06 Dec2009


It’s highly likely that the first Thanksgivings celebrated by the pilgrims in New England started off with fresh oysters, clams, lobsters and other fruits of the sea. If there were wild turkeys, they would have looked a bit like the anorexic version of today’s turkeys… At Sister’s thanksgiving meal last week, she started off the festivities with freshly shucked oysters and clams. If you weren’t a fan of seriously fresh raw shellfish, you could have hit this spectacular silver platter filled with cheese, fruit and crackers…


Sister’s Thanksgiving Menu

Raw Long Island Blue Point oysters and Peconic Bay Littleneck Clams served with a mignonette and/or fresh horsradish cocktail sauce
Artisanal New York State raw milk cheeses with crackers and Fingerlakes grapes
Salted and roasted pecans

Roasted turkeys and gravy
Sausage and herb stuffing
Cranberry Compote

Smoked country hams
Spicy pear chutney

Candied Sweet Potatoes

Mashed rutabagas
Steamed green beans

Trio of beet salads: yellow, striped, and ruby

Northern Spy Apple Pies
Maple Bourbon Pecan Pies
Cheese Pumpkin Pies
Sweet potato Pies

NY Finger Lakes Dry Riesling
CA Zinfandel
Vouvray dessert wine



Marketman at the stove of the semi-commercial kitchen at the nearby church hall that was rented for the occasion. I am the one in a white long-sleeve t-shirt that I was unable to change out of before dinner! I lightly burned my fingers (literally) a few times, but otherwise it was a fairly straightforward place to operate in…


A cousin of ours sliced up one of the hams…


…and while frantic kitchen efforts were underway, a couple of guitarists played for guests while they had their appetizers and drinks…


We managed to get the buffet all together and served “dinner” at roughly 5pm.


A photo of the homemade cranberry relish/compote.


And a shot of the pecan pie, one of four different types of pies on the dessert table.

A NOTE OF THANKS: Since I was in the kitchen and didn’t have time to return to the apartment to pick up my camera, I took absolutely NO PHOTOS of the dinner. Instead, I asked two of my nephews to take a few food shots. The first and last two photos were taken by Sister’s son, while all of the other photos are credited to another “nephew” who is a professional photographer, and this is his website, focalmatter.com.



  1. sister says:

    Unfortunately there are no pictures of our 35 lb. turkeys. However, I would like to offer a quick recipe for Maple Bourbon Pecan Pie, my son-in-law’s favorite pie. I tweaked a few recipes to make one edible to me, a little lighter than the cloyingly sweet Karo sirup version and far more flavorful:
    One 9″ piecrust in a pyrex pie pan
    1 1/2 c. pure maple sirup grade B amber
    1/2 c. sugar (maple sugar if you can find it)
    3 tbsp. butter
    2 large eggs plus 2 large eggyolks beaten together to mix
    2 tbsp. Kentucky bourbon
    1 tsp. vanilla extract
    1/2 lb. ( about 2c.) freshly shelled pecan halves

    Preheat oven to 425 F and place rack on lowest shelf

    In a small saucepan mix the sugar and maple sirup, bring to a bare simmer. Take off heat and add butter. Cool completely then add the bourbon, vanilla and eggs and mix well. Skim off any foam.
    Arrange the pecans in concentric circles on the bottom of the piecrust, slightly overlapping the nuts. Do not press into pastry. Drizzle the filling slowly over the pecans and the nuts will float.
    Place the piepan on a cookie sheet and bake for 15 min at 425 F then lower to 350 F and bake another 25-30 minutes until rim of crust is golden brown and pecans look crusty. Center will still jiggle. Do not overcook as nuts will become bitter. Cool completely before serving with a dollop of creme fraiche.
    The soft filling is a nice contrast to the crunchy pecans and the salty pie crust and the cold creme is delicious with the pie.

    Dec 6, 2009 | 10:02 pm


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  3. Teresa says:

    Hey, you’re in the East Coast again :-) Belated Happy Thanksgiving to your family! The event with Sister seem swell. I miss the Thanksgiving get-together and the food. I was at the hospital at that time for Cs delivery of our baby boy on the 24th. Despite missing the usual, we are truly Thankful for the blessing of a bouncing boy and a successful delivery.

    Sister, thank you for sharing the recipe. I’ll prepare this for Christmas. It will be our boy’s 1st month birthday on Christmas eve so we’ll have the Thanksgiving and Christmas celeb then.

    Happy Holidays to both of you!

    Dec 6, 2009 | 10:29 pm

  4. joyce says:

    what a feast! and its seems to have been very much a family affair both in and outside the kitchen

    Dec 6, 2009 | 10:35 pm

  5. Tonito says:

    Those two guitarists somehow remind me of the Blues Brothers!

    Dec 6, 2009 | 10:44 pm

  6. natie says:

    wow!! what a great production!! you certainly were too busy to take pictures, MM

    Dec 6, 2009 | 11:25 pm

  7. jannah says:


    Dec 7, 2009 | 12:28 am

  8. maddie says:

    lovely spread.

    and thank you for sharing your pecan pie recipe. will try this one. :-)

    Dec 7, 2009 | 1:00 am

  9. mark says:

    Was this around NYC? I think those guitarists live in my neighborhood (astoria). Great photos.

    Dec 7, 2009 | 2:14 am

  10. kurzhaar says:

    Marketman, you said “If there were wild turkeys, they would have looked a bit like the anorexic version of today’s turkeys”. I’d have to disagree. Yes, wild turkeys are smaller, but to my mind they are both a more beautiful bird and in taste a universe away from today’s commercial birds. So I don’t see them as anorexic; rather I see the huge commercial white turkeys as bloated and rather gross creatures that cannot even reproduce naturally. Wild turkeys may not have the exaggerated breast of the commercial white, but they do have a good amount of breast meat, as they can after all fly!!!

    While I realize that the vast majority of folks will not have the fortune to ever taste a roasted wild turkey, I do recommend at least making the effort to find a genuinely pasture-raised bird, and if possible one of a breed like the Narragansett, Slate, Bourbon Red, etc. that has a proportion of white to dark meat that’s lower than the commercial white turkey. And if you are so lucky as to be friends with a turkey hunter, try to get invited to dinner. :) I think you will find it to be a revelation…I know it was for me.

    Dec 7, 2009 | 4:23 am

  11. sister says:

    Dear Kurzaar,
    We actually had two Thanksgiving meals, one the Sunday before so my daughter and son-in-law could have turkey before flying off to Manila. We had a 16 lb. organic, bourbon red turkey that Sunday and it was very good. Even the 35 lb. birds were pasture raised, no antibiotic, no steroids, organic feed birds, not supermarket turkeys. All the turkeys were fresh killed and brined. Unfortunately they were carved in the kitchen for easy service and we never got our third bird, the “show” bird into the photo of the table.
    It is difficult to justify the price of turkeys with such pedigrees but once or twice a year the premiums paid for such birds are well worth it, specially if you get them directly from the poultry farm and not from Costco.
    Happy Holidays to you! And yes, we are getting another turkey for Christmas dinner, along with many other traditional offerings.

    Dec 7, 2009 | 5:29 am

  12. kurzhaar says:

    Hello Sister,
    So glad to hear you had the Bourbon Reds. Perhaps you will find a source for a wild turkey one day. :)
    As far as price goes, I find that as I eat meat sparingly nowadays, I can justify the expense easily for many reasons, perhaps most importantly the welfare of the animals…and even if one didn’t particularly care about that, for the entirely selfish reason that the meat tastes better.
    Now planning out our next holiday meal (they do come one after another at this time of year, don’t they)–not quite decided if we will roast the usual goose or go smaller scale with duck breasts or possibly more rustic with braised rabbit. We are enthusiastic oyster aficionados here as well, though I tend to be a purist who uses no more than a tiny bit of lemon juice.
    Happy holidays to you as well!

    Dec 7, 2009 | 5:49 am

  13. sister says:

    There is a purveyor of wild turkeys in NYC and actually a few years ago we actually saw a flock of them outside the cottage, in the woods, in Quogue, Long Island.

    We also have geese at one of our holiday meals and I save the goose fat for Cassoulet later in January. We also can get Muscovy duck from the same farm.

    The oysters of Long Island have increased due to seeding and conservation guidelines, and a squeeze of lemon is all that you need but many other folks like the mignonette of red wine vinegar and red onion, or the fresh horsradish cocktail sauce so I usually offer all three.
    They oysters and were opened at the party by my suki on holiday from Citarella. They were purchased from Blue Moon, Mattituck, LI, NY.

    Dec 7, 2009 | 6:11 am

  14. me says:

    looks delicious.

    Dec 7, 2009 | 6:18 am

  15. sister says:

    Yes, the twin Guitarists are from Queens. I found them at the East 77th St. subway stop and they did a great job playing during cocktails!

    Dec 7, 2009 | 6:20 am

  16. tulip says:

    Wow! How I wish I was there to at least taste test all of those food! It must have been a laborious task to get those all together… but isn’t it all worth it when it’s finally in the buffet table? SUch a beautiful spread and I bet surely delectable. Wonderful work of art (cooking!).

    Happy Holidays Sister !

    Dec 7, 2009 | 6:39 am

  17. kurzhaar says:

    Hi Sister,

    Actually it is illegal to sell wild game (by that I mean “really” wild game, creatures living in the wild that you went after and shot or otherwise killed, not farm-raised “game”) in the US…an unfortunate but probably necessary result of the excessive hunting earlier in the 20th century that led to the extinction of the passenger pigeon. Fortunately I and my friends hunt and therefore are our own source of game.

    Coincidentally cassoulet is one of our holiday dishes as well. I have the duck confit all done and ready and just received a chuck of saucisson a l’ail. Hmm…perhaps this will be Christmas dinner. :)

    Those oysters looked great–nothing like them for a taste of the sea. I know, many people do like the horseradish or mignonette or (gah!) cocktail sauce. I have made a mignonette with shallots on occasion for those who insist on it, but my personal preference is for oysters plain, raw, and very fresh…and if we are lucky, at least four or six or so varieties to demonstrate the amazing range of flavours.


    Dec 7, 2009 | 7:04 am

  18. sister says:

    Kuurzaar, Yes, you are correct, when I refer to “wild” turkeys I mean farm raised wild turkeys. I don’t think we will be hunting the truly wild ones on LI, apparently thery are pretty common but we don’t have a hunting license.

    Dec 7, 2009 | 7:14 am

  19. junb says:

    It is refreshing to read this on an early monday morning knowing that there are a lot of people out there who still care for the environment and the food that we eat. I myself is an advocate of a traditionally prepared food to enjoy it with friends and family over dinner or lunch. Thank you MM and Sister for making us the part of your wonderful thanksgiving dinner. God bless us all !!!!

    Dec 7, 2009 | 9:18 am

  20. kurzhaar says:

    Off topic here but for those in search of a present for a foodie in your life (or for yourself), check out a subscription to the Canal House cookbooks (thecanalhouse.com). I have just received the second in the series, and each book is PURE DELIGHT…do-able, seasonal recipes accompanied by some of the best photography and art you’ll find anywhere. At $20 a volume, they are a bargain.

    PS I have no association with either author, save for a long-standing admiration for their work in Saveur and other publications.

    Dec 7, 2009 | 9:20 am

  21. emsy says:

    I always loved listening to those subway singers. I don’t know why they never get signed for a record deal! (or are there some who did?) One time I saw this duo where the guy was playing a guitar and used his feet to chime in percussion with a tambourine. His partner, a girl no more than 16 or 17 was singing the blues and she had the deepest, sexiest and the most engaging voice I have ever heard. MUCH better than our Filipino celebrities.

    Dec 7, 2009 | 11:13 am

  22. Lava Bien says:

    Those oysters look good, I love,love love ’em fresh, just a squeeze of lemon some tabasco or tapatio sauce that’s it. I can literally eat about a dozen or two in one sitting hehehehehe but I won’t eat anything else hehehehe.

    @ emsy – the way you describe the girl, that’s the way Joss Stone started, deep soulful voice that sounded like a sister but she was actually a 15 year old white girl from the UK, she’s great. I just love the way she sings and was actually able to see her live in San Francicso in almost small and intimate setting.

    @ sister – good job on the thanksgiving dinner!!! it does really run in the family huh? the good hosting I mean…bless your family.

    Dec 7, 2009 | 2:44 pm

  23. Susie says:

    Sister, would you describe the pumpkin cheese pies? I’m trying to get my mind around the flavours. We did pumpkin pots de creme with gingersnap wafers…I love this time of the year for all the reasons to eat pumpkin in every way, shape or form!

    Dec 7, 2009 | 5:08 pm

  24. Gener says:

    I like those oysters with lemon,,,I wish i could find them in malls here….

    Dec 7, 2009 | 5:33 pm

  25. sister says:

    Susie, there is no cheese in the pie. The pumpkin used is commonly called a Wisconsin cheese pumpkin and is a better one for pie. “Sugar” pumpkins also make a great pie. On no account use your Halloween pumpkin, that is too stringy and flavorless. Cheese pumpkins are grown in the NY, NJ area. Large, flat, with well defined ribs and an even tan rind. If you do not have a fresh pumpkin try the recipe using a 30 oz can of pumpkin, actually it’s hubbard squash insde that Libby’s can.

    Here’s the recipe I use:

    One medium cheese pumpkin about 6 lbs. or 6 lbs. sugar pumpkins, about 2-3
    Cut in half, scoop out seeds and strings. Put cut side down in a roasting pan and add a cup or so of water. Bake at 400 for 1 hour 15 min or until very soft. Cool and scoop out flesh, it’s okay if some are slightly brown and caramelized. Drain in a colander for several hrs. Weigh pumpkin flesh, you need 1 3/4 lb. for each recipe to make two 9″ pies or measure out 4 c. mashed pumpkin. You might also try using calabasa.

    Filling: 4 c. cooked pumpkin well mashed
    1 2/3 c. sugar
    1 tsp. salt
    1 tbsp. cornstarch
    2 tsp. each powdered cinnamon and ginger
    1 tsp. each powdered nutmeg and cloves
    1 tsp. vanilla extract
    3 whole large eggs plus 3 large eggyolks beaten together to mix
    2 1/2 c. heavy cream

    2 9″ pie shells in 9″ pyrex pie pans

    Preheat oven to 425 F and place rack on lowest shelf

    Put everything in a 14 c. food processor and blitz for 10 seconds or mix well with a whisk. Let stand half an hour or refrigerate for several hours so pumpkin rehydrates. Mix well before pouring into pie shells.
    Bake at 425 F for 15 min, then lower heat setting to 350 F and bake another 35-40 min until slightly puffy but center still jiggles. Cool before serving. Best refrigerated.

    Note: Using a food processor to mix results in a mousse-like filling, light and fluffy.

    Crust recipe:
    2 1/2 c. unsifted all purpose flour
    2 tsp. salt
    3/4 c. unsalted cold butter cut into cubes
    1/4 c. crisco or lard
    4-5 tbsp. cold water
    2 tbsp. flour for sprinkling

    Mix flour and salt, cut in butter until you have pea size pieces.
    Add Crisco or lard and cut that in as well.
    Sprinkle water a tbsp at a time, tossing mixture with your fingers or a fork. You may need only 4 tbsp, less water means a flakier crust.
    Now push it all together into a shaggy ball. It looks like it won’t hold but it will. Cut into half and press down into discs. Refrigerate for 15 min or freeze for 5 min.
    Cut 2 sheets of wax paper 14 inches wide, sprinkle with 1 tbsp. additional flour, coat disc with it, and roll out crust between the wax paper. Adjust paper for wrinkles. Roll from the center out, lifting pin before you get to the edge. You should have a 13″ circle about 3/16 thick. Peel off top paper, invert pie plate and center, flip over and remove bottom paper. Trim leaving 1/2″ overhang. Fold under and crimp. Refrigerate before using 1 hr.

    This is my son’s favorite pie. Hope you try this recipe. Enjoy!

    Dec 7, 2009 | 8:13 pm

  26. susie b says:

    Thanks for the recipe, Sister. A cheese pumpkin…it makes sense now! Unfortunately being in Cebu, the closest I will get to a pumpkin is a can of Libby’s. Calabasa just doesn’t cut it, although Pichet Ong’s recipe for his Kabocha Squash pie that was in the NYT a couple of years ago has come in handy.

    Dec 7, 2009 | 8:41 pm

  27. sister says:

    Susie, A can of Libby’s works very well. Cheese and sugar pumpkins are available here only from end of September through the end of December, so I freeze cooked pumpkin for the other months and use Libby’s if I have to.

    Dec 7, 2009 | 9:24 pm

  28. sunflowii says:

    Hi MM and sister,
    Would you mind sharing the trio of beet salad recipe as well? I love beets!

    Dec 7, 2009 | 11:00 pm

  29. sister says:

    For Sunflowii:
    I purchased baby yellow, striped (chioggia), and ruby beets. Cook them separately covered in hot water until barely tender. Do not roast as small beets tend to get tough otherwise. Cool and peel separately. If you have bigger beets dice or cut into quaters or strips.
    For yellow beets dress with grated orange zest, freshly squeezed orange juice and good olive oil, salt and pepper. Sprinkle with chopped chives if desired (!/3 c. OJ to 1 c. olive oil).
    Chioggia beets have lovely pink and creme stripes, cut beets horizontally into circles. Dress with champagne vinegar, olive oil, a little chopped minced garlic and chopped dill.
    For red beets dress with red wine vinegar, chopped shallots or red onion, olive oil, salt and pepper.

    Dec 7, 2009 | 11:33 pm

  30. sunflowii says:

    Thanks so much sister!!

    Dec 8, 2009 | 1:19 am

  31. Grace says:

    Sister, you and MM are such generous souls… may you continue to be blessed!

    Dec 8, 2009 | 9:26 am

  32. betty q. says:

    Sister…next Thanksgiving…I wish I can be your “alalay”!!!

    Dec 9, 2009 | 9:26 am

  33. betty q. says:

    Sister…next Thanksgiving…can I be your “alalay” ?

    Dec 9, 2009 | 9:27 am

  34. terrey says:

    waaaahhhh…i wish i was invited….waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhh i wish i was actually in the vicinity. Happy Holidays!

    Dec 9, 2009 | 11:04 am

  35. Mom-Friday says:

    great spread! great shots. You had me at ‘oysters’! :D

    Dec 9, 2009 | 9:59 pm


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