Thanksgiving Recipes

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Homemade Pecan Pie with Nutella Recipe

Homemade Pecan Pie with Nutella

11.14.09 by Jackie

We always prefer to make pecan pies from scratch. Pecans are fairly expensive, and I've found that the pies sold at stores really skimp on the namesake nut to cut costs. They tend to be very egg-y, almost like a lemon curd, with only a layer of pecans on the top. This recipe, by contrast, is richer and absolutely loaded with pecans.

Molasses, dark corn syrup and brown sugar combine to form the base of the pie filling. To this, I whisk in eggs and chopped pecans. I also add a touch of anise extract to the filling. The licorice flavor really accentuates the molasses. When it's fully baked, it has a wonderfully dense and gooey texture.

Even the crust is flavored with pecans. To the flour, butter and sugar I added some pecan mill.  I first baked just the crust and then smeared it with a thin layer of Nutella. Nutella has hazelnuts in it, but I think it provides a nice flavor contrast to the pecans. And seriously, what does Nutella not go with?

If you make just one homemade pie for Thanksgiving this year, make a pecan pie. It will cost about the same as a store-bought version, but there's no comparison.

Pecan Pie Recipe


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Candied Yams with Marshmallows Recipe

Candied Yams with Marshmallows

11.13.09 by Jackie

I experienced my first real Thanksgiving after Lulu and I got married. I say real because I had my very first Thanksgiving meal in July 1998. I know it sounds weird... As a child, I used to go to the US for the summer. Every summer, I'd be hosted by an American family through an agency. It was always a very neat experience. It offered me the opportunity to experience the culture and customs of America while sharing my own culture and customs with the host family.

When I met Reneé and Steve in the summer of 1998, they asked me to cook a typical French meal for them. I made a roasted leg of lamb and crunchy oven roasted potatoes. The next day, Reneé surprised me with a full Thanksgiving feast with all the fixings. I have very fond memories of my time at Reneé and Steve's in Williamsburg, Virginia. They even attended our wedding.

One of the dishes that really stood out was the candied yams. I had not eaten yams (or sweet potatoes, to be more accurate) in France, and this was my first experience with them. The yams were sweet and creamy, and the marshmallow topping was a nice touch.

I now make candied yams with my little sisters-in-law each Thanksgiving. It's a fun recipe for them to make because it's easy and also because they love to eat it. I get added pleasure out of passing on traditions that were taught to me in the past by my former host family. Thanks Reneé and Steve!


The marshmallows before melting in the oven.


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Cranberry Apple Stuffing Recipe

Cranberry Apple Stuffing

11.12.09 by Jackie

I love Thanksgiving food. I have to thank my husband for introducing me to the tradition; he's been making his family's meal from scratch every year since he was a teenager. Most of the recipes I make now are adaptations of the ones he refined in the past.

I enjoy the turkey, the mashed potatoes, the yams, the gravy and the pies, but my favorite is the stuffing (or dressing, depending on how you use it).

Of all the Thanksgiving dishes, it's the most complex in flavor and texture. The other dishes are more singular in quality. Yams are sweet. Mashed potatoes are creamy. Sure, they can have some variation and subtlety, but most often, these dishes are really celebration of a single ingredient.

Stuffing is the harmony that contrasts the melody created by all the other Thanksgiving sides. It is also the most flexible of all the dishes, and is very forgiving of modification and experimentation. Not to mix metaphors, but croutons form a perfect canvas upon which many contrasting and complementary flavors can be layered.

For this particular stuffing recipe I used apples and cranberries, both fall flavors, for sweetness.  The apples also provide a crunch that's an excellent foil to the softness of the bread. To the usual suspects of celery, carrots and onions, I added shallots and king mushrooms. The mushrooms in particular add an earthy and meaty quality to the dish. All the ingredients were amply seasoned with Italian seasoning and a little lemon zest.


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Saffron Pumpkin Soup Served in Mini Pumpkin Bowls Recipe

I remember having a delicious velouté de potiron au safran in a French restaurant back when I was still living in Paris. I remembered it had a very nice earthy flavor of pumpkin, chanterelles, walnuts and saffron. The flavors are perfect for Thanksgiving, and given the season, I thought I'd try to recreate it.

I roasted the pumpkin to enhance and accentuate the sweetness without overpowering the soup. Instead of using potatoes as a thickening agent as I normally do, I decided to add pan-fried plantains to complement the sweetness of the pumpkin.

To match the elegant flavors of the soup, I created bowls out of mini-pumpkins for serving. The final result was as visually appealing as it was delicious, and met with a round of "oohs" and "ahs" when I brought it to the dinner table. It's a great first course, and best of all, there aren't any plates to wash when everyone's done!

Veloute de potiron au safran


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Roasted Herb Potatoes Recipe

Roasted Herb Potatoes

11.10.09 by Jackie

My family has been on a bit of a quest for the perfect roast potatoes. After many attempts to cook a potato that is crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside, and perfectly seasoned throughout, I've found a tried and true method for consistently great potatoes.

The first step is to boil the potatoes, followed by a generous smear of flavored butter, and finally a roast in the oven. The trick to proper seasoning is to prepare the butter on the salty side, which compensates for the relative lack of seasoning at the center of each potato.

When the girls have a craving, which is often, they ask for the "crunchy potatoes". No matter how much I make, there are never any leftovers. We love mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving, but I think I'll make a batch of these as well!


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