The Thanksgiving Plate – Meal Planning

I am so excited for Thanksgiving this year. The weather in Southern Ontario is going to be amazing (perfect for fall hikes and festivals) and also the coming together of loved ones is just magical.

Since there is a split down the middle this year of carnivores vs/veg eaters, I have decided to tackle this as diplomatically as possible. Therefore yes-I am cooking a bird ( a small one) and focusing on hearty veg dishes and a classic fall dessert to finish.

Here is a sneak-peek at this year’s menu – Recipes below!

In the meantime, Happy Thanksgiving everyone, from my home to yours.


2018 Thanksgiving Lunch Menu

  • Butternut squash and fennel soup
  • Citrus brined, smoked turkey
  • Burnt heirloom carrots with maple pear glaze
  • Potatoes smashed with grainy mustard
  • Salads
  • Cinnamon and clove cranberry sauce

For dessert:

  • Selection of rustic tarts (apple/butter/pumpkin)


Butternut squash and fennel soup

    • 2-3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 medium onion, diced
    • sm. thumb of ginger, diced
    • 1/4 tsp pepper flakes
    • 1 tbsp maple syrup
    • 1 large fennel bulb, core and tough stalks removed, sliced
    • 4 cups butternut squash
    • 4 cups vegetable stock (homemade preferred)
    • salt and pepper

To garnish: creme fraiche and fennel frods

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Drizzle olive oil in a 9 by 13-inch glass baking dish. Add butternut squash. Drizzle with a little more oil and toss to coat. Season well with salt and pepper.
  2. Meanwhile, add chopped fennel, ginger and onion to a large soup pot and saute with olive oil for 5-7 minutes. add remaining ingredients and reduce heat to simmer.
  3. Roast for 30-45 minutes until the  butternut squash is tender. Remove from oven and place in stock pot. Cook for an additional ten minutes, adjusting seasoning with salt or pepper as desired. Puree soup using an immersion or traditional blender.


Citrus “brined”, smoked turkey

Warning: This recipe is a hack. Yes, you can brine the bird for 12 hours prior, in a load of water, have a super big mess and  then throw it in a smoker. You will thank me for this hack, I promise 😉


For the basting liquid:

  • 3 navel oranges, juiced
  • 5 tbsp butter, melted
  • 3 tbsp lard, melted
  • 2 tsp liquid smoke

For the” brine”:

  • Salt (1 tbsp salt per 5 pounds turkey)
  • Pepper
  • Dried herbs of choice (ie: thyme, sage)

For cooking:

1 cedar plank soaked in water and an additional 2 tsp of liquid smoke


Take the rinsed, defrosted and patted-dry  bird and salt and season liberally inside and out, and keep in fridge for up to 48 hours. This is a dry rub. Do not rinse! Put in large ziploc bag or wrap tightly in saran wrap.

Place bird on roasting rack and insert the soaked plank under the bird and under the rack (so it is wedged between the rack and base and bird on top of rack). Do not cover!

Roast for 1.5 hours then begin basting with melted butter/lard juice blend every 1/2 hour.

After a few hours, check bird as it will begin to brown up beautifully and give you a nice crispy skin. If not at 165 degrees, very loosely tent with foil to slow browning.

The result is a smoky, citrus-y, beautifully moist bird, without all the work.


Burnt heirloom carrots with maple pear glaze

This recipe is insanely easy to whip up as your turkey is resting. Simply turn on broiler and on a flat roasting pan or baking sheet which is lightly oiled, turn on oven to low broil.


Blanche peeled and trimmed heirloom carrots, dry, then salt and in oven and “roast” for 3-5 minutes, turning and glazing with 2 tbsp maple syrup mixed with 1 tbsp pear balsamic and 1 tsp butter, melted. Glaze and turn until little crispy edges begin to appear and serve immediately.

Potatoes smashed with grainy mustard

  • 3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 1 cup half and half, warmed up
  • 1/4 cup salted butter, room temperature
  • 3-4 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper

Place potatoes and 1 tablespoon of the salt in a large saucepan; cover potatoes with cold water, about 6 cups. Bring to a boil over high, and reduce heat to medium. Partially cover pan, and simmer until potatoes are just tender enough to pierce with a fork, about 20 minutes. Drain well, and return to warm pan. Let stand 5 minutes.

Mash potatoes with a handheld potato masher or a large fork. Stir in warm milk, butter, and mustard. Stir in pepper and remaining 2 1/2 teaspoons salt. Serve immediately.


Cinnamon and clove cranberry sauce


  • 1 pkg fresh cranberries
  • 1/4 C orange juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon + half tsp ground clove

Mix together juice, sugar and spices until dissolved over medium heat.  Place cranberries in pot and cook until comes to boil  then reduce to simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, stirring gently through process taking care to not puncture the fruit. Serve at room temperature.



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