Do you ever “T2” during Thanksgiving weekend? I do.
T2 is basically a second Thanksgiving dinner. I do this when friends and family have been scattered to the four winds for the actual Thanksgiving holiday. If I have a free turkey to use, and I’m not cooking the actual holiday dinner, I like to do another dinner at some point in the weekend basically so I can have Thanksgiving leftovers.
I am pretty much a traditionalist when it comes to a Thanksgiving -type meal. I make my own cranberry sauce, it takes so little time. I also make my own herbed stuffing cubes. I know it sounds anal, but I don’t like all the sodium and additives in the seasoned stuffing mix that you can buy in the grocery store.
Basically you preheat the oven to 400°. You take a loaf of inexpensive potato bread, whole wheat bread, or plain old white bread and chop it up into about 1 inch cubes. It’s not an exact science you know what you like when you do it. I like potato bread for stuffing the best unless I make a baker’s sheet pan of cornbread for stuffing.
I put a piece of parchment paper on the bottom of a baker’s sheet pan. This pan is one of those ones that looks like basically a cookie sheet with a lip, and it is aluminum and heavy. I put the cubes on top of the parchment paper and give them a quick spritz with canola oil cooking spray. I do not soak them. Then I sprinkle whatever herbs and garlic powder I am going to use for my stuffing. Generally speaking I use savory herbs: rosemary, sage, thyme and so on. I might even throw a couple dashes of sweet paprika in.
Next turn off the oven. Yes, you heard me correctly, turn it off. Throw the cubed bread and with the herbs on top in the heated oven and literally ignore it for a few hours. Once everything has dried out and gone cold in a closed oven, I throw it into a Ziploc bag. I do this a day ahead of time.
T2 also gets a pie. This year it’s my pumpkin pie, with a praline surprise in the bottom. All it is is a piecrust unbaked in a deep dish pie dish. I like the vintage Pyrex ones that I can get at church sales, tag sales, thrift shops.
The pie filling is basically the recipe on the small can of Libby unsweetened pumpkin, but I add one more egg. They call for two I use three.
The “praline” aspect is simple: the day before I make my pie I take a couple tablespoons of butter and throw it in an 8 inch sauté pan. To that I throw a small handful of pecans and walnuts. They can be halves or they can be chopped. Your choice but I like the halves. To that I had a small handful of raisins. I used green raisins I got from the Indian grocery store this time. They’re great in curries and even better in pies. I add cinnamon, fresh ginger, cardamom, and a few tablespoons of turbinado sugar. I cook everything up until the point the sugar and butter caramelized together. Then I turn off the heat. Once everything has cooled off a bit, I spoon the stuff into a storage container and allow it to cool completely before putting the container lid on. Incidentally this is another thing I do the day before. The pie filling however, I do the morning I bake.
This morning, I whipped up the pie filling, did my piecrust and lined my pie plate with the crust. Before I poured the pie pumpkin mixture into the pie shell.
The bottom of the pie shell I then lined with my nutty praline mixture I made yesterday. I baked my pie at 425° the first 15 minutes, then reduced it to 350° for almost an hour today. When you add things like nuts or extra things to the pumpkin mixture, it takes more time. But you keep an ion it because you don’t want to burn your pie or overcook it.
The picture that opens this post, is my actual pie that I will be serving for dinner this evening.
The stuffing for the turkey will have baby Portabella mushrooms, onions, celery and other good things. Even a few crumpled strips of cooked bacon.
I will serve a hardy green salad that has a mixture of Romain, arugula, spinach, baby kale, and other greens. I will also do whipped sweet potatoes made with carrots and maple syrup. To the sweet potatoes I will add a dash of pepper flakes to give it a little heat. I will also serve on the side a small dish of the pickled beets I put up earlier this fall.
Early on the morning I am cooking the turkey, after my pie in the oven, I chop up the onion and celery and whatever needs to going to my stuffing cover the bowl with saran wrap and toss it in the refrigerator. It saves if you do a little prep time ahead of time.
When my guests arrive late this afternoon , I will serve them and assorted cheese platter of cheeses from Yellow Springs Farm. Because Catherine Renzi’s cheeses are goat milk-based, a lot of people will put out something like a fig preserve to have with the cheese. It’s that whole sweet and savory thing. I however, have decided to be different, and I will be serving my cheese with a tiny ramekin of apple butter on the side to use instead of sick preserves. It’s the apple butter I made a few weeks ago.
I set my table with real linens. All the linens I have, I have scored from church sales, flea markets, thrift shops, and eBay. You can get that Rich holiday feel without breaking the bank. And it is so worth it to use a good tablecloth. And quite frankly the vintage ones have more depth and substance to the fabric that a lot of the modern ones.
Except for the china plates my Great Aunt Josie left for me, everything that is on my table has been sourced from places like thrift shops, the Smithfield Barn, church sales, estate sales, and flea markets.
The actual turkey platter, is one of those metal ones created by several companies including Lenox that I scored for $30 last year at Frazer antiques.
All you have to do is look in magazines and online and on HGTV to get ideas on how to set a holiday table. Truly, it is not rocket science, and even with kids you can do this. And even with kids, you can set the table with nice glasses and plates. My mother did it with my sister and I, and I think she was spot on with giving kids a special feel for holiday meals and not sticking them with plastic utensils and plates and cups.
Okay, I have a bunch of things to do in the kitchen for T2 so you all enjoy your Sundays. I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend. Remember, the Smithfield barn is open this afternoon for a few more hours if you were looking for some holiday bargains.