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Assorted Olives
Shrimp Cocktail Platter

Brandied Butternut Squash Soup
Herb Roasted Turkey
Sausage Cranberry Fig & Apple Stuffing
 Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Maple Cranberry Sauce

Haricots Verts with Caramelized Onions

Guests Bring Dessert

Serves 8

Veuve Clicquot Yelloe Label BrutChampagne

There are so many delicious Champagnes and sparking wines that to pick just one is not an easy decision to make - but overall, the one Champagne I like to drink, and one that I can afford, is Veuve Clicquot.  Click here for more information.

Assorted Olives

Mixed OlivesBuy about 6 cups of assorted olives and place in a serving bowl with a serving spoon -  drain off any brine.  Drizzle some good extra virgin olive oil over the olives, thin strips of the zest of one lemon; sprinkle the olives with dried oregano and some hot red pepper flakes and toss to combine.  Slice a baguette and place in a basket along side the bowl of olives along with small appetizer plates and a small bowl for people to deposit the pits from the olives.  So that people know the small bowl is for olive pits, eat one and put the sample pit in the bowl!


Shrimp Cocktail Platter

Market/Trade Name

Shrimp count (number)
per pound

Average shrimp per pound

Extra Colossal









Extra Jumbo






Extra Large






Medium Large









Extra Small



Who doesn't like shrimp cocktail? Well, maybe some who are allergic to shrimp, but those are the only ones!  Shrimp can be cooked the day before serving;  bring an 8 qt. stock pot of water to a boil; drop in two bay leaves, several black peppercorns, a tablespoon of Old Bay Seasoning, and add the peeled and deveined shrimp.  Let shrimp boil for 1 minute; cover the pot and TURN OFF THE HEAT. Let shrimp sit in the boiling water for 10 - 15 minutes.  Uncover, drain shrimp and chill immediately in a bowl of ice water.  Drain well, and dry shrimp completely with paper towel.  Cover shrimp with paper towel and place in a ZipLock bag and refrigerate until ready to use. 

For the cocktail sauce, well, I must admit I take a short-cut here - I use Heinz Chili Sauce.  It's delicious.  Or use whatever cocktail sauce for shrimp cocktail that you like.


Brandied Butternut Squash Soup

½ stick unsalted butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 cups butternut squash cut into 2-inch chunks
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup Half and Half (Land 'O Lakes Fat Free)
2 Tablespoons Cognac
Salt and white pepper to taste
Garnish: dollop of FAGE Total plain yogurt and chopped chives

Grisini bread sticks*

In a stock pot (6 or 8 quart) melt butter over medium heat and sauté onion until lightly golden in color but do not let the butter burn. Add the butternut squash, Immersion Blenderginger and nutmeg and combine with the onions.  Add the broth; bring mixture to a boil, lower heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes.  

When butternut squash is soft, turn off the heat and use an immersion stick blender to puree the solids.  Stir in half & half and Cognac; taste for seasoning and add additional salt & ground white pepper if necessary. Garnish each serving with a dollop of plain yogurt and sprinkle with chopped chives.

Grisini *Grisini bread sticks can be found in specialty food shops and upscale supermarkets.   They are long and thinner than regular breadsticks and are delicious with soups and salads.

Herb Roasted Turkey

1 15-16 lb. fresh turkey, giblet package removed from neck section and reserved
¾ cup Extra Virgin olive oil
¼ cup EACH chopped rosemary, thyme, parsley
1 Bouquet Garni - several sprigs each rosemary, thyme, celery stalk, small carrot, tied with string; 1 lemon cut in half
1 large onion, peeled and halved
4 large whole carrots, peeled
4 large ribs celery

Heat oven to 400° F.

Remove the turkey from the refrigerator at least 1 or 2 hours before roasting. Dry turkey inside and out with paper towel. Rub turkey with some of the olive oil; mix chopped herbs with remaining oil and with your fingers insert oil and herbs under the skin which can be loosened with your fingers.  Insert Bouquet Garni and lemon halves in the cavity of the turkey. (Omit this step if you are stuffing the turkey)

Place turkey in a 3-inch high open roasting pan and make a bed of the onion, whole carrots and celery ribs for the bird to sit on - this will act as a natural "rack" and flavor the drippings as well as support the bird. Lightly tent the bird with a sheet of aluminum foil.  Begin roasting the bird in the pre-heated oven for the first hour; then reduce the heat to 325°F for the remainder of the roasting time. Remove foil tent from turkey for the last hour and a half of roasting time to allow the breast to brown more.

Total Roasting Time: 15-16 pound un-stuffed turkey - 4 hours. If you are stuffing the bird, be sure that your stuffing has cooled before spooning it into the cavity and roast the turkey for 4½ to 5½ hours.  When turkey is done, remove pan from oven and transfer turkey to a carving board or other cutting surface.  Let sit for at least 30 minutes to allow juices to settle inside the bird before carving.

Instant Read ThermometerUse an instant-read thermometer and insert into the innermost part of the turkey thigh and wing and at the thickest part of the breast.  When the temperature registers at least 165°F it's done.

For reasons of personal preference, consumers may choose to cook turkey to higher internal temperatures as noted below:

Thigh -- 180 - 185 ° F
Breast -- 170° F
Stuffing --  165° F

Homemade Stock: Remove and rinse the neck and gizzard parts from the bag (usually found in the tail end of the turkey). Discard the liver if it's in the bag.

This homemade stock can be cooking on the stovetop while the turkey is roasting. In a 4 qt. saucepan, with 4 cups of water, add the neck and gizzard. Add a medium carrot, cut in pieces, 2 ribs of celery cut in half, a handful of parsley, the white part of a cleaned leek and a quart container of chicken stock. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Use this hot stock to add to the roasting pan as needed while the turkey is roasting. 

Making Gravy The Old Fashioned Way....

When turkey is done, transfer it to a carving board.  Remove and discard the vegetable bouquet garni from the cavity. If the bird has been stuffed, be sure the stuffing registers 160-165 degrees F on an instant read thermometer. Remove stuffing from the turkey before carving and place the stuffing into a microwave or oven-proof bowl so that you can reheat stuffing just before serving time. Tent the bird with a piece of foil for resting time (approximately 30 minutes) before carving.

Oxo 4-cup Fat Separator

Pour the pan drippings from the roasting pan into a large "fat separating" cup in which  the fat rises to the top leaving the de-fatted juices at the bottom.  Pour off the de-fatted juices into an 8-cup measuring cup and add enough of the remaining stock to measure at least  5 cups of liquid.  Reserve a few tablespoons of the fat.  Place roasting pan directly onto the stove top over high heat.

When the roasting pan is hot, add the reserved 2 or 3 tablespoons of the fat and a 1/2 cup of chopped shallot.  Let shallot cook/sizzle for a few minutes and then add a little of the stock to the roasting pan and de-glaze the pan scraping up any browned bits in the roasting pan.  Then add the rest of the stock and bring it to a rapid boil and let cook for a few minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add a slurry (3 tablespoons cornstarch  dissolved in a ¼ cup of cold water). Stir slurry into the gravy and let cook until thickening begins. Taste gravy and add salt and pepper if needed.  Strain gravy into a saucepan through a sieve to catch any bits. 

An alternative and less time consuming method of making gravy is described in the "All About Turkey" article on this website which calls for using a reduced turkey stock from More Than Gourmet and still using the delicious drippings from the roasted turkey.

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