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Invitation to Thanksgiving Celebration 2011

  • Nov 24, 2011 · 3:00 PM
  • Jonathan's House


The menu's revised slightly. I'll use oil in place of butter.


Dear members,

The menu is finalized - if you're like me you might have a pile of magazines and cookbooks, old and new, with the recipes one day you want to try. Now here's a great chance for that!

-Brined turkey with apple cider, juniper berries  (Emerill Largasse 2003)

2 quarts apple cider 

2 cups packed dark brown sugar
2 cups kosher salt
1/4 cup black peppercorns
1 tablespoon juniper berries
4 bay leaves
Two 3-inch cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon whole cloves

4 quarts dark beer
One 8- to 10-pound turkey, neck and giblets reserved for gravy
3 cups chopped yellow onions
1 1/2 cups chopped celery
1 1/2 cups chopped carrots
6 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
8 tablespoons (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons Emeril's Original Essence
4 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage

Combine the apple cider, brown sugar, salt, peppercorns, juniper berries, bay leaves, cinnamon, and cloves in a large pot or bowl. Stir to dissolve the sugar and salt.

Combine the mixture with the beer in a 40-quart cooler, or large plastic container. Place the turkey in the brine and, if necessary, weigh down with heavy dinner plates to completely submerge. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Spread the onions, celery, carrots, and garlic in the bottom of a large roasting pan. Add the turkey neck to the bottom of the pan. Preheat the oven to 400° F.

Remove the turkey from the brine and rinse well under cold running water. Pat dry with paper towels and place on top of the vegetables in the roasting pan.

Combine 1 stick of the butter and the Essence in a small pan and melt over medium heat. Remove from the heat. With a pastry brush, baste the top and sides of the turkey with half of the butter. Roast for 30 minutes.

Baste the turkey with the remaining seasoned butter, reduce the oven temperature to 300° F. and roast for 30 minutes.

Baste the turkey with 1/2 cup of the chicken stock. Return to the oven and roast until golden and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 160° F, 1 1/2 to 2 hours longer, basting once with 1/2 cup of the chicken stock.

Remove the turkey from the oven and transfer to a platter or cutting board. Tent with foil and let rest for 15 minutes before carving.


Melt the remaining tablespoon butter with the olive oil in a medium heavy pot over medium-high heat.

Add the reserved giblets and cooked turkey neck, and cook, stirring, until browned, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add half of the vegetables from the roasting pan and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes.

Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the white wine and stir to deglaze the pan. Add the remaining 3 cups chicken stock and any juices accumulated in the roasting pan and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat, add the sage, and simmer briskly until reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and discard the neck.

In batches, pulse the liquid and solids in a food processor into a thick liquid. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl, pressing against the solids with a spoon to extract as much liquid as possible and transfer to a gravy boat. Adjust the seasoning to taste.

To serve, carve the turkey and serve with the gravy.

Recipes courtesy of Emeril Lagasse, copyright © 2003.

Emeril's Essence:

5 tablespoons sweet paprika
1/4 cup salt
1/4 cup garlic powder
2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
2 tablspoons onion powder
2 tablespoons cayenne
2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons dried thyme

Combine all ingredients in a small mixing bowl and blend well. Store in an airtight container in your spice cabinet for up to 3 months.

-Chorizo and Cornbread Stuffing (Food Network Magazine Nov 2011 p.181)

chorizo, onion, carrot, celery, garlic, cornbread, cilantro, chicken stock, grated cotija cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat and cook 1 pound fresh Mexican chorizo, breaking up with a spoon and stirring occasionally until it begins to brown about 5 min.
Add 1 white onion, 1 carrot, 1 celery (all finely chopped), 3 minced garlic cloves to the chorizo and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned about 10 min. Add 2 cups coarsely crumbled cornbread and 1/4 cup chopped cilantro (optional) and gradually pour in enough chicken stock (up to ½ cup) so the stuffing is not too dry but not too wet. Stir gently and well. Oil a small casserole dish. Spread the stuffing in an even layer. Bake at 350 degree until it's heated through and lightly browned on top about 20 min.  Serve right away, garnish with cilantro and grated cotija cheese if desired.

I make cornbread according to the package direction:

1 cup yellow corn meal

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 TBSP baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 cup milk

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 large egg, beaten

Combine corn meal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Combine milk, oil and egg in small bowl, mix well. Add to the flour mixture, stir just until blended. Pour into prepared pan and bake in preheated oven (400 F) for 20-25 min or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. 

-Bourbon-Cranberry Compote (Real Simple Nov 2010 p.247)
cranberries, apple juice, sugar and bourbon

Combine in a saucepan 1 12-oz bag cranberries (3 1/2 cups, fresh or frozen), 3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 cup apple juice and 1/4 cup bourbon and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries begin to burst and the sauce thickens, about 20-25 min. Let cool before serving.

-Maple-Ginger Roasted Vegetables (Food and Wine Nov 2009 p.130)

Preheat the oven to 425F. Spread 1 1/2 cups pecans in a pie plate and toast until fragrant, about 6 min. Let cool.

In a large bowl, toss 4 medium carrots, 2 large parsnips (both peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick on the bias), 1 medium head cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets, 1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch dice, 1 pound brussels sprouts, halved with 1/2 cup EVOO and 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg and season generously with salt and black pepper.

Spread the vegetables on 2 large rimmed baking sheets and roast for 30 min, until the vegetables begin to brown. Scatter the pecans and 2 TBSP minced fresh ginger over the vegetables and drizzle with 1/3 cup pure maple syrup; toss well. Continue to roast for 25 min longer until tender and golden.

-Sweet Potatoes w Pecan and Parmesan (Real Simple Nov 2010 p.247)

Heat oven to 375F. Oil a shallow 2 1/2 to 3-quart baking dish.

In a large bowl, toss 2 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds, with 1/2 cup grated Parmesan (2 oz), 2 TBSP olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Transfer to the prepared baking dish. Cover tightly with foil and bake until tender, 45-50 min.

In a small bowl, combine 3/4 cup chopped pecans, 1/4 cup light brown sugar, 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, pinch of cayenne pepper, 1 TBSP olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper. 

Remove the foil from the baking dish, sprinkle the pecan mixture over the potatoes and continue to bake, uncovered until toasted, for 10-12 min.

-Carrots with Tahini Dressing (Food and Wine Nov 2010 p.206)
carrots, lemon juice, tahini, olive oil, garlic, parsley

Spread 3 pounds carrots, peeled and sliced ½ inch thick on the bias, in a large steamer basket and steam until tender about 6 min. Transfer to a bowl and let cool slightly. In a medium bowl, whisk 1/4 cup lemon juice with 1/4 cup tahini, 1/4 cup EVOO and 2 TBSP water until smooth. Whisk in 2 minced garlic cloves and season with salt. Pour the dressing over the carrots and 2 TBSP chopped flat-leaf parsley and toss to coat.

-Creamed Haricot Vert and Corn Casserole (Food and Wine Nov 2010 p.208)
haricot verts, oyster mushrooms, onion, cloves, corn, flour, milk, Gruyere cheese, nutmeg, panko and parmigiano-Reggiano

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a pot of boiling salted water, blanch 1 1/2 lb haricots verts, cut into 1 1/2-inch length, until crisp-tender about 2 min. Drain and cool under running water. Pat dry.

In a large, deep skillet, melt 4 TB butter. Add 1 1/2 lb thinly sliced oyster mushrooms with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and cook over med-high heat, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, 6-7 min. Add 1 finely chopped onion and 4 minced garlic cloves and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally until softened about 5 min. Add 4 cups corn (two 10-oz package of frozen corn, thawed) and cook until the mixture is dry and the corn is just beginning to brown about 5 min. Add the haricot verts and keep warm.

In a large sauce pan, melt 6 Tablespoons butter (I'll use either ghee or clarified butter) and add 1/2 cup all-purpose flour and whisk over moderate heat until fragrant and lightly browned about 4 min. Whisk in 1 quart milk until smooth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to moderately low and simmer, whisking constantly until very thick about 5 min. Remove from heat and stir in 6 oz shredded Gruyere cheese (1 ½ cups) and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Pour the sauce over the vegetables and stir well. Pour the mixture into a 4-quart baking dish. In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup panko with 1/2 cup freshly grated parmigiano-Reggiano and sprinkle over the vegetables. Set the baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet and bake in the center of preheated oven at 350 degree for 30 minutes until bubbling. Broil the casserole for 3 to 4 min until the top is golden and crisp. Let the casserole rest for 10 min before serving.

-Kale with Currants, Lemon and Olives (Food & Wine Nov 2009 p.126)
Kale, currants, onion, kalamata olives, lemon

In a small bowl, cover 1/2 cup dried currants with hot water. Let stand until softened about 5 min and drain. Cook 4 lb Kale in boiling water about 5 min and drain. Gently squeeze out excess water and coarsely chop.
Cook 1 thinly sliced onion in olive oil over medium-low heat until softened about 7 min. Add 1/2 cup chicken broth, the kale and toss thoroughly. Cover and cook over medium heat about 3 min until the kale is hot and sizzling.
Stir in the currants, 1/2 cup pitted and thinly sliced kalamata olives, finely grated lemon zest, 1 Tablespoon lemon juice and cook, stirring constantly until heated through. Season with salt and pepper.

-Canela Tea (Sunset Nov 2010 p.74)
Cinnamon sticks, honey, almond extract and tequila

Heat 3 1/2 qts. water and 4 Mexican cinnamon sticks (each 5 inch long) in a large pot until boiling. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Remove cinnamon. Stir in 1/2 cup honey and 1/2 teaspoon almond extract. Ladle into mugs. If you like, add about 2 TBSP tequila and a fresh cinnamon stick to each.

-Flan (made by Flora)


If you'd like to attend, please make a prepayment of $27 by Paypal. If you have a problem with Paypal, please contact me for possible alternative payment method. 

The address will be sent to the attendees with prepayment.

When you sign up, please indicate if you're willing to help cook.  I think we have enough cooks (excellent ones, Jonathan, Flora, Shoshana helping me), but if you'd like to come help cook, or set the table or any other help, be my guest!

Happy Thanksgiving,



Hope this finds you well and in good spirit.

I can't believe it's almost holiday season already. If you're new to town or don't have any family to celebrate Thanksgiving together with, this one is for you. Especially designed for you.

We are fortunate to have another generous member, Jonathan, who's willing to open his house for this special meetup. Thank you so very much, Jonathan!

At the past Thanksgiving meetups, we cooked together, decorated the house together and dined together like one big family. That was fun!  If you don't have your family, at least you can still have a good time with other members. Even if you have family, you can still come too.

This event has been very important to me.  As an individual who's not from here, I am keenly aware of how hard holidays could be for the people who are without loved ones. Either being from different countries like myself or different states or cities away from home... or having lost family or got estranged for whatever reasons.... Yes, holidays are usually tough time for them and I wanted to do something about it so that they didn't have to feel isolated and left out.

I started this tradition five years ago. First with my close friends in 2007, and in 2008 with this group at our member Rich's house in Northridge (thank you!), then in 2009 at another member Art's house in Woodland Hills (thank you again!). It didn't actually happen but our member Lin also offered her house last year. I truly appreciate their kindness and generosity. Thank you, everyone, for offering and actively participating.

Please take a look at the photos from our past Thanksgiving meetups by clicking the following links.

This year it's also going to be both cooking together and potluck style. The dinner will be served at 3pm and I'll start cooking at Jonathan's place at 10am. You can come anytime between 10am to 3pm and help cook or bring your food or just bring yourself.

I'm still thinking of the menu. The prepayment fee amount needs to be finalized yet, but I'm hoping it'll be around $20-25 per person (and less for the people who'll bring food). If you're interested, please RSVP now without the payment. I'll post the fee later when we finalize the menu then I'll collect the fee. 

The address will be sent to the attendees with prepayment later.

I welcome any idea on food and beverages to serve. We can also help decorate together in Thanksgiving theme. Yes, that was fun too!

For the last two year's menu, please see below.


Turkey in 2008 was done by Rich - Beer-brined. In 2009 it was my maple-brined turkey and Joanne showed off her trained knife skills. I'm still thinking but if you'd like to offer to cook turkey, I'd love that too! Please let me know.

Thank you again, Jonathan and Flora. The offer meant a lot to me. Let's start planning including carpooling,

With love,


Join or login to comment.

  • Sally

    I had the best time! It was such a nice Thanksgiving celebration with new friends who now feel like extended family. Great food, sweet time and lots of laughs!

    November 25, 2011

  • lin

    Great group of people - enjoyed the company and good spread of food.

    November 25, 2011

  • A former member
    A former member

    A lot of fun!!!
    I would like to thank Sally for her amazing job in organizing this party. The food was great as well as the company. (thanks Jonathan for hosting)

    November 24, 2011

  • lisette j.

    What a great idea! Although I can't this year, I'd love to come next year if possible. Hope you all have a great Thanksgiving! Lisette Jensen

    November 12, 2011

  • Joseph

    Sally, I'll be in Santa Cruz. But, I recommend:
    Cornish game Hens with wild rice stuffing.
    Oven-Roasted Root Vegetables
    Poached Pears in red wine with vanilla custard sauce

    November 12, 2011

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