly.  But these…these were divine.  The secret, you may ask?  Shortening.  Well, in my case, lard.  Yes, it called for vegetable shortening, but I have lard and I’m not afraid to use it.
Cardamom, Orange, and Chocolate Ribbon Cookies
Adapted from a recipe found on Food52

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup good quality lard, at room temperature (if you don’t have lard or don’t care to use it, try to find Spectrum brand shortening)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large egg at room temperature
2 tablespoons whole milk or half & half
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
zest of one orange
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate melted (melt in microwave at 30 second intervals, stirring between intervals)
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 toasted pecans, chopped finely

In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter and lard for approximately 30 seconds.  Add sugar, baking soda, and salt and beat until combined.

Beat in egg, milk, vanilla.  Add flour and mix to combine with wooden spoon or rubber spatula.  Have melted chocolate nearby.

Divide dough in half.  This will be a bit messy, but if done quickly, you’ll be fine.  Knead melted chocolate and pecans into half of the dough and then the cardamom and orange zest into the other half.

Line a 9x5x3 loaf pan with plastic wrap.  Divide the chocolate dough in half and press into the bottom of the loaf pan.  Now, divide the vanilla dough in half and press on top of chocolate layer. Repeat with chocolate dough, and then vanilla dough.

Cover with the plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  When ready, pre-heat oven to 375ºF.

Remove from refrigerator and invert onto cutting board and remove plastic wrap.  Divide dough into 3 equal pieces (each piece being approximately 3 inches), and cut each third into equal pieces that are about 1/4-inch thick (around 12 pieces per section).

Place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat and bake for 10-12 minutes, turning baking sheet around halfway through baking (5 minutes).  Do not overbake.  Remove from oven when edges start to turn light brown.  You don’t want to leave them in too long or else they’ll end up way too crispy.

 

Advertisements


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s