Friday, November 23

The *Real* Big Day: Thanksgiving Revised

So I should have another storyboard, replete with coursed photos and witty anecdotes. Instead, I have the slightly revised menu, and one photo for good measure--

We snacked on baked Brie stuffed with cranberries and walnuts, gruyere, and this pear-gingerbread cake. I made the cake by browning the pears in butter, sugar, and lemon juice; deglazing the pan with pear brandy and a little more sugar; and lining a cake pan with the pears and juices. The gingerbread batter was pretty basic, and I baked in a little longer than the recipe wanted me to, so the edges got nice and crisp:

After a late lunch of butternut squash soup with parmesan-sage croutons; wilted spinach salad with poached figs, goat cheese, and a warm red-onion/sherry vinaigrette; roasted vegetable bruschetta with gruyere; and stuffed mushrooms; my cohort H. and I examined our original menu and decided to make some necessary cuts. Survival of the tastiest, here's what we ended up with:

+Brussels sprouts (caramelized in beer) with dried cranberries and feta, anyone who thinks they don't like Brussels sprouts should reconsider

+Candied yams with pecans, my Thanksgiving favorite

+Cranberry sauce made with Port, citrus, and whatever other delicacies H. selected

+Soy-buttermilk biscuits, because H. cares about my intestinal well-being

+Cornbread and caramelized onion stuffing, which was perfect with...

+Mushroom gravy (pureed, though I think I prefer it unblended)

+Turkey, which turned out perfectly to my objective and disinterested eye

And to finish,
+Apple pie and pumpkin pie with soy vanilla ice cream*

I realized that there are two kinds of people in the world: circular eaters (finishing off each item, one at a time) and mixers (self-explanatory). I'm definitely the latter, which is probably part of why Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. The focus on family, gratitude, and good food aside, said good food is so compatible with my try-this-with-that-and-then-that-with-this eating philosophy. "A gastronmically successful day."

*Tangentially, allow me to point out that soy ice cream can in fact be quite tasty, depending on the brand. I traditionally pledge my culinary allegiance to the former "Soy Delicious", now a slightly less punny "So Delicious". I also have a very soft spot in my heart/mouth for "Tofutti", of "Tofutti Cutie" fame. At Thanksgiving we had Whole Foods brand soy ice cream, which was quite tasty, though I little more obviously the soy variety. With any soy frozen desserts, always allow plenty of time to dethaw, as they are inevitably rock-hard straight from the freezer.

Sunday, November 18

The Clean Platter (Ogden Nash)

Some singers sing of ladies' eyes,
And some of ladies lips,
Refined ones praise their ladylike ways,
And course ones hymn their hips.
The Oxford Book of English Verse
Is lush with lyrics tender;
A poet, I guess, is more or less
Preoccupied with gender.
Yet I, though custom call me crude,
Prefer to sing in praise of food.
Yes, food,
Just any old kind of food.
Pheasant is pleasant, of course,
And terrapin, too, is tasty,
Lobster I freely endorse,
In pate or patty or pasty.
But there's nothing the matter with butter,
And nothing the matter with jam,
And the warmest greetings I utter
To the ham and the yam and the clam.
For they're food,
All food,
And I think very fondly of food.
Through I'm broody at times
When bothered by rhymes,
I brood
On food.
Some painters paint the sapphire sea,
And some the gathering storm.
Others portray young lambs at play,
But most, the female form.
"Twas trite in that primeval dawn
When painting got its start,
That a lady with her garments on
Is Life, but is she Art?
By undraped nymphs
I am not wooed;
I'd rather painters painted food.
Just food,
Just any old kind of food.
Go purloin a sirloin, my pet,
If you'd win a devotion incredible;
And asparagus tips vinaigrette,
Or anything else that is edible.
Bring salad or sausage or scrapple,
A berry or even a beet.
Bring an oyster, an egg, or an apple,
As long as it's something to eat.
If it's food,
It's food;
Never mind what kind of food.
When I ponder my mind
I consistently find
It is glued
On food.

Thursday, November 15

The T-day Countdown Begins

The Big Day:
Crackers, cheese, and fruit
Pear gingerbread cake
Stuffed mushrooms
Roasted vegetable bruschetta
Butternut squash soup

The Big Night:
Wilted spinach salad with poached figs, caramelized onions, and goat cheese
Caramelized Brussels sprouts with feta and craisins
Candied yams with pecans
Gingered cranberry sauce
Biscuits with herbed butter
Mashed potatoes with roasted garlic and spring onions
Mushroom gravy
Pumpkin souffle

The Big Dessert:
Pumpkin pie
Apple pie
(Soy) Vanilla ice cream

Photos to come...

Wednesday, November 14

Winter = Soup

I'm doing a winter fast: soup and tea for two days, then add brown rice and veggies for two more days. It's reminding me how much I love soup! --to cook it, to eat it, to share it with friends. Soup is a particularly communal food, I believe. The book I eventually write on potluck parties is definitely going to have a page dedicated to a "stone soup" type of supper. I also find soups especially easy to make, perhaps because they're quite copacetic with my own cooking style: no recipe necessary, just throw schtuff in a pot, simmer for a while, blend if you wish, and perhaps add a tasty topping to serve. I've been eating a lot of Amy's (100% vegan!) soups, but today I took the plunge and made lentil chili with chipotle tomatoes. Delicious, and I found that I slow down a bit when I eat soup: I think I taste it more, and savor the whole experience--spoon from bowl to mouth and back again--just a little more mindfully. Soup is obviously widely hailed as a nourishing food, in the colder months as well as to fight the common cold, and I find that many of the liquids we consume are associated with rituals, and thus, to a certain extent, with comfort .

Cooking soup is, in fact, as fun as eating it, thus I present my list of soups I'd like to make this winter:

*Zucchini soup with sourdough (my grandma's classic--I didn't use a spoon, it was so thick I could just scoop it up with the bread)

*Pumpkin, or butternut squash soup, with some sort of yogurt sauce on top

*Lina's Carrot-Ginger Soup (courtesy of Moosewood Cookbook, I believe, and served with yogurt again--gotta uphold my almost-vegan reputation after all)

*Pho-type soups (rice noodles, broth, veggies)

*Coconut-milk-based soup, maybe with thai basil, lemongrass, tofu, and veggies

*Miso soup, because I've always wanted to cook with miso

*Chili, but only because I really want to make jalapeno-cheddar cornbread to go with it

*Minestrone, for my Godfather marathon

*Egg-drop soup, because it looks fun to make

Friday, November 9

Under the influence...Nancy's influence

Last weekend I went to Boston to visit my best friend from college. As per usual, many of our activities were planned around food, and the highlight of the weekend, for me, was the delicious meal we prepared for a mutual friend on Sunday night. It seemed innocuous enough, but if you look closely at the following storyboard you may sense that my tastebuds had fun at my stomach's expense...

We went shopping at Formaggio Kitchen, "a unique gourmet foods shop specializing in small production artisan cheeses & charcuterie "...hmmm, pity cheeses and charcuterie aren't so much my thing. Luckily, Nancy found these root vegetables to keep me occupied...

...But I couldn't be kept far from the cheese counter. There were actually a few cheese counters, but this was the most photogenic. There were also many samples, which I was too busy eating to photograph...

...Not that such samples satiated my lactose-deprived palate. We served this Vacherin Mont D'Or (a raw cow's milk cheese from the Pyrenees) as we were preparing the meal--with honey, crackers, and pears. But Nan was busy cooking and our guest didn't like stinky cheese, so I polished off just about all of that by myself. Luckily the drinking had already commenced, and after finishing off a couple bottles of riesling I was sure I was invincible, even against the most lactosey of foes.

Here she is, hard at work in the kitchen, slaving away over a wild mushroom risotto that we agreed really needed some parmesan. So Nan ran to Trader Joe's for cheese and beaujolais as I ate stinky cheese and peeled beets for...

...Our roasted beet salad! Complete with a hunk of goat cheese and toasted pine nuts, on a bed of pea shoots tossed in a truffle-vinaigrette. Yummm. Doesn't that goat cheese look...lethal? It was actually quite tasty...

Next came the risotto, which turned out quite well with the liberal addition of parmesan, and the salt addicts's favorite secret ingredient: soy sauce!

Finally, more cheese. Yeah, oops...but it was so good! A crisp tart of puff pastry, sweetened mascarpone with just the right amount of vanilla, oranges "supreme" (without the skins--I learned a new word for an old favorite :), and a drizzle of honey. Delicious--the citrus cut through the creaminess of the cheese in all the right ways. Oh cheese, why are you so right, but so wrong?

And here's what remained of all those lactose products:

Not a vegan meal by any stretch of the imagination. Yum!


blogger templates | Make Money Online