And it was marvelous.
He mainly cooked my recipes, but he did a few of his owns. Lots of appetizers, most of them cheese. He had a cheese platter, a bake brie, a traditional caprese platter, crackers with salmon and cheese and dill, dates stuffed with goat cheese and pecans. Plus the Chex Mix I brought. It's a good thing the turkey took extra long so that we could eat a lot of them all!
For the main dinner, we had turkey, dressing, green bean casserole, yams, and cranberry sauce, plus roasted beets with goat cheese and also this amazing roasted squash and kale salad with spiced nuts, cranberries, and maple viniagrette. I loved the spiced nuts all on their own, but they were especially good on the salad. Sis ate the squash all alone. The green bean casserole was made with French cut beans, which cooked more easily.
And it really was delightful not to cook, not to host. I helped, of course, as did we all. Sis really enjoyed being in the kitchen with Goo. She made the gravy all by herself and helped with the yams and pumpkin pasties. Bud helped with the beets. Goo is really good about teaching and guiding the kids, and worked with them on knife skills ("open stance," how to hold the knife, proper ettiquette.) And we all chatted all the while. Goo's kitchen is open to the living room, so that he wasn't cut off from the socializing like we can be at my house. And, unlike when I cook, he didn't quite clean as he went! But then he is a bachelor. And an amazing cook.
I wish it wasn't quite so late when we were done--it was after 9 pm when we finished eating dinner--so that we skipped dessert together and didn't have much time to chat together. I think we were all tired. But I'd do it again in a heartbeat. Maybe he can do Thanksgiving and I can do Christmas. It would be nice to share. As Sis noted, I wasn't as grumpy or stressful about cooking. And that makes the holiday better for all of us.
(Except maybe Goo, who more than once acknowledged that it was a lot of work and he didn't know how I'd done it all those years. With a lot of help, I'd say, and not as much good grace.)
Roasted Squash and Kale Salad with Spiced Nuts, Cranberries, and Maple Viniagrette from Serious Eats
- 2 1/2 pounds (1 kilogram, about 1 large or 2 medium) butternut squash, peeled, seeded, quartered, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large bunch (about 8 ounces; 250 grams) lacinato or curly kale
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Pinch ground cloves
- Pinch cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
- 1 1/2 cups (about 8 ounces; 250 grams) pecans
- 1 small shallot, finely minced (about 2 tablespoons; 20 grams)
- 2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon (10 grams) whole grain mustard
- 1 tablespoon (15 milliliters) sherry vinegar
- 1 cup (about 6 ounces; 200 grams) dried cranberries or cherries
- 1.Adjust oven rack to center position and preheat oven to 400°F. Toss squash pieces with 2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Bake until squash is tender throughout and well browned around the edges, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before attempting to remove from foil. Carefully remove squash from foil using a thin metal spatula and transfer to a large bowl. Set aside.
- 2.Meanwhile, pick leaves off of kale stems into a large bowl and roughly tear with hands; discard stems. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and massage until well-coated in oil. Transfer to a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet and bake until wilted and crisp in some spots, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer to bowl with squash.
- 3.Combine cinnamon, paprika, nutmeg, cloves, cayenne pepper, and brown sugar in a large bowl. Add nuts and 1 tablespoon olive oil (15 ml), season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and bake until toasted, about 5 minutes. Remove from oven, allow to cool slightly, then add to bowl with squash and kale.
- 4.In a medium bowl, whisk together shallot, maple syrup, mustard, and vinegar. Whisking constantly, drizzle in remaining 1/4 cup (60 ml) olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- 5.Add cranberries to bowl with squash, kale, and nuts. Toss with half of dressing, taste, and add more dressing as desired. The dressed salad can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Let it come to room temperature or briefly microwave until warm before serving.