Smita and Cindy's Holiday Meal

Made this a couple weeks ago but havent had time to blog it. Cindy and I got inspired by the Holiday's ofcourse and also a number of things including a christmas book, a tv show and of course chocolate. So here is the final menu:
Holiday Dinner Menu:
Cornish Hens (never made them and always wanted to)
Gratineed Leeks
Carrot, potato puree or Mashed potatoes w/gravy (I will put down recipes for both)
Chocolate cupcakes
Clementine Cosmos (Never ended up making these because but will add because they are the perfect complement to a dinner party if you really wanna go all out!)

Its very important to make sure you have "fresh" cornish hens if possible. If using frozen, thaw out for a day in fridge. Leeks are always in season during the holidays so they will be easy to find.
Cornish Hens Au Vin (Serves 4):
Inspiration & Source: Food Network Show "5 Ingredient Fix starring Claire Robinson"
4 slices thick-cut bacon
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
4 Cornish hens, about 1 pound each, rinsed and patted dry
2 cups dry white wine - I used a Sauvignon Blanc. You can also use Red and then it will make a red sauce
1 cup water
3 garlic cloves
1) Ideally one would use a large Dutch but since I dont have one and they are pretty expensice (around $100 for a good one), I used my stainless steel sautee pan. Heat pan over medium heat and add the bacon. Cook until browned and crisp and the fat is rendered. Remove the bacon to a paper-towel lined plate to drain.
2) Put the flour in a large bowl and season heavily with salt and pepper, to taste. Toss the hens in the seasoned flour until coated, shaking off excess. Heat the pan with the bacon fat over medium heat. Add the hens and brown on all sides. Add some extra olive oil only if you think the oil from the bacon is not enough. Remove hens and set on plate.
3) Deglazing: This step is pretty common to many Italian and French dishes. It is the process of making the yummy sauce using the wine and grease form the pan! So carefully add the wine, letting it bubble and release the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Stir in the water and garlic cloves and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer.
4) Braising: This is a technique where you cook meat in a glaze or liquid to lock in flavors and cook the meat through. Mmmm. So add back the hens. Cover and braise until hens are cooked through, about 20 minutes. Transfer the hens to a platter and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.
5) Gravy: Continue simmering the liquid, uncovered, until thickened, about 10 minutes. Taste the gravy and season with salt and pepper, if necessary. Arrange the hens on a serving platter. Crumble the bacon over the top and serve immediately with the gravy.
Gratineed Leeks:
Inspiration: Williams Sonoma Christmas Book found at TJ Maxx for $2 thanks to Cindy!)
4 Leeks (cut to about 8 inches keeppin only the white and discarding the green); Cut again in half. Wash these halves very well -- leeks are usually very muddy because they grow underground.
1 cup stock (chicken or vegetable stock is fine)
1/4 cup dry white wine
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1/2 cup shredded gruyere cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tblsp butter unsalted
Cut and prepare leeks. Turn oven to 350. Butter a 2 quart, glass baking dish. Hold each leek under cold running water and rinse to remove all dirt. Lay leeks "cut side up" in the baking dish. Season with Kosher salt and pepper. Cover with foil. Bake @ 350 for 30 mins until leeks are tender.
In the meanwhile, grate the 2 cheese and keep ready.
Remove leeks. Sprinkle the Gruyere and Parmesan evenly. Dot with butter. Place in broiler (3-4 inches from top on top rack of oven) and broil/grill until top is golden -- about 2 minutes.
Carrot & Celery root Puree:
Inspiration: Celery root -- never used it before and wanted to try it. Recipe is again Claire Robinson from the same Food Network Show
This was my least favorite dish but i'm adding it to the blog because everyone elase enjoyed it and it came out really good. Personally I woudl rather just do mashed potatoes with this meal :)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large shallots, peeled and chopped
3 extra-large or 4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
2 celery roots, 1 pound each, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
2 cups good quality vegetable stock
1) Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a Dutch oven or large saucepan with a lid over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook until just beginning to turn golden about 5 minutes. Add the carrots and celery root and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir in the stock, and enough water to just cover the vegetables. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until vegetables are fork tender, about 30 minutes.
2) Drain the vegetables in a colander set over a bowl to reserve the cooking liquid. Transfer the vegetables to a food processor and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Puree until very smooth, adding cooking liquid, as needed, to reach the desired consistency. Taste and season again, if necessary. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve warm.
Really Good Mashed Potatoed & Gravy (Alternative to Celery Root and Carrot Puree):
Inspiration: Dinner at Ajay and Nameeta's new place. I made this when I was in India with some chicken similar to the preparation above. I aslo had a side of Asparagus that was so fresh and tasty in India.
1 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large potatoes (yukon gold will be good), peeled
1/4 cup olive oil, optional
2 tablespoons chopped chives, for garnish
1) Put the potatoes in a medium saucepan with cold water to cover. Bring to boil then add 1 teaspoon of salt and reduce the heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until the potatoes are very tender. Drain. Pass the potatoes through a food mill or a ricer into a large mixing bowl.
2) While potatoes are boiling, warm the cream with the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until the butter melts; set aside.
3) Stir in the warm cream and butter mixture until the cream is absorbed and the mixture is smooth. Season the potatoes with kosher salt and fresh groung pepper and finish them off by stirring in 1/4 cup olive oil. Top with chopped chives.
Gravy: Deglaze pan where you have cooked bacon or chicken using broth and wine. Scrape all bits stuck to the bottom using wooden spoon. Add bay leaf and peppercorns. Simmer for a good 20 mins. Reduce liquid in half. If you need to thicken further you could add a white roux (fat+flour -- look up white roux by Alton Brown).
Chocolate Cup Cakes:
4 tblsp soft margerine
1/4 cup super fine sugar (i used confectioners sugar)
1 egg
5/8 cup self-rising flour
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
2 oz semisweet chocolate broken into 8 squares. I think darker chocolate would be better.
muffin pan and muffin paper cups
1) Put 8 paper casings in muffin pan (or 8 double layer paper cases on cookie sheet)
2) In large mixing bowl, mix margerine, sugar, egg, flour, cocoa using electric hand whisk. Beat until just smooth.
3) Spoon half of the batter into the paper cups. Using a teaspoon, make indentation in the center of each cake and add chocolate pieces to center. Spoon remaining batter to cover.
4) Bake in a pre-heated oven at 375 for 20 minutes. Lets stand for 2-3 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar.
Notes: I think the cupcakes were delicious but a bit dry. Not sure if I shoudl use butter instead of margerine. Also the chocolate inside is usually hard if teh cupcake is sittin outside so make sue the cupcakes are warm so the chocolate is melted and molten.
Clementine Cosmos:
3 clementines, plus 1 very thinly sliced, for garnish
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2/3 cup cranberry juice
1/3 cup lime juice
1 1/2 cups vanilla flavored vodka (recommend: Grey Goose)
Cut the clementines into quarters and squeeze their juice into a saucepan. Add the sugar, water and clementine flesh and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat and simmer the mixture for 5 minutes. Pour into a strainer set over a measuring cup, pressing on the solids to remove as much liquid as possible. Discard the solids, cool the liquid to room temperature and pour into a pitcher. Add the cranberry juice, lime juice and vodka and stir well. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Put 6 or 8 martini glasses in the freezer.
To serve, pour the mixture into an ice-filled cocktail shaker and shake until very cold. Pour into the chilled martini glasses and garnish each with a clementine slice. Drink & enjoy!


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