For some curious reason, which I did not figure out, my Canadian family’s Thanksgiving dinner was hosted today, Saturday, in prime Haliburton cottage country in a solid wood chalet by chilly Lake Kushog (believe me, I actually had a short swim- and short is the stressed word here). First, we had rain, then the sun tried a brief appearance but, soon the hail was taking over followed by a hard rain and a refreshing breeze. So quick swim, recovery in hot-tub and off to a full day of cooking, with ETA 18 hundred hours, for a buffet for 17. The good thing about this Saturday’s rehearsal is that it was a great success that can be replicated on Thanksgiving day, Monday. (By you, not us).
A 25 pound grain fed Ontario Turkey bird from White House Meats, green beans, Brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes, squash purée, Romaine lettuce, roasted yams, cranberry sauce and fig-orange conserve. As you can see, this is quite a few dishes and I forgot the stuffing and gravy! Good thing that it was a family affair, that my sisters-in law are amazing cooks. They did produce this feast and tarts, not to mention pumpkin pies with hand-beaten vanilla whipped cream. The whipped cream was the only item produced by a male, and today I wondered if this was really my Canada :).
Bonnie made the parsnip and carrot fries and they were the highlight of conversation. Nephews commented at the clever disguise, a vegetable that looked like a French fry, but turned out to be a parsnip or carrot with a Balsamic caramel “costume”. The carrots were heirloom carrots from Québec with amazing colours, ranging from pale yellow to bright orange with red stripes.
My job was to cut up all the parsnips and carrots in pieces about the size of thin shoestring fries. All the thin cuts were gathered in a large bowl and sprinkled with a mixture of equal parts of Extra-virgin olive oil and Balsamic vinegar with brown sugar, I think it was a good cup of the “sauce” for 6 pounds of vegetables. After tossing them well, you lay them out flat on cookie sheets and roast them at 350 or higher for maybe 30 minutes, or the time it takes to get them crispy on the outside and very mushy inside just like the original French fries should be. Haha, that’s the trick and Bonnie is keeping that one under her hat. The vegetables are only roasted though, which brings the flavours out and saves you from the evil of deep-fry. The adults loved it, the younger crowd complained about the cheat, but there was not one “fry” left. As for French fries, do sprinkle with lots of salt before serving!