Monday, November 30, 2009

Food Spotlight: Thanksgiving

My first shot at hosting Thanksgiving was a tremendous success! It was a wonderful day full of food, wine, friends, laughter and memories, and I cherished the opportunity to host it in my home. I made each of the recipes in my previous post, and have posted my reviews below, along with a couple new recipes. All in all, it was a fantastic and unforgettable holiday!

Recipe Reviews (See previous post for recipes)

Corn Pudding

The corn pudding stole the day as one of my guests' favorite dishes. It was creamy, sweet and fluffy, with whole corn kernels adding to the excellent texture. The best part? It was by far the easiest dish to make! Simply mix the ingredients in a bowl, pour them in a pan, and bake for 50 minutes. This recipe is definitely a keeper and will appear on my Thanksgiving table for years to come!

Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallows

 The sweet potatoes were also a favorite. They were chewy and rich with earthy sweetness. I changed the recipe I posted in my last post in one way. Instead of boiling the potatoes as the recipe instructed, I roasted my potatoes in a 400 degree oven for 25 minutes. I made this change because roasting sweet potatoes brings out more depth of flavor and caramelization, whereas boiling them simply softens the potatoes. I definitely recommend making this change, as the potatoes were fork-tender with creamy caramelization and tons of flavor! 

Coconut Green Beans

The green beans were not "Thanksgiving food" but they certainly were tasty! They added a ton of new flavor to the traditional menu, including chillies, coconut, cashews and mustard seeds. I preferred their exotic flavor to a regular old green bean casserole. The recipe is excellent, the only change I'd make is not to sizzle the mustard seeds first, as they cracked immediately and popped all over the stove! It'd be best just to add them when you add the green beans. I absolutely recommend this recipe any time of the year! 

Herbed Buttermilk Biscuits
My oh my were these easy and delicious! I don't bake often because I do not like to measure ingredients (it feels like chemistry class!), but this was a worthwhile exception. The ingredients were easy to assemble and the biscuits turned out golden and soft. They were excellent plain or would be yummy with a squirt of honey or jam. I will be making these little delights again!


Mashed Potatoes
Ina Garten's buttermilk mashed potatoes recipe produced creamy, buttery potatoes with classic flavor. Alas, I didn't make the gravy, as our turkey breast did not produce enough drippings, but these potatoes provided a nice home for store bought gravy anyway. Personally, while classic, these aren't my kind of potatoes. I prefer skin-on, garlicky, cheesy spuds with so much flavor there is no need for gravy. However, I purposefully chose a different recipe for Thanksgiving because I wanted the traditional flavor and texture that complements gravy. If that's what you're looking for this recipe is for you!

New Recipe: Brussel Sprouts
My friend Zach made brussel sprouts, and they were phenomenal. I'm new to brussel sprouts, but I've never met a vegetable I didn't like, and these were no exception! Zach made these tender morsels by blanching them in boiling water for a few minutes, draining them, and then adding them to a big skillet with garlic and prosciutto sizzling in olive oil. He crisped them up in the skillet, then added some chicken stock, which boiled off in a couple minutes. That's it- they were easy, healthful, different and delicious! Welcome to my life brussel sprouts!

New Recipe: Turkey Breast
Zach also made the turkey breast, and it was a star. Underneath the skin he stuffed fresh sage, oregano and pomegranate seeds, and then baked the bird in a roasting pan. It produced delicious and tender white meat that keeps on giving. (In the form of turkey sandwiches!)

New Recipe: Pomegranate Salad
I saved the best for last. This salad is so amazing that it was my favorite food of the day. My friend Meredith created the salad by combining arugula, pomegranate seeds, pecans and goat cheese in a pomegranate dressing.

To make the dressing saute 1 shallot, 1 garlic clove and 1 T. olive oil in a skillet, then add 1 cup pomegranate juice and cook it until it reduces to 1/4 cup. Let cool. Once cooled whisk in 2 T. white wine vinegar, 1 T. honey, 1/4 c. olive oil and salt and pepper. Toss dressing with arugula, goat cheese, pomegranate seeds and toasted pecans.

Thanksgiving Wines
We enjoyed one of my favorite wines of all time with our Thanksgiving dinner- Benziger Te Coelo Quintus Vineyard 2006 Pinot Noir. In Italian "te coelo" means "from heaven," and that is a perfect description for this wine. Kevin and I tasted this wine at the Benziger reserve tasting room in Sonoma Valley, and we both felt weak in the knees afterward. It is simply the most delicious Pinot Noir I've ever had, and it perfectly complemented the meal. Honestly, this wine is so good it would complement just about anything! If you ever have the opportunity to try this wine, or, better yet, visit Benziger, you will absolutely love it! (Retail value $85)

Other wines of the nights included:

Kenwood 2007 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

This is a tasty and affordable bottle that is full-bodied yet smooth, and serves up an array of raspberry and plum flavors with a lingering finish.(Retail value $15)

Cosentino 2006 Daredevil

We are wine club members at Cosentino, and this fun bottle was part of our December shipment. Cosentino is a progressive Napa Valley vineyard, and the owner (Mitch Cosentino) is known for producing bold and different wines. Daredevil is the first release of an exceptional proprietary cellar selection blend that is aged for 30 months in oak barrels.It was fun and interesting! (Retail value $40)

BV Coastal Estates Pinot Noir

Kevin and I visited Beaulieu (BV) Vineyard in Napa, and we specifically enjoyed their reserve tasting room. When we shopped for Thanksgiving wine we came across this bottle of Pinot Noir for $10. We were shocked to find a BV Pinot for this price, and we had to give it a try. It was delicious, and for the price it can't be beat!

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