Thanksgiving Round Up: Only the essentials.

/ Monday, November 29, 2010

I usually peg Thanksgiving as my favorite holiday because it's the day I can freely sample 5 pies in one sitting for the sake of "togetherness," but that's not entirely true. To me, the true joy of Thanksgiving is watching my beautiful family flex their cooking muscles each year. And it's not that their dishes are getting more extravagant, in fact it is their careful editing and refinement that keeps me in awe. This was no exception.

Some Highlights:

Our beverage director, above, chose a prosseco to kick off the afternoon. Pre-turkey: We sipped while snacking on family staples, assembled by my Katherine, including her favorite comte and a rendition of Aunt Margret's shrimp cocktail. But today her usual crudités was dressed with homemade hummus: extra thick and totally addicting with crunchy snap peas.

See recipe below.

The preppy table setting was the real show-stopper, in my opinion. Every tabletop was dressed by my impossibly chic Aunt Beth. She is brilliant, so it comes as no surprise that she can transform a room with fabric and fruit. DIY: All you need is...

  • FOR THE OVERLAY: Gingham fabric, enough to cover a standard tablecloth (a few yards), or one long strip for a runner. Leave the edges raw or fold back about 1/2-inch fabric and adhere it to the underside of the fabric using iron-on adhesive for a faux-hem.
  •  FOR EACH SETTING: Use cloth napkins in a color that compliments, but does not match, your gingham. Put a small piece of fruit on each plate (pick one that pops!) If using place cards, cut a shallow slit in the fruit using the tip of a pairing knife, then slide the place card into the slot.

Obsessed with this simple place setting.


Aunt Beth's Roasted Brussels Sprouts
                                       Mimi's new puppy-cut.                                                  Isabelle as a Native American.

                        Nick as the active god father.                                                   Katherine Phraner in her tribal frock.

And dessert, obviously...

It's not unusual for us to over do it on the back end of the meal. The family sweet tooth is a trait we share (and satiate) quite happily. But we boiled it down to the essentials this year: apple pie, pumpkin pie, Aunt Eileen's cheesecake, rice pudding, upside-down cake and a few bite-size sweets.

My chewy almond cookies
Cranberry-Apple Upside-Down Cake

There was only one food-related tragedy: Nana Murphy slipped while transporting her pies in the backyard just minutes before dessert was served. Thankfully she walked away unscathed and the pies (which landed on a sheet tray instead of the mud) were fixed with a few minor adjustments. Good thing, too, because this year Nana used FNM's take on the traditional pumpkin pie. The recipe calls for brown sugar in the filling instead of granulated, which jacks up the pie's spiced, caramel flavor. It was a hit!

I hope you all had a beautiful holiday weekend! Happy Monday, Enjoy :)


MAKES: about 3 cups

2 cups canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup tahini (ground sesame seeds), mixed well
Juice of 3 lemons
1 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Paprika, for sprinkling
Chopped fresh parsley, for sprinkling

1. Put the chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, salt and garlic in food processor and puree until smooth. With the motor running, drizzle in the 1 teaspoon olive oil and puree until combined. 
2. Transfer the hummus to a serving dish. Drizzle with more olive oil and sprinkle with paprika and chopped parsley.

Find the recipe at:

Note: These cookies are meant to be turned into sandwiches using raspberry jam, but I think they're much tastier on their own.

SERVES: 10 to 12

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the pan
Zest of 1 orange
1 cup plus 3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup fresh cranberries
1 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup whole milk
2 Granny Smith apples, cut into eighths

1. Butter and flour a 9-inch-round cake pan; set aside. Preheat the oven to 350˚. Stir the orange zest, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water together in a small saucepan until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Add the cranberries and cook until tender, about 5 minutes; let cool.
2. Bring the maple syrup to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until thick, about 20 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Put the cornmeal in the bowl of an electric mixer. Pour 1/2 cup boiling water over the cornmeal and beat on low speed to combine. Add the butter and the remaining 3/4 cup sugar and beat until combined. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla.
4. With the mixer running on low, add half of the flour mixture, then half of the milk. Repeat. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula. Finished folding the batter together by hand.
5. Pour the thickened maple syrup into the bottom of the prepared cake pan. Arrange the apples on top of the maple syrup, then spoon the cranberries around and on top of the apples. Spread the batter over the fruit and bake until the cake springs back when pressed, about 40 minutes. Let the cake cook 5 minutes in the pan, then run a knife around the edge of the pan and invert the cake onto a rack to cool completely.

1 comment

  1. what a lovely thanksgiving!
    and i've said it before but you are beautiful!


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