Thanksgiving Extravaganza!

Dinner this week was so.much.fun. We decided to have a FND style Thanksgiving Extravaganza. Our dinner was composed of some traditional dishes and some riffs of everyone’s favourite Thanksgiving dishes. Taylor, Mary and I started cooking at 4:30 and kept going until about 7:15. This was definitely one of our most labor-intensive dinners, but it was absolutely worth it.

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We also had a mini SMA reunion with Hannah, Claire and Katie joining us for dinner. We got to hear all about Claire and Katie’s adventures on the Pacific Crest Trail. They had some hilarious stories to share; I’m talking side-splitting, table-slapping, makes-your-stomach-hurt kind of laughing.

I will probably bombard you with pictures of our dinner this week because everything was just so beautiful and we got a little excited taking pictures 🙂

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Our menu this week consisted of mint-orange smiles, cornish game hens, colcannon, green bean casserole, stuffing, sweet potatoes, olive bread & cheese, pots de creme (the same ones we had at the dinner we had after Taylor’s surgery last year) and mulled cider. Oh.My.Goodness. The mulled cider was absolutely the most delicious drink I’ve ever had in my life. It was warm and fragrant; we simultaneously called it ‘liquid joy’ and ‘Christmas in a cup’. You all have to try it for yourselves. It will change your lives.

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Mint-Orange Smiles: 

Ingredients:

  • 1 package crackers
  • Cream Cheese
  • Goat’s Cheese
  • Orange marmalade
  • Mint leaves

Directions:

  1. Pipe cream cheese onto half of the crackers and goat’s cheese onto the other half. Top each with a teaspoon of marmalade and a mint leaf.
Mint-Orange Smiles

Mint-Orange Smiles

Cornish Game Hens: 

Ingredients:

  • 4 Cornish Game Hens
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small bunch parsley, minced

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Combine butter, garlic and parsley and mix, with your hands, until well combined. Rub butter mixture under the skin of the game hens and on top.
  3. Place hens on a rack over a roasting pan. Cook for about 1 hour, or until joints are loose and juices run clear.
Cornish Game Hens

Cornish Game Hens

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Colcannon: 

Via

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 pounds russet potatoes
  • Salt (for seasoning potato water)
  • 1 bunch kale, cleaned, stemmed and chopped
  • 1 bunch scallions (or 1 medium leek)
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 cup milk or cream
  • Additional butter for flavouring potatoes and as a garnish
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Scrub and peel potatoes; cut into 1-2 inch cubes (make sure the cubes are relatively uniform in size for even cooking).
  2. Place potato chunks in a large pot filled with cold water (enough to cover potatoes), add salt to flavour the water and put pot on stovetop. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until potatoes easily yield when pierced with a fork.
  3. Meanwhile, wash the kale (don’t dry), stem it and chop into pieces 1 inch in size or less.
  4. Wash scallions, cut off root ends and slice thinly.
  5. About 5 minutes before potatoes are done, place a large dutch oven over medium heat and add the oil and butter. When the butter is melted and hot, add the kale and scallions. Sauté for a minute or two, then turn down the heat and cover the pot with a lid. Cook the kale no longer than 5 minutes.
  6. While the kale is steaming, the potatoes will probably finish cooking. Take them off the heat, drain them, then add them back to their cooking pot (off heat) and cover.  Shake the pot a couple of times so the potatoes don’t stick, and allow them to firm up for 2 to 4 minutes.
  7. When the potatoes are firm and the kale has cooked, add about half of the milk or cream to the pot containing the kale.  Cook for a few seconds, then turn off the heat.  Remove the pot from the stove and place on a nonslip heatproof pad on a sturdy work surface.
  8. Add the potatoes to the pot with the kale, and using a potato masher or large spoon, begin mashing.  Add more milk or cream if needed, and butter to taste. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Empty the mashed potatoes into a bowl.  It’s traditional to make a well in the potatoes with the back of a spoon, and add a couple of tablespoons of butter (which will melt from the heat of the potatoes) as a flavoring and garnish.  Or you can dish up the potatoes on plates, and then make wells and add the butter.  When eating the Colcannon, it’s traditional to dip forkfuls into the melted butter.
Colcannon

Colcannon

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Green Bean Casserole: 

Via French’s Dried Onions

Ingredients:

  • 1 can Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper
  • 4 cups cut green beans
  • 1 1/3 cups French’s fried onions

Directions:

  1. Mix soup, milk and pepper in a 1 1/2 -qt. baking dish. Stir in beans and 2/3 cup French Fried Onions.
  2. Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes or until hot.
  3. Stir. Top with remaining 2/3 cup onions. Bake 5 minutes or until onions are golden.

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Stuffing: 

Via

Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp. butter
  • 1 small onion, finely minced
  • 1 cup chopped celery with leaves
  • 1 tbsp. poultry seasoning
  • 1 tbsp. chopped fresh sage leaves
  • 1 tbsp. thyme
  • 6 cups bread cubes
  • 2-3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Spread bread cubes on a cookie sheet and toast in the oven until crisp.
  3. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion,celery and poultry seasoning to the skillet and saute until the onions are soft, about 8 minutes. Mix in the sage and thyme then mix in the croutons. Next add the chicken stock a little at a time until the stuffing is very moist. Be sure not to overdo it; it shouldn’t be mushy. Season with salt and pepper. Place in a casserole dish.
  4. Bake in a 14-inch oval or 9 by 13-inch rectangular casserole dish and place, uncovered, in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until the top is crispy and the center piping hot. Remove and serve immediately.
Stuffing

Stuffing

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Pots de Creme:

Via America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook

Ingredients:

Pots de Creme:

  • 10 oz. 60% bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine (if using 70%, only use 8 oz.)
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 5 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup half-and-half
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. instant espresso powder mixed with 1 tbsp. hot water

Whipped Cream:

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Garnish (optional): 

  • Cocoa powder, for dusting

Directions:

Pots de Creme: 

  1. Place chocolate in medium heatproof bowl; set fine-mesh strainer over bowl and set aside.
  2. Whisk yolks, sugar, and salt in medium bowl until combined; whisk in heavy cream and half-and-half. Transfer mixture to medium saucepan. Cook mixture over medium-low heat, stirring constantly and scraping bottom of pot with wooden spoon, until thickened and silky and custard registers 175 to 180 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 8 to 12 minutes. Do not let custard overcook or simmer. **It is very important that you do not under- or overcook the custard. Definitely use a thermometer to get an accurate reading of the temperature and take off the heat between the recommended 175-180°.**
  3. Immediately pour custard through strainer over chocolate. Let mixture stand to melt chocolate, about 5 minutes. Whisk gently until smooth, then whisk in vanilla and espresso. Divide mixture evenly among eight 5-ounce ramekins. Gently tap ramekins against counter to remove air bubbles.
  4. Cool pots de crème to room temperature, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours or up to 72 hours. Before serving, let pots de crème stand at room temperature 20 to 30 minutes.

Whipped Cream:

  1. Using hand mixer or standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat cream, sugar, and vanilla on low speed until bubbles form, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium; continue beating until beaters leave trail, about 30 seconds longer. Increase speed to high; continue beating until nearly doubled in volume and whipped cream forms soft peaks, 30 to 45 seconds longer.
  2. Dollop each pot de crème with about 2 tablespoons whipped cream; garnish with cocoa, if using. Serve.
Pots de Creme

Pots de Creme

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Mulled Cider

Via Jamie Oliver

Ingredients:

  • 2 quarts good quality hard cider
  • 1 orange
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 2 clementines
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 whole nutmeg
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 4 star anise
  • 1/2 cup sugar

Directions:

  1. Pour the cider into a large saucepan on low heat and leave it to warm through for a few minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, halve the vanilla bean lengthwise. Halve the orange and clementines and squeeze all of the juices in a small pitcher.
  3. Add the cloves, star anise, cinnamon stick and vanilla bean to the pan of cider. Finely grate in a quarter of the nutmeg.
  4. Add the fruit juice to the pan and turn the heat up to high. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer over a low heat. Leave to simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Have a taste and gradually add the sugar until you get the balance just right — you don’t want it to be too sweet.
  6. When you’re happy with the flavours, ladle the mulled cider into heatproof glasses or mugs and serve while warm and delicious. (You can choose whether or not to strain it).
Mulled Cider

Mulled Cider

IMG_5465Happy eating, everyone!

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