Now thanksgiving isn’t the most celebrated in my family. Being asian, my family doesn’t really relate to the “pilgrims coming to the new world, sharing food with the natives” stories and since they prefer a stir-fry over a huge turkey with all the fixings, the cooking for this event has normally fallen upon me. I’ve cooked thanksgiving dinner (or at the very least, helping out) for as long as I can remember and my parents will attest to it. It’s the one holiday where my family willing strays away from asian food and lets me get creative with the menu.
Unfortunately since the start of university I have either not been in the mood or didn’t bother to go home altogether for Thanksgiving weekend. My first year in university, I couldn’t be bothered to cook so my family went out for sushi (sushi for thanksgiving? yup and it was darn tasty) and last year I was too busy with school work to come home. But this year I wanted to bring the tradition back (plus its a way to convince my parents to buy really good ingredients and experiment)
This year the menu consisted of:
- Phyllo wrapped baked brie with mushrooms
- Oven baked sweet potato fries
- Spinach balsamic bow tie pasta with feta cheese
- Roasted garlic dip
- Pot Roast with root vegetables
- Traditional stuffing
- (semi) homemade apple pie a la mode
The entire menu is a first for me, having never cooked any of it before. First up was the prep for the pot roast since that would take the longest… Recipe can be found here.
garlic and onions for sauteing
seasoning the meat with salt and pepper
Now my family has done the turkey thing in the past but we end up with far too many leftovers than we know what to do with. Besides, we’re not really fans of turkey despite its healthy qualities. This does prose the dilemma of what to eat as a main course for thanksgiving. Some options we’ve explore in the past were Cornish hens, roasted chicken, lamb, oven baked fish such as salmon or tilapia. This year we were in the mood for some sort of stew with meat that was falling apart and would essentially melt in your mouth. It ended in toss up between pot roast and beef goulash; the pot roast won due to simplicity and familiarity.
browned and seared
While the beef seared, I made a roasted garlic dip. It’s essentially 1 cup of plain yogurt, 1 cup of mayo ( my family uses 1/2 fat mayo) and 3 Tbsp of roasted garlic mix that I bought in a food shop at Niagara-on-the-Lake during a visit there this summer. Its created by Gourmet du Village and is a tasty robust dip. You leave it to sit for at least an hour to develop its flavours and is good with pretzels, pitas or for this dinner, baked sweet potato fries.
roasted garlic dip ingredients
Back to the pot roast…
stew ingredients: red wine, tomato paste, mustard, bay leaves.
beef stewing in stock
After the stew came to a boil it was time to put it into the oven to slowly cook for 3 hours. In the meantime I prepped some other food. I prepared the cold pasta salad (recipe found here). I opted to use bow tie pasta instead of orzo just for a textural difference. It’s a pretty easy recipe to follow and then you can leave it in the fridge to marinate while you prepare other food.
some of the main ingredients for the pasta salad: bow tie pasta, spinach, red onion.
spinach bow tie pasta with feta
I then watched my sister create a semi homemade apple pie. Semi because we used a pre-made mix for the crust because she wasn’t in the mood to make it from scratch. It’s probably a safer bet to stick to the mix anyways since we don’t exactly have a stand up mixer.
box pie crust mix
splitting the dough in half
rolling the dough
peeling, coring, cutting the apples
I failed to get photos of the rest of the prep which included the mixing of all the apples and spices and placing it in the pie pan. I was so busy scrambling to food prep for other thing such as the baked brie. I unfortunately didn’t take photos of that either until it was completed. Here’s the recipe.
phyllo wrapped baked brie with mushrooms
While this was in the oven, I added the rest of the ingredients to the pot roast (root vegetables) when it got to its last cooking stage. I also roasted some sweet potato fries lightly brushed with olive oil and thyme and plated it with the roasted garlic dip.
sweet potato fries and roasted garlic dip
I also made a quick boxed stuffing since stuffing is one of my favourite traditional food of thanksgiving.
stuffing mix and chicken broth.
stuffing - photo credit to my father
After 3 and half hours in the oven, the long awaited pot roast was ready and it looked good.
pot roast with root vegetables
The full feast looked like this…
While we ate we left the apple pie to bake and it turned out like this…
(semi) homemade apple pie
Overall the meal was incredibly delicious. The stuffing was a little salty as expected from a boxed mix so I’ll definitely be making that from scratch next year. It was a shame since stuffing is really one of my favourite things. The pot roast was incredibly tender and my family couldn’t get enough. Even before finishing her meal, my sister was already thinking about eating the pot roast the next day. The pasta salad was ok. It needed more cheese and more dressing, an easy adjustment considering its a cold pasta that only gets better with time. The sweet potato fries were a little more soft than one would like but still very very delicious. I just need to turn up the heat of the oven to get crispier fries. The dip is a no fail thing so you can’t mess it up. The baked brie was my favorite thing of the entire night. It was the only thing that I put specifically on the menu for me to eat but it seems like my family enjoyed it more than me and ate the majority of it with a request from my sister to make it again soon. The apple pie turned out really well which I was happy about because I did have some hesitations about the filling and if it would meld together properly. We ate it while still warm with a scoop of vanilla frozen yogurt. The meal was a success and one of my most favorite thanksgiving dinners that I can recall. I already have ideas of what to cook for next year. I can’t wait.