Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

Early Thanksgiving

23 Nov

So my mother-in-law celebrates Thanksgiving the Sunday before the holiday every year. It’s great because it makes the holiday family flip-flop that comes with marriage, a little easier. This year I was asked to bring desserts. As a rule, we celebrate my father-in-law’s birthday the same day that we celebrate Thanksgiving. This makes the dessert a little more difficult. Not that birthday cake is difficult, but a chocolate cake just doesn’t quite fit in with the usual requirement of pie.

So the menu had to fulfill the need and want of a variety of pies, and fulfill the want of a celebratory dessert that isn’t a pumpkin pie with a candle in it. So here’s what I decided to make. First, the traditional pie, caramel pumpkin pie. Second, the celebration, banana cream pie. Yes, I know that this is not a traditional Thanksgiving dessert, however, it is my father-in-law’s favorite. I also make an Italian apple cake, and sugar cookies for the kiddies. I felt like it was a bit of a hodgepodge combination, but it worked.

Thank goodness for the cookies too, because they were by far the most popular. Here’s the recipe:


1 1/2 cups butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
1 cup 10x sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

1  In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).

2  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.

And what to do with all those leftovers? Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m completely over turkey chili. So I came up with this little beauty. It’s a leftover turkey pizza! I’m so excited about it, because it is seriously tasty. When you are doing your shopping, pick up a sack of pizza dough, or some Boboli bread. The day after, when you’ve returned from your black Friday escapades, simply put this pizza together for another simple family feast.

Thanksgiving Leftover Pizza

Pre-heat the oven with a pizza stone or cookie tray in it, to 400 degrees. When the tray comes up to temperature, take out of the oven and spread the dough or lay out the baked crust. Spread with leftover cranberry sauce. Layer with turkey and anything else that you might have remaining. (I would skip the desserts though.) Top with leftover cheese, or treat yourself and top with shredded gruyere. Bake for 15-20 minutes and then garnish with minced parsley, thyme, and sage. If you don’t have these herbs, use what you have, it is leftovers after all. You just don’t want to go back out to the grocery store. Ahem, LEFTOVER PIZZA, thank you.

Whatever your holiday holds, enjoy. It’s that once a year celebration that is all about eating, which is after all, the most important thing.

Always thinking of the next meal


Foodie Filosophy

28 Jul

There are few things in life that make you stop what you’re doing, stop what you’re thinking and change everything. For me that’s food. Eating it, cooking it, reading about it… it’s simply that thing that puts me in my happy place.

Truthfully, and without irony, I love food. I don’t have a favorite mealtime or favorite dish. I don’t even have that one dish that makes it all better. What flavors will excite me on any given day is a mystery. For a long time I thought that asking people what their favorite dish was would get me an in. I’d be one step ahead knowing that one dish that could cause mood changing, eye popping, and unending smiles. The reality is that it’s never about the dish. Food is the vessel that that carries our memories (Maybe that’s why I love food so much). The forgotten sensory sensation that ties emotion through our tastebuds.

Why do we eat turkey on Thanksgiving? I guess it’s partially because it’s what the Pilgrims ate it (although I’ve read they actually ate lobster and no turkey at all.) But mostly I think it’s based on tradition and the memories we have of that tradition. Did your mother dry the poor bird beyond the salvation of gravy? Maybe it was always filled with a bag of giblets, like a little turkey day gift from those thoughtful workers at Butterball. Whatever your memory is, now imagine Thanksgiving with a juicy bird, so perfectly cooked that it doesn’t even need salt. Well it sounds good to me, but it’s not quite what I remember as Thanksgiving.

This is why I love to cook. Because as a chef I make that connection between food and memories. I can somehow change the way people feel. Did I make an event special because my food was perfect. I sure hope so… but the truth is that the best food… even if it’s meant to be the star… sits quietly in the background. Modestly taking in the praise of the flavors and textures. Hoping that the post event conversation will include the buzz of fabulous food. And knowing that all in attendance shared the magic that something as simple as a meal can make.

Always thinking of the next meal (which I guess means the next memory)