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Friday, November 27, 2009

A Belated Thanksgiving Wish

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and was able to spend time with family and friends and able to enjoy great food and fellowship. We had a small gathering here, just me, my mom, and my husband. But it was an unexpected bonus, as we had been working under the assumption that the hubby was going to have to be out of town over the holiday. It is nice to have family near at the holidays, isn't it?

We decided that this year, minimalism was an okay thing. For dinner itself, we only served three dishes, just like I do for my meals throughout the year: a meat, a starch, and a vegetable. We also decided to be a bit unconventional with the meat this year. We roasted a duck. It was a great choice, because with only three people, we could reasonably feed our "crowd" with only one bird (note to self... ducks are small!). We boiled it first to render off some of the fat and then finished it in a really hot oven to brown. We also put together a nice sour cherry, red wine, and orange sauce to go over the duck. It worked out really well.

While I could give up the turkey or ham at Thanksgiving without any remorse, I just couldn't do without dressing. I put together a stuffing using bread cubes from some left over potato wheat bread I had in the freezer. I sauteed a bunch of aromatics and mushrooms, added herbs, a fair amount of butter, and some chicken broth. I like stuffing that is fluffy and moist on the inside and crunchy and golden on the outside. This stuffing fit the bill!

The last item I made was an old standby. I love peas with caramelized shallots. I should have taken a picture of them last night, as they were much prettier than what you see below (an older photo from when I didn't really know how to use my camera properly yet). I love caramelized shallots because they give a sweet, full flavor to a sometimes pedestrian vegetable.

We finished the evening off with a non-traditional dessert. My mom wanted to taste my cornmeal crust, so we made small blueberry tarts. They were so delicious. We made six so we each had one last night and now we each have another waiting for us today. I can hardly wait! So often, a crust is simply a vehicle for the filling. What I love about this cornmeal crust is it really is the star of the dish. I added a little lemon zest to it this time as well. It is sweet and delectable with a slight hint of lemon and a nice je ne sais quoi from the cornmeal.

This had been an interesting week of cooking... some of which was successful, some not. We made marshmallows, which were delicious. I attempted to make some mozzarella cheese for the first time, but I kept forgetting to come in from our yard work at the proper times and it failed. Fortunately, serendipity took over and I found the end result was a great base for a spreadable cheese. I'll have to see if I can recreate that serendipity to develop a real recipe to post. We really enjoyed the spread on crackers. Lastly, I also tried to make yogurt. It's a really simple process, so I was a little miffed when it didn't seem to come out quite as thick as it should... until I read the date on the carton of yogurt I used as a starter. I guess I don't always use plain yogurt as often as I need to! The carton "use by" date was in late September! Oops! I think I can still use the homemade yogurt for cooking, however, so all is not lost.

While I am starting to come to the sad realization that my week of relaxation is coming to a screeching conclusion (I'd better get my red pen in gear soon to finish grading papers), I will try to start posting some of the recipes I made this week that worked great. I hope food brought you and your family closer together this week, too. Happy belated Thanksgiving!

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