Thanksgiving Newbies

In addition to our staples, we always try out new recipes for Thanksgiving.  This year, Little Miss made a bacon cheddar sweet potato casserole recipe from her mom and Bjorn made a butternut squash bisque from a recipe published in the New York Times.

Bacon Cheddar Sweet Potato Casserole
From Little Miss:

  • 6 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 6 slices of bacon
  • salt and pepper

Even though the amounts above are from the original recipe, Little Miss’s mom says, “I just go by the HMDYL method.  How much bacon? How much do you like?  How much cheese? How much do you like? etc.”

Cook and mash sweet potatoes (however many you want).  I like to bake them, then peel after they’ve cooled slightly, but you can also peel and cube them first and either boil or steam them.  While those are cooking, cut bacon into 1/2″ pieces and saute until crispy.  How much?  However much you think you want, plus two.

Mix copious amounts of butter and grated cheddar cheese into the mashed potatoes – I like sharp cheddar, but it works with any kind.  Mix in bacon. Salt and pepper to taste – remember, they’re potatoes, and can handle lots of seasoning.  Butter an appropriately-sized baking dish, then plop in the bacony cheesy potato mix.  Top with a little extra grated cheese if you want.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or so, or until cheese is melty and the top is starting to get brown.  While they are baking, get a prescription for Lipitor, because you will probably eat more than you should.

Butternut Squash Bisque
(Modified from recipe published in the New York Times by Sam Sifton on October 26, 2011 and adapted from Daniel Humm, Eleven Madison Park, New York)

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium-size butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1⁄2-inch cubes
  • 1⁄2 cup thinly sliced fennel
  • 1 teaspoon thinly sliced ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1⁄4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1⁄4 cup dry vermouth
  • 2 tablespoons cognac
  • 2/3 cup tomato juice
  • 6 cups lobster stock, shrimp stock, clam stock or fish stock
  • 1 pod star anise (we skipped this)
  • 6 pods green cardamom (we also skipped this)
  • 1⁄2 cup tarragon leaves
  • 1 tablespoon crème fraîche
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • 1/8 tablespoon cayenne pepper, or to taste

In a large saucepan set over medium heat, melt the butter until it foams. Add the squash, fennel, ginger and garlic and cook slowly until soft, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle in the flour and stir, then cook for 5 or 6 minutes to incorporate.

Add the vermouth and cognac to deglaze the first pan, and reduce the liquids until the pan is almost dry. Add the tomato juice and reduce it by half, approximately 3 minutes. Add the stock, anise and cardamom (we did not have anise or cardamom so we skipped it) and simmer until reduced by roughly half, about 30 minutes.

When the bisque has reduced, remove from heat and stir in the tarragon. Cover and steep for 5 minutes. Whisk in the crème fraîche, then strain bisque through a fine-meshed sieve or chinois. Season with salt, lime juice and cayenne. Serve immediately with a crisp bacon bits or in our case, homemade croutons.

Serves 4-6

Thanksgiving 2011!

Here at three squabbling asians, we have a rule that we cannot start talking about our Thanksgiving menu until October. This year however, due to my extreme gestational state, Little Miss and Yuan were left in limbo while I fretted about how I may have to spend my favorite holiday of the year eating hospital food turkey. As my early November due date came and went with no indication that someone had any intention of leaving the womb, I called Little Miss and Yuan to tell them that I would have have to skip Thanksgiving unless I evicted a tiny person in the next 24 hours. Thankfully, occupy my belly ended less than 24 hours later.  Just in time for me to go home and have my fellow squabbling asians come up to Davis to cook me a Thanksgiving feast!

Little Miss was highly organized as usual and whipped up our usual Thanksgiving menu items.  Because of the last minute planning, Thanksgiving was a cozy family affair this year and we pared down our menu a bit and added some flair to our usual items.  I was still incapacitated but my mom filled in for me and I contributed by sitting on the couch and eating.

To celebrate my ability to eat whatever I wanted for the first time in almost a year, Yuan brought up sweetwater and Kumamoto Hog Island oysters.  Oh how I missed that briny, succulent, raw oyster!  They were absolutely delicious.

This year, Mr. Turkey was a 15 lb pre-brined bird that Yuan rubbed with herbs and truffle butter and roasted.  He did not flip the bird this time during the cooking process, but Mr. Turkey came out very tender and juicy. Here he is in all his glory…and Little Miss picking at him.

My mom made our usual stuffing with sausage, shitake mushrooms, celery, onion, rosemary bread, water chestnuts, and the magical powder that makes everything taste like Thanksgiving, otherwise known as Bell’s Poultry Seasoning. I know turkey snobs insist that cooking the stuffing in the turkey dries it out, but the stuffing does not taste the same unless it is cooked in the turkey with all the juices! We stuffed half of the stuffing in Mr. Turkey, then scooped it out into baking dishes when Mr. Turkey was done and finished the stuffing in the oven. By cooking the stuffing again after it comes out of the turkey, we ensure that both the turkey and stuffing are cooked just right.  Here we are, inspecting Mr. Turkey for hidden stuffing bits.

We also had Molly’s cranberry relish and green bean casserole and Yuan made a classic gravy.  For sweet potatoes, Little Miss made her mom’s recipe with bacon and cheddar cheese which sounded strange and mid-Western (much like Little Miss) but was a great sweet savory combination.  Bjorn made a butternut squash bisque with homemade croutons which was also really delicious.  For dessert, we resisted the urge to have half a pie per person and limited it to pumpkin and apple staples. Little Miss made pumpkin cheesecake which she modified this year by making a half portion of the filling and making it in a shallower pie dish.  We found that it was easier to bake properly and resulted in a better crust to filling proportion.  She also made a yummy apple cheese torte.

My mom’s Thanksgiving day plate.

Many thanks to Little Miss and Yuan who came up and prepared a feast for me, Bjorn, my mom, and my new little man.  Next year little man, you too can enjoy some Thanksgiving grub.

Tomato Consomme – Behind the Scenes

Hmmm, what to do with a sack full of yellow tomatoes, again from Hector’s garden, and a free Sunday…. Call Yuan! Instigate a food day! While the Princess is gardening and tending to her cheese mites in Davis, the city-dwelling squabblers relish the occasional day free of obligations and replete with local produce by hanging out in his sunny apartment, watching movies on his kitchen tv, and fiddling around with said produce. That’s where the tomatoes come in.Take a sack of almost over-ripe tomatoes. Rough chop. Add a little salt. Puree. Drain through a sieve, ideally lined with cheesecloth so that your consomme will be clearer than ours was. But ours still turned out rather lovely, don’t you think?


Ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes at threesquabblingasians? Does the curiosity keep you up at night? Fret no more, loyal readers, for this is how it goes down:

Right around now is when Yuan looks up at me and says, “Are we ridiculous?” You be the judge.