Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Giving Thanks in Advance

All I can say is "WOW!", Thanksgiving is next week!

This is the time of year when we realize the importance of what it means to give thanks. This past Monday my wife and I attended the second annual fundraising dinner at our sister restaurant Geraldine's Counter to support the Rainier Valley Food Bank, where friends and family of the restaurant and neighborhood gathered to show our support and decorate sugar cookies. In these economic times it is no surprise that the number of people seeking assistance has doubled over last year, and we all know how shitty last year was, so if it is in your capacity, please consider donating to the Rainier Valley Food Bank, Northwest Harvest, or your local supporter.

In honor of the season I wanted to come up with a dish that embodied that wholesomeness of a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner, with my personal touches, of course!

Why am I featuring this now instead of next week? Well, experience has taught me that no one wants to go out to a restaurant the week of Thanksgiving and order turkey... or the week after... or probably for the next three months, so I thought that I'd get a jump start and make something that you'll remember when you do sit down and eat the usual fare on the big day.

This dish is like a combination of all of the things that are great in the typical feast: pumpkin pie, green bean casserole, turkey and gravy. Here's the breakdown:

For the pumpkin pie component I formed handmade gnocchi with roasted pumpkin, potato, eggs and parmesan with a hint of nutmeg and cinnamon. The green been casserole flavors were developed by sauteing shitaki mushrooms and haricot vert (or French green beans) in butter, onions and garlic to mimic the traditional use of canned cream of mushroom soup. I added applewood smoked turkey meat and turkey stock with a hefty pinch of fresh chopped thyme, sage and rosemary to bring out that customary fall flavor that you would find in great gravy. Finally, I topped it all with thin slices of shallot soaked in buttermilk and tossed in masa harina, a fine Mexican corn flour, that I fried to not only for the final green bean casserole component, but also to hint at another classic side dish, creamed corn.

After tasting this dish you may find yourself at your family table next Thursday wishing that you were served this instead, but please DO NOT tell them so - the last thing I need is an angry mob of relatives beating down my door!

This week's drink special is actually the little demon that sparked the idea to come up with an apple themed month, and all of the work was worth it now that I have an All-American cocktail to pair with my Thanksgiving bowl. Not only that, but this will also be my first HOT cocktail feature!

The only thing as American as Thanksgiving is warm apple pie, and to translate that same flavor as a drink was quite easy with some special touches: in a glass Irish coffee mug I added hot apple cider and Tuaca (an Italian liquour with brandy, orange and vanilla flavors) that are topped with my handmade egg nog cream that we are now also using to finish our specialty coffee cocktails during brunch. What a treat!

With these unforgettable flavors, who could go wrong!?!

With Love,