I’ve been more of a winter solstice kind of person for a while, but I grew up celebrating Christmas and I guess I can’t quite give it up. Circumstances led to my spending a solitary Christmas this year. I was a little afraid my introverted, somewhat downbeat outlook might make it a less than festive holiday, but I needn’t have worried. I hung all three of my Christmas tree ornaments from the chandelier, hung some forgotten sun-catchers where they could catch the kitchen light, repotted the spearmint and the sage, and discovered that three candles sitting on the hearth could bring light out of darkness as effectively as any fire, and without the need for fireplace tools either. Rather than being a year for tried and true holiday traditions, it turned out to be a found holiday.
Of course, I had to make a nice meal for myself. There are several turkey recipes I’ve wanted to try for a while, so I got a turkey breast and settled on “Turkey with Mushrooms and Marsala,” from The Frugal Gourmet. Although the recipe was created to use up leftover turkey, I was cooking mine from scratch, so I lengthened the sautéing time. I used dried porcini mushrooms, which neatly solved the problem of not having chicken stock on hand; I just used the mushroom soaking liquid. I added a little sage (some rescued from the variegated sage, which has a nasty case of downy mildew and got radically trimmed back in an attempt to solve the problem). I served the turkey, mushrooms and sauce over spinach fettuccini.
It was out of this world. It smelled so good cooking and was equally good to eat. The smoky porcini mushrooms really made the dish. Even the taste of the spinach fettuccini was a good counterpoint to the intense marsala and mushroom sauce. My only criticism is that the turkey meat seemed a little bland, but maybe that’s what I get for using turkey breast. I didn’t even use the whole breast either; I used half and still wasn’t able to finish all of it. No matter; I’d happily make this again. Relaxing afterward with a glass of Bailey’s Irish Cream and listening to King’s College Choir on WWFM while watching the candles burn down was a nice end to a peaceful day. Whatever your winter celebration of choice, I hope you enjoy yours as much as I have enjoyed mine.