Foodie Sunday: Thanksgiving memories, The perfect stuffing & a fabulous giveaway!
Of all of the meals that I cook every year, the Thanksgiving meal is truly my favorite. There's just something so incredibly abundant and homey about it, the smells are so appetizing and the mood so sincere. The meal itself was traditionally my mothers domain and she really enjoyed cooking it, setting about in her lovely kitchen early in the morning making apple and pumpkin pies, pumpkin cheesecakes and stuffing. I'd wander in early to find her chopping apples sautéing onions in butter with a glass of sherry by her side. My mother was a fabulous cook, but this was the meal that she loved cooking the most all year. The one and only time that I prepared it when she was alive she was furious. I was trying to do her a favor but she was unbelievably frustrated the entire evening and I swore that I would never do it again. Finally the onlything that I could for her do was brine the turkey, because even she allowed that it made the bird taste better.
My mother always made the holiday wonderful, full of wine, laughter and family. Her table was always beautifully set with brass candlesticks and a abundantly filled cornucopia. She always used her favorite Coalport dishes, a lovely rust colored pattern called Indian Tree Coral, her Baccarat crystal and all of her Grandmothers sterling. There were always plenty of extra plates waiting on the sideboard for all of Alex's friends who would start coming in after they'd finished their family dinners and we'd sit around the table for hours eating, drinking and discussing politics , music and current events. There is a cassette tape somewhere of the "Dance of the sugar plum fairies " played by the entire Schreibman family & friends on those same wine glasses. Mom was pretty cool...she let us fill her precious crystal to the levels needed to create all of the different scales and then we used her knives asmallets to play the notes. We laughed for hours and practiced, finally getting it right. There was always too much food and she made sure that there were plenty of tin foil plates so that everyone could take home leftovers, a tradition that I love to continue to this day!
What a great dinner that was! We ate until we burst, drank an entire bottle of expensive Rye and went at midnight to the uniquely strange and thoroughly American experience of Black Friday shopping at the mall. Alex called earlier that evening, thrilled that we were all sharing each others company and having such a great time. I've cooked many a Thanksgiving meal since then and I don't deviate too much from my mother’s recipes. I make her mashed potatoes (3 sticks of butter) and her pumpkin pie and this year because I have a strange and sudden craving for them, her decadent , buttery scalloped oysters. I brine my turkey the night before, and stuff herbs and butter under the skin and roast and baste it generously for hours.
It's never too late to teach an old dog new tricks and last year I learned a secret that's improved the flavor and texture of my turkey and turned my stuffing into the "stuff" of legends! I don't know about you, but the dressing is my favorite part of the meal , well that and the creamy garlic spinach! I always cook it in the bird and it's always delicious but never fluffy enough. I went to a friends house for an early Thanksgiving meal and her stuffing wasremarkable. I went through my mental checklist of ingredients and found all of the usual suspects. So I asked her what made the difference and what she told me was truly surprising! The secret ingredient? Shredded mozzarella cheese,about 5 cups of it! Nothing fancy, just the basic Kraft variety. So I tried it. I made the stuffing and while it was still warm stirred in the cheese and stuff the turkey. The result was superb, moist, fluffy and flavorful, just the way that you want it to be. There was also an oozy meltingly quality to it that was a perfect foil for the turkey. My friend surges me that it works with any stuffing recipe, but if you want to try mine here goes. I’m giving you only the ingredients here, not the proportions because everyone likes it made just alittle bit differently.
Diced Butternut squash
Cornbread stuffing cubes
Chopped , COOKED and drained sage and onion sausage
Onions and celery sautéed in butter
Plenty of fresh sage, parsley, rosemary and thyme
A touch of cayenne
Cidre' ( French hard cider)
Choose your proportions and mix. Be sure to stuff the cavity of the bird loosely, because the dressing will expand.
So what are your favorite recipes for Thanksgiving? Traditions? Memories? Pease share and the first person who uses my favorite holiday ingredient (I'll give you a hint , it smells incredible and can be used in both food and perfume) in a comment gets a fabulously gift certificate from Sur La Table as well as a scented surprisechosen by me! Please put your email in your comment as well so that I can get in touch with you easily!
One of my families favorite Thanksgiving traditions is that that while we are eating we each share something that we are especially thankful for. I hope that all of you know that I am always thankful for all of you. Your love and support of me make "Foodie Sunday" not a job but something that I look forward to sharing with you every other week. I count all of you as my family too..and that makes me a very wealthy woman. Wherever you are this Thanksgiving please know that in my mind you're all sitting around my table.