04 December 2012


Twas the night before Thanksgiving and all through the house...

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and this year's celebration did not disappoint. We hosted in our new house at our big dining room table and the meal came out great. As before, Christy and Armando were in charge of meat and Sergio and I did what we do best - vegetables! I had two pages of notes and spent hours prepping - which dish to cook which recipe - when to put what in the oven. We had the oven going all day and it felt like we were cooking every vegetable under the sun and I loved it.

Nina made place cards - she spelled several of these all by herself!

I even tried a new recipe or two this year. Although I couldn't forget my now "famous" (By "famous" I just mean that I really like this dish and want to cook it every year.) Fennel and Leek Gratin - which almost didn't happen after I forgot to buy fennel at Badseed. Fortunately, I am friends with farmers and I was able to have my 6 fennel bulbs personally delivered to my house, thankyouverymuch. Fennel emergency avoided! 
Fennel, or "Star Trek Vegetable" as I've been calling it this year. 
The new recipe of note was Brussels sprouts and chestnuts and it was a sure winner. I'll be including that in my regular repertoire. No matter how long it took me to peel those raw chestnuts. (About 45 minutes, BTW.) 
Brussels sprouts and chestnuts - see below for recipe. 

carrot cake

Sergio whipped up the most beautiful and delicious carrot cake - his favorite - and a good companion to Christy's pumpkin pie. We baked all our orange vegetables into desserts. 

Sitting down to eat.
With all the craziness in the kitchen that day, Thanksgiving was a total whirlwind. A big, beautiful, delicious whirlwind and I was just so grateful that we were all healthy - unlike last year and The Great Flu of 2011. And Pink Eye. But I spoke too soon because on Friday, Clara started coughing and by Friday night I was shaking with fever. My parents came on Friday - they missed the "recalentado" in the afternoon (just as delicious on day 2!) but got here *just* in the nick of time to see the lighting of the Mayor's Christmas Tree Friday night. We came home from that and Clara, Julia, and I spent the rest of the weekend being sick and being cared for by Honey, Papa, and Sergio/Daddy. It took us well over a week to get out of that stupor. I'm so glad my folks were there to help out and I'm so glad we're finally well now. Maybe "glad" isn't the word - maybe it's "grateful."

Julia and "Papa Dear" at the Mayor's Christmas Tree.
You can't see from this picture but she has her hand tucked into his shirt to stay warm.

recipe (and chestnuts!) from Chestnut Charlie

Brussels Sprouts and Chestnuts
1 c heavy cream
1 1/4 cups water, divided
1 c peeled chestnuts, cut into quarters
2 T unsalted butter
1-2 t minced fresh thyme
1 t kosher salt or to taste
freshly ground black pepper
2 lbs (8 cups) Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved

Place the cream, 1/4 C of the water and the chestnuts in a small saucepan. Bring to a bare simmer and cook over very low heat while preparing the Brussels sprouts. This will soften the chestnuts while infusing the cream with flavor. There should only be a few bubbles visible on the surface of the cream. If cooked at a rapid simmer, the cream will reduce too much and the final dish will be oily. 

Bring butter, salt, and 1 C water to boil over high heat in a deep 12 " heavy skillet (the water should fill the pan to a depth of about 1/4"). Add Brussels sprouts, thyme, and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally until the Brussels sprouts are crisp-tender, 6-8 minutes. Remove the lid. Boil over moderately high to high heat until water is evaporated and the sprouts begin to caramelize, 3 to 4 minutes. 

Remove from the heat and add the cream along with the chestnuts. The cream will boil and reduce rapidly upon coming in contact with the hot pan, so stir constantly with a heat proof spatula, encouraging the thickening cream to coat the sprouts and chestnuts. If the cream is too liquid, return the pan to moderate heat. Simmer until the cream coats the sprouts and chestnuts. Taste and correct the seasoning with salt and pepper. 

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