Friday, December 9, 2011

First Thanksgiving (and a couple tasty tasty recipes).

This past Thanksgiving was pretty novel in a bunch of ways. It was Jim's first, of course, but also the first for Noah and me together, and the first one where I actually was responsible for cooking stuff. Fortunately, I had some slave labor to help me. Minions are exceedingly helpful - I highly recommend having some if you're planning on being in the kitchen all day.

Jim benevolently amuses the help.

We had just a small dinner, Noah and Jim and me, Emmy and Ilya (my sister and brother-in-law, for the three of you who don't know), and a couple of Noah's military buddies who decided to drop by for munchies. I'd like to take this moment to point out that young single military men are just like puppies - clumsy, uncertain of social norms (puppies are like that, right?), and eager for free food. This makes them both entertaining and natural choices to pad out a holiday table.

You can't see the sweet potatoes in his armpits, but trust me, they're there.

For me, of course, Jim was the most fun part of the whole thing. He was pretty happy to just sit at the table cramming food into his mouth, and smearing it on his tray, and wiping it on his onesie, and dropping it on the floor for Bruce, and shoving it down in the crevices of his high chair. He had mashed potatoes in his eyebrows at the end. His favorite things were probably the turkey and the sweet potatoes, but he seemed pretty taken with everything.

Pumpkin pie and chocolate espresso pecan pie, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, rolls and butter, cranberry sauce and stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, and a very ugly (but very juicy) turkey. SUCCESS.

Honestly, I'm pretty proud of us (me and Emmy, mostly, but Ilya and Noah helped too, and Jim provided moral support) for making a massive amount of food in one day. The turkey was not the prettiest thing ever, but it tasted great. The stuffing and rolls were pre-packaged, since I didn't want to mess with them. The mashed potatoes were sufficiently potato-y, but the gravy was a bit of a failure and had to be fortified with the weird packet that came with the turkey. The sweet potatoes and green beans were both delicious, of course, and the pumpkin pie was similar to the turkey - ugly but tasty.

I would've been happy to eat just these (and subsequently die of diabetes and malnutrition).

Would you believe I've never eaten cranberry sauce before in my life? I grabbed some cranberries at the store on a whim, because, you know, you're supposed to have cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving, so I thought I'd give it a shot. And lo, it was incredible. And incredibly easy. The recipe is laughable, honestly. Here:

Cranberry Sauce
1 cup orange juice
1 cup sugar
12 oz bag of cranberries

Mix juice and sugar in saucepan over medium heat. Add cranberries. Cook until it looks like sauce. Eat it all warm out of the pan because it's freaking delicious.

It's so good. Yeah, I know, everybody else in the USA already knows how good cranberry sauce is probably, but I just discovered it, so... Bear with me. I kind of want to make some right now and eat it hot over vanilla ice cream. I don't see why people save it for Thanksgiving.

The other food highlight for me was the chocolate espresso pecan pie. Sounds fancy, tastes fancy, festive yet different. I made this at Noah's behest, and will probably make it many more times at my own behest. It's ridiculously rich and not overly sweet, so if you make it, serve it in thin slices with a nice dollop of whipped cream. I very slightly modified this girl's recipe. You should go drool over her pictures because they're way better than mine.

Chocolate Espresso Pecan Pie
9" pie crust of your choice, prebaked
3 oz unsweetened baking chocolate, chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 eggs
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup white sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
1 tablespoons hot water
2 tablespoons Kahlua
2 cups pecans, chopped
1/2 cup pecan halves (pick out the pretty ones)

Melt the chocolate and butter over very low heat, stirring frequently (that's the most tedious part of the whole thing). While it's cooling, mix together the eggs, corn syrup, sugar, and salt. Dissolve the espresso powder in the water and that to the egg mixture along with the Kahlua and chocolate. Whisk it all together until it's nice and smooth. Dump the chopped pecans in the pie shell and arrange the pretty halves around the edges of the crust on top of the chopped ones. Pour the filling into the middle of the pie and fix any of the pecan halves that float out of place. Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes, depending on how gooey you want it. The pie will kind of puff up a bit when it's done. Cool it on a rack.


Ilya said...

Seeing that chocolate espresso pie here again just made me salivate uncontrollably. It was one of the best pies I've ever had.

Rosa said...

Looks fantastic. Was it your Mom's sweet potato casserole? That is great too. You definitely put a lot of time into preparation. Good show(said with a British accent). Thanks for the recipes too! Cranberries are hard to find fresh at any other time of year so buy them now and freeze them-just throw the bag into the freezer in a ziploc-so you can make the sauce all year. I like the idea of that on vanilla ice cream, yum!