Monday, April 30, 2012

November Party Part 3: Curried apricot chutney (p. 950) and Chutney cheese spread (p. 76)

Make sure to read the first two posts on the November party!  Sadly, I think I have about four more posts to go on this party--I REALLY cooked a lot of food.

It's possible some of you might find this post cheating but that's fine with me--the good thing about writing a blog is that you make your own rules.  I made Curried apricot chutney (p. 950) but since I wanted to use it immediately I made a few changes and didn't bother with the canning aspect.  

I simmered water, dried apricots, onion, and sugar for a half hour:

In another pan I cooked cider vinegar, ginger, curry powder (I used up all of my homemade curry powder--I need to make more), and a cinnamon stick.  I didn't bother with the canning salts because I wasn't going to can the chutney--I just added some actual salt:

I removed the cinnamon stick and added the vinegar mixture to the apricot mixture, stirring in golden raisins: 

It was delicious!  And easy.  It didn't have the 5000 ingredients of the tropical chutney.  I wish I had more exciting stuff to say about this dish but I my brain isn't totally powered on.  I would make it again, which I can't say about all recipes.

Chutney cheese spread (p. 76) sounded good.  Instead of mango chutney (which I would be severely allergic to) I used the apricot chutney I had just made.  I mixed chutney with cream cheese:

I sprinkled walnuts on the top and called it a day.  It was delicious.  I love cream cheese spreads and the chutney had a nice sweetness to it.  I really like chutney but I think it's under-appreciated by Americans.  Tell me, do you eat chutney?  Can I work chutney into this paragraph a few more times?  

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Monday, April 23, 2012

November party post 2: Waldorf salad (p. 169), Carrot and raisin salad (p. 166), Texas caviar (p. 73), and Rosemary pecan butter (p. 179)

This is the second post in a series so make sure to read Post 1 (especially if you like whipped fish [and who doesn't]!).

I hate Waldorf salad (p. 169). I always have. In fact, I hate it so much that it amazes me that anyone likes it. But people must like it because it's everywhere.

Like all Waldorf salads, I mixed celery, apples, walnuts, and grapes with mayonnaise. *Gag*

Why would anyone voluntarily eat fruit covered in mayonnaise? Look, I like mayonnaise, but that's just going too far. TJOC recommended that you can include marshmallows too--that's horrifying. It tasted just like it looks--crunchy things covered in mayo. If you like Waldorf salad, I would love for you to explain why in the comments. Please.

Texas caviar (p. 73) is one of those items that I had seen on menus before but never ordered. To be honest, I had no idea what was actually in it. It turns out that I don't like real caviar and I don't really like Texas caviar either.

I combined black eyed peas, pimientos, jalapenos, tomatoes, garlic, bell pepper, garlic, scallions, parsley, oregano, cilantro, Tabasco sauce, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper, and some vinaigrette:

This recipe makes a TON of food so make sure you have a crowd. I don't really like bean salads but it was a pretty solid salad if you're into that. The vinaigrette really soaked into everything and it was nicely flavored. This is one of those dishes that gets better the longer it sits so if you are going to make it for a party, make it a day or two early.

Carrot and raisin salad (p. 166) is a strange recipe. I combined grated carrots, raisins, pecans, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and pepper, and tossed that with sour cream and mayonnaise:

It was certainly a simple recipe but, again, I don't understand all the mayonnaise love in the salad chapter of TJOC. I don't really like raisins in savory dishes but that's a personal thing. It was a sweet salad and it would be a good choice if you were going to a potluck and wanted to bring something a little different.

Rosemary pecan butter (p. 179) sounded interesting. I kind of like the idea of savory nut butters (yeah, yeah ::insert innuendo here::) as a spread that's a little different than the norm and I really like rosemary.

I combined toasted pecan pieces, cold butter, rosemary, and brown sugar in my food processor:

Certainly easy. It was good. The rosemary went really well with the pecans. It was particularly tasty on my bagel the next day. I always have trouble with spreads because I can never tell exactly what you are supposed to spread them on--crackers? Bread? Veggies? I think I overthink these things.

There are many more posts coming up about this party so keep checking!

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

November Party Post 1: Salmon pate (p. 85), Salmon mousse (p. 85), and Smoked salmon rolls (p. 85)

My cousin Erica and her boyfriend Patrick came to visit me in Colorado one last time before I moved to Washington DC. Erica is one of my most food adventurous friends (or maybe just adventurous friends in general) and is always down for trying strange TJOC foods, which is a great feature in my friends. It occurred to me that I could throw a party and make a lot of the weird TJOC foods and make a lot of progress on the list. I also invited Julieanna and her boyfriend, as well as Heidi and Ryan. And I cooked a lot. A LOT. In fact, somewhere around the middle of this marathon cooking, I realized that I was cooking a truly stupid amount for someone with a friend in town who she could barely talk to because she was cooking like a maniac. My picture taking suffered, too, because I was cooking so many things at the same time.

That being said, the night was incredibly successful. I managed to have everything finished and on the table within ten minutes of guests arriving, which was perfect, because some of the dishes needed to be served hot. The food was plentiful and tasty and everyone had fun.

I really would like to knock out an entire TJOC chapter. So I set my sights on "Appetizers and Hors D'Oeuvres" as the most likely first chapter to be finished. And I started knocking out appetizers.

I started with Salmon pate (p. 85). In a small saucepan I combined salmon fillet, white wine, olive oil, Cognac, and a little salt and pepper:

This was brought to a boil and cooked until the salmon was opaque. I drained the salmon and threw the liquid away. In another pan I melted butter and added a little sliced smoked salmon, cooking until opaque. This went into the food processor with some butter. Using a fork I combined the two and refrigerated the concoction overnight:

Cat food. It totally looked like cat food. Not very appetizing, right? It tasted okay but I would never bother making it again. It's also possible I'm just not a pate type of girl because I've never found a pate that I've particularly enjoyed. But I would rather just eat the smoked salmon by itself and that's certainly a lot less work.

I also made Salmon mousse (p. 85). This recipe has been bothering me for a while because it looked incredibly disgusting. The combination of whipped cream and seafood just turns me off.

I combined lemon juice and unflavored gelatin in a small pan. I let it sit for about five minutes to soften the gelatin and dissolved it over low heat. After it cooled to lukewarm I stirred mayonnaise and sour cream into the gelatin mixture.

I combined canned red salmon (CANNED red salmon. Again, cat food. Honestly, canned seafood is nauseating), dill, shallot, capers, sweet paprika, and white pepper in the tiny food processor and pulsed it until just combined.

I added the gelatin mixture and pulsed a couple more times. In another bowl I whipped cream. I folded the cream into the salmon mixture:

TJOC recommends using a mold shaped like a fish, which, bizarrely, I own but couldn't find the one time I needed it. So I just used a stainless steel bowl. The finished mousse looked like this (the white streaks are from the butter I used to oil the bowl):

I bet you are getting hungry, right? You wish you could dive right into that deliciousness, right? No? At least it unmolded cleanly.

Actually, it wasn't bad. I still think it would be a thousand times better with fresh salmon rather than canned and I wish my mold was shaped like a fish. Even so, it had a nice subtle flavor and tasted delicious on bread or crackers. TJOC mentions that the mousse can be pipped into cucumber cups and that is so incredibly retro. I think that would be another excellent choice for your upcoming Mad Men party.

I had a little bit of smoked salmon left over so I thought I would make Smoked salmon rolls (p. 85) too. I combined cream cheese, dill, minced scallion, and lemon juice. That was spread thinly over sliced smoked salmon and it was rolled up:

Not pretty because of the terrible salmon-slicing job but really delicious. I'm a big fan of dill and cream cheese combinations so it had good odds of being a winner in my book. I would definitely make these again and actually put the effort in to make them attractive.

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Shrimp scampi (p. 386)

Loyal fans. I apologize. I apologize so much for the break. It was not intentional. But I REALLY needed to finish my PhD. It now (barring any bureaucratic problems) is finished! I'm Dr. Jessica Lynn! I have a new job and I'm living in Washington DC, so it's been a time of big changes! Time to enjoy some of this awesome East Coast seafood!

And I'm at least 50 recipes behind on TJOTJOC. Yes, FIFTY. So there will be a LOT of posts happening soon. But I'm going to break my normal routine and I'm not going to backdate most of them (other than Thanksgiving, which, of course, I didn't write about when it happened). So they should show up mostly as new.

Also, I've been told that some people can't comment on the blog. Has anyone else had any trouble trying to comment? That makes me so sad! Everyone knows that bloggers get all their self-esteem through comments and Facebook likes.

Shrimp scampi (p. 386) is a recipe I'm really familiar with as I'm Italian-American and my family made it relatively often. That being said almost all scampi recipes are different. And this one was totally different than my family's recipe.

It was certainly easy. I sauteed minced garlic in olive oil over very low heat until it was golden (don't rush this, you'll be sorry if you do, because the garlic will burn and you'll have to start over). I added about two lbs of shrimp. I cooked the shrimp until they started to turn pink and added minced parsley. When the shrimp were fully cooked I sprinkled with lemon juice and it was done:

It was a nice, simple scampi. Nothing amazingly special but easy and simple. I recommend this for a fast shrimp dish. You could easily put it on spaghetti if you wanted, too, and pump up the meal. Make sure to add the lemon juice because it really brightens the dish.
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