Saturday, November 29, 2014

Our Thanksgiving In Pictures

Welcome back!  Meaning me, actually!  I'm sorry to have disappeared.  For those that follow me on Instagram you might have seen that my computer crashed about a week and half ago.  Magnets (no matter how small) and laptops should be kept far, far away from each other.  Thankfully, I got my repaired laptop today and I'm back in business (sort of, all my files were lost)  Despite the initial shock, most of what I need is blissfully stored in Google docs and Picasa.  I'll survive.  :)

While things have quickly switched to Christmas mode, I did want to pause and capture a few pictures and memories from our Thanksgiving celebration.  As I mentioned before, I hosted this year.  Normally this is one of my Mum's holidays but their 13 year old golden retriever, Emma, tore her ACL about 2 months ago and is still recovering (brave girl).  Between my brother and his family staying at their home, along with all that goes into hosting Thanksgiving, I told her I was taking over the reins this year.  It turned out to be a really relaxing and beautiful dinner.  I made everything except the pies (I picked them up from my favorite local bakery, Frieda's) and the stuffing (my Mum's contribution).  I had planned to share a couple recipes last week along with my schedule but without my computer I couldn't.  Here is a breakdown of the week and our menu, just in case anyone would like to save it for next year (myself included) or copy it for Christmas dinner.

Saturday - Grocery shopping for bulk of staple ingredients.  This way I avoided the weekday crowds.

Monday - Picked up turkeys (1 big bird for Thanksgiving dinner, 1 smaller bone-in, breast for left-overs.)

Tuesday - Picked up flowers. Set table. Made cranberry sauce (this recipe). 

Wednesday - Made glazed onion relish (recipe at end of this post), cooked turkey breast (this recipe), blanched French green beans, covered and stored in fridge. Pick up apple and pumpkin pies.

Thursday - Made turkey (a combination of two recipes, I will share if anyone is interested), made gravy (the BEST recipe, at the end of this post.  worth the effort and time.  promise.), finished the onion relish with almonds and sherry vinegar, warmed green beans by tossing them with sautéed shallots and olive oil, roasted the caramelized butternut squash and made mashed potatoes.  Set up cheese board for appetizers.  Whipped cream before dessert.

^^ I loved our table this year.  Set with magnolia leaves, seeded eucalyptus, pinecones and clementines.  Long tapers and white plates are from Williams-Sonoma, white pillars from Ikea.  Block print napkins from a local store, wine glasses and water goblets are La Rochere, runner from Pottery Barn. ^^

^^ Children/cousin table was set more simply with handmade kraft paper "Mayflower" place cards.  DIY instructions here.  Fabric from Ikea was used for a tablecloth and paper napkins. ^^

^^ If you haven't tried Cambozola cheese, you must.  It's a brie and gorgonzola combination.  I prefer it to traditional Stilton.  I could eat the entire wedge! ^^

^^ I still make the herb roasted turkey recipe I grew up with from an old Bon Appetit magazine.  I make a few modifications though, the cooking temp is lower and I add 1/2 cup of white wine to bottom of roasting pan.^^

^^ My Nana's old gravy boat. ^^

Hope all of you have much to be thankful for this year and enjoyed a celebration among family and friends.

Recipe | Glazed Pearl Onion Relish
(adapted from Bon Appétit)
2 pounds pearl onions
1 cup dry Sherry
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup water
2 TBS butter
1 tsp fresh thyme
2/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted
4 tsp Sherry wine vinegar

Bring pot of salted water to boil.  Add onions and cook for 3 minutes to loosen skins.  Drain and cool slightly.  Cut root ends from onions and squeeze onion at stem.  (note - this part is every bit as tedious and time consuming as it sounds.  You can skip by using frozen, peeled, pearl onions.  For special occasions though, use fresh because it just tastes better.)

Combine peeled onions through thyme (save almonds and vinegar till later) in a heavy medium to large skillet.  Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer till liquid evaporates and onion caramelizes, stirring often.  I removed lid after 45 minutes and let liquid finish evaporating over medium low heat.  Season with salt and pepper.  Can be made up to one day in advance.  Before eating, warm relish in skillet, add vinegar and almonds.

Recipe | Best Homemade Turkey Gravy
Turkey giblets and neck
2 TBS butter
1 celery stalk, cut up
1 medium carrot, cut up
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
1 tsp salt
8-12 whole peppercorns
1 bay leaf
4 cups chicken broth
1/3 cup flour
turkey drippings, at least 1/3 cup

Wash and dry neck and giblets, then brown them in butter on all sides in a medium saucepan.  Add everything else, except the flour to the pan.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to very low and simmer for 2-2.5 hours, until you have 2 1/2 cups of broth left. Remove turkey parts and discard. Strain broth, pressing vegetables in a sieve.  Set aside.  When turkey is removed from roasting pan set drippings in a measuring cup in a bowl of ice water.  Once the fat separates (it will rise to the top, the oily looking liquid) skim it off.  Add 1/3 cup of the remaining drippings + 1/3 cup flour to the saucepan and whisk over low heat for a minute to cook the flour. Remove from heat and gradually whisk in the broth.  Add any additional drippings if you have them.  Continue to whisk over low heat till thickened, about 5-10 minutes.  Will be the best gravy you've ever had.  :)   

^^ Gathered around watching Andrew's latest Thanksgiving Day film! One of my favorites so far!!^^


  1. How absolutely gorgeous! One of the most beautifully set tables I've seen! Lovely!

  2. beautiful table!!! I pinned and pinned and pinned...ideas for next year!

  3. Lovely table, Tessa. I love the clementines and the pop of color they add. The long taper candles are beautiful too. Your meal looks positively delicious!

    I'm sitting here listening to Christmas music -- I've been in the Christmas mood a lot earlier this year than usual. I'm looking forward to seeing more posts from you with all your wonderful holiday ideas!

  4. Beautiful! Happy Thanksgiving!

  5. We made the same roasted turkey breast recipe and loved it. Would you share what recipe you used for the large bird too? Thank you so much!!

  6. As always, beautiful Tessa; thank you for sharing ~Leslie

  7. Your table is just beautiful and the food looks delicious!

  8. So warm and inviting...that what makes a home and wonderful Thanksgiving!, can you give a few quick comments on how you made your it!!

  9. Just lovely!! Would you give out the herb roasted turkey recipe? Thanks so much.