Thursday, December 03, 2015

Thanksgiving Eats

Thanksgiving- which was celebrated a week ago in the US- is a cook's holiday and an eater's delight. The holiday is officially on the last Thursday of November but it is safe to say that between various feasts and the leftovers, you are well fed throughout the week.

Our festivities kicked off with a Thanksgiving potluck at work on Tuesday. I made the pumpkin roll (the same one from Halloween) again. My other contribution was a tray of my standard vegetable biryani, made Thanksgiving style with roasted sweet potatoes and green beans, and a generous garnish of dried cranberries and fried onions.

Wednesday was the Thanksgiving feast at Lila's preschool for all the kids and their teachers. Parents brought in various sides. I took mashed potatoes and roasted sweet potato cubes. The mashed potatoes were simply made with cream, salt and pepper to appeal to the littles. The roasted sweet potatoes were also seasoned very simply and designed to be picked up and eaten by toddler hands.

On Thanksgiving Thursdays I tend to spend all day in the kitchen. This time, a friend invited us to a "Friendsgiving" dinner at her home and insisted that I not bring a dish. Well, it was downright luxurious to spend the day puttering around the house, coloring with Lila, working on a quilt and having to cook nothing at all. We just took over a bottle of wine and enjoyed a feast in the evening. Our friend laid out a wonderful table with tofurkey, all the typical sides like salad, green bean casserole, potato gratin, mashed sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and gravy. With pumpkin pie for dessert.

Friday was my annual celebration of "buy nothing day", and I joined my running group for a 3 mile post-Thanksgiving run in the morning.

When Saturday rolled around, I had a chance to cook and host a Thanksgiving feast (Part II) at my home. Close friends came over, and a family member drove in for the weekend, and it was the perfect gathering.

Here's what I made:

The main dish: Roasted Portobello Mushroom, Pecan and Chestnut Wellington. In the days before this holiday, all the blogs and food websites are buzzing with recipes to try, and this fancy-looking recipe on the Washington Post website caught my eye instantly. There's an accompanying video and it really did not look that difficult to make.

This dish was a huge success and the star of the meal- I followed the recipe very closely. We had a bundle of fresh herbs from our CSA veggie box and those really added a special flavor to it. Frozen puff pastry and cooked, peeled chestnuts came from Trader Joe's. This is a beautiful vegetarian centerpiece for a holiday meal and I'll be making it again and again. Next time I might add lentils to the filling instead of breadcrumbs.

We served the sliced wellington with some jarred rhubarb chutney and gravy made with nutritional yeast and mushroom stock.

The sides were pretty simple- a green salad, mashed sweet potatoes and roasted cauliflower.
Dessert was chocolate pecan pie, which is as close to a Thanksgiving tradition as we have in this family (you can find the recipe at the end of this post). Served with vanilla ice cream, of course.


Tell me what you did over Thanksgiving break! Or just what you're cooking and baking these days.

22 comments:

  1. This Thanksgiving, I followed your standard Biryani template (with a few variations) too!! I ended up making it twice that week. Once on Thursday and then again on Saturday for a get-together with friends. Thoroughly enjoyed it!! I have been meaning to stop by and tell you that. I realized that a dish like biryani which takes time to prep really added to the 'Thanksgivingness' of the day..:).

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    1. I agree! An elaborate dish is just the thing to make a holiday feast special. I've made that biryani countless time- it is always a little different each time but always a hit.

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  2. Oh and forgot to add - I used the trader joe's puff pastry this week too to make a super simple goat cheese and fig jam tart. So tasty and kind of absurdly simple. That Wellington sounds so good.

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    1. I have a few boxes of that puff pastry stashed in the freezer for the coming weeks- comes in handy for quick appetizers!

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  3. That wellington looks downright scrumptious! Using lentils instead of breadcrumbs will definitely be a great substitution, I just finished a batch of my lentil and three mushroom soup and couldn't help admiring how beautifully they pair up with each other both in taste and texture. I love your idea of spending Black Friday :-) I didn't do any shopping either and spent the day happily reorganizing all the assorted jars my kitchen cabinets. I will be making hearty soups, stews and chilli in the coming week and putting my cast iron pots to good use. Apart from food, I am really excited about the special screening of the marathi movie 'Katyar Kaljat Ghusli' this weekend in a theater nearby. I have heard such great reviews about this movie and the tickets were sold out in record breaking time. I had set a reminder on my phone to not miss the online booking. :-)

    - Priti

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    1. I heard very good reviews of that movie from family members! There's no movie theater near me that plays those kind of movies, alas. Organizing the kitchen is definitely my kind of a fun day :)

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  4. Hi Nupur, This time, thankfully, my lot was vegetable side dishes. So I made Calabrese mustard greens with garlic (lots!), chilli flakes, as the phodni, blanch and chopped mustard greens, lemon juice and topped with pine nuts. Made some older Italians very happy; reminded me of our own way of cooking pale bhaji. And roasted corn maque choux, which does call for bacon, but is wonderful even sans the bacon as it has fresh chopped scallions (I added walnuts as well), lots of garlic. Normally I make gingery beetroot raita with phodni but this time it was greens. I picked up the roasted corn from TJs. I am going to try your portobello Wellington; that sounds delish. Ujwala

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    1. Ujwala- They all sound SO good! It is amazing for a handful of nuts elevates simple vegetable dishes to something special.

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  5. I had a busy cooking week. We had my brother-in-law and sister-in-law and family over on Thanksgiving day. Made a whole roast chicken, mashed potatoes, Alanna's green bean casserole (that you blogged about few years ago and is now a staple on my thanksgiving menu), gravy and a Whole Lemon Tart (uses a whole lemon) from Smitten Kitchen. The tart was what my daughter requested, she loves all things lemon. All dishes turned out great.

    Then had friends over again on Saturday, made palak paneer, pulao, cranberry dal and friends brought other dishes. Also made brownies and icecream for dessert.

    I did not step out on black friday but bought a Vitamix and a Le Creuset dutch oven that week. Both items had been on my wishlist for a while and couldn't pass up on the good deals that week.

    Had a great week with family and I'm now looking forward to a long Christmas break, my company shuts down the latter half of the month. Looking forward to the downtime.

    -Anu

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    1. The whole lemon tart sounds so refreshing, Anu! I have dozens of recipes bookmarked from Smitten Kitchen.

      I haven't made green bean casserole yet this season but will before the holidays end- I do love that recipe.

      Cranberry dal sounds wonderful! Enjoy the new Vitamix and dutch oven!

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  6. Oh lord there was so much food - eaten and cooked it was unbelievable.

    It all began the Sunday before when I made a caramelized almond chocolate cake for a neighborhood dinner potluck - recipe from Martha Stewart (http://www.marthastewart.com/353668/chocolate-almond-upside-down-cake) - new for me and I used honey instead of golden syrup - it was tasty and disappeared.

    Followed by taking a chocolate bourbon pecan pie (forgot where I got the recipe I think NYT), smashed roasted potatoes and cauliflower with avocado garlic aioli from Smitten Kitchen and a vegan chocolate cake to a friend's turkey dinner.

    Saturday we had a simpler dinner with friends where I made samosa puffs and coffee cake as in cake with coffee in it from Pioneer Woman and a pear and chocolate crisp to accompany goan chicken curry and rice made by a friend. This was accompanied lots of wine, conversation and watching Mission Impossible.

    We stayed up talking with friends almost every night past midnight and I am an early bird usually.

    I may make the biryani this weekend it;s a thought...

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    1. What fun, Vishakha! Everything that you made sounds divine. I am bookmarking that almond chocolate cake, looks fancy for not a lot of work.

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  7. Your Thanksgiving cooking marathon dishes seem so tempting Nupur.

    I had an amazing Thanksgiving! All I did was to sleep in late, have brunch followed by a nap and go to bed early from Thursday to Sunday. When I walked in at work on Monday the first comment I received was how fresh I looked.

    It was a weekend well spent.
    RK

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    1. RK- What a wonderful way to recharge yourself! I have been going to bed at a ridiculously early time and agree that the extra sleep does wonders.

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  8. hello Nupur,
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and family as well. Your dishes sound yum and interesting. I had never heard of Wellington. I've to look it up and try some recipes without mushrooms. I dislike texture of mushrooms.And double thumbs up for the run :-)
    Our thanksgiving was extremely busy and we had friends over for lunch and dinner. We made biryani, pecan pie and roasted asparagus and brussel sprouts for lunch. For dinner, we had sweet potato casserole, beans casserole, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, rainbow cake and spaghetti burrito bowl. Hubby made everything except biryani and the bowls. Huge effort and everyone enjoyed the feast. I'm glad I took a day off to clean, and rest a bit...

    Take care
    Meena.



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    1. Meena- The wellington is a pretty versatile recipe, practically any filling would work with the nice puff pastry casing.

      Your Thanksgiving feast sounds absolutely wonderful! Food and friends- what more can one ask for?

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  9. Lovely, Nupur, love your idea of "buy nothing day". Most of my days are like that, if you don't count groceries :)

    Making lots of soups these days. A favorite is an Istrian minestrone I had in Croatia. Saute a leek in olive oil, add a chopped carrot and some barley (I use the 10 minute barley found in Trader Joe's and Whole Foods), and saute for a minute or so. Add water, salt and pepper, and cook until the barley is cooked but not mushy. Add some corn kernels and kidney beans and simmer for a few minutes until everything is heated through. If you have some rind of parmigiano reggiano cheese, it adds great flavor while the soup is cooking (add with the water); a sprig of rosemary also adds nice flavor. Serve hot with some grated parmigiano cheese and (optional) some chopped fresh herbs (parsley and chives are great). It's really delicious and hearty. You can totally play around with the quantities of the various ingredients and make it as soupy or thick as you want. Just don't add too much barley as it really expands and thickens while cooking.

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    1. Kamini- I'm not much of a shopper in any case, except for lots of grocery shopping. The minestrone sounds amazing- I'm going to have to make it while it is cold.

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  10. I have missed out a few of your older posts, there was just so much happening. I'll catch up now.
    I loved the idea of a vege wellington, what can I substitute for mushroom? any suggestions?

    This thanksgiving, we did step out, needed a lot of stuff for the new apartment, but I soon grew tired, got the most important thing, a vacuum cleaner and some other stuff and called it a night.

    I want to bake a pie but have been putting it off for ages, I hope I will, this Christmas, my son will love that.

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    1. Manasi- lentils might be a good sub for mushrooms, or maybe soy granules/chunks if you eat those. Or sweet potato or cauliflower. Good luck setting up your new home! Exciting but tiring :)

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  11. Nupur, I miss your craft posts on your blog.....it always gives me so many ideas! Could you please link your projects ( even if you do not want to talk about it) on your blog when you make something, so we can see? Thanks so much!:)

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    1. I'll try to remember to do that :)

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