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Thanksgiving in Toronto

December 1st, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

It’s a bit of an annual tradition for me to cook a big American-style Thanksgiving some time around the actual holiday. I love making all the traditional dishes this time of year. It’s always cooler outside, closer to Christmas, and thus, more festive feeling to me than the Canadian Thanksgiving in mid-October. And, it seems to be a great time of year to get friends together to share a meal and some good conversation.

This year, we hosted 9 guests in our new very old house in Toronto, and I started prep work a week or so in advance. I have two favorite cookbooks right now; The Joy of Cooking and Food and Wine’s 2009 Annual Cookbook. Not surprisingly, I pulled most of the recipes from these two sources.

I wanted to keep most of the recipes vegetarian-friendly, so substituted vegetable broth for chicken where possible. I also wanted to pick a menu with a balance of flavors; rich, mellow, subtle, and warm.

The Menu

  • Roasted Turkey from The Healthy Butcher, brined overnight in a sea salt / maple syrup reduction. I follow the basic instructions from the Joy of Cooking, but also make a lemon / rosemary butter for basting.
  • Eggplant Parmesan made with Japanese and standard eggplants. I used Food and Wine’s Recipe nearly verbatim.
  • Glazed Sweet Potatoes were intended to be tossed with five spice powder and a walnut toffee. The toffee was more caramel-like in consistency, so I drizzled it on top with cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg instead. (Base recipe via Food and Wine.)
  • Maple Ginger Roasted Veggies with Pecans. This recipe kicked major prep-time butt. I used pre-cut veggies; cauliflower, butternut squash, baby carrots and mini brussels sprouts. Again, this was another recipe from Food and Wine.
  • Gruyere Mashed Potatoes. The secret to my mashed potatoes is using about a half cup of grated gruyere cheese when beating in the milk. Just enough to lend a nutty flavour while not overpowering the potatoes.
  • Fennel, Red Onion and Foccacia Stuffing. I substituted vegetable broth for the chicken to make this a good veggie side dish. This Food and Wine recipe was so delicious and light, I’ll make it again next year. (Or maybe for Christmas?)
  • Traditional Bread Stuffing baked inside the turkey. I use Joy of Cooking’s time-tested recipe as a base, with lots of fresh sage and rosemary. I also used homemade chicken stock for added flavour.
  • I always make giblet gravy with a splash of red wine. I think it works really well with the richness of the turkey.
  • Mushroom wine gravy was vegetarian and velvety. I more or less made this up by sauteeing button mushrooms in butter and olive oil with fresh sage, then adding vegetable broth and red wine, and finally whisking in a roux of butter and flour.
  • Tossed salad with argula, apples, and walnuts.
  • Apple pie with crumb topping and homemade cinnamon ice cream. I used Martha Stewart’s all-butter crust recipe but it didn’t work out that great, so I opted to top with a butter/sugar/flower crisp instead. It worked really well with the smooth home-churned ice cream.

So, all in all, it went well. This was the most amount of people I’ve ever cooked for, and I found that we plenty of food, but not nearly enough gravy. I will definitely brine the turkey again next year. It was deliciously seasoned and fun to see a turkey in a bag in my fridge overnight.

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7 Responses to “Thanksgiving in Toronto”

  1. Sameer Vasta Says:

    Aw! Looks like everyone had a wonderful time, and the food sounds so wonderful. Glad it went well, Amy. Happy Thanksgiving.

  2. carin Says:

    ok now i understand the massive amounts of stress regarding prep. it all sounds amazing and crazy time consuming. that said, i want to do thanksgiving with you next year. and not JUST cause of the pie with homemade ice cream. but kinda. 😉

  3. Maria Says:

    Wow, Amy. It all sounds so cared for and delicious: what a beautiful menu. I love that you prepared two gravies and stuffings, too (the traditional one sounds like my Gran’s – sage, yum!)

  4. Rebecca Says:

    Wow! I am suitably impressed. I can’t even cook a regular dinner let alone a ginormous Thanksgiving dinner : P

  5. Nicole Says:

    Sounds amazing. Mmm.

  6. Karen Says:

    I totally get the not enough gravy problem. A few years back, I started making extra gravy a few weeks ahead of time (thank you turkey wings) and freezing it. Problem solved! I also have to have red wine in the gravy. I reduce it with a bunch of herbs and then in it goes. Yum!

  7. Shell Says:

    It looks like you had a great time.

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