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A Thanksgiving Feast

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year, so this time I wanted to celebrate more than once. I invited 15 friends to a pot-luck Thanksgiving this past Sunday evening to share their favorite recipes and give thanks for everything we have. For those of you who might not make it home, or plan to entertain here in Boston, I persuaded my guests to share their recipes. All the dishes were fantastic! So enjoy, and have a great holiday.

APPETIZERS:

Mushrooms Stuffed with Bacon, Spinach,
and Blue Cheese

By Huntley Tarrant (OF), courtesy of Cooks Illustrated (September 1998)

Roasted Mushroom Caps
24 large mushrooms (stems and caps separated and washed)ÿ
2 tablespoons olive oilÿÿ
ÿtable saltÿÿ
ÿground black pepperÿÿ

Filling
6 ounces bacon (about 6 slices), cut crosswise into 1/4 inch stripsÿ
medium red onion, mincedÿ
1 large clove garlic, mincedÿ
6 ounces fresh spinach (stems removed, washed thoroughly and chopped coarse)ÿ
cup bread crumbsÿÿ
3 tablespoons ricotta cheeseÿÿ
2 ounces blue cheese, crumbledÿ
ÿtable saltÿÿ
ÿground black pepperÿ

1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Toss mushroom caps and stems, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste in medium bowl. Arrange caps, gill side down, in a single layer on a large, low-sided roasting pan or jelly-roll pan with stems placed alongside. Roast until mushrooms have released some juice and are brown around edges facing the pan, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove pan from oven and turn caps over with a metal spatula. Continue to roast until mushroom liquid has completely evaporated and mushroom caps and stems are brown all over, about 5 to 10 minutes longer.
3. Readjust oven rack to center position and leave oven temperature at 450 degrees. With cooked mushroom caps still on roasting pan, remove cooked stems and set aside.
4. Meanwhile, fry bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove and drain on paper towels; discard all but 1 tablespoon of drippings. Add onion; cook until soft, 6 to 8 minutes. Add garlic; cook about 1 minute longer. Add spinach; cook until wilted, about 2 minutes. Transfer spinach mixture to large bowl; let cool for 10 minutes.
5. Transfer spinach mixture to food processor, along with bread crumbs, ricotta, one ounce blue cheese, and roasted mushroom stems; process to a chunky puree, scraping down the sides of the processor at least once to ensure an even texture. Return spinach mixture to large mixing bowl; stir in bacon bits. Fill each mushroom cap with a heaping teaspoon of filling; top each with a portion of remaining blue cheese.
6. Roast stuffed mushrooms until cheese is melted and filling is hot throughout, about 8 minutes. Serve warm.

Spinach-Artichoke Dip

By Huntley Tarrant (OF)
1 frozen packages of chopped spinach (defrosted and well-drained)
1 can artichokes
1/3 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
cup parmesan cheese
3 ounces of cream cheese, softened
cup mayonnaise (light is fine)
cup sour cream (light is fine)
to 1 teaspoon garlic salt
Optional: extra parmesan or bread crumbs for topping

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. Combine above ingredients in large bowl. ÿStir well.ÿ
3. Spread in greased small, oven-proof casserole dish.
4. Bake for 20-30 minutes until warm throughout, lightly browned on edges/top.

MAIN COURSE:

Fall Salad
By Beth Roemer (OI)

Mixed Greens
Dried Cranberries
Crumbled Goat Cheese
Sliced, candies walnuts or almonds

Dressing:
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Small scoop Dijon mustard
1 tablespoons brown sugar

Mix dressing ingredients and alter quantities to taste.ÿ Pour over salad and mix well.

The Turkey & Gravy
By Sarah Lucas (OI) and Astrid Stevenson (OE)

The main attraction for your Thanksgiving meal might seem intimidating but certainly doesn’t have to be. Use good- quality ingredients and give your bird the love and attention it deserves and you’ll deliver a nicely browned and tasty masterpiece to your Thanksgiving table.

What You’ll Need:
One turkey – We bought a 15-pound, fresh turkey. Ordering in advance helps ensure you won’t be disappointed at the market. If you buy a frozen turkey, leave ample time for it to thaw safely and make sure you have plenty of room in the fridge.
Carrots, celery and onion chopped coarsely.
Fresh herbs – We bought the “poultry mix” which included fresh thyme, tarragon, rosemary and sage.
Salt and pepper – We recommend kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.
Butter or olive oil
Kitchen twine
Meat thermometer
Roasting pan with rack
Aluminum foil
Preparation:
Once you’ve procured your bird, carefully open the plastic wrapping – preferably over the sink. Remove the turkey neck and giblet package from inside the cavity. These can be simmered in a pot along with water, carrots, celery, and onion to make a stock that, when added to your pan drippings, will be the base for great gravy. Rinse the turkey thoroughly inside and out and pat dry with paper towels.
Cut a piece of kitchen twine, around five feet in length. Loop the twine around the ends of the turkey legs, then wrap the rest of the twine around the whole turkey, tucking in the wings. Loop back and anchor around the legs once again, trimming away any excess. This step will keep the bird looking plump and pretty.
Scatter a few big handfuls of your chopped vegetables and your fresh herbs around the pan and inside the turkey cavity. Use a bit of softened butter or olive oil and give the turkey a nice massage all over – this will help the skin brown evenly. Salt and pepper the bird, both inside and out. Add some broth or chicken stock to the pan and you’re set to start cooking.

NOTE: We chose not to stuff our bird, as we wanted the dressing to be vegetarian. However, if you want to stuff, spoon the dressing inside just before roasting, and don’t pack it in too tightly.

Roasting:
We started our turkey out at 325 degrees. Because the breast meat tends to cook faster than the rest of the bird, we began with the bird breast-side down. After about 90 minutes, we flipped the bird right side up, basting continuously with the broth and pan juices as it cooked. Tent the breast loosely with foil if it starts to brown too much.
Most cookbooks recommend roasting for between 12-20 minutes per pound. With such variability in instructions, the meat thermometer can be quite handy here. Take the temperature in the thickest part of the turkey thigh. It’s safest to cook to an internal temperature of around 180 degrees, but that pretty much guarantees a dry turkey, so we recommend around 170-75 degrees. Our bird cooked for a total of around 3.5 hours.

Serving:
Once the turkey is up to temperature, take it out of the oven and let rest on a serving plate for about 30 minutes so the juices can redistribute, covered in a foil tent to stay warm. Garnish to your liking, find someone who knows how to carve better than we do, and enjoy!ÿ
Gravy:
Bring a cup of apple cider to a boil, and then simmer down until it becomes syrup. Hold on the side.
Brown a stick of butter in the pan (it should get really dark). Add equal amounts of flour (1/2 cup) and stir the paste until it becomes really brown. Mix in about 2-3 cups of the stock from the giblets, pan drippings, regular chicken stock, and reduced apple cider. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Mashed Potatoes
By Debbie Kozar (OI)

1 pounds of baking potatoes (4 to 5 medium-sized potatoes)
1/8 to cup of milk
teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
cup shredded American cheese
1 to 2 tablespoons butter

Peel and quarter potatoes.ÿ In covered saucepan, cook potatoes in a small amount of boiling water for 20-30 minutes or until tender. ÿDrain potatoes.ÿ Mash with potato masher or
beat with electric mixer on low. ÿWarm milk.ÿ Gradually beat in enough milk to make light and fluffy. ÿWarm butter.ÿ Gradually stir in butter to taste. ÿStir in salt and pepper.ÿ Grease 9-inch pie plate.ÿ Pour in potatoes. ÿCover with cheese. ÿBake, uncovered in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until golden and bubbly.

Vegetarian Stuffing
By Liz Katz (OF)

Two loaves of country/Italian bread
3 shallots
1 head of celery
2 cups whole mushrooms
Half a bottle of sauvignon blanc (reisling for sweeter stuffing)
Vegetable broth
Butter
Olive oil
Salt & pepper

1. Cut loaves into crouton-sized cubes and broil until brown and crispy.
2. Saute sliced shallots in olive oil and 2 tablespoons of butter until brown. Deglaze the pan with bottle of wine.
3. Add mushrooms and celery and cook until medium-soft. Add salt and pepper to taste.
4. Add bottle of wine and 3 cups of broth and boil.
NOTE: If too salty add wine; if too winey add broth.
5. Add bread cubes to liquid, stirring constantly. Stop adding bread when liquid is absorbed (bread crumbs should be MOIST).
6. Stir in fresh chopped parsely to taste.
7. Put in buttered casserole dish and dot the top with butter. Cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees until hot.

Roasted Fall Vegetables
By Meg Morse-Schindler (OC)

Ingredients:
Vegetables of choice
Olive oil
Thyme
Chopped garlic

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut an assortment of favorite vegetables. Baby carrots (not chopped), onions, zucchini, squash, eggplant, peppers recommended. Keep each type of vegetable separate as you place and spread in baking pan. Brush with olive oil. Add chopped garlic and thyme (according to taste). Cook for 30-35 minutes or until done. Harder vegetables like carrots and onions will take a bit longer.

Yams with Marshmallows
By Sophie Lippincott (OF)

Choose one yam per person. Peel and cut them into smaller chunks if they are very big and boil just like potatoes until soft and easy to mash. ÿI mash them in a huge mixer and then transfer them to a big, oven pot with a lid, but you can do it by hand in the pot. ÿ

Add to the mash: Several teaspoons of cinnamon Several teaspoons of brown (or white) sugar Salt and pepper 1 teaspoon nutmeg stick of butter 1 small container of light cream or milk 1-2 tablespoons of sherry or sweet vermouth (optional) Stir in the pot, and when it tastes good (you must taste all the time for sweetness etc.), then you put it in the oven WITH THE LID ON at 300 degrees until bubbly (15 minutes is fine, because the yams are already cooked.) Then take it out of the oven at the last minute before serving, and place LARGE (I think better than small) marshmallows all over the top. Then place pan under the broiler (without the lid!) for about 2 minutes, until the marshmallows turn brown and fluffy. ÿÿ

DESSERT:

Cranberry Pecan Pie
By Aly Silva (OH) courtesy of Gourmet Magazine

1 cups pecans (5 oz), chopped cup sugar cup light corn syrup2 tablespoons unsalted butter3 large eggs teaspoon salt1 teaspoon vanilla1 cup (3 oz.) fresh or frozen (not thawed) cranberries, chopped 1 baked (10-inch) pie crust

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Lightly toast pecans in a shallow baking pan in middle of oven until fragrant but not dark, about 5 minutes, then cool. Leave oven on.
3. Cook cup sugar in a dry, 2-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, undisturbed, until it begins to melt. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally with a fork (to help sugar melt evenly), until sugar is melted into a deep, golden caramel. Tilt pan and carefully add corn syrup (caramel will harden and steam vigorously). Cook over moderately low heat, stirring, until caramel is dissolved.
4. Remove pan from heat and add butter, stirring until melted, then cool caramel until it stops bubbling. Whisk together eggs, salt, vanilla, and remaining cup sugar, then add caramel in a stream, whisking constantly.
5. Spread pecans and cranberries evenly in tart shell and pour caramel over them, tapping pecans and cranberries down to coat thoroughly. Bake tart in middle of oven until filling is set, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool completely in pan on a rack before removing rim of pan.

November 21, 2005
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