Monday: Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe, Green Salad
Tuesday: Pancetta, Arugula and Roasted Tomato Salad
Wednesday: Short Ribs and Carrot Stew
Thanksgivin Starters: Warm Bar Nuts, Parmigiano with Olives, Shrimp with Hot Sauce
Thanksgiving Main: Stuffed Turkey Breast with Mushroom Gravy
Thanksgiving Sides: Kale Salad with Caesar Dressing, Fall Squash and Leek Bread Pudding, Mashed Potatoes, Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Sausage, Spicy Red Pepper Cranberry Relish
Thanksgiving Dessert: Apple Pie with Ice Cream, Stilton with Walnuts and Apples
Friday: Medallion Ball
Saturday: Crudités Platter, Roasted Sweet Potato Soup, Arugula with Roasted Tomatoes and Pancetta
Sunday: Brunch with Andrew and Rick at Casbah – Thanksgiving Review during Steelers game
“Thanksgiving was founded by th’ Puritans to give thanks f’r bein’ preserved from th’ Indyans . . . an’ we keep it to give thanks f’r bein’ preserved from th’ Puritans” – Finley Peter Dunner (Mr. Dooley)
For once, I find myself speechless. It’s not just the expansion of the stomach impinging on the diaphragm and hiatal passage consequent upon consuming my own weight in food for several days, or the severe brain pickling consequent on drinking Rob Roys chased by Calvados. It’s just, well, what can I tell you about Thanksgiving?
Every family has time-honored, nearly sacred traditions surrounding this most food-centered of holidays. I would not tread on those traditions for all the tea in Malaysia. Although, if you look at our own Thanksgiving menu, you’ll see that we did tread on our own traditions – no creamed onions, no candied sweet potatoes, no broccoli casserole, no scalloped oysters and, above all, no whole turkey. Nonetheless, it was a wonderful meal, as it always is, not because of the food, but because of the people.
So instead of going on about what great cooks we are and how wonderful our guests were, we’ll just offer a little gift from our people to you and your people: Alex Guarnaschelli’s Sweet Potato Soup. This most savory of soups will help you remember the Thanksgiving Season. It is impossible not to scrape the bottom of the bowl on this one. You can thank us the next time we run into each other.
(As for the rest of the week, the winner was the Pancetta, Arugula and Roasted Tomato Salad, another Alex Guarnaschelli recipe. I’m beginning to suspect that this woman can cook. There is a short review of her book under the ‘Cookbooks’ tab you’ll find near the top of this post. If you need to cook, buy this book, we have yet to find a recipe in it that we didn’t love.)
Roasted Sweet Potato Soup
(Adapted from Alex Guarnaschelli, The Home Cook)
Timing: 2 Hours – 90 minutes of which is passive roasting of potatoes in oven
Ingredients: Serves 6 for main course, 8 as starter
4 ½ to 5 pounds medium sweet potatoes (“medium” is important – large honking sweet potatoes will take longer to cook)
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter
2 medium onions, thinly sliced (we think we’ll quarter the slices next time to avoid long strands of onion – but the onions were great, nonetheless)
2 tablespoons Madras curry powder (or any other ‘hot’ curry powder – don’t use regular curry powder or you’ll have a less savory soup)
1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper flakes – NOTE: This ingredient drives me up the wall. Since Syria has become a slaughterhouse there is no Aleppo pepper available in the U.S. Use a mix of sweet paprika and cayenne, about 3 to 1.
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce (use Lea & Perrin’s for goodness sake and the sake of your soul)
Juice of 1 small orange
1 teaspoon of ground ginger
2 tablespoons of freshly grated ginger
3 cups of half-and-half
Roast the Potatoes:
Preheat the oven to 450 F. Put the potatoes on a baking sheet in the center of the oven and bake until they are completely yielding when pierced – between 1 and 1 ½ hours. Remove from oven and let cool a little.
Slice the onions and measure out the spices. Don’t grate the fresh ginger until you’ve scooped the flesh out of the potato skins.
Cook the Soup:
Start the soup:
In a medium soup pot, melt the butter over medium and when it starts to turn brown add the onions, curry powder, paprika and cayenne mix and 1 tablespoon of salt. Cook until onions become translucent, about 7 minutes. Now stir in the brown sugar and molasses and turn off the heat.
Finish the soup:
Use a large spoon to scoop out the flesh of the sweet potatoes and discard the skins. Transfer the flesh to a bowl and whisk vigorously to remove any large lumps. (Do not spend much time doing this or the potatoes will get gummy). Season with 1 tablespoon of salt and stir in the Worcestershire sauce and the orange juice. Now whisk in (we used a fork at this point, since the mixture is pretty thick) the ground ginger, the fresh-grated ginger and the half-and-half. Transfer the mixture, in batches, to a blender and blend until smooth. DO NOT OVERBLEND or it will become gummy.
Now stir the purée into the soup pot and bring the whole shebang to a simmer over medium while whisking constantly. You can add water if the soup is too thick.
Taste for seasoning and serve. (We served the soup and followed it with an arugula, roasted tomato and pancetta salad – plenty of food for a good dinner.)