Gearing up for the annual feast once again. This year, I will not be inviting the firemen to our house, thank you very much. This year, I am not making the vast amount of food I made last year...I'm keeping it simple...or at least simple as I can.
I was getting more and more adventurous with cooking, because hey--it's way more fun to cook for two than it was for one--and we lived very close to an international farmer's market, where I could get a lot of exotic ingredients quickly and easily.
This roast requires a garlic-herb paste that can be left on overnight, so a couple of days before Turkey Day 2000, The Man and I headed to fight the crowds at the farmer's market to get this roast. I confidently went to the meat counter and made my request for 5-pound NY Strip Roast. The counterman smiled and went off to get my meat. He brought it out, presented it to me for inspection, and then wrapped it up and put the price label on it. As he handed me the wrapped piece of meat, I saw the price tag and almost dropped the roast. $57 was on the little label sticker. Fifty-seven dollars. I almost stroked out on the spot. For some reason, my little math-challenged brain did not equate that since the price-per-pound for a single NY Strip would also be the price-per-pound for the roast...why I thought buying luxury meat in bulk form would get me an discount, I have no idea.
So, I'm clutching this piece of meat and generally freaking out about how expensive this meat was, and how I'd never really cooked a roast before, much less one that cost $57 freakin' dollars, blah, blah blah blah. The Man assures me that it will be fine, that I can cook this with no problem, and it would turn out just fine. And, you know what, it did. It was even fine on the next day, when my friend Kimma came over, and we did Black Friday, and we were going to eat leftovers for dinner that got put on hold for about 8 more hours because we spent that in an emergency room with The Man, who tried to surgically remove a finger with a Leatherman. (It was a highly exciting time, and for several years after, Kimma asked what we were going to do to top it...NOT!)
It's damn tasty, no matter how you slice it.
Last year, I wrote about the savory mushroom bread pudding, which I tweaked and renamed a gratin, even though I'm not sure it's a gratin either. Anyway, it's awesome as a side dish, and I don't know why I haven't made since last Thanksgiving, because we really liked it.
1 (1-pound) loaf crusty country-style white bread
1/4 cup olive oil
4 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 large garlic clove, minced
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
1 pound assorted fresh mushrooms (such as cremini, button, portobello, and stemmed shiitake), thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced celery
1 cup finely chopped red and yellow bell pepper
1/3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
3 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
8 large eggs
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Butter 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Cut bottom crust and short ends off bread and discard. Cut remaining bread with crust into 1-inch cubes (about 10 cups loosely packed). Place cubes in very large bowl. Add oil, thyme, and garlic; toss to coat.
3. Spread cubes out on large rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake until golden and slightly crunchy, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Return toasted bread cubes to same very large bowl.
4. Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, onion, celery, and bell pepper. Sauté until soft and juices have evaporated, about 15 minutes. Add sautéed vegetables and parsley to bread cubes.
5. Whisk heavy cream, eggs, salt, and ground pepper in large bowl. Mix custard into bread and vegetables. Transfer mixture to baking dish. Sprinkle cheese over.
Advance Prep: Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.
Reduce heat (or preheat if making the second day) of oven to 350°F. Bake, uncovered until set and top is golden, about 1 hour. Let stand 15 minutes.
For dessert, I'm going to attempt a Chocolate-Pistachio Torte with Warm Chocolate Ganache. This is really the stretch dish for me, because I'm still not comfortable as a baker...and my oven can be kinda cranky. But, the picture is really pretty, don't you think? I'll try and post a picture of my version, so wish me luck!