Thanksgiving Feast

I had multiple requests for recipes to my Thanksgiving menu, so here they are, attributed when I can remember where I got them...

Eggs Benedict
from Patrice Stribling Nelson (with modifications)

This is a heart attack on a plate, but it's so worth it. We usually double the recipe, because we usually want it two days in a row. You can also make the sauce alone to drizzle over steamed vegetables like asparagus or broccoli.

1/2 c. butter
4 egg yolks
1/8 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. lemon juice
dash white pepper
English muffins
all the eggs in the world
Canadian bacon etc. (opt.)

Begin by toasting the English muffins: two halves for each person if you are serving anything else, four if this is all you plan to serve or your family are gluttons like mine. Meanwhile, start frying eggs - one egg for each muffin half. Traditionally the egg is supposed to be over easy or poached, but I cannot stand runny eggs, so I make them over hard. Your mileage may vary.

If you're doing something fancy, you can start heating the Canadian bacon, ham, American bacon, etc. - there are a lot of variations for eggs Benedict. You can use shredded pork loin, or spinach, or avocado slices, or anything else you find goes well with eggs. Our basic is just bread and egg and sauce, but there are no real limits to what you can make from this.

To make the sauce: Put the butter in a large batter bowl (I use an eight-cup mega-measuring cup) and melt in the microwave until bubbly. Meanwhile, separate the yolks and dump them in your blender. (If you're making a pie later, you can save the egg whites for meringue; no one in my house likes meringue, so we usually just dump the whites.)

A word about the lemon juice: the recipe calls for 2 tablespoons. I generally double that, because we like it lemony. Otherwise it's just butter sauce. This is very much a matter of taste. Some like it even more lemony than we do - then it's kind of lemon sauce with butter, your your mileage will vary. Experiment and see what you like.

Add salt, lemon juice and pepper to the egg yolks and process just until blended. Turn up to high speed, then slowly drizzle the hot melted butter into the blender in a thin but steady stream. Then transfer the sauce back to your batter bowl and microwave it in 15-second increments until it reaches the desired consistency.

Stir each time to determine whether it's "done" - again, this is a matter of taste. Some like it super thin and liquid; others like it practically solid. Be careful that you don't allow it to curdle - remember all those eggs? They'll turn into scrambled eggs if you don't stop and stir. You can also taste it to decide if you want more lemon juice at this stage.

To assemble: Lay English muffins open-faced on plates and top with eggs and whatever other meats or veggies you wish. Ladle on the Hollandaise. Extras keep in the fridge up to three days.

Cranberry Nut Bread
from Patrice Stribling Nelson

1 c. cranberries, chopped
1/2 c. walnuts, chopped (opt.)
1 tbsp. orange peel, grated
2 c. flour
1 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tbsp. Crisco (preferably butter flavor)
3/4 c. orange juice
1 egg, beaten

Combine dry ingredients in a medium-size bowl. Cut in the Crisco; I find using a pastry blender makes this process go faster. Stir in juice, egg and orange peel, and mix just to moisten. Fold in cranberries and nuts.

Grease and flour a single loaf pan. Pour batter into the pan, smoothing the top. Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees; you'll know it's done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Careful - this one is easy to overbake!

Do not eat on the first day; allow to sit at room temperature until the next day to eat. The nuts are optional if you have a weirdo in your family who doesn't like walnuts, but I like the extra texture.

Midnight Mashed Potatoes
from Kitchen Secrets cookbook

6-8 potatoes, cubed
2 cloves minced garlic
1 stick butter
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. sour cream
2 tbsp. parmesan
2 tbsp. chives
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. onion salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. pepper
paprika to taste

Boil potatoes until tender. I do not peel them, partly because I'm lazy, and partly because I love the taste of the skins (which also carry most of the nutrients). But your mileage may vary. Drain the potatoes and put them in a very large bowl, then use a hand masher to break up the chunks.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a small saucepan and saute the garlic. Be careful - garlic browns very fast. Just wait long enough for the garlic to soften and get golden, then quickly remove from heat and add to potatoes before it scorches.

Add sour cream, milk and other ingredients except paprika. Use a hand mixer to blend all the ingredients until smooth. It will probably be softer and looser than you like; don't worry, it will toughen as it bakes.

Transfer to a two-quart casserole dish and sprinkle paprika over the top. Bake uncovered 35-40 minutes at 350 degrees. It can be served right away, or allow it to come to room temperature and put in the fridge up to three days. It microwaves beautifully, so it's a good one to make in advance of Thanksgiving - just make sure you're using a microwave-safe casserole, and you'll save valuable oven time.

Awesome Turkey Gravy
from Patrice Stribling Nelson

You let your bird roast in a roasting pan up on a rack, right? Good. After the bird is done, let it sit for five minutes before removing it. As your kitchen assistant lifts the bird, have him tilt it so the juices drain out into the pan, then cover the turkey with tinfoil to let it rest while you make the gravy.

Pour the drippings through a strainer into a grease separator - mine has a strainer built into the lid, which eliminates a step. Let the grease separate, then pour the juices into a large saucepan on the stove. It's okay if you get a little fat into it, but try to keep it as much juice-only as possible.

Raise the heat and add half a stick of butter, letting it melt into the juices. Cook until boiling. Add 2 tbsp. or so of chicken bouillon powder or other chicken (Better Than Bouillon is awesome) and a dash of Kitchen Bouquet. (Don't overdo that one.) Then add a splash of cooking sherry and salt or pepper to taste - seriously don't overdo the salt, because the juices will also have salt from the bird's brine or other injectables, and it's easier to add more salt later than remove it. Depending on what kind of flavorings you used on your bird, you may need to adjust your gravy flavors accordingly.

Slowly stir in about 2 cups of warm milk, alternating with a bit of Wondra flour to taste. If you were low on juices, you can supplement with turkey or chicken broth. Taste it regularly - is it bland? Try some poultry seasoning, onion powder or sage. Is it super salty? You can cut a slice of raw potato and let it float for a bit (it sucks up salt), or add more milk and Wondra, whisking constantly, to soften the salty flavor. Cook until desired consistency.

Pumpkin Pie
from Patrice Stribling Nelson (with modifications)

16 oz. pumpkin (yes, I used canned)
1 c. half and half
3 eggs
2/3 c. brown sugar
1 tbsp. brandy
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cloves
dash white pepper

Combine all ingredients in batter bowl until smooth. Dust pie plate with flour and line with pie crust. Pour pie mix into crust and cover edges with a pie shield. Bake 50 mins. at 350 degrees. It's done when the center barely jiggles; if you use a glass pie plate, you can see from underneath whether the center is fully cooked through. Allow to cool to room temperature, then keep refrigerated. Best second day; serve with real whipped cream dusted with cinnamon.

The key, by the way, is using quality ingredients. Never use margarine for butter; use Vietnamese cinnamon instead of the junk at the grocery store; use dark brown sugar that you could theoretically chew. Still, feel free to make your own pie crust; I use Pillsbury because I have yet to make a pie crust better than theirs and life is short. :)

European Spiced Cocoa
from Patrice Stribling Nelson

1/4 c. high-quality cocoa powder
1/3 c. sugar
1/2 c. water
2 cinnamon sticks
1/4 tsp. whole cloves
3 1/2 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Dump the cocoa, cinnamon sticks and cloves in a large saucepan and add water, whisking together. Heat until just about boiling. Stir in sugar, then add milk and vanilla. Keep whisking regularly as you heat it through. When it's warm and ready to serve, you can try to scoop out the cloves and cinnamon sticks, or ladle it into mugs through a strainer. Top with whipped cream.

To make this sugar-free: replace sugar with 10 packets of the sweetener of your choice.


  1. I'm assuming that Patricia Nelson is a relative? She sounds like a wonderful cook.


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