Here's our best attempt at a group portrait. (Unfortunately, John was working.)
The dogs kept things lively...
And John was around (and unshaven) on Friday for Part Deux...
There weren't really any "losers" per se, but as a competitive person myself, I do enjoy establishing the differences between "amazing" and "okay."
Verdict: Tasty, fancy, difficult
I made these a week ahead, and they froze and reheated beautifully. Tasty and fancy...but I doubt I will make them again as their flavor is somewhat flat--similar to a southern cheesy biscuit. However, note all but four were consumed before I could grab my camera. DG notes: rather expensive for an appetizer. Used a Ziploc bag as a pastry bag. Dough was hard to work with. Made gougeres about 2-3x the size called for, and they were much better that way.
This one was hand-picked for my sister, who adores pomegranate and tabouli. The salad was great, if a bit messy to prepare. (Have you ever tried juicing a pomegranate?) Next time I will use HALF the olive oil for a more pungent dressing.
StuffingBasic Stuffing, Courtesy of Mom and Pepperidge Farm. Unfortunately, I haven't found pictures of this yet. Pork sausage and po-boy bread crumbs brought up from NOLA spruced up this classic.
Pan-roasted Balsamic Glazed Pearl Onions and Leeks
Verdict: Sub-par. I guess I always overcooked them in the past and this year I cooked them the prescribed amount of time.
This is a repeat performer, now a part of the "Denise, you HAVE to make that" category. My mom eats it for days on leftover sandwiches, salads, pizzas, etc. DG note: cook the hell out of them, before peeling, and then while roasting. They should really collapse in your mouth, you're not looking for "al dente."
Green Bean Casserole
Verdict: Give me the fatty old classic.
John requested the casserole, and I found this promising healthy version. Couldn't taste the high-quality sherry or the mushrooms. The onions were great, but that was because we used an awesome pimenton dulce a friend brought back from Spain.
Cranberry Orange Jalapeno Pecan Sauce
Verdict: A classic for a reason.
This is another repeat performer, a crowd-pleasing sweet/salty/crunchy/bright/wow combo. I skip the celery. It's no-cook so make it Wednesday and pop it in the fridge already in it's serving bowl.
Maple Glazed Turkey and Gravy
Verdict: Great, but how the heck did we make it?
We have a family friend who gifts us with her own home-tapped maple syrup, and we splurged on Penzey's ridiculous bold India black peppercorn. At the last minute, I read the reviews of the recipe online, and was severely concerned about the ill effects complained therein. We ended up hodge podging it based on the reviews, and it turned out excellent. DG modifications: We added quite a bit to the roasting pan (celery, carrots, onions, and herbs) and roasted it at 350 I think. Convection roast cut time down significantly.
Pear Pandowdy with Figs and a Hazelnut Crust
Verdict: Better than a pie, better than a cobbler, unbelievable with bleu cheese.
I had never heard of a "pandowdy" until I read about this one in Martha Stewart. I'll admit, I tried it out only because it had a cheese pairing recommended. Hazelnuts are a tasty, if pricey, component of the topping--which is almost like a shortbread/pie crust hybrid. Amazingly, the crust stays crisp and flaky even in leftovers! As for the filling, bits of fig and pecan adorn perfectly in-tact pear wedges--not mushy like a cobbler, not overly sweet like a pie. Not gelatinous and oozy like pie, more like a really nice, simple baked or poached fruit, but with a luxurious crispy topping. Pungent, piquant, crumbly Spanish bleu, warmed slightly by the golden pandowdy....yes, the stuff dreams are made of.
Let's have another picture of that dream...