The Chef In Me: A Thanksgiving Feast

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Creating a great Thanksgiving feast.  This blog will tell you how to make apple butter, orange cranberry sauce, apple pie, home-made pumpkin filling, pumpkin pie, whip cream, roasted pumpkin seeds, bread stuffing, turkey preparations and roasting times, roast potatoes, roast vegs, talk about drinks before, during after at end of the dinner (finishing touches)

I love to eat, so naturally, I love to cook.  This blog is about my recipes. In one of my lives, I was a chef well the dog to a famous chef and he was famous because I gave him the ideas for his creations.  I have over many centuries helped many people become great famous chefs.  So I am going to share with you the art of creating fun and great dishes.

Since recently it was Thanksgiving we will start with the creation of a great thanksgiving dinner with all the fixings.  A dinner you can be thankful for.  It will be a ruff of a dinner, pardon the pun.

Apple Butter:

So now I will tell you how to make good apple butter, I take 4 lbs of mix apples and wash them. After washing, I quarter them.  I leave the skins on but I do core the apples.  I get out my big pot and put all the apple pieces into the pot adding 2 cups of water. a cup of apple cider vinegar, now I like less sugar so I only put in 2 cups of sugar however, if you prefer sweet you can add 2 more cups of sugar, so you need to taste to determine how sweet you want it, then mix in 2 heaping tsp of cinnamon, 1/2 tsp heaping of each clove and allspice or you can change cloves to nutmeg if you prefer, then add 3 tbsp of lemon juice, turn it to high and bring to boil all the while stirring.  Once boiling turn down to low stir from time to time.  It will take a while actually several hours as you have to get the apples to dissolve to a mush, once dissolved to a mush put it all through a food processor so that the skins get pureed up, then return to pot and continue to cook until thicken to your liking. While this is happening, get out another pot and put jars and lids in it, boil water in the kettle, then pour over jars and lids.  Make sure the jars and lids are covered with boiling water.  Turn the stove on low for the jars so to keep water hot.  Once the water is covering the jars and lids then take one jar and lid out and the ladle out some apple butter into a jar, cover it with a lid making sure the lid is tightly sealed. Remember the jars and lids will be hot so use tongs to get out and oven mitts when holding or you might burn yourself.

Continue to do this until all apple butter is in the jars it will fill about 24 jars.

Now we move onto making orange cranberry sauce.  I am licking my paws of the thought of the orange cranberry sauce.  Umm, umm good. It gets two ruffs from me and don’t, forget to add a little to your pets dinner they will love it.

Orange Cranberry Sauce:

Now I get my owners to buy a big bag of cranberries, it is about 3 cups of cranberries.  Wash them remove any that look bad. Once wash put them into a pot and add the same amount of water as cranberries so if it is 3 cups of berries then 3 cups of cold water.  Bring to a boil, stir and add the same amount of sugar as berries, now since cranberries are very bitter then one needs the sugar, however, I still prefer a bit of tartness so I would to 3 cups of berries only add 2 1/2 cups of sugar.  So again it is a bit of personal preference so one needs to taste while cooking to decide what to do.  Then my secret ingredient is 1/2cup of orange liquor to 3 cups of berries.  Boil and stir, once boiling turn down, continue to stir until thicken, this doesn’t take as long as the apple butter but about half hour if on low again depending on your stove top and your opinion as to what low is it could take less time or more on your stove top.  But once it seems thickened enough then remove from stove.  I take a sieve and strain out the skins as my owner’s kids don’t like the skins of the berries, however, we keep it for the pets and for the adults so they can mix some skins into the jelly sauce uum, uum so good.

Now the one on the right is without skins and the one on the left is a mix of some of the jelly with all the skins.  What you don’t use just freeze and use with chicken, duck, or any poultry throughout the year. Even fish can be baked with it.  If you don’t want to cook with it then use it as a side.  But I like to smother the chicken, or duck,  in it and bake it, it will give a nice flavour to your poultry.

Next, I made them pies.  What thanksgiving fest doesn’t have dessert? So I did the traditional pies, like apple and pumpkin.

Apple Pies:

I use to make my crust but when you are doing Thanksgiving dinner I tend to cheat and use a box crust.  It’s faster and easier.  So I bake the crust at 400 for 8 mins but remember to poke holes in the crust with a fork before putting into the oven.  While this is cooking slice up apples, different ones (make sure you remove skins), I slice up about 8 apples for a pie.  Once the crust is done and cooled I spread apple butter over the bottom of the crust, then lay the apple slice down on top of the apple butter, on top of the apple slices I slather on apple butter again, a dollop of butter, sprinkle extra nutmeg on top, then I take premade dough crust and roll it out and put it on top of pie.  There should be enough to roll up to make a thick edge around the pie.  slice and X into the top of the pie, take some milk and a brush and brush the milk onto the top of the crust, then take cinnamon sugar and sprinkle it on top of the crust, Then bake at 375 for 40 minutes.  Do watch as everybody’s ovens are different, you want the crust to be brown not burnt.  You should see that the apple is bubbling out of the X a bit.  If you don’t like traditional crust topping and can top your pie with an oatmeal crumble instead.

Topping for apple crumble

1/4 cup flour, 1/4 of oats, 1/4 of brown sugar, 1 tsp of nutmeg, or cinnamon, or ginger, 3 tablespoons of butter melted you might need more, mix until the mixture looks like it is sticking together.  Then cover pie with it.  This makes the topping for  1 pie.

Pumpkin Pie:

Filling:

Now for pumpkin pie, because no Thanksgiving dinner is right if you don’t have pumpkin pie.  To make the perfect pumpkin pie it is the filling.  Again I use a box crust so follow the same instruction as in the apple pie section.  For the filling, I buy a large pumpkin  about 4 lbs, you don’t want to be much bigger than that because any bigger and the pumpkin starts to lose its flavour.  Wash the outside of the pumpkin.  cut off the top and cut into quarters or eights.  Scoop out the seeds and set aside.  Put the pieces of the pumpkin on a cookie tray top it with a mixture of butter, brown sugar, nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon

Place the piece of pumpkin into an oven at 400 and bake for an hour or until they are soft and the middle will scrape out easily.  Puree the middle along with the butter and spices.

Pumpkin pie filling:

Whipping Cream:

When you make your whipping cream I make a cup, add a tsp of vanilla and a tbsp of sugar.

Next, I do the pumpkin seeds, I bake them.  So after taking them out of the pumpkin you have to wash them and get rid of the inside pulp that is attacked when you scoop the seeds out.  You can put these out for a snack before dinner.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds:

In the bowl I coat the seeds with olive oil, then sprinkle on sea salts, and add some spices, this time around I did lemon herb, fennel, mix well and then I put them onto a baking sheet, I use my baking sheet sleeve that helps with even cooking, or you can use wax paper, spread out evenly and bake for 10 to 20 minutes again it depends on one’s oven.  I bake at 350. Until golden brown.

Most of these items you can do days ahead so that cooking the turkey, vegs, stuffing and potatoes are not being rushed because you are doing these sides dishes.

I do the stuff the night before.  So when I get up and after breakfast, I can stuff the old bird.

Bread Stuffing:

For my gang I cut up a loaf of bread, I use whole wheat, I normally  cook a 14 – 16 lb bird.  I make a traditional bread stuffing. I cut up 1 1/2 half cups of celery, 1 large onion diced, 3/4 cup of butter, a tsp of poultry seasoning and sage, a dash or two of black pepper.  So I get out my big pot, melt the butter, fry the onions for about 5 mins in the butter, add celery and cook for another 5 minutes, then remove from heat and stir in the bread pieces making sure they are all covered with butter, then I add the spices and the pepper.  Mix it all again making sure it is well mix.  Set aside until ready to use.

Turkey Preparations and Roasting:

The next day, thanksgiving day,  I clean the bird, remove the inside heart etc, then I stuff the bird with the bread mixture.  Tie the bird up with rope or screwers.  On the outside of the bird I cut into the skin and place butter under the skin in many places, I slice up garlic and do the same with the garlic, I sprinkle say tarragon or thyme or rosemary on the bird, also a little sea salt and black pepper and parsley.  I place the bird in a roasting pan.  Turn oven onto 325 and cook until done, again it depends on the oven so one should have a thermometer, a good one, so to check if the bird is done.  It usually takes between 3 to 5 hours, You want the bird to be golden brown on the outside.

If my roasting pan is big enough I will do the potatoes in the juices of the bird, you would add the potatoes about an 1 to 2 before the bird is to come out.  If the pan is full of the bird then I do the potatoes in their own baking dish and put into the oven about 2 hours before the bird is done.

Roast Potatoes

For my potatoes I dice them up including some sweet potatoes, put some olive oil over them making sure they all get coated, sprinkle some pepper, salt, parsley and a lemon herb onto the potato mix, also dice up a few garlic and add to the mix, stir again and add to the oven about 2 hours before the bird is to be done.  Like I said if enough room in the roasting pan then mix the potato mixture into the pan and make sure the juices coat the potato mixture as well.

Roasted Vegs

So for a veg I do say beans, onions and peppers, coat with olive oil and roast in the oven, I would put salt and pepper on them, mix in a little lemon and parsley herb or if I want something special I would mix 1/4 cup of olive oil, soya sauce, balsamic vinegar or a red wine vinegar, a dash or two of rosemary and thyme, and two garlic chopped.  Put the vegs into a baking dish if using the sauce or on a cookie tray if coated in oil and herbs and put into the oven.  Vegs don’t need long, cook at 350 for about 15 to 25 mins depending on how you like your vegs.  Keep an eye on them and taste.  Stir from time to time. Note if you are doing any vegs say like carrots with the lot then they would have to go in first as they need a longer time as they are a hard veg so you need to know how your vegs cook that is which ones need longer time when roasting.

Finishing touches

Serve your dinner with bubbly water, a twist of lemon and a nice white wine.  I like my white to be a little dry with a hint of sweetness so to bring out the flavours of the food you are eating.  You can also offer a before dinner drink of Caisse 1 oz in the bottom of glass topped with and champagne and after dinner with dessert a nice pear ice wine.  End with a nice herbal tea say something with fruit in it like raspberry or decaffeinated french vanilla coffee.

So that is Swiftly Sherlock’s Thanksgiving creation.  Don’t forget to boil the heart, lung and whatever other organs might be in the bird for your pet.  When cooked cut up and add some cranberry sauce with skins to the mixture, mix well and then give to them as a special thanksgiving treat.  Remember you, humans, are not the only ones who want to eat well.

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