Thanksgiving Series, Part 1: My Menu + Game Plan

This year, I decided to cook Thanksgiving a whole month ahead of time. My goal was to write one, thorough and thoughtful blog post in order to help alleviate some of the stress of planning and executing this big meal, even for the most unseasoned Thanksgiving cook. However, as those of you who regularly read this blog will well know, I have a hard time, um, limiting the scope of my kitchen projects. So here we are. I wrote not one, but three, Thanksgiving blog posts, and none of them are dainty. Welcome to the first.

In My Menu + Game Plan, you will find all the recipes for what I cooked on the (fake) big day, plus extra links and photos. At the bottom of this page, find my full game plan, which you can use as a guide for your own planning process. I love the menu I created–I hope you will give some of it a go. Next week, tune in for “Curated + Delicious”, where I provide a ton of recipes I’ve been surreptitiously collecting for months. And on Thanksgiving Day, check back in for “Inventive Leftovers”. My hope is that these three posts will help make your holiday a little less stressful, but considerably more tasty.

Finally, if this is your first time hosting Thanksgiving (or even if it isn’t), don’t forget to delegate. This might mean asking guests to bring drinks or desserts, making a playlist, or even just setting the table. There is no reason to tackle every single aspect of the meal by yourself–trust me. So pour yourself a tall glass of wine, and let’s get started. Read more »

When Dessert Goes Awry, Christmas Edition

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It happens to the best of us: juggling five tasks at once, you forget the cake baking in the oven. Before you know it, the smell of burning wafts in your direction. Rushing to the oven door, you crack it open to find your worst fears confirmed: your cake has charred to a coal-black crisp.

I would like to say: fear not! This circumstance doesn’t have to be an occasion for despair. So much in the kitchen is salvageable. If you give that disastered cake a loving adjustment or two, your mistake need never be revealed to your dinner guests. Read more »

Oven-Soft Apples and Pears

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Dilemma: I made these apples and pears expressly for an ice cream I plan to churn up over the weekend (vanilla, bourbon, crème fraîche… you’ll likely read more about it soon), but then they turned out so unexpectedly delicious on their own, I can’t stop devouring them right off the baking sheet.

These fruit slices, baked with just a suggestion of butter, brown sugar, vanilla, and nutmeg, are cooked low and slow until they’re only partially dried. The results are soft bursts of concentrated flavor, and the occasional crunch from bits of caramelized brown sugar.

It doesn’t matter too much which varieties of apple or pear you use; I tried Bartlett, D’Anjou, and Bosc pears, and all came out well. Do use firm fruit though.

I promise, if you set out a bowl of these at your next holiday party, or bring a tin for the host or hostess, they will disappear quickly. You can also eat them with ice cream or yogurt, with oatmeal or waffles, or as a decorative top to a cake. Read more »

Kitchen-Focused Holiday Gifts, Part 2

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Welcome to Part 2 of The Roaming Kitchen’s Holiday Gifts 2012!

My intention was to keep this post short; clearly I have failed miserably. Ah well. I hope you find recipes you want to make, and gift ideas you want to give.

Happy Holidays! Read more »

Kitchen-Focused Holiday Gifts, Part 1

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My original plan was to write a whole slew of holiday-gift-recipe-ideas from scratch. Then I realized how overwhelming that would be.

Also, it wouldn’t be overly useful: a quick google search yields plenty of ‘edible holiday gift’ lists, curated by magazines with far more resources than I.

So instead, I’ve decided to present a mashup of recipes, ideas, and products I love and use myself. (For the record, no one is paying me to endorse any of this, but if someone wants to know, I accept payment in the form of milkshakes and Japanese chef’s knives.)

My goal was to offer plenty of practical options that wouldn’t break the bank. (I love looking at fancy magazine gift ideas, but what they recommend is often designer, and really expensive.) With the exception of a few items, most of what you’ll find here is reasonable on any budget.

Finally, the recommendations you’ll find below are personal to me–much more than sending you off to make dark chocolate bark with dried cranberries would be, I think. I hope this collection of ideas acts as a insight into my kitchen, and helps get you through the holiday, too. Read more »


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Disclosure: at the moment I am sick and chilly, and a hot beverage described as “the best thing [Harry] ever tasted, [a drink that] seemed to heat every bit of him from the inside” sounds pretty appealing.

Buttered Beer is actually a real drink dating back to Tudor England involving ale, butter, egg yolks, and various heady aromatics like aniseed, licorice root, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and what have you. Butterbeer, however, is a fictional tipple summoned from the clever mind of J.K. Rowling. Read more »

Thanksgiving Leftovers

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Holy macaroni, I am fatigué. Yesterday was full of cooking, cooking, cooking, and a fair amount of eating as well. There was a turkey, of course, rubbed in thyme and rosemary butter, and spiked with cider gravy. And potato puree, strained strenuously through a ricer and laced with cream and butter. I roasted carrots and radishes (with honey and apple cider vinegar) and broccoli florets (with roasty lemon juice and Parmesan).

I vow this year was the last I use bagged stuffing: I’ve done so before out of habit and tradition, but last night I finally had reason to check the salt content, and, well; I already doctor the dish with apples and onions and herbs, why not cut my own bread too? I don’t think the transition will be difficult, although I hope there won’t be backlash from the diners.

There was canned cranberry sauce on the table too, although I am not ready to give that up any time soon. Read more »

Rosemary-Cheddar Apple Pie

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Hold onto your hats, ladies and gentlemen: Welcome to part two of The Roaming Kitchen’s two-part series: Thanksgiving Desserts!

At the moment, I am down in sunny Florida visiting family, and feeling very glad that I baked and photographed this pie before I flew down here. (Although, to be honest, I spent all of today indoors, laboring over three pots of turkey stock–because I’m insane–much to the Frenchman’s chagrin. I vow to fully enjoy the waves tomorrow!)

Since apple pie is a standard at any Thanksgiving table, I offer you the version I’ve been baking lately, should you wish to honor tradition while deviating slightly where flavor is concerned.

The incorporation of rosemary and cheddar tack the pie ever so slightly in a savory direction, while keeping a firm foot in the flavors of fall. Once the crust is made (which you can do days, or even weeks, ahead of time), simply slice the apples, toss with sugar and spice and everything nice, and pop that puppy into the oven. It’s really quite simple. Read more »