Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving Recap

Sorry I've been such a bad blogger last week. I didn't have time to put my posts together and then with preparing for Thanksgiving, I just let it slide. Sorry.

But today I have my Thanksgiving recap. I didn't use Mark Bittman's recipe for splatchcocking, or whatever it is, but maybe next year. Since it was my first year to cook the turkey, I wanted to do it up right... the traditional way.

Here she is:

I brined our little turkey for almost 24 hours. Moving the brine bag in and out of the fridge by myself was challenging, but I accomplished it.

Thursday morning I had to miss out on parade viewing to prep the little sucker, but it was totally worth it... in the end. Removing the neck was a traumatic experience, but we were able to move past that unfortunate ordeal. I stuffed it with some veggies and put some thyme butter under the skin. I'm not sure if this really did anything, but I was told to do it and I did.

I put little turkey in for one hour and then prepared to remove it to flip the bird breast up and start with my first basting. This is when chaos insued. I had bought a disposable aluminum pan as I did not have a roasting pan and thought this would help with the clean up. Little did I know that it would be too flimsy. When Bryan went to pick it up off the rack a hole was formed in the pan.

I got to stand here like this for 10 minutes while Bryan ran to the grocery for backup.

There was also this mess to clean up:

All was cleaned up and forgiven and with three pans we were ready to get back to cooking.

At hour two, our sweet bird looked like this:

And finally she was ready.

(Ignore the whoppy skin on the bottom left.)

Once Bryan carved the turkey, we were ready for the feast everyone had put together.

We had a great meal and have so much to be thankful for this year.

Hope everyone had a great holiday!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Roasted Carrots with Cumin p. 278

Ingredients: carrots, olive oil, cumin, salt and pepper.

Cumin is a not familiar with until I began cooking from this book. I am so thankful to Mark Bittman for introducing us. Cumin is one of my now most used spices and it works wonderfully with carrots.

Mark Bittman suggest roasting your carrots, cut into slices, on a cookie or baking sheet. I was using my big oven at a lower temperature, so I put the carrots in a smaller pan that fit into our small oven.

Either way, roasted carrots with cumin are delicious.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Crisp Sauteed Leeks p. 312

Ingredients: Leeks, oil, garlic, salt and pepper.

This dish couldn't be more simpler or delicious. Julienne your leeks - I'm a terrible julienne-r, but it worked. Heat up your oil add in your garlic, after it becomes fragrant... or you can start to smell that delicious garlic smell... only about 20-30 seconds, toss in your leeks. Cook until brown. I tossed all mine in at once and just tossed them about occasionally, but they were delicious. So delicious I ate every last piece... with my hands.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Pasta Carbonara by Bryan

Bryan cooks! Here's the proof:

I tried to get him to write a post, but he didn't want to. And when I finally convinced him he said to get everything ready. Which is about the same time that my computer decided to not upload pictures. So I'm throwing this together a few minutes before I leave for work. Sorry. But I thought it would be a treat to show ya'll how Bryan does it.

Sour Cream or Yogurt Dip p. 89

I forgot to take pictures of this dish. Sorry.

I was putting together some snacks for a party at Bryan's work place last week. I purchased a large fruit and a large veggie trays. One of them came with ranch, but I thought a nice dip like this would be a good alternative.

I used half sour cream and half yogurt. I think it'd be better with just yogurt. I mixed in a cup or finely chopped cucumber and some fresh parsley. This makes a lot so don't be fooled if you are preparing for a party.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Skordalia p. 94

Ingredients: bread, stock, EVOO, pine nuts, garlic, cayenne, lemon juice.

First soak your day old bread in a little stock. While it was soaking I put the other stuff in the food processor. The recipe calls for walnuts, but Mark Bittman suggests you can use other nuts and pine was one of them.

Whizz your olive oil, bread, nuts, and garlic until the nuts are finely chopped. Then add in your stock or water, if you don't have stock, slowly until it is a fine milky mixture. It should make two cups.

I had make chicken stock the day before and saved the chicken to tear up and make a chicken salad. One of the suggestions Mark Bittman makes for using Skordalia is as a mayo substitute for things like chicken salad.

I used about one cup of the Skordalia for the chicken salad. Bryan was really impressed, saying something about the best chicken salad he's had. He put his chicken salad on top of the slice of bread and ate it as an open faced sandwich. Bryan suggests serving it as a light lunch option for a party. Maybe even on toasted baguettes.

I have one cup of Skordalia left. Any suggestions?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Garlicky-Lime Cooked Fish p. 608

Ingredients: garlic, fish, lime juice, avocado, cilantro.

I love fresh fish. And I love cilantro. I also love garlic. Why haven't I tried this recipe before?!

Start off by cooking your garlic a smidgen. Just a few seconds really. (I burned my first batch because I was multi-tasking and overlooked it.) Then put your thin fish fillets in a pan with hot oil. After about two minutes add in your lime juice, this really infuses the flavor into the fish. If you are working with thin fish like me it will only take a minute or two before they are fully cooked.

Top your fish with fresh avocado, your garlic oil, and fresh chopped cilantro. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Stewed Tomatillos and Tomatoes p. 359-360

This is my first major failure as I've worked my way through this cookbook. I was particularly sad about it because I was so anticipated the deliciousness of two forbidden vegetables that Bryan doesn't normally let me cook.

Things didn't work out from the beginning. The first step is to cook the onions and let them soften. They nearly burned up. Then you add the tomatillos. They need to cook for a long time until they are "mostly dissolved." Mine refused to dissolve at all. In fact, they stayed in tact the entire time. I even tried to mash them with the back of my wooden spoon, only to fail with most of them. After you're impenetrable tomatillos dissolve add in the tomatoes to cook for a little while til they are soft. Not quite as long. Since the onions almost burned the pan had turned almost black and caused some discoloration in the whole dish.

I was utterly disappointed the way this dish turned out and in the flavor of it. If Julia Child says there are no mistakes in cooking just variations, this is a variation you do not want to try.

Served with garlicy-lime fish, coming tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Hummus p. 93

Hummus is super easy to make. Simply combine your ingredients in a food processor, whizz away, adding water or reserved cooking juices, until it reaches the desired consistency.

Then put the hummus in a bowl and drizzle olive oil over it. I added a little paprika and parsley to the top of mine for a little color.

Its a healthy snack as well as an impressive appetizer. Make it for your next gathering... or bean craving.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Pasta with Broccoli p. 516

Ingredients: broccoli, olive oil, garlic, pasta, salt and pepper.

Most recipes I have an idea of what they'll be like before I begin. This one I wasn't so sure about. Just broccoli and pasta?

First boil your broccoli for about 5 to 10 minutes. In a seperate pan put your olive oil over the heat and add your garlic. Once the broccoli is boiled add it into the olive oil and garlic. You'll cook it for a few minutes while the pasta is cooking. While it is doing so, smash the broccoli with the back of your spoon. Yeah, I know, a bit different.

In the previous pot with the water, boil your pasta. Once your pasta is cooked add into the skillet with your broccoli and garlic.

Then serve. I topped mine with a bunch of Parmesan cheese, which was nice. Overall it was very easy to make, but just lacked a little pizazz or something. I don't know.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Buttered Cabbage p. 274

Ingredients: salt, pepper, butter, cabbage.

Following my coleslaw dish, I had a whole head of cabbage and no idea what to do with it.

So I made this dish as a side to meatloaf and twice baked potatoes. Hopefully cabbage added some nutritional value to our delicious meal.

First you tear your cabbage head up into leaves. For the inner part I just cut it into chuncks. That's what my mom did growing up, so hopefully Bittman approves. Boil it for about 5 minutes. Drain. Cover in melted butter and salt and pepper.

Bryan and I aren't huge fans of cabbage, but we are out portions. If you like cabbage this is a great and easy way to serve it. If you don't like cabbage, I haven't found a way to cook it so I like it.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Chunky Vegetable Soup p. 123-4

I think this is one of the first soups I've ever made. I'm not sure how I haven't made one before, but this is the first. Its turning cool in our area and soup is a natural comfort for Bryan and I.

This soup is one that you can vary a million ways. Mark Bittman suggests different "hard" and "soft" veggies to use. I opted for potatoes and green beans, some of our favorite veggies. I wasn't pleased with the green bean selection at the grocery, so I decided to use canned. And that was a big mistake. The green beans tasted canned and that ruined every bite I took with them. So learn from my mistake: NO CANNED STUFF!

Other than the green beans, the soup was delicious and easy and nutritious, everything a good soup should be.

Day after update: Bryan and I both thought it was better the day after. Bryan thought the overall taste was better. And I thought the green beans had lost the canned taste.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Spicy No-Mayo Coleslaw p. 206

I made this dish to take to a potluck. I'm not a huge coleslaw person, mainly because I don't like mass produced salads, especially containing mayo, which coleslaw usually is. There has only been one coleslaw to capture my heart, and its also a spicy vinegar based coleslaw. (For anyone reading this in the Memphis area, I've found it available at Easy Way.)

This recipe calls for 6 cups of shredded cabbage. I'm not sure how much I ended up with, but after I shredded one cabbage head the largest serving bowl I had was full. I sorta tweaked this recipe by combining the main recipe with the mexican style. Opting out of the bell pepper and adding in the cilantro, carrots, and lime juice as well as everything else in the original recipe (except parsley).

I would have liked there to be more dressing, but it was a fresh, easy salad and side dish to provide. Perfect for taking to a potluck or party.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Chicken Salad p. 222-223

We had some left over chicken and decided to make some chicken salad. We were torn between the traditional chicken salad with mayo or the header chicken salad in the book, Chicken salad with olive oil and fresh herbs. Bryan suggested a taste test, so I made small batches of each one.

For the Olive Oil and Herb Chicken Salad I added lemon juice, olive oil, fresh parsley, and salt and pepper to my shredded chicken.

For the Traditional chicken salad, I mixed in some mayo, Dijon mustard, parsley and a few chopped pecans.

We liked both versions. Bryan favored the traditional and I favored the olive oil and herbs. I would recommend and remake either recipe.