Sunday, November 27, 2011

Gobble Gobble!

We interrupt the "A Day in the Life" post (um, a week later) to do a quick Thanksgiving week recap.  A LOT of cooking has been going on, as has a lot of consumption.  And as you'll see at the end of this post, a certain someone else got to partake in a little Thanksgiving feast this weekend!

The Thanksgiving debauchery began on Wednesday afternoon, as my sister Kate (author of One Bite at a Time) and my mom came for afternoon tea.  Our family LOVES tea, and it was a great opportunity for me to breakout my somewhat new madeleine pan to make Ina's coconut madeleines.

Madeleines are best right out of the oven (which James and I can both attest), but as I had a lot going on on Wednesday, I made them Tuesday night and stored them in a large ziplock bag.  I was prepared to make a new batch the next day if they were indeed stale, but they tasted just fine, so there was no need to double up.  But again, they are definitely the best when served warm, right out of the oven.

After a nice visit with my mom and sister, I began prepping for that evening's activities - champagne and apps with two of my best friends from high school, and their significant others.  Knowing that champagne would be consumed, I decided on a menu of gougeres ("cheese puffs" to the common folk), blini with smoked salmon and creme fraiche, homemade hummus, olives, and a platter of cured meat and cucumber (which, if you've never paired together, are totally missing out).

Gougeres, which look huge in this picture

The gougeres were out of this world.  Think popover meets cheese (two of my favorite items).  I made the mistake of making a few a bit large, and think that the smaller they are the better.  I could have eaten the entire batch (and almost did).

Blini, step 1

The finished blini, though it's hard to see how pretty they came out due to the lackluster lighting in my living room.
I don't love smoked salmon, but I also don't hate it.  And when at the grocery store the day before, I saw buckwheat flour and at that minute decided to make the blini, figuring they would be an elegant but fun little app.  Now I'm sure my friends could care less about whether the food was elegant or not, but as we don't get together as often as we'd like, it felt like a good opportunity to do something outside the norm.  Anyway, I wish I could say how good these are, but, um, I ate one, and then forgot about them.  They were all gone by the end of the night though, so either they were pretty decent, or my guests were starving and hadn't eaten dinner.  (I'd even be satisfied if the answer was "both".)

And finally, the hummus.  OH, the hummus.  So hummus is one of those things that I've always wanted to make on my own.  I knew homemade hummus was likely better than the store-bought stuff, but buying tahini paste has always just seemed like sort of a pain.  Two weeks ago, however, James and I were visiting with a former coworker of his who hails from a Lebanese family, and we were served homemade hummus.  It was the most delicious lemony-flavored hummus I've ever had in my life.  At that minute, I was SOLD.  So, I finally bit the bullet and bought tahini paste, and then went home to make Dorie Greenspan's hummus recipe.  Total FAIL.  (And not even worth a link to her recipe.)

There was just way too much tahini paste, and I had forgotten to reserve the chickpea liquid, then over-compensated by adding garlic-flavored olive oil, and oh my Lord.  It was just plain horrible.  A quick call to James' mom who has made her own hummus for years, and a bit of research, and I ended up following most of Ina's recipe with some advice from my mother-in-law.  (No need to add a ton of tahini paste - a spoonful is sufficient.)  It was much better than my first batch, but still not as great as the homemade stuff I had enjoyed a couple weeks prior.  Regardless, I now am a homemade hummus convert, and will continue my quest to replicating the aforementioned lemony goodness.

Anyway, it was a fantastic night, as is always the case when my friends and I get together, and after quite a bit of this...

Don't judge my empty fridge - we're still recouping after the power outage.
... the next morning was filled with this.....

Coca Cola Classic = SNOG = Sweet Nectar of the Gods
In between meager sips of my morning Coke (not a regular occurrence, thankfully) and watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (how gorgeous were the peony floral arrangements in front of Matt and Ann this year, btw??), I prepared my usual contribution to James' family's Thanksgiving meal, Ina's Sagaponack Corn Pudding.  (Clearly this was an Ina type of week.)

I forgot to take a picture of the finished dish, but if you like corn, cream, butter and cheese (and if you don't, we probably don't have much in common), than this dish is for you.  It's my favorite corn dish, it's super easy to make, and it also makes for fantastic leftovers.

We had a really nice few days in New Jersey with James' family, and this year, more than ever, I'm feeling beyond thankful for my husband, my family, our friends, and of course, this happy and healthy little guy.

This kid looks good in any type of hat!
And speaking of healthy, our pediatrician gave us the green light to move forward with rice cereal and food, now that Sammy is at a good weight and is over four months.  I'd be lying if I said I wasn't totally excited to start trying out different food items on him.  After a lot of research (including from this site), I actually decided to forego rice cereal as a first food, and started out with bananas.

Though not obvious in that last picture, the bananas were a total success!  I fed Sammy about 1/4 of one and mixed it with a bit of formula.  He ate everything!  If I was somewhat technically savvy, I'd be able to upload the video we shot of the event, but alas, the pictures will have to do.  Showing a likeness to both his parents, Sammy didn't spit anything out and had no problem swallowing the bananas and smacking his lips for more.  That's our boy!  As for next steps, we'll continue with a bit of banana for the next four days, and then I'll move on to avocado, and eventually, rice cereal.

Finally, so as to not end our week / weekend of gluttony on a low note, tonight I made apple chicken sausages with turnips and butternut squash, as well as cauliflower puree.

And no, this isn't an Ina recipe.  Instead it's from former (?) New York Times Food Editor / co-author of the Food52 blog, Amanda Hesser, as published in The Cook and the Gardener.  As cheesy as the title sounds, one of Amanda's other books, Cooking for Mr. Latte is perhaps my favorite book.  I reread it at LEAST once a year.  Anyway, she is a fellow francophile and the recipes from The Cook and the Gardener are from the year Amanda spent in France.

I made this recipe last year in an effort to better acclimate myself with root vegetables, and it was delicious. (Unfortunately I can't link directly to the recipe.)  This year, I was not able to use fresh turnips and instead resorted to pre-cut bagged turnips and parsnips (thanks, Trader Joe's), and I think that definitely made the meal less stellar.  While not bad - the sausages and butternut squash were fantastic, it definitely wasn't as good as I remember.

As if the vegetables in the main dish weren't enough, I felt that we needed more and made cauliflower puree.  I would eat cauliflower puree over mashed potatoes any day.  Seriously.  And when seasoned appropriately, one would never know that there is even a difference.  While I linked to a recipe that I loosely follow, you really just add however much broth, cream / milk, butter and salt that you want.  It's delicious, it's a smidge healthier, and I promise you'll never look back at starchy bland mashed potatoes. 

How's that for a "brief" Thanksgiving recap?

1 comment:

  1. I can vouch for the cauliflower and the madeleines! also that sweetie with the bananas.