Last Thursday was Thanksgiving. Though we are non Americans, and weren't being invited to any Thanksgiving dinner, that couldn't stop us from celebrating this meaning day with some friends coming over for a traditional Thanksgiving meal.
Thanks to numerous cooking magazines, I know that a typical Thanksgiving meal should include: Turkey, mashed potato, green bean, gravy,stuffing, dinner rolls and pumpkin pie. Of course the list could go on if you were serving more guests. I wouldn't mind cooking for more people if not of the limited space we have in our tiny apartment. Anyway, I guess a simple menu will do for now.
You know, sometime the simplest thing can be complicated when you are given too many choices. There are at least 30 recipes for roast turkey, at least ten types of add-on for mashed potatoes, and apparently countless ways to make stuffing. And whether to stuff the turkey or not. I spent almost a week to decide on whose recipes should I use for the few dishes I made. OCT seemed to be more enthusiastic than I was and kept pestering me with the menu. It's funny that we were more excited about Thanksgiving than the Chinese New Year. Maybe because we are too far away from home. And this place lacks the new year decoration and songs to remind us of the festival.....
Anyway, the Thanksgiving prep started 3 days before the big day. Apparently it's not to bad compared to our American counterparts here, who prepared for the day way in advance. Here's some self-explanatory photos to show you what we had for our Thanksgiving dinner:
Other than the compulsory roast turkey, green bean and mashed potato, I made lemon horseradish fish cakes as appetizer. It also served as a backup in case the roast turkey didn't turn out fine.
And I almost forgotten about my dinner rolls, which I made the night before. They were tastier the night I made them though.
For dessert, I made a espresso and chocolate swirl cheesecake. This was made 2 days before Thanksgiving, so that the flavor had enough time to mend. Unfortunately, 2 days seems not long enough. OCT and I both find that it tasted the best after sitting for 5 days! Anyway, I don't intend to bake this cake anytime soon. There are too many cheesecake recipes waiting for me out there! Nevertheless, this cheesecake which is not too sweet ended our dinner on a good note.
Eventhough it wasn't a feast, we still had plenty of leftover! Which was turned into another mini Thanksgiving meal for just the two of us on the next day. And yes, the photo below was only part of the leftover.
Make Ahead Mashed Potato
adapted from Southernliving
5 pounds baking potatoes
2 (3-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 (8-ounce) container sour cream
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons onion salt
Garnish: paprika or chopped fresh parsley
Peel potatoes, and cut into 1-inch cubes. Cook in a medium saucepan in boiling water to cover 15 to 20 minutes or until tender; drain and place into a large mixing bowl.
Add cream cheese and next 4 ingredients; beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth and fluffy (do not overbeat). Spoon into a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch or 3-quart baking dish.
Bake, covered, at 325° for 50 minutes or until thoroughly heated; garnish, if desired.
Note: Unbaked mashed potatoes may be chilled up to 2 days. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes, and bake as directed.
Yield: 10 servings
Cloverleaf Dinner Rolls
adapted from Fine Cooking
1 package dry yeast (I used rapid rise yeast)
1/4 cup warm water (100° to 110°F)
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup milk
6 Tbs. butter
1 lb. (3-1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
2 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp. salt
3 Tbs. butter, melted (for shaping)
For the egg glaze:
1 egg yolk
1 Tbs. milk
Making the dough:
Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water. Add a pinch of the sugar. Stir and let the mixture sit until it's foamy, about 5 min. (If the mixture doesn't foam, the yeast may be inactive. Throw out the mixture and begin again with new yeast.)
Heat the milk and butter just until the butter melts. Let the mixture cool until it's tepid.
Measure the flour into a large bowl and make a well in the center. Pour in the tepid milk and the yeast mixture. Add the rest of the sugar and the oil, egg, and salt. Mix the ingredients thoroughly, gradually drawing in the flour to form a soft dough. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface.
(For a variation, make whole-wheat rolls with orange and coriander. Orange zest makes these rolls particularly fragrant, and the whole-wheat flour gives the rolls a pleasantly hearty flavor. Use the recipe above, but substitute 1/2 cup of whole-wheat flour for 1/2 cup of the white flour. After the salt is added, add the grated zest of 1 orange and 1/2 tsp. ground coriander. Proceed with the remainder of the recipe as written.)
Knead the dough:
Push the dough away from you with the heels of your hands, then fold the dough over itself and give it a quarter turn. Repeat this pushing, folding, and turning, adding only enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to the table, until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 min. The dough will be softer than ordinary bread dough. Put the dough in a greased bowl and then turn the dough over so the greased side faces up. Press plastic wrap onto the surface of the dough and leave it to rise until doubled in volume, 45 min. to 1 hour. Gently punch down the dough and then let it rest for 5 min. before shaping.
Shape the rolls:
Lightly butter a standard 12-portion muffin tin. With your hands, roll the dough into a long cylinder about 18 in. long. Use a dough cutter to divide this in half and then cut each half into six equal portions. Divide each of these 12 portions into three sections for a total of 36 pieces. Each piece should be approximately the same size.
With your palms, lightly roll each piece of dough into a smooth ball. Cluster three balls of dough in each cup of the muffin tin. Brush with a little melted butter. Allow to rise for 40 to 50 min., or until doubled in volume.
Yield 12 dinner rolls
Espresso and Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake
adapted from Bon Appetite
1 9-ounce package chocolate wafer cookies (used oreo cookies)
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted, cooled
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
1 tablespoon water
3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted, cooled
1 tablespoon finely ground coffee (used one tablespoon of instant espresso powder)
6 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup whipping cream
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 400°F. Grind cookies in processor. Add butter and process using on/off turns until crumbs are moist. Press crumbs on bottom and 1 1/2 inches up sides of 9-inch-diameter springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides. Wrap outside of pan with aluminum foil.
In small bowl, dissolve instant espresso in 1 tablespoon water. Using electric mix, beat cream cheese in large bowl until smooth. Add sugar and continue beating until mixture is light and fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in espresso mixture, butter and ground coffee beans.
Combine chocolate and cream in heavy small saucepan. Stir over low heat until chocolate melts. Pour half of cheese filling (about 2 1/2 cups) into prepared crust. Drop 5 tablespoons melted chocolate mixture by tablespoons around edge of filling, spacing evenly. Use small sharp knife to swirl chocolate into filling. Carefully pour remaining cheese filling over. Drop remaining chocolate mixture by tablespoons into center 6 inches of filling, spacing evenly. Swirl mixtures together using tip of knife.
Bake cheesecake until edges are puffed and beginning to crack and top is golden brown, about 40 minutes (center will not be set). Cool on rack. Chill overnight. (Can be prepared 3 days ahead.)
Run small sharp knife around edge of pan to loosen cheesecake. Release pan sides. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Transfer to platter and serve.