Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Virtual Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is next week. You probably already knew that, but today it hit me that it’s only nine days away and I got a little panicky. That’s not a lot of time if you haven’t made the big turkey-day decisions yet. So, if you need ideas, you’ve come to the right place.

Being part of the food blogging community means that you get to have really big parties without all the dishes to wash, plus, if someone has too much to drink and ends up doing something ridiculous, nobody is the wiser. (I am not speaking from experience, thank you very much. Okay…maybe I am.)

Food Network is hosting a virtual Thanksgiving this year, where everyone can pull up a chair at The Communal Table. See below for a list of all the wonderful Thanksgiving dishes that Food Network has collected from across the web.

One thing I knew was that I would not be bringing turkey to this party. For the last several years I have tried to make a turkey breast for our little two person post-Thanksgiving dinner. And every year, I have failed miserably. There was a very unfortunate faux-turkey breast incident, where I didn’t realize the faux part until I cut into it. Pressed turkey just doesn’t do it for me. Then there was the debacle with an entire container of truffle butter where the whole turkey breast went in the garbage. I was tempted to just drink the pan drippings in that case. And finally, my most recent failure is the turkey you see pictured in my latest stuffing post. Doesn’t it look good, or at least edible? Hardly. Andy deemed it “turkey gum” and that is a most accurate descriptor. We both sat chewing and chewing and chewing; staring at each other with bored looks that said, “Seriously? Again?” My bites were spit out in a very unladylike fashion. Andy tried harder than I did to like it, but in the end also gave up. Turkey definitely has my number.

So, since I dare not push my turkey dishes on innocent people, my contribution to The Communal Table is dessert. #PullUpaChair, won’t you?

Spiced Apple Panna Cotta with Caramelized Apples and Caramel Sauce

Makes 4

Panna Cotta:
1 cup apple juice
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
5 whole cloves
3/4 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out
1 teaspoon gelatin
1 tablespoon water
1/3 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Caramelized apples, recipe below
Caramel sauce, recipe below

Combine apple juice, cinnamon stick and cloves in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce apple juice to 1/4 cup. Remove cinnamon stick and cloves.

In a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over cold water. Let sit undisturbed.

Whisk the yogurt, cinnamon and nutmeg together in a large bowl.

Add cream, sugar, vanilla bean and seeds to the reduced apple juice in the saucepan and bring to a simmer. Off the heat, remove the vanilla pod and whisk gelatin into cream to dissolve, then whisk cream mixture into yogurt.

Pour into ramekins and refrigerate at least 6-8 hours, until firm.

To unmold, dip the ramekins in hot water. Slide a knife around the edge and tip out onto a plate. Spoon caramelized apples and a drizzle of caramel over the top.

Caramelized Apples:
1 apple, peeled, cored and diced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons sugar, divided use
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Melt butter in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add apples, 2 tablespoons sugar and cinnamon. Stir well to coat apples. Cook for about 8 minutes, until apples are softening, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle remaining tablespoon of sugar over the apples and stir to coat. Let cook about 2 more minutes. Sugar mixture will thicken and caramelize slightly. Remove from heat but reserve in hot pan. Let sit for at least 5 minutes.

Caramel Sauce:
8 caramel squares
3 tablespoons heavy cream

Heat caramel squares and cream in a small saucepan over low heat. Once caramel starts to melt, stir frequently until completely smooth. (If sauce sets up too much, reheat over low heat to desired consistency.)

Fall flavors abound in this creamy dessert with apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, and caramel in each bite. The panna cotta is silky, the caramelized apples offer the slightest crunch, and all the sweetness is offset by the tanginess of the yogurt.

For all my turkey failures, I think I’ve redeemed myself with this recipe. Maybe I’ll just stick with side dishes and desserts this year…

Here's what all the guests brought to The Communal Table:

Cocktails, Appetizers, Soups and Salads:
Eat Be Mary: She's Mulling It Over Wine
Cookistry: Bread With Ancient Grains
Celebrity Chefs and Their Gardens: The American Hotel Peconic Clam Chowder
Picky Eater Blog: Butternut Squash Soup With Thyme and Parmesan
Good Food Good Friends: Mushroom Soup

Examiner.com: Grilled Quail with a Warm Beet, Frisée, and Pistachio Salad
She Wears Many Hats: Mayonnaise Roasted Turkey

Living Mostly Meatless: Vegan-Friendly Corn Casserole
Healthy Green Kitchen: Red Kuri Squash Pie
The Naptime Chef: Crispy Rosemary Fingerling Potatoes
Gluten-Free Blondie: Apple and Cranberry Studded Stuffing
Eat Drink Man Woman Dogs Cat: Blue Cheese and Rosemary Celebration Potatoes
Burnt Lumpia: Turkey, Sweet Potato and Cranberry Empanadas
Panfusine: Pan Fried Polenta Seasoned With Cumin, Ginger & Black Pepper
Homemade Cravings: Warm Brussels Sprouts and Cranberry Slaw
Bakeaholic Mama: Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Crispy Prosciutto
Show Food Chef: Beer-Braised Brussels Sprouts
T's Tasty Bits: Sweet Empanadas with Pumpkin and Lupini Beans Filling
The Amused Bouche Blog: Braised Kale
The Little Kitchen: How to Make the Perfect Mashed Potatoes

The Macaron Queen: Macaron Tower
Poet In The Pantry: Amaretto Apple Crisp
Farm Girl Gourmet: Pumpkin Coconut Panna Cotta
That's Forking Good: Cinnamon Chip Pumpkin Blondies
Out of the Box Food: Out of the Box Food Maple Pumpkin Pie
Cake Baker 35: Orange Spiced Pumpkin Pie
Lisa Michele: Pumpkin, Pecan, Cheesecake Pie
Food For My Family: Buttermilk Custard Pear Pie
Simple Bites: Black-Bottom Maple Pumpkin Pie
A Cooks Nook: Swedish Apple Pie
Yakima Herald: Pretzel Jell-O Salad
How Does She: Three of Our Favorite Desserts
Dollhouse Bake Shoppe: Thanksgiving Candy Bar Name Plates
Sweet Fry: Pumpkin Latte
Tasty Trials: Spiced Apple Panna Cotta With Caramelized Apples and Caramel Sauce
An Uneducated Palate: Puff Pastry Apple Tart
Frugal Front Porch: Mini Cheaty Cheesecakes

Even more:
Kitchen Courses: Thanksgiving for Six People Under $60
A Curious Palate: The Communal Table


  1. This must be the prettiest panna cotta presentation I've seen in years! I'd love to have a nibble ;)
    Fortunately, I'm not hosting and will be able to learn more about the cooking traditions by helping out only (I'm not American), but even I feel a little stressed out already!

  2. Beautiful Panna Cotta! I have never made one but now would like to try, it's just gorgeous! "Turkey gum" Mmmmmm! LOL!

  3. We had dinner with Karen and Andy on Saturday. Karen made the Panna Cotta for us. It is dreamy!

  4. The panna cotta looks gorgeous! This certainly isn't a traditional Thanksgiving dish...but this looks yummy!

  5. WOW! That panna cotta looks gorgeous! The caramelized apples are done to perfection!

  6. Panna cotta looks so yum..and those caramel squares are ..Mmmm.

  7. What an incredible twist on Panna Cotta! I love it!

  8. Pinned and stumbled! That looks amazing. Really, really so. I am tempted to head into the kitchen and make it right now. I love caramel. And apples. And panna cotta.

    I'm sorry about your turkey problems. I so badly wish I could help. The truffle butter one would have made me cry. :(

  9. Oh wow! This looks so elegant and delightful! I can't wait to put this recipe on trail for my party :)

  10. What a glorious panna cotta. The flavors sound amazing!

  11. that looks absolutely amazing! You should come link it up to my What's Cooking Wednesday linky this week! YUMMY!


  12. Good to see you at the virtual thanksgiving! I made a recipe for that as well. Your panna cotta looks absolutely divine!

  13. How gorgeous- and such a great idea to have a lighter style dessert after what can be such an oppressive meal. Love it.

  14. This looks great! I was planning a panna Cotta post tomorrow but now I want to make THIS one lol.

  15. I'd rather eat your panna cotta with those fabulous caramelized apples over turkey anyways :) And you'd never know the below turkey is anything other than wonderfully tender!

  16. This looks beautiful and such a great idea for Thanksgiving. Nice job!

  17. OMG I love this. TOtally bookmarking this, even if I dont make this for thanksgiving. YUM!!!

  18. Fantastic dessert - it's stunning! Let someone else bring the turkey - the desserts get all the glory anyway!

  19. you know what i really didn't realize that it was thanksgiving next week. Oh my!!!! But I could skip the turkey for your panna cotta haha. beautiful clicks as always Karen!
    have a great day!

  20. YUM Karen!!! Your panna cotta looks fantastic!! Let's get together and eat some PC!! :) Your photos are GORG!


  21. Omg,I was just scrounging around for dessert and found this on the twitterverse! Yummy! I'm coming right over, virtually! Thanks for sharing & Happy Thanksgiving!

  22. This looks amazing! I loved the caramelized apples on top...yum!

    I wanted to participate in this even but botched it.

  23. This panna cotta is GORGEOUS...pinning to try in the near future. Hubby loves apple desserts!

  24. Beautiful!! I've never had panna cotta, but I'd be first to line up for yours.

  25. Planning a Virtual Thanksgiving? Here's 7 Virtual Thanksgiving ideas you can try During COVID-19 to bring your virtual workforce closer together in the true spirit of the holiday.