My double Thanksgiving began with a fabulous dinner at the home of fellow blogger Melizza. She's such a fantastic hostess and her food is always incredibly delicious. She even makes her own napkins!!! We chowed down on juicy turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, zucchini casserole, homemade dinner rolls (mmmm!!), gravy, cheeses and homemade crackers! My food baby was super happy...and then of course: dessert. Let me tell you, chocolate chess pie? WITH an oreo crust?? Oh hell yes. Pumpkin donuts!!! And buttermilk pecan pie!!! I waddled out of there, barely holding it together.
Then I decided to cook my own full-on Thanksgiving pretty well by myself. I wasn't really all that worried about it since I've done 5-course dinner parties before, it's really all about the timing. I think a couple of things needed a little more time in the oven (or I really should have used the convection setting), but overall, I think it came out ok!
My stuffing recipe is my maternal grandmother's (Grandma) and it's always been my favorite (don't tell my other grandmother...). Grandma is well into her 90's these days and hasn't made that stuffing in almost a decade, but I thought of her for days as I made the homemade biscuits and then the homemade cornbread which made up the base of the stuffing.
When my mom first divorced my dad, she and I moved in with her parents (my grandparents) and even though my mom is one of nine (yes...nine) kids, and there are 33ish or so grandkids from those nine, I'll always have a special bond with Grandma because I'm the only grandkid who lived with her for two years. Making her stuffing was so bittersweet for me because it meant two things: one, that I wasn't with her and two that she can't make the stuffing anymore -- her cooking days are long since over and she lives in an assisted living home now. But, I loved that I was able to take that recipe and it will always be a part of me and my new Thanksgiving traditions.
I made my other grandmother's Sweet Potato Casserole (because you have to be fair during the holidays!) I think it needed just a few more minutes in the oven as it was ever so slightly watery and not thicker like it normally is. Also, I have to say, English sweet potatoes are just not as flavorful as the American ones (or wherever we import them from...oy).
I also had the added challenge of cooking in Celisius AND having to measure out my butter...as it is in grams here and not in handy labeled sticks. I miss the sticks, I really do. Maybe the English way is better, but if you've never cooked that way, and don't have a scale, it's a lot of converting and that is a lot of annoying. Just sayin'. But, I totally did it and I had an absolute blast.
If you're curious, the menu was something like this:
Texas Thanksgiving in London Menu
Turkey (done brown bag style like Mujerboricua taught me!) stuffed with apples, oranges, rosemary, sage, garlic, chives, celery and shallots
Gravy (made with red wine and drippings)
Stuffing (or should be called dressing because it's not stuffed into the turkey)
Cranberry Sauce made with Winter Pimm's (I made this up...recipe to follow)
Alton Brown's Green Bean casserole with homemade fried onions on top (I also felt like this was too watery and I will adjust that for next year)
Sweet Potato Casserole
Creamy Mashed Potatoes
Salad (with pomegranate, seasoned nuts and parmesan cheese)
and then for dessert:
Brown Butter Pumpkin Cake and
Scotch Pecan Pie with Scotch maple cream sauce drizzled over it (made with Auchentoshan 3 wood scotch!)
Now for the Cranberry Sauce...
So, the cranberry sauce was kind of fun because I sort of made it up as I went along and it turned out delicious. It is definitely a 'sauce' vs a thicker relish...if you boiled the syrup longer you could thicken it to relish style. I wanted to have something that was uniquely 'English' at my table to celebrate the fact that this was my first London Thanksgiving and nothing is more English than Pimm's (my new FAVORITE drink in the world, in case you haven't been following the blog...)
Pimm's also has a 'Winter' blend which is kind of cinnamon/orange flavored...so I thought, "I bet that would be damn good in the cranberry sauce. Oh yes. It was. So if you're looking for something a bit more complex for your cranberry sauce, try this...and let me know what you think!
Also...because I have leftover cranberry sauce (and some pumpkin)...I'm making this Cooking Light recipe but adapting it for the sauce and changing the regular flour to whole wheat with a few other changes as well (no granulated sugar, just brown sugar...etc.) I'll keep you posted on how it turns out!!
SARAH'S WINTER PIMM'S CRANBERRY SAUCE
- 1 pound fresh (or frozen) cranberries, washed and dried
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon of ginger
- 1/4 cup Winter Pimm’s
- 2 Clementines, one zested and both juiced
In a medium pot bring sugar and water to a boil. Add cranberries, stir to blend and bring the mixture to a boil again over medium heat. Reduce heat to a simmer and add the remaining ingredients. Stir to blend and simmer for an additional 7 to 10 minutes (or longer if you want a thicker sauce). Some of the cranberries will burst and some will remain whole. Stir and allow to cool before serving. This can be made up to a week in advance and best made at least the day before for flavors to combine.