Many like to think I am the perfect cook and hostess. Many like to think that I can whip up a gourmet meal with no mistakes. Many like to think that recipes, even from my favorite chefs don’t stump me or cause me problems. Well, even I make mistakes, have kitchen failures, and serve cold food. BUT… this is where I thrive!
Wait? What? Ok, so hear me out. I want a perfectly timed meal that is hot and delicious just like everyone else but there are plenty of times that doesn’t happen. At least not on the first attempt of a recipe. When that happens I get excited! Why? Because it’s a learning opportunity. It’s a time to be challenged and learn from my mistakes.
One of my favorite activities around a dinner is to do a rehash of the good, the bad, and the soggy or whatever the issues were.
So the good:
- I recently heard a wine podcast about resiling being an under celebrated white wine and how forgiving it was. Boy, were they right!
- The “shmear” or otherwise called Everything Beagle Butter is a fantastic dinner roll spread.
- The Seeded Honey Rye Pull Apart Rolls and the Knotted Dinner Rolls were perfect… OK well once I remembered to reheat them. Room temp they were fine but the warmed versions just really brought them to life.
- The Butternut Squash Soup was delicious as always. This year I thinned it out a little more and added a few more apples and a pear since I had them in the fridge and the added fruit really offered a nice depth of flavor. (I should have warmed the glasses they were served in and the pistachios needed to be more finely chopped but the dish over all was a success.)
- The Green Bean Casserole was an issue on several fronts. The cream sauce was too thick and didn’t cover the cream beans as much as I would have liked. The green beans were too long and made it hard to both serve and eat and over all the green beans were cold and the onions were burnt. (In discussing this dish a few things came to light. Why try and bake this dish? If you’re going to blanch the green beans to start why not just sauté them? If you’re going to cook the sauce why not just pour it on the cooked green beans? If you’re going to fry the onions why bake them again? Lastly why green beans? They aren’t in season…)
- The Turkey was very disappointing. It never browned on the outside, it seemed to cook quicker on the inside than on the outside and the rolls just fell apart then sliced. The stuffing I used to make the roulade was just a mussy goo as well which was highly disappointing. Oh, and I just realized now while writing this that I forgot to season the turkey before I baked it…
- The Stuffing was a major miss. Over all the flavors were interesting. I liked the celeriac and the chestnut but it was so wet there was no texture to any of it. I am pretty sure the issue was the amount of liquid they recipe called for. So I am going to dig through more stuffing recipes and look at their liquid to bread ratio and see what needs to be adjusted.
Then if I were to have a just so-so it would be:
- The sweet potatoes. They just didn’t wow like they did last year. I had a hard time getting them to caramelize and the final plating just looked like a pile of stuff with no real thought or effort put into it. Back to the drawing board on that one too.
- Oh, and my cranberry sauce seemed a bit heavy in the cloves but otherwise good.
Thankfully you can usually count on the desserts to save the meal.
- The Spiced Pumpkin Cheese Cake was delicious. I was just hard to get too excited about it when dinner was a disappointment.
The surprise was the Sweet Potato Whoopee Pies with the Marshmallow Filling! Those will be happening every year for sure!
In the end it’s about not feeling like I failed but that mistakes happen and nobody is perfect. I took good notes on all the recipes and will keep trying until I can get this darn meal figured out.
Amongst the many issues I thought about with this meal were both the number of things that had to fit in the fridge, so when planning the other meals for the week we need things that can be pulled from the pantry or freezer and reheated like soups and breads. Then when it comes to the meal itself who thought it was a good idea to try to get usually three hot baked side dishes to the table at the same time as a turkey? Packing your oven with that many things your bound to through off the air flow, humidity, and temperature making everything in your oven an issue.
I am thankful for the fact that “There’s always next year!”