Last minute Thanksgiving...

The title couple of weeks ago would have been 'Who wants breakfast for dinner anyways, a Thanksgiving family recipe feud' :)....but time have past, and this morning while all he wanted to do is sleep in, Jonathan found himself at 8am, waiting in line, outside the front door of the 'Pie Gourmet' in Vienna, Virginia. There are few things you don't mess with when someone else perfects them, one is a Pie Gourmet's coconut cream pie. They were sold out, but we were lucky to come out with a banana cream pie, we, as in Jonathan. Honestly, until the 'Pie Gourmet' I haven't cared for pies much. Had an excellent, complex recipe for it, but Sagie said why make it when someone else makes it so well....he's got a point !! In the category of don't bother to make it cause someone else makes it better, falls Whole Foods corn bread and cheddar jalapeno bread, and these mini cocktail samosas I find in local Indian grocery stores. This year is the first year in ten years I am not hosting Thanksgiving in my house, our long time friend Geri is hosting it at her house. Since another friend of hers is making stuffing with sausage, I was assigned to make an alternative sausage-free version. I might add, we are the trouble makers who do not eat sausage. There are many Thanksgiving stories including the one of my first year roasting a turkey, we ended up eating at 9pm that holiday, or Geri's new method of roasting this year at 500F with cheese cloth, I will let you know about that one....but need to wrap up and give you my recipe for stuffing. This time I did not have a bird for stuffin' but normally I would.


1 whole baguette
2 medium onions diced
3 ribs of celery with leaves diced
2 tart apples peeled cored and diced
2 pears peeled cored and diced
Handful or more dried cherries
4 garlic cloves minced
1/4 bunch plus of parsley chopped
3 stems of fresh thyme leaves only
Fresh black pepper
Canola oil
Maple syrup
2 cups plus chicken stock (can use more stock for more moist stuffing)

1. Cube baguette spread on baking sheet lined with parchment paper, sprinkle canola oil, salt and pepper and toss together. bake in a 350F oven until golden. Remove to a large bowl and add 1 1/2 cups of chicken stock, toss together.
2, In a large skillet saute onion, garlic and celery in canola oil until soft, add apples, pears, parsley, cherries and thyme and cook until pears and apples are really soft. Salt and pepper and add a touch of maple syrup or according to taste. Add remaining 1/2 cup chicken stock and cook for few minutes longer. Turn off heat. The cooking in canola oil plumps the cherries, saves you a step of immersing cherries in warm water prior in order to plump them. Make sure not to overcook them so that you don't lose the bright sheen and color of the cherry.
3. Add skillet ingredients to bowl with baguette mixture and mix.
4. Pour to a baking dish, this time I baked in a pie dish, sprinkle on top with some of the drippings from the turkey, and bake at 350F for 10 min, or until golden on top.

Chestnuts and wine:
To make this recipe a Thanksgiving must add chestnuts, broken into pieces....and make it a day ahead. You can find shelled and roasted chestnuts anywhere these days. Also a touch of red wine enhances the flavor. If adding wine you might want to exercise some restraint with the maple syrup or skip it altogether. Stuff the turkey to gain the delicious drippings.

Stuffin' muffin':
Alternatively, let the combined mixture cool down, add an egg, mix and scoop to greased muffin tins for stuffin' muffins. bake at 350F for 10 minutes or until golden at top. Let cool and remove from tins.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Pie Gourmet
507 maple Ave. West
Vienna, VA