Showing posts with label Thanksgiving dinner. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Thanksgiving dinner. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

What Does Thanksgiving Taste Like? Foodie Poll + Perfect Turkey Gravy via Cleo Coyle

What does Christmas taste like?

That is the question my coffeehouse manager Clare Cosi asks her quirky staff of baristas at the start of Holiday Grind.
Published back in 2009,
Holiday Grind (Coffeehouse
Mystery #8)
reappeared on a
recent B& bestseller list
Read more in my facebook
post here.

Their answers define their charactersand help Clare create a menu of wildly popular Fa-la-la-la-lattes for the season.

fa-la-la-la-lattes!   > > > 

Cleo Coyle has a partner in crime-writing, her
husband, Marc Cerasini. Learn more about them
and their books here.

Now Marc and I are using
the phrase from our own book!

What does Thanksgiving taste like?


If you do not see the poll above, simply click this link
to take it 
at the PollDaddy site.


Drawing 12 Noon
Thanksgiving Day!

Drawing is Over
Congrats to our comment winner:
Jim Elliott "Library Jim"

After you take the poll, tell Marc and me how you voted in the COMMENTS of this post (or the polldaddy comment area) and you will be entered in a random drawing to win a signed copy of ONCE UPON A GRIND, the new Coffeehouse Mystery, which Penguin is publishing in a beautiful hardcover edition this December 2nd.

You will also win this fun custom-designed mug with a favorite saying of the octogenarian owner of our coffeehouse (Clare's beloved boss and former mother-in-law) Madame...

"Survive everything. And do it with style."

~ Madame in 
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

As for me, my voting on the poll
was tough. I couldn't decide between
pumpkin and pecan pie...

You can get my favorite recipe for Pecan Pie Bars
in my 
November Coffeehouse Mystery Newsletter,
going out soon. (Sign up 

For my husband, Marc,
Thanksgiving would not be 

Thanksgiving without turkey GRAVY!

And that's the subject of
our recipe post today...

The Mystery of Perfect Gravy

When used correctly
(and Marc and I will show you how),
this secret ingredient will let you
serve smooth, velvety gravy to
your guests instead of a lumpy
turkey glue. And this method
(used by restaurants)
will give you enough gravy
to serve a crowd!
Anyone who's thickened gravy using the traditional method (aka, flour) knows that if you use too little, your gravy will be weak and thin, and if you use too much, your gravy will transform into a lump of gelatinous glue as soon as it begins to cool.

To solve this dilemma, celebrity chef Alton Brown recently reminded us what restaurants do to make the perfect Turkey Day gravy. Because this gravy is made with stock, you can make plenty of it--and it will be a smooth, velvety gravy.

So what is the secret ingredient? It’s potato starch! And, no, it's not used for thickening; it’s there to prevent clumping!

The potato starch will stop the flour from congealing, so you’ll be able to serve your guests a rich, smooth, lump-free gravy and not a ball of turkey-flavored glue!

Better still, you can divide the preparation by making the turkey stock the day before, and finishing the gravy right before the Thanksgiving Day meal.

Marc and I guarantee that your guests will (pun intended) gobble this gravy up!

How to Make Perfect Turkey Gravy 

(and enough to feed a crowd!)

Makes 3 cups of gravy! Woo-hoo!

To download this recipe in a free PDF document that you can print, save, or share, click here and enjoy! ~ Cleo
Click here for the
downloadable recipe PDF:
How to Make Perfect
Turkey Gravy.

Ingredients and directions adapted by
culinary mystery author Cleo Coyle
from a recipe by celebrity chef Alton Brown


For the Turkey Stock (this will yield 3 cups):

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 turkey neck saved from the bird
1 bag of turkey giblets, saved from the bird
1 large yellow onion, quartered
1 large carrot, quartered
2 stalks celery, quartered
¼  teaspoon kosher salt
6 cups water
1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried rosemary
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

For the Final Turkey Gravy:

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon potato starch
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼  teaspoon ground black pepper

Step 1 - Make the fresh turkey stock: Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Cut the neck in half and sauté for 6 minutes or until browned. Add the giblets, the quartered onion, carrot, and celery, along with the kosher salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened, about 5 or six minutes. Add the 6 cups water and stir in the thyme, rosemary, bay leaf and the peppercorns. Cover and bring to a rolling boil over high heat, cooking for about 1 minute. Now uncover the pot, reduce heat to low and slowly simmer the stock for 90 minutes, until the stock reduces by half, to 3 cupsStrain the stock through a mesh strainer and let everything cool. Discard all solids. You can make the gravy now or refrigerate this stock for several hours or days.

Step 2 - Turn the stock into velvety gravy: Begin by placing 2 (of those 3) cups of your freshly-made turkey stock into a saucepan over medium heat. The remaining 1 cup of stock will be used to create your gravy. Here's how to do it...

Measure out ½ cup of your reserved stock and whisk in 1 tablespoon of flour until it completely dissolves and no lumps remain. You have just created a slurry. Gradually whisk this flour slurry into the 2 cups of stock warming in your saucepan. As you continue to whisk, bring the liquid to a boil and cook for 4 minutes or until slightly thickened. Now remove the pot from the burner and allow it to cool off a bit.

*WARNING NOTE FOR NEXT STEP: If the temperature is too high in the next step, the properties that make potato starch so useful are lost, so it is important to simmernot boil—the gravy once the potato starch slurry is added.

*Step 3 - Add the Secret Ingredient: Make a second slurry using that final 1/2 cup of your reserved, cooled stock and the 1 tablespoon of potato starch. (Make sure the potato starch dissolves into the slurry and no lumps remain.) On a low heat, whisk the potato starch slurry into the saucepan of gravy, along with the salt and pepper. While gently stirring, simmer but do not boil the gravy for about 5 minutes, it will begin to thicken. Continue to simmering until it reaches the thickness that you prefer.

Serve immediately or reserve in a gravy bowl or thermos until needed.
To store longer, place in fridge, in a covered container for up to 3 days.

For more Thanksgiving Recipe Ideas, 
including great tips on cooking your turkey,
be sure to visit our Mystery Lovers' Kitchen blog
"Savor the Season" Page by clicking here!

Click here for the
downloadable recipe PDF:
How to Make Perfect
Turkey Gravy, and...

Eat with (Thanksgiving-

~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Friend me on facebook here. * Follow me on twitter here
Learn about our books here.

On Sale
December 2nd!

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Clare Cosi as she solves the crime
against "Sleeping Beauty," opens
secret doors (uptown and down),
and investigates a cold case that's
been unsolved since the Cold War.

A Wicked Good
Murder Mystery

Learn more by
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Sunday, November 25, 2012

The One That Got Away

LUCY BURDETTE: It's been a busy week what with Thanksgiving preparations, house guests, and edits on my third Key West mystery, TOPPED CHEF. In fact it's been so busy that I completely forgot that it was my turn to book a guest and her recipe for today's post. Uh-oh...

As penance, I'm going to share my Thanksgiving disaster.

John and I were hosting a small but lively gathering--seven of us at the table, including Dorothy, his mom, who will turn 100 next summer. You can see why we wanted everything to look and taste delicious! (John and Dorothy pictured on the right, enjoying a lively game of Bananagrams.)

The menu included turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, mashed turnips, cranberry sauce, brussel sprouts, biscuits, and two kinds of pie--pumpkin and chocolate cream. Thinking I would go all out to make the pies spectacular, I bought organic pumpkin and gourmet dark chocolate. (See the perfect pies above--these are from last year's dinner.) 

Done it before--easy-peasy, right? Just wait...

I made the chocolate first, starting with a graham cracker crust and then following the custard instructions from the JOY OF COOKING. The filling looked a little more grainy than usual, but tasted delicious.

Then on to the pumpkin...too late I realized I'd run out of canola oil for my father's easy crust recipe. I substituted--ahem-- olive oil. Then I ran short of maple syrup so finished the job with honey. And the organic pumpkin came out of the can pale and tasting of squash. So a greenish crust and a pale pie...I tried to make up for it with my special decorative crust hearts.

But I was worried...

In the end, the pumpkin pie was lovely.

But when I rolled the plastic wrap off the chocolate pie, the filling wobbled and sloshed like a chocolate milkshake.

So we served chocolate soup with lots of whipped cream on top... (See photo in case you think I'm exaggerating.)

Lesson learned: back to good old Baker's chocolate and Libby's pumpkin.

And lesson #2--What's important is not the perfect presentation on the table, it's the family and friends around it! 

And now your turn: Did you suffer any Thanksgiving dinner disasters? Oh come on, tell us:). I'm offering a copy of AN APPETITE FOR MURDER to one lucky commenter...

Lucy Burdette is the author of the Key West food critic mysteries. You can find her on Twitter @lucyburdette or on Facebook.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Corn Casserole Side with a few Asides about the First Thanksgiving by Cleo Coyle

Honestly, I haven't thought about the details of the first Thanksgiving since probably grade school (a long, long time ago). For this post, I decided to do a little homework, which led to today's side dish recipe (along with some ironic asides). The recipe I'll get to shortly. First, some basic American history (asides included).

As the story goes…

An American Indian named Samoset entered a village of people from England. These Pilgrims were not in good condition. They lived in dirt-covered shelters, many of them had died during the hard winter, and they were running short on food. 

(No, they were not part of Occupy Plymouth. The year was 1621. :))

Clearly, these early colonists needed help. So Samoset returned to his tribe and came back with Squanto, who could speak better English. (Wait....The illegal aliens of 1621 didn't bother to learn the native language? Nope. Not gonna touch that.)

Squanto remained with the Pilgrims for the next few months and taught them how to hunt deer, where to fish and find berries, and how to cultivate "sacred maize" by digging holes in the ground, dropping in some corn kernels and small fish, and covering the holes. (Wow. Squanto was one cool guy. I'm seeing The Squanto Story - Tom Cruise with a ponytail. No go? Adam Beach maybe? Fine, we'll do lunch...)

By the time fall arrived, the Pilgrims were getting along much better, thanks to the help they'd received. 

(Yes, I know. Given what came to pass in our nation's history with the Native Americans, this has to strike you as a case of "no good deed goes unpunished," but let's not go there. Like the honeymoon before the eventual divorce, let's focus on the sweeter parts of this relationship's history.)

With the coming of fall, the Pilgrims decided to celebrate their blessings with a feast that was common in rural England. Those who helped reap the fields took part in the Harvest Home, observed on last day of bringing in the crops. This feast coincided with the Green Corn Festival, which Native Americans in that region had been celebrating long before the Pilgrims' arrival. This feast gave thanks for the ripening of maize, one of the three sisters in Native American agricultural traditions. (The other two sisters are beans and squash. Okay, that isn't ironic. But it is interesting!) 

And so, with giving thanks for harvest blessings being the primary point here (along with Squanto's rather obvious play for Academy Award consideration)...

Cleo Coyle, amazed by
the story of Thanksgiving
maize, is the author of The
Coffeehouse Mysteries
I am happy to share my own maize recipe with you. (No, I did not make it for the first Thanksgiving. I'm not that old... :)) But Marc and I do sincerely hope that you enjoy the blessings of this year’s harvest in your home.


A few recipe notes...

My husband and I often enjoy this recipe in the late fall. Its cheesy goodness is incredibly satisfying on a chilly day, and it pairs well with most meat entrees. Because my recipe uses frozen corn, I make it all winter. I like to vary the recipe, too, sometimes using a frozen corn blend, sometimes frozen mixed vegetables. 


The Pepper Jack Cheese adds a nice zing of spicy flavor to the casserole. If you enjoy Tex-Mex dishes, you'll love the use of Pepper Jack here. However, if you'd rather keep the recipe totally creamy and cheesy and not spicy in any way, simply replace the Pepper Jack with regular Monterey Jack. Or you can ask Avery Aames for advice!


"Latino Blend" is our favorite frozen corn and veggie mix to use with this casserole. (It's made by Hanover frozen vegetables and it's what you see in my photos.) This blend includes red and green peppers and even black beans, so don't be afraid to experiment and add a favorite cooked legume to our recipe if you can't locate this frozen veggie blend. 

"Southwestern Corn" is another delicious frozen blend that's wonderful in this casserole and also includes red and green peppers and a bit of spicy heat in the flavoring. Bird's Eye makes this one under their Steamfresh brand.


Finally, if you'd rather make a recipe that uses canned corn, I've got you covered, too! Mary Jane Maffini shared a wonderful canned corn casserole recipe earlier this year. Click here to see that one. 

Riley Adams (aka Elizabeth S. Craig) contributed a corn pudding recipe, as well. For Riley's corn pudding recipe, click here.

Cleo Coyle's
Corn Casserole 

To download this recipe in a free PDF that you can print, save, or share, click here.

Makes one 1-1/2 quart casserole side dish,
about 6 to 8 servings


2 slices bacon, chopped
1 large white onion, chopped
1 (12-ounce) bag frozen corn or a corn and vegetable mixture (See suggestions above and my *Frost Alert note below.) 

2 Tablespoons Wondra flour (See my note below.)
1 cup milk (whole or 2%)
2 Tablespoons butter, plus a little more to coat the casserole dish
8 ounces Pepper Jack cheese, grated (If pre-sliced from deli, simply break up into small pieces)

1 egglightly beaten with fork

* Wondra flour note: If you've never used Wondra, look for its blue cardboard canister in the same grocery store aisle that shelves all-purpose flour. It's a handy little helper for thickening gravies and making quick sauces. If you can't find it, use regular flour and stir like crazy to prevent lumps. Learn more here.

*FROST WARNING – For best results, use frozen vegetables that have been purchased recently. If you see frost on your vegetables, do not simply add them to the pan or you’ll introduce extra liquid to the casserole. To fix frosted frozen veggies, place them in a colander and run warm water over them until the frost disappears. Drain very well and use paper towels to sop up as much liquid as you can before using in this recipe.

Step 1: Quick prep: First preheat your oven to 350º F. Butter a casserole dish that holds at least 1-1/2 quarts and set aside.

Step 2: Browning your bacon: Slowly cook the chopped bacon in a deep saucepan until brown. Add the chopped white onion. Sweat the onions until they turn a light brown. Stir in the 12-ounce bag of frozen corn (or mixed veggie blend). Continue cooking and stirring over low heat for about a minute. Pour into your buttered casserole dish. Set aside.

Step 3: How to make cheese sauce (and speak French)

(a) In a little bowl, cream the 2 T butter with the 2 T Wondra flour to make a paste. Congratulations, you have just created the classic French "kneaded butter," aka buerre manié. Set aside this little paste and pull out a clean saucepan. 

(To learn why "kneaded butter" is a great technique for making sauces click here.) 

(b) Pour your 1 cup of milk into the saucepan and warm it well. Whisk the butter-flour paste into the warm milk, a little at a time until dissolved. Bring milk up to a simmer and continue whisking and simmering for 1 to 3 minutes. When the sauce thickens, remove from heat and quickly stir in 6 ounces of your grated cheese. Mix well. When the cheese is melted and the sauce velvety, it's done.

Step 4: Assemble and bake:  Now you can assemble the casserole. Into the casserole dish with the veggies (from Step 2), stir the lightly beaten egg. (The veggies should now be cool enough for you to add the egg without cooking it, which is why you wait until this step.) 

Pour the cheese sauce over the veggies and mix well. Top with the remaining 2 ounces or so of grated (or broken up) cheese, and bake in the center of your preheated oven for 45 to 55 minutes (depending on your oven). The casserole is done when you see the top is brown and crusty and the edges are bubbling. Allow to cool at least five minutes to firm up a bit. Serve warm and...

Have a Happy

May we all count our 
blessings and...

Eat with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle, author of 

To get more of my recipes,
enter to win free coffee, or
learn about my books,
including my bestselling
Haunted Bookshop series,
visit my online coffeehouse:

The Coffeehouse Mysteries are national bestselling
culinary mysteries set in a landmark Greenwich Village 
coffeehouse, and each of the ten titles includes the 
added bonus of recipes. 


The Ghost and
Mrs. McClure

Book #1 of 

The Haunted Bookshop
, which Cleo writes
under the name Alice Kimberly
To learn more, click here.