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&N.com 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!

Join coffeehouse manager
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
clicking here.

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  1. I voted for my adopted son Uri's Key Lime Pie. He's a Graduate Baker from the C.I.A. in upstate NY. He knows it's my favorite and always makes sure I get one along with the other goodies he supplies for the family's desserts.

  2. I never heard of using potato starch, Cleo, but I do remember that every Thanksgiving my grandmother would tell my mother to "save the potato water," meaning the water the potatoes were boiled in. She would add some of it to the gravy. She also always said, "God sends the food, and the devil sends the cook," which never failed to irritate my mother, the cook.

  3. I voted for Turkey, Cranberry Sauce, and Pumpkin Pie - all homemade from scratch for the big Thanksgiving feast (21 people in attendance at my Thanksgiving this year - family and friends!).

  4. I voted for Turkey, Cranberry Sauce, and Pecan Pie! Yummy.

  5. Always enjoy your Holliday books. They are so much fun, filled with information, and so different but with our good friends from the Coffee House Village Blend every year. The one CHRISTMAS dish that my family always expects at CHRISTMAS is our mushroom au gratin , with about 8 different kinds of mushrooms. LOVE THE MUG��

  6. PS---wish you would write a cookbook with all your recipes in it together----PLEASE����

  7. Turkey, Stuffing and Pecan pie. Hope you and Marc have a great holiday and the furbabies too.

  8. Turkey got my vote. Have a wonderful holiday. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  9. Turkey, Stuffing and Apple Pie. Your recipes and posts are the most delectable ever. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

  10. My must haves are turkey, stuffing and gravy. I of course want most all of the rest too.


  11. My must haves are turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie. Dnrocker@yahoo.com

  12. I voted for stuffing, mashed potatoes, and green bean casserole. Too bad we were limited to only 3 choices. I should have added lefse because that is another food that is always served at our Thanksgiving and it also is a favorite.


  13. Turkey, mashed and sweet potatoes. Unable to add cranberry sauce in the poll but, of course, there has got to be gravy. Thanks for the recipes. Judy

  14. Turkey, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce. (I don't eat gravy except biscuits and gravy.)

  15. Wow, Cleo, what a delish looking meal! I adore cranberry sauce. Congrats on the new release. The cover is gorgeous.

    Daryl/ Avery

  16. I chose turkey, dressing, and cranberry sauce. But there also needs to be pumpkin pie and potatoes and gravy and and and and---so much good food on Thanksgivig.

  17. I voted for sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie, and alka=seltzer. I like the other foods too, but those are must-haves.

  18. To me the taste of Thanksgiving is a bite of stuffing slathered with gravy, and a hint of the cranberry sauce that always melts into everything else! I love the bourbon choice as well. At my parents we have champagne with grapes in the glass and cream cheese stuffed celery (sprinkled with black pepper).

  19. Turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes. Thank you for this awesome giveaway! I love your books!

  20. We always have to have Chicken and Dressing for major holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Looking forward to seeing what the Coffeehouse gang is up to in this upcoming installment.

  21. It was hard to choose just three - turkey, stuffing, and sweet potatoes (soufflé)

  22. I voted for Turkey, Dressing and Gravy. I mentioned ham the other day as a possible option and I thought my family was going to roast ME instead. So turkey it is. :)

  23. I voted for turkey, stuffing and gravy.