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Don't Burn the Bird!

Make it a Fool-proof Thanksgiving feast!

It's turkey day and instead of enjoying a peaceful Zen moment basting your bird, you have your head in a paper bag and you're panicked that once again you'll end up with a dry turkey! Don't panic! We've got some great tips and tricks for you to follow so that your Thanksgiving Day feast gets Bravos instead of Boos!

If you?re a novice cook, or are still trying to live down last year?s dinner, the recipes below will help you become a galloping Thanksgiving gourmet and leave your guests asking for seconds. Because as much as you might hate to admit it, there is something fun about being in the kitchen and stirring up a great meal during the holidays. If that cooking bug bites you, here are a few easy recipes and step-by-step directions to get your feast in fabulous shape.

Roasted Turkey Marinated with Sage, Preserved Lemon and Garlic

  • 1 small turkey (under 12 pounds)
  • 1 jar lemon marinade
  • 1 tsp. sage
  • 1 carrot, rough cut
  • 1 white onion, peeled and rough cut
  • 1 stick of celery, rough cut
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. whole black peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons flour
  • Two days in advance remove the neck and giblets from inside the turkey. Rub the lemon and sage marinade all over the turkey, inside and out, as well as the neck and giblets. Place the turkey breast down in the refrigerator in a well covered container. Place the neck and giblets in a separate container or plastic bag and refrigerate.
  • One day in advance place the neck and giblets along with the carrot, onion and celery on a roasting pan and put them in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes, or until well browned.
  • Place them all in a sauce pot and deglaze the roasting pan with cold water. Add the water from the deglazing to the pot. Add the garlic, bay leaf, peppercorns and a pinch of salt to the pot. Cover by about 2 inches with water or chicken stock.
  • Place the pot over high heat for about 10 minutes but do not bring to a boil. After ten minutes turn the heat to very low and allow the pot to simmer slowly for 6 to 8 hours, adding more liquid if needed.
  • Strain the liquid, cool to room temperature and hold in the refrigerator overnight. Discard the giblets and vegetables.
  • Four hours in advance remove the turkey from the refrigerator and place in a roasting pan. Put it in a preheated 450 degree oven for 15 minutes and turn the temperature of the oven down to 250 degrees. After about 3 hours, check the internal temperature of the turkey with an instant-read thermometer by placing the tip of the probe at the base of the thigh between the thigh and breast. When the internal temperature reads 155 degrees, remove the turkey from the oven and allow to rest for 30 to 45 minutes. The internal temperature will continue to rise to about 165 degrees after it is removed from the oven.
  • While the cooked turkey is resting, gently remove it from the roasting pan and set aside on a platter to collect any juices that drip from the bird while it is resting.
  • Place the roasting pan over a medium burner flame and using a whisk, stir in the flour and continue stirring for 3 or 4 minutes or until the flour and grease mixture is bubbling and cooking and beginning to brown slightly.
  • Remove the turkey stock from the refrigerator and remove any congealed fat floating on the surface.
  • Add one cup of the stock to the flour mixture and stir vigorously with the whisk. Continue stirring frequently for 10 minutes or so. The mixture should begin to thicken. Add more stock if the mixture becomes too thick. Simmer slowly for 20 or 30 minutes, stir in the butter and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if needed.
  • Carve the turkey and serve with the gravy.
Walnut Sage Pesto Stuffed Mushroom Caps

Serves 10-12

  • 24 medium-sized mushrooms *Stems removed
  • 1/2 cup pesto
  • 2 tbsp. butter, melted
  • 2 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp. freshly chopped parsley

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place mushroom caps in an ovenproof baking dish. Fill each mushroom with 1 tsp. of pesto. Brush sides of mushroom caps with melted butter. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven. Garnish with parsley. Serve on tray for passed appetizers, as a first course on a bed of greens tossed with balsamic vinaigrette, or plate as a side dish with roasted meats, chicken or fish.

*Use of mushroom stems: Chop and sauté with onion as stuffing for chicken, add to soup stock or toss with a pasta and pesto.

Antipasti Olive Appetizer

Serves 6-8

  • 1/4 cup olive oil, reserved from olives
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh fennel bulb, chopped if desired
  • 1 jar (approx 16oz.) Antipasti olives, oil reserved
  • 2 tbsp. preserved lemon, pulp removed and rind chopped
  • 1 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp. orange juice, fresh squeezed if available

In sauté pan, heat oil over medium flame. Add garlic and fennel and sauté for 2 ? 3 minutes until fennel is soft. Add olives, lemon and juice. Sauté for an additional 5 minutes or until fully warmed. Sprinkle with salt and serve with a glass of red wine or champagne. This is a great accompaniment with a cheese platter.

Apricot Mustard Baked Ham

Serves 6

  • 1 smoked ham (6-8 lbs.), rump or shank half
  • 1 cup apricot fruit spread
  • 1/2 cup garlic mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum (optional)

Pre-heat oven to 325 F. Place ham, fat side up, in roasting pan. Pour 1 inch of water into roasting pan. Roast for 1 1/2 hours. While ham is cooking, mix fruit spread and garlic mustard, cloves and rum together and set aside. Remove roasting pan from oven and generously brush the mustard mixture over the ham. Put ham back in oven and continue to brush more mustard glaze over ham every 10 minutes for about another 30-40 minutes.

Cheddar Cheese Soup

Serves 8

  • 2 12oz cans or bottles of beer
  • 1 qt heavy cream
  • 1 lb cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 tbs flour
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1/8 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Heat melted butter and mix in flour to make a roux. Remove from heat. Cook until smooth. Boil beer and whisk in roux. Cook until thickened. Add cream and bring to just under boiling. Whisk in cheese until melted. Add salt and pepper. Serve with croutons.

Sun-Dried Tomato & Basil Torta

  • 1 8oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 8oz. Mascarpone cheese*, softened
  • 1 6oz. jar of basil pesto
  • 1 6oz. jar of sun-dried tomato pesto
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Toasted pine nuts & basil sprigs for garnish

In a 6" round soufflé dish, spray with nonstick cooking spray. Line dish with plastic wrap forming a smooth liner for the dish. In a mixer, combine cream cheese, mascarpone cheese, salt & pepper. Mix until thoroughly combined. Take 1/3 of the cheese mixture & line the bottom of the dish, leveling evenly. Spoon basil pesto onto cheese mixture on top of the basil pesto. Spoon sun-dried tomato pesto on top of the 2nd cheese layer. Complete with remaining cheese filling and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight. Invert torta onto platter. Remove plastic wrap. Garnish with the toasted pine nuts and basil sprigs.

*You can substitute an additional 8oz. of cream cheese for mascarpone if not available.

Rosemary Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Serves 4

  • 2 lbs. russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1 cup milk, half-and-half or buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons garlic mustard
  • 3 tablespoons fresh chives, minced
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Place potatoes in large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered until potatoes are fork tender (about 20 minutes). While potatoes are cooking, put warm milk in saucepan over low heat. Drain potatoes and mash them or run through a food processor. Add mashed potatoes to milk and add butter, garlic mustard, chives and salt & pepper. Whisk until fluffy and smooth.

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