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This recipe is part of the “Celebratory Goose Dinner” miniseries. For the complete menu, timetable, and printable shopping list, see the introductory post.

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What could be more romantic than a holiday goose with chestnuts? And in the form of stuffing to boot? Having never roasted chestnuts before — be it on an open fire or in my oven — I was excited to give it a try.

I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to find fresh chestnuts, but Trader Joe’s did not disappoint. From the outset, I couldn’t help but marvel at how darn pretty they are. There’s a reason writers will flatter their subjects with descriptions of “chestnut locks,” as opposed to feeble “brown hair.”

On a far less romantic note, however, I found that the reality was that several nuts were green-veined with mold on the inside and had to be discarded. For this reason alone, I might recommend you go the pre-packaged route, unless, like myself, you want to use fresh ones for the pure experience of it.

So pull back your chestnut locks and let’s get cooking:

Chestnut Stuffing
adapted from Gourmet, November 1993

  • 1 pound fresh chestnuts, shelled and peeled, chopped coarse, or ¾ pound vaccuum-packed whole chestnuts, chopped coarse (about 2 cups)
  • 6 cups torn bite-size pieces of day-old homemade-style white bread
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 4 ribs of celery, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh sage leaves
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh savory leaves
  • 1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter
  •  ½ cup finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • Chicken stock, as needed for moisture
  • Salt and pepper to taste

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With a sharp knife cut an X on the round side of each chestnut. Spread the chestnuts in one layer in a jelly roll pan, add ¼ cup water, and bake the chestnuts in a preheated 450°F oven for 10 minutes, or until the shells open. Remove the chestnuts, and shell and peel them while they are still hot.

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Reheat the oven to 325°F. In a shallow baking pan arrange the bread pieces in one layer and bake them in the oven, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes, or until they are golden. Transfer them to a large bowl.

In a large skillet cook the onions, celery, sage, thyme, rosemary, and savory in the butter over moderately low heat, stirring, until the vegetables are softened. Add the chestnuts and cook the mixture, stirring, for 1 minute. Remove the vegetable mixture from the stove; add to the bread pieces, tossing the mixture well. Stir in the parsley. Stir in chicken stock until desired consistency is achieved; salt and pepper to taste. 

Transfer stuffing to a baking dish and bake at 350°F until warmed through and crisp on top, about 30-45 minutes. Stuffing may be made 1 day in advance and kept covered and chilled.

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Tips from The Hungry Crafter:

I really wanted to love this stuffing, but came across a couple of issues:

  • It was really, really dry as originally written. So I added in the chicken stock as indicated above.
  • I discovered I plain old don’t care for nuts in my stuffing. That said, I felt like it was a little lacking in pizzazz. I tried mixing in some prunes for a little oomph in a trial batch. Mr. M spit it into the garbage. Oh well. I suppose forcing prunes upon him was pushing my luck, although I preferred that iteration myself. Moving on.
  • It desperately needed sausage in it. Because all stuffing needs sausage in it. I’m not sure what brought me to consider a stuffing recipe without sausage in it, to be frank. Live and learn.
  • I couldn’t find savory in the store so simply omitted it. I doubt that the addition would do much to change my overall opinion of the recipe.

This recipe is part of the “Celebratory Goose Dinner” miniseries. For the complete menu, timetable, and printable shopping list, see the introductory post.

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Finally, we get to the goose. This entire saga started back in December when I entered a contest on Jessie Cross’s blog, The Hungry Mouse.  (How could I not be a reader of this blog? We’re both from MA, we’re both hungry, and more to the point, it’s GOOD. Check it out.) She had recently connected with Connie at Sassafras Valley Farm, a free-range family goose farm in MO. After preparing goose three ways herself and posting a robust goose primer on her blog, Jessie celebrated by holding a giveaway where one of her readers would win a goose to try themselves.

Now, some of you are already well aware of this, but I have a serious illness when it comes to free things. I can’t help myself; I am a contest-entering junkie. Somewhere along the way, I picked up a hearty helping of luck, because I seem to win more than my fair share. My favorite types of giveaways are the ones where you compete for prizes — I’m pretty sure that Starbucks’ 2006 crossword puzzle/scavenger hunt contest was the highlight of my year. In fact, you’ve seen a couple of my contest entries here already. (Did I mention that I won third place in the Sew, Mama, Sew! tablescapes contest back in September? So cool! I won a free Craftsy class, $15 of fabric from Sew, Mama, Sew! and a set of Aurifil thread…) But now I truly digress.

Fast forward to December 5th, 2012, when Jessie announced that I had won a free goose courtesy of Connie at Sassafras Valley Farm! (I’d like to insert here that my grandmother’s name is Connie, and one of my aunts is affectionately called Sassafras…coincidence?) I was, of course, ecstatic. In truth, I was so excited that I couldn’t fall asleep until 1:30 that night due to images of Dickensian Christmas dinners dancing in my head. A goose! I named her Esmerelda, sight unseen.

I had never tried goose before, and embraced the challenge. My biggest fear heading into it was that I would burn the house down or battle excessive smoking. Thankfully, neither occurence came to pass. It was not, however, a perfect goose. (I’m sorry Esme, of course YOU’RE perfect… It was me, not you.) Let me elaborate by way of segue into the cooking tips:

First and foremost, please, please, please don’t overcook your goose! If you should overcook the goose, it won’t burn, and it won’t become dry; it will become tough. The goose was in fact tasty, but my first inkling that I might have overcooked her was when I had to go back out to the kitchen for steak knives. But I still wasn’t sure. Maybe that’s normal. It tasted good; it was simply a bit of a mouthful to chew, and wasn’t as mouth-wateringly delicious as I had hoped it might be. The thought gnawed at the recesses of my brain for the rest of the night. Did I…? Was it…? As Mr. M and I were lying in bed that night recapping the evening to each other, the discussion turned to the goose.

“So, what did you think of the goose itself?” I asked tentatively.

Pause. I can see what he thinks by the look on his face.

“Well, I mean, it wasn’t bad, and I thought the seasonings were really good, but…”

Sigh. “Yeah, I know. Was it the texture? I mean, I did think it was a little chewy, so I’m wondering if maybe I…”

“I don’t know, I think I might just not be a fan of goose in general. It kinda tasted like… liver to me.”

My heart sunk. Confirmation that I had overcooked the goose. Just the day before I had received an e-mail from Connie with the following words of advice: “Over roasting a chicken doesn’t alter the flavor. It just makes it dry. Over roasting a goose does… it will taste livery.”

So what happened? There was a 20 degree difference between the temperature listed in the recipe I selected and the temperature recommended by Connie and Jessie. I tried to compromise and split the difference. Don’t do this. Please. Listen to the woman who actually raised the goose and shoot for a final temperature of 165. I’ve adjusted the times and temperatures in the recipe below to reflect how I would make this recipe if I were to attempt it again, so you can learn from my mistake!

A second alteration I made was to swap out a few ingredients. First I traded out the cardamom from the original recipe in favor of allspice, based on Connie’s recommendation. It worked. I also had some lingonberry preserves on hand and loved the idea of lingonberries and goose, so I used those in the sauce (the original recipe calls for cranberries). The sauce was fabulous, and I look forward to trying it with other types of poultry as well. As a matter of personal preference, I think I might also use red potatoes instead of gold next time — I just prefer their texture.

Finally, the original recipe calls for the bird to be pricked all over prior to cooking so the fat can be released, but does not actually score the goose. Jessie’s blog post does an excellent job detailing the scoring process both in photos and words, so I won’t repeat it here, but, yeah. Do that. Connie recommends this as the best method to avoid rubbery skin, and frankly, it looks cool and was fun to try. Plus, I’m always looking for my next big score.

Orange & Thyme Roasted Goose with Potatoes, Shallots and a Lingonberry-White Wine Sauce
Adapted by The Hungry Crafter from Whole Foods Market

  • 7-8 pound whole goose (defrosted 3 days if frozen)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Zest and juice from 1 large orange (reserve squeezed halves)
  • 8 sprigs thyme plus 1 tablespoon finely chopped thyme leaves
  • ⅓ cup orange marmalade
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 5 large yellow potatoes (about 3¾ pounds), cut into large chunks
  • 1 pound large shallots, peeled and halved
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • ½ cup prepared lingonberry preserves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons flour

Take goose out of the refrigerator and keep at room temperature about an hour before you’d like to begin roasting it. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375°F.

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Remove neck and giblets from the cavity of the goose (discard or, preferably, freeze for use in making stock), then thoroughly rinse inside and out with cool, running water. Indulge me for a second while I point out that the heart was perfectly, um, heart-shaped. Wild.
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Pat the goose dry with paper towels and transfer to a roasting pan. With a sharp knife, gently score the bird in a diamond-shaped pattern as pictured below by cutting diagonal lines across one side of the bird and then crisscrossing the lines in the other direction. You want to cut through the skin and the thick layer of fat underneath, but not go so deep so as to expose the meat below. Erm, so yeah, NOT like the picture below in that regard. Pretend those purple-blue areas peeking through aren’t there. But don’t worry about it too much if yours do as well.

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Prick the skin all over with a fork. Season the goose generously inside and out with salt and pepper. Transfer zest and juice from orange to a small bowl, then tuck squeezed orange halves and thyme sprigs into cavity of goose; set aside. Add orange marmalade, chopped thyme and allspice to bowl with orange zest and juice and stir to combine. Baste goose all over with half of the orange mixture and roast until deep golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes.

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Carefully remove roasting pan from oven and transfer accumulated fat in the pan to a heatproof bowl (I used a baster to draw up the fat); set aside.

Put potatoes, shallots, 2 tablespoons of the goose fat, salt and pepper into a large bowl and toss to combine. (You can freeze the remaining goose fat at this point for later use. Please don’t throw it away! The stuff is liquid gold. Try frying…well, just about anything in it and you’ll see.)

Arrange potatoes and shallots around goose, loosely tent the goose with foil, and continue to roast for 30 minutes. You can also cover the wing tips with foil if they are cooking too fast. To help ensure even cooking, cut the legs so they flop open to the sides (see below).

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When 30 minutes are up, baste the goose with remaining orange mixture and remove any excess fat that’s accumulated in the pan. Continue roasting, tossing potatoes and shallots and basting goose every 30 minutes, until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh registers about 155°F, about 1 more hour. Stir potatoes and shallots, uncover goose (reserve the foil) and continue roasting until skin is crisp and thermometer reads 160°F, about 10 more minutes. Carefully transfer goose, potatoes and shallots to a large serving platter, tent with foil, and set aside. Note: check your potatoes for doneness with a fork — if they need more time, transfer them to a baking dish and let them continue to cook while the goose rests. Let goose rest for 30 minutes before carving. Potatoes roasted in goose fat

Time to make the gravy! Skim off and discard any fat from the pan juices, then bring to a boil over medium-high heat (I put the roasting pan right on the stove top, but you can also transfer the drippings to a saucepan if you prefer). Whisk in wine and lingonberry preserves then add bay leaves and boil gently until reduced and just thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Whisk in flour and cook 1 to 2 minutes more. Remove sauce from heat, discard bay leaves, season with salt and pepper to taste, and transfer to a small bowl or gravy boat. Carve goose and serve hot with potatoes, shallots and lingonberry-white wine sauce on the side.

Tips from The Hungry Crafter:

  • You may notice that the potatoes are not in the pics with the goose — this was a result of the timing in the original recipe I used. In order to avoid overcooking the goose and undercooking the potatoes…well, imagine the potatoes are in those pics, and follow the written word.
  • If, like myself, you need a few pointers on carving a goose, check out this tutorial on Martha Stewart.
  • Favorite product alert — I absolutely adore the flat whisk my mother-in-law got me a few years ago. What a difference this shape makes for gravies and pan sauces compared to a standard balloon whisk!
  • If you can’t find lingonberry preserves, check out your local IKEA store…that’s where I got mine.
  • It should go without saying, but…if you are looking to buy a goose, check out Sassafras Valley Farm!

This recipe is part of the “Celebratory Goose Dinner” miniseries. For the complete menu, timetable, and printable shopping list, see the introductory post.

This recipe is my interpretation of an appetizer that has become a classic at my sister’s house. After the meatiness of the scallops & bacon, and the buttery richness of the phyllo-wrapped figs, I wanted a third appetizer that would be bright and refreshing, with a good hit of acid. My sister texted me the ingredient list, and here’s my take on assembling it all.

I was lax in taking a photo, so until I make them again and can add a pic, you’ll just have to use your imagination, I’m afraid. A few shopping tips: if you can’t find endive at your local supermarket, they can usually be found at Trader Joe’s. For the balsamic, you’ll want to use a good one since it’s such a major ingredient. I’m currently using this one from O & Co., which has a lovely syrupy texture and mildly sweet undertones. Next time I’d like to try making these using my secret weapon, Blaze, a balsamic reduction and key ingredient in my tomato, basil, mozzarella sandwiches. If anyone has more balsamic recommendations, leave them in the comments below!

Endives with Grape Tomatoes and Basil

  • 1 package endive (3 heads)
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • Fresh basil, roughly chopped or torn
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper

Rinse endives, separate the leaves. Halve grape tomatoes. Place three grape tomatoes in each endive leaf (use your discretion as to how many to make; the smaller inner leaves will not be sufficient to hold the tomatoes). Sprinkle with basil leaves. Drizzle each endive “boat” with olive oil and balsamic. Finish with freshly ground sea salt and pepper. Serve as finger food with a cocktail napkin.

This recipe is part of the “Celebratory Goose Dinner” miniseries. For the complete menu, timetable, and printable shopping list, see the introductory post.
Phyllo wrapped figs, 1-4

While my guests were happily munching on their scallops, I popped these suckers in the oven to cook, having assembled them earlier on that day. I have to admit — not only did these taste good, but they were a lot of fun to make. While it would be a bit of a stretch to refer to these as “unfussy,” there’s a certain amount of freedom in forming them…rolling blue cheese into balls with your (clean!) bare hands, halving the figs and affixing them as best you can around the cheese (gaps are expected), then enveloping the package with a blanket of delicate cured meat… It actually brought me back to being a kid and working with play-doh.

For a perfectionist like myself, it’s an absolutely freeing and playful process. The end result? Pure satisfaction.

Phyllo-Wrapped Figs with Prosciutto and Stilton
from Bon Appétit, December 2002, adapted from The Gatehouse Restaurant, Providence, RI

Figs

  • 16 teaspoons Stilton cheese (about 4 ounces)
  • 32 dried black Mission figs
  • 4 6×4-inch thin prosciutto slices, cut lengthwise in half
  • 8 sheets fresh phyllo pastry or frozen, thawed
  • ¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, melted

Port Sauce

  • 2 cups Ruby Port
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

Cream Sauce

  • 1½ cups whipping cream
  • 4½ tablespoons pine nuts, toasted

Form 2 teaspoons cheese into 1-inch-long log. Place 4 dried figs around cheese and press gently to adhere. Wrap 1 prosciutto strip around fig bundle. Repeat with remaining cheese, figs, and prosciutto.

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Place 1 phyllo sheet on work surface (keep remaining phyllo covered with plastic wrap and damp towel). Brush phyllo lightly with melted butter. Top with second phyllo sheet; brush with butter. Repeat with 2 more phyllo sheets. Cut stacked phyllo sheets into four 6-inch squares (discard phyllo trimmings). Place 1 fig bundle in center of 1 phyllo square stack. Bring all edges of phyllo square up toward center and squeeze firmly at top, forming pouch and enclosing fig bundle completely. Place on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining phyllo sheets, melted butter, and fig bundles, forming a total of 8 pouches. Brush outside of phyllo pouches with remaining melted butter. Can be made 6 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.

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Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake pouches until golden, about 17 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring Port, balsamic vinegar, and sugar to boil in medium saucepan. Boil until mixture is reduced to ¼ cup, about 15 minutes.

While Port mixture is being reduced, boil cream and pine nuts in another medium saucepan until reduced to 1 cup, about 8 minutes. Remove cream sauce from heat; season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

Spoon 2 tablespoons cream sauce onto each of 8 plates. Place 1 phyllo pouch atop sauce. Drizzle each lightly with Port sauce and serve.

Tips from The Hungry Crafter:

  • I admittedly went a little overboard with the butter on this one. It doesn’t need it. I still didn’t use the full amount called for in the ingredients list, so keep that in mind. I think the key part of the directions is where it says “Brush phyllo lightly with melted butter.” Certainly you need to use a light hand so as not to tear the dough. But it applies to the amount of butter as well.
  • If making the sea scallops as well, feel free to use the Port wine reduction from that recipe for both appetizers — no need to make two versions. Although I must say, the addition of balsamic vinegar in this version is a nice complement to the blue cheese.

This recipe is part of the “Celebratory Goose Dinner” miniseries. For the complete menu, timetable, and printable shopping list, see the introductory post.

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…or, according to my handwritten notes on the printout of this recipe, “Rock star scallops! BEST RECIPE!” I first came across this recipe when searching for a special appetizer to make for my sister’s elopement. Enter the recipe below. It made the cut — and an impression — and I’ve been dying for an excuse to make them ever since. Plus Mr. Manly likes them. Clearly a no-brainer start to our fancy New Year’s Eve dinner. Cooking tips are included at the end.

Bay Scallops & Applewood Bacon with a Port Wine Reduction
from Gourmet, October 2005, adapted from Marc Forgione of BLT Prime, New York City

Port wine reduction

  • 2 cups (500 ml) Ruby Port
  • ½ cup superfine granulated sugar (you can make your own by whizzing regular granulated sugar a few times in a food processor; just don’t substitute regular sugar)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons whole black peppercorns
  • 2 fresh mint leaves, torn into bits

Scallops

  • 6 thin slices applewood-smoked bacon (¼ lb), cut into thirds
  • 18 bay scallops (preferably Nantucket; ⅓ lb), tough muscle from side of each discarded if attached (if you can’t get bay scallops, you can use sea scallops cut lengthwise into thirds)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

For Port wine reduction:
Bring Port, superfine sugar, peppercorns, and mint to a simmer in a 2-quart saucepan over moderately low heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat, then carefully ignite Port with a kitchen match, letting flames die down (this will take a few minutes). Simmer over moderately low heat until sauce is thickened and reduced to about ½ cup, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cool to warm. May be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Reheat before serving.

For scallops:
Heat a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, then cook bacon until some fat has rendered and edges of bacon start to brown, about 1½ minutes per side. Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain.

Pat scallops dry and season with salt and pepper. When bacon is cool enough to handle, wrap a piece of bacon around each scallop and pierce scallop with a wooden pick to secure. Scallops may be wrapped in bacon, but not sautéed, 4 hours ahead and chilled, covered. Sauté just before serving.

Heat oil and butter in cleaned skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté scallops, turning over once, until bacon is browned and scallops are opaque, about 5 minutes total. Transfer to a plate and serve with Port reduction for dipping.

Tips from The Hungry Crafter:

  • If you do in fact have to substitute sea scallops for the bay scallops, remember to cut them down to a smaller size! On the same note, before you cut your bacon in thirds, check that the length will be enough to go around the entire circumference of the scallop. Otherwise you will not have bacon-wrapped scallops so much as scallops with a bolero jacket (see photo).
  • When making the reduction this last time around, the Port simply refused to ignite, and I gave up after five tries. It made no noticeable difference to the reduction, so don’t get too hung up on this step.
  • When cooking the scallops, don’t be afraid of the heat! Also, make sure to pat your scallops as dry as possible — this will help you get that nice golden sear.

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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.

The Menu

Hors D’Oeuvres
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

Main Course
Orange & Thyme Roasted Goose with Potatoes, Shallots and a Lingonberry-White Wine Sauce
Chestnut Stuffing
Roasted Winter Squash with Maple Syrup and Sage Cream
Parker House Rolls
serve with Erath Pinot Noir (alternate wines: Barolo or Gewürztraminer)

Dessert
Apple Crostata
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.

Shopping List

Download and print your Shopping List; be sure to review the bottom section for pantry items before you go!

Preparation Schedule

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.

Lessons learned

  • 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!

One of the blogs I’ve been following for quite some time now is the Sew Mama, Sew! blog, affiliated with the online fabric store of the same name. In fact, it was through their semi-annual Giveaway Day that I first got drawn into the world of blogging, as I wrote about here. Currently they’re running a contest on handmade tablescapes, and I figured it was just the incentive I needed to get off my duff and write a little more about some of the DIY details of my wedding. For those of you new to my blog, you can read more about my September wedding here, here and here. Without further ado — a look at our wedding tables:

Cabbage roses, herbs, and light shades of brown (burlap, kraft paper, linen) were the name of the game.
The wedding table

Some of the elements that we wove throughout our wedding decor were herbs, chocolate, art deco vintage, DIY, typewriters, and local food.Place settings

DIY item #1: Embroidered table numbers. We had three long tables, with two to three embroidered table numbers on each, set on a stack of art deco style vintage books for height. The flowers on the embroidery were motifs that I copied from the Liberty of London fabric I used as backing for our ring pillow (as well as scanned in and printed for envelope liners). I also used Liberty fabrics to cover clothespins for our photobooth display.
Embroidered table numbers

Another embroidery example below. I originally intended to cover the entire number with a satin stitch so it was opaque, but I ran out of time! (I finished embroidering an hour before the rehearsal dinner — lucky for me, I find embroidering a great way to sooth jitters…)
Embroidered table numbers

DIY item #2: Paper bees. Quick and easy DIY! I simply bought a bee punch and stamped a bunch of paper bees out of a local food magazine (Edible Boston), in keeping with our local-food themed dinner. We nestled a bee into a sprig of rosemary on each napkin (we got married at an herb farm).

Napkin Accents

We then bought a bunch of bulk herbs and potted them in terra cotta pots for table decorations — a different herb for each table. The symbolic meaning of each type of herb used was written out on the back of the ceremony programs along with a list of guests and corresponding tables.
Potted herbs

DIY #3: Stationery items. My amazing stationer, Helen at Papier Lapin, designed our invitations using kraft paper and typewriter fonts. How thrilled was I when I found a supplier of the EXACT same kraft paper she used, and was able to download the same fonts for free online? Using her invitations as a style reference, I made hang tags for place cards with kraft cardstock, kraft reinforcements, and green butcher’s twine. We tied each one to a cookie and used them as combo place card/favors.
Place card/favors

Again, using the invitations as a style guide, I designed and printed up menus to be placed underneath the favor/hang tags.
Menu

And bless my best friend, who not only got her fiance to brew beer for our entire wedding, but who also downloaded the same fonts and designed labels for the beer using kraft sticky labels.
Untitled

I was shocked when I learned how much vintage blue mason jars cost… Luckily I found a tutorial online to do a faux blue finish using a thinned glass paint. The jar pictured here is actually a Classico spaghetti sauce jar! My then-fiance and I ate a lot of spaghetti and pickles leading up to the wedding to amass enough jars for centerpieces :)
DIY faux mason jars

And a final look at the whole table — pickle jar front and center!

A look at the finished table

I loved the way everything turned out…especially the part where we said “I do.”

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