Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thanksgiving Wrap-up

I don't want to let Thanksgiving end without a few final thoughts. 

First I am extremely lucky and thankful to have a cadre of friends and family supporting me through my health related issues. I am also thankful that I am still able to travel, and enjoy life. While there are an amazing number of family and friends who I thank, it is too many to list everyone, but you are all in my thoughts and best wishes for a great holiday season. One person who will not go unmentioned is my best friend, Frank. He is always there to give me support and encouragement and he is a great person and a fun traveler. THANK YOU, FRANK!

So it was appropriate that we started the Thanksgiving season with our annual Thanksgiving Eve dinner. We nailed another fine meal at my place. If anyone wants recipes let me know. The only one I will post is the Lemon Panna Cotta, at the end of this post which is my favorite dessert for any occasion. Try it, you can't go wrong.

Frank refers to this as our Italian American Thanksgiving and it was really good. Our main bird was a Roasted Rosemary Turkey Breast coated with a seasoned butter mixture of rosemary, sage, garlic and orange zest. For our sides we prepared an uncooked Cranberry and Blood Orange Relish (unfortunately, no blood oranges were available, so our back up was regular oranges but excellent just the same. Next up was a Butternut Squash Risotto (yummy) and Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta - both were great. We ended the meal with the Lemon Panna Cotta. We served a bottle of St. Supery Elu with dinner and a glass of Limoncello with the dessert. It was a great meal with a great friend.

On Thanksgiving Day we each went to our respective families - Frank to his sister's and I to my nephew's. Everyone, (except me) pitched in to prepare a wonderful traditional Thanksgiving spread. They had turkey two ways - one traditionally roasted in the oven and the other deep fried. Both were very flavorful and moist - good job everyone. For sides we had mashed potatoes, candied sweet potatoes, my Mother's Creamed Corn Casserole. This is a tradition in the Simpson family since the 1950's and is a must serve at Thanksgiving and Christmas. The dinner was finished off with 3 different home baked pies - oink oink.

On Friday evening Frank and I attended "This is The 60's" at the Mahaffey Theatre in St. Petersburg. The show was a multi-media presentation with a live cast of singers, musicians and dancers - only 7 in all. They presented a fun-filled evening of 60's songs, film clips and TV shows from the decade. We both enjoyed the show but feel they slighted the folk movement and the Mo-Town sound. However with so much music coming out of the decade I am sure they had a tough time selecting the tunes. 

Next up, to round out the weekend, we enjoyed a wonderful meal at our favorite French Restaurant  - St. Petersburg Brasserie downtown on Central Ave. Frank loved his Steak Frites and I was gushing over the Roasted Duck Breast served with Celeriac Rosti, Spicy Cherry Gastrique. OMG, have I mentioned how good it was. Both Frank's steak and my duck were perfectly cooked to a rare degree of doneness. We paired the meal with a very nice bottle of 2010 Shooting Star Pinot Noir from Stelle Vineyards in California.

That's it for Thanksgiving 2012 - Thanks one more time to my family and friends - I am truly a lucky guy.

As promised - the LEMON PANNA COTTA recipe follows. I skip the sauce and serve it with fresh raspberries.

Lemon Panna Cotta with Blackberry Sauce

For convenience, chill these individual eggless custards overnight before serving. The sauce can also be made a day ahead.
Yield: Makes 6 servings

Panna cotta
Vegetable oil
1 cup whole milk
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 vanilla bean
5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup crème fraîche*
2 tablespoons grated lemon peel

3 cups frozen blackberries (about 12 ounces), thawed, drained, juices reserved
3 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar
3 tablespoons crème de cassis (black-currant-flavored liqueur; optional)
For panna cotta:
Lightly oil six 3/4-cup ramekins or custard cups. Mix milk and cream in heavy medium saucepan. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add bean. Bring to simmer. Remove from heat. Cover; let steep 30 minutes. Remove vanilla bean.
Pour lemon juice into small bowl; sprinkle gelatin over. Let stand until gelatin softens, about 10 minutes. Stir sugar and gelatin mixture into milk mixture. Stir over low heat just until sugar and gelatin dissolve, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Whisk in crème fraîche and lemon peel. Divide among ramekins. Cover; chill until set, at least 6 hours or overnight.

For sauce:
Puree 2/3 of blackberries and all reserved juices, brown sugar, and crème de cassis, if desired, in blender. Strain mixture into medium bowl, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard solids in strainer. Stir remaining blackberries into sauce. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.)
Run small knife around each panna cotta. Place bottoms of ramekins, 1 at a time, in bowl of hot water 45 seconds. Place plate atop ramekin. Hold plate and ramekin together; invert, shaking gently, to turn out panna cotta. Serve with sauce.

That's all I'm Saying !

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