Sunday, November 27, 2011
The holidays make it ever more evident that time has moved forward. Past the awareness that Santa was watching you while you mentally counted your lumps of coal, past the time when opening a present before Christmas was forbidden, past the heartache of family members no longer sharing the time in physical presence with you, past the years when some food products were store bought because you burned what was to originally be served...past so many memories, but memories not forgotten. To be here in the "now" part of living makes the planning, preparation and delivery of a blended "family and friends" affair during the holidays an affair to remember on so many levels. First it's the initial act of urging everyone to gather, foregoing or bringing their respective traditions and activities to a location either central to travel or neutral in origin. (Sidebar: When one lives in a warmer temperature than most everyone invited there's a greater likelihood of success). Then its the continual assurance that everyone will find the activity enjoyable, that they won't go hungry and that it truly is a season to be merry. Next it's actually doing it, the blended gathering, even if only 4 people on one side of the family show up (or 10 guests beyond your original headcount of 10 appear at your door step) and repeat the event year after year. What comes with the experience is recognizing that most people in general will show up for the food component of whatever you plan. That has become my most favorite part of blending, from the initial requests for food items, what we call Operation Name Your Holiday Food~those that desire a dish, but have no intention of ever cooking it get the opportunity to list an item, those that have their traditional favorites simply list it and commit to making it, and those who want to try something new in a hospitable environment give it a whirl. I made a point this year to blend several traditional offerings (All of my dad's favs: cornbread stuffing, Italian green beans, egg nog~super sweet and spiked varieties, ham) with some unique side dishes (I for one relish the hospitable part of the occasion where even a flopped dish gets recognition for the attempt). I'm blending together a couple flavor favorites myself with one particular dish this year, Black-eyed Pea Salad with Tomato and Pineapple. The recipe hales from Elizabeth and Alexis Terry's Savannah Seasons cookbook, the recipe link is an archive from a local publication Savannah Now. The delightful blend of flavors in this side dish will go nicely with many of the holiday entree choices this year (Stuffed Turkey Leg, Pecan Pork, Brisket, Salmon Fish Fingers). It's not about blending in, it's about blending together a great many people, aromas, flavors in a spirited occasion set yet to transpire but eagerly anticipated for the memorable moments to unfold.
Friday, November 18, 2011
I personally loved the catchphrase "Where's the beef?" when it was introduced as part of a promotion for Wendy's restaurants back in the 1980's and appreciated it's application again when it was revived this year in a revised catchphrase as "Here's the beef!" With both catch phrases in mind, I've always been rather amused that during Thanksgiving there are those that ensure a beef dish makes it to the table when Turkey takes the main stage. And this year I choke back my amusement as I find myself answering the question "Where's the beef?" on my own Thanksgiving line up. A foodie friend suggested Beef Wellington which initially sounded daunting, but as luck would have it during a recent wine tasting via a Wine Shop At Home party a Wellington recipe pairing was suggested (and provided as a recipe card) to accompany a Sommersville Cellars 2008 Red Meritage (which by the way is also touted as an excellent pairing with dark chocolate). The recipe is linked here. I prefer the plating suggestion using the whole tenderloin for the presentation factor one grasps for in family-style dining, but do appreciate the individual filet preparation found at the AllRecipe.com link. Here's the beef folks, though a beef dish is provided, I for one will be strictly talking turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, cranberry relish and pumpkin pie as I feast and give thanks this year.
Sunday, November 6, 2011
I'm not one of those individuals that has for years prepared and delivered some spectacular food offering that everyone clamors for when thoughts of holiday knoshing and dining rolls around on the calendar. (Though I dare say some might say after last year's experiment with several varieties of Egg Nog I may have now transitioned into the category of individual preparing by request of the masses). I reach this weekend for the ever-handy 2007 Food & Wine Cocktails for appetizer-style food to prepare for what must always accompany Thanksgiving feasts, Holiday spin the Dreidel and Ho Ho merriment....and what consistently accompanies the holidays is one's appetite. Last year the highly successful Chickpea Fries recipe from this same guide circled the electronic globe so I'm relying on Chef Jerry Pelikan's Crispy Stuffed Olives to stand for the same style recipe...reliable, simple, steadfast and true.