Month: November 2009
Thanksgiving-An Intimate View
Well, of course, I had the idea and, truthfully, had done something like it before, but I had to flesh out the menu and, naturally, try it all out. If you’re a Tyler Florence fan, you might have seen a turkey roulade Tyler makes with leeks and cornbread stuffing. My inspiration for the turkey here came from that lovely recipe.
While I adore Thanksgiving, I know it can get out of hand. You don’t know it’s gotten out of hand until you start the dishes and are still washing glasses the next day. Mostly, it’s worth it. Occasionally, though, you want a holiday to BE a holiday for everyone, including you. Well, you and one other person, a special one.
- Starters: Olives and Pistachios–set out in small bowls and served with a sparkling wine
- First course: Pumpkin or Butternut Squash Soup (bought from deli)
- Main course: Turkey Roulade, stuffed W/ Proscuitto/Sage/Onions/Garlic
- Sides: Oven-Roasted Root Vegetables with Fresh Rosemary
- Brussel Sprouts (pan-roasted) w/ Parmesan & Pumpkin Seeds
- Home-made Spicy Cranberry Sauce w/ Apples and Lemon
- Bread: Corn Muffins from the bakery
- Dessert: Pumpkin Ice Cream, purchased from grocery OR Pumpkin Custards baked the day before and refrigerated (Use any pumpkin pie filling recipe and bake custards in pammed ramekins about 30 min. at 350—No crust)
- Drinks: Wine: Gruet Sparkling Wine, A to Z Riesling, and Sineann Pinot Noir- Have it all! Coffee: French Roast, laced with Cognac and Whipped Cream
Helen and Alyce’s Lentil Soup/Princeton-NY Trip
Central Park in the Fall–More Princeton/NY pics at bottom
They go together
I have a great friend named Helen Aldrich. Once, many years ago, her husband Jim, my friend Sue (of Sue’s ribs), and I spent years traveling to and from D.C. on a clap-trap, stinky commuter bus. We talked books, politics, religion, love, kids and spouses. We often stopped for coffee together before heading to work (sometimes making us late). Bit by bit, our families, too, came together and we have all been friends now for a long time.
Vacations at the beach together include taking a turn in the kitchen.
The following soup recipe is one of Helen’s beach offerings, tweaked by me at home over the years. ( I also do a vegetarian lentil based on this recipe; I’ll include those directions, too.) It seemed to me that this soup makes more sense in the fall or winter than in the summer, but we’ve eaten it both ways.
Tree at Princeton–Is this a perfect fall picture or what?
I love you, darlin’. (Something Helen says often to all of us.)
(Kurt, are the pina coladas ready?)
Helen and Alyce’s Lentil Soup
Helen and Alyce’s Lentil Soup
▪ 1 pound brown or green lentils, rinsed several times ▪ 2quartsbeeforchickenbroth
▪ 1 onion, chopped
▪ 1 cup chopped carrots
▪ 2 cups chopped celery
▪ 2 cloves garlic, minced
▪ 15-ounce can chopped tomatoes
▪ 1 large potato, cubed (optional)
▪ 2 tablespoons each: fresh chopped rosemary and sage*
▪ 1 pound pork bulk breakfast sausage
▪ 1⁄2 pound cooked Andoille or kielbasa sausage or chopped hamsteak, cut into 1/2′′ pieces
▪ Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper ▪ Hotsauce(IlikeTabasco)
- Mix together lentils – sage in 6 or 8 quart stockpot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Turn heat down to simmer and cook about 30 minutes or so until vegetables are becoming tender.
- Meanwhile, brown breakfast sausage in skillet until done; drain. Add to stockpot along with cut Andoille or kielbasa. Season pot with salt and pepper – and/or Tabasco— to taste.
- If soup is becoming too thick, add water or more beef or chicken broth. Continue to simmer until lentils are tender.
- Taste and adjust seasonings; serve hot.
Slow Cooker: Make as above, but cook in 6 qt. slow cooker on low for 6-8 hrs or on high for 4-5 hours.
*If using dried herbs, cut amounts in half
Nice side: cornbread with honey
Nice topping: Grated Parmesan cheese
For vegan or vegetarian option, use vegetable broth in place of chicken or beef and omit meat. Add sautéed, chopped zucchini, or eggplant cooked in a little olive oil. Add toward end of cooking. (Can also add 1-2 cups cooked white beans.)
Above: eating corned beef at the Carnegie Deli. What else for NY lunch?
Above: Dave at Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center, ready for the NY Philharmonic. The usher scolded me for taking pictures……….
Above: Alyce and Emily -Fountain at Lincoln Center
Dave and Alyce- behind the Tavern on the Green with a familiar NY character
Above: Emily and Dave enjoying Central Park
Above: Emily ready for her first time at a Broadway show……………. Wicked!
Lovely visit all around. We also found time for brunch with family in Brooklyn, a late night dinner at Nizza (go Nizza!!!) and lots of the best people watching in the world.
Meantime, I thought I’d blog a dessert I made just about two weeks ago when, you’ll remember, there were still peaches in the stores. Maybe they were “The Last Peach(es) of summer!” I began by looking at a Plum Crunch Ina Garten had made on tv and found the recipe in her BACK TO BASICS COOKBOOK. I didn’t really have all of the ingredients, so I began to experiment a bit. Mixing fruits, cutting sugar… You get the idea.
8 holiday plums, peeled and cut into fourths*
2 peaches, peeled and cut into eighths
½ c blueberries, fresh or frozen
¼ cup flour
2/3 c white, granulated sugar
1 ½ c unbleached, white flour
½ c ea granulated white and light brown sugar, packed
½ t kosher salt
1 c old-fashioned oats
½ c chopped pecans
2 sticks (1c) cold butter, cut into pieces.
8 scoops vanilla ice cream or 1 c whipped cream, optional
Preheat oven to 375 F. Spray the inside of a 2qt or 12×8” baking dish.
Combine fruit, ¼ c flour, sugar and brandy. Pour into baking dish.
*If using all plums, increase plums from 8 to 12.
Caught between the bounty of summer’s harvest and the watchful, waiting Advent brings, I made this dessert one day and went to rehearsal to practice the Christmas portion of “The Messiah.” Working behind and ahead! can be an unusual process for a faithful cook.
Which "Pho?" or 4 Meals at our House
A STORY OF FOUR MEALS AT OUR HOUSE ———–OR
HOW I LEARNED TO MAKE QUICK AND QUICKER VIETNAMESE NOODLE SOUP WITH FRESH HERBS AND GREENS…………
Do you want your mouth to sing? What melody (or harmony?) would you like?
If you like to frequent places called things like
Restaurant Saigon or
and haven’t a clue from where those flavors come (but wish you did or want to know how to get them in your mouth totally fast……)
————————————————- then this blog is for you.
I really like cooking things I’ve never cooked before. I also really like (and my husband is crazy about) Vietnamese food, at least the sort of Vietnamese food found in Vietnamese restaurants in the United States. Give me a bun (bowl), an intensely fragrant soup showered with or poured over herbs and greens and I am in a happy land. If it’s the burn the skin off the roof of your mouth variety, I’m outa there. This soup, however, is breathable love.
I recently made THE SPLENDID TABLE’S (of NPR fame) version called “Pho,” pronounced “fuh.” We were tantalized. Harmonized. Unable to speak for eating. So, I made it again and again… Each time in a simpler version. Maybe better.
Here’s the story:
Meal #1: SPLENDID TABLES’ —PHO:
(This is from their book, HOW TO COOK DINNER- published last year.)
The method was a kinda shortened version of the real deal Asian noodle chefs make, which is a long process. The synopsis might read like the following:
Broil, yep, broil a sliced onion, a bruised (I pounded mine with a chef’s knife?) star anise, a few sliced garlic cloves, a couple of grinds of pepper, 6 whole cloves and 2-3” of thinly sliced ginger on a large, rimmed baking sheet or heavy-duty foil. Scrape all that in a small pot of chicken stock with some fish sauce and sugar; cook 20 min. Fix some rice noodles (let sit in very hot water; drain).
To the BIG bowls out of which you’ll be eating , add raw, thinly sliced top round. and divide the noodles between the big bowls
—————-Yes, this really does work. Even at altitude.
Pour the very hot, boiling soup over the noodles and raw beef. Serve with a “table salad” plateful of…
Folks can choose the greens they want; you can ad lib. I used some spinach for nutritional value.
Sauces at the table would be:
–Hoisin and/or –Hot Sauce
Please buy the cookbook for the great, full version and all the rest of the super stuff in it. After another summer in Minnesota, I’m absolutely addicted to “Splendid Table.” On at 10am-Sundays- on NPR (91.5) here in Co. Springs.
——-The little black things are broiled whole cloves and pieces of star anise.
Meal Number 2: OUR AMENDED CHICKEN VERSION:
NOW THEN, we liked this so much, we fixed it another night with some boneless chicken thighs (the recipe said you could), but we had to throw the whole mess back in the pot to cook the chicken. It wouldn’t cook in the bowls. Insert appropriate lovely language here. We’re at altitude. It was a great idea because we had all of these herbs, etc, sitting in the frig. I was thinking we needed to do this when we had a garden; there were nearly $12 worth of fresh herbs for this soup…so———anyway—– Why not try it again?
(We should have used boneless breasts—afterthought. They cook faster than thighs, which are dark meat.)
Well— We adored it. Except for having to cook it in the pot. In fact, we liked it better the second night.
(What I’m not saying is how good this soup made us feel. It was delicious, tummy-warming, mouth-humming, filling, nutritious, not fattening….)
Meal #3 : Grilled Chicken Thighs with Zucchini and Mushrooms
At that point, said dinner partner went on a business trip leaving me with a few uncooked chicken thighs and some zucchini and mushrooms in the frig. I grilled the chicken and sautéed the veg and ate it all with a nice Australian Shiraz and a captivating book (THE HELP) and thoroughly enjoyed a night all by myself.
Ok, this is nothing earth-shattering, but it was quite tasty!
Meal #4 PHO —ALYCE’S VERY FAST, THANK YOU VERSION
1 thinly sliced onion
1 star anise
2 garlic cloves, sliced
2” fresh ginger, sliced thinly
Several grind of black pepper
Box of chicken stock
2 t fish sauce (bottled Asian condiment)
½ box rice-wheat Udon noodles (or whole-wheat linguine)
2-3 chicken thighs, cooked and thinly sliced (or any cooked chicken–perhaps
You can ad lib herbs and greens, even using chopped iceberg, as some restaurants do, but I used:
Cilantro, Basil, Mint (all fresh and chopped or whole, as desired)
Thinly sliced scallions
2 cups fresh spinach
¼ c alfalfa sprouts
2 slices fresh lime
Hoisin Sauce, (another bottled Asian condiment)
Tabasco (if desired)
In the bottom of a 4-qt. saucepan, place everything in the first group of ingredients (onion-ground pepper), heat pan over medium heat, stirring ingredients nearly constantly. You must do this carefully as there is NO fat in this pan. Turn heat off when edges of onion are blackened. Add chicken stock (careful!), fish sauce and sugar. Bring to boil; cover and lower heat to simmer for 7 minutes. Add noodles and stir. Cook another 6 minutes or so until noodles are done (whole wheat linguine will take more time; you might want to break it in half).
To each serving (big) bowl, add 1 c fresh spinach and some cooked chicken. Divide broth and noodles between the bowls and top with desired herbs/greens. Add sauce(s) if desired and squeeze lime over all.
What NEW song is your mouth singing?