Get comfortable because this is a long post crammed with information on how to make your Thanksgiving magical. While many feel Thanksgiving requires lots of preparation, I promise you I know folks who have zoomed to the store looking for a fresh turkey because, OOPS, they forgot to thaw the one in the freezer. I know people who pick up their entire meal from their country club and thus only worry about a table setting. So, don’t freak out! Thanksgiving may be next week, but it is a holiday that can handle as much or as little as you want to put into it.
My favorite thing about Thanksgiving? (Elizabeth talking here) I know I should say gathering around the table with friends and family. But, truth be told– the turkey and dressing. My love affair did not begin with my Mother’s dressing, but rather in the school cafeteria at my school, Immaculate Conception. My favorite dressing was prepared by the famous school cooks, Pearlie and Pauline. It was a special day when Pearlie and Pauline whipped up their famous southern cornbread dressing. Unlike my Mother’s, it was moist and could be scooped having been made with lots of eggs and chicken broth. A heartfelt thanks, Pearlie and Pauline for showing me the way when it came to making delicious dressing. Sorry Mom!
I asked Jimmy Phillips, chef of Miel restaurant, and Margot McCormick, chef of both of Margot Cafe & Bar and Marche, to share their favorite cocktails, wine, and side dish recipes with the StyleBlueprint readers. Both restaurants offer Thanksgiving food to pick up and you can not go wrong at either place. Both Margot and Jimmy love seasonal delicacies and understand the concept that less is better. Both are masters at using high quality ingredients thus allowing the flavor of the food to stand on its own.
Jimmy Phillips of Miel Restaurant
Favorite Wine: “I always pull out a Riesling from the cellar. This year, a 2002 J J Prum Spatlese.”
Favorite Cocktail: “A single barrel bourbon to sip after dinner, preferably by a fire! Of late, I have had some Four Roses and Sazerac Rye but the idea is to appreciate the master distillers artistry and style, so I pour it in a glass all by itself– neat.”
Favorite Side Dish: “Hands down, sweet potatoes. I use white, purple and traditional orange sweet potatoes.”
1 pound sweet potatoes of any and all varieties
1/4 c olive oil
1/2 t pumpkin pie spice
1 t kosher salt
bunch fresh thyme
Optional garnish: pecans, dried cranberries
You can make this a day ahead of time, reheat and garnish.
Yield: 2-3 servings as a side dish
Peel and cut into 1/2 inch pieces. For every 1 pound of potatoes (2-3 servings) toss in 1/4 c olive oil, juice of 1/2 lemon, 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice, 1 tsp fresh thyme cut up enough to release oils, 1 tsp kosher salt and pepper to taste. I will also add a pinch of Garam Masala to add more depth.
Roast on a cookie sheet for 35-40 minutes in a 350 degree oven or until soft. When they come out put the hot potatoes back in the bowl you tossed them in. Add a tablespoon of honey per pound of potatoes and more fresh thyme if you like. Garnish with pecans, dried cranberries and fresh thyme.” Liza and Elizabeth are both salivating. YUM!
Miel Restaurant will offer a huge selection of Thanksgiving side items and desserts. Basically the only thing you need to cook is your protein . Go to their website: www.mielrestaurant.com to get their phone number. Call and they will email you their selections!
Margot McCormick of Margot Cafe & Bar
Favorite Cocktail: Ginger Cider
“Add 2 oz. Canton Ginger Liqueur to glass of apple cider (hot or cold). Could add in addition vanilla vodka and/or spiced simple syrup. For something a little stronger try a Vieux Carre-rye whiskey, B&B, Carpano and orange bitters.”
Wine Selection: “If you like fruity full-bodied wines like a Zinfandel, try a sparkling Shiraz. If that’s a little too much wine, try a nice Alsatian Riesling, Pinot Gris or Pinot Blanc. Also a red Burgundy should do well if you’re not overdoing the sweet potatoes and marshmallows. A definite favorite is Domaine Ostertag ,Riesling, 2007, Alsace for about $25 a bottle”
Favorite Side Dish: Savory Bread Pudding
Savory Bread Pudding
1 loaf foccacia bread- other bread can be substituted but this is the perfect bread for this dish as it is highly seasoned and has a fine crumb which absorbs the custard
6 whole eggs
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese or Gruyere
1 cup of the following flavoring ingredient your choice: roasted mushrooms, sweet potato or squash puree,
or 1 head of roasted garlic, 1 large onion caramelized
onion, 1 cup roasted fennel or 1 cup cooked spinach or swiss chard- the list is infinite.
Servings: While Elizabeth and Liza say 6 – 8 restaurant servings, I think 4 – 6 with the seconds everyone will get!
Mix the eggs and cream together in a large bowl.
Add the focaccia tearing or cutting into small cubes.
“Add whatever additional ingredient you prefer as well as the cheese. Mix well. Let the mixture rest in the bowl for 10 – 15 minutes allowing the bread to absorb the liquid. You will want the mix to still appear wet but not dry. Much will be determined by how fresh the bread is and how much extra liquid your additional ingredients have. Feel free to add more bread or liquid as you see fit.
Pour mix into pie tin, springform pan or 9 by 9 square pan or muffin tins and bake at 375 30-45 mins. Baking time will vary depending on what cooking vessel you choose. This recipe can easily be doubled.
This recipe is perfect for chilly fall or winter weather. It’s easy to prepare accessible to everyone with all of its variations. It makes a great addition to the Thanksgiving table in lieu of stuffing or on its own.”
Marche has a full Thanksgiving catering menu available. You can order Oyster Bread Stuffing, Cauliflower and Cheese Gratin, Autumn root vegetables and so much more. Click here to see the full menu: marche Thanksgiving Catering Menu.
Both restaurants will be closed for Thanksgiving; Margot, however, will be serving a Thanks Giving feast to about 60 people who are in the Martha O’Brien “Linked Together” program. Way to go Margot!
Now that your menu is swirling in your head, let’s head onto Table Decor!
Jason Parker Counce
Jason Parker Counce has come through for us once again with bountiful tips for this great day. He believes that one look at the dining room table sets the mood for the entire day. If you need Jason’s help with any Holiday party or home decorating, contact him NOW so that you can enjoy the Holidays with ease and panache. He really is great and has killer ideas that won’t break the bank. www.jasonparkercouncedesigns.com
Next, the “Natural Tone” table. I like to use more unfinished or light wood tones with white accents to achieve this effect. White plates on silver or pewter chargers, linen napkins using small vine wreaths or jute rope for napkin rings. Place cards are easily fashioned from unfinished wood pieces from the craft store– just write their name with permanent or paint pen. The centerpiece can be anything from a fantastic driftwood candle holder to a collection of wood logs from the yard with candles placed on top (secure those candles before you light!). If you don’t have a tablecloth or a runner to use, why not MAKE IT! Go get some Burlap from the fabric store (Liza piping in here: it’s really cheap and the back room at Fabric House has tons of colors of burlap, but so does JoAnn’s). Measure your table and add two feet for overhang off the ends. Pull off a few pieces of the burlap thread for an all around fringe look and voila!: no sewing and SO MUCH LOOK for very little effort!
Some pictures to help you achieve this look:
I am all for the dramatic statements and this is the best look I have seen: Take a long log about 4 feet and tie jute rope on either end to suspend from your ceiling (use big C-Hooks from the hardware store.)and drape over a large stand of clear lights and voila: instant “Natural” chandelier. If you still don’t have a chandelier above your table, do this. Otherwise, think bar area, sideboard, island or above the fireplace.
Jason concludes his advice to us all by saying:
“Don’t forget to make the day easy for you too! Set up your sideboard or accent table with a hassle free buffet: pile up the dishes, napkins, flatware in a clay pot or glass vase and the side dishes. Do the same thing at a bar by placing out the glasses, napkins and accouterments. Open the wine and set out the liquor. Don’t forget the “Game Day Beer” placed in a galvanized tub with ice, sweet tea, water and soft drinks. After the hustle and bustle of running around, literally like a “Turkey!” set aside just a few moments to relax and enjoy before the guests arrive, raise a glass and say “Happy Thanksgiving to all!” www.jasonparkercouncedesigns.com
Roger Higgins of R.Higgins Designs
Next, Roger Higgins of R.Higgins Designs created this centerpiece for Elizabeth’s sister. Her dining room is a gorgeous in tones of blues and golds. Since she scored on getting the family heirloom dining room table, she needed a centerpiece to anchor this table that seats 12 people. The seasonal apples and greenery are wonderful for the fall and winter months. You can see how it can be used for Thanksgiving and then you just add some red berries and your Christmas centerpiece is done as well. We love that simplicity.
Enjoy your Thanksgiving day. We all have much to be thankful for. – Elizabeth and Liza