By leaning in to the change of pace that this year presents, it becomes that much easier to make the most of this unique Thanksgiving at home — and maybe even make it a holiday to remember.
CRANBERRY BAKED BRIE
What’s simpler than throwing a wheel of cheese in the oven? This low-key appetizer is perfect to pick at through the day alongside your partner, roommate, sibling or whoever else you’re spending this “holiday at home” with. Even better, the topping for this dish is completely customizable.
1 wheel of brie cheese
1/2 cup fresh cranberries
1 tablespoon maple syrup
Roasted pecans and lemon zest, to garnish
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and place your brie wheel on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Unless you’re melting the cheese into a bread bowl or other contained area, leave the wax on. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the center of the wheel jiggles when you shake the pan. While it’s cooking, combine the cranberries and maple syrup over medium heat on the stovetop to make a compote. Use a spatula to move the brie to a plate, top with the cranberry compote and garnish before digging in.
SWEET POTATO ROLLS
It just doesn’t feel like Thanksgiving without sweet potatoes on the menu, but serving them alongside the classic variety can be overkill for just a couple of people. Instead, I decided to experiment with a twist on the classic potato roll accentuated by butter and rosemary. Perfect fresh out of the oven; perfect for making leftover-sandwiches the next day, and easy to boot.
1 medium sweet potato, cooked (approximately ½ cup)
1/4 cup water and 2 tablespoons milk, warmed
1 tablespoon yeast
3 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons melted butter, cooled
2 to 3 cups flour
Butter and rosemary (dried or fresh) to top
Bake and mash your sweet potato (this can be done the day before) and allow it to reach room temperature. Heat the water and milk mixture on the stovetop to about 100 to 110 degrees and combine with the yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar. Leave the mixture for 5 to 10 minutes, or until it begins to develop a foam on top. As the yeast proofs, mix together the sweet potato, egg, and remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar in a separate bowl. Then, combine the melted butter and the yeast mixture before folding it into your other ingredients. Add in 2 cups of flour and the salt, and knead on a floured surface for about 10 minutes, adding flour as needed. When your dough becomes a smooth ball that just barely sticks to your kneading surface, place it in a lightly oiled bowl and cover.
Allow it to rise for about an hour (maybe longer if your house is cooler) before kneading once again and rolling out the dough. Use a mason jar lid or cookie cutter to form equally sized rolls, place them in a 13- by-9-inch baking dish, and allow to rise for another hour. When they’re nearly ready, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until the tops begin to turn golden brown. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle on rosemary before allowing the rolls to cool.
BROWN BUTTER MASHED POTATOES
Whether whipped, with lumps, or swirled with peas and onions, potatoes are a Thanksgiving classic. Considering the small selection of dishes, however, amplifying a few flavors can elevate this side from “standby” to “standout.” The addition of browned butter, herbs and a generous sprinkling of parmesan provide just the right amount of creaminess and crunch that — while mouthwatering on its own — can also be combined with anything else on the table.
3 to 6 potatoes, depending on variety and desired serving size
4 tablespoons butter, used two at a time
Milk or cream, as needed
Butter and herbs of choice
3 cloves garlic
Salt, to taste
Parmesan, to top
Chop your potatoes and boil on the stovetop until they are easily pierced by a fork. Strain the potatoes and combine them with 2 tablespoons butter, salt and a splash of milk. Blend with a mixer or hand-masher, adding milk until you reach your desired consistency. Heat about two tablespoons of butter, whole garlic cloves, and chopped herbs over medium heat until the butter begins to brown slightly — about 5 minutes. Top your mashed potatoes with the browned butter as well as parmesan, and place it in the oven to get crispy on top (and creamy inside) as the rest of your meal finishes.