Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Staci's Holiday

Good morning my friends, we have a special and divine treat today from friend, blogger, and Canadian designer Staci Edwards. Staci has really prepared a lovely feast for us and created a spread that makes me so excited for the upcoming holiday! I always love visiting her blog for inspiration and am thankful that she is giving us the scoop on entertaining with her favorite Thanksgiving recipes. Thanks Staci!

Hello everyone, as some of you may know I am from Canada, so our Thanksgiving has long passed, but I’m excited to get back into the festivities with all of the American readers out there.  Today I’ll be sharing tips and tricks to ensure your Thanksgiving celebrations look great and taste delicious, with some simple styling tips for your table and some wonderful new recipes.  Let’s get started…

Personally, I am a casual entertainer and believe that the less work I have to do while guests are visiting, the better.  This table set up is perfect for casual entertaining and setting up a buffet style serving area for everyone to dig in, not to mention it looks great!  Setting up a table with varying heights is always a lovely way to create visual interest, and the have achieved this here by using those natural wood crates.  The knives and forks being tied together with twine not only looks nice and keeps with the neutral colour palette, but it also makes it easy for the guests to grab-and-go to prevent a traffic jam around the table.  I am all about garnishing my dishes, and by setting the turkey amongst some greenery it gives a pop of colour to a neutral table.  My favorite part of this table setting is the use of craft paper instead of a tablecloth, it makes for a very quick cleanup, and using it to label what is being served is a darling idea!
A great way to make your day run even smoother is by hosting a potluck party; ask each couple to bring a side dish while you cook the turkey.  If you are in need of a turkey recipe that is sure to impress, give this one a try that I’ve used from Rachel Ray:

1 small onion (golf-ball size), peeled and coarsely chopped
1 lemon, scrubbed clean
12 fresh sage leaves
A large handful of fresh flat leaf parsley (about 1/2 cup, from 12 stems)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), plus more for oiling pan
1 teaspoon salt, plus more as needed
6 fresh bay leaves
4 tablespoons butter
2 boneless turkey breast halves, skin on (about 2-2 1/2 pounds each)
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup apple brandy or regular brandy, such as Calvados brand
2-3 cups apple cider  
Pre-heat the oven to 450°F. Oil a roasting pan and set it aside.
Put the onion into the bowl of a mini food processor. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the zest from the lemon in thin strips, being careful not to cut into the bitter white pith. Add the lemon zest to the food processor and reserve the whole lemon for another use. Chop the onion and lemon zest in the food processor until fine. Add the sage, parsley, EVOO and one teaspoon salt and pulse until it forms a coarse paste.
Put two of the bay leaves and the butter into a small pan and heat over medium-low heat until the butter is bubbling. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Put the turkey breasts on a work surface. Carefully run your fingers between the skin and the flesh from one end, being careful not to pull it completely off, creating a pocket. Season the turkey breasts generously with salt and pepper. Stuff half of the herb paste under the skin of each breast and spread it evenly under the skin.
Transfer the breasts to the roasting pan and slide two bay leaves underneath each breast. (The heat of the pan will release the bay leaf oils and flavor the breast). Using a pastry brush, baste the breasts with half of the bay leaf butter.
Wash your hands after handling the raw poultry.
Place the turkey in the oven and immediately decrease the temperature to 400°F. After 20 minutes, baste the turkey breasts with the remaining bay leaf butter and roast for an additional 20-25 minutes until cooked through and a thermometer placed in the thickest part of the breast registers 170°F.
Remove the turkey from the oven, transfer to a platter, cover and let rest for 10 minutes before carving while you make the gravy.
Put the roasting pan over a burner on medium heat. Sprinkle flour over the pan juices and cook, stirring, for a few minutes. Add the apple brandy and scrape the pan to lift the bits that are stuck to the bottom. Cook for a minute to burn off the alcohol, then, while stirring, pour in the apple cider. Bring to a simmer and stir until thickened. Season with salt and pepper.
Slice the turkey breast on the diagonal and serve with warm gravy.

If you prefer a sit-down type of dinner table setting, here is another beautiful choice!  It is a sit-down style, however it’s not too formal, and in my mind that’s how Thanksgiving should be… I say save the formal wear for Christmas, and keep Thanksgiving all about comfy, cozy, family dining.

This table works because it is all about mixing and layering pieces to create a casual, yet well-styled look.  When mixing plates, ensure that they are the same basic shape and look nice stacked on each other like they do here.  As for serving dishes I like to make sure to stick with 3 different finishes so that everything works together, here they have chosen white, wood and glass – A perfect combination for a casual table {if you are doing a more formal table try removing wood elements and bringing in shine with metals}.  And if you are lucky enough to be dining outside the Thanksgiving, be sure to get some hurricane candle holders like the one above this table {although I would use a couple more}  - Pergolas or awnings are a great feature to hang them from.  
My favorite part of a sit-down dinner is when the meal has been enjoyed, the wine has been finished, and it’s time for dessert!  My favorite pumpkin pie recipe is from Martha Stewart, and if you have not tried it, then here is your chance:

1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 cups fresh Sugar Pumpkin Puree, or canned
3 large eggs, lightly beaten, plus 1 egg for glaze
1 1/2 cups evaporated milk
1 tablespoon heavy cream
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set
aside. In a large bowl, combine sugar, cornstarch, salt, ginger, cinnamon,
cloves, pumpkin puree, and 3 eggs. Beat well. Add evaporated milk, and
combine. Set aside.
Between two pieces of plastic wrap, roll pate brisee into a 12-inch circle. Fit
pastry into a 9-inch glass pie plate; trim dough evenly along edge, leaving
about a 1/2-inch overhang. Pinch to form a decorative edge. If the dough
begins to soften, chill for 15 minutes.
Make the glaze: Beat the remaining egg, and combine with heavy cream.
Brush glaze very lightly on edges of pie shell. Fill pie shell with pumpkin
mixture. Transfer to prepared baking sheet.
Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue baking for 30
minutes more. Cool on a wire rack.
Makes 1 9inch pie.
   Recipe from: 
And for making the pie dough…

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water
In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter,
and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, 8 to 10 seconds.
With machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream through feed
tube. Pulse until dough holds together without being wet or sticky; be careful
not to process more than 30 seconds. To test, squeeze a small amount
together: If it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
Divide dough into two equal balls. Flatten each ball into a disc and wrap in
plastic. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill at least 1 hour. Dough may be
stored, frozen, up to 1 month.
Makes 1 double crust, or 2 single crust – 9inch pies
   Recipe from: 

So there you go, whether you like it casual and buffet style…

   Or whether you like it comfy yet a little more traditional… 

I hope you all have a very Happy Thanksgiving this year!


Shannon @ What's Up Whimsy said...

Great post! I'm going to have to try that recipe for pumpkin pie one of these days! Mmmmm!

Staci Edwards said...

Thanks so much for having me over today Elizabeth, it was a delight!

Connie @ SogniESorrisi said...

Thanks for the recipes! I totally agree, the less work you have to do when guests are over the better. You want to enjoy your company.

Life of Style said...

Great recipe, I can't wait to try them out Staci. If only my bird will turn out as beautiful as the one pictured. I love to entertain and this time of year is my favorite. Thanks so much for your lovely post!

Brittany @ Artistically Connected said...

Yummm. I have to agree with Shannon! I can't wait to try out that recipe for pumpkin pie.

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