Saturday, November 07, 2009

Almost Turkey Time

If you don't live in the U.S.of A., the coming of fall probably doesn't mean that it is time to gather up the recipes for cooking a big turkey for a family, or extended family, or family and friends dinner toward the end of November.

If you do celebrate American Thanksgiving, you probably have a raft of family traditions associated with the feast.

It might be Aunt Mabel's green bean casserole with onion rings or Uncle George's special meatball appetizer or Grandma's super sweet, marshmallow covered sweet potato casserole. With the way that tastes change over time, this might be the year that you decide to try something new and different...well, at least for one dish.

If you are the brave soul that is willing to stand up against family pressure and make a casserole that has fresh green beans and no fried onions in sight, or something with sweet potatoes that is actually savory, perhaps with some sage butter, or even a different stuffing for the turkey, you might need some suggestions for new recipes to try. I'm selfish enough that I want you to make one of the recipes I've blogged about if thats teh case...besides they are good!

There will be round ups and lists to be found around the Internet. My group of Thanksgiving ready recipes will be limited to ones I've posted here in the Land of St. Honore' at Feeding My Enthusiasms. That might make it a short list, but that makes it easier for you to scan it, check out any that look interesting to you, then pop on over to the next blog (which might be one on my likely blogs list...if you are smart).

Here goes....drumroll please.....


White Bean Dip, hits a lot of high notes - robust taste, not too filling, good-for-your-heart legume based, great with either crackers or crudites, easy to make and ...Yay!...can be made ahead and tastes even better if you do.

Caprese on a Skewer, is colorful, fun to make and fun to eat. Finding flavorful tomatoes might be a challenge, but you can use cherry tomatoes which are usually sold in pint baskets. They generally taste good. You can substitute flat leaf parsley (Italian parsley) leaves for the basil leaves. The flavor combo will be different, but the skewers are still pretty that way. You can Serve the skewers by sticking the end in a small pumpkin or you can corral a bunch of filled skewers in a tall glass, fanning them out.


A tossed green salad is always welcome, but if you want a make-ahead salad, try this Composed Orange Salad, . You can arrange the lettuce and orange slices on salad plates, stack them up in the 'fridge, then dab on the mayo, add the cherry and sprinkle on the raisins and coconut shortly before guests sit down and put them a plate at each place. The orange is refreshing and light which is a good way to start a meal that is heavy on the starches.

If the day is chilly as November often is, starting with a nice bowl of soup is warming and welcoming. Try a seasonal favorite like Two Squash Soup, rich with roasted butternut and pumpkin squashes, plus onions, sweet potato and apples. With a sour cream and diced red pepper garnish it's quite festive and flavorful.


The main event is usually a roast Turkey, golden and juicy. Turns out that I haven't blogged a turkey recipe, so I'm sending you to the experts. The Butterball turkey folks have a great helpline and website if you need a recipe or help. I usually cook mine in a brown-in-bag because it makes it difficult to over cook the bird, plus clean up is so easy.This one wasn't cooked in a brown-in bag and it is overcooked.


What is a turkey without stuffing? No nearly as good! My Mom makes the best stuffing (you knew I'd say that, right?...well, it's true) and the Stuffing, recipe I posted last year is based on her bread and corn bread stuffing. You'll need a slightly drier stuffing if it is going inside the bird than if it goes in the casserole, so add a little extra broth to the casserole baked stuffing. You can make it your own by adding favorite dried fruit, different nuts, and so on. Make plenty because people usually want seconds of this stuffing!

Good turkey benefits by the accompaniment of cranberries. There's something about the sweet-tart fruitiness that brings out the best in the bird. Cranberries also ripen in the fall, making them a fall favorite since Colonial times. If you want to break away from cranberry relish, try Elle's Wild and Brown Rice with Cranberries, for a side dish instead. It has the nutty flavors of wild and brown rice, plus apple juice soaked cranberries and a dash of orange flavor for zest.

(You can still open a can of cranberry jelly for purists).

Swiss chard is a seasonal green that is all too often forgotten makes a wonderful side dish. It is refreshing and savory and light...just right with such a rich meal. Try it fixed as Swiss Chard and Spinach with Onions, Currants and Lemon Zest, an interesting mix of greens, onions with the contrast of currants and the zip of lemon zest.


Even though the usual Thanksgiving meal has plenty of carbs without it, everyone loves freshly baked rolls. Pile the bread basket with these Refrigerator Rolls, which can be partially made ahead. They are from my other blog, Bread Baker's Dog, devoted to bread baking. Pop them in the oven when the turkey comes out. They'll bake while it's resting and being carved and you will be a star when you pass the bread basket and people get a whiff of freshly baked bread.

If you are feeling artistic and want to really impress, make the Harvest Sheaf bread, also found on Bread Baker's Dog. It is easier to make than it looks. To serve, I just sliced across the sheaf.


The last morsel of turkey has been polished off and the coffee is brewing. Now comes my favorite part, dessert. Here are three desserts that use seasonal fruits. They make a nice addition to the dessert table, which can also include a traditional pie.

The first Double Apple Bundt Cake with or without Rum Glaze, features crisp, tart apples complemented with spice in an easy to serve bundt cake with a decorative rum glaze.

The next two are a bit unusual but delicious. Try Stuffed Figs and Plum Clafouti, with the added kick of bittersweet chocolate hiding in the figs.

Pomegranate Lemon Tart with or without Spiced Poached Pears, makes use of the season's pears and is very pretty with the sweet-tart pomegranate lemon pastel tart filling and the fan of bi-colored pear slices on top.

Still need some recipe ideas? Check out the index by clicking on the set table photo at the top right corner of this blog.
Happy Thanksgiving! East well and enjoy time with family and friends. XOXOXO Elle


  1. With a wonderful meal like that, I would put summer on hold with pleasure!

  2. Wow! What a beautiful feast! I especially love that colorful salad with the orange slices.

  3. That looks like a mighty fine meal! We dont celebrate Thanksgiving here and neither do we have Autumn but I would happily partake of that feast of yours anytime!!

  4. Rose, thanks...hope you try some of the recipes.

    Susan, the orange salad is so simple, but works really well for a seated meal with courses.

    Dharm, no fall! That would be hard to bear. Come visit some November with the Lovely Wife and the adorable kids...I think you would like the fall color.

  5. What an impressive round-up of recipes! That wild and brown rice looks fab. And your Mom's stuffing is on my short list of recipes to try!

  6. Anonymous10:19 AM

    Notes on turkey cooking: For the first time I tried brining our "natural" turkey this year. It browned much quicker than usual, but was flavorful, (relatively) moist and tender. The process was fairly easy, using a very large zip-top bag and a Coleman cooler that we use for camping and for keeping drinks cold around the holidays. Alton Brown of the Food Network has a good description on that site and the recipe I used for the brine was influenced by his.I can post it if you like.
    I seldom use a browning bag, but do get the pop-up from our local cooking goods store (Peppercorn). I also don't usually use stuffing as it complicates getting fully cooked stuffing and bird, but make a dressing (same stuff) and heat it during the last 45 minutes or so of baking the bird, wrapped in foil or parchment. Because of the brining (I think) there was more juices for the gravy. I made a turkey fat and flour roue and added the juices to that. It came out perfectly, and is great for heating left-over meat, either with mashed potatoes (also may be left-overs) or open faced sandwiches. Just like our mom used to do.

    Brother No-handle.

  7. Dear Brother No-Handle,
    Your turkey sounds wonderful! I've wondered about brined turkey and how it would work out. Alton Brown is a good start for inspiration. I would love to do a guest post with your experiences with the brinded turkey...including that yummy sounding gravy. Want to send me a Word file and some photos via e-mail so I can post 'em?