Monday, October 08, 2012

Thanksgiving Feast

I'll have to apologize right now. There aren't any recipes in this post. But if you like food porn, do carry on.

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Our main menu for our Thanksgiving feast:
Turkey, ham, turkey gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, buttered corn and carrots, garlic bread, and bo kho (Vietnamese beef stew).

Apple pie, pumpkin pie, krop knao, glutinous mochi balls, and two kinds of banh xoi nuoc.

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Learning from past holiday feasts, we began preparing more things ahead of time. Mom actually made krop knao (sweet coconut mung bean nuggets) the night before Thanksgiving dinner and then left the plateful in the fridge. I actually wrote about it years ago.

Yesterday morning, Mom made two more kinds of desserts. The first one she made was a Vietnamese dessert called banh xoi nuoc. It's a savoury dessert of glutinous rice mochi wrapped around seasoned mung beans. The dessert is served with a ginger simple syrup, coconut milk, and toasted sesame seeds.

Mung beans were first a few times, like rice, to get rid of any husks. Then the washed mung beans were carefully sifted through to make sure there weren't any stray pebbles or rocks. You should always do this when you use small legumes like split peas. The cleaned mung beans were cooked in a rice cooker, though you can also steam them.

Once the mung beans were cooked, it was mashed with salt, sugar, coconut milk, and green onions. The filling tasted slightly salty at first, followed by a kiss of sweetness. It should be more salty than sweet. After the filling was seasoned, we scooped some and formed them into small balls in our hands.

Mom wanted to try to make a different version of the traditional banh xoi nuoc, as I had described above. She attempted to use tapioca pearls instead of glutinous rice mochi. Aunt L's mom (who is Vietnamese) makes an amazing version, where they're perfectly formed and practically ready to be sold to the masses. Mom had been wanting to try making it ever since she was given some tips by Aunt L's mom.

This one wasn't completely wrapped yet. (Mom was grabbing a finished banh xoi nuoc with tapioca pearls when I took this shot. She didn't want me to take a photo of the unfinished product.)

Half of the tapioca pearls were dyed with green food colouring. I'm assuming the reason was because Aunt L's mom makes it this way. *shrug*

Here's a pile of wrapped banh xoi nuoc made with glutinous rice flour (on the right) and small glutinous rice mochi balls.

Half of the glutinous rice flour was dyed fuschia/red since red is good luck in the Chinese culture.

Now, when we usually roll the glutinous rice flour into small balls, we do multiple ones at a time. Mom usually rolls 4 or 5 at a time, depending on how much she wants to show off. Well, Richard came down to the kitchen and joked that Mom couldn't roll six at a time.

Tada! Too funny!

After that, she went back to rolling three at a time. I was mesmerized as she continued rolling them. It was hypnotic.

The desserts were then boiled in water until they were cooked. They were transfered to a pot of cold water to stop the cooking process. Once the desserts fully cooled, the water was drained and then set aside until after dinner.

Dad made some breakfast while we were doing that. When it was ready, we took a breakfast break.

I'd say it's a typical Canadian/American breakfast. Toast (12 grain), eggs, bacon, and a hot cup of coffee. We don't usually have hash browns or home fries when we make it at home, though I looove hash browns (the ones similar to the hash browns they serve at McD's).


Fast forward a few hours ahead... the turkey was already in the oven. Aunt IS's family arrived with some groceries and apple pie. MT helped make garlic bread out of dinner rolls. The garlic butter was quickly made with minced garlic, butter, and green onions (from the garden). Some of them were blessed with some marbled cheese. All of the garlic bread was set aside. They were toasted by the batch, that way people had a chance to enjoy warm garlic bread.


The stuffing was easy to make too. We used a combination of dinner rolls, leftover bread, and even defrosted hamburger buns (which were in the freezer), because that's just what we had around the house. Celery and onions were sautéed with poultry seasoning, fresh oregano, and salt. Then water was added and the whole thing simmered away for five minutes. The watery mix was slowly added to the cubed bread until combined. Dried cranberries and cubed cheese was added just before the stuffing went into the casserole dish. Then the lot was topped with more cheese. Richard made this. It seems like it's become his specialty, since he's the only one who eats ungodly amounts of it during the holidays. #fatlikethat

Doesn't our dinner sound sooo healthy so far? I didn't even explain what went into the mashed potatoes, nor will I. It was quite delicious though.

Lucy came up to the kitchen and opened a bottle of tempranillo, which she had previously purchased from LCBO. Someone else brought another bottle of wine and a (sleek) bottle of Courvoisier V.S.O.P. cognac.

I'm not a big wine drinker, but I did enjoy the wine mixed with some ginger ale (about 40%:60%). It tasted like a lighter sangria without any fruitiness. I gotta give Jimmy credit for this creation.

Buttered corn and carrots. Salted butter, of course. We've added unsalted butter before and it tasted so gross.

The turkey, which had been cooling on the table, was carved by Lucy. She's slicing up the beautifully golden turkey breast. Ah, before I forget, the turkey was seasoned with sea salt before it baked in the oven on a vertical roaster (which saved us about an hour off the baking time). Our bird was baked for about 4 hours. The white meat wasn't completely dry, but it wasn't juicy either. It's okay though. We had turkey gravy (made from scratch).

There was only a few ingredients that went into the turkey gravy: turkey drippings (which was really salty), all purpose flour, sugar, water, and a shot of dark soy sauce for the colour.

Someone popped the stuffing into the oven a bit early. Richard wasn't happy. It looked and tasted great though.

We glazed our ham with whole-grain mustard and simple syrup. It was a bit sad when we realized that we ran out of both dijon mustard and honey.

Aunt L made some spicy bo kho (Vietnamese beef stew) and brought it over. We had plenty of food already, but it was a great option for those who don't like Canadian food. Someone brought over rice too. Oh man... we're so asian!

Here's a pic of the apple pie that Monica made (scratch made pie dough with E.D. Smith apple pie filling). I forgot to take photos of our plates and desserts again.

Updated: I took some pics of what was left of the desserts this morning. This was the last slice of apple pie.

This pumpkin pie was made by some students at Earl of March High School. Our family isn't big on pumpkin pie, but Lucy and I did share a tiny slice last night. The filing had too much nutmeg, which totally hid the flavour of the pumpkin. "The pumpkin pie is good if you don't like pumpkin," we joked. Seriously though, the pumpkin filling was over-seasoned. I should've made pumpkin pie from scratch.

There were only a few nuggets of krop knao left.


This morning, Dad had some banh xoi nuoc and mochi balls after his lunch. The tapioca pearl banh xoi nuoc didn't look appetizing. Unlike the mushy version above, the tapioca pearls hold their shape when Aunt L's mom makes it. But in saying that, it wasn't bad for a first attempt. Not bad at all.


Finally, my late lunch consisted of a small bowl of bo kho with rice noodles. Aunt L made the Vietnamese beef stew spicier this time. The kids ate turkey with all the sides anyway.

When I reheated the bo kho, the smell of the kitchen reminded me of a Vietnamese restaurant. But this was better. Much better!

We usually get together as a family the following day of a holiday meal to finish the leftovers (turkey a la king anyone?), but everybody wanted to rest today. The leftovers were divided amongst the families.

There it is. Our Thanksgiving feast.


  1. Sounds like a great feast! Happy Thanksgiving Christine!

  2. Interesting choice of menu: a combination of Western and Eastern dishes. I would definitely try that turkey stuffing next Thanksgiving. Oh! And when I saw the mochi balls, which are popular these days, I started craving for it. =D

    Neva Modzelewski


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