The Culinary Architect: A holiday celebration without an oven

Alexandra Troy
By Alexandra Troy
Yes, it can be done! A holiday celebration without an oven.
The other day  my oven broke and we were entertaining six guests for a “mock holiday” dinner party. I immediately put on my thinking cap and thought, what a great opportunity to use my new slow cooker.
The following turkey breast recipe is  great throughout  the holiday season as it uses fresh cranberries, which ultimately become your sauce. How festive and easy is that?
Add a few stove-top sides and another side, lentils and tomatoes, which may easily be made in a smaller slow cooker and you have yourself a feast. I rounded out our dinner party with a fresh salad, tossed right before seating and a store-bought apple pie and the meal became a celebration.
If you are about to entertain and your oven breaks, with a little
ingenuity and pre-planning you may easily pull off a delicious stress
free meal.
(serves 6-8)
Mixed Organic Greens in A Radicchio Cup
with Dried Cranberries and Toasted Nuts *
Slow Cooker Turkey Breast with Cranberry and Onion Sauce
Greens and Beans
Parmesan Spaghetti Squash
Lentils & Tomatoes
Apple Pie *
*Recipe Not Given
Slow Cooker Turkey Breast with Cranberry & Onion Sauce
(One of the secrets to a juicy and delicious turkey is to brine the bird.)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup Kosher salt
water to cover
1 bone-in turkey breast (6 to 7 lbs.), completely thawed
1 tblsp. olive oil
3 onions, peeled and sliced
1 1/2 bags fresh cranberries
1/2 cup apple cider
Salt and pepper
To brine your turkey breast:
1. Dissolve sugar and salt in a large enough bowl to accommodate with warm water.
2. Place turkey breast in bowl.  Place in refrigerator and let brine for
24 hours.
To make the turkey breast:
1. Remove the turkey from the water and thoroughly dry.
2. Place onions, cider and cranberies in your slow cooker.  Place the
turkey breast on top.  Brush with olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper. Cover turkey breast and turn on slow cooker to high (if breast is too big for slow cooker, tent with foil).
3. Cook for 5 hours or until a thermometer reaches 165 degrees.
4. Remove turkey to cutting board.  Tent with foil.
5. Take an immersion blender and puree the cranberry onion mixture.
Taste and season accordingly. Serve in a gravy boat.
6.  After resting for 20 minutes, slice the turkey breast and serve.
Greens and Beans
(I learned this recipe when I lived in Rome. It’s a wonderful change from traditional Thanksgiving side dishes.)
2 (15.5 oz.) cans white cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 tblsps. good olive oil
2 garlic cloves, pressed on a garlic press
1 1/2 good chicken stock, preferably homemade
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large head escarole, leaves separated, trimmed, washed and spun
dry. Tear into strips, if desired.
1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat, add the garlic
and cook for one minute until the garlic is fragrant but not browned.  Add the  chicken stock, the drained beans, 1 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. black pepper. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
2. Add the greens to the pot, cover and steam the green over medium heat for  3 to 5 minutes, until tender.  Taste for seasonings and serve.
Parmesan Spaghetti Squash
4 lbs. spaghetti squash, halved and seeded
Olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider or apple juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tblsps. unsalted butter
1/4 cup freshly grated Italian Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. fresh thyme
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Place the spaghetti squash, cut side up, on a sheet pan.  Brush the
flesh with oil oil and pour the apple cider into the cavities.
3. Roast for 1 hour, or until the insides of the squash are very tender
and shred easily.  Set  the squash aside until cool enough to handle.  Shred as much of the flesh of the squash as possible and place it in a large bowl. Throw out shells.
4. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the butter in a large (12-inch)
saute pan over medium heat until the butter starts to sizzle.  Add the shredded squash and saute over medium heat, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes until heated through.  Add parmesan and thyme.  Taste for seasonings and serve hot.
Lentils and Tomatoes
(Try this for a healthier alternative to mashed potatoes. It is easy to
make and tastes delicious.)
8 oz. red lentils, rinsed and picked through
14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1. In a cock pot, place all of the above ingredients.  Stir.
2. Cook, on high, until done.  Check once in a while. Approximately 5
Alexandra Troy is owner of Culinary Architect Catering, a 35 year-old
Greenvale-based company, specializing in private, corporate and
promotional parties.  If you make any of these recipes, please share your photographs with me at

About the author

Alexandra Troy

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