Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christmas 2015

I am making a fruitcake. Why? My Thanksgivings are about the challenge. For Christmas, I want stress-free comfort: gumbo and a dessert that doesn't require kitchen acrobatics. More importantly, I like fruitcake!

I'm serious about the stress-free part; I'm using a fruitcake kit from King Authur Flour. It has a dried fruit blend and a box mix. The candied cherries weren't included. I wish I'd gotten two jars. Oh well. I added a jar of crystallized ginger.

Everybody's hanging out with the rum now. Tonight we bake :-)

Wish I had done more research about rum versus brandy and the history of fruitcake. All I know is I like them and I wanted one for Christmas.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Tuesday's Plan

I woke up thinking about napkin rings, lol.  So, which will it be? Black or brown dinner plate? Brown or silver napkin ring? I love the black plate. I like the silver napkin ring, but I NEVER get to use the brown ones.

Decided to put my to do list in Google Keep. Trying to make technology work for me :-)

Today I get to play with my new food processor when I make cornbread. I am very sad about the demise of my old food processor. The dishwasher killed the handle on the work bowl. I can't find a replacement bowl. In b-school, I learned about the network effect. It's like being an Android or Apple person. You pick one because everything works together so nicely. After you choose, it's really hard to switch because you are vested in the current platform. 

That's how I feel about KitchenAid. My new food processor is a KitchenAid, only because all of my other countertop appliances, except two, are KitchenAid onyx black, (The offending two match each other and are together in another part of the kitchen.) Here's the problem -- I already hate this new food processor! Why? It is so lightweight compared to the old one. It feels like they took all the metal out! I also can't use any of my zillions of discs and attachments from the old model. That's a damn shame and really crappy since for the Kitchenaid stand mixers, any attachment works on just about any mixer. Grrr. 

Last night, before going to bed, I found all of the serving dishes. Those will be run through the dishwasher today.Today I'm making greens, brining the turkey and rocking a pound cake. I won't break a sweat until tomorrow :-) #Thanksgiving2015

Day 1 #Thanksgiving2015

I'm out of practice lol! I decided to make vanilla ice cream. When I reached for my vanilla beans, they we crunchy, so extract to the rescue. I have two ice cream cookbooks, one by Ben & Jerry, the other is by Williams-Sonoma. I prefer the Ben & Jerry book. The problem is, the recipies are for no-cook custard. Works fine for me, but my guests may have issues. I proceeded to cook and then overcook my custard :-( We'll see how it churns tomorrow.

I could be a Breyer's Ice Cream commercial -- fou ingredients you can pronounce!

I made turkey stock for the greens today. Shout out to the Cuisinart Slow Cooker - 9.5 hours on high. I start simple, just onion and garlic.  

Get you some smoked turkey wings and low sodium chicken broth. 

So here's the deal. I gave up pork in the mid '90s because of my family health history. It was either that or sweets and I have a distinct love for butter and sugar. Anyhoo, nothing flavors greens and beans like pork. Folks who claim turkey is the same are lying! Turkey is good, but it doesn't have the power of pork! 

Here's what I do to compensate. Use chicken broth or stock with your smoked turkey. Water won't do you any favors when it comes to flavor. Don't add any salt! Even low-sodium products have enough salt. 

I'll let it cool and then remove the fat.

You want your bones to be brittle and appear bleached. This means you've extracted all the flavor. These might be a little underdone. I want more than spotty white patches. If the stock doesn't set up properly (really gelatinous), back to the slow cooker!

I got my serving dishes down and started on my table. Not bad, huh?

Monday, November 23, 2015

I'm Ready


I feel really good about this year! Groceries are bought. The major house cleaning is done. Recipes are out and ready for use. The only side project this year is a coconut cake. (I know. It's a major project.)  The challenge this year -- dinner is at 12:30!

Today I start the greens. The turkey has been thawing since Friday night.


Sunday, August 30, 2015

Sunday Dinner

Earlier today, I made sweet tea and lemonade. It's funny that my dinner is so fall-themed. In terms of fresh stuff, I had apples, kale and a sweet potato in the house.  Add packaged gnocchi. Sounds like a plan!

It all started with the sweet potato and apple. Cut 'em chunky. Season with salt,  pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon and rosemary. Throw in a couple of pinches of sugar to help with the browning. I added about a teaspoon of unsalted butter.

Toss and throw everything into a screaming hot pan. Roast in a 400 oven.  I would have used cast iron, but there's no way I'm hand washing dishes on a Sunday night. Tri-ply All-Clad works nicely.

You're looking for some deep caramelizing. Turn the pieces over so they can brown on the other side.

Once done, transfer the food from the pan. Put the pan on the stove top. Drizzle in some olive oil and add a pat of butter.  Add the gnocchi and toss to coat.

 Don't forget to season. I used some ground sage this time.

Once these are done on one side, grab another pan for the brown butter. I use cold butter on heat.

Watch the butter carefully. See it's just starting to change color at the top of the pan. This happens after the foaming starts to subside.

Add the roasted stuff to the gnocchi to make sure everything is warm.

 Slowly. Slowly.

 When the solids turn the color of toast, you're good.

 Add some of the brown butter to the pan and toss.

Plate, drizzle with more brown butter and add a little cheese. The apply added surprisingly bright flavor -- very unexpected.

This is really missing some green. Fresh rosemary and sage would have been perfect. I also could have sauteed some kale. I was concerned about how kale, rosemary and sage would go together.

Tools of the Trade

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Thank You Food Network

I wote this on a cell phone; please forgive the errors. I'll fix the formatting one day.

I have been really late to jump on the kale salad bandwagon. I was there for butternut squash and cupcakes. (Collards and red velvet cake were already part of my existence.)

After one astronomical restaurant experience and one good one. I decided it was time. I purchased two bags of kale on a Friday night.

The next morning, salad karma proved itself true as I watched the Food Network. Damaris Phillips made her Kale "Caesar" Salad. People -- this has changed my life. (So much so, it made me blog.)

It starts with the most fabulous dressing. I really do mean fabulous. I double the recipe and store it in a 2 - cup Pyrex measuring cup.

Garlic, capers and kosher salt.
Making a paste is such a chef-y technique :-) I give the garlic a rough chop first. Sprinkle with the salt and smash away.
We have a paste!
Assemble and combine the unusual suspects. Missing from the pic are freshly-ground black pepper, cayenne and lemon juice (freshly-squeezed of course). Life is easier if you have ground cloves.
Introduce everyone ...
See how nicely they get along?
I love my lidded measuring cups!
Dress the kale and stash it in the fridge. It needs to hang out for at least 30 minutes or as my co-worker puts it, the kale will taste "all forest-y."
Here's where I leave the recipe. Toast some pine nuts. Chill a wine glass.
Don't know if you can see it, but the kale is less sturdy now. It still has some chew to it.
Toss everything, plate and find your wine! A note on cheese: I add grated Parmesan with the pine nuts for flavor. The shaved is to make it look pretty.

Tools of the Trade
  • Totally Bamboo Butcher Block 3 Prep Board Honey
  • Shun DM0706 Classic 8-Inch Chef's Knife
  • 2-Cup Pyrex Measuring Cup