Monday, November 24, 2008

No-stress Thanksgiving Day and Evening with Your Guests

How to Have an Enjoyable No-stress
Thanksgiving Day and Evening with Your Guests

Compliments of my friend and chef Claire Idhammar

To all of you who are ready and/or may be stressed to cook for Thanksgiving here are some simple suggestions and tips from some of your favorite chefs on the Food Network, gourmet magazines and …myself, Claire Idhammar of My Two Countries.com.

PREPARATION
Schedule ahead
1. Do not shop too late. If you do, just simplify the meal as much as possible.
2. Preparation is important. Be sure to coordinate the cooking times for your feast
3. Prepare dish by dish and cleanup as you go
4. Have your all your ingredients and cooking tools available: good sharpened knives, salt/pepper, oils/butter, spices and herbs

CUTTING BOARDS: Use easy to handle boards
Wooden ones for vegetables, bread, and carving meat
Plastic boards for raw meat/poultry

COOKING YOUR TURKEY
1. It is strongly suggested to follow the cooking times on your bird.
2. For example: a 3 pound Turkey Breast should be cooked approximately 2 ½ hours to reach 155 degrees inside.
3. Tip: For a moister turkey, stay on the safe side and cook at a lower temperature for a longer period of time.
4. After roasting keep your turkey covered with foil in a 200 degree oven before serving.
5. Let your turkey rest for 15 minutes before carving.

DRESSING or STUFFING?
1. If using a whole bird your first choice should be dressing on the side so your bird will cook
uniformly in the oven.
2. If you choose to stuff the bird make it simple like apple, celery, and chestnut mix.

CARVING YOUR BIRD
1. Start from the backbone on either side from the skin inward and slice downward.

A USEFUL SCHEDULE
1. Prepare and marinade your turkey 12-24 hours the day before
2. Marinade should be done the day before- (24 hours in brine)
3. Stuffing can be made the day before and oven cooked Thanksgiving day
4. Gravy - 2 hours before or even the day before
5. Main dish - Thanksgiving Day

SIDE DISHES
1. Plan for 2 or 3 sides
2. Have one strong side dish – mashed Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, Potatoes au Gratin, mashed yam/sweet potatoes
3. 1 or 2 more supportive sides – string beans, artichoke casseroles, and/or other creative personal sides.
4. Cranberry sauce - (store bought with a personal touch of chopped pecans and orange zest) or made from scratch.
5. Serve your preferred salad (light and fresh).

DESSERTS - Serve cookies, fruits, pies and sweets with coffee or tea
1. Tip: Ask your guests to bring their favorite dessert.
2. If you prepare desert choose a light desert (Mousse au Chocolat) – apple pie (simple and easy to prepare).
3. Store bought pies - pecan pie with a spoon of ice cream; a traditional pumpkin pie with topping.
4. And store bought cookies for the kids.

3 DELICIOUS RECEIPES FOR YOU
*Cranberry – Ginger Sauce
*Artichoke casserole
*Cranberry Sauce Cider with Cinnamon

CRANBERRY-GINGER SAUCE - Ah Martha !!! from my collection. One of my preferred sauces. It can be made 3 days ahead and kept refrigerated
1 bag of fresh or frozen cranberries- (12 oz.)
1 cup of sugar
1 tablespoon of fresh grated ginger
2 tablespoon of water
2 tablespoon sherry vinegar – (red vinegar can be an option)
Bring the first four ingredients to boil in a saucepan, at good heat, let the cranberries pop and then simmer 15 minutes at medium low heat
Stir in, one tablespoon at a time, the vinegar, to adjust the tartness. Adjust to your taste adding a sprinkle or two of sugar .
Let cool at room temperature and refrigerate up to 3 days
Serve with some ginger zest-

ROSE'S BAKED HEART of ARTICHOKES
(8 servings)
4 medium Russet potatoes
3 packages of thawed / drained artichokes
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 table spoons of fresh lemon juice
2 garlic gloves
1 small chopped onion
¼ cup Pecorino Romano
¼ cup Parmesan cheese both grated
Breadcrumbs to cover
Fresh herbs (parsley, thyme , rosemary) or dried herbs blend
1 teaspoon of coarse salt
Small pieces of butter
Boil potatoes , when cooked and cooled make ½ inches rounds slices
Preheat Oven at 325 degrees
Combine Cheeses, parsley, breadcrumbs, herbs, salt in a medium bowl and stir
Brush 2 large baking dishes with olive oil. Lay artichokes and potatoes in a single tight layer
Sprinkle with breadcrumbs , cheese mixture
Whisk lemon juices , oil and garlic and drizzle over the breadcrumbs topping , add some lemon zest, small pieces of butter
Cover dishes with parchment and foil, bake for 30 minutes – increase oven temperature at 375 degrees.
Continue to bake uncover until breadcrumbs are brown and crispy, 20 minutes –Serve hot.

CRANBERRY SAUCE CIDER WITH CINNAMON
Delicious and simple
2 bags (12 oz each) of fresh cranberries
2 cups ( 16 fl oz.) apple cider (unfiltered)
1/4 cup of water
2 cups of sugar
1 small cinnamon stick
In a medium large sauce pan combine apple cider, sugar, water, bring to simmer at low medium eat, stirring, add the cranberries, bring to simmer for 10 minutes, time for the cranberries to pop.
Let cool at room temperature
Cover and refrigerate at least 24 hours
Serve at room temperature


HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO YOU!!!!!