Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I Am Thankful For a Day to Cook

Marinated Feta Made This Afternoon
I so look forward to the day of cooking, chopping, and whisking ahead! I don't look forward to the dishes, but I'll have some helpers, I hope.

We'll need a little something for snacking before the meal, so I started some marinated feta just now. I'll do everything else tomorrow. It'll  be a small group for Thanksgiving dinner at my house, but there are certain required dishes, so there will be plenty to do:

Turkey, of course. I do the same thing every year - turkey stuffed with orange & lemon wedges, chunks of onion, and fresh herbs. Every year I think, I'll try something new and different next year, but I never do. It's a good turkey recipe, so I stick with it.

Gravy. I pretty much wing it with the gravy while the turkey is resting, and it always turns out great. Every year I feel lucky (and thankful) that somehow the gravy turned out.

Stuffing. Not in the bird because that's already stuffed with the aromatics mentioned above, but on the side. Stuffing is my favorite Thanksgiving dish. This will be the first time to make or eat gluten-free stuffing. Fingers crossed.

Mashed sweet potatoes with crispy shallots. Pretty basic, but very good.

Baby greens with pomegranate seeds, pear slices, and some sort of last-minute, made-up dressing.

Cranberries. I am not a fan. I've made cranberry sauce once or twice, but everyone at my house (except me) prefers the jellied, canned stuff, so this one will be easy. Can opener please!

Finally, pumpkin pie. The filling will be homemade with canned pumpkin puree, and I will use a frozen, gluten-free crust. The crust is my favorite part of any pie, so again, fingers crossed as I haven't tried one of these gluten-free crusts before. We'll make our own whipped cream - fun to do with the kids, and way better than the store-bought stuff.

That's it. No green beans, Brussels sprouts, or dinner rolls - not enough people for all that food this year.

The frozen turkey has been thawing in the fridge since early Monday afternoon. Will it be ready in time? Fingers crossed.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Enjoy the day, the feast, your family & friends, the rain, the sunshine, or the snow - whatever you've got. And be thankful for it all.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

My First Time: Risotto

I made risotto for the first time the other night. Of course, I've eaten it before.... Risotto with wild mushrooms seems to be a popular offering, and I do enjoy it that way. I've also liked it with asparagus and lemon zest. And of course, there's always a bit of grated Italian cheese like Parmigiano Reggiano.

The recipe I prepared included mushrooms, baby spinach, and bacon, with Asiago. The dish was supposedly light, but it was so rich, creamy, and bacon-y that it's just hard to believe it could be light. I guess that means it was risotto done right, as creamy is the goal and the reason one stands at the stove stirring, stirring, and stirring forever - well, for a long time anyway. I guess this constant stirring is necessary so that a) it doesn't burn, and b) it doesn't turn into one solid glob - not appetizing.

I served the risotto with roasted Brussels sprouts and carrots with a sprinkling of caraway seeds, sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper. The Brussels sprouts, especially, were really good with the risotto because, light or not, it's a rich dish and it was nice to have something green and slightly bitter to contrast with the creamy rice. Asparagus would have made a nice side too. And I kept thinking, bitter arugula instead spinach in the risotto itself might have been good. Maybe I'll try that sometime.

Below is a link to the recipe from Cooking Light magazine. I followed it to the letter, except that I did not use homemade chicken stock. (I hope you'll forgive me.)

Bacon & Wild Mushroom Risotto with Baby Spinach