Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Giving Thanks

This year, my family had a lot to give thanks for. I'm thankful that, although this is all that remains of the beach in Spring Lake, originally was built in 1937

(which, in case you can't figure out from the picture, is supposed to have wood planks on top of the structures that are left), and although my aunt only lives a block from the beach and my cousin and her family are practically surrounded by bodies of water, no one in my family was hurt or severely impacted by Superstorm Sandy, something that is sadly not the case for many people in the region.

Anyway, on to the food.

This year, my aunt, who spends a from November to March in Florida, gave up the cooking duties to her daughter-in-law (my cousin who also lives near the shore). And WHOA! Although my aunt is an absolutely fabulous cook, my cousin made a couple of minor tweaks to our traditional dinner and made it even that much better. 

For example, she added bacon to our turkey so that she did not have to baste it periodically...with the delicious side effect of having BACON on Thanksgiving. I mean, come on. BACON. On top of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, etc. 

And people wonder why Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday...

As always, i was in charge of appetizers this year. I learned many years ago (thanks to being yelled at by my aunt...HI!) that the absolute number one error of handling hor d'oeuvres for Thanksgiving is needing to put something in the oven. Christmas? Go for it. Ham doesn't take that long (or, in my family's case, lasagna), so sticking something in the oven won't be blasphemous. But Thanksgiving? GIVE THAT TURKEY ITS SPACE.

Thus, Italian antipasti. It's healthy, fairly light (depending on your willpower, of course) and won't destroy your appetite. Plus, it won't compete with the actual dinner for dominance. 

antipasti platter
from top clockwise: proscuitto, marinated artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, red wine salumi, papadew peppers, provolone and salami stuffed peppers)

cheese plate
the trick to a good cheese plate? options. I always use mozzarella cause, I mean, HELLO, its mozzarella and who doesn't like it, then a soft cheese (brie or, in my case, camembert), a goat cheese, a hard cheese and a semi-hard cheese. BOOM. 

a selection of spreads for crostini
my eggplant and olive tapenade and a white bean spread (recipe to come)

Here are a selection of pics from the main course. More recipes (including a famous Irish family recipe for mashed potatoes...ok, i'm pretty sure its from my mum's italian side, but WHATEVER, my last name is O'Brien. I basically corner the market on potatoes)

the reason we're all here

straining the gravy

cranberry sauce. yep, from a can. Even food bloggers take shortcuts (and lets be honest, the canned stuff is GOOD!)

my brother's mashed potatoes
recipe to come!

white meat, stuffing, and the poor bird

mixing the stuffings
hint--to make the extra that you have in the oven as good as the kind in the bird, mix them together prior to serving

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