Thanks

Contrary to my previous post, I did indeed cook up a Thanksgiving meal and I did indeed enjoy myself through it all. There was no turkey at my table, as I am not only partial to vegetarianism, but I fear food poisoning and lack the proper tools and cookware necessary for roasting a large bird. So I served Quorn naked cutlets, which are some of the best faux-poultry cutlets available, along with numerous sides. This year it was just me and Chris and a friend and yet you would have thought I planned for fifty. Here was the menu:

Stuffing
Mashed potatoes and celery root
Maple mustard yams
cranberry sauce
brussels sprouts and oyster mushrooms in a cream wine sauce
sauteed asparagus w/lemon pepper
Wild rice and corn salad
Cheddar chive biscuits
Mushroom gravy
Pumpkin pie and Pecan pie (I cheated here and bought the pies at Whole Foods)

Doesn’t it almost read like a poem? Some of the dishes vanished before I could document them here. The Brussels sprouts were obliterated before the meal even began and, having run out of serving plates I dished up the asparagus as an appetizer. We washed it all down with a bottle of shiraz, a bottle of imported prosecco, cups of coffee and I made sure to indulge in a glass of aged tawny port at the end of the evening.

This year I planned ahead and prepped everything the night before. Wednesday night, after slogging home from a long day of work and then enduring a seemingly neverending subway ride, I immediately set to work. Chris helped chop the onions for the next day’s meal, grate cheddar cheese for the biscuits (more about that in a minute), dice chives, and peel potatoes while I made the cranberry sauce and baked the yams. What a difference a little prep makes. The next day went smoothly and I didn’t feel like I was running around my tiny kitchenette sweating and exasperated.

I really feel like the two standouts this year were the Brussels sprouts and the biscuits. I have never been very good at baking, but those biscuits were fluffy, flavorful and ridiculously easy. And they make an excellent breakfast the next morning.

Cheddar Chive Biscuits

Ingredients:
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 cup milk
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup grated cheddar
1/4/ cup chopped chives
1 TBSP baking powder
1/4/ cup shortening

Preheat oven to 450. Sift the flour, add salt, garlic powder, baking powder and mix to incorporate. Next, add shortening and thoroughly blend into the flour mixture with your fingers. Once flour mixture is slightly crumbly and all of the shortening clumps are small, mix in milk, cheddar and chives until the dough is sticky. On a non stick or greased baking sheet, spoon out biscuits. I find this recipe makes about seven large biscuits. Bake for about 15 minutes until golden brown. You can sprinkle some cheddar on top about five minutes before they are done.

Variations: sub parmesan for cheddar, or try swiss. These are very versatile and would taste great with additional herbs, try rosemary, parsley or thyme instead of chives.

Brussels Sprouts and Oyster Mushrooms in Cream

1 1/2 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise
1 tsp salt
2 TBSP olive oil
2 TBSP unsalted butter
1 package or about 1 cup of sliced oyster mushrooms, rinsed
1 large shallot, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 450.
Coat Brussels sprouts in olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake for about 25minutes until browned and carmelized. Remove from oven and set aside.

In a 12-inch skillet over high heat melt butter and add shallots and mushrooms. Saute until the mushrooms are brown and any liquid has evaporated, 5 to 8 minutes. Add the wine and cook until reduced by half, about 1 minute. Add the cream and cook for 1-2 minutes. Pour the cream and mushroom mixture over the Brussels sprouts and return the dish to the oven to cook for another 5mins or so until the cream has thickened and browned slightly.
Serve.
The Brussels sprouts will be sweet and silky and melt in your mouth.

On ending this post I would like to give thanks for everything I have. Thanks to my sister Sarah, who I know is going to read this and who has been one of my biggest cheerleaders. Thanks to Chris for being my partner and putting up with my moods. Thanks to all of the amazing food writers who keep writing blogs and books and keep teaching me about food and its importance to culture, art, and well, life. Food is my way of saying thank you. So, thank you.

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