24.11.05

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!
I can't wait to hear about yours...

and for those of my friends outside the US -
I hope you had a wonderful weekend too!


I love Thanksgiving. How could someone that loves food not love a holiday that practically demands that you sit down at a table full of friends and family in front of a spread like no other the whole year? As I've become accustomed to living far away from my family and being a student with little monetary means, Thanksgiving has become more of a time to enjoy myself with friends, and Christmas is now the holiday I can't imagine not going home to spend it with my family. This year, we were graciously invited to spend it with friends from our Supper Club and their family...and my first thought? Whew...stress free!

I haven't always gotten off so easily. We've hosted Thanksgiving the last two years at our house...two years ago with about 14 friends, and last year we cooked the entire meal (yes, we're crazy) because my father and my stepmom were able to join us from chilly Alaska for the weekend. Thanksgiving usually has it's shares of disasters. Two years ago, we almost burnt the house down. I decided to make a pumpkin cheesecake - armed with a brand new (to me) springform pan second-hand from the Goodwill (don't follow in my footsteps...I repeat...do not buy your springform pan from the Goodwill!). After the butter dripped all over my oven, un-beknownst to me, Loving Boyfriend made his famous apple pie and turned the oven up to 400F. Soon after, the entire oven was engulfed in flames! We freaked out, Loving Boyfriend threw a glass full of WATER on the butter-fire, which of course caused the fire shoot out of the oven, and we freaked out even more. I finally closed the door and turned the oven off - which put the flames out - all of this only about 30 minutes before our 14 guests arrived.

Last year was full of days of stressful preparation, most of my paycheck in food supplies and last minute rushed shopping trips for gadgets I didn't have and didn't know I needed - like a turkey baster, or a roasting pan... and nothing terrible happened thank God. It was my first time cooking a turkey, and it came out surprisingly well. We brined it overnight in an apple cider mixture, and it turned out juicy and delicious. Our biggest dilemma was realizing that the roasting pan we bought didn't really fit in the oven, and so tipped forward (because we had to push it all the way to the back of the oven, where that little lip on the rack is) and allowed all the juices to run to one side while the other side burned. Luckily the burning didn't flavor the turkey like charcoal, and Loving Boyfriend saved the day by making a tin-foil lip on the front side of the rack.

So this Thanksgiving really was stress-free. We were in charge of the mashed potatoes and the stuffing. BTW - Loving Boyfriend and I are having an argument about whether or not you can have both mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes in the same Thanksgiving meal...he says no to two types of potatoes in the same meal, I say that's ridiculous, you're 'supposed' to have both...anyone supporting me is welcome to voice their agreement :) So there, LB!

I found this recipe in Gourmet last month, and it was delicious, although a little too mushroomy for my tastes (if there is such a thing) so next time, I think I'll use mostly veggie broth, with only a cup or two of the reserved liquid.

Rustic Porcini and Onion Stuffing, from Gourmet

1 1/2 (1-lb) Pullman or round loaves, torn into 1-inch pieces (20 cups)
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter plus additional for greasing dish
4 1/2 cups boiling-hot water
2 oz dried porcini mushrooms (sometimes called c├Ępes; 54 g)
10 oz fresh white mushrooms, cut into 1/2-inch wedges (3 cups)
1 large onion, halved lengthwise, then sliced crosswise 1/2 inch thick
4 large shallots, quartered
2 celery ribs, sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 medium carrots, halved lengthwise, then sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Spread bread in 2 large shallow baking pans and bake in upper and lower thirds of oven, stirring occasionally and switching position of pans halfway through baking, until dry, 20 to 25 minutes total. Transfer bread to a large bowl.

Increase oven temperature to 450°F and butter a 13- by 9-inch baking dish (3-quart capacity).

Pour boiling-hot water over porcini and soak 20 minutes, then drain in a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl, squeezing porcini and reserving soaking liquid. Rinse porcini under cold water to remove any grit, then squeeze out excess water and coarsely chop.

While porcini soak, heat butter (1 stick) in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then cook white mushrooms, onion, and shallots, stirring occasionally, until golden, 15 to 20 minutes. Add celery, carrots, garlic, and porcini and cook, stirring, 5 minutes. Stir in thyme, sage, parsley, salt, and pepper, then add vegetables to bread, tossing to combine.

Add 1 cup reserved porcini-soaking liquid to skillet and deglaze by boiling over high heat, stirring and scraping up brown bits, 1 minute. Add remaining soaking liquid and salt and pepper to taste and pour over bread mixture, tossing to coat evenly.

Spread stuffing in baking dish and cover tightly with buttered foil (buttered side down), then bake in upper third of oven until heated through, about 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake stuffing until top is browned, 10 to 15 minutes more.

Notes:
• Stuffing can be assembled (but not baked) 2 days ahead and chilled, covered.
• Stuffing can be baked 6 hours ahead and kept, uncovered, at room temperature. Reheat, uncovered, in a 350°F oven until hot, about 30 minutes (test center with a wooden pick for warmth).

Makes 8 to 10 servings.

My Notes: Like I said above, it was a little mushroomy for my tastes, but everyone else seemed to like it. I also may not have gotten the bread quite dry enough because it was very moist, although I read some suggestions about it not being moist enough...but this also could have been because it sat, covered in tin foil for almost an hour, until we ate. And if anyone can tell me what a "Pullman" loaf is, I'd appreciate it...the bakery where I got my bread didn't even know, so I just used a loaf of crusty "American white."

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend!


6 comments from you:

Melissa CookingDiva said...

Happy Thanksgiving to you too!!! Not much going on here...just a quiet, yummy dinner at home :) HUGS.

J said...

hi michelle, happy thanksgiving! can't wait to hear all about it

michelle said...

Hi Melissa!
Hugs to you too over there in Panama! But now I'm curious about what your yummy dinner at home was... :)

Hi J!
I'm going to have to head on over to your site now and see what gorgeous delicacies you've been creating...

vlb5757 said...

Michelle, for someone who says she's still learning, seems to me that you are doing just great. How nice that you got invited to someone's house and to NOT have to cook a huge meal. The only thing I hate about going to someone else's house is that I don't have leftovers to eat on for a few days.

Stove mishaps are more common than you know. Remind me sometime to tell you about three fires I have have had. It was my own fault. It wasn't funny when it happened but thankfully I can laugh now a few years later!

Dawn said...

Hi Michelle, your Thanksgiving sounded nice. I also got lucky enough to be invited elsewhere...just posted about it. Here is a Pullman loaf:

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/110

It looks like one of those perfectly square loaves they use for little cocktail sandwiches. Apparently, they make/sell Pullman loaf pans, which have a top on them. It is probably the top that gives them the perfect square shape. You can buy one here:

http://www.pastrychef.com/Catalog/pullman_loaf_pan_915153.htm

I haven't had the chance to make a turkey at home, but I suspect that after we move next year, the opportunity will arise. And I hope that I have an oven that's big enough!

michelle said...

Hi Vickie!
Thanks for the compliment, I try my best! Believe me, I've been missing the leftovers too - we're out of food and waiting until payday to go shopping for more! I'll be prying you for those stories soon...

Hi Dawn!
I'll have to go and check your post out. Thanks for all the info on Pullman loaves - I've seen them before, but I had no idea that's what they're called. Perhaps next time I'll just have to make my own. I'm sure when you get your chance, your turkey will be awesome - I've seen your cooking!