Saturday, November 28, 2009

Fall Harvest

Beautiful, (but short) carrots from our backyard garden. After reading the picture book Carrot Soup to my 5 year old son for a few years, we finally got around to planting a number of varieties of carrots in our own garden. These carrots are called "sugarsnaxs", and were our first crop which we pulled in early November. We ate a bunch and brought some to school for the whole kindergarten class to munch on.

One last zucchini and a few lingering raspberries off the frost kissed bush. It is great to live in a city but have a small piece of ground to plant. While I still miss Brooklyn, NY where I lived for many years, I am thankful to be back in my home town of New Haven where I have roots, and can literally plant new ones. Harvesting food we grew ourselves is such an easy reminder to be thankful for the blessings that we have, no matter how small.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

As an adult, I have always felt conflicted about celebrating Thanksgiving. I love the food, the large family gathering, and the attention to giving thanks for all the good things in our lives. But, Thanksgiving also invokes our country's violent history and genocide, a fact that is not taught to our children when they learn about the pilgrims and the Indians sitting down to a happy meal together. In my family we try to acknowledge this fact on this holiday, and focus on giving thanks for the true blessings in our lives, large and small. And then, we start cooking!

In my family, like many, the thanksgiving meal is the largest we cook all year. We always worry that we don't have enough different items to satisfy everyone's diets and tastes, and we end up with more food than we imagined, and wonderful meals for days to follow.

We love vegetables, and like to have them in many forms at any meal, and we tend to eat fairly health foods, but don't shy away from a little butter, and my family's sweet tooth guarantees that we will have a whole bunch of desserts to go along with it all!

Roasted Rosemary Turkey and Pears

I tried something a little different with the turkey this year. After a few years of successfully cooking a whole turkey, which was admired for all of two minutes before being cut into delicious but messy shreds, I was inspired to use a simple cooking technique I use for a weekday meal, for this holiday meal, and by-pass the disappointment of a perfectly roasted turkey being torn to bits.

For a special weekday meal, I love roasting chicken by searing it in a cast iron skillet until it is nicely browned, and then finishing it in a 400 degree oven until cooked through. Each piece is nicely browned and crispy on the outside and juicy and flavorful on the inside.

I didn't get it together to order a turkey from a local farmer this year, but bought a free range bird raised on grass, vegetarian feed(not corn based) and no antibiotics. 

Rosemary Roasted Turkey (Pieces) 
1 Turkey
5-8 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 head garlic, cut into very thin slivers
salt and pepper
  1. Cut the turkey up into many small pieces along the joints. Drumsticks, thighs, breasts, and then split the thighs and breasts in half or thirds if they are large.
  2. Season each piece of meat with salt and pepper beneath the skin and ontop of the skin, tuck a 1/2 a sprig of fresh rosemary and slivers of garlic under the skin.
  3. Sear the turkey pieces in a heavy bottomed pan with a little oil until each side is nicely browned. I placed all the pieces on a baking sheet and roast at 400 degrees until juices run clear. This time will vary depending on size. Around 30 to 50 minutes.

Top with rosemary roasted pears and onions:

Rosemary Roasted Pears
I elaborated on a recipe that bubbie Meg included in New Haven Cooks/Cocina New Haven (the cookbook I am developing). I tested it for the book a few months back, and since there have been large $3 bags of bosc pears at the CitySeed farmers' market for weeks, I am still making them.

The basic recipe:
10 pieces of firm fruit (apples, pears, plums, peaches)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons maple syrup
juice from 1 lemon

to this recipe I added: 2 sprigs of rosemary(picked), salt and pepper.
  1. Put pears in a large baking dish, cover with foil or a top and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.
  2. Uncover and roast 45 - 60 minutes more, until fruit is golden and glazed. Add a sprinkle of water if the pan starts to dry out.

Roasted Onions
For the turkey I also roasted a bunch of onions. (see photo at top)
  1. Cut onions into quarters, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and place in a single layer on a baking sheet or large oven safe frying pan. 
  2. Roast at 425 until edges are browned, about 30 minutes.

Many wonderful family members helped to prepare this meal, and clean up the mess!
The rest of the meal
Brussel sprouts with vinegar glazed red onions and walnuts
Lacinata kale with garlic
Lentil salad with roasted pumpkin, goat cheese and arugula (my mom's recent favorite creation)
Mashed potatoes
Cranberry sauce (3 kinds)
Corn pudding

the whole family contributed to dessert, resulting in 6 pies for 10 people. (I meant it when I said my family has a serious sweet tooth)

With help from my 5 year old son, Ayo, our contribution consisted of a pumpkin pie from a fresh sugar pumpkin and raspberry rhubarb pie with rhubarb we'd picked form our neighbor's yard in the spring and kept in the freezer.

Guiness stout ginger cake
For an afternoon snack the day before and day after thanksgiving. Recipe from Gramercy Tavern in NYC where I did a very brief stint in pastry, but it was long enough to fall in love with this cake and many other of Claudia Flemming's fabulous desserts!

Thanksgiving lunch
The past few years we have had a relaxed family lunch while we take a break from all the holiday cooking. All of this food can be made the day before hand and reheated for a quick meal.

Squash, Apple, Celery Root soup with frico(asiago cheese crisps) and biscuits
AND: fresh picked carrots from our backyard garden on November 26th!! The cold just makes them sweeter!!!

Squash, Apple, Celery root soup
2 large onions
3 apples
1 bulb of celery root (celeriac)
1 winter squash, roasted and scooped out
fresh thyme (if you have it)

  1. Peel and chop the onions, apples and celery root.
  2. Saute in large soup pot with a little oil, salt and pepper.
  3. Add cooked squash, thyme and enough water to cover ingredients and simmer until everything is very soft.
  4. Puree soup and adjust seasoning.

Monday, November 23, 2009

New Blog, Posts Coming Soon!

Recipes, thoughts on food, inspired quick cooking and many more bits, coming soon....!
stay tuned.