Archives for November 2018

Thanksgiving 2018

Thanksgiving came around early this year, and since we hadn’t had people over for a while, we invited a few friends round to share the day with us. I thought I’d post about what I made, etc, since it’s Christmas in a month and I just like thinking about food, ok?

For the main meat, I bought a piece of filet mignon from Costco which was not as expensive as expected. We don’t eat turkey normally, so we went with a nicer cut of meat than normal. I cooked the beef in a sous vide to medium rare, which took about 3 hours. If you haven’t already gotten into the sous vide obsession, you are missing out. We bought our Joule last year (probably about this time as I think I cooked last years Thanksgiving with the sous vide as well) and it has been one of my favourite purchases.
I keep thinking I should write a post about it on here, but I don’t know if people would find that interesting! Sous vide is where you vacuum bag your food, and then put it in a water bath, with a machine that keeps the water at a specific temperature.
It means it is much more difficult to overcook your food, especially meat. I actually like cooking steak now I can guarantee it will always come out perfectly medium rare. You don’t really have to monitor the food either as it cooks – no basting or turning the meat or whatever else you do when you roast something.
We already had a vacuum sealer as we buy a lot of meat in bulk at Costco then split it out into smaller packs, so dinner can be as easy as chucking a frozen pack into the water bath (you can use a normal saucepan, we have a bath set up all the time because we use it so much!)

For sides, I made… 
mashed potato (cooked in the sous vide with butter – I watched an episode of my favourite food vlogger, Binging with Babish, who described his as being cooked in a butter bath, so I did the same)
roast potatoes (parboiled for 10 minutes, then roasted until crispy and brown, turning occasionally)
roast parsnips (parboiled for 5 minutes then roasted as well…unfortunately I always seem to burn my ‘snips so maybe I should keep a better watch on those!)
carrots (also sous vide’d – I put half a stick of butter chopped up and a sprinkle of sugar in, cook for an hour at 183F, then finish in a frying pan to reduce the butter down. They are the best carrots ever)
roasted sprouts (chopped in half, coated in a 3:1 mix of maple syrup and extra virgin olive oil – I have never made them this way before, but they were SO good)
two types of stuffing (the British one, Paxo, made up into stuffing balls because who doesn’t love a ball and the American one, Stove Top, which is like cubes of stale bread with seasoning, which was put into a dish and finished in the oven to get a crispy top. I love both types of stuffing for different reasons so I can never choose between them!)
pigs in blankets (the British kind, where you wrap a thin sausage in bacon and put in the oven. America seems to have many different meanings for pigs in blankets and none of them involve bacon. I know. I don’t get it either.)
Yorkshire puddings (my batter mix is very simple – weigh how many eggs you want to use, then use the same weight in flour and milk) which I can not seem to get right at the moment
Finally, there was obviously lots of gravy (Bisto, because by that point in cooking, I can not be arsed to make a fancy gravy).
Our friends brought a cauliflower dish over which I can’t remember what it was called, but it was like cauliflower cheese, and who doesn’t like that?

For pudding, I made a trifle, because I haven’t had one in…maybe 2 years? That seems crazy.
A trifle, if you don’t already know, is made up of 3 different parts – the jelly layer, the custard layer, and the cream on top.
Jelly is called Jello here, which was obviously easy to buy along with a can of fruit cocktail which gets drained and put in the jelly. On top of the jelly before it sets, you float some ladyfinger biscuits on top so they soak in the jelly – they were not the easiest thing to buy (World Market sells them, but the store I went to was sold out) so Alex bought far too many on Amazon because he realised you can also use them to make tiramisu.
The custard layer should have been the easiest part – Bird’s Custard Powder is easily bought in supermarkets near me (although is far too expensive) and all you need to do with that is make it up thicker than usual, let it cool and pour it on top of the set jelly to set. I made the mistake of not heating my milk up enough, so no matter how much powder I put in, it just would not set. I finally realised my mistake, heated up the custard long enough and put it in the blender to get it smooth. It’s actually too thick now. Still yum though.
Finally, just before serving, I whipped a carton of cream, and put it on top, and obviously finished with sprinkles, because what sort of trifle doesn’t have sprinkles? 

We played a board game after dinner, called Betrayal at House on the Hill – not the sort of game I would normally play, but still pretty fun.
Alex served up cocktails that were colour coordinated to our game pieces – one of the things I have really loved since we moved here is that we now have the space and time to be able to host friends and have been able to build up a good cocktail cabinet. 
We use the app Cocktail Flow on our iPhones to help us find cocktails to make with what we have in the cabinet – I like it because it means we end up trying new things every time! (I also use Airtable to keep a database of what we have, because when you have nearly 50 different gins, you don’t want to buy the same one again!) 

To end the evening, we hopped into the hot tub with more drinks and chilled out in there for an hour or so. We have a huge brolly over the hot tub, so it’s quite nice to sit in there while it’s raining!

Now I’m already thinking about what to do for Christmas – what sort of sides do you love with Christmas dinner?

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