November 25, 2009
Noah's school was thoughtful enough to provide a timely craft this week, in the form of this tasteful, understated centerpiece:
I feel like it's either going to take a candy-colored shit on the table or hold us up at gunpoint for some stuffing.
Have I told you that Thanksgiving is pretty much my favorite holiday ever? While it used to be the thing I barely tolerated as a kid, a stupid holiday with no presents or candy, it's now BY FAR the best day of the year. I spend the day awash in butter and heavy cream and carbohydrates and the first bottle of wine gets opened at 11:30 in the morning because I need to "deglaze" a "pan." Plus, not to brag or anything, I make a fucking amazing turkey. The secret is basting with my secret basting baste of awesome every 10-15 minutes or so, and really the only hard part about that is not drinking all the melted butter directly. Some is okay. I mean, it is a special occasion.
Also on the menu this year: roasted elephant garlic with French baguette, assorted fancy cheeses, Jason's mushroom, leek and challah bread stuffing that is pretty much the reason I married him, mashed sweet potatoes with orange, a broccoli and cauliflower gratin that does absolutely UNSPEAKABLE things to the vegetables, and some kind of apple crumb-top pie that somehow managed to survive a full 12 hours last year before we all ate the rest of it for breakfast the next morning.
(I should probably clarify that yeah, it's totally just the two of us, plus the kids. If we are lucky, Noah might eat the crunchy burned bits off the edge of some stuffing, although I worry that Ezra might SERIOUSLY cramp our style and put quite a dent in our coveted stash of delicious leftovers.)
Anyway. I am jazzed. I am antsy. I keep going to the basement to coo at our very-recently-murdered turkey and out to the garden to talk shit to the heads of cauliflower. YOUR HOURS ARE NUMBERED, BITCHES. IMMA GONNA FUCK YOU UP WITH SO MUCH CHEESE YOU'RA GONNA THINK YOU CAME FROM A COW.
(I wonder why none of the neighbors asked us about our plans for the holidays? Hmm.)
The Crazy-Eyed Peacock Octo-Turkey Bandit hopes you have a wonderful Thanksgiving! I do too, but, you know. Stay away from my house. I have no food for you. All for me. NOM NOM NOM, etc.
Okay, since a bunch of you asked, and I am procrastinating on making lunch for my children because peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are NOT AS FUN AS THANKSGIVING, here's the recipe for the cauliflower and broccoli gratin. This is kind of a hybrid of a bunch of gratin/casserole dishes I've made over the years and have never actually written the exact current incantation down, though it's mostly this one. Either way, it's still stupid easy and basic and delicious.
Broccoli & Cauliflower Gratin with Horseradish Topping
1 head of cauliflower, 1 head of broccoli, average size (specifically: not huge) cut into florets.
1/2 stick butter
2 tablespoons flour
1-1/2 cups of whole milk (you can also sneak in a little cream or half & half if you want to kill people)
2 cups of grated cheese (I like a combo of cheddar and something like smoked gouda or pepperjack or...hell, anything. IT'S CHEESE. IT'S ALL GOOD.)
A biggish handful of finely chopped garlic chives (1/4 cup? Maybe? Eh?)
20 crackers (Saltines, Ritz, matzo, whatever)
2 tablespoons drained bottled horseradish
OPTIONAL ADDITIONS: roasted chestnuts, par-boiled & halved Brussels sprouts, cooked pancetta/ham/bacon, scallion greens
Preheat oven to 450 (or whatever you're cooking other dishes at, not super important), butter bottom and sides of a casserole dish (shallow is best, but it probably depends on the size of your heads of vegetables)
Boil a big pot of water, salt it, add cauliflower. After 3-4 minutes, add broccoli and cook until JUST tender. Drain, dump in casserole.
Melt two tablespoons of butter in saucepan over moderately low heat. Whisk in flour and make a roux, 3 minutes. Whisk whisk whisk. Pour in milk and bring to a boil, whisking frequently. Reduce heat to a simmer and let it thicken, whisking occasionally, 8 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in chives and cheese, season generously with salt and pepper. Once cheese is melted, pour over the vegetables. (This is also when you can add in other optional things, just make sure they are mostly cooked, as the oven time is really just enough to brown the topping.)
Crumble crackers into a bowl. Melt the rest of the butter and stir in the horseradish. Pour over the crackers and toss lightly, then evenly distribute mixture over the casserole.
Brown in the oven for about 10 minutes.
If you need to make this ahead of time or transport it to someone else's house: do everything EXCEPT putting the topping on. Stick the topping in a plastic container and put the casserole in the fridge. Let it warm up in the oven for 5-10 minutes or so (just to soften the cheese sauce up) and THEN put the topping on to brown.
Ta-daaaaa! This also microwaves beautifully for a late-night dairy-fat binge.
(OCD note number 2,430, Or Why I Could Never Write A Coherent Cookbook: You might notice that the original linked-to recipe calls for just one large head of cauliflower with the same sauce measurements. I usually use smaller/medium heads of both vegetables so the sauce amount is okay. Sometimes I up the sauce if I feel like I have a lot of veggies. Not doubled, but...upped. Ish. Anyway. You probably aren't a moron and could figure that out. Sorry.)
(I'm sorry I don't know the stuffing recipe, as that's squarely in Jason's domain. I know it involves stale challah, leeks, celery, mushrooms, poultry seasoning, eggs, two dozen sticks of butter and probably BLACK MAGIC. Sometimes sausage, though we always endlessly debate over whether we like that addition. I shall try to take notes this year, perhaps.)