Herb-Scented Mashed Potatoes

These wonderful, creamy and fluffy mashed potatoes had a subtle flavor from cream steeped with rosemary, sage, and garlic. My son made them as part of our Thanksgiving feast this year. I loved the contrasting texture of the crispy top layer.

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Justin Chapple. I modified the proportions and broiled the potatoes in a 9-inch cast iron skillet.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 T heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 T whole milk
  • 4 ounces (8 T, one stick) unsalted butter, plus 1 T melted butter for brushing
  • one 4 to 6-inch rosemary sprig
  • 1 4 to 6-inch sage sprig
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 1/2 pounds baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces (I used Maine Cold River Gold potatoes)
  • Kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, milk and one stick of butter with the rosemary, sage and garlic and bring just to a simmer.
  2. Remove from the heat and let steep for 15 minutes, then discard the rosemary, sage and garlic.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large pot, cover the potatoes with water and bring to a boil. Add a generous pinch of salt and simmer over moderate heat until tender, about 20 minutes.
  4. Drain well, then pass the potatoes through a ricer into the pot.
  5. Fold in the cream mixture and season generously with salt and pepper.
  6. Light the broiler and position the rack 8 inches from the heat.
  7. Scrape the potatoes into a 9-inch round flameproof pan or baking dish (2 inches deep) and, using a spoon, decoratively swirl the top. (I used a cast iron skillet.)
  8. Gently brush with melted butter.
  9. Broil for about 8 minutes, until the top is browned in spots. Serve hot.

Note: If doubling the recipe, place the riced potatoes into a 12-inch round flameproof pan such as a cast iron skillet.

Buttermilk-Poblano Gravy

This Thanksgiving, we branched out from our favorite wild mushroom gravy to try this roasted poblano version. It was incredible. Because we roasted a much smaller turkey and made less mashed potatoes, I plan to gobble up any leftover gravy as a dip with tortilla chips. 🙂 It would also be wonderful in tacos or as sauce in a pot pie.

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Javier Cabral and Paola Brinseño González. I incorporated a shallot as well as the roasted turkey pan dripping and juices. I also reduced the salt. Next time I will roast the poblanos in advance. I am going to start making it year-round!

Yield: about 2 cups

  • 2 large (3 ounce) poblano chilies
  • 1 T unsalted butter
  • 2 T roasted turkey pan fat (can substitute 2 T unsalted butter)
  • 1 large shallot, finely diced
  • 1 1/2 cups roasted turkey pan drippings plus vegetable, chicken, or turkey stock, divided
  • 1 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons buttermilk
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. Place chilies on an aluminum foil lined baking pan. Place under a broiler, rotating every 5 minutes, until skin is charred on all sides. (Alternatively, using kitchen tongs, hold 1 chile directly over a medium flame of a gas stovetop. Cook until skin is blackened, 4 to 6 minutes per side. Repeat with remaining chile.)
  2. Wrap the blackened chilies in the aluminum foil to steam. (Alternatively, place chiles in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap.) Let steam for 10 minutes.
  3. Rub off skin from chiles, removing as much of the blackened skin as you can. (Don’t worry if all of the skin doesn’t come off.) Remove and discard stems and seeds.
  4. Finely dice the roasted chilies.
  5. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a medium skillet over medium-high. Add shallot and diced chiles. Cook until onion is soft, about 4 minutes.
  6. Combine shallot mixture and 1/2 cup stock in a blender, and process until smooth, about 30 seconds. (I used a Vitamix.)
  7. Place 2 tablespoons of fat from pan drippings (or 2 T butter) in same skillet over medium.
  8. Whisk in flour, and reduce heat to low. Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  9. Increase heat to medium and add shallot-chile puree and remaining 1 cup pan drippings with stock, and cook, whisking constantly, until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 2 minutes.
  10. Reduce heat to low; add buttermilk. Simmer gently to allow flavors to meld, about 2 minutes.
  11. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Note: Poblano peppers can be roasted, peeled, and cut 2 days ahead.

Vanilla Pear Sour

This festive seasonal cocktail was absolutely fabulous. My husband and I enjoyed it prior to our quiet Thanksgiving feast this year.

This recipe was adapted from Jamie Oliver via francoiselaprune.com. I poached thin slices of pear so that I could use them as a garnish. I may poach even larger slices next time. We preferred it with a little bit less alcohol so I noted a range in the recipe below.

The delicious pear syrup can be made in advance, making this perfect for Thanksgiving or a party. We used the leftover syrup to make more cocktails! 😉 It could also be drizzled over ice cream.

Yield: Makes one drink (plus additional Vanilla Pear Syrup)

For the Vanilla Pear Syrup:

  • 1 Bartlett pear, cut in half or quartered, cored, & cut into thin slices
  • 200 g (7.1 ounces, 1 cup) granulated sugar
  • 200 ml (7 ounces, scant 1 cup) water
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped

For the Cocktail:

  • 30ml (1 ounce, 2 T) Vanilla Pear Syrup
  • 30ml (1 ounce, 2 T) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 44 to 50ml (1.5 to 1.75 ounces) vodka
  • ice cubes
  • poached pear slices, for garnish
  1. Add the pear slices, sugar, water, vanilla seeds with vanilla bean pod to a small saucepan. Simmer on low heat for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Let the poaching liquid infuse and cool down for another 30 minutes.
  3. Strain through a fine wire mesh strainer, reserving the poached pear slices for garnish. Keep pear syrup in a jar in the refrigerator; it will keep for 5 days.
  4. Combine the lemon juice, vodka and 30ml of the vanilla pear syrup into a cocktail shaker. Shake well and strain into a cocktail glass with ice.
  5. Garnish with a thin pear slice (or two).

Note: This cocktail was also wonderful with Meyer lemon juice. (I used the juice of my very first lemon from my Meyer lemon tree!) 🙂

Thanksgiving Menu 2020

Happy belated Thanksgiving and Happy Holiday Season to everyone! We definitely missed our extended family at Thanksgiving this year but our quiet feast was still lovely.

I love to post my Thanksgiving Menu to help me plan in the future. Hopefully some of my menu choices are helpful to others too. I will link the new menu items to posts as soon as I am able.

I decreased the proportions for our small scale feast but we still made quite a variety of dishes in order to accommodate everyone’s favorites. My kids actively participated in the cooking process throughout the day which was the absolute highlight for me. 🙂

We tried a new gravy this year- this change would have been met with great objection from our extended family. 😉 It incorporated roasted poblano chilies, a favorite flavor in our house. We also enjoyed a new festive cocktail which was so fabulous I plan to incorporate it into the menu next year.

Breakfast:

Lunch:

Festive Cocktail:

Dinner:

Yes! My cat, Franklin “the Fluff,” has an Instagram page. ❤

Ravneet Gill’s Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have one more sweet treat to share. I could not resist a new chocolate chip cookie recipe claiming to be perfect and the best. When split in half, these cookies were described as having a “wet-sand crumb surrounding a glossy pull of viscous molten chocolate.” Wow.

It is very rare that I follow a recipe to a “t,” but I did exactly that in this case. The NYT article explains that the reason these cookies are exceptional is the meticulous attention to detail in the recipe. I did use granulated sugar instead of superfine. 😉 The original recipe controversially omits vanilla extract. We didn’t notice! They were absolutely FABULOUS.

The recipe was adapted from The Pastry Chef’s Guide by British pastry chef Ravneet Gill, via the New York Times, contributed by Charlotte Druckman. I used chopped 71% cacao Valrhona chocolate.

Yield: 14 to 15 cookies

  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons/140 grams unsalted butter (1 1/4 sticks), softened
  • Scant 3/4 cup/140 grams dark brown sugar
  • cup/110 grams superfine sugar (I used granulated sugar)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons/250 grams all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon Maldon sea salt (or kosher salt)
  • 6 ounces/170 grams dark (bittersweet) chocolate, chopped into large chunks (I used 71% cacao Valrhona)
  1. Put the butter and both sugars in a stand mixer or mixing bowl. Cream together using a paddle attachment on medium speed, a handheld electric whisk or a wooden spoon for 1 to 2 minutes until paler but not fluffy. (Do not mix for too long; if you beat the mixture until super light and fluffy, that will cause the cookie to deflate later when cooking.)
  2. Add the egg and beat over medium speed until evenly combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (all the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt), then fold into the butter mixture using a rubber spatula until combined.
  4. Add the chopped chocolate and fold into the dough until evenly distributed.
  5. Immediately scoop out heaping 1/4-cup portions (about 60 grams), roll into balls and place on two baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 12 hours. (If space is tight, you can condense them on one sheet before refrigerating then redistribute among two sheets before baking.)(I used one sheet.)
  6. The next day, heat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  7. Make sure the dough balls are evenly spaced out among 2 baking sheets, as they will spread. ( I placed 5 cookies per sheet on 3 baking sheets.)
  8. Bake the cookies for 13 minutes (or 15 minutes if baking from frozen), until the cookies are puffed and golden at the edges. You want the middle to be ever so slightly not-quite set.
  9. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet; they will continue firming up as they cool. Once cooled, eat!

Note: These cookies will keep in an airtight container for up to 3 days. The balls of dough will keep for up to 2 days in the fridge or 2 weeks in the freezer.

Wave Birthday Cake (Yellow Cake with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting & Vanilla Oreo Filling)

One of the few things that my daughter loves as much as her birthday is the beach. That being said, she naturally chose a “wave” theme for her celebratory 14th birthday cake this year. 🙂

The cake recipe was adapted from Kathleen’s Bake Shop Cookbook: The Best Recipes from Southampton’s Favorite Bakery for Homestyle Cookies, Cakes, Pies, Muffins, and Breads by Kathleen King. The vanilla cream cheese frosting recipe was adapted from various sources. It was incredibly moist and absolutely delicious.

Similar to my husband, my daughter requests a similar birthday dinner annually, calzones. 🙂 This year we started the day with pumpkin doughnut muffins instead of crumb cake though! Her traditional birthday number cookies were orange inspired by monarch butterflies- another love.

For the Yellow Cake:

Yield: Makes one 9-inch 2-layer cake

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pan
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 eggs, separated
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (245g/8.6 oz) sour cream
  • vanilla cream cheese frosting, recipe below
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans, line with parchment paper and grease the parchment. Dust with flour and shake out the excess.
  3. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  4. In another large bowl, cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
  5. Add egg yolks one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  6. Beat in vanilla.
  7. Add dry ingredients alternately with the sour cream, ending with the dry ingredients.
  8. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff.
  9. Fold egg whites into cake batter, and pour into the prepared pans. (I weigh the pans to evenly distribute the batter.)
  10. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  11. Remove pans to a wire rack. Cool 10 minutes before removing cake from pans; finish cooling on a rack (parchment paper side down).

For the Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting and Oreo Filling:

  • 16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • 6 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 7 vanilla Oreos, crushed in a food processor, plus more for the decorative “sand”
  • blue gel food coloring
  1. Place cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer.
  2. Beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add sugar and vanilla. Beat, on low-speed to combine.
  4. If too soft, chill until slightly stiff, about 10 minutes, before using.
  5. Meanwhile, place one of the cake layers on a serving platter or cake stand.
  6. Remove 1 1/4 cup of frosting for the Oreo filling and place in separate bowl.
  7. Incorporate the crushed Oreos in the reserved 1 1/4 cups of filling icing. Spread over the top of the first layer of cake.
  8. Place the second layer, inverted, on top.
  9. Tint the remaining frosting pale blue with food coloring, mixing well.
  10. Cover cake with a crumb coat and chill briefly, if necessary before continuing.
  11. Using an offset spatula, ice the sides of the cake with the pale blue frosting. (I used a relatively thin coat.) Reserve 1/4 cup of the pale blue frosting if needed for touchups.
  12. Tint the remaining frosting deeper “ocean blue.” Place in a pastry bag fitted with an open star piping tip.
  13. Then, starting at the bottom of the cake, pipe “waves” of varying sizes. Fill in beneath the upper border.
  14. Pipe “waves” of varying sizes on the top of the cake. Fill in beneath the upper border.
  15. Crush additional vanilla Oreos in a food processor. Sprinkle in the center of the cake and around the outer edge of the serving platter for the decorative “sand.”
  16. Chill prior to serving and store any leftover cake in the refrigerator.

Soft-Baked Oreo Blondies

Inspired by my husband’s (seemingly) week long birthday celebration, my daughter had a few requests for her “week” of birthday meals. 🙂

The first meal included her favorite penne alla vodka with blondies for dessert. We had plans to incorporate Oreos into her birthday cake, so it seemed natural to make Oreo blondies!

This recipe was adapted from Delish.com via TogetherasaFamily.com. I used mini Oreos and added a little bit more to sprinkle over the top prior to baking. They had the perfect balance of a crispy top and soft center.

  • 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup butter, melted & slightly cooled
  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups chopped Oreo cookies, divided (I used mini Oreos, cut in half)
  • 3 (1.55oz each) Hershey Cookies ‘n’ Cream candy bars, chopped (about 1 cup)
  1. Heat oven to 350°, preferably on convection.
  2. Prepare a 9×13 baking pan (preferably metal) by spraying with cooking spray and lining with parchment paper. Spray parchment with cooking spray.
  3. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda.
  4. In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment or a bowl using a hand mixer, add melted butter and brown sugar. Beat together for 1-2 minutes until lighter in color and fluffy looking.
  5. Add in 1 egg and beat together until combined.
  6. Add the other egg and vanilla extract. Beat until combined.
  7. Slowly add in the flour mixture and beat on low speed just until combined and no flour pockets remain.
  8. Gently stir in 3/4 cup of the chopped Oreo cookies and all of the chopped Cookies ‘n’ cream candy bars.
  9. Place large dollops of the batter in the prepared baking dish. Using an offset spatula, evenly spread out the batter.
  10. Sprinkle the reserved 1/2 cup of chopped Oreos on top of the bars and gently press down.
  11. Bake for 24-26 minutes. The edges will be light golden brown and look “wrinkly” and the middle will look pale and puffy.
  12. Let the bars cool completely. Using the parchment to lift bars out of the pan, place on a cutting board and cut into squares.

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