This post is going to be SUPER long. And about food. Lots and lots of food. Now, I’m also saying this up front, I’m reminding you I eat well. So where it says “turkey”, it’s a free range turkey that weighed nearly 40 pounds, and dined primarily on filtered water, whole grains and blueberries. And where it says “cheese tray”, there are selections from 3 European countries. And where it says “pound cake”, well, that’s just a pound cake I made.
I’ve done best to strip out the snob and given you recipes you can do yourself, whenever the next time is that you want to do an 8-course feast of a day.
Note: My brother and his dear girlfriend have far more refined booze palettes than I could ever hope to refine fast enough to blog about. So while I’m not able to go through the different flights of wines, brandies, and mixed drinks they did, you can google some good wine choices.
Ready? Our first course is a crudité.
This is a very fancy word that means “I cut up vegetables and had some kind of dip with them.” So while you shouldn’t need a recipe for “cutting vegetables into pieces”, I will give you my recipe for a garden, non-tomato dip.
- 2 cups of watercress (you should be able to find it in most grocery stores, near all the leafy green things. It looks like someone shrunk lettuce and gave it long stems)
- 1/2 cup basil (as fresh as you can get it)
- 3 tablespoons chopped chives (yes, the things you put on baked potatoes)
- 1 tablespoon chopped tarragon
- 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel (it’s called zest)
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/4 cup creme fraîche (it’s usually sold near cheeses, if you can’t get it, use mayo)
- 1 and 1/2 tablespoon of lemon juice (HINT: You’re going to want to do the 1 tablespoon first, then later go back for the half)
- 2 anchovies (seriously, yes, anchovies. Can’t get them? 3 pinches of salt and a 1/2 teaspoon of pickle juice instead)
- 1 teaspoon any mustard that isn’t French’s yellow out of a squeeze bottle. You want Dijon, so spend the extra sixty cents and get something grainy
- 1 clove of garlic, peeled.
- 1 food processor
- 1 sharp knife
- 1 cutting board
When I Dip, You Dip, We Dip:
- You’re going to take all the plant life in this recipe and “chiffonade” it. That’s an incredibly fancy term for “roll a joint with it then slice into itty bitty pieces”. I am confident that my readership will understand that a lot better if I say it that way. Once you’ve cut everything up, it goes into the food processor.
- All the liquids that ARE NOT lemon juice go into the processor next.
- Run the processor on high for 3 2-second pulses (or just one pulse where you count to 6)
- IF FOR SOME REASON YOU FORGET TO PUT THINGS IN THE PROCESSOR, THIS IS WHEN YOU DO IT.
- Add in that 1 teaspoon of lemon juice, the garlic and anchovies. Pulse for 3-9 seconds.
- Taste it, add salt and pepper, and add the 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice. Pulse the processor for another 3 seconds.
- Scrape contents into bowl.
- IF YOU ARE GOING TO REFRIGERATE THIS, IT WILL KEEP ABOUT A DAY OR …
More food you say? Onward!
Cheese and Olive Platter
What You’ll Need
- Between 6 and 9 possible cheeses. Yes, have cheddar, and swiss, and brie and american. And mozzarella. But what about manchego, drunken goat, gouda and braudostur? If you have the chance, go find your local cheese place (be it in a grocery store or a separate establishment) and sample cheeses until you know what you like.
- Olives. All different kinds and sizes. Sometimes your cheese place will sell them (mine does), but sometimes you just need to fill up a plastic container at your salad bar or olive bar in the grocery store. Again, find ones you like, and eat them.
What You Do
Lay the cheeses on a plate. Put the olives in a dish. Eat. Don’t forget to use napkins, or if you’re not a savage, that you’re offering crackers and a knife or two to help people get the cheese onto the crackers. DO NOT LET PEOPLE EAT STRAIGHT OFF THE KNIFE, THAT’S GROSS AND THAT’S WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS. EWW. NOW I NEED TO WASH MY HANDS.
Okay, I know what you’re saying: “John, where’s the really out there stuff?” Prepare your faces then.
Yes, this is raw beef. No, this is not beef I got from a package that was ever laying on styrofoam, and I didn’t buy it with a coupon or grocery store points. I do not recommend you attempt this with meat you get from anywhere other than straight from the butcher behind the counter, your local specialty butcher or your local meat-production farm. Shop-Rite meat is … well, do you really want that raw, in your stomach?
Yes, there’s also a raw egg. I used duck. It’s totally not going to bother anyone if you skip this recipe and go on ahead.
What You’ll Need
2 anchovy fillets
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup minced shallots (you can find them near the onions)
1 tablespoon drained, chopped capers (they come in a little jar)
1 large egg
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange zest
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 pound beef tenderloin, freshly ground (or you can leave it in strips if you don’t own a grinder)
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
8 slices crostini (NOTE: Crostini is an obnoxious word for “toast that you made and sprinkled olive oil and maybe rubbed with garlic” Just make toast, and put oil on it and while it’s still hot, rub a cut clove of garlic on it)
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon white truffle oil (this might be in your specialty aisle) (I get mine from here)
You’ll also want to put your mixing bowl (use glass!) in the fridge, or if you want to be fancy, wrap in in wet paper towel and put it in your freezer for ten minutes).
Make Mine Tartare
1. In a chilled mixing bowl, mash the anchovies and garlic with a fork to make a paste. Add the shallots and capers and mash them into the paste. Add the egg and whisk it into the paste with the fork. Whisk in the mustard and orange zest. (NOTE: You can save the egg and crack it over the whole thing last, if you want, but hey, since you’re whisking things, go for it)
2. Slowly add the olive oil, whisking constantly until everything looks like a mutant runny paste from grade school. Whisk in the Worcestershire sauce. Yes it’s going to smell, and be darker in color now.
3. Put the meat in the bowl, toss the meat all around so that it’s coated with the stuff you just made. (HINT: WEAR GLOVES!) Season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. Mound some tartare in the center of each crostini. Garnish with parsley and drizzle with truffle oil.
Still with me on this adventure? The next recipe is our halfway point. Well, at least in terms of courses. C’mon we’re getting closer to turkey.
The Belgian Waffle Sanction appetizer (waffles, oysters, horseradish and sesame sauce) is going in a different post. Because I’ll need to explain “Adventure Cooking” to you.
Melon and Proscuitto
What You’ll Need
- Melon (either cantaloupe or honeydew. I like honeydew more for this, but hey, why not use both?)
- Prosciutto ham (You should be able to buy this in packages in your deli section)
What You Do
- Cut the melon in eighths (so quarter it, then cut each quarter in half). Don’t forget to ditch the seeds.
- Wrap the slice melon in the ham, or if the piece won’t go all the way around, drape it over like a bad prom dress.
I once dated a woman who told me she didn’t like soup, and that maybe, MAYBE I could get her to just try soup out of a can. I never made this next recipe for her. Her loss. Also, she kissed funny.
Onion Soup (called the “I Wanna Know What Love Is” soup, but I’m not sure why)
What You’ll Need
- 5 cups of onions sliced as thin as you can possibly get them.
- A stick of butter
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon of sugar
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 8 cups of stock (I use beef, you can do chicken)
- 1/2 cup white wine that didn’t come out of a box
- salt and pepper (I’m still looking for a recipe that needs Spinderella)
- 1 large pot with a lid
How To Make This Soup
- Put the pot over medium-low heat. DO NOT TOUCH THE HEAT. Yes, it might smoke, yes, you might totally panic and think the house will burn down, but it won’t. Add the butter and the oil in. And in the onions. Stir them around and watch them cook for 10 minutes. No seriously, watch them. You can talk or tweet or do whatever, just spend those 10 minutes stirring the onions.
- Put the lid on pot. Set a timer for 10 minutes. When the timer goes off, stir the onions. Set the timer again for 10 minutes, then (guess what) go stir the onions. Repeat this until you have spent 35-ish minutes stirring onions. You’re looking to make everything a very nice shade of brown (The note in my cookbook is “Beyonce” I can say that right, that’s not weird for anyone?).
- Add the flour slowly and stir as you do it.
- Add the stock slowly, 1 cup at a time, slowly, (I CANNOT TELL YOU HOW CAREFUL YOU WANT TO BE HERE, SINCE YOU ARE ADDING A LIQUID TO A HOT SURFACE) and stir as you go. Yes, use all the stock.
- Add in the wine.
- Put the lid sort of on the pot (I stick the spoon I’ve been stirring with across the pot’s diameter so the lid sorta hangs like a jaunty chapeau) and DO NOT TOUCH THIS FOR 50-55 minutes. I swear to you, if you have the patience, it will be rewarded.
- Skim any weird skin or “grossness” (not my term) off the it (this is usually fat from the stock or excess oil) and stir. Taste it. Does it need salt and pepper? Then they’re in effect.
Note: This is an onion soup where YOU DO NOT NEED CHEESE OR BREAD. That’s a different recipe, and takes longer to make. This is the soup I make the day before I want to serve it and then reheat it on the stove. Yes, if you’re ever drunk at 2am or you can’t sleep because you’re anxious and afraid of being alone, you can totally have this soup cold with bread. I make no apologies for your breath.
Our next course was a Caesar salad, which I’m assuming I don’t need to tell you how to make, since you can buy lettuce, dressing and croutons in the store and quickly make this yourself.
THE GIANT TURKEY OF AWESOME
I really wish I took pictures of this. I’ll have to tweet a few pictures of the leftovers. We had a HUGE bird for 5 eaters (parents, me, my brother and his girlfriend), and donated half to the local homeless shelter. We were still left with over 20 pounds of bird. Basically, roast the turkey however you like, though I baste mine with pan drippings, liquid smoke, a little booze, fruit juices and herbs. I only eat organic free range turkeys, and lately I’ve gone so far as to pay my local farm extra to be able to specify their diet. But again, I’m a snob. You can totally go have a store-bought turkey.
The Sides Served:
- Roast baby carrots
- Roast Broccoli
- Sweet potatoes with 2 cups of Grand Marnier in them
- Pickled beets
Since I don’t “stuff” the bird (because hey that’s a germ factory), my dressing comes in two styles, wet (where I’ve added in gravy) and dry (where I’ve added less gravy and had it in a 350-degree oven. I’ll probably do a whole post on the dressing, since it’s a three-day prep.
I should note beverages here. There’s champagne served (I had ginger ale), then your choice of drink to go along with it. I usually have strong dark iced tea with no lemon. (To make “John” tea, use 25 to 30 teabags in slightly less-than-boiling water then dump into a pitcher full of ice and let it sit in the fridge for 2-4 hours) Bonus – make your own teabags.
And lastly, we come to desserts. You know, if you’re still hungry. There was caramel bacon fudge that I’ve talked about before as well as french vanilla ice cream. I will however take a second to talk about the berries and pound cake.
Berries and Pound Cake
What You’ll Need:
- Berries, your choice. I used strawberries, blueberries, black berries and raspberries.
- 2 cups of sugar
- 2 cups of dark rum or Grand Marnier or if you’re in a rush, half a bottle of Southern Comfort
- 2 whole sticks of butter
- 1 cup of sugar (separate from the other sugar)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 5 eggs
- 2 cups cake flour (THIS IS NOT REGULAR FLOUR, SO READ THE PACKAGES WHEN YOU GO LOOKING FOR THIS IN THE BAKING AISLE. YOU NEED “CAKE” FLOUR.)
- One large bowl
- 1 standing mixer
- 1 loaf bread pan, buttered and lined with parchment paper
Rock My Face Off:
- 1 hour before you decide to start making the poundcake, combine the first three ingredients together in a large bowl. Let them sit in the fridge. Do you best not to eat or drink them. Give the bowl a swirl and a shake periodically, you need everything sugar covered and drunk to the gills.
- Preheat the oven to 325. Make sure you’ve got a rack in the middle position. Once you do that, leave it alone and keep making things.
- Put the butter and cup of sugar into the mixer and beat it until it’s really smooth and seems very light and fluffy. This should take about 5-7 minutes if your mixer is on medium to high, which is what normal people use to mix things.
- Add in the vanilla. Leave the mixer on when you do this.
- Here’s the tricky bit: You’re going to add in 3 of the eggs, but ONE AT A TIME, WHILE THE MIXER IS STILL MIXING. You want to add in an egg, count to 15, then add another egg, and repeat until THREE (AND ONLY 3) EGGS ARE IN YOUR MIX.
- Here’s the next tricky bit: Put your mixer on low. Shake in the flour SLOWLY and the remaining eggs SLOWLY while things are mixing. You’re doing this on low because if you don’t, then you’re going to spray eggs and flour all over the place like this is a horror movie and not dessert. Slow it down here while things go in the bowl. You can go back to medium when everything’s in.
- You’re going to want to keep an eye on this batter, and stop periodically to scrape down the sides of the bowl and scold this batter for its attempts to flee your mixer’s wrath.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Use the back of the spoon to smooth out the top, so that it doesn’t look like a mutant landscape. Imagine you’re making a sidewalk and get that thing smooth. Optionally, lift and drop the whole pan from a height of about an inch or so, then re-smooth it. This helps things settle, and you can feel pretty badass banging things around in your kitchen.
- Get the pan in the oven on that middle rack and let it bake for somewhere between 75 and 80 minutes, or until you take a piece of spaghetti and poke it into the cake, and it comes out clean.
- Once it’s cooked through, let the thing sit in the pan for 7 minutes (set a timer!) and then lift the cake right out of the pan (because you’ve lined it with parchment and buttered the sides before the parchment went down, right?) so you have nothing to worry about it sliding right out.
- Slice the cake and take your bowl of drunk berries from the fridge. In a large also possibly drunken spoonful, plop berries and sweet booze-juice on slices of cake and serve. If that’s still not enough, add whipped creme. If THAT’s still not enough, have another drink while you eat.
And that, my dear friends, is the menu for Thanksgiving. Happy gluttony. Enjoy your holiday shopping and/or days off from work.