The rabbis might call me "umvisndik" (yiddish) but my Jewish ancestry has not made me big on the religion, all to say I appreciate the holy days more for the cheerful spirit and the food than for the rules. Which given it's the Jewish New Years made me want to bake challah. Reading up on the holiday, its all about renewal, so I renewed my take on sourdough to make a round challah. It was hard to braid as challah tends to be sticky dough, so I kept it simple. As is said, "shona tova!" Happy holidays to all.
My father being a lapsed Jew, my mother a lapsed Catholic, that led me to grow up avoiding religion while embracing the culinary gifts either parent's background provided. Well, Easter is coming soon but for now it's Purim. Which for me means one thing: the Jewish treat of hammentaschen. Here are some of this wonderful jam-filled cookie pastry that I cooked at home.
Who wants to work a double shift, then come home to confit duck gizzards and make stuffing amid a messy kitchen and cluttered fridge? Not moi! Nevertheless, having agreed with my mother to forgo Thanksgiving turkey for duck, well, moi it was!
For this most American of American holidays, we went with the holiday spirit rather than its geography. All to say that for this Thanksgiving we ate a meal with lots of foriegn influencers; Swedish, Persian, and Italian, though for desert we ate good old American pie.
First course: Gravlax, mustard and maple sauce, radishes, carrots and cucumber with pane di commune.
The duck, farm fresh from my butcher Jonel in Sunnyside, was braised on a recipe based on the Persian dish Fesenjān, stewed with pomergranate and walnuts. The breasts were slowly crisped and slathered with amazing Iranian marinade taught to me by my friend Anahita. This was followed by Romanesco cauliflower roasted with garlic and anchovies inspired by Chef Sara Jenkins. For starch, I decided to make bulgur pilaf, with tomato, peppers, garlic, cumin and coriander, my ode to the new age of global pilgrims.
For thirst, we started with Beujolais Nouveau while preparing dinner, then switched to a more substantial Napa Ramsay Merlot. Fruity and spot on, thanks to Philippe, my wine connosieur brother.
Apple pie for desert. Nothing like lard and butter with simple apple filling. God bless America and this wonderful annual meal.
To make it, I quartered down quick puff pastry recipe, filled it with some frangipane made of almond paste, and then did a free-style shaping to get a somewhat puffed dough. The end result was a delicious solve for my sugar hit!
Chocolate panettone. Why not? I saw that such a bread had resulted in a prize for the Il Buco Alimentari baker Kamel Saci. I was determined to adapt his version. Mine was made with ginger, tonka bean, and no butter, just olive oil!
It's basically the same formula, I've used in the past. Only now I adjusted the flour component with some superberb Valrhona cocoa! I even made a glaze with some walnuts instead of almond meal. The flavor and crunch was nice, as suggested by my friend and fratello Michele Forgione! Felice 2014!
Thanksgiving, my usually favorite holiday is just a day away. Somehow I don't feel up to getting fancy, and if I can get my brother away from the football games long enough, I may just put my feet up while he does some cooking!
Happy and healthy holidays to those of us who get a nice bird on the table to carve and share with friend and family!