Monday, November 28, 2011

thanksgiving feast pictures!

This is the turkey in the oven with the wine and butter soaked cheesecloth. The burntness of the cloth didn't affect the taste of anything in my opinion, and no one else complained about it so it worked out fine. I went through three cheesecloths with all of the turkeys because i don't know how to revive burnt cheesecloth.

This is the finished, beautiful, golden product. My only complaint is that there wasn't enough of it! I was hoping for gobs of leftovers but each turkey got picked clean pretty much.

These are pictures of some of the spread on the second day of thanksgiving. We're missing pictures of the yam-marshmallow dish that someone brought, a cheese platter, all of the desserts, the giant vat of gravy, and probably a few others. On the third day we even had ham, stuffing, and a tofurkey. Next time i'll take better and more pictures. In the white covered dish was pumpkin and goat cheese risotto!

We had maybe four different cranberry sauces.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

thanksgiving 2011

writing about food is hard for me because i am inexperienced with describing it as anything other than "good" or "not good." well, cilantro is "the grossest thing on earth aka soapy baby spit" but other than that i am limited in my descriptors. i think this shortcoming makes me less confident in posting more often. how many times do you want to read that such and such was "delicious?"

anyway here are my plans for thanksgiving, which we are hosting both thursday and friday for two different crowds, and this list does not include the couple of dishes i am making for the thanksgiving at david's mother's house on wednesday (turkey, gravy, and also corn and clam chowder from my The New England Table cookbook):

the turkey recipe i'm using for all THREE turkeys i'm preparing is from martha stewart only i'm going to add more of the herbs and vegetables called for and i will also brine it in half the time especially since the turkeys will "only" be around 10-12lbs each. i just reserved some fresh free-range turkeys from sprouts online. i practiced this recipe on a chicken last week and thought it was delicious despite david saying it tasted too much like butter (the butter wine mixture was the only thing i didn't scale down for the size of the chicken because i thought i needed the full amount to soak the cheesecloth. i think i was right in keeping it at a full stick of butter so neener.)

i'm going to make gravy ahead of time using bon appetit's guide since i don't care for gravy personally, it's important that i use a good recipe for it because i know other people like it. i'll also make a mushroom gravy with vegetable broth and wild mushrooms as another option, especially since some vegetarians and one person who's allergic to poultry might be joining us.

last year i made Bacon and Rosemary Sauteed Brussels Sprouts and Baby Bellas and it got a lot of people to eat brussels sprouts. i'm making it again this year because i really liked it. it's from my Fast, Fresh, and Green cookbook:

serves 5

1 lb brussels sprouts
8 oz cremini/baby bella mushrooms wiped clean
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
2 oz bacon cut into 1 inch pieces
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 tsp kosher salt
2 Tblsp unsalted butter cut into pieces
1/4 lemon

trim the stem ends of the brussels sprouts. cut the smallest sprouts into quarters. cut the largest sprouts in half and then cut each half into thirds. in both cases, cut lengthwise through the stem so that a piece of the core holds the leaves together. cut the mushrooms in similar fashion.

in a 10-inch straight sided saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. add the sprouts, mushrooms, bacon, and rosemary. season with the salt and, using tongs, stir well to combine everything. the pan will be very crowded and that's okay.

turn the heat down to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally at first and then more frequently when the vegetables begin to brown, until the vegetables are well browned and the brussels sprouts are tender (the stems may still be a bit firm), 28 to 30 mins. the bottom of the pan will be quite brown. remove the pan from the heat, discard the rosemary, and add the butter pieces. stir gently with a silicone spatula until all of the butter has melted. give a generous squeeze of lemon over all and stir again. taste and season with more lemon, if needed. serve warm.

another brussels sprouts recipe i almost considered is brussels sprouts gratin but i already had decided on Baked Penne with Farmhouse Cheddar and Leeks only subbing chopped raw cauliflower for the penne (it should cook while it bakes). i love vegetable dishes and i say this even though i don't consider cauliflower a vegetable, it's a non-food (like tofu) in my opinion. how does white have any nutrients in it? plus the cauliflower-instead-of-pasta should help it keep better since i plan to make it a day ahead instead of just two hours (who calls that "make ahead?")

i plan to make brioche rolls from my River Cottage Bread Handbook and will also try to make sweet potato biscuits from martha stewart's recipe ( i am not normally a martha stewart person but in my googling sweet potato biscuits hers was the only picture that didn't look like rock hard lumps). the brioche dough can be refrigerated, the biscuits will be tricky since they supposedly become rock hard after a day.

another thing i don't really like to eat but will still be making for the enjoyment of others is cranberry relish/sauce. david likes ocean spray's canned cranberry sauce so i've usually just bought a can for him and call it good. why waste time making foodstuffs that i don't like to eat? BECAUSE I LOVE HIM! he will probably still prefer the canned stuff but maybe other people will like it. i don't really have a recipe and i am trying to decide between cooked and uncooked but basically i'm going to make it with fresh cranberries, some clementines, cinnamon and cloves, triple sec, and maybe honey instead of granulated sugar. i should probably stick with regular sugar since i don't even know how it's supposed to taste in the first place but i'm all about EXTRA FLAVOR!! so maybe i will do a test batch and feed some to the neighbors for feedback.

now the fun stuff: desserts. i am a sugar fiend and the holidays are my biggest excuse to both make and eat a million and one sweet things. it's called "getting in the spirit of things" and any other time of the year it just makes me a fatty. for sure i am making this sticky spiced double apple cake from the kitchn and for semi-traditionalists i'll make my low carb pumpkin pie with a pecan crust using the back of the trader joes canned pumpkin recipe and the special pumpkin pie spice i have that has anise or fennel or whatever in it you wouldn't normally expect. for something fun to snack on and if there's time, pumpkin rice krispie treats. since i am about 80 years old at heart and i love love love bread pudding (when done right meaning when it's totally eggy and custardy not dry) i will try to sneak this pecan burbon and butterscotch bread pudding in somewhere. also i have visions of pumpkin tiramisu and concocting my own version of a blondie brownie filled with pumpkin stuffs (this is still in the early stages of dreaming).

of course we have to provide drinks for thanksgiving so in addition to wine and champagne and eggnog and apple cider and milk and pumpkin spiced flavored coffee (from green mountain) i will be making Southern Spiced Cider since for some strange reason we've acquired several bottles of southern comfort and i know i don't usually drink it (i kind of have an aversion to largely-known name brand alcohols). I'd link the recipe but it makes me put my birthday in every single time i visit it but basically it's spiced apple cider, brewed tea (??), southern comfort, and ginger ale (but i'm going to let guests add their own and give them the option of adding champagne too, instead).

so yeah. other people are welcome/supposed to bring dishes as well so i hope "essentials" like stuffing (more stuff i don't particularly care for!) and some sort of sweet potato/yam/squash/spinach/green bean dish also come along or else i'll be looking at recipes for that stuff too. i just can't disappoint on a large gathering dinner.

Edited to add: i have to make an update and say that i didn't get a chance to make all the other awesome goodies i had my eye on, only the sticky apple cake and pumpkin pie which were so delicious, and i did attempt the pumpkin rice krispie treats but they were awful and i even tried twice. they didn't have enough pumpkin flavor and they sogged up terribly. everything else though was great success.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

continuing the godiva binge plus more!

okay so last night in somewhat of a tipsy (do people still use that word or is that a circa-j kwon era word?) blur i ate some of godiva's new dessert bars: tiramisu, milk chocolate covered cheesecake, and dark chocolate lava cake or something else dark chocolatey i dunno.

tiramisu: white chocolate covered coffee flavored mousse-y cream. delicious. it doesn't taste like awesome alcoholy traditional tiramisu but i love white chocolate and i happen to love coffee too, and the textures together were good.

milk chocolate covered cheesecake: i'm more of a filling person when it comes to chocolates like i'm more of a frosting person when it comes to cake, and i feel that godiva kind of coats their bars fairly thickly in relation to how much filling there is in the bar. it seems that all of their bars "end" with the chocolate encasement on your tongue rather than a mixture of the filling and the coating, unless i am just always eating it wrong? so this was a disappointment seeing as i could hardly tell the gooey filling (not as nice texturally as others, especially compared to the tiramisu) was cheesecake flavored. the milk chocolate overpowered it almost entirely. i could only tell the center was not milk chocolate, not that it was a whole 'nother flavor.

dark chocolate lava cake somethingness: you know, the rest of the bar is in the other room and i hope to update the description for the sake of posterity but the bar was just dark chocolateness. i dunno what i was expecting, but i don't think you can turn lava cake into a bar. i think the center was more solid than even the cheesecake bar.

lemon mousse truffle: this is the second time i tried it, i bought a tray of them when they were on sale. i think i liked it the first time i ate some because i was toasted, this time just tipsy i was more discerning. i prefer lemon meringue type lemon or lemon curd type, and this was very lemon zesty. it had a sort of bitterness all throughout that i identify with the zest instead of the tartness of the juice and i was sad for this.

my newwww favorite kettle corn is colby's kettle corn - salty sweet addiction. it's not entirely glazed like some but there are a few pieces that have a crisp layer of salty sugar crystals clumped together to form a crunchy flavor packed coating. the rest is lightly dusted with sugar and salt and you end up with a small pile of crystals at the bottom of the bowl (or bag) that you can eat up by licking your fingers and jabbing them to scoop them up.

ftr i made stella's eating stella style pumpkin pound cake and it came out extraordinarily well. i made it exactly to specs. recording this because the other day i made the low carb carrot cake muffins from the low carb baking and dessert book but forgot the extra cream cheese i am sure i put in the first time i followed the recipe and it came out dryyyy. then again i also doubled the recipe so maybe i messed up trying to do that.

Monday, September 26, 2011

godiva truffles

in an attempt to delay the start of my diet i think i will review some truffles.

new and improved pumpkin truffle - pretty damn good. it's that one in the orange foil with a curly little twig and leaf to make it look like a pumpkin. i don't remember how last year's tasted so i can't attest to the new and improvedness of it but embarassingly enough i think i still have some in my stash and could dig them out and compare if i got another of the new ones but it might be unfair to judge year-old, old pumpkin truffles against new fresh improved ones.

red velvet truffle - i honestly don't understand the OMGness of red velvet that everyone seems to fawn over and this is no different. it's good chocolate on its own i suppose but it tastes no different to me than some other muted chocolate flavor.

chocolate eclair truffle - so delicious. one of my new favorites! i love love love custards and creams and this is a very awesome creamy vanilla custard ganache in the center of a milk chocolate coating that is a perfect thickness, not thick but not too thin that you can't taste it after the center has melted away in your mouth.

pumpkin cheesecake truffle - another freaking amazing one! the coating is a little on the thick side but that is likely due to the two chambers inside, one holding a creamy "cheesecake" filling and another the thick yet creamy pumpkin pie filling. i liked it.

creme brulee truffle - they don't usually have descriptions at the boutique and with a name like creme brulee i thought it would be self explanatory like "carrot cake" might be. but no. this thing has a chocolate ganache inside of its white chocolate sprinkled with sugar crystals shell. not what i was expecting so naturally i hate it. it is probably very good if you like chocolate ganache masking as a silky eggy slightly burnt sugared custard but i don't and i want the latter.

more to come later.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

before i forget

alright so at first i was just gonna review recipes as i made them. but as you can probably see i did that only once, about three years ago. well perhaps to cater to my everchanging new ideas/hobbies i will just use this for all things food related from recipe reviews to food event recaps to product reviews or whatever else i might be forgetting right now, even if only to remind myself for future reference.

off the top of my head:

Taste of Newport - was worth it the first year we went, maybe three years ago. was not worth it the year after. i suppose we wouldn't mind paying $25 to get in on top of the 1-3$ per tasting costs if they kept true to "the taste of newport" or even the taste of newport and other surrounding cities but left out the chains like ruby's diner and weinerschnitzel or whatever mediocre crap they started to let take over the real winners like Mastro's steakhouse.

Saban Free Clinic Extravaganza for the Senses - worth it. always. we've attended the past two years and even if you only get regular admission tickets for a mere two hours of unlimited tastings of wine and gourmet food in LA and you have to stand for the whole two hours and rub elbows with most everyone there, it's totally worth it. maybe next year we will go all out and spring for the vip tickets to see what's inside the exclusive tent, and to get an extra hour to digest everything we stuff ourselves on and i will report on that. it's for a good cause and i tasted the most orgasmic lasagna from Angelini's Osteria that i've ever eaten and am willing to drive close to an hour just to get it (except on mondays because they are apparently closed on mondays which i learned the hard, traffic-filled way).

OC Cupcake Camp - benefitting a children's charity. I went this year for the first time though i believe it was their second year only far less organized than i would have expected. it was a madhouse. i went with my sister who was carrying her firstborn child in her arms and we overheard someone say, "don't push her, she has a baby" as if that was the only reason a sane person could have not to elbow her in the face for some partially stale not very impressive cupcakes that you likely only paid half price for if you got one of the over-sold groupons for tickets. next year i plan to donate some of my own and i will show them what's what. but it's for charity and i like frosting so i will still probably attend even if i don't donate cupcakes. get there half an hour early because each two-hour session ran out of cupcakes about 20 minutes after the doors opened.

LA Chocolate Salon - unlimited tastings of chocolate, confections, spirits, and wine! another somewhat over-sold and poorly constructed event with lines that wrapped around the room and around tables and people cutting lines and wines running out, etc. this one is a maybe re-attend because it's all the way up at the pasadena convention center so if they don't sell discounted tickets on bloomspot like they did this year it would sway me to go again a little more because i'd hope for less attendees. they had a tequila booth though that was fantastic and david and i had about a shot each and probably split a whole bottle of The Chocolate Shop wine between us and i only felt queasy in line at the second to last booth (approx 25 booths total). another good wine was the black muscat one from the company who makes Essencia. I will have to review the chocolatiers at a later time when i am slightly more (or less) sober. Next time we know to bring around a bag of meat to snack on in line to counteract all the diabetes we were asking for, instead of waddling across the street afterwards to eat a crumbly overly mustarded burger at Island's. UPDATE! i just found the bag of cards and pamphlets (and eek, some chocolates) and here is the tequila that i fell in love with: Alquimia -- i loved the reposado the best but the blanco was really good too. some of the chocolatiers that i had cards for: Jer's Chocolates;;;;;;

Starbucks' salted caramel mocha frappachino - disgusting. tasted like slightly smoky dirty water. and watered down dirty water at that. ugh.

The Silver Trumpet - discovered this during Costa Mesa Restaurant Week. can't remember
exactly what i had for lunch but it goes something like this: roast chicken breast with wilted spinach and truffled broth, i think a goat cheese and grilled peach with prosciutto salad as an appetizer, some sort of "kettle corn ice cream" for dessert. whatever i missed was still delicious, i'm sure. amazing, anyway, and we will certainly be back.

Trader Joes' dark chocolate covered peanut butter wafer cookies - the chocolate is too chalky and there is either not enough peanut butter itself or the peanut butter is not peanut buttery enough. it is like chalky wafer cookies with a slight aftertaste of peanut butter. boo.