Let me start by saying that I’m not really happy with the photos in this post. But I’ve decided to go ahead with it, because it was my biggest dinner party yet and the dishes were actually very tasty and therefore blogworthy.
Thanksgiving is not a holiday in Greece. However, since my main reading material is food blogs from the US, I got caught up in the excitement and all round frenzy that leads up to this big holiday across the pond. So I thought it would be fun to throw a dinner party and invite friends over for some traditional American Thanksgiving yumminess. I started planning the menu the previous Saturday, and spent quite a few hours in the kitchen that week preparing my feast. Thursday was a regular working day for all of us, so Friday was going to be our Greek Thanksgiving.
Many of my dishes were made following recipes from various blogs. I’m not going to share all of them here, as it would take about a week to write them up, and since I didn’t really make any changes I’ll just link to each accordingly.
So here goes! My starters were really just nibbles, laid out when the first guests arrived.
*Little squares of cheddar and another smoked cheese which I don’t know the English name of (sorry!) with two chutneys, my homemade Quince Chutney and a gorgeous store bought Tamarind Chutney. Cheese and chutney, I could have eaten just that…
*Cherry tomato and mozzarella ball kebabs with homemade oregano pesto with feta (pictured).
*Alton Brown’s Spinach and Artichoke Dip served with nachos and crackers (pictured). I used tinned artichoke and it worked fine.
As I was adding the finishing touches to all the main course dishes and feeling quite smug at how perfect my timing had been for everything, my friend was exploring my well stocked fridge for a drink. Suddenly she exclaimed “Ooh what are these?” My reply was also an exclamation which I will not repeat here in case children are reading… “These” were my stuffing patties which I had forgotten to put in the oven with the potatoes. Thankfully the roasties were only half-done, so in went the stuffing to join them and the crisis was averted. Anyway, let me tell you more about the mains.
Of course. But, as I’m not that confident yet, I decided against roasting a whole bird. The perfect solution was to make a turkey breast in the slow cooker. Have you ever tried that? If not you have to. It is the perfect way to make turkey breast as it stays moist. It’s also fantastic to be able to stick it in the Crock-Pot in the morning and forget about it till it’s time to go on the table. Oh and the gravy it produces? Mm.
My turkey breast recipe is based on Stephanie O’Dea’s and goes something like this:
1 turkey breast (I could only find boneless skinless, but use bone-in if you can get it, it will stay even more succulent), mine was about 1.5 kg (approx. 3 lbs)
2 cups chicken stock
2 tsp dried tarragon
Salt and pepper
1. Peel the onion and halve it. Wash the leek well (greens bits too) and cut into three or four pieces. Arrange onion and leek in the bottom of the slow cooker.
2. Rinse the turkey breast and pat dry with kitchen paper. Rub it with salt, pepper and 1 teaspoon of tarragon and place it on top of the veg in the slow cooker.
3. Pour the chicken stock over it, watch the tarragon get washed away, and then sprinkle the 2nd teaspoon of tarragon on top of the meat.
4. Plonk the butter on top (no need to melt it).
5. Pop the lid on and cook on low for 8 hours.
Note: Omit the butter and you’ve got yourself a Dukan Diet friendly turkey recipe.
To make the gravy, when the 8 hours are up lift the meat out of the slow cooker and transfer the drippings to a small saucepan. Discard the veg. Put the turkey back in the slow cooker to stay warm. Boil the liquid till it reduces and becomes more saucy. Add some gravy granules (if you like) and continue to boil till it reaches the consistency you want. It might take a while to thicken so if you want, use some cornflower to speed things up (you know the drill, mix cornflower with cold water first to make a slurry, then add to the hot liquid while off the hob. Return to the heat and stir till it thickens).
Sage and Onion Stuffing
My favourite part of the meal. This is my mum’s recipe. She makes this stuffing for Christmas Dinner, which is my favourite dinner in the whole wide world. I think it would be my choice for the “If you could have one last meal…” question. This was the first time I tried making it myself, and I’m happy to say it was great. A bit salty, and it could have done with more time in the oven (ahem) but still great. Recipe goes:
3 large onions, chopped (not minced)
360g breadcrumbs (not too fine)
5 ½ heaped tsp dried sage
Salt & pepper to taste
1. Cook onions gently over medium heat in a frying pan with some water. The water is just so the onion doesn’t stick, you only need about 2-3 tablespoons. Cook, stirring frequently, till onion starts to soften.
2. Add the margarine to the pan and continue cooking till onion is translucent.
3. In the meantime, in a large bowl, mix breadcrumbs with sage and salt and pepper.
4. Transfer onion (with pan liquids) to the bowl and mix well. It should come together into a fairly pliable mixture (like minced meat when you make burgers). At this point you can taste a bit to see if it needs seasoning. You might want to add a bit more sage, but keep in mind the flavour strengthens slightly while cooking.
5. Take about 2 tablespoons of mixture and form into a patty (a slightly flattened meatball, not as flat as a burger). Continue with the rest of the bread mixture.
6. Bake in the oven with the potatoes. Keep them on one side so you can cover them with tin foil if they brown too quickly.
These were a bit of a strange mix. We had:
Roast potatoes. I boil them first, for about 8-10 minutes, then put them on a baking tray with a few tablespoons of olive oil, mix them so they’re all coated in oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper and a bit of paprika, and roast in a 200C oven for about 50’ to an hour. This makes them crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.
Sweet Potato Casserole. Yum. I used this recipe by CBSOP and of course baked the potatoes in the slow cooker the night before so they were ready to go in the casserole the next morning.
Green Beans with Tahini-Lemon Dressing. A wonderful side dish with a very light dressing, great to accompany “heavier” flavours such as stuffing and sweet potatoes. Recipe by Kalyn’s Kitchen.
Lentil Salad with Roast Beets and Almonds. Not quite traditional but very tasty! I love roast beetroot and it keeps well. Recipe by The Stone Soup. This would also be great with some crumbled feta on top.
Beer Bread with Cheddar and Rosemary. I based this on the recipe by Bake at 350, but used Newcastle Brown Ale instead of lager and cheddar instead of gruyere. I also skipped the melted butter to keep things lighter, but will definitely try it next time!
For dessert I made these pumpkin-y brownies by Picky Palate, but because I thought they would be a flop, I also threw together an apple crisp (in record time may I add) just in case. The brownies weren’t a complete flop, but they weren’t as good as I’d hoped. I should have listened to my instinct while making them, because I had a feeling the chocolate I used was way too much for the one cup of flour. I don’t use chocolate chips as they cost twice as much, I just chop my own chocolate, and this might have been the reason the recipe didn’t work. There was definitely too much chocolate in there (yes, that is possible!).
For the Apple Crisp I put two apples (peeled, cored and chopped) into a pie dish, and topped it with the mixture of oats, flour, butter and brown sugar that Jessica from How Sweet It Is uses in this recipe. It’s really good! Especially with cream. But then everything is good with cream.
Phew. I think that’s everything! For those of you who are still with me after this looong post, thank you, I didn’t think you’d make it to the end