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Festive Dinner

Thanksgiving Ideas

Cocktail: Clove Spiced Champagne


Mustardy Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

Butternut Squash Soup

Roasted Turkey

Cranberry, Pear and Maple Pie

Mustardy Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

Clove Spiced Champagne

INGREDIENTS                  4 Servings

4 cups apple or white grape juice
1 teaspoon whole cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon crystallized ginger, chopped
½ teaspoon allspice berries, crushed
2 tablespoons orange zest, pith completely removed
¼ of one whole vanilla bean, left intact


1 bottle of dry champagne or sparkling wine
4×4” square of cheesecloth
Kitchen twine


Prepare the spice sachet:
Place all of the spices, zest and vanilla bean segment into a sachet made from a double thickness of standard cheesecloth.  Tie it off with kitchen twine.

Prepare the spiced syrup:
In a small sauce pan, heat 4 cups of either the apple or white grape juice over medium-high heat until just beginning to boil.  Place the sachet into the juice, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until reduced by about half (20-30 minutes).  Remove from heat and allow to cool for 15 minutes.  Remove the sachet, squeezing all the juice from the bundle.  Pour the syrup through a fine mesh sieve into a clean glass container.  Allow to completely cool.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.  The syrup will become thicker as it cools.


To serve, add 1 part spiced syrup to 2 parts champagne or sparkling wine.

INGREDIENTS                                             4 Servings

  • 1 pound brussels sprouts, stems removed and sliced in half

  • 4 slices bacon, diced

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon grainy mustard

  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard

  • 2 teaspoons honey

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat the oven to 425F.


Whisk together the olive oil, mustards, honey, garlic, paprika and pepper. Pour over the sprouts and bacon and toss well until they are all completely saturated.


Spread the Brussels Sprouts and bacon on a baking sheet. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, tossing once or twice during cook time

Butternut Squash Soup

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Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup

INGREDIENTS                               8 Servings

3 cups butternut squash, peeled and diced

2 cups carrots, peeled and diced

1 cup sweet potato, peeled and diced

1 cup onion, diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 TB olive oil

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

5 cups chicken broth (or veg broth)

small bunch of sage, tied

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Heat a heavy bottomed soup pot over medium heat. Add oil, then onions, garlic and turmeric. Stir to combine and saute until the turmeric has coated the onions and becomes fragrant. Simmer until the mixture begins to soften and caramelize.

Add the carrots, butternut squash, and sweet potatoes, salt and pepper, and stir to combine. 

Add the broth, the sage bundle, and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer, and cook until the vegetables are soft.

Remove the sage bundle, and remove a few ladles of the cooking liquid and set aside. 

Using an immersion blender, puree the mixture until completely smooth. If the soup is too thick, you can add some of the cooking liquid back and blend until it reaches the desired consistency.

Season to taste with salt and pepper, and garnish with chopped sage, or stir in cream or creme fraiche to garnish.

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Fruit and Spice Brine Mix

Ingredients                           makes 3 cups

1 cup sea salt
¾ cup sugar
3 or 4 star anise
1 tablespoon whole black or pink peppercorns
6-8 cardamom pods
1 tablespoon dried orange peel
1 tablespoon dried lemon peel
2 tablespoons dried rosemary

8 cups water
8 cups apple cider or water



Combine all dry ingredients and mix well. This brine mix will keep indefinitely in a plastic bag. To brine a 15 lb. turkey, use the whole recipe. Add the brine mixture to 8 cups water in a large pot and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve completely. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely. It should be cold before you immerse the turkey.


In a tub or cooler large enough to hold your turkey and copious amounts of liquid (I like to use a big drink cooler), combine the brine solution with 8 cups of water or apple cider. Carefully submerge the turkey in the brining solution, making sure not to spillover. (I’ve learned the hard way that large birds displace a lot of liquid!)


Cover and refrigerate for 6-12 hours, turning the turkey halfway through the brining time.

Before roasting the bird, remove it from the solution and rinse it thoroughly with cold water. A chef friend of mine says “I don’t mean a little spritz! Wash that bird thoroughly for a couple of minutes and pat dry thoroughly with paper towels.”

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Roast Turkey, High Heat Method

INGREDIENTS                               4 Servings

1 turkey, 8-12 lbs.
Salt (if not using the brining method above)
4-5 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1 orange, cut into wedges

[Chef’s Note: Food safety requires that the bird reach 165° F for a couple of minutes to be sure that any harmful bacteria is killed, but if you leave the turkey in the oven until it reaches this point, the carryover cooking time may take it well above this temperature, and dry out the breast meat. You can remove the bird when it has reached 155-160° F.]



Place a rack on the lowest level of the oven and preheat the oven to 425° F. Thoroughly dry the turkey with paper towels, and if you haven’t brined it, or you’re not using a kosher turkey, generously rub the body and interior cavities with salt, then brush with the melted butter. Place the chopped onions and orange wedges inside the cavity.


Place the turkey on one side, with the drumstick sticking up. If necessary, use onions or balls of aluminum foil to help keep the bird on its side. Roast it at 425° for 30 minutes, then remove and carefully turn on its other side. You can use bunched up paper towels to help you grasp the hot bird, and keep your potholders clean.


Baste the newly exposed side with the butter and pan drippings, then return to the oven and roast for 30 minutes more. Repeat this process so that the bird roasts on each side twice, for a total of 2 hours. Turn the bird with the breast facing up and baste once more, roasting until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reaches 165° F.


Remove the turkey from the oven, loosely tent with foil, and allow to rest for 20-30 minutes before carving. You can prepare your favorite gravy with the pan drippings.

Cranberry, Pear and Maple Pie

INGREDIENTS                                            6 Servings


2 cups fresh cranberries

2 cups pear, peeled and diced 1/4 inch

2 cups maple syrup

2 pie crusts



This recipe is easy as pie!

Throw cranberries, diced pear and maple syrup into a pot and heat over medium heat until the cranberries POP and the pear begins to soften. Don't overcook, as the pears will finish cooking while the pie bakes.

Fill the bottom crust with the thickened filling and top. You may make a fun design like the picture, or simply top with a top crust and make slits to allow steam to escape. 

Bake at 350F for 20-30 minutes, or until the crust is brown, flaky and baked through.


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