Thursday, November 24, 2005

My Pardoned Repast

Pardoned? Yep! No turkeys were harmed or consumed during this year's Thanksgiving meal.

I ultimately made:

Five Spice Butternut Squash Soup
Butternut Squash and Onion Pakoras
Mushrooms stuffed with onion, sage, ricotta, parmesan, chevre and panko
Breast of duck infused with cranberry orange and dijon
Mushrooms and pears with Applejack and bay
Steamed asparagus
Puree of yam, carrot and butternut, garnished with candied cranberries and spiced pecans
Stuffing with pear and sage
(Mr. Nugget was in charge of his Hyberabad Chicken and Rice)
Indian styled, quickie potatoes in the oven

The recipes will be in a stream of consciousness order, as well as the order that they were prepared.

First things first, I roasted the following items for 45 minutes in a 400 degree oven. Some of these items were for the puree of veggies, and the rest were for the soup:

1/2 Butternut squash
1 large yam
2 cups baby carrots
1 Onion, quartered
3 cloves of garlic
1 Apple, cored and halved

Once they were cool to the touch, 1/2 of the carrots, squash and yam were put in the blender for the puree. That was reserved. The remainder of the roasted veggies were put in the blender, along with:

1 inch piece of fresh ginger
2 tsp of Five Spice Powder
1 Chile pepper
1/2 Cup bell pepper slivers
1 Roma tomato
1 Can Veg or Chicken stock
A glug of sugar free maple syrup
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
Salt and black pepper to taste.

All of this was added to a soup pot to simmer along with two bay leaves.

The 1/2 reserved for the veg puree, was served with butter, salt and pepper, and garnished with Craisins and spicy glazed pecans.

Into the food processor, I put 1 onion and the remainder of the (raw) butternut squash. It was on the sliver/slice mode, not shred, making squash ribbons.

In a big bowl, I mixed:

1 Cup of Chick pea flour
1 Tbsp. Olive oil
Enough water to make a thick batter (not watery, but thicker than pancake batter)
1 big pinch cumin seeds
1 crushed dried chile
Salt, pepper and a few pinches of fresh cilantro.
Mix well, and incorporate a few handfuls of the slivered onions and squash. Mix to coat. Drop by dollops into hot peanut oil and fry like you would a hushpuppy or a latke, until brown on each side. Drain on paper towels. These were served with the soup.

Then I started on the miropoix for the stuffing:

I do something odd with my celery, rather than cutting the individual ribs, I just start slicing directly from the entire vegetable, so I finely sliced down about 2-3 inches of my celery*.

In a big skillet, I sauteed until golden brown, the following:

1 onion, minced fine
5 baby carrots, minced fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 Button mushrooms, minced
1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil

I then added about a 1/2 cup of Vegetable stock and 1 tsp. Dijon to deglaze the pan. I added:

1 pear, cored and rough diced
2 Tbsp. Fresh sage, minced
2 Tbsp. Fresh parsley, minced
Salt and pepper to taste.

I cooked until the pear started to get soft. As the liquid evaporated, I added more stock by the tablspoon to keep it moist (not soupy). I started to incorporate some dry stuffing to the wet until everything was soft and coated. I then put this into a shallow baking dish (I used my Quiche pan, because it would ensure the most surface to be exposed and crispen up). I dusted the top of the stuffing with more dry stuffing, and patted all down.

My stuffed mushrooms were an afterthought, unplanned, but I was very pleased with the outcome. Everyone's got their spin on stuffed mushrooms, but these came about just as a matter of what I happened to have on hand today:

10 large button mushrooms, stems removed
2 Tbsp. minced onion
2 tsps. Minced sage
2 tsps. Minced parsley
1/3 Cup ricotta
3 Tbsp. Parmesan Grana
2 oz plain Chevre
Minced mushroom stems
1 pinch thyme
Salt, pepper to taste

Mix well. Incorporate panko, a few tablespoons at a time until mixture comes together, not too dry not too wet, until you are able to form everything into balls, to be stuffed into the mushroom caps. Dust tops with a little more panko and parmesan to ensure they crisp up a little on the tops. Broil until they are set and are browned on top.

I then prepared some Indian inspired potatoes for Mr. Nugget:

Into a pot of salted water, colored with turmeric, I added and cooked until tender

1 large white potato, peeled and cubed

Towards the end of the cooking time, I added:

1 Cup of green peas.

This was put into a strainer until I was ready to preapre a baking dish. I tossed the potatoes and peas into the dish with copious amounts of butter, cumin seed, mustard seed, salt and pepper and a pinch of ground coriander.

I put the stuffing dish and the potato dish in the oven at 350 and baked for 25 minutes.

I took out my split duck breast and flayed the skin off the top to form a pocket. Onto the flesh I smeared a 50/50 mix of cranberry orange relish and dijon mustard. I put the skin back over, and let the duck marinate in that until I was ready.

I had three mushrooms left, so I marinated them in a container with a slivered fresh bay leaf, 1/2 a pear, some black pepper and an oz of Applejack.

I cooked my duck, mushrooms and pear at 400 in my toaster oven . YEP MY TOASTER OVEN. And I let it rest. When we were getting ready to actually eat dinner, I popped one portion of the duck into the toaster oven on broil for a few moments to crisp up the skin and to toast a few stuffed mushrooms.

Mr. Nugget marinated his chicken legs with a spice mix and cooked his contribution to the dinner in the pressure cooker, and cooked up some rice for himself. He had some of the veg puree and tasted the stuffing and liked it, and ate his potatoes.

I served up my meal and put a little, just a little of the duck pan juices on my stuffing and steamed some asparagus at the last moment... and well... this was my dinner....

There's plenty left over.

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