01 December 2009

Thanksgiving at Home - 2009

Field Roast and Turkey - a syncretic splendid table

I spent a whole day cooking on Thursday and it was lovely. We invited Sergio's sister and her family to come over for Thanksgiving. We made it a BYOT dinner - bring your own turkey. Our "turkey" was our long-time favorite vegetarian grain meat: Field Roast. Christy and Armando brought for themselves some turkey they had slow roasted in the crock pot. And Christy made a pumpkin cake for dessert.

beets me

The rest of the meal was a vast array of vegetables in all their glory. Beets with dill and goat cheese - standard, but no less stunning. Mashed potatoes made more interesting with celeriac and rutabaga. Cabbage and Brussels sprouts (thank goodness for the CSA Thanksgiving share) as usual. And a new recipe this year from my treasured Chez Panisse Vegetables which I will be incorporating as a favorite: Fennel and Leek gratin (recipe below).

leek patterns

The color orange in this meal was brought to you by the squashes from my centerpiece in the form of this Smitten Kitchen winter squash soup recipe, a relatively easy soup to make made even easier by the new immersion blender that I finally bought.

butternut (dark) and acorn (light)

I made a Nigella Lawson Cornbread and Cranberry dressing recipe (a British chef's recipe for a southern dish). It turned out just fine (if a little pink) given that the recipe left out cook time and oven temp. (Such is the vegetarian's fate when using a "stuffing" recipe that you do not intend to stuff into anything.)

carbs and cookbooks

And even though I was already tackling a major, multi-step, advance-planned meal prep endeavor with only minimal help from sous chef Sergio, who was otherwise occupied that day, I decided that - on top of everything else, and even though I had never done so before - I would also bake cinnamon rolls.

In for a penny, in for a pound, right? This is the season of excess. So why not throw in an extra baking-from-scratch project when I'm already cooking for four (more like eight, based on the leftovers). Am I crazy? I wondered midday on Thursday when, surrounded by a mini mountain range of chopped vegetables patiently waiting to be cooked, I was rolling around a big ball of dough and asking Sergio to look up a how-to-knead video on YouTube.

this is my 11- by 15-inch "rectangle"

Remarkably, I got the dough through its two risings and into the oven on time and rapidly wrapped up everything else finally as the last two hours of the day zoomed past. Before I knew it, The Nina was running through the door, squealing, and her mom, dad, and hermanito were following just behind. After the hustle and bustle, everything settled on the table nicely and we toasted a top shelf red wine over our very fine meal, before bustling again out the door and into the cold to head down to the Plaza for the annual Christmas lighting ceremony and more celebrating.

The Nina

Fennel and Leek Gratin
from Chez Panisse Vegetables

6 small fennel bulbs
3 medium leeks
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
salt and pepper
3 sprigs parsley
3 sprigs thyme
1.5 cups heavy cream
1 cup vegetable stock

Remove the tough outer layers of the fennel bulbs, split the bulbs lengthwise, and cut them crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices.
Peel off the outer layer of the leeks, and trim off the root ends and the dark green tops. Split the leeks lengthwise and cut the leek halves crosswise into 1/4-inch slices. Plunge the slices into a big bowl of cold water to rinse off any sand. Lift the leeks out of the water, leaving the dirt to sink to the bottom of the bowl.
Melt 1 Tablespoon of the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add half the fennel slices and cook until they are soft, about five minutes. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a large bowl. Cook the rest of the fennel until soft with another Tablespoon of butter and add to the bowl. Then cook the leeks the same way, in two batches with the rest of the butter, and transfer them to a bowl.
Preheat oven to 375.
Pick the leaves off the parsley and thyme sprigs and chop them. Toss the herbs together in the bowl with the fennel and leeks. Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Put the vegetables into a shallow ovenproof dish and pour over just enough of the cream and the vegetable stock to barely cover them. Bake the gratin in the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour, checking every 15 minutes or so to make sure the cream is still covering the vegetables. If the top of the gratin appears to be drying out, push the vegetables down with the back of a spoon, drizzling a little more cream over the top. The cream will bubble up around the vegetables, and the top will brown nicely. Serve hot.
Serves 6

1 comment:

Jenni said...

oh that's beautiful!!!! It all looks so yummy! I didn't know you were from KC! I used to live one block up from the plaza. I miss the lights this year, but I don't miss the traffic so much. :) I live in Waldo now