A play-by-play of an American Thanksgiving with Farmstead Wines
4 Comments Karen HamiltonNovember 27, 2008
3:09pm on American Thanksgiving 2008
I have a lot to be thankful for this year. Unique opportunities. Friends that push me to pursue my passions. Mentors that guide me along the way. A husband and family that have been by my side no matter where the ride has taken me. The support from you wonderful readers that keep me inspired with my lens and keyboard. I pondered these blessings as I puttered around the kitchen this morning, preparing for the Thanksgiving festivities at the home of Anthony Nicalo, founder of Farmstead Wines.
The schedule of the day is pretty open. Anthony will have his door open from morning to night for communal cooking and dining, with liberal amounts of Farmstead Wines at the ready to slake anyone’s thirst. I had intended on getting there before noon but my food processor is too small to do one batch of the dough needed for the dessert I’m contributing, let alone two. What I estimated to take a few hours has now stretched into the afternoon…eep!
Happily, the tortes are now out of the oven and are almost cool enough to survive a car trip over to Anthony’s. While I make my way over to resume a somewhat live blog of the gathering, take a peek at what I had been baking: cranberry linzertortes, whose recipe (at bottom) was passed to me by my culinary rockstar of a mother-in-law.
Another update will follow upon our arrival.
5:30pm, at the Nicalo household
My husband was able to get off work at 4pm, so I waited to set out to the party together. Arrived at a quarter to 5. Anthony greeted us at the door and immediately enabled us with a glass of wine and a serving of squash soup, peppered with juicy bursts of pomegranate. First Farmstead wine taste was of the Martin Arndorfer 2006 Reisling, which I had first tried at Salt Tasting Room. Worked wonderfully with the soup; others at the table raved.
Some pictures for your viewing pleasure:
Intermezzo has just arrived: candied salmon and olive oil gelato, paired with a late harvest pinot gris by Marc Tempé. Another update when the next wave of food comes in (around 6:30 / 7pm).
7:24pm, after second dinner
First dinner was shortly before we had arrived, so this time, we got the chance to partake in the dishes that Anthony and Boris Mann were churning out for their hungry public. Highlights were the turkey sausage, sourced from Moccia and minced / encased in the Nicalo household; the sausage stuffing that my husband, who makes a fantastic turkey stuffing, could not get enough of; brussel sprouts that my anti-brussels husband adored; and a grilled salmon with miso gravy that I kept on stealing from other people’s plates.
Renato Dolcetto D’Alba: may I just say how much I love you?
Lots of Twitter folk about: @nalei, @jennmae, @julesjulesjules, and @vinaroon, off the top of my head, along with new faces that whom I will no doubt follow after this night is through. I was especially flattered that @julesjulesjules made an appearance on the strength of the cranberry linzertorte photo that I had posted earlier.
- “Hey Tiny Bites…that’s a mighty big sausage for you to handle…” — @julesjulesjules
- “Bridget Moynahan pulled the goalie” — my husband mine
Dessert round coming up soon!
9:13pm, after tasting all the desserts and more wines than I can recall…
Four desserts were offered to the masses: pumpkin and apple pies by Rebecca, coffee cake by Sarah Nicalo’s mother, and the cranberry linzertorte by little ol’ me. To my extreme relief, the tortes were well received and no one seemed to display symptoms of food poisoning. Point: Karen. My favourite was the apple pie, topped with the hand-whipped cream that Anthony prepared against much colourful commentary.
I enjoyed dessert with a sherry that drenched the senses with molasses and Sunmaid raisins (you know, the ones in the little red boxes). After relishing a glass of the Renato Barbaresco, I watched the spontaneous dance party that occurred in the living room, complete with demonstrations of the “shopping cart”, the “salt and pepper”, the corresponding “pepper grinder”, and my husband’s contribution of “the typewriter”.
Back with a second glass of the lovely Dolcetto D’Alba, I am now putting down my computer for the evening, to participate on the dance floor and continue picking at the smorgasbord of food that lingers in the Nicalo’s kitchen.
Good night and Happy Thanksgiving to you all.
Equipment you’ll need
- 9″ fluted tart pan with removable bottom
- Food processor (one that can hold > 3 cups at a time, as I learned the hard way)
- Wax paper
- Rolling pin
- Baking sheet
For the cranberry sauce
- 1 bag of fresh or frozen cranberries
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
For the hazelnut dough
- 1 1/4 cups hazelnuts
- 2 1/3 cups flour
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/3 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 cup chilled unsalted butter in 1/2″ cubes
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- Lay hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes in a 325F oven. Wrap inside a tea towel and rub vigourously to strip as much of the husks off as possible. Use a sieve with largish holes to sift the powdery husks away, and let cool.
- Stir 1 cup sugar into 1 cup of water in a large pot until dissolved. Bring to a boil.
- Add cranberries and return to a boil. Reduce heat and continue at a gentle boil for another 10 minutes. Be wary of popping berries; thank goodness my apron caught all the splatter!
- Remove from heat and let cool completely. Voilà! Just over 2 cups of easy peasy cranberry sauce. You can use leftovers to fuel the rest of your Thanksgiving dinner, if you wish.
- Toss the cooled hazelnuts into a food processor with 1/3 cup flour and process until finely chopped.
- Add remaining flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and baking powder and process for another 30 seconds or until blended.
- Beat egg yolks and vanilla slightly and pour through feed tube as machine is running. Process only until dough starts to come together. Chill for 10 minutes.
- Butter tart pan and press 1 1/2 cups chilled dough over bottom and up sides of pan. Spread cranberry sauce over bottom. Chill.
- Roll remaining dough onto a large piece of wax paper into a 13” x 10” rectangle. Freeze dough for 5 minutes.
- Cut 12 half-inch-wide strips lengthwise from the rolled dough.
- Arrange 6 strips across the torte, spacing evenly. Arrange remaining strips across the torte in the opposite direction, forming a lattice. Seal ends of strips to dough edge, trimming any excess.
- Bake at 350F for about 40 minutes or until dough is golden brown. Cool.
- Push up the removable bottom of the tart pan to separate the torte for serving. Sift powdered sugar over top, if desired.