Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving: The Good

So, back when all this started, I made a rash vow to cook a proper Thanksgiving dinner for Jack, without opening a single packet, jar, or can. I also promised to have a dinner party, "for maybe six people, with multiple courses, and appropriate side-dishes, all made by me, and produced without any visible panic or weeping."

And it came to pass that these things combined - a miscellaneous bunch of Europeans and wayward Americans gathered in our apartment for Thanksgiving dinner, and made it out alive.

First I'll tell you about the things that went well...

We started out with a bruschetta/crostini-type setup - toasts and french bread with various toppings - the ones below, plus an olive-garlic tapenade that I bought. People really seemed to like them. (But don't have any pictures, sorry.)

The Recipe: Tomato Bruschetta/Crostini
Adapted from How to Cook Everything (10th Anniversary Edition) by Mark Bittman

To make real bruschetta you're supposed to brush the bits of bread with olive oil and grill or broil, then rub with garlic. I didn't do any of that - the oven was otherwise engaged, and I can't eat garlic.

I just mixed together the following:

  • Two large vine-ripened tomatoes, core and seeds removed, and chopped
  • About a quarter of a red onion, diced
  • Torn basil leaves, to taste (hmm, maybe about a quarter cup?)
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
Serves 6 (as one of 3 toppings).
The Recipe: Pesto
Adapted from How to Cook Everything (10th Anniversary Edition) by Mark Bittman

  • 2 loosely packed cups fresh basil leaves, rinsed and dried
  • Half a garlic clove, peeled, or more to taste (I leave this out)
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts (I use 3 to make up for the lack of garlic)
  • 0.5 cup freshly grated Parmesan, pecorino Romano, or other hard cheese
  • 0.5 cup olive oil (I use probably half this amount)
  • Salt, to taste
Makes about 1 cup (probably less without all the oil; anyway, it was plenty for 6 people, we had some left over which we can have with pasta when we're sick of turkey).
Combine ingredients in food processor or blender with about half the oil. Process, stopping to scrape down the sides of the container as necessary, and adding remaining oil gradually. Add more if you prefer a thinner mixture.
The Recipe: Traditional Cranberry SauceFrom How to Cook Everything (10th Anniversary Edition) by Mark Bittman
This came out perfectly. What can I say? You might miss the way the canned stuff glops out of its tin, but you won't miss the tinny taste.
  • 4 cups (about 1 lb) fresh cranberries, picked over and rinsed, or frozen cranberries
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water
Makes about 1 quart.
1. Combine the cranberries, sugar, and water in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the berries are broken, 10-15 mins.
2. Transfer to a bowl; cool, then chill until ready to serve. The sauce can be refrigerated, covered, for up to a week.

The Recipe: Red Cabbage
Adapted from The Good Housekeeping Cookbook, 1949 edition (this is the one my mum has, I managed to find a copy on eBay)

My dad was the red cabbage maestro in our house. I left out a couple of things (apple, flour) that I'm pretty sure he didn't use. It tasted exactly like the stuff he used to make.

  • 1 2.5 lb head red cabbage
  • 0.75 cup water
  • 3 tbspn butter
  • 0.25 cup vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)
  • 0.25 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • Salt & pepper to taste (they say 2 tspn salt, but that might be a lot, can't remember exactly how much I used)
They says it serves 6, but that would be 6 people who only eat red cabbage for dinner.
1. Shred cabbage medium fine. Put in large pan; add water; cook, covered, 10 mins.
2. Add remaining ingredients; cook 10 mins, or until tender.

But what about the rest of the dinner? That will have to wait till tomorrow...


JAM said...

ok, time for a reality check: "the good" was actually terrific, "the acceptable" was really tasty, and i can't comment on "the inedible" because we never got the chance to try it.

two days of cooking by one person for six people, all goodies (or mostly) made from scratch...that's pretty impressive in my book!

Smart said...