Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving, Part II

Events beyond my control--Bud Light with an old friend, an unexpected encounter with a MENSA member, Hendrick's and Fresca, and a 3am trip to Dunkin' Donuts with an old flame for a French Vanilla--saw me home later than I had planned. Note to self: Do not eat kimchi-flavored ramen at 4 in the morning if you have any intention of feeling human the next day. All that aside, I still had to get up early for another day of chopping, peeling, and assorted holiday fun. Today was turkey brine day. Our baby's resting in a cooler in the 40-degree garage and has been all day. There were, of course, other courses to prep. See below:

*Pumpkin Trifle, Courtesy of the Internet*
Assembled using yesterday's gingerbread cake and vanilla pudding, along with the addition of a 30 ounce can of Libby's pumpkin puree. (Don't knock it until you've tried it.) Gingerbread on bottom, then vanilla/pumpkin pudding, then hand-whipped cream, more gingerbread, etc. You get the picture. On top, for fun, dried orange flowers and cranberries. The thing is gigantic and inhabiting the same space the turkey inhabited yesterday.

*Stilton Mixture and Caramelized Pears, Courtesy of*
Pardon me for overinflating my caramel skills in yesterday's post. As it happens, I jumped too quickly into caramel part dos and, thusly, misread my recipe, which meant that my ratio was off (this was a butter caramel, as opposed to a water caramel and I missed a full tablespoon of sugar, which I had to add after the pears had already hit the pan). So the pears took forever to brown and never got as sweet as I would have liked, but they're still pretty tasty. The stilton is mixed with white wine vinegar (an improvisation--we ran out of red), salt, pepper, garlic, and extra virgin olive oil. This will go on pieces of endive, which will then be topped with pear and a toasted pecan.

*Stuffing, Courtesy of Old Family Recipe*
Thank god my mother cubed and toasted three full stuffing loaves because, otherwise, I would have freaked out. I sweat down 2.5 lbs of button mushrooms along with 3 white onions and a bunch of celery. Salt, pepper, Bell's Poultry seasoning, fresh thyme, a few handfuls of oatmeal to bind, and chicken stock to moisten and... voila. Stuffing. You have to mix this stuff by hand. Otherwise the bread begins to lose its shape and the moisture isn't well-distributed.

*Gucamole, Courtesy of Dean and Deluca Cookbook*
Hass avocados are not cheap. Ten cost me 20 bucks. I went food-processor with this recipe because I simply didn't feel like dealing with a hand-mashed guac. Also, I doctored it by adding garlic (2 cloves) and by subbing serrano peppers for the jalapenos (6 total). Also in the mix were 4 tomatillos, 3 limes, 1 red tomato, 1 red onion, and a handful of cilantro.

*Sea Scallop Ceviche, Courtesy of... I Forget*
If 12 limes seems excessive to you, try squeezing them by hand. It might be worth it in the end, though. The ceviche is looking and smelling faboo. Serrano peppers, cilantro, mango, and green onions top off a few pounds worth of sliced Atlantic seas.

Pretty much everything else today was mise-en-place. We'll see how it goes come execution time, especially given that tonight is THE GREATEST PARTY NIGHT OF THE YEAR (or so they tell me).

Next year, I'm only inviting ten people.

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