Thanksgiving 2016

I have been hosting Thanksgiving dinner ever since I moved to Chicago. In the beginning my roommates and I all chipped in with preparing the annual dinner (why did the oven always seem to break on Thanksgiving morning?) Once I moved out I started hosting for the other folks, like me, whose job or other commitments prevented them from taking any more time off than just the holiday. After a few years those commitments went away and I was able to take that time off and concentrate more time on planning the annual dinner. My guest list was now filled with friends and it wasn’t long before I started to think beyond the traditional dinner of turkey, dressing and mashed potatoes … and while I do love that tradition and that traditional food, I tend to think non-traditional even if I do serve turkey. Instead of a whole bird I might do something like Braised Turkey Thighs, a nice option especially when all of my guests prefer dark meat. I start by thinking of a theme, like “Modern Scandinavian” or “Pub Crawl”, and build my menu around that. I serve my dinners restaurant style, as opposed to buffet or family-style and take on almost all of the cooking. Friends are typically tasked with ordering the flowers or bringing the booze. I don’t typically reveal the theme, instead I hope that my friends feel the warmth and appreciation of the gathering and love the food for what it is: a reflection of my affection for cooking and for them.

Vintner & vintage of Champagne and wines yet to be determined

Welcome
Champagne toast
Duck breast rumaki, uncured wild Cherrywood bacon

Amuse bouche
Caesar salad, Parmesan tuile, garlic-butter crouton
Continue Champagne

Soup
Prawn bisque, spicy oyster crackers

Main & sides
Prime rib au jus, 3 sauces
Gratin of spinach
Thrice-baked potatoes
Fried onion ‘cake’ with spicy barbecue aioli
Duck fat popovers, butter

Dessert
Fallen chocolate cake, glazing sugar, pomegranate redux
Coffee: Peet’s Italian roast

“Cigar”
Trio of handmade Martha Washington candies
Cognac: Grand Marnier 100 year old cuvee

Dessert Monday: Almost-flourless chocolate cake

Dessert Monday: Almost-flourless chocolate cake

Because you have to have something to look forward to on Monday

Ingredients
1 tablespoon butter, for pan
3 tablespoons cocoa, for pan

10 ounces bittersweet chocolate (70% cacao), finely chopped
1 cup butter, cut into 1/4 inch dice
5 large eggs
1 1/4 cups sugar
5 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

Special equipment
Springform pan

Method
Heat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter and flour with cocoa a 10 inch springform pan

Stir chocolate and butter together in a heavy bottomed medium saucepan over low heat until chocolate  melts and mixture is smooth. Beat eggs and sugar together in large bowl until well blended and mixture begins to thicken

Sift flour and baking powder over eggs and gently fold in. Gently fold in chocolate mixture. Pour batter to prepared pan

Bake cake 20 minutes then, carefully remove pan from oven and carefully over pan with foil. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out with moist crumbs still attached, about 30 minutes longer. Uncover cake, place on a cooling rack and cool to room temperature, 3 hours (cake will fall as it cools)

Cut around perimeter of cake and release ring mold

Cut Almost-flourless cake into wedges and garnish with 10X sugar, Any berry coulis, whipped cream, fresh berries, or nothing at all