Posts Tagged ‘thanksgiving’

Cream of cauliflower soup with salmon roe

17 November 2011

The problem was, I couldn’t remember exactly how I had made this soup. I knew there was no milk or cream and no broth — no adulterating ingredient to distract from the delicate taste of the cauliflower. I looked in a dozen cookbooks most likely to have given me inspiration, but every recipe I found had milk, or cream. I was hesitant about the base: just onions and cauliflower, was that really it?

Then fortuitously, on 27 October, Mary Gorman-McAdams wrote her weekly column on TheKitchn about pairing wine with soup. In her column she mentions this very cauliflower soup, and solved my conundrum — the base is leeks, not onions.

This is a very simple soup; the salmon roe makes it sing. We served it with Chablis. Thanks, Mary.


Serves 6

4 leeks

8 Tbsps butter

2 small heads cauliflower

Sea salt

Freshly ground white pepper

A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

6 small spoonfuls of salmon roe


Remove and discard the leeks’ tough outer leaves, then cut the leeks into thin slices. Wash well in cold water to remove any grit, and drain.

In a soup pot, melt 4 tablespoons of butter. Add the sliced leeks. Season with sea salt. Cook the leeks until soft being careful that they don’t begin to brown.

Meanwhile, cut the cauliflower into florets and wash in cold water. Add to leeks. Add 4 tablespoons of butter cut into small pieces. Let the butter fall through cauliflower and melt. Add just enough water to cover the cauliflower, and cook until the cauliflower is soft. About 20-25 minutes. **Overcooking gives the  cauliflower a strong cabbagy smell, so it is essential not to overcook it, but the cauliflower has to be soft enough to blend into a smooth soup without any hard gritty bits. As soon as a knife cuts through the stem of the cauliflower florets easily, it is ready.**

As soon as the cauliflower is cooked, remove from heat. Blend in batches (it is important not to fill the blender or food processor — it shouldn’t be filled more than up to about a third). Blend thoroughly until the soup is silky smooth. Leave out some of the liquid to be able to adjust the density of the soup.

Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, and a restrained pinch of nutmeg.

Garnish with a spoonful of salmon roe added at the very last minute.


Related posts

Pumpkin leek soup

Lentil soup with cumin

Pumpkin leek soup

3 December 2010

I like soups that don’t require the use of broth. I’m not very good at keeping a constant supply of homemade broth in the freezer, and I’d rather not use the store bought variety if I can help it, so any soup that is delicious just by virtue of the vegetables included deserves closer attention.

This pumpkin leek soup is adapted from a recipe by French chef Paul Bocuse featured in a German-language cookbook my grandmother passed on to me quite a while ago. A lot about the cookbook, which is from 1985, seems dated — the style, photographs, clunky dishes, desserts just a bit too sweet. But there are a few gems, including this pumpkin soup. It has just five ingredients (and no broth!).


3.5 lbs (1.5 kg) pumpkin or squash [to yield approximately 8 cups (1 kg) once seeded, peeled, and cut into cubes]

8 medium leeks [to yield approximately 4 cups (400g) once peeled and sliced]

2 medium potatoes [to yield approximately 1 1/2 cups (200g)]

3 Tbsp butter

1 cup (250 ml) milk


Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Crème fraîche (optional)


Cut off leeks’ dark green outer leaves and wash under running water to remove dirt. Cut into 1/2 inch (1 cm) slices and wash again in cold water to eliminate the remaining grit. Remove skin and seeds from squash and cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) cubes. Peel potatoes and cut into 1/2 inch (1 cm) cubes.

Melt butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, add leeks, and let sweat for about 4-5 minutes. Add potatoes and squash, milk, and enough water to reach the top layer of vegetables without covering completely. Season with salt and pepper and let simmer partly covered for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft.

Check and adjust seasoning, and serve with crème fraîche if desired. Like most soups, wait until tomorrow and it will taste even better.

Sautéed hen of the woods and king trumpet mushrooms

30 November 2010

I must confess I am not crazy about mushrooms. I don’t dislike them, but I don’t necessarily seek them out either. I agree there is something entirely satisfying about going out to *hunt* for mushrooms (someone recently commented on the inadequacy of the term) and then cooking them in an omelet, say, with lots of parsley just picked in your grandmother’s garden; but it’s been a while since I picked any mushrooms.

However, a few years ago I had hen of the woods mushrooms at Hearth, a lovely restaurant in New York’s East Village, and the dish single-handedly made mushrooms worth craving. It must have been in early fall and I decided to make the mushrooms for Thanksgiving. That first year I couldn’t find a sufficient amount of hen of the woods, so I added king trumpet mushrooms. Now they have become part of the Thanksgiving tradition, too.

The mushrooms should be cooked at the last minute, while the turkey is resting.


King trumpet (or king oyster) mushrooms (Pleurotus eryngii)

Hen of the woods (or maitake) mushrooms (Grifola frondosa)

Olive oil


Fresh thyme

Maldon sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper


Carefully wipe dirt from king trumpet mushrooms, if necessary.

Cut off stub and thinly slice mushrooms lengthwise (the result are beautiful cross sections).

In a large skillet, heat enough olive oil to cover the surface. Thinly slice garlic, cook in olive oil until just golden, remove immediately and set aside.

Add mushrooms – just enough so they don’t overlap in the pan, working in batches as necessary – season with Maldon sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and sprinkle with thyme. Sautée until the mushrooms become golden-brown on one side, turn them over, and cook another minute or two until soft but with a bit of bite.

To serve, sprinkle with a little more thyme and the pieces of crispy garlic.

Heritage turkey with apple chestnut stuffing

29 November 2010

Back from a lazy long weekend here is the recipe for our Thanksgiving turkey – with plenty of time until next year, or a head start for Christmas if turkey happens to be on your menu.


Apple chestnut stuffing

I am not bound by tradition when it comes to stuffing, so I don’t consider it essential to include bread. This recipe was initially inspired by a goose stuffed with lady apples but has evolved quite a bit.

For a 16-18lb (7-7.5 kg) turkey:

1 large bunch parsley

2 handfuls fresh thyme

2 handfuls fresh sage

10 thick slices bacon

800 g (5 cups) whole peeled cooked chestnuts

8 medium-sized tart apples

5 medium-sized red onions

Maldon sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Pick leaves from herbs and discard stalks. Set aside.

Place half the slices of bacon in a large skillet over medium heat. Once it is brown and crispy on one side, turn over until brown and crispy on the other. Remove from skillet and set aside, keeping rendered fat in the pan.

Peel, core, and cut apples into quarters, then cut each quarter in half crosswise. Brown apples in bacon fat for 3-5 minutes over high heat.

Crumble 2/3 of the chestnuts, leaving about a third whole, and add them all to the apples. Stir to combine and remove from heat. Chop the thyme and sage and add to the apple/chestnut mixture. Transfer to a bowl.

Place the remaining slices of bacon in skillet over medium heat and repeat browning process. Remove from skillet and set aside, keeping rendered fat in the pan. Slice onions and cook them in bacon fat until translucid and just starting to brown. Add to apple/chestnut/herb mixture.

Chop bacon, chop parsley leaves, add to the rest of the stuffing, season generously with salt and pepper, and mix carefully.


Heritage turkey

I don’t make turkey often enough to have acquired proficiency in roasting the birds, but they have usually turned out anywhere from quite fine to fairly spectacular. I am refining the technique, one turkey a year at a time, to hit the high moisture marks every time. These are the steps I followed this year, with decent, though improvable results. 29 November 2010

Note from 25 November 2011: I edited the recipe slightly and reduced cooking times after another Thanksgiving turkey cooking adventure this year.

16-18 lb (7-7.5 kg) heritage turkey


Coarse gray sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper


Take the turkey out of the refrigerator well in advance (for example before you start making the stuffing), so it has time to come to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 475°F (245°C).

Once the turkey is at room temperature, separate the skin from the breast meat and rub softened butter onto the breasts. Season the inside of the turkey, then spoon the stuffing into the two cavities, front and back, and sew shut with kitchen string. Rub the skin on all sides with a generous amount of coarse sea salt and black pepper, and tie legs together with string.

Place turkey in a roasting tray, breast side down, and roast for 10 minutes. Turn the turkey breast side up and roast for another 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 300°F (150°C), add a little water at the bottom of the pan, and roast for about 3 to 3 1/2 hours, or until a thermometer* inserted in the inner thigh registers 150°F (65°C). While the turkey cooks, place a wet muslin cloth over the breasts and baste over the cloth and legs regularly, adding water to the juices if needed. Remove the cloth after about 3 hours to allow the skin to become very crispy.

Let the turkey stand for 45 minutes. Meanwhile reduce the juices and make the gravy, but I won’t tell you how because I prefer to just reduce the juices, keep them piping hot, and pour them over the meat before serving. (Full disclosure: I have asked willing guests to make gravy in the past couple of years, and I must admit it was very good — maybe next year I will tackle the sauce myself).

Check for doneness at the joints of the thighs and legs: If they are still uncooked (juices running bloody), return to the oven, and cook for another 25-30 minutes or until the juices run clear.

Carve and serve breasts, thighs, and legs.

*I acquired a thermometer unintentionally when the owner of Flying Pigs Farm gave me one at the market one day. He was obviously nervous I might overcook the beautiful loin roast I had just bought from him. I must admit the thermometer came in handy for the pork, and is very useful for turkey.

Cranberry sauce and a Thanksgiving menu

22 November 2010

Who wouldn’t love a holiday whose sole purpose is to share a meal? As a French woman I’ve always wondered why the French didn’t come up with that idea.

I started making Thanksgiving dinners long before I moved to the United States. The custom began with my mother, who is American (in a somewhat roundabout way), and though I cannot remember that we celebrated Thanksgiving every year as a family, I certainly picked up the tradition when I left home, and have celebrated, if not hosted it consistently since.

My first endeavor involved roasting a chicken with wild rice stuffing in a tiny countertop oven in a small Parisian studio apartment. Later, in Germany, turkeys replaced chickens as the dinner parties became larger to fit the size of the beautiful old apartments students could afford in Berlin in the 1990s (I haven’t lived in such a big apartment since!). I discovered that KaDeWe was the only store in the city to carry (frozen) turkeys in November.

Since I moved to New York I have expanded on and modified recipes, and refined a menu that to me is traditional, though it isn’t exactly, in spite of the turkey, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. On Thursday I will make the dishes I have honed in recent years. In the future I am sure some things will change.

2010 Thanksgiving menu

Pumpkin leek soup

Heritage turkey with apple chestnut stuffing

Sautéed hen of the woods and king trumpet mushrooms

Mashed celeriac with parsley

Cranberry sauce (recipe below)

Pumpkin pie

And other desserts brought by the guests


Cranberry sauce

There is no possible excuse for buying cranberry sauce it’s so ridiculously easy to make. I usually do it the weekend before Thanksgiving.


3 x 12 0z (340g) bags* cranberries

3 cups (750ml) water

2 cups (450g)  sugar

Zest of 2 untreated lemons

1 Tbsp Grand Marnier (optional)


Place the cranberries in a large bowl, fill with water and toss to wash. If you are obsessive as I am, check through the cranberries one handful at a time to sort out the soft, discolored ones, placing the good cranberries in a colander as you go. (This is not exactly necessary, but I love the ritual and the feel of the cranberries through my fingers… Otherwise just strain the berries through a colander.)

In a medium saucepan, dissolve the sugar in the water and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Add cranberries and lemon zest, mix and let simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries have popped. Remove from heat and mix in some Grand Marnier if desired.

Once cool, transfer to a jar or bowl and refrigerate (if you make the cranberry sauce a while in advance, sterilize the jars in boiling water, pour in cranberry sauce while hot, and seal tightly).

*For some reason, cranberries are practically always sold in 12 oz bags, so I started using that as the reference.

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