Friday, November 27, 2009

Blog leftovers: Cooking quality rises for T-Day

Culinary school teaches us both quality and quantity, aimed at restaurant food and meal production.

The techniques learned in just nine weeks have improved my approach in the kitchen, both at school and home. It was especially manifest for Thanksgiving Day, in the way I planned and organized and in the quality of the cooking.

Most home cooks take it over the top when the holidays come 'round, most especially Thanksgiving. We didn't exactly resort to beans and weenies, but Hilda and I put together a modest yet delicious meal.

Setting the tone was our use of California Culinary Academy Chef Dan Fluharty's cranberry chutney recipe (posted here in my blog). Everyone agreed that it was the highlight of the meal, with its rich, complex flavors. The sweetness was a terrific complement to the savory in most other components of the meal.

Hilda's Yukon gold mashed potatoes were deliciously laced with a whole head of roasted garlic.

My dressing, based on a recipe that I have been building and tweaking for years, was also a hit. We were happy to send some of it home with our guests and keep some for our own yummy leftovers. (Photo shows it in its pre-baked state.)

The turkey was succulent, although we stuck to breast meat after noticing the dark meat on the thighs seemed a little undercooked. That was a surprise after the meat thermometer showed an internal temperature of 160 degrees, acceptable for service.

The sweet conclusion was an apple crisp from daughter Ann Chihak Poff, topped with fat-free frozen yogurt. The crisp lost nothing in the translation to sugar-free to accommodate my son-in-law Curt Poff, who has diabetes.

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