Caveat ~ I am posting this repeat from the last two years because 1. I am lazy and 2. I will soon be having a scrumptious feast in San Francisco with my French flatmates John and Pierre and some of their closest French friends who came out to California for this year's Thanksgiving. No way was I going to miss out on this dinner so I hopped on a plane, San Francisco or bust. Pictures and stories are forthcoming :)
For the third year in a row, I won't be in front of the TV early Thursday morning watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Did you know that the parade was not started by Macy’s, but rather their employees? The employees of Macy’s were once made up mostly of immigrants who were truly appreciative of their lives and opportunities here in the United States.
All from different backgrounds, countries and religions, they gathered at 125th Street dressed as clowns and other costumes carrying balloons. They marched down to 34th Street in celebration and gratitude to Macy’s. 250,000 people came out to watch and be part of the celebration of life itself. It was such a success that Macy’s fully embraced it the following year and it has been part of our tradition ever since. That was back in 1927. Incroyable, non?
Bon Appetit! and a very Happy Thanksgiving to you all! May you have much to be grateful for... I know I do!Meilleurs voeux de San Francisco ~ Best wishes from San Francisco. Laura
Turkey Trivia: When Neil Armstrong and Edwin 'Buzz' Aldrin sat down to eat their first meal on the moon, their foil food packets contained roasted turkey and all of the trimmings.
Voila three different stuffing recipes: Apple-Cranberry Sage Dressing, Sausage Fennel Stuffing, Apple & Sausage Stuffing... I've never made these and I have no idea where they originated, I just found them in my three-foot high stack of recipes ripped from magazine and newspapers, scribbled on napkins, menus, computer print outs, in-flight magazines, etc... There's a complimentary cocktail in there somewhere, but I digress... Have at 'em and if you do end up making one of them, please let me know how it turns out!
Apple-Cranberry Sage Dressing
3 C sour dough bread cubed, fresh or day-old 1/2 C chicken stock 3 eggs, beaten 1/4 C whole milk 2 onions, diced 2 tbsp butter 3 Granny Smith apples, cut into 1/2" dice 1/2 C dried cranberries 3 tbsp chopped fresh sage (1/2 the amount if dried) sea salt & fresh ground pepper
1. preheat the oven to 375F 2. soak the bread cubes in the chicken stock, egg, and milk until all the liquid is absorbed. 3. sauté the onions in the butter until translucent. add the apples, cook until the apples just start to soften (about 7 to 8 minutes). 4. remove from the heat and cool 5. combine the onion and apples with the bread cubes. 6. Gently combine in the sage, cranberries and s&p. 7. pour the mixture into a 2-quart ovenproof dish. 8. bake for 35 minutes and serve hot in the same baking dish.
Sausage Fennel Stuffing
1 lb sweet Italian sausage, casing discarded 1/2 stick (1/4 C) butter 2 onions, small dice 2 medium fennel bulbs, cut in half and finely slice 2 tsp fennel seeds, ground 1/4 C Pernod 2 tsp dried thyme 2 tsp dried tarragon 5 C corn bread for stuffing
1. in a large heavy skillet, cook sausage over med-high heat, stirring and breaking up lumps with a fork, until no longer pink. Transfer sausage with a slotted spoon to a large bowl. 2. add butter to fat remaining in skillet and cook onions, chopped fennel, fennel seeds over medium heat, stirring, until fennel is softened, about 10 minutes. 3. add Pernod, thyme, and tarragon. cook, stirring, until most liquid is evaporated. 4. add mixture to sausage with corn bread and toss to combine well. 5. add salt and pepper as needed. add to turkey and cook.
note: you can make this stuffing 2 days ahead, just chill and cover
Apple & Sausage Stuffing
1 lb sweet Italian sausage, casings removed 1/4 C (1/2 stick) butter 5 C chopped onion, small dice 2 C chopped celery 8 C diced Granny Smith apples 1 tbsp dried sage 2 tsp dried thyme 1/2 esp ground allspice 5-1/2 C cubed foccacia
1. preheat oven to 350F 2. sauté sausage in large pan over med-high heat until cooked through, crumbling sausage with fork. with a slotted spoon, transfer sausage to large bowl and set aside. 3. add butter, onions and celery to pan and sauté until onions are tender. 4. add apples and sauté until tender but still hold shape 5. add sage, thyme and allspice, sauté 1 minute. 6. add to sausage. stir in stuffing mix and season with salt and pepper. 7. butter baking dish and add stuffing, cover with foil and bake until heated through, approx 45 minutes.
note: you can make this stuffing 2 days ahead, just chill and cover
Turkey Trivia: The state game bird of Alabama is the turkey. No wonder given that Alabama has one of the largest per acre populations of wild turkeys of any state.
These Thanksgiving recipes are courtesy of one of my favorite Napa Valley chefs, Michael Chiarello. Before I ever dreamed of donning a chef's jacket and clogs, I volunteered to work in the back kitchen of Michael's PBS cooking show Casual Cooking. He immediately made me feel welcome and his ease and confidence in the kitchen was remarkable. His philosophy and approach to food and la dolce vita is nothing short of inspiring. Here are a few of his specialties. One of my favorite pans is his cocorico. This is the coolest thing ever! When I'm in San Francisco, I use it all the time (it's too big to fit in my suitcase) and I've convinced most of my friends to buy one too. Check back after Thanksgiving when I'll post some of his Thanksgiving Leftovers recipes... Tutti a tavola e mangia bene!
A few of the spices for the pumpkin soup—cinnamon, ginger, all spice, cayenne, paprika, cumin, cardamom seeds
Turkey Trivia: Long before Europeans came to America, the Aztecs had domesticated turkeys. They used them for food, for religious sacrifices and the feathers for decoration.
Last year I celebrated Thanskgiving THREE times so needless to say I haven't been able to look at turkey since then but here are a few killer, cholesteral-inducing, absolutely delicious recipes from last year:
and the Thanksgiving Tree...my friends Kendall and Bob put this up and we all added leaves written with things we were most thankful for. A lovely tradition and a wonderful, creative way to remind us just what exactly we were celebrating, though it's not hard to forget when you are 6,000 miles from home...
Turkey Trivia: Almost 50% of Americans eat turkey at least once every 2 weeks and an estimated 95% of Americans eat turkey at Thanksgiving.
Lately I've received a slew of emails requesting ideas, recipes, and menus for Thanskgiving so I thought it would be easier to post a few each day until Thanksgiving. This first post is courtesy of Williams-Sonoma who can always be counted on for good, solid recipes and copious amounts of alluring accessories that one simply must have in order to cook that recipe. So if you can resist the lure of that ridiculously overpriced copper pot, I'm sure your stuffing will be just as delicious. Happy cooking....
Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé! The New Beaujolais has arrived! In a rare display of marketing acumen, a practice normally scorned and reviled throughout French vineyards, the Beaujolais producers created not only an event but a tradition that has now permeated even the smallest wine shops around the world. What began as a local celebration of the yearly release is now a global phenomenon, with French decree that the release of Beaujolais Nouveau is to be no earlier than midnight on the third Thursday of November.
So today at 12:01 a.m. November 16, 2006, over a million cases of Beaujolais Nouveau began their journey to all corners of the world via Fedex, La Poste, Vespas, wheelbarrows, camels and any other mode of transportation imaginable. With over 120 million bottles produced, over half will be consumed almost immediately. And with the increasingly elaborate methods of wine production, it’s remarkable that barely a month earlier the wine was still encased in grapes. A quick harvest, swift fermentation and even faster bottling, badda-bing-badda-boom!, it is ready to ship on the third Thursday of every November! The Gamay grapes are pressed within a few days of picking, thus eliminating the astringent tannins normally attributed to red wines, so Beaujolais is much lighter, fruity and tres easy to drink. To me it tastes like Kool-Aid but then again my wine knowledge would fit in a thimble...so enjoy! Cheers!
Gardens of the Palais Royal ~ Paris, November 2006
I was working out of my friend's office the other day which is in the Palais Royal. He was gazing out the window so I walked over to the window and he smiled and said, "This is as good as it gets." I love how the French take time to stop and smell the roses and appreciate life and beauty around them. The camera of course doesn't do justice to the vibrant colors of the leaves. The weather was rather wacky (read: global warming) so we didn't get the reds this year but regardelss, it was still beautiful. You couldn't see them through the trees yet but you could hear the shouts of children playing and the soothing splashing of the fountain.
Autumn harvest from the market ~ potimarron, squash, pomegranates, persimmons and little green kiwai
How six months morphed into thirty months is more than my little brain can comprehend. When I set out on this culinary adventure with one duffel bag, three pairs of shoes (including my cooking clogs) and my precious set of knives, my goal was to survive six months then move to New York to cook in a kitchen there. I had no intention of staying and actually my most haunting fear as I boarded the plane was whether or not I'd be able to make it the entire six months. I was in tears the day before I left at my friend M & B's house. She said: "What are you afraid of?" I sniffled: "That I will fail and have to come home early." Her response: "So what?" Sage advice in hindsight. At the time it was the worst outcome imaginable and I threw myself on the bed, inconsolable. Click here to read how I celebrated two and a half years in France...