Sunday, November 30, 2008

Mel's Thanksgiving '08 Part 1: Pre-Thanksgiving Dinner and Cooking Session with Chef Lillian Bolton

For me, Thanksgiving is a time to gather those you love around you, family, and closest friends to celebrate life, love and to give thanks to what we have. And of course making a big Thanksgiving feast for those you love. It's all about the 3 F's in my life: family, friends and FOOD! It's one of my favorite and busiest holiday of the year! This year I went to 2 pre-Thanksgiving dinners (potluck/cookluck) and 2 Thanksgiving dinners which was on the same day! I was an non-stop eating machine!

This Thanksgiving post is going to be separated into 3 parts to this:
1) Pre-Thanksgiving Dinner and Cooking Sessions w/ Chef Lillian Bolton
2) Cecille's Potluck with friends
3) The Tong's Thanksgiving Dinner and the Fung's After-dinner party
Part 1: Pre-Thanksgiving Dinner and Cooking Session with Chef Lillian Bolton
This Thanksgiving dinner was celebrated with my high school buds (Jess and Lilly and our boys). This was the first time we ever did a Thanksgiving dinner even though we know each other for 10+ years. Okay, let's talk about my two best buds from HS and how I met them:

Jess: I met her in JHS. She was in my Spanish class during my senior year. The funny part was the first time I spoke to her was the last day of class. We signed each other yearbook and found out we were going to the same HS. We said our good byes/good luck and then saw each other again at HS orientation and the rest is history....

Lillian: She was also in my JHS but we weren't friends until we were in HS. I remember her from my JHS gym class, she was the type of chick who was really good in sports and everyone wanted her on their team. In HS, I met Lillian through Jess and all three of us became good friends, we were all in the same track and took classes together. We had so many good memories....

So how did this Pre-Thanksgiving/Cooking Session came about?
About a week ago, while I was trying to plan for my Thanksgiving dinner I asked Lilly for some easy recipe suggestions since she was the expert. We were back and forth with the emails for a few days with her giving me suggestions and me asking her lots of (dumb) cooking questions. The great friend she is, she asked me if I wanted her to actually do a test run and show me how to cook some of the dishes she recommend to me. Cooking lessons from a chef, oh hell yea! I jumped to the opportunity and emailed Jess to set up an pre-Thanksgiving dinner and cooking sessions at Lilly's house! We wanted to make alot but we had to cut down the menu and this was our final list:
Cauliflower bake
Butternut Squash Risotto
Mushroom and Asparagus with Hollandaise sauce
Saute Butternut Squash
Puff pastry wrapped mushrooms
Smashed potatoes with roasted garlic, onions and truffle oil
Turkey breast

The day of the dinner, the girls didn't have work so they went to the supermarket to buy the groceries. Andy and I went to Lilly's house after work and got there around 7:30. When I got there she put me to work right away..."yes, chef!!" We had to do alot of cutting, mixing, stirring, and sauteing.
Butternut Squash
It was my first time cooking w/ butternut squash and those babies were so hard to cut but Lilly made it look so easy like cutting a melon!

-alot of cutting and sauteed veggies: eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, red onions, tomatoes and finished with herbs, butter and with orange zest and reduced oj
-alot of work!

Butternut Squash Risotto

Things I learned:
-rozo is different from risotto (duh!)
-wait for the risotto to sound like it's popping then it's ready for the liquids
-must keep stirring!

Prepping the puff pastry wrapped mushrooms
-garlic, sage and thyme goes good w/veggies dishes

Cauliflower bake and the asparagus in the oven

Smashed potatoes with roasted garlic and onions
-truffle oils gives it a great savory taste

After a few hours of cooking we finally ate around 11pm. We were all tired, sweating and starving at this point. I can't believe we cooked all this food in a few hours. If I had to do this alone it would probably take me a whole day! The final products we were so very proud of:

Puff pastry wrapped mushrooms

Butternut Squash Risotto


Smashed potatoes with roasted garlic, onions and truffle oil

Saute Butternut Squash

Mushroom and Asparagus with Hollandaise sauce

Cauliflower bake

Turkey breast

Everything was SOOO good! Thanks to Lilly's supervision, everything turned out right or else we probably would've burn everything! Some of the dish was easy to make and some were pretty complicated and I probably won't attempt again. I actually made two of these dish for my Thanksgiving dinner which you probably see on Part 3. At the end, we were all so stuffed, we all ate a lot but there were still plenty of food left! Lilly made us take a lot of it home which lasted me a few days!

This is def. one of my most favorite Thanksgiving dinner. Special thank you to:
-Lilly for being a great friend, for hosting this dinner and teaching us how to cook, and putting up w/ my silliest =O
-Jess for being a great friend, for being a great sous chef to work with (haha), for cutting all the veggies and everything else!
-Brian for helping out with all the dishes and eating.
-Mo and Andy for being there to help us eat (ahha)

I'm so lucky and grateful to have such great friends that I can share this special holiday with..... BFF <3

1 comment:

Artisticpixie said...

OMG Mel, the food looks great! You're quite a chef! =)