Thanksgiving Goodness

Thanksgiving this year was small (I mean people definitely not food). We shared it with 3 other close friends and our host’s 17 lb turkey was definitely big enough to fill us. M and one of our hosts had their annual Thanksgiving “Turkey Trot”, a 3.7 mile run in the city so they were prepared to feast. This turkey was a champion too, it decided to cook itself two hours faster than it should have and somehow remain moist and tasty. Does diligent baking and dishwashing count as exercise too?

Dessert and Rolls are what M and I claimed for Thanksgiving this year. We also threw together a cranberry relish, because what is Thanksgiving without cranberries? Last year I made two different types of cranberry dishes because we received so many cranberries in our CSA box (I had never made them from scratch before). This year we managed to make the favorite of the two and somehow it seemed better than last. We did reminisce about the cranberry sauce that comes in a can and kind of slurps out. I used to love the stuff when I was a kid… oh how things have changed. The relish was probably the easiest and least time consuming of the recipes we made – 5 minutes tops. The Creme Brulee wasn’t too difficult to prepare, it required 2 hours chilling time, and the rolls needed ample time to rise in our freezing apartment (thank you gas stove for staying warm while you weren’t baking to help out the process).

Rolls, rolls, giant rolls. They were so good (and we have some leftover… yeah!) M managed to recreate his mom’s roll recipe from scratch very well this year. I’d say he is a pro after only one year of practice. He decided it would be best to make them really big. I’m pretty sure he was really hungry while making them and may have altered his reasoning for size of roll discernment. I asked M to say a little something about his bread making…

“I love these rolls. I grew up with them at Thanksgiving and Christmas and it’s the one food item I refuse to go through the holidays without. They take a good amount of love to make, with excessive amounts of kneading and careful oven monitoring and can easily go south quickly. Too little or too much kneading, cheap yeast, too little butter spread, too much poppy seed, a minute overcooked, a minute undercooked, a burnt tip… It’s an investment in time and patience and will leave your muscles sore from stirring and kneading dough. This year I’m happy to say they were perfect and I was like a giddy little kid stealing a fresh-out-of-the-oven roll to enjoy, plus it gave me an excuse to wear an apron.”

needs more flour

kneading – I think he was getting tired

expert slicing with the handy pizza cutter

8 rolls per third of dough – this is what made them the size of your face

perfect rolls

M devouring fresh from the oven rolls
M may have eaten the whole basket if I hadn’t been watching

Look at that buttery goodness!

I’m pretty sure this is going to be his traditional dish for Thanksgivings to come. And whether they show up next year the size of your face I guess we’ll wait and see.

I was flipping through a cookbook and stumbled upon some interesting pumpkin recipes like Pumpkin Cheesecake Mousse and Pumpkin Creme Brulee, and after a vote the Brulee won. I haven’t ever made any type of Creme Brulee and I was excited to try it. Thanks Em for letting me borrow ramekins so I didn’t have to clutter the tiny kitchen with dishes that are very seldom used.

I actually made my own pumpkin puree from my cute little sugar pumpkin from our Farm Fresh box. Making your own puree is time consuming but very easy. I used the wise words of The Pioneer Woman to make mine, and I definitely had to add water to make the right consistency. I was very proud to say the least. My little pumpkin made about 2 1/2 cups so I’ll be making something else to contribute the the pumpkin extravaganza. I have my eyes on Pumpkin Butter and possibly a pumpkin cheesecake just for fun.

I only had one judgement issue for the creme brulee and that was “the brulee will be done when they give a uniform jiggle” and it was hard to discern when the jiggle was “uniform” or if it was too jiggly. Needless to say, I may have overcooked them just a hair. After the cooking they needed to cool for a couple of hours. Before serving all you have to do is torch them. You can also use your broiler if you don’t have a torch. I would have used the broiler had our hosts not had a torch. It worked well, and it was fun to watch the sugar liquify. The only thing more satisfying was breaking through the sugar into the pumpkin creme below. They were tasty little pots of goodness.

In addition to our contributions, we had a deliciously moist turkey with sausage stuffing, mashed sweet and russet potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole with mushrooms and onion, and fruity jello pudding salad (one of those midwestern roots dishes). Our meal was great and our company was too. All of our suffering was worth it though. Thanks everyone for sharing a great holiday with us.

Cranberry Relish
makes about 3 cups

1 small navel orange (or 2 clementines – which is what we had on hand)
1 pear
1 12-oz bag cranberries
1/2 C brown sugar
1/4-1/2 tsp salt to taste
3 T chopped toasted pecans

Slice the orange and pear into segments and toss into the food processor (keep the rind on both). Add the sugar and cranberries and salt and pulse a few times. Process until you get a coarse chop for all of the fruits, stopping to stir if necessary. We processed ours a little smaller this year which may have made it a little juicier than typical. Cover tightly and refrigerate for two hours. Sprinkle the nuts on top just before serving.

The relish is also delicious as a topping for waffles or pancakes! I hope this comes in handy for the Christmas season.