Today’s Wednesday–8 days before Thanksgiving; 4 days before my kids, et al, come to celebrate our early-bird feast. There’s several inches of white stuff on the ground, school’s out and some neighborhood kids just made a snowman. It’s leering at me from across the street. Wipe that silly grin off your face before I knock it off.
Pears beginning to poach in a fruity mulled wine.
Oopsie! Debby Downer’s come to visit. Normally I’m delighted with the first stuff of the season. But memories of last winter…today’s temps below freezing …two feasts to prepare…a book demanding its 20 millionth proof…a house that needs cleaning…no assistant to assist…Really, Frosty, really? Can’t you wait until December?
My family assumes my spatula is a magic wand, perhaps yours’ does too; no short-cuts for this gal. Grinning mightily, I’m supposed to cherish this holiday; be an enthusiastic spoke on the wheel with the other smily-faced Thanksgiving Day guru bloggers, communally slavering over saucepan, over pen, over this one holiday that devotes itself to food. That should be me. But, yet, it’s not. This year I’m saying’– make it go away, please?
It’s essential making dishes 24 hours in advance as, folks, I’m in survival mode, and the savory panna cotta (not sweet, per typical panna cotta) dealie I’m launching to conclude tomorrow’s meal is a piece of work. I’ll make the Goat Cheese Panna Cotta and Poached Pears portion of the recipe tonight, the entirety to be completed an hour before dinner’s served. Salad and cheese courses are often served after the main, and this recipe takes care of that, plus the poached pear adds an element of sweet. Actually, it’s killing a lot of birds with one stone if you want to look at it that way.
Whisk goat cheese until incorporated into sauce and smooth.
Place pan in ice bath then whisk in gelatin (read notes on blooming gelatin). Whisk until completely incorporated and mixture is not gritty.
Pour mixture into oiled ramekins and refrigerate at least 6 hours and up to 24.
Make bacon-maple syrup and strain out bacon.
Panna Cotta perfection! Just the right amount of jiggle and creaminess while maintaining its shape.
Today’s Saturday: When you read the following recipe (I dare you), you’re right to conclude that I’m a whacked-out masochist since I’ve kvetched ad nauseam about my work load. (I get it; nice problems and all that.) If you’ve read this far, perhaps you’re feeling my pain because holidays knock you broadside, too. This year my novel-to-be takes the rap.
Recipes are included in SIMMER AND SMOKE; A Culinary Tale, and the following is a recipe I’ve made only once and will appear in the book. It needed a microscopic proof and that’s what I gave it. I’ll serve it tonight, but made a sample to photograph and taste. The layers of texture and flavor incorporate into a shimmering, creamy, bacolicious dish; a real show-stopper and, in retrospect, worth the effort.Thanks for letting me whine. I’ll go away now…
Not so fast… one little last thing. Forget deep breathing mantras. Here’s my strategy for Thanksgiving Day Survival: Lucy’s Pig Punch. Yeowza!
(Note the gold holiday ball in the right hand column of this blog. Perhaps some of my past holiday recipe blogs can be of assistance to your meal planning in the next couple of months.)
Last week was spent with three lady friends in Manhattan soaking in (breathless) as many museums, plays, Halloween revelry, and….of course—food!—as we could inhale without falling face forward prone.
There’s no city like New York, and last week’s visit was less costly and more entertaining for me than past trips; certainly more user-friendly than when I lived there. Shopping accommodations on the internet are one reason; Ubering and small-plate sharing could be other reasons. And the town’s more inviting and relaxing because it’s cleaner and safer than past decades have witnessed.
Use your sharpest knife to shave into thin slices; 1/16th of an inch.
Use a vegetable peeler to shave cheese; grate the bits that fall apart.
Fry shallots until crispy taking care not to burn.
Serve the dish as a salad or on crostini.
We divided our stay between a midtown Airbnb (convenient to theatres and museums), and a charming boutique hotel downtown in Greenwich Village (The Marlton). Its cozy hotel bar, complete with crackling fire, was rife with late-night action. Plays we saw included last year’s Pulitzer Prize winning, Disgraced, and the wildly popular, wildly amusing, Kinky Boots and Book of Mormon.
We noshed on tender Beef Cheek Ravioli with Squab Liver and Truffles on Halloween at Babbo, dirt-cheap dumplings and sesame pancakes with duck at Venessa’s Dumplings (skirting Chinatown, close to the Tenement Museum on the lower east side). We shared and slurped our way through a variety of ramen at Ippudo, accompanied by steamed buns, flash-fried octopus and mushrooms. We sampled from other eateries here and there –lobster rolls and Vietnamese sandwiches in Chelsea Market; even in the touristy Times Square jungle, all of the food was very good.
The following is a recipe similar to a Raw Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Sheperd’s Basket Cheese and Marcona Almonds we shared at a Jean George‘s restaurant, ABC Cocino. I couldn’t find their exact recipe and I don’t have access to the local cheese they used, but the cheese tasted like a Manchego, which I used in the recipe below.
You know brussels sprouts and all of its incarnations have “arrived” when you see them displayed, shaved, in cello pre-packs at your local Trader Joe’s. And you could save time by using these, but I prefer the bright taste of the freshest brussels you can locate, and the precise razor-thin cut that only your sharpest chef knife can wield.
If you enjoy flavors typical of Spain, this salad has your number; it’s to die for scrumptious and I’m finishing off last night’s leftovers as I write these words. A quick trot through shaved brussels sprouts cyber-land reveals a host of other preparations, some shavings paired with apples and a cider vinaigrette, others with truffle oil and Reggiano, for example.
Chelsea Market throbs, bursts at the seams, with gustatory pleasures.
Chelsea Market alley scene; dude needs a sandwich!
Andy's soup at MOMA.
Count on the Metropolitan Museum to walk off your lunch.
Scenes from Central Park; lunch at the Boathouse.
Make my boots a pair of sequined reds; size 7 1/2.
Pork buns at Ippudo.
Great lines on the High Line.
Pork Belly Banh Mi at Num Pang sandwich shop in Chelsea Market.
A gent decked out in Halloween regalia. He said he owned a Belgium beer bar around the corner.
Halloween street scene in the Village.
Only very dull people neglect to don a costume in this neck of the woods.
The dish that inspired this blog.
In conclusion, if my words inspire a visit, plan ahead to save cash. We organized the trip several months in advance; even so, the best Air B&B’s were almost booked. Center mezzanine tickets are less costly, but they sell must faster than other tickets in their price range. Babbo and ABC Cocino insist on reservations made (and be precise!) 30 days in advance.
If seasons were named a color, Autumn might be Orange. Or some variation more enticing, a Benjamin Moore tinted swatch in the Fall family you might paint your room, say, Harvest Moon, Warm Sunglow, Pumpkin Pie.
I recently received a comment from a reader who’d enjoyed a carrot soup I make. Memories of the lovely flavor profile–autumnal aromatherapy–lodged into my brain all day, before unleashing into supper.
Here are a group of lovely transitional soups to warm your soul like a favorite sweater, all in shades of orange. Links to their recipes may be found at this blog’s conclusion.
Of late, the recipes I’ve been making day-to-day are found in the annals of my dinnerFeed search engine; proofing an old recipe is far easier and faster for me than creating a new one. All of my creative pistons are exhausted by my efforts of late to publish my first novel: Simmer and Smoke; A Culinary Tale. It’s a smoldering novel weaving two women together in a landscape of organic farms, underground dinners and shadowy borders; some borders not meant to be crossed. The book explores the concept that if reality is smoke and mirrors, than is fantasy our virtual truth?
I’m close to the finish and have begun my second book: The Painted Dog. It’s taken me several years to write Simmer and Smoke, and the wisdom of smart, thoughtful editors to assist along the way. I’ve heard that publishing a book is harder than writing one, and I’m starting to believe that this is true!
But back to soup. Here are the links to these favorite Autumn soups:
Food writer by trade, curious cook by design.
The past 30 years have witnessed a raucous race from my professional to
home kitchen - persnickety customers, petulant children and piles of dirty dishes
lie in my wake. And the dinnerFeeds - well - they
are my story. More about Peggy and this site...
Taste buds prickle; wanderlust triggered. An Argentine barbecue (asado)
enticed me to Patagonia. A friend gave me a vial of ground sumac berries--4 months later I was
waking at dawn to the "Call To Prayer" in Turkey. Porcini to Tuscany, and so on. Read more about my chronicles of
trips and favorite associated recipes. Browse my travel recipes...
Here are ideas gleaned from others that speak to me;
where I highlight projects that bring friends, neighborhoods, and communities together. For me,
complimentary food makes the project and event more fun. Browse my projects and related recipes...