| Friends with food: How to make your mommy proud

A Friends with food Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a fantastic time to give thanks for you friends by giving them food. In order to show off our skills, and our adult-ness, Friends with food decided to undertake the task of actually making a full Thanksgiving feast this year. But, we cheated; our dear pal, Laura D’Angelo, was added to the chef line-up this week to add the carnivore to our vegetarian duo. Even with Laura, the turkey-queen extraordinaire, on the team Thanksgiving dinner was a lot of work, but it’s definitely worth it.

The traditional Thanksgiving meal consists of turkey, stuffing, any number of potato dishes, some veggie specials, and various other trimmings. We “accidentally” forgot cranberry sauce, but that’s because it’s just too easy – dump it out of a can, or make the “home-style” stuff off of the recipe on the back of a bag of berries.

Feel free to be as extravagant or as moderate as you feel capable of with this year’s feast, but we’ve gone all out to bring you some recipes and we guarantee that they will leave you and your friends feeling loved and homey.

Laura and Janice’s Famous Turkey Recipe, because something this delicious shouldn’t be that hard

Tools of the trade: heavy duty foil; a large roasting pan – the exact size depends on the turkey; a wire rack to place in bottom of roasting pan – the toaster oven’s rack should fit perfectly; Pam, or any other brand of cooking spray.

Place the wire rack in the bottom of the large pan and then place the turkey on top, breast side up – this means “ass up.” Spray the top of turkey and its legs with a lot of cooking spray, and we mean a lot – you’ll thank us for this later. Take a large piece of foil and also spray the side of it that will be touching the bird. Place the tin foil over the turkey, wrapping it down and sealing it very tightly to the roasting pan. If the foil isn’t going to be wide enough to cover completely, join two pieces by folding long edges together several times, then place over the bird and wrap it up. What’s most important is ensuring that the foil is tightly sealed around the pan. If any air is let into the pan while the turkey is cooking, it won’t be as delicious.

Place the turkey in oven at 450°F.(If your oven runs hot, like ours, then 430°F is fine). Cooking time depends on the size of the turkey.

10 – 13 lbs (4.5 – 6kg) = 2 3⁄4 hours

15 – 17 lbs (6 – 8 kg) = 3 1⁄4 hours

18 – 21 lbs (8 – 10kg) = 3 1⁄2 hours

22 + lbs (10kg & up) = 4 hours maximum

About 1⁄2 hour before the end of the cooking time, turn the oven down to 350°F and remove the turkey from the oven. Very carefully punch a few holes in the foil to let the steam out and then, very carefully, remove the foil. The steam will come pouring out at first, so you run the risk of being badly burnt if your hands or face get too close. Put the foil-less turkey pan back in the oven. After the last half hour, the bird will be golden brown. What do you mean it isn’t!? Leave it in for another 15 minutes to get that delicious crispy outer layer just right, but no longer than that – you don’t want to totally dry out your turkey.

Once you remove the bird from the oven, let it sit for a few minutes. If you’ve stuffed it, spoon out stuffing and place in bowl, cover, and put it back in a warm oven. Keep the turkey tented with foil while you make gravy. If you don’t want to make your own gravy, or would like to limit the work, buy a pack of instant turkey gravy. We recommend Club House brand. It uses real turkey drippings, so it tastes just as good as homemade. But gravy is super easy and cheap, so score extra brownie points by doing it all from scratch. When the gravy is done…enjoy!

For gravy-making info, please check our blog in the blog section on mcgilldaily.com.

Vegetarian Stuffing, because it’s too important to feed to the meat-eaters alone

This wild rice and mushroom stuffing is a delicious twist on the classic Thanksgiving staple. (It’s great to make for all of those people who can do without the turkey but go nuts for stuffing).

• 1-2 loaves of sliced bread (we like to use one white, one wheat)

• 3 small-medium onions, chopped

• 2 cloves garlic, minced

• 1 can (or equivalent) vegetable broth

• 2 eggs

• 1-2 C pre-cooked wild rice (you can use a mix of brown and wild rice, but make sure to use plenty of the wild variety – that’s what gives it a fabulous crunch)

• 2 boxes of mushrooms, quartered or sliced

• 1 tbsp each, sage and thyme

• salt, pepper

Start by tearing the bread into one-inch pieces and put into a large bowl. Sautée the garlic, onions and mushrooms in a pan with a bit of oil or butter. Once the onions are clear, add the vegetable broth. Drizzle this broth mixture over the bread in the bowl. Keep adding broth until the bread is wet, but not sopping. Beat two eggs together in a small bowl, and then add them to the stuffing mixture to help bind it all together. Mix well. At this point add salt, pepper, sage and thyme (you can use ‘Italian seasoning’ instead if it’s handy.) Transfer the whole mixture to a deep baking dish. Cover and bake at 350°F for one hour. We like to take the cover off for the last 15 minutes to give it a bit of a crusty texture on top. Serve immediately, and hope there are leftovers!

Dorothy’s Pie Crust, because nothing says comfort like Grandma’s pie

This delicious and easy pie crust used to be Sophie’s grandmother’s specialty. It has taken years for anyone to master it as well as she can. Sophie’s still trying.

• 1 C really, really cold butter (freeze it for 30 minutes before starting the crust)

• 2 C flour

• 1 tsp baking powder

• 2 tbsp ice water

• 2 tbsp plain yogurt or sour cream

Cut the frozen butter into large cubes – about 3cm3. Put these into a large mixing bowl alongside the dry ingredients. If you have a food processor, use it; set it to pulse until the flour and butter are relatively mixed together. There should be small pea-sized ovals of butter coated in flour. If you don’t have a food processor, then you can either use a hand-mixer, or a potato masher to blend the butter and the dry ingredients together. Don’t have these tools either? Shame on you! But you can still mix the ingredients together with a knife, breaking the butter as you go. Be warned, your arm may be sore at the end of this exercise, but once you’re done, it’ll be oh-so-satisfying.

Now get prepared to get your hands dirty. Add the water and yogurt into the mixture, stirring with a spoon, knife, or potato masher until there are no obvious chunks of yogurt left floating around. Now dig in with your hands. Shape the mixture into a smooth, doughy mass. This will take a bit of time. If it seems to be much more difficult than it should be, buck up – apparently, the harder it is to get the flour-yogurt mixture into a dough, the better the crust. As soon as you have the dough into a ball that you can easily hold in your hands, grab the plastic wrap. Divide the dough into two hockey-puck-shaped parts. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a 30 minutes, minimum. During this time you can start making the filling, and maybe do a few dishes, maybe.

Once the dough has been adequately cooled (you can also make it the night before and keep it in the fridge for a day or two), take one puck and roll it out, until it’s about the size of a pie-pan. It should be very thin, about 1⁄4 cm thick. Once the dough is ready, gently wrap the crust around your rolling pin, and slide over and into the pie-pan. Make sure the dough covers the entire pan and break off the overflowing edges. If you’re doing a pie that requires a top crust, roll out the other hockey-puck of dough in the same way. Dump the filling into the bottom crust. With something like an apple pie, you can place the second crust directly on top of the first. Connect the top and bottom. Make sure to poke holes in the full top crust with a fork. Beat an egg with a fork for a few seconds, and then gently coat the top crust in egg with an egg brush or paper towel. The egg will create a nice shine when the pie is baked.

Once the pie is assembled put it in the oven at 450°F for 15 minutes. After that first, delightful quarter of an hour has passed, turn the temperature down to 350°F and cook for 30 minutes. The crust should be tanned with a golden tinge when it’s done. Let cool for 15-20 minutes, until you can touch the pan, then serve. Yummy, yummy.

For pie fillings (very key!) please check out our blog at mcgilldaily.com.

Tips and Tricks:

Don’t have rolling pin? Take your can of Pam, or an old or unopened bottle of wine. Cover it in plastic wrap, and away you go! It works almost as well as the real thing.

When buying a turkey estimate about 1.25 lbs per person (1/2 kg). Remember, half the fun of Thanksgiving dinner is the leftovers, so always aim for more food.

We could only find two small 5-7 kilogram turkeys (11-15 lbs) when we went schopping. To calculate the cooking time we picked half way between the larger turkey’s weight and the total weight.

Blog action: find “How to save money on this feast” and “Leftover madness” at mcgilldaily.com, along with a Turkey Journal, a step-by-step guide to our day of cooking, the promised pie fillings – apple, pumpkin, and berry – and lots of tasty sides.

Catch the next FWF in two weeks, when you kick the turkey hangover.


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