Kaiseki Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving to-go, Kaiseki Style. Small portions, an emphasis on symbols. This dinner is also about packing up and taking meals to whoever you’re meeting on thanksgiving night. To be honest Thanksgiving is the last meal I look forward to making, because its kind of like a requirement. So actually this post is about what I wish was available, a full service Thanksgiving meal for two people that can be purchased and delivered…
This is the book I used for inspiration…Japanese Kaiseki usually consists of many courses, but the portions are so small that its more about having the “taste” of a dish and moving on to the next. The dishes look more like gift boxes that you shouldn’t touch, the food is almost too nice looking that it looks unappetizing. However, this is the best Kaiseki book around, and even Adria gave a forward note in it. Kaiseki cuisine is actually a huge inspiration for chefs like Ferran Adria, who co-opted the use of Agar Agar. Kaiseki chefs use a lot of agar agar and are actually one of the first nationalities to use them. Agar agar is used for both sweet and savory dishes.

All about presentation, visual appeal…
You see there is a huge emphasis on shape, symbols, and the reflection of nature in food. A lot of chefs have been inspired by these same principles in Kaiseki cuisine, in fact when I flip through Adria’s book 60% is Kaiseki inspired.

Remember when people made plans and stuck by them? Now I am unsure of what’s going to happen unless I really see the person. Cell phones have actually made people flakier. Its convenient if you’re the one flaking, you can just text that person saying you’ve changed your mind. Of course its inconvenient if someone does it to you. Cell phones are also annoying when your female friend calls you at 1 am worried that her man-friend is ignoring her texts. Cell phones have made paranoid people even more paranoid, boy-crazy girls even more boy-crazy, and flaky people even flakier. This meal is about being prepared no matter WHAT happens. Take it on the go.

Starting off with the stuffing here. I used old brioche from Balthazar to use as the main bread portion for the stuffing.

Stuffing ingredients, fresh olives, onions, brioche, dried cranberries, sage, garlic, salt, pepper…I also added truffle oil to this mix as well as some extra fresh olive juice. Fresh olives are less salty, and pungent. They taste like salty little avocados, I love them. They add good flavor to the stuffing.

Cranberry Jellies, made with Agar Agar, dried cranberries (just reconstitute with boiling water), cinnamon, orange zest, sugar…I boiled all of these, added the agar agar in..and then let it set.
I also took out the cinnamon and processed the whole mixture after boiling to get a smooth shape.
The right image is another snapshot from the book. The right image is the firm cranberry jelly cut into a baby turkey shape.

For the vegetable component, I used cooked asparagus…The liquid is a chicken stock, salt, garlic, and white wine base with agar agar so it can harden. This was the same liquid I boiled the asparagus in. Once the mold sets, it will look like an asparagus side dish that has been constructed by Damien Hirst formaldehyde sculptures.
Another snapshot from the book, this is a fruit dish that has been used with Agar Agar. You can see its just a real fruit dish that keeps its shape with the use of agar agar…same concept..
After its done setting, you should ease it out and it will look something like this.

Frozen mash potato, molded into a little scoop, sort of like the picture above it. Kaiseki is all about shapes.
This Potato String cutter is what I used to get these thin Potato strings.
I fried these in a very shallow oil bath. Its just mashed potato wrapped in string potatoes. I love mash potatoes but I also get sick of its mushy texture. I like that this allows for both crispy and soft.

Baby Chicken, salted and peppered. Instead of Turkey I used small chickens…I really really dread cooking turkey and I don’t find the flavor all that enticing, no matter how much you baste, bake, or brine it! I can’t stand looking at the leftovers either! I always find that leftover meat always has a strange smell.

Sweet potato side…I used a sweet potato pie recipe and baked it, about 1/3 inch in thickness, or 1/2 inch. Once it hardened I cut out little shapes.

To serve:


In Kaiseki cuisine, they serve warm sake. I chose to serve warm white wine with holiday mulling spices . You can see I used a tea infuser to serve it. Inside is dried oranges, sugar, mulling spices…and your choice of white wine. For someone who loves food, I know nothing about wine, red or white. Adagio Teas Glass Teapot shown below:


I printed my own illustrations onto sheets.

Baby chickens with stuffing. Thanksgiving for two with cranberry jellies.

Thanksgiving sides, sweet potato, asparagus with agar agar, and a self encased mashed potato.





Warm white wine, with mulling spices. Bodum Pavina Cups.

Mashed potato.
The demise of luxirare!
Warm Gravy.

Dessert: The pumpkin pie and custard.

I highly recommend Kaiseki: The Exquisite Cuisine of Kyoto’s Kikunoi Restaurant for inspiration!

The plexiglass on top of the wire settings and the wooden pumpkin dish was custom made. If you order these items, they do not come with the plexiglass tops. All of the other links to products are within the hoverable images. Just mouse over the images to get links. And, for more updates, follow Luxirare on twitter here.