Saturday, November 30, 2013

Thanksgiving Review: The Great Dictator

This was my first year as Thanksgiving dictator.

- Turkey
- Giblet Gravy*
- Apple Stuffing*
-Wild Mushroom Stuffing*
- Deep fried Cornish Hens*
- Sweet Potato Triple Medley*
- Roasted Vegetable Quartet*
- Roasted Cauliflower*
- Glazed Butternut Squash*
- Butternut Squash Soup
- Green Bean Casserole
- Deviled Eggs
- Brocolli & Cheese Casserole
- Herb Potato Rolls*
- Pumpkin Pie*
- Sampler Pie




Needless to say, I'm assuming a life long term.

Previously, I was okay with my mom asking me to do the cornish hens again this year, but she then proceeded to ask me to do "extra." Everything on the list with an * is my contribution. I was prepping for 10 hrs straight with a little break to take a shower. Thanksgiving dinner was also my breakfast. At first I was annoyed, but then I realized the degree of control that I had over everyone's dietary options - at least for the day - I was going to impose vegetables and fiber on everyone. What I did not expect was that it was a big hit with everyone. There were lots of comments on the nice vegetable spread. Usually the green bean casserole is the first side finished, but much to my surprise, it was actually the cauliflower that went first. I was happy as a clam that my family was enjoying a relatively healthy Thanksgiving. There was some slight irritation at my mom going rogue and getting another pie, but overall, everything was good. 
Going through my contributions, let me first say:

I bought the herb potato rolls from Cinnamons Bakery. I bought the pumpkin pie from Bakery Lorraine. I'll leave the baking to the experts. I am slightly tempted to venture into the pie territory since a gracious female gave me a copy of what is apparently the best pumpkin pie ever that came from a 1980s issue of Harper's Bazaar. I must acquire a pumpkin and a bottle of bourbon. I shall post it shortly.

Stuffing:


Usually, I can't decide on stuffing so I make two: one more on the sweet side, and one more on the savory side. Last year I did sausage apple stuffing and oyster stuffing. This year, I went the route of Apple Herb Stuffing and Wild Mushroom Stuffing. I learned the hard way that I am not fond of tart apples. I later modified the apple stuffing by adding apple juice and dehydrating. I think next time I'll just use Golden Delicious or even Gala. The wild mushroom stuffing was a near unanimous favorite. I didn't use Challah bread like the recipe calls for and I over estimated my mushroom needs so I inadvertently snuck more fiber into dinner.

Vegetables:


Colorful eh? Up in the corner is what I refer to as my sweet potato medley. I wasn't going to make it this year as I felt they never got eaten, but my sister liked it, so I did it this year. In previous years, I always just boiled the sweet potatoes. This year, I roasted them as I thought that would give them more of the "eat me" appeal. More did get eaten. I made it smaller also - when you have a lot of sides, no one really wants to gorge on just one. After chopping the sweet potatoes, I just wrapped them in buttered foil and roasted them for 45 mins. All the rest of the recipes were from the food network. The roasted carrots, potatoes, parsnips, and brussel sprouts recipe I followed directly and it was great. The vegetables are still have a bit of firmness to that attests to the freshness while still being fork tender. For the roasted cauliflower, I used an orange cauliflower instead of white because I heard they cook the same, but the orange one is a little sweeter and creamier. It came out of the oven smelling like popcorn and a really bright yellow. My little sister made a butternut squash soup and there was a 3 lb squash left over so I oven glazed it. I felt a little bad for the lack of candied yams, so I had Ina Garten's butternut squash recipe waiting in the wings in case there was extra squash. Now, this squash is suppose to be sweet, after reading the reviews, I went for a few grinds of pepper and a couple small sprinklings of salt, a little less butter ( minus 1 tbs) and the exact amount of brown sugar - the caramel upon taking this out of the oven was awesome.

Cornish Hens: 


This first time I made these was last year. I deep fried them and just came up with some crack dry rub with whatever seasoning were around us and some flour. The unfortunate part was that they tasted amazing and I just haven't been able to recreate. I'm afraid of making them too salty. I tried brining them this year and I'm not sold on it. The herb mix was good, was not too fond of how dark they came out, but the flavor was there. I'll be roasting them for Christmas, I'm kind of tired of deep frying. 

Takeaways:

- Take advantage of any place that sells in bulk, in my case, this was Whole Foods. For the cost of one jar of one seasoning (ex $4 for a bottle of sage) you could get all of the spices you need in amounts you need.

- It doesn't take that many mushrooms to produce the amount you need for mushroom stuffing. Again, Whole Foods to the rescue here - Hen of the Woods is about $24.99/lb, getting one bunch is about $3.

- Roasting really does cut down on cooking time compared to anything that uses a stove. It's even more efficient in a kitchen that has an electric stove. There was over lap on cooking temperatures for my vegetable sides so it made preparing them very convenient since I was able to cook two dishes at once.

- You really only need one pie.

I'm currently planning my takeover of Christmas dinner. 

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