Friday, November 27, 2009

Roast turkey (p.442), Basic corn bread stuffing (p. 534) , and Corn bread stuffing with sausage and bell peppers (p. 535)

Final Thanksgiving 2009 post! Hooray! It's going to be a brief post though :)

This year, we decided to make Roast turkey (p.442). I apparently forgot to take pictures of the naked bird but, essentially, I rinsed it, brushed it with butter, and then mom seasoned it to her liking. We stuffed it and cooked it for five hours or so.

Beautiful! This was a really gorgeous bird and was tender and juicy. It was a BIG turkey too, so flipping it would have been impossible. We didn't brine it but I think it was just as juicy as the year before.

I decided that this year I would make Basic corn bread stuffing (p. 534) and truly make STUFFING (inside a bird). Mom had proactively made corn bread or me, so all I had to do was toast it.

I cooked onions, celery, and garlic in some butter, and then stirred in some parsley, sage, salt, and pepper. I tossed it with the bread crumbs.

Mom had kept her parsley plant alive for the Thanksgiving meal.

I moistened it with chicken broth...

And I stuffed it into the turkey!

What goes in, then has to come out! Rachel extracted the stuffing.

I had extra cornbread left over and thought--what the heck! I'll make both stuffing and dressing (outside the bird). I thought Corn bread stuffing with sausage and bell peppers (p. 535) would be perfect. It was particularly perfect because I HATE bell peppers and love stuffing, so making it as the only stuffing choice would be really sad for me. That being said, everyone else at Thanksgiving loved both sausage and peppers, so I had the perfect audience!

It was essentially the same recipe, except green pepper and cooked sausage were added to the rest with the seasoning and it was popped in the oven:

Mom insisted that it was delicious! I thought it was really pretty with the green pepper and would have been even prettier if we had had red pepper too. I really liked having two choices of stuffing since it's almost everyone's favorite part of the meal.

The table with the stuffing, mashed potatoes, and green bean casserole. Yum!

It was a terrific Tday. I love Thanksgiving. It's one of my two favorite holidays (Halloween is the other one). A day about family and food is about as great as you can get, in my opinion :) I really loved our mixed group of friends and family this year. And after we eat, we nap, and it's on to my favorite part of the holiday--going Black Friday shopping, starting at midnight! Most of the time we don't even buy anything but I think it's fun. What is your favorite holiday?

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Tday 09 #2: Pumpkin pie (p. 686), Molded cranberry sauce (p. 175), Green bean casserole II (p. 251), and Braised carrots (p. 266)

Again, I apologize in advance for the quality of the pictures--it's hard to get used to a new camera and mom's camera isn't great for food pictures.

What's Thanksgiving without Pumpkin pie (p. 686)? This is usually one of the items that mom makes before I get to town. The problem with Tday is that we tend to drive in so late on Wednesday that I can't get any prep work done. This Tday we came in a little earlier so I decided to make the pumpkin pie.

I also decided that since I was operating on limited time, I might as well use a store-bought shell instead of making it myself (even though making pie crust is pretty easy). The pie crust requires pre-cooking:

The filling was simple: pumpkin puree, heavy cream, sugar (both white and brown), cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and salt.

I filled the pie crust and it looked perfect.

What isn't shown is the foil crust-protective-covering, which I totally recommend, if you don't like burnt crisps. I assume that would include everyone. Or you can buy one of those expensive crust-protectors but foil does the exact same thing!

Mom and I kept checking the pie because it didn't see done. When I shook it, it still shook like jello! Eventually I took it out anyway. And it WAS done. It had probably been done for a few minutes.

The pie was pretty good, it was your typical pumpkin pie. Nothing special but good.

One of the biggest problems with taking years to cook through TJOC is that I'm running out of common holiday recipes, such as cranberries. This year we decided that mom would make her cranberry sauce (our Italian version) and I would make Molded cranberry sauce (p. 175), which was conveniently on my randomly selected list!

Gelatin always smells so bad.

It was a little boincy pad after softening in water:

The cranberries were cooked in a little orange juice until their skin popped and sugar and salt were added.

The gelatin was added in and it was poured into the mold and allowed to set:

Green bean casserole is one of those typical Tday dishes that we never actually make. That being said, when our guest list went from 4 to 6, I needed to add a side dish or two and thought Green bean casserole II (p. 251) would be perfect. I could see immediately why it is so popular for Tday--it was extremely fast and easy.

I mixed green beans (I used frozen), milk, cream of mushroom soup, and those canned onions together in a casserole dish.

More onions on the top and into the oven it went:

And done! Fast and easy, which is really helpful when you are making so many different dishes. I thought it was really tasty too--I kinda like GBC. Simple and homey. And the crunchy top is always delicious.

I thought another easy side dish would be Braised carrots (p. 266), which is essentially glazed carrots with less sugar and no brandy.

The carrots were really good but not as good as the glazed carrots, so I probably won't make this recipe again (although I will remake the delicious glazed carrots). Every single time I eat carrots I wonder why I don't eat them more often--carrots are easy, really nutritious, and taste terrific coated in butter.

The side dishes were good! I made mashed potatoes (I use my own recipe) and mom made candied sweet potatoes. So much delicious food!

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving 09 Post 1: Cocktail meatballs (p. 82), Salami rolls (p.83), and Crudites (p. 78)

Thanksgiving 2009! A couple items before I start the Thanksgiving blogs:
1. The pictures are TERRIBLE, I know it, I apologize. I forgot the charger for my camera and my mom's is not good for food pictures. They are all dark and/or blurry. I'm really sorry!
2. It was our biggest Thanksgiving we've ever thrown! There were 6 of us, which was exciting!)
3. Mom was complaining last year that she was just a flunkie and didn't actually get to make anything. Since I've made so many TJOC Thanksgiving style recipes already, mom was able to throw in some of her favorites. So she's graduated from flunkie to sous chef, which she seems happy about.

Like the last couple years, I decided to make some appetizers for lunch on Thanksgiving so that I could knock some of the appetizers and hors d'oeuvres recipes off the list. This has became an anticipated tradtion.

I made three appetizers, starting with Cocktail meatballs (p. 82). This recipe has intrigued me for a while due to the sauce which includes brown sugar, jellied cranberry sauce, lemon juice, and an entire bottle of chili sauce.

The meatballs were made out of ground beef, cornflakes (strange!), catsup, soy sauce, onions, parsley, garlic, black pepper, and eggs. Josh and Jordan took over the balling of the meatballs--they were tiny (it makes 70!).

The sauce was then poured on the meatballs and they were cooked.

Watch them carefully! The sugary sauce started to burn on one of the trays, although no meatballs were harmed. They were really tasty! As strange as the sauce sounds, it really worked, and they were tender and flavorful. They would be particularly good in a little slow cooker at a potluck (I never go to potlucks--do people bring stuff in slow cookers to them? It seems like they would).

I also made Salami rolls (p.83). The recipe is really simple--take cream cheese, add sun-dried tomato halves, some chopped scallions, and a little pepper, and grind it in the food processor. The problem was that it became a ball of cream cheese and wouldn't mix! So I had a smoking food processor, clumps of cream cheese, and annoyingly whole tomato halves and scallions. This problem was never fully solved, I just quit worrying about it and smeared the cream cheese, chunks and all, onto the salami slices.

I know the picture is dark, you may have to use your imagination.

They were then rolled up and cut in half. They were good although I would rather have them with less cream cheese. I would make these again but change the cream cheese to include garlic and chives or something. So I suppose I wouldn't actually make these again but, instead, a similar roll-up.

I then chopped up some celery and cauliflower for Crudites (p. 78) with blue cheese dressing. The blue cheese dressing is so delicious that it makes people who say they hate blue cheese change their mind :)

You can see all three finished dishes in this picture :) The salami roll recipe is online.

Thanksgiving means that all three dogs get to spend some time together, too, and bond with the rest of us (the third dog is hiding in this picture). Mostly, they just sleep.

I hope all of my American blog readers had a great Thanksgiving! There will be more Thanksgiving blog posts :)

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Baked rice pudding (p. 820)

I have mentioned many, many times that I really hate making TJOC recipes that I already make terrific versions of. I make an amazing rice pudding. Honestly, it's like heaven in a bowl (I make a variety of extremely delicious old-fashioned desserts including blueberry buckles, bread puddings, and rice puddings). And my recipe is totally different from TJOC's Baked rice pudding (p. 820). I wasn't optimistic about TJOC's version...

It was a simple recipe. I combined milk, eggs, brown sugar, butter, vanilla, and salt in a bowl until well mixed.

I then added two cups of rice and some raisins and added them to a buttered casserole dish.

And baked it:

How was it? Pretty good. Not amazing. And certainly not as good as the version I already make, which is closer to Indian kheer than British pudding. I actually think this version was really bland--it needed more butter, cream instead of milk, and more sugar in my expert opinion :) And make sure to keep it in the refrigerator, otherwise it will mold...not that I would know anything about that...

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Cabbage soup (p. 130) and Celery root soup (p. 144)

As many of you know, I love soup. In fact, I was just talking to my dad about what we would eat if we could only have one type of food--my answer was soup. I could easily eat only soup for the rest of my life--I love it.

I was optimistic about Cabbage soup (p. 130) because I have recently decided that I like cabbage. I started by sauteing leeks, onions, and garlic in a soup pot--I really liked the look of the large amount of garlic in the dish.

I then added poultry stock, water, carrots, and some potatoes.

And then the cabbage!

The cabbage wilted down:

And managed not to make my house reek of cabbage, which was nice. I thought the soup was good but extremely boring. It needed...something. It was a perfectly nice soup but I don't think I'll make it again. Or if I do, I will add a little cream and some ham or something. It was easy enough...

I also went ahead and made Celery root soup (p. 144).

This is a celery root:

Peeling it was NOT FUN. I tried to use a veggie peeler, which totally didn't work. I had to chop it off with a knife.

The celery root was added to a pot with some celery and onions.

Eventually, a little flour was added and then some poultry stock. I then pureed the whole thing with my stick blender and added heavy cream.

It was DELICIOUS! Josh really loves celery, so he was in love with this soup. This is the first time I've ever had celery root but it seems to have a mild celery taste. I still think the cream of cauliflower soup was superior, but this was a good soup too. So if you get some celery root in your CSA box, this is a good use of it (does that ever happen?).

I think celery root is a strange veggie. Between that and the parsnips I had recently, I feel like I'm broadening my vegetable horizons! Exciting.

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Fish baked in foil (p. 399) with Bercy butter (p. 559)

I usually cruise the clearance fish section at the grocery store and I stumbled upon some nice looking tilapia. I know I'm amazingly behind on the fish chapter, so it seemed like a perfect time to buy!

I decided to make Fish baked in foil (p. 399), which seemed fast and easy (making it perfect for a weekend lunch).

The first step was to make the flavored butter--I made Bercy butter (p. 559). It was simple. I simmered some chopped shallot and white wine. I was hungry, so instead of cooling it down, I just mixed it right into the softened butter. Of course, that essentially melted the butter. I figured that didn't matter because the butter was going to melt in the oven anyway...

I smeared the butter all over the fish:

Wrapped it into a cute little envelope and I popped it into the oven:

And voila!! Done!

It was delicious! Perfectly cooked and really, really moist, likely due to the thousand pounds of butter. This is not a fish for the weight watchers out there! But I'm trying to eat more fish, so it was perfect (of course, that only means that I am hoping to eat fish once every three to four months instead of only on Christmas eve or when we decide to eat salmon).

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Glazed parsnips (p. 289) and Baked beans with bacon (p. 255)

The grocery store had cheap parsnips. Actually, it's possible that the grocery store always has cheap parsnips, I can't say I've ever looked for them before. In fact, I think I've only had parsnips once (at my aunt's fancy tennis club in Laurel Canyon, CA). Since I liked glazed carrots so much, I was hoping that Glazed parsnips (p. 289) would be as delicious.

Parsnips look almost exactly like carrots and you peel them the same way:

I cut the carrots "in half crossways" which I took to mean quartering them (it's very possible that isn't the correct interpretation). I then poured in some water, butter, sugar, salt, and pepper.

Reading the recipe again while blogging, I realize that I didn't finish this recipe correctly. I was supposed to bring to a simmer, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 10-15 minutes, which I did. I was then supposed to uncover, increase the heat to high, and boil until it's a syrupy glaze. I did not do that.

I don't think it really mattered because my parsnips were cooked and had a syrupy glaze anyway. They were good--parsnips taste sweet like carrots but definitely have their own flavor (ie if I was doing the blind taste test on Top Chef, I could tell the difference). I think they are much fancier than carrots and would make them for a dinner party.

I'm not sure what motivated me to make Baked beans with bacon (p. 255) when I didn't like the last TJOC baked beans recipe. I knew I didn't want to cook during the week (that may change, I often say that and then end up cooking a lot) and baked beans tend to heat up well. Plus I kind of like them, just not enough to really buy or make myself.

This was one of those vague recipes. It asks for a 28-ounce can of "beans". What kind of beans? Should I drain them? No answers. I used white beans and I didn't drain them because there is almost no other liquid in the recipe but I'm not sure if that was right.

I mixed the beans, catsup, onion, molasses, brown sugar, and cider vinegar in a bowl, then layered bacon on the top.

The baked beans were cooked with a lid on for a half hour and then with the lid removed for a half hour:

Not the best picture in the world but much much better than the previous baked beans. I liked the brown sugar and molasses flavor and the bacon fat --I would consider that the trinity for baked beans. Disgustingly, I think baked beans are best when mixed with coleslaw--and I'm usually one of those people who don't like my foods to touch.

Hot cranberry juice (p. 38) and Cheese enchiladas (p. 104)

I'll admit that I don't drink enough water (or liquids as a whole) but I've been trying to do better. I had a giant vat of cranberry juice and didn't feel like just drinking it straight--Hot cranberry juice (p. 38) seemed perfect. One quart of juice, a sliced lemon, and a few cloves, heated up:

And done! I don't think there are many recipes that are so simple.

It was really good--the flavor seemed much more complex than three ingredients. I really love hot drinks and it was delicious (reminiscent of mulled cider)--I will make this again. It's a great use of zested lemons--I usually have a poor denuded lemon in the fridge and it seems like a real waste to throw it out.

I wanted to make something fast for dinner and I seemed to be running out of really speedy TJOC recipes. I noticed that although I had made beef enchiladas, chicken enchiladas, and enchiladas verdes, I had never made Cheese enchiladas (p. 104).

The recipe was particularly simple because I bought the enchilada sauce--I wasn't impressed with TJOC's version and have been working my way through store-bought sauces. This time I had a rather expensive version from the local co-op on hand.

I heated up some corn tortillas, then filled them with grated Monterey Jack and Cheddar cheese:

Wrapped them up and poured enchilada sauce over them, finally sprinkling a little cheese on top:

And baked them:

They were good, although fairly boring. The enchilada sauce was horrible. I hated it. It had an extremely strong ancho pepper flavor and was amazingly smoky. In fact, I would imagine the taste of this sauce to be what heavy smokers (the type that smoke while eating) taste when they eat enchiladas. It ruined the enchiladas for me and had nothing to do with TJOC. Does anyone have a good enchilada sauce that they can recommend? I'm not having great luck.