thanksgiving 2012 -- first-time gluten-free

Thanksgiving 2012Clearly I'm not very good at this blogging thing, otherwise I would have written about Thanksgiving weeks ago with recipe tips and suggestions, or I'd be saving this post for pre-Thanksgiving next year. Planning ahead isn't one of my strengths. That being said, a bunch of friends on Instagram were asking about the recipes I'd made for my first gluten-free Thanksgiving. I was pretty nervous about it because my mom was coming over for the holiday, as always, and since she's not gluten-free, I didn't want her to be disappointed. I did my research, asked some friends for help, and all turned out well. Here's how it went.Thanksgiving 2012I always make some kind of orange-colored (sweet potato, pumpkin, squash, etc.) soup, and this year I wanted to try something different. The Butternut Squash Soup with Cider Cream from The Bon Appetit Cookbook was an instant favorite. I'll be making this again for sure. Swirling the cider cream into the soup just before serving gets you a few oohs and ahhs.Thanksgiving 2012Here's where the cooking got tricky, with the Gratin of Sweet Potatoes and Mushrooms from the brand-new From a Southern Oven by Jean Anderson. There are a few tablespoons of flour in the cream sauce, so I substituted a Gluten-Free Girl all-purpose blend (it worked great), and then you top the whole thing with a mixture of bread crumbs, grated Parmesan, and melted butter. I used Schar gluten-free bread crumbs on top, and while I'm sure it turned out a bit differently without real bread crumbs, I think it was a success. Oops, I overfilled my casserole dish, so there was a bit of spillage. Well, it tasted great, and that's what counts.Thanksgiving 2012Thanksgiving 2012I've been known to make up a Brussels sprouts dish (usually with bacon) at the last minute, but this time I wanted to try something new and actually plan ahead. This recipe for Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Cauliflower and Orange also comes from The Bon Appetit Cookbook -- the orange taste was more subtle than I'd expected, but the dish was a nice balance to some of the heavier ones I was serving -- definitely recommended.Thanksgiving 2012I was super nervous about the stuffing because I've always made mine with regular bread. I asked around, and then it became clear -- go with a traditional cornbread stuffing. Of course most store-bought cornbread and cornbread recipes have all-purpose flour in them, so I did some research and found this recipe for Skillet Cornbread (I made a double batch so I used a baking pan) in The Glory of Southern Cooking (now available in a more affordable paperback edition). A lot of bacon grease went into this, so it tasted pretty amazing on its own.Thanksgiving 2012My friend Autumn tipped me off about this Martha Stewart cornbread and sausage stuffing recipe. It turned out really well, though it was tricky to get the moisture just right since I was baking it outside the turkey, which makes stuffing a bit drier. Still, this will probably be my go-to recipe for stuffing in years to come because it would be so easy to make adjustments to the herbs, moisture, salt, and other spices to suit your personal tastes. This turned out to be extra-good when we ate the leftovers, with some extra stock drizzled on top.Thanksgiving 2012I've been teased for never posting a photo of my turkey. I guess I don't think turkey is all that pretty, probably because there was a long time in my life when I didn't eat meat (but oddly or not, I would still always make a turkey for my family). Well, here it goes. The basic method I followed is from the recipe for Herb-Roasted Turkey with Roasted Pan Gravy, also from The Bon Appetit Cookbook. You make a fresh herb butter which you spread under the skin before you start roasting. I think I tented the turkey breast just a bit too long while cooking because the front of the turkey could have been a bit more roasted-looking like the rest of the bird. Otherwise, this turkey turned out beautifully, maybe my best ever in terms of crispy skin with still juicy meat.Thanksgiving 2012Of course I made cranberry sauce -- cranberries, sugar, water, Grand Marnier, and some grated orange zest.Thanksgiving 2012The gravy had me the most worried. The recipe, like ones for most gravies, called for flour of course. Gluten-Free Girl came to the rescue again. I went with her advice to just make a cornstarch slurry. Not only did this gravy turn out good, it too may have been the best I've ever made. Who needs flour?Thanksgiving 2012The photo at the top of this post was a teaser... now you can see the inside of the Pumpkin Cheesecake with Frangelico from The Bon Appetit Cookbook. I was so worried about the crust, but I found gluten-free ginger snaps in my local deli (score!). Perhaps the crust was a bit moister than it should have been, but no one minded. This was literally one of the best desserts I've ever made! It's impossibly light and fluffy, with that extra yummy sour cream layer on top. What a great way to end the meal.