Saturday, November 20, 2010

Thanksgiving Warm Up

Yesterday night for dinner we had a very special diner guest: Grammy nominated recording artist Lindsay Ellyn*! Since this was a very special visit indeed it was cause to celebrate the season!

* Grammy nomination pending.

The night before I tossed together the ingredients to make the shockingly simply no knead bread recipe from Sullivan Street Bakery: flour, salt, yeast, and water. I let it rest for about sixteen hours then finished it in the oven. I'd post a link to the recipe but it's on a horrible website that forces you to log in to view it. So instead I won't help promote their crappy, frustrating website. Too bad, the guys who did the recipe are great and it's not their fault.

I also put together a cheese plate for the bread. Unlike the bread I did not make the cheeses which is definitely in their favor. I know cheese courses are supposed to have a theme like that they're all from Italy, or they're all from sheep's milk, or they're three variations on the same cheese. Unfortunately I believe that to be lame and think my favorite theme is that they are all cheeses that I like.

For a salad I tossed some kale in a vinaigrette I made from shallot, Dijon mustard, Lyle's Golden Syrup, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Then I topped it with sliced roasted chestnuts and prosciutto. I was going to add toasted pecans as well but I didn't have any. I'm glad I didn't because this worked perfectly as is. Another recipe for my growing arsenal of kale salads.

For the next course I roasted a whole pumpkin, scooped the meat out of the peel, and layered it in a pan with some sauteed spinach and garlic, and ricotta cheese. It was okay but missing a little something. Tonight I reheated it and added a little cream and cayenne then grated some nutmeg over the top. I think that added the element it was missing. Next time I may opt to leave out the garlic all together and maybe roast some red jalapenos to add to the layers.

For the main course I roasted a pheasant. The pheasant was from MacFarlane Pheasants which you know has to be good because they have the domain You don't get the domain without knowing your stuff about pheasants. Or, I suppose, just happening to be extremely lucky in the early 90's.

I put a few strips of thick cut bacon over the top, seared it in a hot oven for about 20 minutes, then removed the bacon and put it in the roasting pan with the innards, onion, garlic, and carrot. Then I cooked it for another 30 minutes or so.

Jen doesn't like spaghetti squash. Unfortunately for her when I know she doesn't like something I usually take that as a challenge for me to prepare it in a way so that she does like it. I think that might make me a jerk since I do this predominantly to try to prove her wrong about her notions on food. This generally has a low success rate.

Last night was different as she really liked this. All I did was roast in normally with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, then scrape it out and toss it with a little butter and freshly chopped chervil.

Chervil is an herb that I have not always loved. I worked with a chef who insisted on using it in a lot of dishes and as an incredibly dumb twenty-year-old I thought I was so great because I thought chervil was really stupid. I thought it was unnecessary and a waste. However, like segmenting a lemon, I have developed a fondness for it. It has a slight licorice taste to it that is very pleasing. With the spaghetti squash it worked quite well.

Added secret bonus: Jen doesn't like licorice either. Double win for me!

I also made these popovers with fresh thyme just before serving the pheasant. After a recent trip to a brunch place that served basketball-sized popovers I've been wanting to make them again so I whipped up a quick batter with egg, milk, salt, sugar, flour, and fresh thyme.

I also made a quick whiskey caramel sauce for the top of some pumpkin ice cream. It was delicious.

Since there was a guest I made a few more courses that I generally would but I was able to get the whole dinner done pretty quickly. This is a menu I'd highly recommend because everything on it is extremely easy to make and it takes very little time. Of course you may be wondering about recipes and I don't really have any recipes because recipes are not really my thing.

So, instead, for people who like lists of things I'll post a list of the regulation of household expenses of M. Myriel from Victor Hugo's Les Miserables.


For the little seminary - 1,500 livres
Society of the mission - 100
For the Lazarists of Montdidier - 100
Seminary for foreign missions in Paris - 200
Congregation of the Holy Spirit - 150
Religious establishments of the Holy Land - 100
Charitable maternity societies - 300
Extra, for that of Arles - 50
Work for the amelioration of prisons - 400
Work for the relief and delivery of prisoners - 500
To liberate fathers of families incarcerated for debt - 1,000
Addition to the salary of the poor teachers of the diocese - 2,000
Public granary of the Hautes-Alpes - 100
Congregation of the ladies of D——, of Manosque, and of Sisteron, for the gratuitous instruction of poor girls - 1,500
For the poor - 6,000
My personal expenses - 1,000
Total - 15,000

Bon appetite, 24601!

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