Thursday, December 02, 2004

blustery outside, warm inside

Thanksgiving has come and gone. My first Thanksgiving cooking, with my girlfriend Beckey, and first Thanksgiving in the new house. Beckey's were there and so was my mom, and a big feast was had for all. The menu:

Sweet and Spicy Butternut Squash soup
Green salad with endives, pears and a Dijon vinaigrette
14-1/2 lb turkey
Beckey's mom's stuffing
My mom's dressing
Roasted Garlic Mashed potatoes
Roasted Cipollini Onions
Sauteed mushrooms with garlic and onions
Steamed green beans
Canned beets
Canned baked yams with marshmallows
Fresh Cranberry sauce (from my mom)
Pumpkin Pie, Berry Pie, and Pecan Pie
Dinner Rolls

I made the soup, salad, onions, and helped with the Turkey.

The squash soup recipe came from the Williams Sonoma "Complete Entertaining Guide". It's rich, sweet, and spicy, and yet is quite low fat & healthy. Beckey's dad proclaimed "...and I don't even like squash!", a testament to this soup's tastiness. I made the soup the night before, it refrigerated beautifully, and reheated the next day just as nicely.

Serves 6

2 tbsp. butter
3 c. butternut squash, peeled and diced
1 c. onion, diced
1 green apple (such as Granny Smith), cored and diced
1/2 green apple, for garnish
1/2 tsp nutmeg, ground
1/2 tsp allspice, ground
1/2 tsp cinnamon, ground
6 cups chicken stock
Salt & pepper to taste

In a large pot, melt butter and add diced onions and apple. Cook at medium-low heat for around 15 minutes, until onions are soft. Add nutmeg, allspice and cinnamon, and cook for about 1 minute. Next add diced squash, and add enough chicken stock to just cover the mixture. Bring to a boil, then turn down to simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Remove from heat, and pour mixture (in 2 or 3 batches) into food processor. Blend with food processor until smooth, about 15-20 seconds per batch. Add salt & pepper to taste, and adjust other seasonings as necessary (nutmeg, allspice, cinammon)

At this point, you can pour it into a bowl and refrigerate uncovered until cool, then cover it. It will easily store until the next day. Just bring to a near boil the next day and serve. Or, serve it in soup bowls garnished by thin apple slices. Mmm...I just had a bowl for lunch, and it was excellent.

Roasted Cipollini Onions

Cipollini Onions are smaller than shallots, and look kind of like a small, flattened white or yellow onion. This recipe comes from Janus Wilder from an old FoodTV episode.

Serves 6
1 tbsp. olive oil
24 Cipollini Onions, peeled
3 tbsp. brandy
Salt & Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350. In a skillet, heat oil and add onions, cooking for around 5-10 minutes or until they get some color. Take skillet off flame, add brandy, and tip into flame (watch out!) to flame off brandy. Add salt & pepper to taste. Transfer onions to baking dish (or cook the onions in a cast iron pan) and cook them in the oven for 45 minutes.

Some holiday cooking hints:

  • For mashed potatoes for a group, estimate about 1 medium or 1 large potato per person. A nice proportion we found was: 6 potatoes, 2 sticks butter, 2 heads (not cloves, HEADS) of roasted garlic. I read in a cooking-related book that a good proportion for mashed potatoes is a 1-to-1 ratio of potato to butter, but my heart almost stopped while thinking about that. Even so, the above proportion made for some very rich, creamy mashed potatoes.
  • Throw in the garlic to roast in the over about 1 or 1.5 hours before the turkey is done, to best coordinate with the completion of mashed potatoes.
  • Apparently it's easier to peel cipollini onions if you blanch them in some boiling water for about 15 seconds.

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