Friday, November 26, 2010

The meal revealed

Mmmm, it was a tasty Thanksgiving. I hosted Sean and Scott for the meal. A small group with good conversation, good libations, and good food.

I came home on Wednesday night with the intention of beginning or completing 3 dishes. Sadly, by the time I came home and unloaded the car I was too exhausted to do much. As a result most of the cooking was done yesterday morning. As is my habit I was up by 4am and got to cooking by 6:30. The boys arrived shortly after 1PM and I had plenty of time to get things mostly done.

Sean brought with him an assortment of lovely cheeses and crackers. Scott has intolerance's to cow dairy and wheat. Sean's cheeses were almost all goat's milk. I supplied to wheat free crackers. Scott brought some of his wonderful Indian-style falafels. I don't recall the original name of these tasty treats, but I enjoyed them last year as well. Scott also brought some tamarind chutney to enjoy on them.

After eating and toasting for an hour or so, I was having to get on with the rest of the meal. Everything was done except the main courses and the greens. I employed Scott's assistance to wrap up the greens while I threw together the final details for the boy's main course.

The dishes for this year:

- Cranberry sauce made with Grand Marnier and orange zest (traditional for us)
- Yams mashed with crystallized ginger and Maker's Mark
- Wild rice and porcini mushroom stuffing (actually served as a side dish and made with mostly porcinis, but also a few other dried mushrooms such as morels and shitakes)
- Greens sauteed with garlic and red pepper flakes (I used a combo of black Tuscan kale and Rainbow Swiss Chard which made for a lovely presentation)
- Baked black eyed peas (a vegan recipe that went over well last year...these are a bit spicy)
- Mushroom gravy made with red wine and the left over soaking liquid from the stuffing

For the boys the main course were Cornish Game Hens glazed with a combination of Tayberry sauce and balsamic vinegar. My main course was halibut baked with white wine, thyme, and lemon slices. Our dessert was Pears poached in a spiced burgundy and cranberry syrup topped with Coconut Bliss ice cream (vanilla and chocolate).

So, what changes? First, I dropped another veggie dish. I had thought I'd make green beans sauteed with some almond slices, but after looking at the dishes that were already prepared I decided that we had enough food and one green already. Next I dropped the planned corn bread. Scott is wheat intolerant, so I would have made a gluten free version, but again, looking at the meal I decided that we had enough. Even so, I'll probably make some corn bread over the weekend for myself. Also dropped were potatoes mashed with celeriac - to be revived over the weekend, I'm sure.

Finally, the mushroom gravy was entirely improvised. I had planned on being lazy and serving Tofurkey mushroom gravy. I even bought some and had it thawing in the refrigerator. However, when I pulled it out, I noticed that it was no longer "mushroom gravy", but rather "gravy with giblets". The giblets were made from wheat (probably a seitan) which Scott couldn't eat. I had the time, I had the wine, I had left over soaking liquid from the dried mushrooms for the stuffing. I also had some button mushrooms in the refrigerator. I sauteed up the button mushrooms in some butter until they began to release their juices. then added salt, black pepper, and dried thyme. To that I added 1 cup of soaking liquid and1 cup of Malbec. I cooked that down a little then added a tempered slurry with corn starch to thicken it up.

After the main courses came out of the oven, I left them rest for 10 minutes. During that time I turned the oven off and put the side dishes into the oven to warm (except for the cranberry sauce). It all pulled together nicely.

I was thankful for the dishes coming together so well, but more importantly I was thankful for the good company that I was privileged to share them with. Good times.

No comments: