Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Food Bites: An American Thanksgiving in Scotland

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. There's no stress involved (unless you have to cook and you can't). No gifts are required. Long stays are unnecessary. You just show up, eat as much as you can, then regret that 5th helping, maybe watch some
American football or maybe not, take a nice nap, then start all over again.

This year we had two Thanksgivings: dinner on the Sat. after the official holiday and then lunch and leftovers the next day for a couple of friends who couldn't make it the night before.

Here's a quick rundown of turkey day for me this year.

The dinner table was set for 10! We probably shouldn't attempt that many again. It was a tight squeeze but that only made the party more fun.
We invited dear friends who have been supportive and oh so helpful to Andy and me since I arrived to Scotland. Since our marriage and Ruben's birth-- their friendship and love have only made my transition here easier. Thanksgiving lunch was very mellow since all the cooking was done. Just reheated the dishes (although I had to make more mashed potatoes--Brits LOVE potatoes!)

Also, Sunday's lunch allowed my girlfriends to play with Ruben without fighting 10 others for his attention.

The Menu:
Roast Brined Turkey
gravy a la Andy
Mashed potatoes with creme fraiche
Brioche stuffing (with carmelized onions, garlic, mushrooms, and minced sage sausage sauteed in marsala wine)
cranberry sauce

I didn't vary too greatly from last year's thanksgiving feast...I do think some dishes should always be a staple. However, it was far more taxing trying to prepare and cook for two days while managing my gotta-touch-everything-then-see-how-fast-I-can-break-it-before-mommy-finds-out son.

Over the years, I've found that a brined turkey is the best for flavor without losing moisture. Basically, I SUBMERGED the entire bird in a salt-sugar solution for 24 hours. I also added crushed garlic, fresh thyme and peppercorns to give the bird a better kick for taste.
The bird soaks up the water and flavorings which keeps it moist when I roast it the next day. I never had to baste it. I just put it in the oven, covered with foil for the majority of its roasting time.
The last 20 mins, I remove the foil, touch the turkey skin with a bit of butter to assist in browning and voila! The juiciest turkey with flavor that permeates throughout the layers of meat.

As for Dessert:

I made some southern classics-- sweet potato souffle tart

As far as I'm concerned, pumpkin pie is a poor subsitute for sweet potato. But then, I've spent much of my time around the American South. I love sweet potato pie but making it as a souffle makes it lighter and its light, airy texture it tricks me into thinking I'm not eating something too sweet and caloric.

I thought that my British friends should get another classic southern American treat: red velvet cake!

It's too delicious to not have once a year. For those not in the know, red velvet cake is a rich sponge treat made with cocoa powder and colored with red dye then topped cream cheese frosting. It's not for the faint of heart.
According to, the tradition of baking with red dye arose in the mid-20th century:
"The use of red dye to make "Red Velvet" cake was probably started after the introduction of the darker cocoa in order to reproduce the earlier color. It is also notable that while foods were rationed during World War II, some bakers used boiled beets to enhance the color of their cakes."

There will be more Food Bites posts since we are in the midst of the holiday season--and we all know that means eat, drink, eat, drink.


At Dec 6, 2007, 10:19:00 AM, Blogger Camille Remarkable said...

Yum! Those Scots got lucky when they got you!

At Dec 6, 2007, 6:00:00 PM, Blogger Jen Williams said...

Um. Um. Yummy looking. What a juicy turkey. And I agree with you about the sweet potato pie/tart thing: pumpkin pie ain't got nothing on sweet potato. Wish I coulda been there : (

At Dec 6, 2007, 9:26:00 PM, Blogger Slutty McWhore said...

Wow, I've been reading through the archives of your blog and find it (and you) quite fascinating. I really wish we could have met while you were still here in the US.

I was just reading the post you wrote before you moved to Scotland to be with Andrew and you were writing about how some of your black friends were shocked that you married a white guy. You wrote that they said if you had to marry "white" you should stick with an American. I have to say that I disagree completely. I've been here in the US for over three years now, and I do NOT date white American men. Well, never say never, I suppose, but I just find them to be a tad dull on the whole - with such a feeling of entitlement. I much prefer to date "hyphenated" American men because I feel that their experience of growing up in another culture makes them much more attractive to me.

And I'm happy that you married and had kids with a Scot because I think that we are quite an ugly nation (so pale, so sickly-looking!) and we badly need people like you to come along and broaden the gene pool. That's what I'd like to do, but now that I've said that I'll probably end up with a skinny, red-headed Scot!


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