Gobble Gobble

November 26th, 2017 § 2 comments § permalink

Yes, Thanksgiving/Turkey Day came and went. A day of happy overeating and television football watching. A tribute to self indulgence. HG/BSK’s nephew Matthew M. and his girl friend, the beautiful Allyson came to visit. Four people and a 16-pound turkey (the smallest available). Obviously, there was plenty of left overs, enough for a complete reprise of the dinner the next night. Later in the week will be turkey soup, turkey sandwiches, turkey salad and there was a big chunk of turkey to accompany M. and A. on their trip back to their Colorado home. What else was on the table beside Big Bird? Cornbread, mushroom and sausage stuffing. Brussel sprouts with bacon. Mashed sweet potatoes with garlic. Traditional, buttery mashed potatoes. Braised pearl onions. Cranberry sauce. An abundance of gravy. Lots of great sweet things for dessert. Happily, Beaujolais Nouveau arrived and the dining quartet drank a great quantity of this year’s Georges Duboeuf product. Happy holiday, indeed.

Thanksgiving Redux

December 1st, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

It can’t be a true Thanksgiving celebration without turkey. The HG/BSK/RIVA family ate excellent pork loin on Thanksgiving Day in the beautiful French city of Reims. Very good but it didn’t provide the ambience of tradition provided by the noble bird. Not to worry. The family had Thanksgiving Redux a day after arriving in Rhode Island (following the usual exhausting air journey of delays, uncomfortable seating, vile food, etc.). And, the festive meal took no more effort than the judicious use of the oven and microwave. The Rivas’ good friends and neighbors in their town of Riverside, R.I., are Ivan and Diane. They are both doctors serving the medical needs of the poor and homeless. Diane is a splendid cook. Ivan is a vegetarian but not an ascetic. He is a collector of Scotch single malt whiskys (He once gave HG a tasting of flights of these extraordinary spirits). Diane left a total Thanksgiving meal in the Riva kitchen: Turkey (of course); dressing; gravy; Brussels sprouts; cranberry sauce; a puree of carrots and ginger; haricots vert enhanced with sour cherries; crusty roast potatoes. Arianna’s friend, Jake (a student at Johnson and Wales) baked a pumpkin pie for dessert. Wonderful homecoming meal. Much to be thankful for.

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Thanksgiving in Reims

November 29th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

One of the sillier American traditions is the Presidential “pardon” of a turkey on Thanksgiving Day. President Obama acknowledged the goofiness but continued the ceremony this week. There were no pardoned turkeys for the assembled HG/BSK family in Reims as there was no roast turkey for the big bout of gluttony. The family decided there was no way to get a big, juicy American-style turkey in Europe. An unhappy memory still lurked: Some years ago, Profesore Massimo R.’s American students at the University of Bologna arranged a Thanksgiving turkey feast at a favorite Bologna pizzeria. The proud pizzeria proprietor presented a glistening brown bird with an Italian flourish. However, one taste banished dreams of a Norman Rockwell-type farmhouse feast. This wasn’t a turkey. A buzzard? Vulture? Sea gull that had lost its way? Inedible. With this experience in mind, a loin of pork (roasted in milk atop the oven from a favorite recipe by Marcella Hazan) was the main dish at Thanksgiving dinner for eight (HG/BSK; daughter Lesley R.; son-in-law Massimo R.; granddaughters Arianna and Sofia; plus two beautiful young women, Sofia’s fellow students at Reims’s Sciences Po; one young woman from Brazil and the other from Chile). Side dishes were traditional: brussels sprouts with bacon; creamed spinach, dressing, mashed potatoes. Lavish amounts of gravy. Preceded by a big array of terrines and pates. Dessert was apple tart and sour cherry tart. Since we were in champagne country, the meal started with bubbly and then proceeded to Fleurie, Moulin a Vent and Brouilly. Thankful for family, fun and food.

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Thanksgiving Joy

December 2nd, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

Oh, what a splendid holiday is Thanksgiving. Eat (to excess). Drink (to excess). Laugh, Enjoy. Insightful SJ has noted, there are no religious overtones to mar the holiday jollity. Joining HG/BSK for days of feasting were BSK’s sister, Noel M. and husband Yossi plus son Matthew. (Noel and Yossi acquired a lovely Prince Edward Island property this summer so joint good times are planned for the future). The Thanksgiving Day feasting followed tradition: Squash soup (from the recipe of HG’s beloved sister, the late Beulah Naomi Katz). Roast turkey. Smashed (not mashed) potatoes. Brussel sprouts enlivened by shallots and bacon. Not too sweet cranberry sauce. Abundant giblet gravy. A surprise hit was the stuffing. BSK used lots of sage, sausage and mushrooms to make a stuffing that demanded seconds and thirds. Cornbread (made from a mix) turned out dry and inedible. It was tossed. Two desserts: BSK’s great pear crisp and store bought (not so great) pecan pie. Lots of vanilla ice cream accompanied. HG/BSK and Yossi drank much of this year’s good Beaujolais Nouveau. Bass Ale for Matthew and water for abstemious Noel. Post-dessert there was Bushmill’s Irish Honey whiskey, Calvdaos brandy, Amaretto. Two varieties of peanut brittle. Italian Amaretti cookies. Chocolate truffles. A super sweet finale. The menu was repeated the next night. There was just enough turkey left to make an Asian shredded turkey salad for dinner after Noel, Yossi and Matthew departed for Denver and Las Vegas. The turkey carcass has been bubbling in a pot on the kitchen range with onions, parsley and other greens. A very good turkey broth is anticipated. Turkey is a gift that keeps on giving.

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Gobble Gobble or: How HG Stopped Complaining And Learned To Love Turkey

December 3rd, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

For many year HG disdained the traditional Thanksgiving feast of turkey with all the trimmings. However, BSK’s skills have made HG change his mind. First of all, BSK takes great care in selecting the holiday bird. This year, BSK bought an Amish-raised, totally natural bird from Kuane’s, a well regarded grocer in Santa Fe. Under BSK’s deft hands the bird came out of the oven with brown, crisp skin and a delectably juicy interior. (A BSK secret: To insure a flavorful breast, BSK laid anchovies and bacon on the breast, covered the mixture with foil and let it melt into the bird). Earlier in the day, BSK served butternut squash soup (with a dollop of Greek yogurt and a dusting of cayenne). This soup was based on a recipe from HG’s beloved, late sister, Beulah. All raised glasses to toast her memory. Dinner was festive. Nine persons squeezed around the dining table. Many bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau and Pinot Noir. Side dishes of caramelized pearl onions, roast brussels sprouts, creamy mashed potatoes, stuffing, haricot verts, cranberry sauce. Pear crisp with vanilla ice cream plus peanut butter pie for dessert. Lavish eating. HG has always insisted on lots of turkey gravy with the dinner and BSK complied. BSK roasted vegetables and added them to cooked turkey gizzards, mushroom broth, turkey neck meat and a bit of flour (for thickening). Best turkey gravy ever. Turkey sandwiches the next day. More turkey with mashed potatoes and gravy for next two nights. Followed by turkey soup a la New Mexico. BSK enhanced the soup by giving it a hit of Goya Adobo and adding Big Jim New Mexico roasted chili peppers. Yes, turkey is a bird who just keeps giving, and HG is now glad to receive.

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Day of the Big Bird

November 27th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

At one time, HG subscribed to Calvin Trillin‘s jaundiced views concerning the Thanksgiving Day turkey. Trillin mused that American cuisine would have improved if Italians had landed at Plymouth rather than English Puritans. An Italian landing would have meant Spaghetti Carbonara on Thamskgiving Day rather than turkey, a bird Trillin does not admire. HG is very fond of both Carbonara and the prose of Trilllin, but HG has become ever fonder of The Big Bird and all the trimmings. This Thanksgiving, HG and BSK were blessed with having BSK’s family (folks with big appetites) at the table. The family group was composed of BSK’s sister, Noel;her husband, Yossi, and their two sons, Eric and Matthew. Also present was Eric’s beautiful girl friend, Lisa. The two young men are big guys — well over six feet and well over 200 pounds. Much muscle. Lisa (a Norwegian horse vaulting champion) is a powerful lass who bench presses over 200 pounds. Combined with Yossi, a rangy Israeli who is a renowned Clean Plate Ranger, this quartet can do a lot of damage to a large turkey. With some help from HG, BSK and Noel, the group totally demolished a 16-pound turkey, mounds of mashed potatoes, brussell sprouts roasted with pancetta, stir fried haricot verts, corn bread-sausage-pecan stuffing, two varieties of cranberry sauce. Plus the obligatory gallon of savory gravy (enhanced by BSK’s lovely roux and some judicious spicing). No second day turkey sandwiches. Only a skeleton went into the turkey broth pot. Dessert was BSK’s nut and cinnamon apple crisp (with vanilla ice cream) plus Noel’s honey cake. Adding to the jolly times were six bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau (very good this year) plus Samuel Adams ale, pre-dinner iced vodka and post dinner Israeli dessert wine (resembled a good French sweet Sauterne). Much to be thankful for.

A Thanksgiving Feast to be Thankful For

November 30th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Like any complex man of the world, HG has a few contradictions. While I have posted previously about my preference for a traditional Thanksgiving meal, the reality is that HG has never been a fan of Thanksgiving dinner in general. HG’s unsentimental view: dry turkey and heaps of sloppy food only saved by a liberal dousing of gravy. The exception was the non-traditional Thanksgiving feast prepared by Brilliant Daughter Lesley R. a few days ago in Bologna. Turkey Involtini (slices of turkey breast pounded very thin and covered with a layer of prosciutto and fontina cheese). These lovely morsels were rolled up, secured with toothpicks, browned and then finished in the oven. They were gilded with a robust mushroom gravy. Accompaniments were brussel sprouts (sauteed with shallots and pancetta). Tender haricots vert. Lush mashed potatoes (whipped with butter and Greek yogurt). A perfectly balanced meal. Full of flavor but not an abdominal depth charge. The wine was an excellent Brunello di Montalcino. Cheese and salad followed. Gifted Granddaughter Arianna produced a made-from-scratch pumpkin pie. Pureed roasted pumpkin (not the vile canned stuff). Excellent crust. Toppings were whipped cream and marvelous gelato. Vin Santo followed for the family, while HG sipped a beautiful grappa. A Thanksgiving feast to be thankful for.

T Day Means Turkey..And Tradition.

October 31st, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink

Notice how the foodie magazines go crazy about turkey and Thanksgiving Day? They’ve got to come up with something new every year so there are insane suggestions regarding the noble bird traditional on the day of family tension and overeating. Soak it in cider. Soak it in bourbon. Rub it with outlandish spice mixtures…Cajun, Jerk, Moroccan, Mexican, ad infinitum.

Deep fry the turkey. Poach the bird. Stick beer cans up the bird’s ass and rotate it slowly over a pit of glowing coals.

Side dish ideas are equally surreal. Stuffing suggestions combine the unspeakable with the indigestible.

HG’s suggestion: Keep it simple. Keep it traditional. Do what Mom or your Grandfather did.