Sunday, November 26, 2006

Turkey Chilaquiles

I've been reading the Married..with dinner blog and they've got Chilaquiles all over it. They reminded me that I've been meaning to try Rick Bayless's Guajilla Chilaquiles for a while.

So, I used his recipe and added turkey right at the end. Delicious! Sadly, I had no crema or other fresh Mexican cheese, so I used a shredded blend. For veggies, this could easily be vegetarian, and even vegan.
It was a great brunch on a dreary, rainy day. And a FANTASTIC use of leftover turkey!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Bubble and Squeak

Bubble & Squeak

First, make the mashed potatoes:
About 2.5 pounds russet potatoes. peeled and cut into 2" chunks
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/3 cup cream
1 garlic clove, gently mashed
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Boil a large amount of salted water, add potatoes, bay leaves and peppercorns. Cook until fork tender. Drain very well, removing leaves and pepper corns. In cooking pot, add cream, milk and garlic, and warm for 5-7 minutes. Remove the garlic and add in the potatoes. Mash with potato masher until lumpy (NOT SMOOTH), adjusting with milk and salt & pepper to taste. Add cheese and mix. Remove all to a bowl to cool.

7-8 slices thick bacon
1/2 head green cabbage, chopped into 2" chunks
1 large yellow onion, chopped coarsley
Salt & pepper
1/2 cup colby jack or cheddar cheese, grated
Durkee fried onions

Place bacon in heavy skillet and cook on medium low. When bacon is cooked but not crisp, slice into 2-3" slices. Add onion, saute for one minute. Add cabbage and a pinch of salt. Cook until cabbage is bright green and still almost crisp. Add pepper to taste. Mix this into the potatoes.

Spread potatoes into a 13x9" pan (I line mine with foil to save cleanup). Top with cheese and then with onions. Cook for about 30 minutes in 350 degree oven.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Black Friday

Yesterday I blogged as I cooked Thanksgiving dinner. It was my first complete TG dinner ever made all by myself, having gone to potlucks for the past 12 years. But this year we weren't welcome at the potluck and I was pleased to have the freedom to cook what I wanted, the way I wanted.

I thought I'd have many problems, mix ups, and fiascoes. Surprisingly, I didn't. I planned in advance, double checked ingredients (save for the buttermilk), and expected delays. My dinner table wasn't as pretty or as fancy as I would have liked. I'd planned on turning the little gourds into candle holders, and I'd thought I would plate up in the kitchen, but at the end, I just ran out of counter space.
Here are my lessons learned:
  1. Turkey: Don't put two cups of water in the pan. I think one cup would have been enough. Also, check the temperature much earlier. When I pulled it out to check it was at 180, so it probably rose to 190. The breast meat was good, but my guess is that when it's cold it will be dry. I found I didn't need to baste it--rubbing melted butter all over it before I put it in did the trick. I also cooked it on top of a whole bunch of carrots, a really big, quartered onion, and some celery, to make the juices flavorful.
  2. Stuffing: The cornbread by itself was really dry, so I'm glad I used it in stuffing. I used the Joy of Cooking Southern Corn Bread recipe, which was dead easy (email me if you want the recipe). Then, I cooked up some Jimmy Dean Sausage, and I do think next year I'll add some andouille to that. Into that went 3 tablespoons butter, 1.5 cups of chopped onion, 1 cup chopped celery, a large clove of garlic, chopped. That cooked till fragrant, then I crumbled in the corn bread, about 1/3 cup chopped parsley, 1 tablespoon fresh chopped sage (which I'll increase to two T next year), 1 teaspoon thyme (again, I'll increase that), one beaten egg and chicken broth to soften. Next year: more onion, sage, thyme, another egg, and I think I'll take some of the liquid from the turkey pan in addition to the chicken broth--if I have as much as I did this year.
  3. Bubble & Squeak: Definitely this year's stand out winner. Juiceboy snuck back into the kitchen and had more later in the night. I'll post a separate recipe for that. It just kills me that it's a recipe for using leftovers and I made it all fresh!
  4. Corn Popovers: They were a nice idea and looked great as they puffed up in the oven, but they were heavier than I had thought they'd be. Don't know why I expected something like miniature Yorkshire Puddings when I loaded them down with corn meal and corn, but there you go. They were good with butter and I'm going to have one for breakfast. Hmmmm....what should I have on it? How about....
  5. GRAVY: My favorite part of any holiday dinner. The turkey gravy came out GREAT. First, I made a roux with about 4 T flour, and really let it cook. I think I could have let it cook a little more than I did, to darken the sauce. Then, I added room temperature chicken broth in doses, whisking like mad. All told, I probably added 1.5 cups. I took my de-fatted turkey juices and added about four cups, mixing well in between each addition, and then I just let it boil furiously for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently. I was going to add some wine, but I forgot. And that was okay--it tasted great with just a shake of ground pepper. I'm happy to say I have a big container of "gravy fixins" in the freezer now for the future.
  6. Salad: I have a new sweet & savory salad dressing. Since I don't have measurements, it's not going to be its own recipe: about 1/4 cup honey, about one clove of garlic chopped fine, olive oil and red wine vinegar to taste, thyme, salt and pepper. This would be great with some crushed red pepper flakes, too. For the salad I tossed organic greens, one roasted beet that I'd julienned, about 1/4 cup dried cranberries, and some softened goat cheese. It was very good and I look forward to having it for dinner!
  7. Chocolate Trifle: Well--this went sideways. I was making Paula Deen's Chocolate Coffee Trifle, which I'd had at someone else's house. It was the best dessert EVER. However, I didn't have any Kahlua, and wasn't about to buy a bottle just for this dessert. Another missing element--I don't have a trifle bowl. So, we had pieces of cake with the fudge sauce over top, a scoop of Hagen Daaz vanilla and a little Cool Whip. There were supposed to be chopped up Heath Bars on it, but I forgot to add them. I don't think anyone noticed...not the way my guys were wolfing it down! I hadn't made the sauce before dinner because as soon as the popovers were done they needed to be served. And I was ready to eat after six hours of cooking.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

I'm Sooooo Full

Wow. Dinner got on the table by 7:15. Juiceboy just said "that was a GREAT dinner".

Tomorrow I'll post all my recipes. I'm off to make fudge sauce and then we're going to roll ourselves into watch stupid shows on TV.

What a great Thanksgiving!

Stuffing done, onto Bubble & Squeak

I didn't add everything that Emeril said to add (like green peppers) to my cornbread stuffing. It's a basic cornbread and sausage stuffing. I'll put it in the oven once the turkey's out resting.

The guys are watching X-Men 2. I'm calling my parents to wish them a Happy Thanksgiving--left them the DORKIEST message ever.

Now a run to the bathroom, then onto make the Bubble & Squeak. After that, the batter for the corn popovers and the fudge sauce for dessert.


We're Getting There

The house smells like turkey. In-laws (MIL, FIL and a SIL) have come and gone. The potatoes are now mashed, turkey tented, beets roasted and peeled.

I'm about to work on the stuffing. I know I'm forgetting things.

Note to Fleagirl: If you're the only one who likes beets, don't bother roasting SIX BEETS!

Turkey's In, Only an Hour Late

So the Turkey is in the oven, finally. The beets are roasting, have been for an hour, and will probably need another hour. They started at 450 but I lowered them to 350 when it smelled like something might be burning.

Up next: Boil water for mashed potatoes and peel those suckers. I HATE peeling potatoes. HATE IT!

Invader Alert!

In-laws popping in. Corn bread out, cake in.
Burnt thumb as I was testing iron skillet to see it bacon fat was smoking. Note to me: don't touch hot skillet if you don't have a mitt on both hands.

12:05pm and Nothing Done

All I've accomplished is rendering some bacon fat and taking a shower. Off to the store now for buttermilk, sage, thyme and ice cream. Last chance for forgotten items.

Problem #1

No buttermilk. Could have sworn I got some. The expiration date was Dec. 5.

Pulling it all togeter

1) I have a crappy Kodakshare digital camera, so my pictures are not good. Also, I have no skill at photography, whatsoever. So I apologize for my crappy pictures.

2) I'm spending a lot of time planning this dinner so that I don't serve it at 9pm. (Remember, Juiceboy suggested this blog be called "Hours Later")

Here's my plan.

Cornbread and Sausage Stuffing
11:30am Bake Joy of Cooking's Southern Corn Bread at 450 degrees for 20-25 minutes.
Cook in iron skillet. Let cool.
5:45pm Bake stuffing (my recipe, which is a mix of my mom's, Emerill's, and Joy's) at 350 degrees in white baking dish.

2:00pm It's 15+ pounds and I want to serve it at 6:30ish. Plan for it to cook for 3.5 hours at 350 degrees. I'm eschewing high heat, wine-soaked cheeseclothes, and stuffing a duck inside it. Notice the time lag "If it goes in at 2, cooks for 3.5 hours (because I'll be opening the oven to baste three times), then it's out at 5:30, which is an HOUR to sit??". Lord knows I won't really get that sucker in at 2pm.

Bubble and Squeak
3:00pm Make the mashed potatoes
5:45pm Fry onions, cabbage and bacon with the mashed potatoes, put in baking dish, cover with grated cheese and fried onions, warm in oven until dinner is ready.

Noon: Put beets in a 350 degree oven to roast. Wait. Cornbread is in one at 450. Can I roast beets at 450? And should I peel them or shouldn't I? I'm not going to peel them and I'll cook in tin foil at 400 for about an hour. No added liquids. oh lordy will this work?
5:00 Make dressing and allow to sit.
6:15 Throw together salad. Toss with dressing at last minute.

5:50 Put seasoned water on to boil
6:25 Toss in boiling seasoned water for 4 minutes.

12:30 Bake cake at 350. Oh--guess I could have done the beets at 350. Well, better to have the two in separate ovens anyway. When cool soak with coffee liqueur.
4:00 Put Cool Whip in fridge to thaw. Yeah, I know. But my egg beaters are broken. No fresh whipped cream.
4:30 Make sauce

Hmm. I was thinking about making corn popovers, too. The'd be in muffin tins (do I own any?) at 425 starting at 6:00pm.

GRAVY! I forgot to plan for gravy. Oh crap. It's 11:25. I'm supposed to be putting cornbread in the oven in 5 minutes. Maybe blogging and cooking don't mix.


You know how little kids wake up on the morning of their birthday, open their eyes and kind of pop up with this "IT'S MY BIRTHDAY!!!" crazed-look of joy on their faces? I think that's what foodies must do on Thanksgiving. "Yey. It's THANKSGIVING!!!"

Since we decided to not go camping due to The Bug's cold/flu (and yes, $60 later we are certain it's a virus and not strep throat), I'm doing the dinner *on* Thanksgiving for the three of us, instead of on Sunday.

I'm going to post as I go along (I know all the other foodie bloggers will too....). I'm KNOWN for my big-meal kitchen fiascos. And even more so for Thanksgiving. As this will be our first TG at home by ourselves, the chances that I screw up royally are good, if not great.

The first year Juicboy and I were together I was assigned the "relish plate." What the hell is a relish plate? It turned out to be veggies and dip. I went over the TOP, which is hard when you're a nanny, have no platters, no real knives, and are trying to make a great impression on your fiance's family. I freaked out, Juiceboy and I argued, we got there nearly an hour late and everyone was pretty much done with appetizers.

The next year I was assigned the lowly rolls. I bought about ten different kinds and had about 5 for everyone. Another year I was elevated to potatoes, which in our British/Irish/Scottish family is a key dish. Thank god my sisters in law also assigned potatoes to their mom as a back-up, because I burnt mine.

So I got busted down to appetizers after that and I showed them. I brought a KILLER artichoke cheese spread in a bread bowl with sourdough dippers, and about six other great appetizers. Everyone filled up before the actual dinner and didn't really eat the dinner food. Hostess/sister-in-law was not happy for some reason, and the next year I was demoted again to rolls. Which I forgot.

So we'll see what happens with my home-cooked TG dinner. Now is the time when karma will come into play, because I also secretly sniggle to myself about one SIL who puts her turkey into the oven at 9am, steam roasts it with a lid on for about six hours until it's falling off the bone dry, and then says, "Isn't this tender and delicious???"

Today's Menu
Roast Turkey (no brining or dry salting--as there wasn't time with my turkey still thawing)
Cornbread sausage stuffing
Bubble and squeak (Juiceboy's request for potatoes)
Corn on the cob
Organic greens with roasted beets and goat cheese
Chocolate toffee trifle (Paula Deen's recipe)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Do Baking Products Go Stale?

Lots of you are finding this blog because you're trying to find out if your baking products (sugar, baking powder, molasses, etc.) go stale. It's the night before Thanksgiving and there's a lot of baking going on.

Here's my post on that:

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Bistec Encebollado

Looking for something quick, healthy and satisfying while you're running around brining a 22-pound turkey? Or trying to stuff a chicken into a duck into a turkey? Or figuring out how to deep fry that sucker without burning down the house?

I sure needed something after my three-store marathon this afternoon. I really was masochistic going to Costco, the drug store and Safeway at 3pm on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. But I had to do it (I can imagine how empty the shelves will be come Wednesday!). I was patient. I smiled a lot. I breathed.

When I got home The Bug was feeling crappy with a fever and headache. I soothed him as best I could and was delighted to find out his appetite was fine (a bowl of sherbet, two bowls of plain noodles and olive oil, an orange, a mug of strawberry ice cream, and a lot of water and apple juice). Now, it was time for ME to eat!

This is fast, easy, and yummy. It's a version of a fajita.

Bistec Encebollado
One package of thinly sliced top round (round steak), sliced into 2" strips
(like for stir fry, but bigger)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
1 to 2 chipotles in adobo, sliced (adjust for your taste)
1/3 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
salt & pepper
One large yellow onion, sliced thin
Two green peppers, sliced thin
1/2 ripe avocado, diced
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
2 T Mexican-mix shredded cheese
Tortilla Bread (I use Tia Rosa brand--found at Raleys)

Season the sliced meat and veggies with salt & pepper--but keep
the meat separate from the onion and peppers. Combine garlic, oregano,
chipotles, vinegar and olive oil in a zippered bag, add the meat and seal well.
Let marinate for at least 20 minutes, 40 is better.

Heat large skillet (NOT non-stick--Iron is good) on medium high. Add 2
tablespoons of olive oil and quickly cook onions and peppers until onions are
soft but peppers are still bright. Remove to a serving platter.

Add more oil to the pan, turn it up to high. When sufficiently hot, add
beef and quickly cook, removing before it's well done. Test for seasoning and
then place on top of onions and peppers.

Top with chopped avocado, cilantro and 2 tablespoons of shredded "Mexican"

Serve with warm tortilla bread.

Okay--so it's not healthy compared to a seitan loaf with an organic salad dressed with hand-squeezed strawberries, but it's healthy compared to the drive-through! And it's not expensive either, which is good when you're shelling out all that money on the fricken turkey.

Ratto's Deli

How could I have worked just 8 blocks from one of the best deli's ever and have not crossed its threshold for over two years? Ratto's Deli (aka Ratto's International Market) is in Old Oakland at 821 Washington Street and is an Oakland institution, having existed for almost 110 years.

It's a deli. It's a cheese shop. It's a bulk foods store. It's an international foods store. How in the world have I missed this place?

At 2:30pm the lunchtime crowds are gone. I usually go for cheese and pick up a sandwich too. Ratto's has a gargantuan amount of choices when it comes to sandwiches. When you enter, pick up a sandwich slip at the front table, mark off your choices, and hand it to the nice lady behind the counter.

The first time I went I was overwhelmed by the choices and selected the Jenny: fresh mozzarella, fresh pesto spread, ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced onion, crisp romaine on a perfect, fresh baguette. It was delicious.

My favorite sandwich, by, far is my own creation, which is a baguette with pesto, prosciutto, onion and havarti.

While you wait for your sandwich check out the international foods, the bulk legumes, the Morrocan pillows. Measure out some spice or herb you've always meant to try (but never wanted to shell out $10 for a big honking jar for). Select cheeses and olives, some nice wine, fresh bread...Ratto's is a treasure trove for cooks and foodies!

They'll call your name when your sandwich is ready. Grab a bag of yummy chips and a drink and go sit out in the sun!

Last minute changes

This year we planned on camping over Thanksgiving. But The Bug has been hit by a nasty bit of something, giving him a terrible headache and sore throat. There's no way I'm taking him up to a 32-degree cabin in three days.

So it looks like Thanksgiving at home--meaning last minute shopping on the worst grocery-shopping day of the season. The Sunday before.

My trials and tribulations to be posted tonight. If I live.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Roast Chicken, Traditional and Good

After trying a bunch of "butterflied" roast chicken recipes I've gone back to my simple roots. And I'm sorry I didn't take a picture of this pretty bird, but Juiceboy took the camera camping and I have no clue where it is in all his gear. But trust me, this was one good-looking, juicy chicken!

Roast Chicken
A 4-pound bird
Four carrots, scrubbed and cut into 1.5" wedges.
Two stalks of celery, cleaned and cut on a bias into 1" chunks
One yellow onion, chopped
One lemon
Kosher salt
Fresh Ground Pepper
Cumin, chile powder, thyme
Pre-heat the oven to 425. Clean and pat the chicken dry.

In a bowl, mix carrots, celery, onion, the juice from half the lemon, about one tablespoon cumin, one teaspoon chile powder, one teaspoon thyme, and fresh ground pepper. Toss to coat.

Generously rub the chicken with salt. Stuff the bird loosely with veggies and the
unused lemon half. Brush with olive oil.

Mound the remaining veggies in the center of the roasting pan, seating the chicken on top of the vegetables. Add approximately two cups of water to the pan to keep
veggies from burning.

Put in upper part of your oven at 425 for about 12 minutes. Then lower heat to 375. Cook, basting and turning at least every thirty minutes for approximately one hour and twenty minutes. Since ovens and beginning chicken temps vary (mine had just defrosted, so I cooked it for the full 80 minutes and it was PERFECT), check for your preferred doneness at 60 minutes.

Let it sit for at least ten minutes. I reserve the vegetables and serve with the chicken--they are roasted but not spent. I also make a lovely light pan gravy with the juices left in the pan (add water to the pan when cooking as needed).

I served this tonight with a two-bean salad, which I'll write up tomorrow.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Can You Believe Someone Actually Got Upset?

Two cops walk into a Burger King and order burgers. After eating about half the burger, one cop says to the other cop, "Hey Joe, I think there's wacky tobaccy on this here Whopper." And the other cop replies, "Shhhhh. Not so loud or everyone will want one!"

A bunch of dumb kids played a joke on some humorless cops. And now their serving time for aggravated battery on an officer. Okay, I can see them having to serve time, but now the big whiny cops have filed a civil suit: alleging personal injury, negligence, battery and violation of fair practices.

Good lordy. Some people would pay good money for a pot burger!

Here's the full story.

Scotch Broth

I've worked about 87 billion hours this week, shoring up Juiceboy and the Bug with lamb; black bean stew; and various leftovers from catered events.

Today is Saturday and I've finally had a chance to survey the fridge. I think they had one meal of each, and then opened cans of soup. JEEZ.

Since they like soup so much, I've decided to make scotch broth with the leftover lamb and stick it in the freezer for future crazy weeks. I think it's interesting that I can't find one recipe that isn't a) bland as water; b) incredibly strange (Emerille Lagasse is pushing a version with whiskey and blue cheese).

Over at Epicurious, the sole recipe for Scotch Broth has the following intro from the author:

" brother and I nicknamed "Witches' Brew." I've hated it for as long as I
can remember. I didn't start eating soup again until I was in my late 20s, and I
still dislike stewed meat and cooked carrots. I blame it all on Scotch Broth."

Mmmmm. Sounds like it's going to be a great recipe, huh?

Sure enough, it includes stewed meat and about six carrots.

So off I go to update the traditional scotch broth recipe into a delightful dish! Any tips?

Monday, November 06, 2006

Bad bad burrito

I made the mistake at stopping at a Baja Fresh (say "Bah-ha!" a bunch of times really fast and it sounds the way it should, like gut-splitting laughter) tonight. I was running errands for work and oh so hungry, but didn't have time to go to someplace decent.

I ordered a black bean and cheese burrito, thinking, what can they do wrong?

Baja baja baja!

I was stuck in traffic, so I took a bite. What was that smell? It wasn't bad, but definitely metalic. After a few more investigatory bites I decided the tortilla smelled the way my cast iron skillet would if I scrubbed it with sea salt. Not a bad smell...for a skillet. Certainly not a good smell for a tortilla.

And why was the tortilla crispy? It was a flour tortilla. Ah...they grilled it up. Probably in a skillet.

The cheese tasted like plastic. The chips. OOOOOHHHHHH were they bad. And stale. And bad.

It was $4.29 and I was hungry and got my fill. But boy was it bad. Bad burrito, bad!

And who are they owned by? Wendy's. Baja baja baja baja!