Food Hunter's Guide to Cuisine: November 2008

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008

Thanksgiving 2008 has come and gone. We had 9 for dinner this year and it worked out perfectly. Starting at 2:00 and finishing up around 10:00; it was a fun food filled day. We made our traditional 4 course Thanksgiving feast,(soup, pasta, the complete turkey dinner, and dessert) but with a slight twist. A few weeks ago I had found a recipe for Roasted Carrot and Fennel Soup in the November 2008 edition of Gourmet magazine. The idea of blending fennel and carrots into a soup sounded interesting. So instead of making our normal escarole soup we decided to give this one a try. It was an easy recipe to make and the final product turned out delicious. I used homemade stock,(since I had it available) and a good quality olive oil for the fennel drizzle on top. I think these extra details really made the flavor of the soup pop. This might just become a permanent part of our Thanksgiving day meal. (sorry escarole soup)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Thanksgiving Traditions at Our House

With Thanksgiving just a little over a week away, I thought I'd share with you some of my family's holiday traditions.

1. Dinner starts somewhere around 2:00pm on Thanksgiving day. (If my mom had her way we'd start at noon)

2. The first course is always a bowl of soup...usually escarole (Italian wedding soup); although this year we're doing a roasted carrot and fennel soup.

3. Soup is followed by some sort of homemade stuffed pasta; either lasagna, stuffed shells, or cannelloni. This year we're going to make lasagna.

4. A 2 hour break comes after the pasta course.

5. Male guests watch football or sleep during the above break.

6. Female guests continue with dinner preparations during the break mentioned in #4.

7. Turkey is usually served around 6:00pm; and is always accompanied by the following side dishes (no variations allowed): sausage stuffing, roasted rosemary potatoes, candied sweet potatoes, spicy cranberry sauce and corn.

8. Wine is flowing continuously all day long. (even when the men are sleeping in #5)

9. Pumpkin pie is always served; along with several other varieties which change yearly.

10. Nuts, figs, dates and chocolates are on the table the entire day. At least one guest every year will fill up on this and not be able to enjoy the main meal.

What are some of your Thanksgiving traditions?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Swedish Visitng Cake

Last week I ordered the cookbook: Baking from My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan. It arrived on Saturday and I was way too busy to even glance at it. I have to admit that having the book in the house and not having the time to look it over was driving me batty. So Sunday morning I woke up determined to give it the once over. I browsed through it several times realizing that it wasn't enough to just look through it...I HAD to bake something. I decided on the Swedish Visiting Cake...first because the idea of cooking it in a cast iron pan intrigued me and second because I happened to have all the ingredients on hand. The entire cake is mixed by hand; so there's not a lot of cleanup and it comes together in minutes. The idea behind the cake, according to Dorie, is that you can start making it the minute visitors arrive in your driveway and it will be finished by the time they are settled in your house. The cake bakes fluffy and moist on the inside with a crunchy golden exterior. Topped with sliced almonds and sprinkled sugar; it's delicious served both straight from the oven or cooled. Yes, I've tried it both ways.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Happy Birthday Mom!

Today is my mom's 65th birthday. We celebrated this past Sunday with dinner at our house. The highlight of the meal was the dessert. Knowing that her favorite cake is strawberry shortcake I had been on a quest for weeks, to find the perfect recipe. I decided on a Strawberry Whipped Cream Cake posted on Chow by Amy Wisniewski. Nothing I ever do is without incident and this cake was no exception. I started baking early Sunday morning only to find that I was running low on vanilla. Short by 1 tablespoon I had to make an emergency run to the grocery store to pick up more. The cake came together nicely until it was time to macerate the strawberries. I had bought, what I thought, was a nice pint of strawberries on Saturday. When I went to take them out of the container I noticed that everything under the top layer was molded. So I was off to the store again; this time for more berries.

It was smooth sailing after that. (I'm not sure I could've handled another trip to the store) Despite all my issues the cake was rather easy to make and delicious too eat. The rest of the meal consisted of the following two recipes I've blogged before: pisto manchego, and meatballs with salad.