Mushroom Gravy – Thanksgiving 2018

We make this vegetarian gluten free gravy every thanksgiving as a second gravy option because everyone needs gravy on their mashed potatoes and stuffing for Thanksgiving.  I use vegetable broth instead of turkey broth and leave out the tarragon because I don’t like tarragon.

Mixed Mushroom and Tarragon Gravy

Bon Appetit – 2010

  • 2 ounces dried porcini mushrooms (PJH: I use just 1/2 – 1 ounce as they are so pricey)
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 large shallot, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 3 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 pound fresh crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, stemmed, caps sliced
  • 1/2 pound fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, caps sliced
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
  • 1 cup dry vermouth or dry white wine
  • 4 1/4 cups Ultimate Turkey Stock or low-salt chicken broth, divided (PJH: I use vegetarian broth to keep in vegetarian)
  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche
  • 5 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon

Place dried porcini in large bowl. Pour 2 cups boiling water over. Let stand until soft, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour. Using slotted spoon, transfer porcini to small bowl. Cool porcini, then chop. Pour porcini soaking liquid into medium bowl, leaving sediment behind.

Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallot and garlic. Stir 15 seconds. Add fresh mushrooms, thyme, and sage. Sauté until mushrooms are tender, 6 to 7 minutes. Transfer mushrooms to bowl. Add vermouth to skillet; boil 3 minutes, scraping up browned bits. Add 4 cups stock, fresh-mushroom mixture, porcini, and porcini liquid. Boil 10 minutes. Whisk in crème fraîche. Stir 1/4 cup stock and cornstarch in bowl to dissolve; mix into gravy. Cook until gravy coats spoon, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Thanksgiving 2018:
Wednesday – 10 people
Chicken Alfredo stuffed shells – just ok – regular are better
salad, garlic bread
Mitchells Ice Cream Pie
Thursday – 14 people
Turkey: brine; cook on grill
Reg Dressing
Veg Dressing
GF Dressing,
Reg Gravy
Veg Gravy
mashed potatoes, green beans, Brussels sprouts, rolls
Pumpkin pie
Apple pie squares
Friday: 34-35ish people (!)
smoked pulled pork
smoked and grilled sausages
Mac and cheese
enchilada casserole
leftover desserts

Olive Oil Granola

I have made this several times in the past few months and it’s a keeper.  Its a flexible recipe that you can throw in whatever you have.  I just made a double recipe with half pistachios and half almonds and used dried cherries.  A few months ago we used dried pineapple and raisins and that was good too.

Pistachios are so expensive but so worth it
Pistachios are so expensive but so worth it
















Before the oven
Before the oven
...and after
…and after
Taste test with yogurt, berries and honey.
Taste test with yogurt, berries and honey.
Perfect for a gift or two
Perfect for a gift or two

Olive Oil Granola

New York Times

  • 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 ½ cups raw pistachios, hulled
  • 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds, hulled
  • 1 cup coconut chips
  • ¾ cup pure maple syrup (PJH: I use 1/2 cup)
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar (PJH: don’ t need this much – I cut in half)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ¾ cup chopped dried apricots


Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, combine oats, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, coconut chips, maple syrup, olive oil, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and cardamom. Spread mixture on a rimmed baking sheet in an even layer and bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until golden brown and well toasted.

Transfer granola to a large bowl and add apricots, tossing to combine. Serve with ricotta and fruit, if desired.

Lake Street Dive

Courtney and I had the pleasure of seeing Lake Street Dive on Tuesday at our awesome Beachland Ballroom – just a hop skip and a jump away.  Lake Street Dive is a jazz/swing/pop/soul quartet founded about ten years ago in Boston where they all went to the New England Conservatory of Music.  They’re based in Brooklyn now and have recently popped up on several late night talk shows, NPR  and are touring all over the place.  I first saw them on the Showtime Inside Llewyn Davis concert – which is awesome if you haven’t watched it.  Their sold out show in Cleveland was excellent. Rachael Price – their lead singer – is just amazing.  Such stage presence, dripping with talent and an amazing voice.  I hope they continue to do well – but not too too well so they keep the venues small.

A couple pics off the internet:

a couple videos:


I’ve made scones a few times using this recipe and it’s a keeper. Light on the inside, crunchy on the outside and quick and easy to make.  A bit decadent with the cream but it seems to do the trick.

It’s probably easier to do this with the food processor as the recipe calls for but I like using an old fashioned pastry-cutter-in-thingy-do. It is very satisfying.  Plus everyone is still sleeping when I have made these.
pouring in the cream
et voila

Dreamy Cream Scones
America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook via

2 cups (10 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour, preferably a low-protein brand such as Gold Medal or Pillsbury
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons chilled, unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1/2 cup currants (Deb Comments: “I used dried cranberries, and chopped them into smaller bits”, Patrick Comments: I used raspberries once and blueberries once – both were good.  I bet chocolate chips are good… or heath bar bits )
1 cup heavy cream

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425°F.

2. Place flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in large bowl or work bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade. Whisk together or pulse six times.

3. If making by hand, use two knives, a pastry blender or your fingertips and quickly cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few slightly larger butter lumps. Stir in currants. If using food processor, remove cover and distribute butter evenly over dry ingredients. Cover and pulse 12 times, each pulse lasting 1 second. Add currants and pulse one more time. Transfer dough to large bowl.

4. Stir in heavy cream with a rubber spatula or fork until dough begins to form, about 30 seconds.

5. Transfer dough and all dry, floury bits to countertop and knead dough by hand just until it comes together into a rough, sticky ball, 5 to 10 seconds. Form scones by either a) pressing the dough into an 8-inch cake pan, then turning the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, cutting the dough into 8 wedges with either a knife or bench scraper (the book’s suggestion) or b) patting the dough onto a lightly floured work surface into a 3/4-inch thick circle, cutting pieces with a biscuit cutter, and pressing remaining scraps back into another piece (what I did) and cutting until dough has been used up. (Be warned if you use this latter method, the scones that are made from the remaining scraps will be much lumpier and less pretty, but taste fine. As in, I understand why they suggested the first method.)

6. Place rounds or wedges on ungreased baking sheet and bake until scone tops are light brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on wire rack for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Orange Drop Doughnuts

Orange drop doughnuts

Courtney has made these doughnuts several times and made them again this snowy morning.  They are easy, tasty and there’s nothing better than a hot doughnut.

Sophie the orange zester
Oranges have been good so far this year. We have been buying them by the case at Costco.
Orange sugar
Finishing them off

Orange Drop Doughnuts – Cook’s Country

Orange-sugar coating

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest


  • About 2 quarts vegetable oil
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the coating: Pulse sugar and zest in food processor until blended, about 5 pulses. Transfer to medium bowl. (If making by hand, toss zest and sugar in medium bowl using fork until evenly blended).

For the doughnuts: Heat 3 inches of vegetable oil in 4-quart saucepan until temperature reaches 350 degrees. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in medium bowl. Whisk eggs, sugar, and orange zest in large bowl. Whisk in orange juice, then butter, until well combined. Stir in flour mixture until evenly moistened.

Using two dinner teaspoons, carefully drop heaping spoonfuls of batter into hot oil. (You should be able to fit about 6 spoonfuls in pan at one time. Do not overcrowd.) Fry, maintaining temperature between 325 to 350 degrees, until doughnuts are crisp and deeply browned on all side, 3 to 6 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer doughnuts to plate lined with paper towels. Drain for 5 minutes. Add doughnuts to bowl with orange sugar and toss until well coated. Place on serving plate and repeat with remaining batter, regulating oil temperature as necessary. Doughnuts are best served warm.


NOBODY makes better stuffing than my Mom.

I have tried the last few years, but never can quite match it.  Kathryn observed this thanksgiving and took careful notes.

in goes the stuffing…


Linda Holzheimer – as observed by Kathryn Purcell

  • 2 loaves of stuffing bread…unsliced…cubed
  • 2 packs of rolls from freezer because she needed more
  • Filled up 2/3 of roasting pan
  • Cubes it day before and let sit in roaster to dry out
  • 4 cups each of chopped celery, chopped onion
  • 1.5 pounds of bulk sausage
  • Chopped fresh parsley,  about a cup
  1. Sauté onions, celery, sausage in butter and canola oil….we did it separately
  2. Add all to cubed, dried bread
  3. Mix well
  4. Add poultry seasoning and salt and pepper to taste
  5. Add sage, if you like sage


  1. Melt stick and an half of butter in 3 cups of chicken broth
  2. Beat 2-3 eggs with a little chicken broth to thin it out
  3. Add 2 egg mixture to stuffing mix
  4. Slowly add broth/butter mixture to stuffing, while mixing

Stuff in turkey! Yum!

Thanksgiving 2011 side note: I was very lame and didn’t take ANY pictures all thanksgiving.  We we’re busy cooking all weekend.  All of Courtney’s family came to Cleveland.  We had 16 for dinner on Wednesday, 18 for dinner on Thursday and 32 for dinner on Saturday when both tribes joined together.    Menu for historical reference:

Wednesday Dinner: pomodori al forno, olives and cheese for apps, eggplant, sausage and ziti casserole, macaroni and cheese, salad, bread, and ice cream sundae bar for dessert.

Thursday Dinner: turkey, ham, stuffing, vegetarian stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, roasted root vegetables, brussels sprouts, green bean casserole, bread, orange-cranberry sauce, regular cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and apple pie and cookies.

Friday Dinner: chili and vegetarian chili will lots of toppings, pizza, orange jello, spinach salad, bread and ice cream sundae bar back by popular demand.

It was a fun weekend.

Caramel French Toast

  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup butter
  • 2 T. light corn syrup
  • 12 slices sandwich bread
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • ¼ t. salt

Combine sugar, butter and corn syrup in a small saucepan; cook over medium heat until thickened, stirring constantly.  Pour syrup mixture into a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.  Place 6 slices of bread on top of syrup mixture.  Top with remaining 6 slices of bread.

Combine eggs, milk, vanilla and salt, stirring until blended.  Pour egg mixture evenly over bread slices.  Cover and chill 8 hours.  Bake, uncovered at 350º for 40-45 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve immediately.

Burro Rosso

Evie Davis

Red Butter sauce for pasta – or for anything.

  • ½ lb. butter
  • 2 t. tomato paste
  • 4 T. heavy cream (milk works fine too!)
  • ½ t. dried sage
  • 1 t. paprika
  • salt
  • 4 T. grated parmesan cheese

bowl of grated parmesan cheese

In a small saucepan melt the butter.  Whisk in the tomato paste and cream.  Add sage, paprika, a little salt to taste, and 4 T. of cheese.  Heat but do not bring to a boil.  Makes enough for 1 lb. of pasta.  Pour over freshly cooked pasta and serve with the bowl of cheese on the side.