Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving week has arrived, and like you, I’m busy menu planning, running to the market, and preparing for the big day this Thursday. There will be no ingredient of the week here at la Domestique, but I’ll be popping in to share inspiration throughout the week. The photo above was taken with my iphone 3 at the Boulder Farmers Market recently. This weekend was the last farmers market in Boulder for the season, and it’s always sad to see the market end. However, I was able to stock up on veg for Thanksgiving. I also stopped by the Savory Spice Shop to pick up all the baking spices I need this time of year. I’ve planned my menu for the big day and I’m feeling unusually well-organized. I’ve put together a little reminder list of kitchen supplies you might want to stock up on if you are preparing Thanksgiving supper:

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This Past Week at La Domestique: Chestnuts

Chestnut (c)2011 LaDomestique.com

This past week at la Domestique was dedicated to cooking with chestnuts. Autumn is the season when chestnuts drop from the tree in windfalls. Here at la Domestique we explored cooking with raw chestnuts, jarred roasted chestnuts, chestnut purée, candied chestnuts, and chestnut flour. The soft, starchy texture and sweat, nutty flavor make chestnuts a delicious addition to the fall pantry.

In case you missed anything, I’ve got a recap:

Monday:  Announcing chestnuts as ingredient of the week.

Tuesday:  10 Ways Tuesday! Creative ideas for cooking with all forms of chestnuts in both sweet and savory recipes.

Wednesday:  Cook in the moment with a recipe for Chestnut Stuffing with Caramelized Onions, Apples & Calvados.

Thursday:  Learn the story behind chestnuts: growing, buying, storing, peeling, cooking and flavor pairing.

Friday:  Fall recipe for Pumpkin Chestnut Soup, a whole pumpkin filled with chestnuts and cream then baked into the oven.

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Pumpkin Chestnut Soup

Pumpkin Chestnut Soup may be the most delicious meal I’ve ever made. Ever. Maybe it’s the time of year. I am a creature of autumn. I cherish cool days and soft yellow sunlight. I relish whipping winds and leaves crunching beneath my feet. Pulling scarves and boots out of storage boxes sends a shiver of joy through me. I feel alive and inspired like no other time of year. This is my season.

Here in Colorado, sadly, the short growing season has peaked. The first snows have brought a dramatic halt to fresh from the garden produce. This week I officially put my garden plot to bed for the winter, cleaning out debris and giving her a thorough raking. It’s a shock to see the community gardens now, completely barren and empty, just as I found them in the beginning last spring. Quite different from the overgrown towers of sunflowers and wily vines of squash tumbling brazenly onto the walking path. During high summer the garden could not be contained. Today it’s only a mound of dirt.

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Storyboard: Chestnuts

Growing

Chestnuts are a funny looking nut with a fuzzy covering over their hard shell. There are several varieties of chestnut trees in the U.S., Europe, and Asia. Due to high levels of tannic acid, chestnuts cannot be eaten raw. The fuzzy exterior must be removed, then the nut is roasted and the hard shell removed. The actual nut is starchy and low in fat, with a sweet flavor and meaty texture. Chestnuts are wild and cultivated. Reading Starting with Ingredients, I learned that cultivated chestnuts (called “marrone” in Italian and “marron” in French) are a single nut in a fuzzy case, while wild chestnuts (“castagna” in Italian and “châtaigne” in French) yield several small nuts inside a fuzzy case. Chestnut trees grow in temperate climates. In the U.S. blight has been a major problem for growing chestnuts, but the industry is making a recovery. To see what chestnuts look like on the tree, check out these photos by Maria over at the blog Scandi Foodie.

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Cook in the Moment: Chestnut Stuffing with Caramelized Onions, Apples & Calvados

 

Each week I contribute an article to “Whole Foods Market Cooking Boulder” website expanding on one of the 10 Ways Tuesday ideas. This week I shared a recipe for Chestnut Stuffing with Caramelized Onions, Apples & Calvados as well as my thoughts on the art and science of good stuffing. I gave the jarred pre-roasted chestnuts a try and found their flavor to be sweet and rich with a nice meaty texture. If you’ve never cooked with chestnuts, working with the roasted and peeled ones is a great start. Once you get to know them, you can give roasting and peeling fresh ones a go.

Chestnut Stuffing with Caramelized Onions, Apples & Calvados

Sweet and savory caramelized onions add depth to this chestnut stuffing with juicy apples. Calvados is an apple brandy from France that infuses the stuffing with a warming, comforting flavor. I always use brioche for my stuffing because I love the buttery character and texture- crisp and golden on the outside, soft and moist inside. I believe you can never have too much herbs in your stuffing, so this recipe calls for a generous amount of sage and thyme. If you forget to spread the bread cubes out on a tray to dry out overnight, simply dry them in a 200 degrees Fahrenheit oven for a few minutes.

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