thanksgiving table

How We Operate: Thanksgiving and Great Food at Moss:::


Thanksgiving, that foodiest of all holidays, is a personal favorite of everyone at moss.  In the spirit of the holiday we wanted to give thanks for our favorite food traditions.  With no further ado, here’s what everyone at moss will be digging into on Turkey Day along with recipes and links so you can try them at home!

Matt and Laura will be hosting a Thanksgiving feast in the heart of Moss HQ on our dining/conference table.  It should be almost literally groaning with good eats and here are a few of them.  Matt suggests a kick ass Turkey and some great sides


I’m getting a fresh, never-frozen turkey this year from Mint Creek Farm (picking up from Dill Pickle Monday. Woot!) which is going right into a brine when I get home. This is the recipe I use (F basting!) and the Virtual Bullet blog is my go to for all things smoked meats. Make sure and get yourself a good, digital remote read thermometer like this. It’s supposed to be cold this Thursday so better to check the thigh meat temperature from the couch while you watch the Jay Culter throw 4 picks. Best of all, this only takes 4 hours to cook and frees up oven space for roasting vegetables.


Until I started eating fresh sprouts as an adult I never thought Brussels sprouts were named for Brussels, Belgium. No one ever seemed to pronounce that ’S’ at the end of Brussels. I always heard it like Brussel sprouts. Which sounds like a kind of broom used at an industrial facility. I feel like if I heard the Brussels story when I was a kid I may have eaten them. So this is super simple. Roast the Brussels sprouts with pancetta (home-cured from your local and pasture raised pork share) for about 30-45 minutes. Top with some reduced Balsamic Vinegar if you want to go nuts. My mom, who seems to feel bad asking me for anything, actually requests I make this for her.


The only thing that makes Michigan Avenue tolerable is that Purple Pig is there. If that place ever leaves I will never deal with the Magnificent Mile again. I always sit at the bar because I like seeing the cooks operate in that tiny kitchen, which basically consists of a couple of induction burners and a convection oven. They always have a variation of this recipe on the menu which I have stolen from them. Chop a butternut squash into cubes and roast on a sheet pan with olive oil, salt and pepper for about 30-45 minutes. When it comes out of the oven transfer to a nice vessel and top with some more olive oil and salt, fried sage, pistachios and goat cheese.

Laura will be at Moss HQ too of course and she has her own culinary contributions to make.  Here is a more off-the-beaten path contribution:


I love liver and chicken liver pâté even more.  All in unison now – ewwww! This silky-smooth pate is a decadent German family tradition and it’s rich in protein, B12, antioxidants, and is essentially a nutritional powerhouse! My family has been making and perfecting the pate for as long as I’ve had a liver loving memory. However, my go to recipe is one from David Lebovitz

I improvise a bit because I like a hint of garlic, and a pop of flavor. So, I add one small garlic clove, and a bay leaf during the first sauté step of the recipe. Don’t forget to discard the bay leaf after sautéing; a mouthful of crunchy dried bay leaf can ruin the silky texture.

When shopping for chicken livers, I look for a paler version as they tend to have a milder taste compared to the darker ones. I source locally and will only purchase chicken livers, or any meat, from butcher shops that provide sustainable and responsibly raised animals from small, Midwestern family farms. My go to local butchers are Butcher and Larder and Publican quality meats

I’m a fan of Weck jars, and once the pate is ready to go from food processor to terrine I ladle the mixture into one of the classic canning jars. It makes for a nice serving presentation, and might even tempt a non-liver lover to be adventurous and taste the pate. Probably not.

Throw in some cornichons (my favorite brand is Maille) and toasted baguettes, and serve along with some insane cheeses from Pastoral . Gobble, gobble.

Della will be basking in the warmth of a wood stove, cooking, and eating with family at her parent’s straw bale home, passive solar home in Wisconsin.   Their whole meal will be vegetarian so she has some alternatives for the non-meat-eaters among us to propose:


We don’t miss the turkey at our vegetarian Thanksgiving, but there are a few things that need to be addressed when you take the Turkey out of Turkey day.  We need a centerpiece for the meal – both to anchor the table and to give us a savory protein base to the day of sides and deserts.

Our solution to this “problem” is the Polenta Dome – a center dish which includes the corn, beans, and squash that Central American cultures have used to make up a complete protein since long before the pilgrims landed.  (There is a way to grow the three plants together, Milpa farming, that uses the corn stalks as bean poles and relies on squash leaves to shade out encroaching weeds.)  Once we’ve mixed together our red runner beans, grated squash and a healthy measure of locally produced Hook’s 10 year cheddar from our favorite WI creamery.  After its set (in bowl) and flipped out onto a plate, it can be doused in Brandy and done en flambe just like we used to do for our turkey back in the day.

The other thing a turkey usually provides is the base for gravy but we have a perfect substitute.  This is basically a classic rue, or white sauce, that is spiced up for the holiday with nutritional yeast and soy sauce.  It’s so delicious that I can’t keep it sacred to Thanksgiving and it gets mixed into my dinners nearly once a week all the way through the winter months.

Emily will be testing out some never-before-tried recipes on her loving family, before collapsing with her sisters onto a couch in front of some godawful movie at her Grandma’s Skokie home.  But here are a few tried-and-true favorites for her.  


For the past two years, my little sister and I have made this amazing fruit salad from Smitten Kitchen for our Thanksgiving feast. It is a welcome and refreshing reprieve from all the super heavy traditional food, but don’t let the “fruit salad” nomenclature mislead you; the dish is anything but boring. Crisp autumn pears and apples, fresh from Green City Market, and pomegranate seeds swim in a star-anise and vanilla bean scented syrup. Hey no one said this was January 1st! We replace the figs with dried cherries or cranberries since the youngest of our clan are staunchly opposed to figs.


What can I say, I love a good salad. Echoing Matt, I swooped in on this recipe from a local Italian restaurant’s menu in Lincoln Square: Boca Della Verita. Although Boca is no longer with us, their legacy lives on in this incredible salad, which once again, rescues us from mashed potato overload with a burst of fresh tanginess. Fennel is one of my favorite vegetables, which is sort of funny, given that I absolutely loathe licorice. Here, raw fennel is simply sliced up, and presented alongside wedges of oranges and floral oil-cured olives for a beautifully balanced flavor combination. Dress the whole thing with some lemon juice and olive oil, and bulk out with greens, avocado or whatever you please.

Chris will be celebrating “family” at the annual Koster Thanksgiving Shindig – 40+ family and friends packed into his childhood home.  But that’s only the middle of his holiday festivity.   The party really starts Tuesday night and rolls right through his father-in-law’s birthday on Saturday.  Holiday indeed! 

APPLE PIE (made at a Tuesday Night Pie Party)

For the last few years we have been going over to one of Mari’s coworkers houses on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving for a Apple Pie Making Party. I like the pie, but I love the tradition / experience. What a great way to share drinks, laughs, and the load of a labor intensive dish. We create an assembly line of people, washing, coring, peeling, cutting, and assembling. Mari’s friend prepares the vodka crust the day before so that it is fully chilled. Nothing beats this old fashioned apple corer, slicer, and peeler. This tool is a godsend, when having to prepare 20 lbs of apples. The pie is loosely based on this recipe.

Lety will be in Grenwich, New York so she’s got a bit of a trek ahead of her today.  She’ll be traveling with a car full of goodies including a bunch of festive liquor.  Drive safely, Lety!


Yes, this is a time consuming dessert, but well worth the time and effort.  Find the recipe here.  Now instead of the puff pastry suggested in the recipe, I opt for cinnamon sugar pie crust cookies to complete the dish.  Use your favorite pie crust recipe, roll the dough to about a 1/4″ thick, and use cookie cutters to make shapes. Coat with a cinnamon and sugar combo and bake at 425 for about 10 minutes.


Fall Harvest Syrup Ingredients:

1 cup demerara sugar, 1 cup water, 2 cardamom pods, 1 star anise, 3 whole cloves, 1 cinnamon stick

1.Place ingredients into a saucepan and simmer over medium heat until the sugar dissolves.
2. Bring the mixture to a boil then cover and remove from heat. Allow the mixture to steep for 30 minutes. Strain the spices from the simple syrup.
3. Allow the mixture to cool completely before using in cocktails. The syrup will store in a glass jar in the refrigerator for weeks.

Old Fashioned Ingredients:

2 ounces bourbon (or rye whiskey), 1/2 oz fall harvest syrup, 2 dashes Angostura bitters

candied ginger  and orange peels for garnish


    • 1. Combine all ingredients in a rocks glass,
    • 2. Stir briefly.
    • 3. Add a large ice cube and stir once more.
    • 4. Garnish with half piece of candied ginger on a skewer and orange zest

So there you have it.  That’s how we will be making merry this weekend.  We wish all our blog readers a Happy Holiday as well and hope you feel inspired to give one or more of our favorites a spin this year.    ENJOY!