October 15, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

 Continuing on with my annual tradition, I hosted our 3rd Thanksgiving dinner! We didn't always go all out with a turkey and whatnot, actually I don't believe I grew up having a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. I remember wanting to start a family tradition and so here we are! 

I ran a one woman show in terms of prepping and cooking, with the exception of my mother making a couple appetisers (deep fried vegan won tons with sweet chili sauce and sweet and sour tofu skins). It's the way I like it, since I am very much a Kitchen Nazi, super controlling and a perfectionist when it comes to hosting dinners! If you've hung around you'd know. If I've yelled at you, I'm sorry and if you've cried because of it, get out of the kitchen. 

Just joking!!

Kind of. 

 Planning started early, because I like to be organised. I got a turkey as soon as they were on sale and defrosting took about four days. In those four days, I took a couple hours each day to make whatever I could in advance! This included cooking up an apple crisp filling, drying bread in the oven for stuffing, prepping mirepoix, caramelising onions, making the cranberry pear compote and roasting an entire duck for dinner one night, to save the stock and it's fat - just to name a couple things. 

Oh, duck fat. It's called liquid gold for a reason and if you haven't had it, go find out for yourself why it is so, so good. The night before Thanksgiving dinner, I prepped the bird but washing it, drying it and letting it sit uncovered in the fridge over night. I was told that this aids to dry out the skin and from my past experiences it has worked, so I do it! Then on the next day, an hour or so before it goes into the oven, I'll take it out to get it to warm to room temperature. Even cooking is a good thing. I also inject the bird with a mixture of edible moisturisers, such as duck fat, butter, salt and chicken stock. When  this happens, I usually feel like a doctor, or a mortician of fowl. Then the turkey gets a good slathering of fat and it's off to get roasted for about four hours and thirty minutes.

 Here's a little center piece I threw together using apples and pears from the local park and some chrysanthemum flowers from my garden. I love the cake plate and chrome birds!

 I made sweet and savoury spiced almonds, which was coated in egg white, brown sugar and autumnal spices.

 Then there was the sausage, apple and raisin bread dressing. The sausage was made from ground chicken seasoned with fennel seeds, paprika, celery salt, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper and chili flakes.

 It's not a turkey dinner without a cranberry sauce! This one had cranberry and pear. Call it a compote if you will, it was delicious.

 There can never be enough food. In addition to the turkey, I also decided to cook up a couple chicken breasts which was rubbed with fresh basil and rosemary from the garden. They were seasoned, pan fried for colour and allowed to finish cooking in the oven. Tender, juicy and flavourful! 

 Mmmm...silky smooth sweet potato mash. Need I say more? This dish was vegan, but you could never tell. I replaced cows milk with unsweetened almond milk and used vegan buttery sticks in place of butter then just added a spoon or two of brown sugar. I could eat this all the time and never get sick of it!

 It's been awhile since I broke my potato ricer (it's on my Christmas list this year)! I never realised how seriously awesome it was until I was mashing the potatoes you see below. I miss it, a lot. It made my life easier and I could eat and serve lump free potato mash!

 Since I was potato ricer-less, I mashed my gold potatoes by hand. Using the sieve method didn't work to well and I wasn't about to use a food processor. So I'm calling these RUSTIC mashed potatoes. These were also vegan and while the taste was buttery and good, the texture was not something I fancied too much. 

I still ate it though as my gravy (not shown) was lonely. 

Above, is a zucchini and red pepper casserole. It's very much like a crust-less quiche, but with more body due to the addition of biscuit mix. Of course, I had to be mix-less, so good old Google led me to a "DIY Bisquick Recipe". It worked perfect! I even made vegan garlic and herb biscuits for everyone to take home to enjoy the next morning and it was effortless. One cup of mix + 1/3 of milk (alternative).

By this time (the time when the bird was just about done), the sun had pretty much set and my beloved natural light had vanished.

Four and a half hours later and after about a good forty-five minute rest, here's the turkey in all it's glorious-ness!

 It was plump, moist, flavourful and juicy. Whoever said that turkey meat is dry and bland was doing it wrong. 

Check out the colour on this thing! Beautiful bronzed and brilliant. I will admit, that the top could be a little darker though. Oh well, next year!

 Delicious crispy skin. I wish I could have skinned the entire thing and just munched on that!

 Of course, there had to be greens. I decided on brussles sprouts with savoury granola. The granola was seasoned with sesame oil, soy sauce, maple syrup, garlic and sesame seeds and along side the oats were quinoa seeds. It added a nice textural contrast!

 My favourite way to eat eggs, are devilled. These were so yummy, I'm thinking of making them tomorrow just so I can pig out. 

The method I use to perfectly boil eggs, is to fill a pot with cold water, add a little white vinegar  and add the eggs. Without the lid on, turn the heat up until the water boils and when it does, remove the pot from the heat and time for eight minutes. Once those minutes are up, transfer the eggs into ice cold water to stop it from cooking any further. Once cool, peel. 

I mash the yolks by using a garlic press. Same concept as a potato ricer, but mini! Then I combine it with Hellmann's Mayonnaise, a little white vinegar, herbs, salt, pepper and a tiny touch of granulated garlic. After the whites have been filled, a little smoked paprika to make it pretty.

 Turkey carving is getting a little easier each year, thankfully. It takes under ten minutes and although it may not be perfect, practising twice a year helps!

I usually only serve the oyster meat, the thighs, breasts and drumsticks. The rest are for leftovers (turkey sandwiches, many ways!) and the carcass for soup! Nothing gets wasted. 

 My plate of goodness, with a little bit of everything on it!

Dessert included a gigantic apple pie, which was brought over by Denise, vegan apple crumble, cheesecake (from a mix, by JELL-O which came in a box), Oreo ice cream sandwiches and lemon Italian ice brought over by family. Yum! 

Over all it was a lovely gathering and I'm thankful for having all of them in my life. Good company and good food! The perfect recipe for a good time! 

Thank you to everyone who joined my family and I for dinner. Christmas at my house?

P.S. To top it all off, as I was cooking up a storm in the kitchen I stopped to check my email on my phone. I'm part of an online community called FreeCycle, so whenever someone posts in my area, I get notified. Usually it's people offering second hand clothing and random appliances, but this time I saw the words "HOCKEY", "TICKETS", "TORONTO" AND "TUESDAY". I hit the reply button immediately and offered to pick them up. Minutes later, I get a reply telling me they're taped to the door and to come and get them. NO WAYYYYY!! But yep, it was true. It turns out the buyer bought the tickets without realizing he wouldn't be in town and had no time to scalp them off. He wanted to do something nice and give them out to someone who'd use them. ME.

Bonus points, as this guy lives literally minutes away from me. We're practically neighbors.
So, free Leafs tickets, going with my dad. Best Thanksgiving treat!
Now instead of yelling at the television like a lunatic, I can yell and cheer with the rest of them. Haha.

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Hi, I'm Janetta from Toronto. I cook, bake and often veganize recipes. I photograph nearly everything and those photos will most likely end up being posted here. I've got a little black cat named Tank, who's really cute and a little bit nosy. You'll see a lot of photos of her too!

Contact me at: jubesandtank@gmail.com

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