November 21, 2013
Thanksgiving is right around the corner – literally! Just a week away, that really snuck up on us! With that in mind, we here at Caitlin Arnold Events thought it would be fun to share some of our favorite tips and recipes for hosting (or attending) a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner.
My family has never liked traditional Thanksgiving food – my parents hate turkey and the other Thanksgving-esque food (mashed potatoes, stuffing, etc.) just aren’t as good without turkey and gravy, so typically we just get creative with whatever we want to cook, but always something special! This year, I’m making two dishes (one for Wednesday, one for Thursday when all the family is together). Both recipes come from a very special gift – when I was engaged, my mom secretly wrote a letter to every female family friend on both sides (my future husband’s and mine), included a recipe card from some lovely recipe books my mom had bought, and asked if they would write one of their favorite recipes on one side and their best piece of marriage advice on the other. It is one of my most treasured gifts, and I learned some incredibly yummy options from them! The response was overwhelming, leaving me with close to 75 “family” recipes from my “old” family and my new. I chose two of our favorites out of those!
Zita with tomatoes, capocollo and diced mozzarella (Serves 6-8)
Extra virgin olive oil
2-3 quarter-inch thick slices of high-quality capocollo, coppa or soppressata cut into a quarter-inch dice
3-4 quarter-inch thick slices of pancetta cut into a generous quarter-inch dice
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tightly packed tablespoon fresh italian parsley leaves, chopped
5 large garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup tightly packed fresh basil leaves, chopped
2 – 28 oz cans whole tomatoes, thoroughly drained
1 – 14 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
1 pound Zita, Sedani, or small penne
6 quarts boiling salted water
14-16 oz fresh mozzarella, cut into generous half-inch dice
1. Film the bottom of a 12-inch sauté pan with olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add the capocollo, pancetta, and pepper, cooking until lightly browned, adding parsley toward the end. Raise the heat to medium-high. Stir in the garlic and basil, sautéing until fragrant (about 1 minute).
2. Add the 2 – 28 oz cans of drained tomatoes, crushing them with your hands, and boil uncovered about 8 mins, or until thick. Season with salt and black pepper. Stir in diced tomatoes and cook 1 more minute. Remove from heat and cover the pan. (Sauce can wait about an hour at room temperature or refrigerated in a covered container up to 2 days)
3. Cook the pasta in fiercely boiling water until al dente, drain immediately
5. Toss the pasta with th sauce over medium heat a few minutes. Fold in the mozzarella and turn into a warmed serving bowl. Serve hot.
Prime Rib of Beef in Salt Crust (serves 10)
1 6-8 pound standing ribs roast
4 teaspoons fresh garlic, minced
2 tablespoons black pepper, course ground
3 cups coarse salt
3/4 cup water
1. Preheat oven to 325. Trim all but a thin layer of fat from the roast, allow roast to sit at room temperature for 1 hour.
2. Rub garlic over entire surface of roast. Arrange roast, fat side up, on a rack in a roasting pan. Sprinkle with pepper
3. In a bowl, stir together salt and water until the mixture forms a stiff paste resembling wet snow. Coat the roast completely with the mixture, patting it on about a quarter-inch thick.
4. Roast the beef in the middle of preheated oven for two hours (about 22 minutes per point) or until it registers 130 on a meat thermometer.
5. Transfer the meat to a cutting board and let stand for 20 minutes. Remove the crust and carve meat.
Cheryl, Lead Associate
My husband and I have a tradition of hosting a holiday dinner for our friends. Every year, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, we invite our closest friends for a home cooked turkey dinner with all the fixings. It started innocent enough: during college I missed my friends during the chaos of the season and wanted an excuse to get them all together in one place. So I offered to cook for my two roommates and another friend. The only problem was that I had never cooked a Thanksgiving dinner on my own. So I used all my mom’s recipes that I’d learned over the years, and constantly referred to the “Thanksgiving Dinner Tips” sheet she emailed to me, and it turned out to be pretty delicious. I felt so proud of what I had accomplished and that I was able to do it on my own. I was hooked. So began my favorite holiday tradition: the annual friends’ holiday dinner.
Living in San Francisco has allowed me to have a diverse group of friends, all with their own food preferences. In order to accommodate everyone, I’ve had to adjust my recipes along the way, but there are two that haven’t changed since day one: My Double Sausage Stuffing and the Vegetarian Mushroom Gravy.
I came across the Vegetarian Mushroom Gravy recipe years ago but had no desire to try it; back then I was not a mushroom fan nor was I a vegetarian. Since gravy, to me, is one of the best parts of any turkey dinner, I was sad that my vegetarian friends would miss out. So I tried this recipe and forced my vegetarian mushroom-loving best friend to taste it. She ended up eating the whole bowl with just a spoon. Needless to say it made it’s way onto the Holiday Dinner menu for good. Since then, I have learned to love mushrooms and eat vegetarian meals quite often, so I am lucky that every year, I get to eat two gravies.
Vegetarian Mushroom Gravy (Makes 3.5 cups)
1 portobello mushroom
1/2 lb. shiitake mushrooms
1/2 lb. cremini mushrooms
4 c. organic mushroom or vegetable stock
4 Tbls. unsalted butter
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 Tbls. Marsala wine (optional)
3 Tbls. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. thyme leaves
1. Remove stems from all mushrooms. Place the stems and mushroom stock in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer for 30 minutes. Strain and reserve liquid; set aside.
2. Finely chop the portobello cap. Thinly slice shiitake and cremini caps. Place 3 tablespoons of butter in a large saute pan over medium heat; add shallots and cook until translucent, 3-5 minutes. Add all chopped and sliced mushrooms and cook until mushrooms are soft and browned, and all liquid has evaporated. Add Marsala, if using, and cook, stirring to loosen any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat and set aside.
3. Place the remaining tablespoon of butter and flour in a medium saucepan over medium heat; cook until browned and fully combined, 2-3 minutes. SLowly whisk in the enriched stock; bring to a boil, whisk until thickened. Add the reserved mushroom mixture and thyme, and stir to combine. serve hot.
My stuffing recipe is a result of many years of trial and error. I started out using boxed stuffing mix and adding my own ingredients. I decided one year that I wanted to make it completely from scratch, so out went the boxed mix. I cubed and dried the bread myself and even made the sausage from ground pork and a mixture of spices. The stuffing got rave reviews! The only critique I heard was that there needed to be more sausage. So the Double Sausage Stuffing has also found a permanent home on my menu. (I do still make a smaller veggie stuffing for our non-meat eating friends).
Double Sausage Stuffing (Makes 8-10 servings)
6 Tbls. butter
1 1/4 ln onions, chopped
6 celery stalks, chopped
12 oz mild pork sausage (store bought or homemade)
12 oz spicy pork sausage (store bought or homemade)
2 tsp. dried sage
2 tsp. dried marjoram
2 tsp. dried thyme
16 c. bread with crisps, cut into 1′ pieces (I like sheephearder’s bread or sourdough)
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 c. chopped fresh Italian parsley
3/4 c. low sodium chicken broth
1. Melt butter in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and celery. Sauté until soft, about 15 minutes. Add all sausage. Saute until cooked through, breaking into small pieces, about 15 minutes. Mix in sage, marjoram, and thyme. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Transfer to a microwave-safe bowl. Cover and chill. Rewarm in microwave before using.)
2. Preheat oven to 350*F. Butter the sides of a 13x9x2″ glass baking dish. Place bread in large pot or bowl. Add sausage mixture. In a medium bowl, beat eggs, salt, pepper, and ginger together. Add egg mixture to stuffing; toss. Mix in parsley. Add enough broth by 1/4 cupfuls to moisten. transfer to baking dish. Butter a large piece of foil. Cover stuffing with foil, buttered side down. Bake stuffing for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until golden and crisp on top, about 20 minutes longer.
Lisa, Design and Marketing Manager
In my family, we stick to a pretty traditional Midwestern Thanksgiving dinner (my family is from Illinois) – meaning turkey, dressing/stuffing, green beans, sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top, and of course, pie!
I inherited the pie-making task after my grandmother passed away a few years ago, and still do it just like she did. We do pie a little differently in my family – the traditional pie choices for Thanksgiving are generally pumpkin, pecan, and/or apple pie. We always do pumpkin and cherry. My brother hated pumpkin pie when we were kids (though I believe he has been converted into a pumpkin lover, worn down over years of delicious pumpkin pies!), and was also not a fan of pecan or apple, he was cherry pie all the way. So my grandma started supplementing the pumpkin pie with a cherry one – and this is not a fancy cherry pie, it’s just good old canned cherries thrown into one pie crust and covered with another (seriously, easiest pie ever!). This tradition continues even though my brother now lives in Oregon and doesn’t spend Thanksgiving with us, and now my husband carries the mantle of cherry pie eater. Just like my brother, he won’t touch the pumpkin but wants classic cherry. Silly boys!
As for the pumpkin pie recipe, we continue the Midwestern trend by buying a couple of cans of Libby’s canned pumpkin and following the recipe on the label (which can be found here). This recipe has been on the Libby’s pumpkin label since 1950 and is super easy and super delicious.
This year however, in addition to the traditional Libby’s pie, I’m going to branch out and try something new – a pumpkin chiffon pie. I’ve found a couple of recipes online, with variations on the same, but it’s this one from The Kitchn that has my interest piqued. Most pumpkin chiffon recipes call for a gingersnap crust, while this one calls for crushed Nilla Wafers, which has me very excited and eager for the big day to see how it turns out!
Libby’s Famous Pumpkin Pie Recipe (makes 1 pie)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 large eggs
1 can (15 oz.) LIBBY’S® 100% Pure Pumpkin
1 can (12 fl. oz.) NESTLÉ® CARNATION® Evaporated Milk
1 unbaked 9-inch (4-cup volume) deep-dish pie shell
Whipped cream (optional)
Mix sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger and cloves in small bowl. Beat eggs in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk.
Pour into pie shell. Bake in preheated 425° F oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° F; bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate. Top with whipped cream before serving.
Pumpkin Chiffon Pie (makes 2 pies)
For the crust:
4 cups crushed Nilla wafer cookies (a rough texture with unevenly sized pieces is fine)
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
For the pie filling:
3 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup Cointreau or Drambuie
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar and 1/3 cup sugar, divided
3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 egg whites
Fresh whipped cream, to serve
Prepare the crust:
Preheat oven to 400°F. In a large bowl, combine the cookie crumbs, butter, sugar and salt. Press mixture firmly into 2 9-inch pie pans (if you have any extra mixture left over, you can press this into muffin tins with great results).
Bake for 10 minutes, and cool on a wire rack.
Make the filling:
In a small bowl sprinkle the unflavored gelatin over 1/4 cup Cointreau to soften for 5 minutes. Set the mixture over a bowl of hot water and stir until the gelatin is dissolved.
In a heavy saucepan whisk together the pumpkin puree, heavy cream and 1/2 cup of sugar, 3 egg yolks, the cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg, allspice and salt and cook the mixture over moderately low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spatula for 10 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, stir in the gelatin mixture, and let the mixture cool.
In a large bowl beat 4 egg whites until they hold soft peaks (see this video for a clear idea of what you’re looking for). Beat in the remaining 1/3 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, beating the meringue until it holds stiff peaks, and fold this meringue into the partially cooled pumpkin mixture.
Pour the filling into the baked shells and chill the pie, lightly covered, for at least 6 hours. Garnish with plenty of fresh whipped cream.
My dad makes a stuffed apple that is ridiculously delicious. He originally made them for Christmas one year with a roast pork loin and cider gravy and ever since then, I have made it for the “friends-giving” meal that my husband and I do with our group of friends. When we lived in LA, a large group of us would get together and do a big pot-luck style Thanksgiving dinner before thanksgiving since we all came from different parts of the state/country and couldn’t see each other on the actual day. This year will be our first year away from our friends in LA and we have to miss the annual “friends-giving” dinner festivities. However, I will probably make my classic roast pork loin with baked apples and cider gravy and invite some of our Northern California friends and family over just so we can indulge in our favorite holiday meal.
2 (5 pound) pork loin roasts, rib bones attached, back bone (chine) removed
Small bunch sage, leaves chopped
Small bunch thyme, leaves chopped
1 1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 (12-ounce) bottle hard cider
1 cup chicken broth
1 lemon, juiced optional
8 Gala or Golden Delicious apples
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 or 2 large corn muffins crumbled (1/2 cup), reserve some for sprinkling on apples
1/2 cup golden raisins
6 sage leaves, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup hard cider
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Place the pork roast in a roasting pan with the ribs facing up, braced against each other. Add sage and thyme to olive oil. Brush the pork roasts with oil mixture and season with a generous amount of salt and pepper. Roast the pork loin for 2 1/2 hours, until the skin is crackled. (Put the apples in the oven along with the pork roast in the last half hour of cooking.)
Remove the pork roast to a cutting board and let it rest for 15 minutes before carving. Pour out some of the excess fat from the roasting pan and put it on the stove over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the flour into the hot pan juices, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or whisk to prevent lumps. Cook and stir the roux until its light brown. Add the cider and continue to stir to incorporate. Pour in the chicken broth; boil and stir for 5 minutes until the sauce is thick. Check for seasoning – add lemon juice if necessary. Serve the cider gravy with the pork roast and baked apples.
To make the buttered apples: Core the apples with an apple corer, making a good size cavity to hold the stuffing. Douse the cut sides of the apples with some of the lemon juice to prevent them from browning while you make the stuffing. In a mixing bowl, combine the softened butter, muffin crumbs, raisins, sage, garlic, brown sugar, salt, and pepper. Spoon the stuffing into the cavities of the cored apples; stand them up, side by side, in a baking dish and sprinkle the tops with the reserved muffin crumbs. Pour the cider around the apples and bake for 30 to 35 minutes at 375 degrees F, until soft when pierced with a knife. Place the warm apples in the center of a round serving dish. Spoon the cider sauce around the apples and serve with the pork loin.
We hope you enjoy our family recipes, and your own, and that all of you have a safe and tasty Thanksgiving!!