Friday, March 2, 2012

Winter Feast: The Plan

Here it is! Your step-by-step plan for making an incredible Winter Feast without making yourself completely crazy. This menu is scaled for 8 people, so adjust according to your number of guests. Here goes:

Shopping List:

Kitchen tools & supplies:
slow cooker
sharp knife
cutting board
mortar & pestle
2 small saucepans
medium saucepan
large saucepan
stock pot
2 skillets
garlic press
whisk
mixing bowls
parchment paper
baking sheet
can opener
vegetable peeler
roasting pan
popcorn popper
2 large popcorn bowls

Beverages:
Vodka
Whiskey
4 bottles wine + 2/3 cup dry white wine for cooking
gallon apple cider
8 bottles non-alcoholic ginger beer
simple syrup
lime juice

Fruits & Veggies:
fresh mint
fresh dill
2 limes
orange
2 lemons
2 cups mixed oil-packed olives
lb. baby plum tomatoes
garlic
ginger
1 1/2 lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3" lengths, 1/2" thick
3 onions
small red chile, halved lengthwise
yellow bell pepper, halved, seeded, and thinly sliced
bunch beets with greens (about 3 medium beets)
5 cups arugula
8 oz. young fresh spinach leaves, washed and drained
leeks, sliced
2 cups shredded savoy cabbage
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
parsnip, diced

Asian Food Section:
1/4 cup soy sauce
Tbsp. sesame oil
1/4 tsp. Chinese five-spice powder

Cooking & Baking:
olive oil
vegetable oil
1/3 cup seasoned rice vinegar
Tbsp. coriander seeds, crushed
4 bay leaves
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
kosher salt
fresh ground pepper
6 Tbsp. brown sugar
9 large marshmallows

Grains:
2 cups arborio rice
1/4 cup popcorn

Cans & Jars:
14 cups vegetable broth
15-oz can white beans, such as cannellini or Great Northern, drained
2 Tbsp. creamy peanut butter

Dairy:
sour cream
shaved Parmesan cheese
freshly grated Parmesan cheese
stick unsalted butter
1/2 stick salted butter

Meat & Fish:
8 pork sausages
2 anchovies in oil
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Cooking Instructions: 
I'm going to assume your first guests will walk through the door at 7pm. Adjust times to suit your actual start time.

3:30 Prepare the marinade for the citrus marinated olives:
1) Place the olives in a nice bowl with half an orange that has been quartered into wedges and thinly sliced.
2) In a small saucepan, combine 1/2 cup olive oil, 3 whole garlic cloves, Tbsp. crushed coriander seeds, 2 bay leaves, and a small red chile, halved lengthwise. Cook until fragrant and the garlic begins to brown, about 20 minutes.
3) Remove pan from the heat and let it steep for one hour.

4pm Prepare the very veggie beet soup:
1) Cut off the beet roots, then separate the leaves from the stems at the base of the leaf. Discard the stems. Peel and dice the beet roots. Wash the leaves well and chop into bite-size pieces.
2) Prep the rest of your ingredients: Slice 1 cup of leeks, white part only. Dice 2 onions. Dice 2 carrots. Dice 2 celery stalks. Dice 1 parsnip. Chop 4 Tbsp. fresh dill. Shred 2 cups savoy cabbage. Squeeze 2-3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice.

4:30 In a large stock pot, heat Tbsp. olive oil over medium heat. Add the leeks and onions. Saute for 15 minutes, stirring frequently until golden and soft.

4:45 Add the carrots, celery, parsnip, diced beets, 8 cups vegetable stock, 2 bay leaves, 2 tsp. sea salt, and 2 Tbsp of the dill. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cook covered for 25 minutes.

5pm Marinate the olives:
1) Pour marinade over olives and stir to coat. Marinate at room temperature for 2 hours. (Or if you're cooking ahead, the olives can be covered and chilled for up to 4 days. Bring them to room temperature before serving them.)

5:02 Prepare the dipping sauce and prep the sweet potato fries:
1) Combine 1/3 cup seasoned rice vinegar, 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1 Tbsp. sesame oil, 1 tsp. minced garlic, 1 tsp. grated ginger and 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes using a whisk. Set aside.
2) Peel 1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, then cut into 3" lengths, 1/2" thick and set aside.
3) In a separate bowl, combine 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil, 1/4 tsp. Chinese five-spice powder, and 1/4 tsp. kosher salt. Set aside.

5:20 Continue making the soup:
Add cabbage, beet greens, and the remaining 2 Tbsp. fresh dill. Cook for another 20 minutes, until cabbage is tender.

5:22 Prep the white bean and arugula salad:
1) In a small bowl, whisk together 1/3 cup olive oil, 3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice, Tbsp. minced fresh dill, small finely-chopped garlic clove and sea salt and fresh pepper. Set aside.
2) In a large bowl, combine 3 bunches of arugula, trimmed and roughly chopped; one 15-oz can of white beans, drained; and one yellow bell pepper, halved, seeded and thinly sliced. Set aside.

5:40 Finish making the soup:
Add freshly ground black pepper and lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasonings. Cover to preserve heat.

6pm Pour apple cider into a slow cooker and heat gently. Set out glasses, a bottle of whiskey for spiking, and a can of whip cream for topping.

6:05 Prep the risotto:
1) Pour 1 pound baby plum tomatoes in a roasting pan and sprinkle with 1/4 cup of olive oil. Mix well to coat, then season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
2) Finely chop an onion. Wash and drain 8 oz. young fresh spinach leaves.
3) Melt 1/2 stick unsalted butter in a large, heavy saucepan and add the chopped onion and 2 anchovies in oil. Cook gently for 10 minutes until soft, golden, and translucent but not browned. Add 2 cups arborio rice and stir until well coated with the butter and heated through. Pour in 2/3 cup dry white wine and boil hard to reduce until it has almost disappeared. This will remove the taste of raw alcohol. Remove from heat.

6:30 Preheat the oven to 400F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

6:32 Prep the Moscow Mules:
Squeeze 1/2 oz lime juice in each glass and toss in a sprig of mint.

6:40 Prepare to make the risotto:
Pour 6 cups vegetable broth in a saucepan and bring it to a gentle simmer.

6:55 Gently heat the soup to a low simmer, and set out small bowls of sour cream, and small bowls of grated parmesan.

7pm (As your first guests arrive) Prepare the sweet potato fries and finish making the risotto:
1) Toss the prepared sweet potatoes in a large bowl with the reserved oil/Chinese five-spice powder/salt mixture.
2) Bake fries until tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
3) Return the risotto to the heat, warm through, and begin adding the broth, a large ladle at a time, stirring gently until each ladle has been almost absorbed into the rice. The risotto should be kept at a bare simmer throughout cooking, so don't let the rice dry out - add more broth as necessary. Continue until the rice is tender and creamy, but the grains still firm (This should take between 15-20 minutes depending on the type of rice used - check the package instructions).
4) Just before the risotto is cooked, stir in the spinach and 2 cups fresh arugula leaves. Taste and season well with salt and pepper, then beat in the remaining 1/2 stick unsalted butter. You may add a little hot broth at this stage to loosen the risotto.
5) Cover and let risotto rest.

7:20 Remove fries from oven. Throw the roasting pan of tomatoes into the oven. Serve the fries immediately with dipping sauce.

7:30 Invite your guests to sit at the table as you serve the soup and the Moscow Mules. You or a helpful friend can add 2 oz. vodka to each glass of lime juice and then top with 4-6 oz. of ginger beer - omitting the vodka for those who aren't drinking.

7:40 Finish making the main course:
1) Remove tomatoes from the oven - they should be slightly collapsed with the skins beginning to brown. Fold them into the risotto with their juices.
2) Cook the pork sausages over medium heat, turning to cook each side.

7:50 Toss the salad with the dressing, and quickly plate each salad. Shave a few slices of Parmesan over each portion. Add a generous scoop of risotto and a pork sausage to each plate. Encourage people to add grated Parmesan to their risotto to taste. Dinner is served!

Dessert time: Make Susan's Peanut Butter Popcorn

Pop ¼ cup of popcorn in an air popper.  Once it’s popped, use your hands to transfer it to a second bowl.  DON’T POUR IT.  You want to make sure all those hardheaded little guys on the bottom stay in the original bowl, because the peanut-butter sauce would cause them to adhere to the popped pieces – you don’t want to lose a filling.
Gently melt ¼ cup of butter, 6 Tbsp. brown sugar, 2 Tbsp. creamy peanut butter and 9 marshmallows (or 1/3 cup of marshmallow fluff) in a sauce pan, stirring constantly. 
Pour the sauce over the popcorn and use salad tongs to toss it – you want to toss it before it hardens or separates, which means it’s going to be piping hot.
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Recipe credits:
Citrus-Marinated Olives: BonAppetit.com, 2012
Sweet Potato Fries: Cocktail Food by Mary Corpening Barber and Sara Corpening Whiteford with Lori Lyn Nalock, 1999
Very Veggie Beet Soup: Greens Glorious Greens! by Johnna Albi and Catherine Walthers, 1996
White Bean and Arugula Salad: Best of the Best vol. 8 from Food & Wine, 2005
Spinach Risotto: Risotto by Maxine Clark, 2005
Susan's Peanut Butter Popcorn: TheBashionista.com, 2011 

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