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You may have already seen the bounty that was our Thanksgiving dessert table.  On the night prior to, Kelly & I had ourselves a pie and hot tub night:  we rolled out Kelly’s pre-made crust (spiked with cinnamon, that secret recipe stays with her I think), filled it up, popped the pies in the oven, and rewarded our efforts with a few glasses of champagne and dunk in the hot tub…

The cherry pie was totally impromptu.  Kelly had made extra crust, and when gathering provisions at the grocery store I noticed cherries were $5 a pound.  Cheap berries are few and far between down here outside of the seasonal bounty, but in late November and December there happens to be a bonanza of fresh cherries to be had.  When life hands you cherries….

The pumpkin and apple pies were the clear winners; but just as good by me….  Cherry pie for breakfast!

Kelly’s apple pie

6 or 7 tart apples

2/3 cup sour cream

1/3 cup sugar

1 egg, lightly beaten,

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

Slice apples, skin on for flavor.  Combine with all ingredients. Fill pie, and top with lattice pie crust.  Bake 55 to 65 minutes at 350 F (260C).

impromptu cherry pie

1kg (2 pounds) fresh cherries

1 shot brandy

1/4 cup sugar, or to taste

Pit cherries (and be prepared dig cherry juice from under your nails all weekend) but leave roughly intact (halved)  Combine with sugar and brandy in a small saucepan.  Simmer for 20-25 minutes until cherries are well coated and softened.  Fill pie crust, top and bake at 250F (260C) for 40-45 minutes.

nutella, pumpkin pecan pie

1 jar nutella (or other chocolate spread / melted chocolate)

15oz can pumpkin

3/4 cup milk & 3/4 cup cream

1 cup brown sugar

3 egg

1/4 tsp each cinnamon, nutmeg and clove, or to taste

100g pecans

2 egg whites, whisked

Heat pumpkin, sugar and spice over low in saucepan, until lightly browned.  Add milk and cream and continue to risk.  Blend with egg .  Layer 1/4 inch of nutella in the bottom of the pie crust, then pumpkin mixture. Toss pecans with egg whites and scoop on top (try to avoid pouring in, which can lead to too much goopy egg whites settling on the top of the pie).  Bake 55 to 65 minutes at 350 F (260C).

Disclaimer, this version of pumpkin pecan pie was delicious, but not really the right texture for me for a pumpkin pie.  It was very soft, likely from the blending process, but ever so tasty.  It might benefit from a few extra minutes in the oven (covered), or prompt serving (since we baked the night before serving and stored in the oven overnight).

These delicious and flavorful caramelized onions featured prominently in our Thanksgiving meal.  I was already planning on french onion soup as a starter, and added an onion dip to the cheese platter when I fell in love…

slow cooker french onion soup 

4 red onions

3 yellow or white onions

3 tbsp butter

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup red wine

4 cups beef stock

onion salt, salt & pepper to taste

baguette

2 onions, caramelized

300g Gruyère cheese

The day before: melt butter in slow cooker on high heat.  Slice onions on a mandolin slicer, on the thinnest setting. Add to slow cooker and stir to break up onions and disperse butter.  Cook on high for 1 hour, and on low for another 3-4 hours until browned.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Next day, bring onions back to simmer (about 1 hour on low heat).  Add wine and beef stock, onion salt and seasoning to taste. (I’ve started used Continental pastes for stocks, which is pretty flavorful for an instant broth. Simmer for 2-3 hours.)

When ready to serve, slice baguette, spread with a layer of caramelized onions and top with a heap of Gruyère. Toast until cheese is bubbly and brown. Submerge in soup bowl and serve!

caramelized onion dip

4 caramelized onions (will take 1.25 hrs)

1 1/4 cup sour cream

1/4 cup mayo

2-3 tbsp terayaki or soy sauce to taste

1/4 cup chopped parsley

Whisk all ingredients except onions and incorporate completely.  Add onions, stir and refrigerate overnight (so no work to do on the day of the party and to let the flavors meld and intensify).

Disclaimer:  I’m a bit of an imprecise cook.  These are the rough ingredients, but I kinda mixed and matched it with what I had in my fridge until it tasted right — a tbsp of sweet chili sauce, dash of tabasco, some lemon garlic salt.  I don’t like mayo and felt that the mayo taste was, at first, a bit overwhelming so was trying to overcome that.  Next time I’ll use a little less and maybe some softened cream cheese. 

 Feel free to take your own creative liberties…

Another basic and simple recipe that packs a flavorful punch.  So tasty and easy, you’ll never eat canned applesauce again.

baked applesauce

2 apples, skin on

1/4 cup white sugar

2 tbsp cinnamon, 1 tsp nutmeg, dash of clove

Roughly dice apples, and place in small baking dish.  Cover with sugar and spice mix.  Bake at 220C (400 F) for 30-45 minutes until soft.  Mash with a potato masher, leaving rough and chunky.  Garnish with cinnamon stick and serve.

I hate cranberry sauce, so I dished this up with the Thanksgiving turkey.  Also would be great for that timeless classic, pork and apples. Yum!

This turkey was so moist and tasty, I wouldn’t wait until next year to test it out. Perhaps a Christmas roast? 

5 kg (12 lb) turkey

200 g herb butter

2 apples, 2 fennel bulbs, 1 white onion, cut into wedges

6-7 garlic cloves, skin off

handful of fresh sage leaves

bottle of apple cider (the alcoholic kind)

If possible, brine the turkey the day before for 10-12 hours in 1 part kosher salt, 3 parts water.  Cover completely with the saline solution and either refrigerate or place in a cool dark spot while brining.  

To roast, rinse turkey and pat dry.  Starting at the base of the breast, just above the cavity, slowly massage the skin away from the fleshy breast.  Using a circular motion and soft but steady pressure, extend your hand along the length of the breast along the breastbone and then down to the wing, until the skin is completely separated from the meat (but still intact).

Slather herb butter along the breasts under the skin, then vigorously rub butter on the entire exterior of the turkey. Yes, vigorous rubbing is key; really work it into the skin.  Rub interior with kosher salt and cracked black pepper, and stuff with apple, fennel, onion and garlic.

Pour apple cider in the pan and roast, basting every 45 mins.  After 1.5 hrs, remove half the liquid in the pan and reserve for gravy (I simmered mine with the turkey neck, water, carrots, fennel stems, and a few chicken bones we had left over from a roast the previous weekend). 

Cover top of breasts and drumsticks with aluminum foil as they begin to brown.  Remove from the oven when turkey reaches 78C internal heat, rest for 30 mins and carve. (Mine took ~3.5 hours)

Serve with gravy (thickened with 1 tbsp flour) and baked applesauce (recipe to follow).

(the dinner spread)

(a crowd gathers to watch the turkey carving)

(which seemed to take a long time…!)

(Steve defending his pumkpin / pecan pie)

(flowers by Steve)

Happy Thanksgiving!

As everyone back home settles down in a tryptophan-induced coma (or maybe helps themselves to a third helping of pie), we’re just kicking off Thanksgiving here in Australia.  No, we havent entered a time-warp where it’s now a day behind here…

But as there’s no holiday in Australia for Thanksgiving, our celebration and feast had to wait til Saturday.  To get a jump start on the cooking, I am “working from home” today to get stocked up and space out the cooking (since I have the tiniest oven known to man).  I picked up my $77 turkey from the local butcher (that’s right, a 12 pound turkey cost me SEVENTY SEVEN DOLLARS!) and all the necessary ingredients from the grocery store.

(looks like the makings of a fantastic meal, eh?)

Stay tuned for tales of our 18-person dinner party with representatives from nearly every Commonwealth (or former Commonwealth) country, and recipes to follow!