Savoriesnsweets’ Blog

Thanksgiving Round-Up

Posted on: November 28, 2009

So this year I was responsible for the Thanksgiving dinner.  My dad went to my brother’s house, so it was just me & my mom.  At first I figured this would be fine and manageable and very low-key.  Then my dad suggested we invite my grandma, aunt, her boyfriend and my cousin.  We did.  They came.  I cooked.  And we all ate!

Of course, I was in such a frenzy that I forgot to take pictures! Any photos here were taken by my mom who had the foresight to snap a few shots at least!  I am frustrated that I didn’t take my own shots since it was my first t-day dinner and well, it was the first time really cooking for my family.  A part of me thinks that I was only allowed to do this because I just finished culinary school.  A part of me also thinks they were all glad someone wanted to take on all the work.  I say this mostly because they were all surprised I made everything.  There was no canned cranberry sauce.  No pre-made dinner rolls.  Not even bottled salad dressing.  OK, I did use broth in lieu of making my own stock, but even I realized I had to draw the line somewhere.  I was aiming for everything to be ready & on the table by 3pm but I was about an hour late. No worries though as it was all a hit!

To start, I made a butternut squash soup.  I used my crock pot to keep it warm. Since I made it the night before, I just took it out of the fridge a few hours before dinner and warmed it up in the crock pot.  I also made mushroom cream vols-au-vents.  And yes, I did make the puff pastry myself!  I did try to buy it but the stores told me they only had that at certain times of year and this time of year they tend to have pie dough.  Grrr…it’s ok though since home-made it’s SO much better!  There was also a fennel-spinach-orange salad and fresh rosemary focaccia bread.

Of course, I made a turkey which I prepared the night before.  I prepared it very simply with herbs, butter, salt and pepper and stuffed it with onion, carrot, leeks, a half a lemon and an apple.  I find that stuffing it infuses nice flavor throughout the entire bird.  I just kept an eye on it to keep it from burning and allowed it to rest before carving.

My mom made arroz con gandules which is rice with pigeon peas and she made her awesome sausage-chestnut stuffing. My grandma brought pasteles and piononos, which are basically fried sweet plantains stuffed with meat.  I made mashed sweet potatoes which I kept warm in the small crock pot. I also made a fresh cranberry sauce as well as a fresh gravy.  Dessert was pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin cannoli, apple pie and fresh whipped cream.  I made the cannoli, pie and cheesecake the night before and just whipped the cream as I was filling the cannoli before serving.  Overall, it was a ton of work but it was all delicious!  I was glad to spend time with my family and show them that I can cook a kick-ass meal!  I hope they won’t ever eat canned cranberry sauce again!  Here’s a few shots my mom managed to get of the food before it was all gone! (Note: The bird photos are by my cousin, Bryan Vargas of Ya Esta Musica.  He hapily obliged as he was munching on crispy turkey skin!)

Thanksgiving Turkey

Turkey day spread

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3 Responses to "Thanksgiving Round-Up"

I think the 1st two shots of the Bird are actually by me. I just want the photo credit in case Food & Wine Magazine comes calling… But the other shots were definitely by your Mom. And for the record I was neither surprised by the lack of canned items nor by the quality of the food. I was merely very impressed! Now let’s start planning next year’s menu!

There is never a shortable of food at any Vargas gathering but this dinner reads as a dream. From someone who has cooked many Thanksgiving meals, the work you put into your first one was heroic. Homemade puff pastry is an accomplishment that I have not even tried and certainly never mastered. Congratulations on your accomplishment. This memory and its stories will last for years to come.

Thank you very much! 🙂

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