When I first started this blog, it went (briefly) by the unwieldy name Carefully Edited Slices of Life. Dissatisfied, I struck upon the concept of The Hungry Crafter, changed my blog name, and repurposed the original blog name for the title of my launch post. Over the course of the two (soon to be three) years I’ve been writing here, I find myself coming back to that original post, struggling with how to stay true to the mission I set forth for myself there. I’ve always found it a shame that so many men and women in our society are made to feel inferior by others’ apparent success — the latent effect of Photoshop skewing our perceptions — and therefore find themselves discouraged and resigned when they compare their reality to some else’s fiction. Do I prove my theory — that anyone can have a picture-perfect life using visual and mental editing techniques — by way of example (the route I’ve tried to take to date), or would it be more powerful to also show the mess behind the scenes to drive home the fact that appearances are not what they seem to be?
I still don’t have an answer to that question. Ultimately, however, the central belief that drives this blog is that nothing is impossible. This is a value that goes to my core — that anyone is capable of accomplishing their goals, be it with a few missteps and revisions along the way. You get to define success. If I can use this blog to encourage others to succeed, to try new things, to learn and grow…that would be the ultimate fulfillment of this endeavor.
This train of thought has led me to consider ways in which I might be able to offer more value to my readers. I’m not interested in showing off or intimidating people with my accomplishments…regardless of my ambivalence about sharing my failures. I want to encourage you to go out and MAKE. To that end, I started to look at things that I do already that contribute to my own successes — things I can’t help but do — and thought about how I can translate the results into something I can share on my blog that would be of use to you.
Which brings me to today’s post. I’m trying a little experiment here. More than ever over the past year since I’ve moved into my first proper house, I’ve found myself hosting events in addition to my usual cooking sprees. Each event comes with no little amount of time spent researching recipes, making shopping lists, and drafting multi-day to-do lists — not to mention learning lessons through trial and error. What I’d like to try is a new miniseries format on the blog to share these complete menus with you.
Previously I’ve shared these celebrations in a show-and-tell style format (see, for example, my sister’s baby shower), but I think the recipes get lost in this mega-post format, and it doesn’t particularly help to teach. I also hate to have all the time I’ve spent planning for each occasion not be of use after the event has come and gone. Maybe, if I post the resources here, one of you will use my menus and lists as a template to save yourself some time and try something new? I’ll include a complete menu, shopping list, and (gulp!) share some “lessons learned” along the way in the kickoff post to each miniseries. Then, on each weekday that follows, I’ll post a recipe a day with pics, instructions, tips and modifications, until the entire menu has been posted.
So with my own infamous last words…LET’S DO THIS!
A Celebratory Goose Dinner
In a strange twist of fate that brought a goose to my door (more on that when I post the goose recipe), I found myself looking for occasion to cook a festive holiday meal. Christmas was out of the question due to sheer number of guests, so I was thrilled instead to have our good friends Marcy and Brian (and their adorable baby girl) over for an indulgent New Year’s Eve dinner. They brought fancy champagne and did the dishes. I think I’ll let them come back again.
Bay Scallops & Applewood Bacon with a Port Wine Reduction
Phyllo-Wrapped Figs with Prosciutto & Stilton
Endives with Grape Tomatoes, Basil & Balsamic Vinegar
serve with Hendrick’s Gin & Q Tonic and a variety of seasonal microbrews
Orange & Thyme Roasted Goose with Potatoes, Shallots and a Lingonberry-White Wine Sauce
Roasted Winter Squash with Maple Syrup and Sage Cream
Parker House Rolls
serve with Erath Pinot Noir (alternate wines: Barolo or Gewürztraminer)
Brown Butter Ice Cream
Assorted Cheeses and Honeycomb (Optional. Our stomachs were too full. I’ll be eating the cheese for dinner tonight, shucks.)
serve with Veuve Cliquot, or champagne of your choice. Harvey’s Bristol Cream on ice with a lime would be wonderful as well.
Download and print your Shopping List; be sure to review the bottom section for pantry items before you go!
Three days prior (morning)
Remove goose from freezer. Place in large bowl in refrigerator.
Place ice cream maker bowl in freezer for min. 24 hours.
Two days prior
Go grocery shopping.
Make Brown Butter Ice Cream.
Make Crostata crust.
One day prior (expect to put in a good 8-9 hours)
Make Chestnut Stuffing.
Make Parker House Rolls.
Make Apple Crostata.
Make Port Wine Reduction.
Make Sage Cream.
D-Day (4 pm guest arrival; 6 pm dinner)
10 am: Prepare Phyllo-Wrapped Figs with Prosciutto & Stilton; refrigerate once assembled.
12 pm: Fry bacon, assemble scallops, refrigerate.
1 pm: Set table, prepare serving dishes. Select dinner wines and put on table.
1:30 pm: Peel and cut squash, mix with sugar and olive oil; set aside. Wash potatoes and peel shallots.
2:15 pm: Take goose out of fridge, rinse, dry. Make marinade. Score goose and baste.
3:15 pm: Goose in oven.
3:30 pm: Assemble endives; put out on serving platter with cocktail napkins. Run around the house hiding messes in the closet.
4 pm: Guests arrive. Serve cocktails and endive. Warm Port Wine Reduction, cook scallops and serve.
4:30 pm: Put Phyllo-Wrapped Figs in oven for 17 minutes, make accompanying cream sauce.
5:00 pm: Serve Phyllo-Wrapped Figs.
5:15 pm: Squash in oven.
5:30 pm, or when goose temp reaches 160°F: Remove goose from oven, transfer to platter and tent with foil. Transfer potatoes and shallots from roasting pan to a new baking dish and return to oven to continue cooking, if needed. Put stuffing in oven. Make Lingonberry White Wine Sauce in roasting pan.
5:50 pm: Check squash and potatoes, continuing to cook as needed. Put rolls in oven to warm. Warm Sage Cream sauce.
6:00 pm: All food to serving dishes and brought to table; carve goose and serve sliced on platter with thyme sprigs and orange slices for garnish. Enjoy!
When stomachs have fully recovered and can fit dessert, heat crostata in oven for 15 minutes and remove ice cream from freezer to soften for easy scooping. Serve with a small cheese platter and champagne.
- For God’s sake, do NOT OVERCOOK THE GOOSE. Pretty much ignore this recipe, and follow the one I’ll post later on in the week instead.
- Don’t over-butter the phyllo. There actually is such a thing as too much butter, and it’s called “greasy.”
- Remember to put the maple syrup on the squash. Also, reference this version of the recipe, not this one (first is much clearer).
- If bay scallops can’t be found and you end up using sea scallops, cut them into halves or thirds. Or make your bacon strips much longer.
- If you’re weight-conscious, please do not even attempt to make the brown butter ice cream. It will be your downfall. Your delicious, sinful downfall.
Join me again tomorrow for the start of the recipes! If you have any thoughts or recommendations on the miniseries format, I’d love to hear them — leave a comment below. Happy New Year to all!