Month: November 2009

Thanksgiving dinner, November 26, 2009


Many weeks back some friends of ours in Brooklyn had invited a dozen people to share Thanksgiving with them.  We were very happy to be included, but our hosts’ plans had to be canceled only days before the event because of a death in the family.  Our fallback was to prepare a dinner at home.  Unable to find guests at such short notice who were not already committed elsewhere, we had to re-think our favorite harvest féte as a much smaller affair than we would have preferred.

I would probably have eschewed turkey even if we had guests, but since if seemed we were going to be only two at dinner, I tried to think of an alternative which might be as appropriate as the archetypal American turkey but taste even better.   I picked out a small Muscovy Duck, or Canard de Barbarie [original to South and Central America] at Ottomanelli‘s on Monday.  Today, Thursday, with a few appropriate “trimmings”, it did its special magic, introducing a hint of “the wild” into a very domestic holiday.

In the end the main course at least turned out to be more French than American.   But, upholding one of the traditions of the day, we did manage to have some leftovers, although the vegetables were not among them.

  • a potage assembled from pumpkin, apple cider and red onion, served dribbled with cider syrup
  • wine:  Boyer Brut Blanc de Blancs from Sherry-Lehmann [although Eleonora Riesling Halbtrocken, from our stock of sparkling Mosels, by Christoph von Nell would probably have been better with the earthy sweetness of this dish]
  • Muscovy duck [canard de Barbarie] roasted on a bed of cut-up carrots, celery and onion, with a pan sauce made from the reduced cooking juices;  accompanied by turnips from Healthway Farms in the Union Square Greenmarker, braised in butter [navets à l’étuvée] and finished with drops of lemon and chopped parsley;  and sauteed yellow-stem chard [bette à carde] from Lani’s Farm, also in the Greenmarket, finished with oil and lemon
  • wine:  a very nice Pomerol, Chateau Vray Croix de Gay [awesome name!] 2006, a terrific bargain purchased on line from K&D Wines and Spirits, in a very good Bordeaux sale
  • mince pie from Windy Maples Farm at the Union Square Greenmarket, served with a dollop of Ciao Bella vanilla gelato

dinner, November 21, 2009



When it includes meat or fish I usually serve the main course of a meal with only one, possibly two vegetables, both for simplicity and to concentrate attention on complementary choices I hope I’d chosen judiciously.

On Saturday night however, I had a larder slightly swollen after a splurge with the bounty of the late fall Union Square Greenmarket.  To accompany a small 10 oz. Newport steak from Citarella which would serve both of us, I found I had some Purple Peruvian Potatoes from the stall of Paffenroth Gardens, a bouquet of what we learned was some very sweet red chard from that of Lani’s Farm (formerly known as Yuno’s Farm), and some late-season San Marzano tomatoes from, I think, Bill Maxwell’s farm, which had finally ripened sufficiently on our north windowsill.

They all came together to make one of the most vibrantly-colorful plates I’d ever seen, in a “one-dish meal” that was also totally delicious.

  • Italian oil-cured black olives and Roberto Torinese breadsticks, both from Garden of Eden
  • Newport steak pan-grilled and finished with oil and a squirt of lemon; accompanied by Purple Peruvian Potatoes baked in the oven with oil, sprigs of rosemary and plenty of sea salt; braised red chard finished with oil and lemon; and grilled seasoned halves of plum tomatoes finished with Balsamic vinegar
  • wine:   Obra Prima, Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2005 from Mendoza, Argentinia, Familia Cassone, the generous gift of a friend, from Chelsea Wine Vault