The buttermilk-brined turkey was as wonderful as ever. This is my go-to recipe for a moist and delicious turkey. I got it in the oven early enough this year to allow it to sit for an hour before carving. It was still 'too hot to handle'. The hardest part about making the bird is that I keep buying larger birds as the family grows and lifting it out of a standard floor oven for basting gets harder and harder. Still, well worth the effort.
The mushroom and leek bread pudding was just way too rich. I even used half-and-half for some of the cream. But combine that richness with the Gruyere cheese and it was over the top. Very good, but still...
The old standby pierogies and Polish sausage were 'gobbled' up. A meal in themselves, let alone served as sides to turkey.
Nobody missed having a green vegetable. My sister suggested that everyone could go home and have a salad. But I will be eating a lot of baked squash and fennel which was our 'vegetable'. I added some chestnuts to the bake and they proved to be a hit.
The cranberry chutney was a side dish I always make, even if not a favorite of everyone. But imagine my surprise on Wednesday when I read our local paper and saw a recipe from one of the local restaurants that looked very familiar. Yes, the one and same chutney with one single variation. I am guessing that the chef there may have gone to the same culinary school that I did.
My sister always bakes the rolls and I make the orange butter. Usually we have lots of rolls left over. Yesterday, there were only three. Seems that some of us (me included) ate the rolls just so we could slather the orange butter on them. (As a child I remember my sister just eating the butter at the table and skipping the rolls.)
I must say that very often my desserts are what gets the raves and this year was no different. While my pumpkin mascarpone pie has become a tradition, the Russian apple sharlotka was brand new. This recipe from Food and Wine arrived just in time for the holiday. I really wanted to do a menu with Russian and Polish dishes and had originally planned to make kolaches, a dough filled pastry that takes a lot of time.
I jumped on this recipe as soon as I saw it. It appeared easy enough to make and could bake while we ate. We would then have a warm dessert. The entire cake disappeared. NEVER has this happened with a dessert.
The apples baked up wonderfully. I used a combination of granny smith, honey crisp, and braeburn apples. A moist cake developed over the top of the apples with a meringue crust on the top and sides. It was like heaven on a plate. I imagine that a scoop of vanilla ice cream would be a welcome addition. I have more apples and am thinking I just might whip up another one for the weekend.
Now, if you are wondering where my pictures are, well, I forgot to take any. And the turkey was perfection. It just never crossed my mind what with getting everything together. I even forgot to photograph the table, though I had taken this picture earlier this month when I started pulling out my dishes. Use your imagination to fill in the rest. (The centerpiece (I had two) was a steal at Michael's for nine bucks just after Halloween.)
And now to the salmon. I have a beautiful oval platter that I use for the salmon. I had it decked out with dill sprigs, chopped hard-boiled egg, red onion, capers, cream cheese, and the sauce for the salmon. I have a lovely tray for the thin pumpernickel bread slices (about two-inches square) used for cocktail presentations. I remembered that I was going to post my recipe long after we had cleaned everything up. And so, here is what is left:
1 Large salmon fillet, pin-boned and with skin on, (1 1/2 to 2 pounds)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup Kosher salt
1 tbsp ground juniper berries
1 tbsp fresh ground pepper
1 tbsp fresh dill springs (enough to lay over the top of the salmon)
1 small yellow onion, sliced thin
1/3 cup brandy or cognac
Place the salmon on a layer of saran wrap.
Mix the dry ingredients for the marinade together and rub all over the salmon generously, covering both sides. With the salmon flesh side up, place a thin layer of onions on top followed by a layer of dill springs. Sprinkle with the liquor and then wrap tightly in the saran. (I do a double layer)
Place the fillet in a dish large enough to hold it and weigh it down with something to keep it pressed (like large cans of tomatoes inside another pan). Refrigerate for 48 hours turning the salmon over at least once.
Unwrap when done and save the liquid.
Lay the salmon skin side down and begin cutting the slices from one end. Cut at a shallow angle, slicing the salmon off the skin. Keep the slices together so that you can then lay them back on the skin for serving.
Mix a small amount of the reserved liquid (it will be salty so do not overdo it, you can always add more) with about one cup of mayonnaise. Add some Dijon mustard, white wine or lemon juice to the mixture. Adjust for taste and season as necessary (salt?, pepper, sugar, liquid, you get the idea).
Suggested garnishes for serving:
Pumpernickel slices (small cocktail size), diced red onion (soak in ice water for 15 minutes to reduce bite, then strain), chopped dill, chopped parsley, hard-boiled egg, cream cheese, capers, mustard sauce
I made this once with homemade bagels, something I need to make again. But the last time I did, my son took some home and his dog ate them all. What a waste.