Friday, November 26, 2010

The Final Menu

We had a lovely small Thanksgiving yesterday. I think I have a bit of a food hangover. Three glasses of cava early in the meal probably didn't help.

Overall I was really pleased with how all of the "new to me" dishes turned out. This is what we ate (and will be eating for the next few days):

- Turkey breast roulade stuffed with fig, cranberry, and sausage stuffing
- Stuffing! Pretty much agreed upon to be the best part of the meal. So good.
- Gravy
- Pureed sweet potatoes with a bit of brown butter, maple syrup, and toasted pecans
- Braised brussels sprouts with pecorino
- Potato rolls
- Cumin-scented carrots
- Clementine and cinnamon scented cranberry sauce (delicious gift from a good friend)
- And, of course, pumpkin pie

As planned, every recipe I prepared was new to me... except the cumin-scented carrots. I make those a lot, they are super-easy and I knew they would add a little kick to the meal.

I was so happy with the turkey breast roulade and stuffing. It fell apart slightly as I was slicing, but the meat was juicy and the stuffing was delicious.

How was your Thanksgiving meal?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Nigella Reminds Us You Don’t Need to Be an Expert to Cook

Thanks to The Food Section I ran across this interesting interview with Nigella Lawson, the buxom British cookbook writer and television host. I’ve been a fan of Nigella since I first bought How to Be a Domestic Goddess many years ago. I think she’s a terrific writer – her voice is so clear and distinctive. I can hear her talking as I read her words. Like her, I am a big proponent of getting people into the kitchen, and I’m also of the loosey-goosey, tailor-it-to-your-tastes school of cooking.

This was a somewhat serious interview about food, cooking, and class, and while I didn’t agree with everything Nigella said, I did find it thought-provoking. A few of the most interesting bits:

“There is something disenfranchising in making people feel they need a qualification or a great level of expertise before they are allowed in the kitchen.”

“In the Victorian age the peasants just ate local and in season and the aristocracy spent fortunes building greenhouses and growing pineapples. It was a class issue. It was about the elite. Now suddenly because of supermarkets and air travel, the masses — if you want to talk in class terms — can get out of season produce. So what do the elite do? They say If it is not seasonal, if it is not local, it isn't good.”

“For me cooking is an act of independence. I don't feel entirely comfortable handing over the means of sustenance and survival to someone else. It's empowering.”

Click here to read the whole interview.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

My Thanksgiving Mission

Show me someone who loves to cook and I’ll show you someone who loves Thanksgiving. (Right? Tell me if you are an exception.) For people who feel happily at home in the kitchen, there is nothing like having a whole day dedicated to food. The once-a-year opportunity to plan, execute, and, of course, eat this amazing meal is reason enough to celebrate.

And I haven’t made Thanksgiving dinner in three years! Last year Dave and I were in Paris.

The year before we were in Montreal with Dave’s family.

So this year I should have been raring to go. But strangely, I was feeling uninspired. I knew it was just going to be the three of us, so that was probably part of the Thanksgiving blah feeling. It’s not nearly as much fun to cook a feast for three people as it is for 6, or 8, or 10. (Beyond a dozen, it’s not as much fun either!) I toyed with the idea of suggesting we go away for the long weekend, or, gasp!, even eat Thanksgiving dinner in a restaurant.

Then I hit upon a solution, a plan to put the culinary fun back in my Thanksgiving. The mission: to make all new dishes for Thanksgiving this year. No family favorites, no classics that I have been making for years and my mom making for decades before that. Each year I page through my favorite food magazines looking at all their mouth-watering Thanksgiving recipes knowing that I won’t ever cook any of them because I’ll be making (delicious) sausage-cornbread stuffing, maple-roasted sweet potatoes, and the rest of the reliable repertoire.

Since we’re not having guests this is the perfect year to experiment. No one beside my family will witness a flub, and neither Dave nor Rosa has a blog yet ;).

So I’m scouting around, trying to decide what to make. I’ve settled on the Roasted Turkey Roulade from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics.

It’s a whole turkey breast, boned, butterflied, and stuffed with sausage, cranberries, and figs among other tasty things. I think I will make one of Dorie Greenspan’s pumpkin pies, and I have my eye on a Brussels sprouts recipe from Martha Stewart’s test kitchen blog.

I’ll make the rest of my recipe decisions this week, probably. And I’m excited! Maybe one of the new dishes will supplant one of my classics. We’ll see…