Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Totally Delish Thanksgiving Recipe: Herb-Roasted Turkey with Apple Cider Gravy

So it's not very often that we post recipes on our blog, after all we design and produce events for the most part. However, planning life's celebrations does include some of the planning at home for the holidays. My favorite is definitely Thanksgiving!

For that, today we are posting quite possibly the greatest turkey recipe ever! Not exaggerating here people, this recipe is extraordinary! It actually requires days of prep, thus today is the day to start if your interested in trying something new this year. Not sure how I make the time to do it, but I have and I will continue to, as it really is totally worth it.

After making this recipe for the past 3 years, receiving all the rave reviews from family and friends, all over my amazing skill to pretty much follow the Bon Appetit recipe, I've decided to share it. Now you can enjoy all the compliments that follow this bird and eat the best turkey ever, all in the same night.

So... without further adieu, here is my all-time favorite recipe from the lovely Epicurious website.

Herb-Roasted Turkey with Apple Cider Gravy

Brining the turkey in the refrigerator for two days ensures an incredibly moist result. We do not recommend stuffing brined turkeys because the brine can make the stuffing too salty. A do-ahead gravy base eliminates last-minute stirring and thickening. Look for fresh bay leaves in the produce section.

Yield: Makes10 servings


8 quarts cold water
2 cups coarse kosher salt
8 large fresh or dried bay leaves
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
2 tablespoons whole allspice
1 16- to 17-pound turkey; giblets removed, neck reserved

Herb butter and gravy

3 tablespoons minced fresh Italian parsley
3 tablespoons minced fresh thyme
3 tablespoons minced fresh sage
3 tablespoons minced fresh marjoram
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

4 cups low-salt chicken broth
2 cups apple cider
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons Calvados (apple brandy) or other brandy


2 large Granny Smith apples, quartered, cored
2 large onions, quartered

1 cup apple cider

To brine the turkey:

Line extra-large pot or bowl with two 13-gallon (or larger) plastic bags, 1 inside the other. Combine 1 quart water, salt, bay leaves, peppercorns, and allspice in large saucepan. Stir over medium heat until salt dissolves. Remove from heat. Add 1 quart cold water and cool to lukewarm. Pour into plastic bags; mix in remaining 6 quarts water. Wrap turkey neck and refrigerate. Submerge turkey in brine to cover completely, gathering bags tightly to eliminate any air; tie bags closed. Refrigerate turkey in brine in pot at least 18 hours and up to 20 hours.

Line large roasting pan with 4 layers of paper towels. Remove turkey from brine and drain well; discard brine. Place turkey in prepared pan. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

For herb butter and gravy:

Mix parsley, thyme, sage, marjoram, rosemary, and nutmeg in small bowl. Transfer 1/4 cup herb mixture to small bowl; mix in 1/2 cup butter.

Combine broth and apple cider in heavy large saucepan. Boil until reduced to 3 cups, about 20 minutes. Pour broth reduction into bowl. Melt remaining 1/4 cup butter in same saucepan over medium-high heat. Add flour; stir 1 minute. Whisk in broth reduction, then cream, Calvados, and remaining herb mixture. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until gravy base is thickened and reduced to 2 3/4 cups, whisking often, about 20 minutes. Cool gravy base slightly. (Gravy base and herb butter can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill.)

To roast the turkey:

Position rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 350°F. Remove turkey from roasting pan; drain any accumulated juices from main cavity. Discard paper towels from roasting pan. Melt herb butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Brush bottom of roasting pan with some of herb butter. Return turkey to prepared pan. Tuck wing tips under; tie legs together loosely to hold shape. Place some apple quarters and onion quarters in main cavity. Brush remaining herb butter over turkey; sprinkle with pepper. Scatter remaining apples and onions around turkey in pan. Add reserved turkey neck to pan.

Roast turkey 1 hour. Baste with 1/2 cup apple cider. Roast turkey 30 minutes. Baste with remaining 1/2 cup cider. Roast turkey until thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 175°F, basting turkey every 30 minutes with pan juices and covering breast loosely with foil if browning too quickly, about 2 hours longer (3 1/2 hours total). Transfer turkey to platter; let stand at least 30 minutes before carving (internal temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees).

Discard apples, onions, and turkey neck from pan. Pour pan juices into large glass measuring cup; spoon off fat from surface. Pour degreased juices into gravy base and bring to boil over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally. Boil until gravy thickens enough to coat spoon and is reduced to 3 1/2 cups, about 15 minutes. Season gravy to taste with pepper.

Serve turkey with gravy.

So there you have it, my secret weapon for the holidays is officially out.

Couple quick things I always modify with this recipe...
* I always make double herb butter and place it under the skin of the bird, before it goes in the oven.
* I always double the gravy recipe so you have extra for your guests.
* I always baste with extra cider after that first initial hour.
* I always cook my bird at 500 degrees for the first half hour to get a nice color than I drop it down to the 350 degrees. If during the cooking process, it becomes to brown, you can always cover it with foil over the breast portion.
* Lastly, I always serve with my signature cranberry sauce...

Happy Cooking!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Too sweet not to share: An iPhone Proposal

Every now and then we come across something too sweet not to share. This morning it was this video...

Now as most of you know iPhone's are one of the hottest things in technology right now. Being die hard blackberry fans, we still had to share this as more than ever you see iPhone's being used so frequently with regard to a wedding. We see Best Men using them to give their speeches, Brides using apps to keep track of their planning and now, a proposal!

This video was too creative not to share. One of the most special parts of a proposal is your fiance coming up with the idea, the moment, the story of how he asks you to be his wife. We love that story and love when our grooms go that extra mile to really create something extraordinary. Hope you enjoyed this one as much as we did...

Happy Day!

Monday, November 08, 2010

Sterling Engagements Wishes: Happy Anniversary Amanda and Luis!

Today is the 2nd anniversary for a very special couple, Amanda and Luis! The Barrios' were married 2 years ago today at Agoura Bible Fellowship and had their reception at the Westlake Village Inn.

Here is a recap of their special day thanks to the lovely Charles Lauren Films. To date, this is one of our most treasured highlight reels ever! So sweet!
To see special details from this day, visit the original blog post!

Happy Anniversary!

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Sterling Engagements Buzz: Leslie and Earl featured in the LA Times!

Back in September we had the pleasure of planning Fantasy Frostings owner, Leslie Maynor's wedding to Earl Anderson aka Mr. Frostings. For those of you who don't know these two, you should! They run one of the best cake and dessert bakeries in town and are deeply loved by all!

Photo courtesy of the lovely Holly Steen of Cakes and Kisses Photography

Leslie and Earl wanted a simple and kitschy backyard bbq bash and we planned just that. Stay tuned for a featured post with all their wedding day details. In the meantime, check out this awesome article published in today's issue of the LA Times.

Happy Reading!

Friday, November 05, 2010

CASTING SEARCH: Disaster Weddings! WE TV wants past Brides and Grooms for a new hit series...

Today we received a call from the lovely Danielle Gervais in regards to WE TV's newest show. Below is the casting notice on a new series giving disaster weddings an amazing redo. Check it out and if you know anyone please pass on this info.

While we do know our Sterling brides have never faced disaster on their special day, our hope is reach out to all and hopefully help a deserving couple get one more chance on another big day!

Happy Redo!