Holiday Gift Guide

Thanksgiving dinner has become such a tradition in my household, and we hosted an early Thanksgiving dinner over the weekend. I am off to Florida now to enjoy the sun, beach, and a hassle-free Thanksgiving (if the TSA would just hire HOT men/women at the airport body check points, people wouldn't complain so much, right?).

Since we are leaving Tuesday morning, I tried to have as little leftovers as possible (unsuccessful). Instead of using the whole bird, I only bought a turkey breasts this year. The big bird's presence is pretty impressive and Thanksgiving-y, but in the end, all we ever want to eat is breast meat anyways. When cooking a whole bird, we put so much care into the breast meat-- we smear butter over the inside 0f the skin, inject juice into the breast, cover the breast so that it won't get burned, etc. Just like human breasts should be man-handled, why not also man-handle the turkey breast, and forget about the other parts? Especially since every year I am left with all the dark meat since gays don't know its awesomeness, and they only eat the breast. What's up with gays' obsession with turkey breast? Is it because we are all so unfamiliar with real boobs?

Every year, cooking a Thanksgiving meal has been a challenge since the entire oven is occupied by a bird cooking for a long time. But this year, things were quite manageable since I only cooked the breasts.

I took Friday off, and did all the shopping, prep, and made the desserts. Because of this, the actual cooking on Saturday was an easy breeze.

Here is the menu of  this year's gathering.


As I keep saying every year, brining the turkey is the best, fool-proof way to cook turkey. Brining recipes are abundant, but I go with Sir Alton Brown's recipe every year. Since this year is only breast meat, I didn't want to brine too long, but ended up brining for about 12 hours. XL Ziploc bags are quite handy for this.


As the menu says, I made three different kinds of variations. From left: herb-crusted, teriyaki, and simple salt and pepper.


Herb-crusted: thyme, rosemary, sage and parsley, plus garlic and bread crumbs, and a bit of olive oil mixed together. I didn't put any salt in this since brining should be enough. I put a bunch of the herbs in between the skin and the meat as well.


Teriyaki: I went easy on soy sauce, again, because of salt in brine-- so just added mirin and sake and a bit of graded ginger. After I took the meat out of the brine, you rinse it, and pat dry, and re-marinated for a couple of hours.


Simply sprinkled with salt and pepper.


Table is decorated nicely. I wish I would have taken a close-up picture, but if you look closely, the place cards are standing upright on brussels sprouts. It's a cute way to impress your guests easily.


Here are the pics of the food. Beautiful turkey trio. This was really beautiful, as in Martha Stewart's saying "beUUtiful". Very moist, thanks to the brining, and three flavors were all a big hit. Eight of us almost finished four breasts.


Roasted stuffed acorn squash. Stuffing is ground meat, shallots, cranberry sauce, cheese. Somehow, the skin was quite tough, but it was still pretty good.


Brussels sprouts with shallots.


Cheesy orzo with basil. I cooked orzo in consomme, and after draining the liquid, mixed with cheese, then added basil.


Mashed Japanese sweet potato. Since I didn't have milk, I added a lot of butter and heavy cream. None of the gays knew how fatty Japanese sweet potatoes are, even though they seem so healthy. It's like feeding vegetables to children-- hiding fat into healthy-looking food is a good way to feed gays.


Apple + chestnut stuffing. I always make my stuffing with panchetta.


Dessert. Although the menu said concord grape and apple tart, I figured out (after I printed the menu) that it was past concord grape season. Oops. So I cooked cranberry, blackberry, raspberry, blueberry, and apples together with sugar and corn starch. I had leftover custard, so I laid the cream on the bottom, then poured fruit on top.


By the way, the crust is from my easy Blueberry Tart ReCPY post.

Sweet, sour, crunchy, very nice.


Something I am realizing recently when I make macarons is that the cream in the middle is just as important as the outer shell. You are supposed to wait 24 hours before eating macarons. This is because the moisture in the cream makes the perfectly crunchy-outside-moist-inside texture. However, when you use very soft cream, it gets too soggy.


And I did just that. Here are my Black Sesame Macarons with Mascarpone + Kinako Cream. I should have strained mascarpone cheese and gotten rid of the water before making cream. The moisture from the cream made them too soggy.


I put them in a nice lacquer container for presentation, but when I opened them in the morning, they were all smashed up. Whenever I make macarons to post on Umamimart, they always turn out fine, and the one time I make them for my own party, I fail. WTF!


Also, I made them too big. Macarons are best when they are tiny and precious. Large macarons lose their effect.

So this was Thanksgiving 2010 for me. After the meal, we went bowling (more like drinking while casually throwing balls) at Chelsea Pier to get rid of the calories. And we ordered a huge plate of cheesy nachos with a shitload of Velveeta on top.