Thanksgiving, after all, is a word of action. ~W.J. Cameron
Thanksgiving is perhaps my favorite holiday for two reasons. First, it is a holiday that we focus on people, not gifts. No perfect birthday or Christmas gift to select. Second, we focus on food: meal planning, grocery shopping, cooking and sitting around a table with loved ones to eat and catch up with one another. People and food. This, for me, is a perfect celebration.
Over the years I learned while living hundreds, at times thousands, of miles from family, that Thanksgiving is not only for birth family, but for chosen family as well. It is a time to show our gratitude for the people in our lives who we may forget to thank day to day. It is a time to shine the spotlight on special friendships, and host a Friendsgiving. A gathering for chosen family, remembering that not everyone has Mom and Dad, Grandpa Harry, two brothers, a sister, Aunt Bertha, cousins Sam and Logan, and all their significant others, along with children and step-children, to fill their table on the holidays. A gathering to share food, wine and gratitude with friends.
But what will I cook? How shall I set the table? We’ve made it simple for you. Nichole Crews of Casa de Crews, a lovely lady, food blogger, wife, mother to fur kids, doting aunt, friend and slave to everything about entertaining family and friends, asked me to participate in her 2015 Friendsgiving, where a group of Tampa Bay food and lifestyle specialists would come together to select the menu, gather the recipes, design the decor and share it all with you. Caroline & Evan Photography captured the images:
The turkey and dressing were my contribution. I make several different versions of stuffing and dressing; with oysters, apples, sausage, walnuts, chestnuts, eggs, or sourdough bread and mushroom, and so on. Since we are in Florida, I chose my Three Bread Citrus Dressing, using a combination of cornbread, Ciabatta and French Bread, with fresh orange zest and juice. A light and bright looking and tasting dressing, accompanied by my Citrus Roasted Turkey, stuffed with garlic, onion, orange and herbs, basted in butter and orange zest.
|Prep Time||1 hour|
|Cook Time||45 minutes|
|Passive Time||24 hours|
- 1 loaf Ciabatta bread cubed
- 1 loaf Cornbread cubed
- 1 loaf French bread cubed
- 2 medium Vadalia onions diced
- 5 stalks celery diced, with leaves
- 5 carrots diced
- 1/2 bunch fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley chopped
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
- 5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup orange juice with pulp
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves chopped
- roasted sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- One to two days before your meal, cut all three loaves of bread into 1-inch cubes, lay them out on sheet pans, cover with dish towels and allow to dry for 24 to 48 hours, until crisp.
- Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions, celery and carrots and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Add broth, parsley, rosemary, basil, thyme, turmeric, salt and pepper and stir. Once incorporated, remove from heat and let stand.
- Put all your bread cubes in a large bowl and slowly ladle the broth over the mixture, tossing as you go. Now add orange juice until the dressing has the moisture level you desire. Taste and add seasoning to your desire.
- Transfer the dressing into a large casserole pan. This dressing may also be used to stuff your turkey, but if you are baking separately, bake at 375 degrees until golden and crispy on top, approximately 45 minutes.
|Prep Time||40 minutes|
|Cook Time||2.5 hours|
|Passive Time||15 minutes|
- 1/4 pound unsalted butter (1 stick)
- 1 orange zested & juiced
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves chopped
- 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves chopped
- 1 10 to 12 pound fresh turkey
- roasted sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 bunch fresh thyme
- 1 bunch fresh rosemary
- 1 orange halved
- 1 Vadalia onion quartered
- 1 head garlic halved
- cotton cooking twine
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Melt butter in saucepan. Add the zest and juice of one orange, along with one teaspoon each of chopped thyme and rosemary leaves to melted butter. Remove from heat.
- Thoroughly wash turkey, inside and out, removing giblets and set aside to make broth for gravy. Remove pinfeathers, excess fat and pat dry with paper towel. Liberally salt and pepper inside turkey cavity and place turkey in large roasting pan. Stuff turkey cavity with halved orange, quartered onion, halved garlic head, fresh thyme and fresh rosemary sprigs. Separate skin from breast of turkey and gently slide bay leaves, thyme and rosemary sprigs between the skin and breast meat of turkey. Brush the outside of your turkey with the butter mixture and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Tie legs together with cotton cooking twine and tuck wings under the body of the turkey.
- Roast turkey about two and one half hours, or when instant-read thermometer inserted to thigh reads 165 degrees. When done, remove turkey to cutting board, cover tightly with aluminum foil and allow to rest for at least 20 minutes.
Never carve a turkey? Check out this video for easy instructions: How to Carve a Turkey.
Here is the entire menu, along with links to each recipe:
Cheese Plate with Figs and Honey by Casa de Crews
Cranberry and Goat Cheese Crostini by Casa de Crews
Harvest Kale Salad by Supper for a Steal
Turkey with Dressing by Out of the Weeds
Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta Caesar Salad by Krayl Funch of An Appealing Plan
Spinach Gratin by Casa de Crews
No Bake Pumpkin Pie by Happily Audrey
Bundt Cake with a Cream Cheese Drizzle by Melissa Creates
Pear Sangria by The Flair Exchange
A huge thank you to our vendors who helped to make this shoot possible!
Photos by Caroline & Evan Photography
Farm table, driftwood chargers, gold flatware, salt and pepper shakers from Set Event Rentals
Mismatched wood chairs from The Reserve Vintage Rentals
Floral from Belle Fleuer Tampa
Invitations and menu cards from Tiny Prints
Creative Loafing Space, Ybor City, FL
If you are blessed enough to be spending Thanksgiving with family, as I will be this year, you can still use our Friendsgiving menu, recipes and decorating suggestions, obviously. If your family is not near you, or you do not have family to share the holiday with, consider hosting your own Friendsgiving, delegating the dishes to those attending, or bringing everyone in to cook together. Your plates, glasses and flatware do not have to match. Your table does not have to be large. There is no better way to show love and gratitude than with a shared, thoughtful meal, and I am guessing that there are others in your life hoping for an invitation this Thanksgiving, to your Friendsgiving.
Thanksgiving comes to us out of the prehistoric dimness, universal to all ages and all faiths. At whatever straws we must grasp, there is always a time for gratitude and new beginnings. ~J. Robert Moskin
From my home to yours, cheers!