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This past Thursday, the sweet and savory aromas of Thanksgiving filled my apartment building. Through my bathroom vent, I can usually smell what the neighbors are cooking. Since the kitchen and bathroom vents in the building are conjoined, it often draws in odd yet strangely alluring scents to the apartment by way of the bathroom. Sometimes it’s waffles, bacon and Pantene Pro-V on Sunday mornings. In the evening it can be a medley of pot roast and spicy Thai curry. But it was Thanksgiving day, and most kitchens in the building were already whirring with activity by early afternoon. The familiar smells of sage, pumpkin, cinnamon, and roast poultry were not only coming in from the bathroom, but had managed to slip into the hallway as well, enveloping me with delicious aromas when I opened the door and walked to and from the elevator.
So, what was happening in my kitchen? Although I mentioned in my previous post that this year’s Thanksgiving was going to be an international affair, my sister Kelly and I have a strong attachment to traditional Thanksgiving dishes. Having to forgo the centerpiece of this holiday only meant that we had to compensate with side dishes. My parents, on the other hand, (who happen to conveniently live next door to us) are just not as attached to this holiday. Instead, they saw this holiday as an opportunity to put their culinary acumen to the test. They visualized a tasting menu with delicate portions and artfully plated miniature bamboo boats. Meanwhile, Kelly and I envisioned big plates piled a mile high with an orgy of food. How was Thanksgiving going to work? After some bickering over what was to be cooked for dinner, the four of us came to a compromise. And here was the result..
After the small portions were served, we segued to the traditional segment of the meal with our Cauliflower and Leek Soup. Being a forgetful photographer, I was busy serving the soup and incidentally forgot to document the soup. Thankfully, I have a photo from a previous batch of soup! A recipe for this soup will be for another time in the near future.
Ever since my Middle School principal disclosed his secret to making tasty Brussel sprouts to my mom at a PTA meeting, we’ve been cooking them this way: Brussel Sprouts with Shallots, Bacon and Thyme. Thanks, Mr. McDermott! Drizzle chicken stock while cooking to keep the sprouts from getting too dry.
By this point in the evening, I was beginning to fade due to my food coma and disappeared into my bedroom to take a post-Thanksgiving dinner nap. One too many glasses of red wine and sangria may have also been the reason for my fatigue. While I was in a deep slumber, Suckling Pig and Hainanese Chicken brought by family friends were devoured, as well as a Pumpkin Pie. You’ll just have to imagine how good those tasted.
Even though it’s been several days since Thanksgiving, you may not have any desire to relive that night. Yet, if you are a fan of sweet and salty, as you probably already know I am from my previous entries, I encourage you try making Curried Butternut Squash and Apples with Sage. I leave you with a recipe adapted from Mark Bittman’s 101 Thanksgiving dishes.
The buttery squash and apples are mingle with a few tablespoons of curry powder, a toss of torn sage leaves, a generous drizzle of maple syrup, and most importantly, pats of butter, thrown into the oven and left to develop a lovely, complex flavor. As the cubes of squash and apples bask in the oven’s heat, they start to bear a similar resemblance. The final result is almost of a uniform golden color, yellowed by curry powder. Each bite leaves you guessing which cube you’re going to get next.. apple or butternut squash?!
Curried Butternut Squash and Apples with Sage
1 Medium Butternut Squash
2 Apples (preferably two firm ones of a red variety)
4 Tablespoons of Salted Butter
1/4 Cup of Maple Syrup
4 Tablespoons of Curry Powder
Salt and Pepper, to taste
1. Dice butternut squash and apples into 1 inch cubes
2. Toss chunks of butternut squash and apples with curry powder, smears of butter, and maple syrup
3. Roast at 350 degrees, shaking the pan occasionally, until everything is golden and tender