Monday, October 10, 2011

A Canadian Thanksgiving

Greetings from Canada!!

My sister Pooja, my brother-in-law Anish and I had the most delicious Thanksgiving last night! Against all odds, we didn't plan it out - we just went to the farmer's market literally after it closed, snuck in when some people were walking out, and grabbed as much fresh produce as we could.

Everyone complains about spending so much on Thanksgiving dinner ingredients (cough, cough, you know who you are) but everything was inexpensive because it was the end of the market! The vendors knew what they didn't sell now wouldn't last the holidays to be sold after. One of the ladies working the market gave us a box of free peeled garlic, too!

We cooked everything in about four hours. We got home after six and ate just after ten! Would have gone even faster if that PGA tournament wasn't on.... We made some seriously yummy dishes, and the most satisfying part of this Thanksgiving was that nothing was too complicated aside from one of the desserts. I'm not sure how your holidays go but usually in our kitchen with the good food, laughter, and thanks come arguing, burns, cuts, and tears. In fact the cooking was so simple and easy to replicate that my sister is going use these recipes for an upcoming dinner party. Honestly, we made a lovely meal from just chopping vegetables and fruit and throwing it together.

To start, we made a salad with chunks of yellow peach, chopped yellow tomato, creamy buratta cheese, baby arugula, chopped pecans and shaved parmigiano.

For a colorful side, we threw beets in the oven for a little over an hour inside packets of foil filled with olive oil. After letting the beets cool down, I peeled and chopped till my hands turned a lovely purply pink. We dressed the beets with a cup of Greek yoghurt that we had mixed with honey, lemon, and cayenne. To add a little decoration, we topped the beets with pistachios coated in salt, turmeric, garam masala, red chili powder, and coriander powder.

You can't have Thanksgiving without mashed potatoes. Pooja boiled sweet potatoes till tender. She kept the peel on - which is both nutritious and minimizes work - and mixed the potatoes with milk, butter, salt, pepper, and some sage, garlic, and thyme that she browned in butter.

Aside from Anish's lamb souvlaki (which by the way he picked up at the market marinated, 4 skewers for $5) our meal was vegetarian, and so we made a savory Wild Mushroom Leek Tart for our main dish. So tasty, but so easy! Pooja rolled out some thawed frozen puff pastry (I usually make my own dough but here in Canada it's easy to find puff pastry without lard or hydrogenated oil) to fit 10x14 sheet pan. She brushed it with a beaten egg and baked it for 10 minutes. She repeated this step with a mixture of shredded Gouda and 2 beaten eggs and baked for 10 minutes. The final step is to spoon out sautéed leeks and mushrooms leaving room for crust, sprinkle with some basil and thyme, and broil for a minute!

For the first dessert (because Thanksgiving can't happen with just one) we dumped a bag of Walkers shortbread cookies that Pooja brought home from a flight on Porter Airlines and butter in the food processor. Got the cookies down to crumbles, and then pressed them into two small "tartlet" dishes. You could really do it with any size, you just have to use a bigger bag of cookies. We hardened the empty crust in the oven for about 15 minutes. I sautéed three kinds of berries (blackberry, raspberry, and local gooseberry) with sugar and a pinch of cornstarch, let it cool, and filled it in the shell, and the tart was ready to go!

The only dish truly complicated was the recipe from an old issue of Gourmet magazine (I'm still mourning for this discontinued magazine) for a spiced pumpkin souffle. The recipe can be found here. The souffle was to be served with a bourbon molasses sauce but we couldn't find a mickey of bourbon anywhere in Toronto nor the jar of Grandma's molasses in Pooja's kitchen. At this point the tension started to build in the kitchen, but no worries. Anish brought out a bottle of Pondview Gewurtztraminer Riesling to calm us down (Anish and Pooja recently visted this winery at Niagra-on-the-Lake). Instead of the molasses and bourbon, we used local maple syrup and Jack Daniel's! The souffles soak up that caramel whisky sauce, and oh, was it delectable!

We were so busy having fun this weekend, we just didn't have time to find recipes. Anish was adamant about not spending too much time in the kitchen so we just didn't have time to stop and look at recipes while cooking. The moral of the story is buy fresh ingredients in season, be flexible, have fun, and everything will work out and come out well. Thanksgiving has and always will be my favorite holiday, and this year it comes twice! Just a month now ,and we'll have round 2 in the States.

1 comment:

Dave from Canada said...

Nicely written! Canada rocks.