Thanksgiving Diary: The Feast

On Thursday, my sister and her cat came over at around 9:30am. She had already dry-brined the turkey and it sat in our fridge overnight. Once she got here, we prepared a light breakfast of berries and honeydew to snack on while we cooked. We also drank our Handsome Coffee and a little later made Deconstructed Mimosas with Chateau Ste. Michelle’s new sparkling wine. My sister also whipped up some fig and camembert crostini, which were great. note: She used camembert, not robiola, as the recipe calls for.

We made an herb-roasted turkey, kale stuffing (although apparently technically it’s dressing because we didn’t stuff the bird with it), my award-winning mashed potatoes (Last year I was tasked with making mashed potatoes for fifteen or so people because someone spread a rumor that I have an “award-winning” recipe I always use. I didn’t refute it, just tried my best to make edible potatoes, and everyone loved them. So I did it again this year.), green beans, roasted brussels sprouts and butternut squash with a maple-bourbon glaze, spiced cranberry sauce, rolls, and wine. And, of course, the piefecta. Notes and recipes below.

Thanksgiving Portrait 1

For the cranberry sauce, I didn’t use star anise. Instead, I grated an inch and a half of fresh ginger into the mix. I also just did a scant 1/3 cup each maple syrup and brown sugar.

Green beans are easy. Dice a couple of shallots and a handful of crimini mushrooms, saute them until soft, add the beans with a splash of water, and cook down until soft but slightly crunchy.

Seriously, get canned rolls for Thanksgiving. It makes life so much easier.

I chopped up a small butternut squash and halved a pound and a half of brussels sprouts. Toss them in most of the maple-bourbon glaze (I doubled the recipe), and roast in a big pan for 30-40 minutes, tossing once. Drizzle the rest of the glaze on top and serve.

When we set the table, we placed our two low flower arrangements on the runner along with a few candles. Because there were only three of us, we still had plenty of room for all the platters, plates, and glasses. If you have more people or your table is smaller, you could set up a buffet on a cleared-off counter in the kitchen.

Thanksgiving Table 4

Mashed Potatoes


5lb bag of redskin potatoes
1 big head of garlic, minced or pressed
1 stick of butter (go lighter if you wish)
1/2 cup of milk (a little more, a little less, depending on your consistency)
Salt, pepper, nutmeg to taste


1. Wash your potatoes. DO NOT PEEL THEM. Set a big pot of water on the stove. When it boils, drop in your potatoes and boil for 25 minutes or until soft. You might want to cut them in half after 20 minutes if they still feel raw inside.

2. Roast your garlic while the potatoes are cooking. Just stick it next to the turkey or sprouts or whatever you have in there. It’ll be fine.

2. Once cooked, put your potatoes in a bowl. Use a knife to cut the potatoes haphazardly until they are a fine hash. Stick in some pats of butter and begin whipping with a hand or stand mixer.

3. Add in the milk and garlic. Keep whipping on high. Pieces of potato should not be flying anywhere; in fact, the contents of your bowl should look like mashed potatoes now and be whipped easily. Add in a pinch of nutmeg and a grind of salt and pepper. Add in the rest of the butter. Wait a second for it to melt, whip it good one more time, and it’s ready!

Thanksgiving Table 5


We went for middle-shelf wine this year. (Low double-digit price tags.) Whole Foods has a great wine selection for special occasions. We wanted to have a variety to keep

us in good spirits throughout the day. Here’s the list:

1. In the morning for deconstructed mimosas we had Michelle sparkling wine from Domaine Ste. Michelle. Very bubbly. Very bubbly. Good for mimosas because it’s not extremely flavorful on its own.

2. While setting the table and cooking the final dishes such as mashed potatoes and green beans, we had The Climber Sauvignon Blanc, 2012. Very crisp.

3. With dinner we had Curran 6 Dog Red Syrah, 2008 (!). Nice and spicy but not overpowering.

4. After dinner we uncorked a Sextant Pinot Noir, 2010. A nice, lighter wine to sip while we digested and played cards.
Sextant Pinot

5. With pie we had a Gysler Weinheimer Riesling Kabinett, 2010. Not too sweet, as is often the trouble with riesling. A light, energizing effervescence.

Riesling 1

All in all, a good Thanksgiving.


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