Recipe Test Nest » 5 Star » Thanksgiving for 14
Thanksgiving for 14

I decided to stay in NYC for Thanksgiving this year and host a big TEST NEST feast – I ended up having 14 testers. A friend who was leaving town let me use his apartment so I could comfortably fit two tables, serving tables and have access to an additional oven and fridge (not to mention that it was right across the street so easy to run back and forth between the two apartments). I wouldn’t have been able to do it without his place, so thanks David!

I eased a little of the stress by having others make some of the side dishes and desserts. I made the Turkey (1st time all by myself) and also decided to do a stuffed pork loin, just in case. My wonderful testers included Morgan Bassett, Gabriel Jones, Carlynne Cutler, Jason Robertson, Kim Clark, Chloe Andersen, Sharon Jewell, Steve Smith, Liz Johnson, Laura Oberg, and Bryan Whitechurch. My best friend Hilary also came up from DC and joined us with her husband Nate, and beautiful daughters Mayumi and Emiko.

Cranberry Fizz (4 Star)

Other than squeezing limes, this was really easy and a delightful pairing to the whole menu. Kim suggested it would be nice with ginger ale as well to cut down the sweetness and still give a kick. The mixture is cranberry juice, lime juice, lime soda and sprinkle some lime zest on the top.

Roast Turkey with Mosaic of Sage and Orzo Porcini Stuffing (4.5 Star)

I used an oven bag rather than baste the Turkey. I rubbed it with Olive Oil, sprinkled with Salt and Pepper, stuffed sage under the skin and filled the cavity with the orzo stuffing. Then I brushed it with butter, pored white wine over it and added extra sage and wine into the oven bag to infuse. The orzo stuffing was not traditional at all but really yummy and a nice change (lighter). I’ll definitely make the combo again, but I think my favorite turkey recipe is a Moroccan rub that I stumbled upon a few years back. It has become a bit tradition for my mom and me.

Cider-Shallot Pan Gravy (4 Star)

This gravy is to die for, I think its one of the best gravy’s I’ve ever made. The juice from the Turkey was already delightful with the sage and wine in it so the addition of shallots and apple cider was divine. In a small sauté pan over medium heat, melt a little butter. Add the shallots and thyme and cook for 5 minutes. Add about 6 T. flour and cook, stirring rapidly, for 2 minutes. Rapidly whisk in the reserved pan drippings and more stock as needed. Cook, stirring constantly, until the gravy is thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Strain and serve.

Pork Loin stuffed with Sausage, Apple and Thyme Stuffing (5 Star)

Since I still wanted to try a more traditional stuffing recipe I decided to stuff a pork loin and roast it. You have to tie the loin with butcher string so that it will stay together and then bake it at 350 for about 45mins to an hour. Kim said it was the best stuffing of her life, and it was really yummy with the pork loin.

Cranberry Relish (5 Star)

A definite keeper, I got it from a collective cookbook and the caption said once you make this you’ll never make any other cranberry sauces for Thanksgiving. This was definitely a hit and packed full of flavor. The only thing is that it’s not a good recipe if you want to make cranberry pancakes with the leftovers. Bring to a boil 1 package cranberries with 2 cups sugar, 1 small can crushed pineapple, 1 orange cut up with peel on, 2 apples peeled and cored into quarters. Then puree it and let sit 24 hours before serving.

Fresh Pea and Apple Puree (throw) / Turnip and Pear Puree (3.5 Stars)

These purees were in a Martha Stewart Entertaining cookbook that I have and these were part of her Thanksgiving feast (as well as the Turkey and Orzo recipes). While I’ll probably not make the pea and apple again (but it was a hit with Stella, the Gardner’s baby) the turnip and pear was awesome. It’s probably a good idea to only have one puree with any meal.

Potato Gratin with Thyme (3 Star)

This recipe was good but didn’t wow. It had garlic, butter, onions, salt, pepper, nutmeg, Gruyere cheese, whole milk and then you sprinkle minced thyme on top after it is baked. I think I will add the Thyme half way through cooking next time and increase the garlic and nutmeg. Of course you can always add more cheese.

Spinach with Garlic (3 Star)

This is a simple recipe to make and the garlic added great flavor (definitely use more). All you need to do is sauté the sliced garlic with a little butter, until fragrant, and then sauté the spinach (steams removed) until slightly wilted.

Other dinner items were yams and apples made by Kim, AMAZING Brussels sprouts made by Steve and dinner rolls made by Carlynne.

Laura Oberg helped me with taking pictures but we cleaned up before diving into dessert and she had to take off, so I didn’t remember to get a pictures of the wonderful spread of desserts. I made some hot chocolate in the crock-pot that was thick, rich and creamy. Hilary made some of the best Baklava I’ve ever had, Carlynne made a pumpkin pie because you have to have a pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving. Sharon made pumpkin chocolate chip cookies and Kim made a yummy cranberry cake with browned butter sauce. Here are some of the recipes.

Hot Chocolate (5 Star)

Combine 1/3 cup sugar, ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, ¼ t. salt and ½ cup milk in crock-pot. Wisk until smooth. Add remaining 2 ½ cups milk and ¾ t. vanilla. Cover; cook on LOW 2 hours. Add 1 cup heavy cream, 1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, 1 ounce white chocolate and stir until melted. Top with whipped cream or other toppings as desired.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cookie dough: 1 c of butter, 1 c sugar, 1 c pumpkin, 1 egg, 1 teas vanilla, 2 c flour, 1 teas baking powder, 1 teas baking soda, 1 teas cinnamon, 1/2 teas salt, 1 c chocolate chips

Frosting ingredients: 3 T butter, 3 T milk, ½ c packed brown sugar, 1-2 c powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Blend butter with sugar. Add in pumpkin and egg. Mix flour with baking powder, soda, cinnamon, and salt. Blend the two groups together, add in vanilla, then fold in chocolate chips. Drop by spoonfuls onto baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes at 375 degrees.

Melt frosting ingredients over stove and boil for 2 minutes. Take off, add enough powdered sugar so it can spread easily, between 1-2 cups. Frost cookies when they have cooled.

2 Comments (Leave a Reply)

  1. Smart and glamorous mom (December 20, 2010)

    Who IS that beautiful baby covered in pesto? She must have a glamorous mother.

    I opened this blogpost with Mayumi by my side and she immediately said "New York! I want to go to New York!" She recognized the photos and their origin RIGHT off the bat, without a word from me. Smart girl. I wonder who HER mother is?

  2. Smart and glamorous mom (December 20, 2010)

    Let me add–the food, the hostess, and the company was wonderful. Aside from the pea puree, it was five star. :-)

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