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  • Melissa Orquiza

Emmenthaler Thyme Gratin,Our Thanksgiving Menu,Embracing Your Inner Couch Potato, Sam Cooke & Elgar

Updated: Jan 12, 2021

Emmenthaler Thyme - Scented Potato Gratin. A luxury when you're usually somewhat mindful with what you eat!

Our (past) Thanksgiving Day Menu! Because sharing fun ideas is the bomb. Still photos and recipe after the movie list.

Normally, my husband and I host a huge Thanksgiving dinner with his extended family, organized with precision and contingency plans, in case anything and everything goes awry. (We start planning logistics almost 3 weeks before along with a written plan). This year, like so many families, Thanksgiving was a more muted affair with just the three of us, choosing to chill at home. I cooked all the fixings this year including a lemon rosemary turkey, an olive rosemary bread stuffing, two types of sweet potatoes: with Calabrian chiles and sage and maple browned butter (for my kid), an Emmenthaler thyme - scented potato gratin and a bourbon pumpkin pie with pecan praline. We’ve already decorated for the holidays so the rest of the weekend will be spent watching movies and responsibilities. Since I spent most of my childhood dedicated to more traditional pursuits (I love my mom but she was very “serious”), I missed out on a whole generation of movies!

In the spirit of embracing our couch potato Thanksgiving-dom, here is a list of holiday movies.


And tah-day! Here's what we had for Thanksgiving. I hope it inspires you to think about the holiday season coming up! YAAY! Alot of this was improvised. If you'd like the recipes to any of this, please drop me a line and I can give you a rough outline on what I did and the recipe it was based on.

Lemon Rosemary Turkey. I forgot to buy kitchen twine again... I just put it on my Amazon cart for the holidays.

Sweet Potatoes with Browned Butter, Calabrian Chiles & Sage. Because Calabrian Chiles are the bomb and sweet potatoes can be predictable.

Emmenthaler Thyme - Scented Potato Gratin. Potato gratin was always served at my husband's Thanksgiving gatherings.

Sweet Potatoes with Browned Butter and Maple (for my kid in case the Calabrian Chiles were too spicy. I usually serve sweet potatoes plain for her and I think she got confused.)

"Perfect" Cranberry Relish. I normally spike mediocre cranberry sauce with orange marmalade and Grand Marnier but the recipe was so good I didn't need to adjust.

Olive Rosemary Bread Stuffing. I asked Grandpa over the phone what would be good with olives and rosemary since he spent so much time stationed in Europe in the Navy. We settled on dried plumes and cranberries.

Bourbon Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Praline. My husband loved an excuse to use a mini blowtorch. I'll take any excuse to improvise some fun these days!

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I know this year is probably the worst year ever when it comes to being able to hug and say “Thank You.” I hope these pictures and heart-felt movies make the rest of the holiday weekend more whimsical! Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for reading my funny food, music and cooking adventures. (It's help me stay engaged when I wanted to yell at the ineptitude around our economy). I hope the food, music, and funny insights inspire you to have your own “choose your adventure” path in a quirky, hopeful and inspiring way (hopefully not scary… like the insanity out there!). Thanks for reading! Have a wonderful week! Xo, Melissa

Even though we missed our family and friends, listening to this while cooking and dreaming of the good times, made everything better. I hope it makes you smile, too. I can't wait til next year's feast!

Vince Guaraldi Trio - Thanksgiving Theme

Sam Cooke - What a Wonderful World (Official Lyric Video)

Ok. I'll just say it. Everyone loves "crazy" musicians. We all know you guys are nuts too, but you just choose not to show it or it's all in your head manifesting into even weirder things...even more horrifying!

Here's Jacqueline du Pre and Daniel Barenboim (whom she married) performing the Elgar Concerto. (I still haven't seen "Hilary and Jackie" and I've heard it's completely inaccurate. See. Everyone likes "crazy" musicians.) This is pretty intense (like Thanksgiving and this year) but extremely cathartic. It's like listening to sensitive large-scale Zeppelin emotionally, but a cello concerto. Don't let the formal attire fool you.

According to Wikipedia (because it's concise):

"In 1971, du Pré's playing declined as she began to lose sensitivity in her fingers and other parts of her body. She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in October 1973. Her last recording, of sonatas by Chopin and Franck (the latter originally for violin), was made in December 1971. She went on sabbatical from 1971 to 1972, and performed only rarely. She started performing again in 1973, but by then her condition had become severe. For her January tour of North America, some of the less-than-complimentary reviews were an indication that her condition had worsened except for brief moments when her playing was without noticeable problems. Her last London concerts were in February 1973, including the Elgar Concerto with Zubin Mehta and the New Philharmonia Orchestra."

Jacqueline du Pre & Daniel Barenboim - Elgar Cello Concerto

Emmenthaler Thyme - Scented Potato Gratin

from Sur La Table


4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided, plus more, softened for greasing baking dish

2 large leeks, white and light green parts only, washed well, thinly sliced

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup whole milk

2 tablespoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper (I only had black so I used that.)

3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes

6 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, divided

2 cups (or so) grated Gruyere or Emmenthaler (It originally called for 1/2 cup. My husband was in charge of the grating and he kind of went overboard...)

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese


1. Place 2 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan and heat over medium heat. Add leeks and saute until softened but not browned, about 4 to 5 minutes.

2. Add cream and milk to the saucepan and heat until mixture simmers. Add salt and black pepper, stirring well to combine.

3. Peel potatoes and place a mandoline across the top of the saucepan. Slice potatoes into 1/8 inch thick slices directly into hot cream mixture. Press potato slices gently with a silicon spatula to submerge. Cook, undisturbed, until potatoes are partially cooked and mixture begins to thicken, about 10- 12 minutes. Stir in 3 tablespoons thyme leaves.

4. Preheat over to 375 degrees and place a rack in the center. Generously grease a 13 by 9 by 2 inch baking dish with butter. (I obviously only had an oval dish to spare. I think it turned out great!). Combine cheese in a small mixing bowl. Using a slotted spoon or spider, carefully transfer the potato slices to the prepared baking dish. Carefully pour enough cream mixture to barely cover the potatoes. Dot with remaining 2 tablespoons butter and cover with remaining cheese mixture.

5. Bake in a preheated oven until casserole bubbles around the edges, potatoes are tender and top is golden brown, about 50-60 minutes. If the top begins to brown too deeply before potatoes are cooked, cover gratin with aluminum foil. If the top has not browned when potatoes are cooked, place gratin under a preheated broiler. Allow gratin to sit for at least 20 minutes before serving.

6. To serve: Sprinkle gratin with remaining 3 tablespoons thyme leaves. Slice and serve!

Thanks again for reading! I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday weekend! Here's to finding happiness when things look a bit bizarre! Xo, Melissa

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