"LIVE! LIVE! LIVE! Life's a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death"
attributed to Mame Dennis

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

I present you an account of our decadent Thanksgiving feast.

For those of you brave and/or curious enough to see how the suckling pig was prepared, scroll down to the post after this one. For those of you who don't care to see those photos, you have been warned!

The first course, cream of chestnut soup, was a big hit. Chestnuts have a sweet, intoxicating (and very seasonal) flavor that was unfamiliar to most of my guests. I actually ended up using very little cream to finish this dish, since the chestnuts bring a richness all of their own. My inspiration for this course came from a  sketch of a recipe Lynne Rossetto Kasper shared on The Splendid Table
podcast. The soup is a lovely light brown color, served with crumbled roasted chestnuts and a squeeze of lemon.
Here's a plateful of the main course with all the accompaniments: (clockwise from the left) slices of pork, red onion and kidney stuffing, salad, walnut bread with butter and mashed squash bake.
This has been my favorite salad this autumn. It's just delightful. The baby spinach and arugula are fresh and green and the pears, which are right in season, are extra sweet once they've been roasted.
The walnuts are spiced with the flavors we love at this time of year: cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, allspice. They have a great tannic quality that picks up on the bitterness in the greens. Sherry vinaigrette is usually my favorite, but balsamic works really well with this combination of flavors.
I made a single portion of maple glazed salmon (Gourmet, November 1997) for a friend who joined us, though she doesn't eat pork.
The maple glaze, which featured ginger, lemon and soy flavors, could luckily be made ahead, so I prepared it on Wednesday. I thought the maple flavor would help it tie in with the seasonal sides. On Thursday, after the soup course, all I had to do was brush the salmon with it, put it on the cedar plank (which I've had in my pantry and been looking for an excuse to use) along with a bunch of scallion greens. and stick the whole thing in the (already hot) oven. I think Pat was disappointed he didn't get any, but I will definitely hold on to this recipe to make for dinner someday.
I wanted to serve something green in addition to the salad, and this recipe in November's bon appetit caught my eye. I substituted broccoli for the broccolini, out of necessity. It's fresh flavors with a Spanish influence contrasted beautifully with the traditional, autumnal flavors in the other dishes: intoxicating, brassy garlic, smoky pimenton and the brightness of sherry vinegar. (You should have known that I would get it in there somewhere!)

Unfortunately, no photos of the desserts, but they were delicious: pumpkin cheesecake, gingerbread pear cobbler and Pat's famous brownies.

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all!

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