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Menu Plan and Recipes

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pumpkin soup
  Cream of Pumpkin Soup

Roast Turkey with Sage, (Giblet) and Celery Stuffing

sage stuffing
Sage Stuffing

potatoes anna
Potatoes Anna

spinach gratin
Fresh Spinach Gratin

cranberry sauce
Ginger Cranberry Sauce

cranberry clafoutis
Cranberry Clafoutis

Menu Plan for the week of Nov. 22, 2013:  Thursday's Recipes

Cream of Pumpkin Soup
Roast Turkey with Sage, (Giblet) and Celery Stuffing
Sweet and White Pommes Anna
Fresh Spinach Gratin
Ginger Cranberry Sauce

Cooking time:  4 - 5 hours for menu      Cooking schedule: see below for instructions

       This menu is for a small group, 4 - 6 but there will be leftover turkey and dressing.  If you increase the soup, stuffing and add side dishes, it could easily serve 6 / 8 / 10.   Everything expands easily...   
You could serve the soup in coffee mugs for your guests (or you) to sip while standing around chatting rather than a proper sit-down first course if you are feeling cramped for either space or time!
    I've added several dessert recipes after the 'instructions': Pumpkin Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting, Cranberry Clafoutis and Cranberry Cheesecake Pie.  All can or should be made ahead.  Or be French - buy dessert!

Cream of Pumpkin Soup                            Preparation and cooking time:   30 minutes
  You can use fresh pumpkin for this, or the Libby's Pie Pumpkin, which is (or used to be) pure pumpkin... Check the label. See pumpkins on how to prepare fresh.

1 medium leek
1 cup pumpkin purée
1 cup chicken stock
1 tbs butter
pinch of nutmeg
1 tsp thyme
1/4 - 1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup walnuts
2 tsp butter

Clean and slice the leek.  In medium sauce pan sauté leek in butter until transparent.  Add pumpkin, stock, thyme and nutmeg.  Heat to boiling, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes.  Purée soup in blender. Add enough milk to get desired consistency.  Gently reheat but do not boil.  
Roughly chop walnuts.  Sauté 2 tsp butter, just until hot and starting to brown. 
To serve: Ladle into soup plates or bowls, sprinkle with walnuts and serve.

Roast Turkey with Sage Stuffing                   Preparation and cooking time:  3 - 4 hours
    A stuffed 8 - 10 pound turkey will take 2 1/2 - 3 1/2 hours to took.  You need a meat thermometer so you don't over cook it.  It is overcooking that causes dryness.  BTW, I checked some of my many cookbooks for roasting times and they ranged from 2 1/2 hours to 4 hours for an 8 lb bird...that's a big range - get a thermometer. 

The Bird

whole turkey, 8 - 10lbs  (4kg) or capon
3 tbs soft butter
2 tsp dried sage
2 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp Dijon-style mustard
1 - 2 cups turkey or chicken stock see below
1 cup Madeira
1/4 cup regular coffee or 1/4 tsp instant granules
2 - 4 tbs cornstarch dissolved in 2 - 4 tbs chicken stock or more, depending on how much stock you
                              have from the turkey

Mix 2 tbs of the butter, the herbs and the mustard.  Loosen skin across top of bird by pinching gently.  Work your hand under the skin on the breast.  With your finger tips rub butter mixture over the breast under the skin, covering as much of the surface as you can.  Rub the remaining 1 tbs of butter over the outside of the skin.  Spoon some stuffing inside the cavity loosely, about 3/4 full, and tie legs together.  Spoon some more stuffing inside the neck cavity and skewer the neck flap closed.  (I have used anything from proper turkey skewers to toothpicks to safety pins.) 
Put bird on a rack in a roasting pan and into a 450F (230C) degree oven for 15 minutes.  Reduce heat to 325F (165C) and roast until temperature in thickest part of thigh reaches 180F (82.2C) or 170F (76.6C) in breast, or until juices run clear when pierced with a knife.  For a 6 lb bird this should take about 2 1/4 hours; an 8 lb bird 3 hours. 
To baste: Combine the coffee and 1 cup stock.  Baste the bird every 15 minutes or so alternating between stock, Madeira and the pan drippings.

The stock - if making                                                     Time: 1 hour - earlier in the day
If your bird came with the neck and giblets - lucky you.  This is what you do with it - before you make the stuffing:
Heat 2 cups of chicken stock with 2 cups of water.  Add some celery tops (the ones you cut off the stalks for the stuffing, an onion, cut in half, a carrot cut into chunks and the neck.  Bring to a boil, skim off any scum that rises.  Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes, then add the gizzard and heart.  Simmer another 20 minutes, skimming.  Then add the liver.  Simmer another 20 minutes.  Strain the stock into a bowl and use in both stuffing and basting. 
Discard the vegetables.  Finely chop the giblets.   Pull the meat off the neck and chop.  Add the meats to the stuffing along with the onions, celery, Prosciutto.    

The stuffing:  Lay bread out the night before to let it dry.  It, doesn't have to be perfectly, evenly dried.  If you are using the giblets add 4 more slices of bread

12 (16) slices white bread, dried
1 - 2 cups turkey or chicken stock
1 large onion
4 ribs celery
3 - 4 slices Prosciutto
4oz (125gr) mushrooms optional, instead of giblets
chopped giblets   if you have them   
1 tbs sage
1 tsp thyme
2 tbs butter
1 egg

Chop the onion and celery. Trim and chop the mushrooms, if using.  Heat the butter in a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add onions, celery,  (mushrooms) and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes.  Chop the Prosciutto and add to the onions.  Sauté another 5 minutes.   Set aside. 
Tear bread into small chunks and put into a large bowl.  Add sage and thyme and mix well.  Add celery/onions and chopped giblets and mix well. 
Now comes the hard part: I can't tell you how much stock to use.  It depends on how dry your bread is, how moist the celery and onions are, etc.  Start with 1/2 cup and drizzle over the top of the bread chunks.  Mix well.   Continue adding 1/4 cup at a time and mixing well.  Mixture should just start to cling together, not all of it but most of it, and none of the bread cubes should be totally dry nor should they be mushy.   Got it?   At this stage stop adding stock. 
In small bowl lightly whisk egg. Fold into stuffing mixture and combine thoroughly.  Stuff bird.  Refrigerate the remaining stuffing until ready to bake. 
An hour before dinner, (bird should be almost done) put the refrigerated stuffing into a roasting pan, cover and put into the oven.   Bake the stuffing for 30 minutes, remove cover and bake 15 minutes longer.  Oven temp is whatever works for the rest of the dinner.  The stuffing in the bird will be very moist and in the pan rather dry - mix the 2 before serving.  

The finish: 

Remove the bird and put on a platter.  Cover with a foil 'tent' and let rest for 20 - 30 minutes. 
Pour juices from the roasting pan into a saucepan, adding stock to roasting pan to help scrape up the bits on the bottom if necessary.  Skim off as much fat as you can (butter?).  Add any remaining stock and/or Madeira and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Taste - need anything? Give cornstarch mix a stir and slowly whisk into the stock, stirring until thickened to your liking - more or less cornstarch as needed.  Keep the gravy warm while you carve the bird.  Remove stuffing from bird - both ends, and combine with baked stuffing.  Carve, serve with stuffing and gravy on the side.

Fresh Spinach Gratin                                       Preparation and cooking time:  45 minutes
    This is a bit decadent for such a healthy vegetable as spinach, but it will please even those who don't normally like spinach. 

16oz (480gr) fresh spinach 
1/4 cup flour
4 tbs butter
1/2 cup (4oz  125gr) ricotta cheese 
1/3 cup (3oz, 90gr) cream or milk
2 eggs
pinch of nutmeg

Wash spinach, if needed, remove thick stems, and roughly chop. In large bowl mix remaining ingredients.  It's a messy job but fingers work the best.  When you have a sticky paste add the spinach and mix well.  Put into a buttered gratin dish - a glass baking dish with low sides and bake at 375F (190 C) for about 30 minutes.  Serve.

Potatoes Anna                Preparation and cooking time: 20 minutes plus 60 minutes baking time
'Pommes Anna' with Sweet Potatoes added... This serve 4 - 6  I didn't peel the potatoes - I like both the appearance and the taste (and it's healthier).  

1/3 cup butter
2 medium white, potatoes,   12oz, 360gr total  
1 or 2 sweet potatoes, roughly the same size,   12oz, 360gr total 
salt & pepper

Clarify butter - that is: melt butter in small pan over low heat just so that it is melted.  You will notice the white milk solids in the butter.  We don't want these.  With a small spoon skim off as much of the floating milk solids as you can.  Then carefully pour the clear butter into a glass measuring cup leaving behind the remaining solids.  Using a basting brush butter the insides of a small glass baking dish (large enough to just hold the potatoes and, preferably, with deep sides) with a little of the butter. 
Slice the potatoes into paper thin slices, using a mandolin, box slicer, food processor, whatever you have.  Line the bottom of the baking dish with white potato, brush very lightly with butter. Add a layer of sweet potato, brush with butter.  Repeat layers until you have used all of the potatoes.  If you use salt & pepper put a little on the middle and top layers. 
In a perfect world your potatoes should reach or almost reach the top of the dish.  Cover with foil and bake in 400F (200C) oven for 45 minutes.  Uncover and continue baking an additional 15 minutes or until brown on top and knife goes into center easily.   Remove and let rest for 5 - 10 minutes.  Invert on to a large plate - it should retain it's shape.  Slice into wedges and serve.

Ginger Cranberry Sauce                           Preparation and cooking time: 30 minutes  

3/4 cup apple juice
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tbs minced fresh ginger, more or less
2 cups whole cranberries

Heat juice, sugar and half of the ginger until sugar is dissolved.  Add the whole cranberries and cook, simmering, just until most of them 'pop'.  Remove and, with a potato masher, mash 2 or 3 times, no more.  Add the rest of the ginger, stir well and cool. 

This will get very thick when cool and will keep for several weeks in the fridge.

Cooking schedule: Time: 4 - 5 hours
Utensils: measuring cups, spoons, knives,
small, medium and large saucepans with lids, blender,
whisk or mixer, roasting pan for turkey, small,
medium and large bowls, baking dishes for potatoes,
stuffing, spinach, foil

Evening before: 
Lay out bread to dry
Earlier in the day or the day/night before:
Heat juice, sugar, ginger for cranberries
Pick through cranberries, rinse, drain
Add cranberries to juice, cook
Mash cranberries, lightly, add ginger, cool, refrigerate
Put stock, onion, celery tops, carrot and neck in pan
Bring to a boil, reduce heat, simmer, skim
Set table, arrange centerpiece
Tear bread
Add gizzard and heart to stock, skim
Add liver, skim
Tidy kitchen, do whatever
Drain stock and cool
Dinner time:
Chop onion, celery, (trim and chop mushrooms)
Sauté onion, celery (and mushrooms)
Chop Prosciutto, add to onion/celery
Chop giblets, neck meat if using
Make stuffing
Turn oven on, 450F (230C), arrange shelves
Mix herbs, butter, mustard
Prepare bird, spread butter under skin
Stuff bird, truss, start to roast
Put unused stuffing in fridge
Reduce heat on bird
Mix coffee, stock
Relax for an hour or 2 - just remember to baste
80 minutes before dinner:
Clarify butter

Slice potatoes
Layer Pommes Anna
Cover with foil, bake
Baste turkey
45 minutes before dinner: Bird temp should be about 20 degrees from desired finish
Clean, slice leek, sauté
Add pumpkin, stock, sage, nutmeg to leeks
Cover soup, simmer
Wash spinach
Mix spinach gratin, bake
Bake stuffing
Sauté walnuts
Baste bird some more
Heat the reserved stock for the gravy
Dissolve cornstarch in cold stock or water
Remove bird (when done), tent
Turn oven to 385F (190C)
Purée soup, finish and serve
Relax and enjoy
Done? Uncover stuffing, potatoes
Put bird on carving board
Drain pan juices, skim fat, scrape brown bits
Add leftover stock, wine
Heat pan juices for gravy
Un-truss bird, remove stuffing
Hand the knife to someone else to carve
Remove stuffing from oven. mix with stuffing from bird
Remove spinach when done, cover to keep warm
Remove potatoes, let rest
Finish gravy
Turn potatoes out onto serving dish
Serve and enjoy  

Happy Thanksgiving!

Cranberry Clafoutis                                        Preparation and cooking time:    50 minutes
    A clafoutis is a simple batter, poured over fruit. Very easy!

2 cups cranberries
1 cup walnuts
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tbs butter

Cut the cranberries in half.  Roughly chop the walnuts. 
Butter a glass baking dish, quiche pan or deep pie plate, (or even a round metal cake pan) 10 in. (25cm) in diameter.  Take 1 tbs of the sugar and sprinkle it over the butter, shaking the dish to distribute evenly.
Combine the cranberries and walnuts and spread in dish.
Whisk the eggs until they turn lighter in color, about 5 minutes. Add the sugar and whisk until well combined.  Add the flour and whisk well, then add the milk and vanilla.  Whisk until smooth.
Pour the batter over the cranberries and bake, 425F (210C) 30-35 minutes. It should have a lovely brown crust and be set in the middle.
Let sit 10 - 15 minutes before slicing and serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Cranberry Cheesecake Pie                                   Time: 15 minutes plus 2 hours chilling
    We've had enough pumpkin and need some cranberries to round out our dinner.  This is a no-bake pie and goes together quickly.  And it's yummy!  Or you could buy one...then you wouldn't have leftovers.... Based on a recipe from 'My Great Recipes'

1  8 - 9 inch (20cm) graham cracker or cookie pie shell
8oz (250gr) cream cheese, softened    should be removed from fridge for 30 - 60 minutes
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbs milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup whipping cream, or heavy cream, whipped
1 can cranberry sauce, 16oz (500gr)
1/2 cup orange marmalade
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Whip the cream, using whisk or electric mixer, until you have soft peaks.  Stir together the soft cream cheese, sugar, milk and vanilla.  It should be well blended, soft and creamy.  Carefully fold in whipped cream (Stir very gently from the bottom up through the top and only until blended.  You don't want to deflate the whipped cream.)  Spread mixture into pie shell.  Mix cranberry sauce, marmalade and walnuts.  Spread on top.  Chill for at least 2 hours to set.

Pumpkin Cake, Brown Sugar Frosting      Time: 2 hours, includes 1 hour baking time 350 F (175C)

1/2 cup soft butter - room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
2 1/4 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
3/4 cup milk
1 cup pumpkin - see techniques on how to prepare or buy 'Libby's Pumpkin Pie Filling'
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Chop the walnuts if needed.  Butter a 9 inch cake pan, then line the bottom with wax paper and butter the paper.  In medium bowl measure flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves.  Gently stir to combine.  In another bowl combine pumpkin, milk and baking soda.  Now you are ready to start:  Cream butter and sugar.  (Using a hand or stand mixer beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light, fluffy and a pale yellow.)  Add eggs, one at a time, and beat on medium.  Add half of the pumpkin and the flour, mix well at low speed then add the rest.  Using a wooden spoon, stir in the nuts.  Pour into prepared pan and bake for 55 minutes.  It is done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and dry.  Test it at 50 minutes - oven temperatures may vary.  When done remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes.  Then, putting a wire rack on top of the cake, flip it over, remove pan and paper from bottom and allow to cool completely.  When cool flip over so the top is up again and frost.  I serve it with Praline Ice Cream on the side.

Brown Sugar Frosting

1/2 cup butter
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup warm milk
2 - 3 cups powdered sugar - confectioners' sugar, icing sugar,...

Melt butter in medium sauce pan.  Add brown sugar and, stirring constantly, bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and let cool for 15 minutes.  Add milk and stir vigorously.  Add powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time stirring well after each addition.  Add just enough to make it thick but spreadable (and frosting like), not runny.  I used 2 1/4 cups.

Note: I didn't quite use all the frosting on the Pumpkin Cake (if you have graham crackers you can make sandwich "cookies" with any leftovers).

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