An Island Holiday

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I know I am biased but there is no better place to celebrate Thanksgiving than Nantucket and you know what, the Vice President thinks so too! I have only missed two in my entire life. This year, with my parents being out in California, my sister and I decided to host our very first Thanksgiving dinner at our family home and what a day it was. The prep started Wednesday with Michelle mastering the art of baking a pie. After getting home from the shop, I took to the kitchen to make my Aunt’s delicious cranberry mousse and apple butter for my sister Marie’s Thanksgiving brunch (and checked another two items off the fall bucket list). Check out the recipes below.

While waiting for the apple butter to bake, I turned to our tablescape. I knew I wanted to incorporate the collection of beautiful gourds in yellows and greens I purchased at Bartlett’s Farm so decided on a purple, yellow and celdaon green color palette. I placed my favorite John Robshaw table-cloth on the table with our Simon Pearce belmont dinning plates and my “only for special occasion” Kim Seybert napkins. I have these fantastic yellow bud vases for Bodega that I turned into candle holders for our green tapers. Feeling a bit DIY, I made place cards and the menu from old Rifle Paper pieces I had on hand. We made little wreaths from rosemary and Michelle added a personal touch by writing each of our guests a little note letting them know we were thankful for them. I just loved the way it all came together.

I was a bit hesitant to handle the actual bird… 16 pounds and all. I guess I know why I call myself a selectarian (raw meat totally squimishes me out). Luckily I had some help and got the bird cleaned, filled the cavity with oranges, lemons, garlic, thyme and onions and put her in the oven. I used Ina’s recipe as a guide cause really, the Barefoot Contessa has never failed me.

My absolute favorite sides with my Thanksgiving meal have always been stuffing and butternut squash so I knew I wanted to try something different. I had seen a picture on Pinterest for a butternut squash bread pudding with leeks and prosciutto and I knew that was the winner. Absolutely sinful (2 1/2 cups of half and half) but well worth it. For the stuffing, the verdict was in that sausage is a must so once again I turned to Smitten Kitchen to be my guide. Add in some roasted carrots and brussels sprouts, mashed new potatoes and a kale salad with roasted acorn squash, pomegranate seeds and a Dijon cider vinaigrette and we had ourselves a feast.

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Hope you all enjoyed a lovely day with your friends and family. And now for those recipes!

Auntie Deb’s Cranberry Mousse
– 1 20 oz. can crushed pineapple
– 2 3 oz. packages of raspberry gelatin
– 1 12 oz. bag of fresh cranberries (Nantucket has one of the largest bogs on the east coast)
– 1 large navel orange
– 1/2 cup sugar
– 1 cup sour cream

Directions
1. Open pineapple and drain liquid. Reserve 1 cup of juice.
2. Bring pineapple juice to a boil and stir in gelatin until dissolved.
3. In food processor, chop cranberries, sliced unpeeled orange and sugar to make a relish.
4. Combine relish and pineapple with gelatin in large bowl. Chill 1/2 hour, or until slightly thick.
5. Fold in sour cream and pour into a 2 quart mold. Chill until firm.
6. Unmold onto a serving plate.

* I should note I couldn’t find a mold so just poured into a large serving dish. Not as pretty as my aunt does but let me tell you, this cranberry mousse brings a leftover turkey sandwich to a whole new level.

Apple Butter
– 4 pounds assorted apples, peeled and chopped
– 2 cups apple cider
– 1 cup packed light brown sugar
– pinch of salt
– 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
– 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
– 1 tsp. vanilla extract
– pinch of ground clove

Directions
1. Preheat over to 250 degrees.
2. Combines the apples, apple cider, brown sugar and salt in a dutch oven (I’m obsessed with my Le Creuset) over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Cook until apples are soft, about 20 minutes.
3. Remove apples from the heat and stir in lemon juice, cinnamon, vanilla extract and cloves.
4. Puree the mixture in a blender in batches until smooth.
5. Return the mixture to dutch over and bake uncovered, stirring every 30 minutes. The total cook time is about 3 hours. The mixture will become thick and a deep amber color.
6. Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Transfer to n airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days.

* My sister Michelle used the remaining apple butter on Saturday night when she hosted friends for turkey soup. She spread it over brie, wrapped it in her pie crust and baked. Absolutely delicious!

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