Friday, November 30, 2012

Thanksgiving Bonanza 2012

This year for Thanksgiving, I was thankful that I did not cause a small kitchen fire.  Fires are sooo 2011.

But seriously, like WO we hosted 7 of our friends and fed them a real dinner with cloth napkins and all the plates and silverware that we received from the wedding.

Wait a minute, is that HEN?!


My friends brought some dishes over (cranberry sauce, and stuffing, and yams) which can be seen above.
I woke up and started cooking at 6AM again like last year. Here's the menu I conjured, with links to each dish's Chronicle of Creation (or Description of Disaster?)

Sweet and Sour Brisket (No dedicated pics! Ate too quickly!)

And that was the sweet and buttery conclusion to it all!

Chapter 1: Thanksgiving Appetizer / Roasted Garlic and Potato Soup

What can I say, this whole endeavor started because I was curious about roasting whole garlic in the oven.

It really is as fascinating and delicious as they say.  Basically the whole bulb of garlic gets drizzled with olive oil and wrapped in foil and roasts in an oven.  Then it falls out of the skin all soft and aromatic.
I actually used 1 and a half bulbs of garlic.

I ate a lot of the garlic when it came out of the oven but there was still some to go into the soup.  Earlier in the day, potatoes were peeled, cubed, and boiled.  Then smashed into submission!!! And broth + almond milk were added until it was creamy.

At some point I must've added shredded cheddar cheese to the soup but in the end it didn't matter because you can't really taste the difference--the roasted garlic was all the flavor it needed.  
Mike and I had potato soup during a break from cooking.

On the day after Thanksgiving, the soup became dehydrated and turned into just regular mashed potatoes.  The garlic flavored intensified at this point and I was in garlic potato heaven!

Chapter 2: Thanksgiving Sidekick / Green Bean Casserole

This green bean casserole was gratifying to make because it came together easily and was super tasty.

hey where did those crazy yams come from?
First I boiled fresh green beans and set them aside to hang out with some yams.  
Then I sauteed king trumpet mushrooms (from the Chinese store) in onions and garlic.
For the liquid portion I added vegetable stock and almond milk (instead of cream)
I then devilishly snuck in some marsala wine! 
I seasoned liberally with whatever was around, namely white pepper, salt, garlic powder, and...nutmeg! 
(Got that last one from Alton Brown)

Mushroom soup detour! This was Mike's 1st  lunch. Trumpet mushrooms are SO GOOD.

Now it's straightforward. Note the shallot topping I made by tossing shallots (cut into rings) with panko breadcrumbs and flour. I also added some sliced garlic in there.  Next time I'll double the amount--it seems to shrink like a sweater in the dryer. Off it went into the oven for 10-12 min at 350 until bubbling.
Note: Topping goes on towards the end of baking to ensure crispiness.

Chapter 3: Thanksgiving Main Course / Rosemary Garlic Cornish Hens

Hens are mini chickens. Fact.

Mike helped treeeeemendously.  I had a really hard time slushing the seasoning under the skin.  Since  Mike is a pathologist, he is used to doing stuff like that.  Or so I tell myself.

The recipe essentially involves:
1. wedge of lemon and sprig of rosemary go inside the cavity of each hen
2. make a marinade from olive oil, soy sauce, torn up rosemary bits, minced garlic, this and that
3. spread marinade under the skin
4. rub the outside of skin with salt, pepper, garlic powder, this and that
5. cut up veggies and peel 30 cloves of garlic and place them as above
6. roast at 425 x 25 min
7. turn down heat to 375 and bake for 25 min, basting with juices every 10 min

I need some more practice with determining degree of doneness in poultry (maybe I should get a meat thermometer) but hey these hens tasted and looked GREAT!!

Oooh you can see the brisket (the "other" main course) 2nd on the right!
Note the stuffing, yams, and cranberry sauce my friends made. Oh yumness, I am so hungry now.

Chapter 4: Thanksgiving Dessert / Non-Dairy Devil's Food Cake

The cake-rendering started the night before Thanksgiving. 
My friend Shana and I donned aprons and watched the Kitchenaid Mixer make a cake.  

When our part came to take the cakes out of the oven in a timely manner, we were too busy drinking wine and listening to the BeeGee's. Therefore the cake was a little dry and *may* have cracked down the middle (not pictured--I would be insane to put that on film). 

Mike thinks this is the weirdest picture on the whole blog.  I say, "Let them eat cake!"

The buttercream rendering started at 6AM Thanksgiving morning.

Step 1: whip 5 egg whites into submission (stiff peaks)
Step 2: drizzle hot melted sugar onto whites
(the hot sugar theoretically cooks the whites so that we are not ingesting raw eggs)
Egg whites are glossy and indestructible after they have been reinforced with sugar.
Step 3: Egg whites are now hot and need to be cooled down to same temp as butter.
Can you tell that I am wearing polka dot PJs?
Step 4: Room temp butter/margarine is whipped into submission
(not pictured) Step 4a: Spoon dollops of room temp egg whites in with butter.
(not pictured) Step 4b: Struggle
I disobeyed my own cardinal rule--SUBSTANCES AT DIFFERENT TEMPERATURES 
(not pictured) Step 4c: Genius (madness) intervenes as I submerge the mixture into a bath of boiling water for 10 seconds.
Step 5: Behold delicious buttercream! 
After all that hullaballoo, frosting the cake seems peaceful.
wait, where did that square cake come from?
 I somewhat foolishly made a second cake from the egg yolks leftover from the buttercream icing, revising the original cake recipe (which contained 3 whole eggs) to include 5 egg yolks instead. This (and timely removal of cake from the oven) afforded a moister, even more amazing Devil's Food Cake.

Revised Devil's Food Cake (no egg whites and no dairy)
2c all purpose flour
1 1/2 t baking soda
3/4 t baking powder
3/4 t salt
6T butter-flavored shortening + 4T margarine
2c sugar
3/4 c cocoa powder
2T vanilla extract
5 egg yolks (leftover from buttercream icing)
1 1/2 c water
1/4 c almond or soymilk

1. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt + set aside.
2. Beat shortening/margarine until smooth then slowly add sugar.
3. Add cocoa powder and vanilla, beat 1 minute.
4. Add egg yolks
5. Bring water + milk to boil, then take off heat but no need to wait til cool.
6. Meanwhile, add flour mixture to batter on low speed.
7. Add hot water/milk to batter and fold with spatula or mix on low speed.
8. Bake 350 center rack x 30-35 min.

I sure love cake when it's sitting on a platter that pretty.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Quest for the Perfect Quookie

Before I launch into my diatribe about Thanksgiving, allow me to demonstrate some cookies that I made when was starting to get sick.  After making about 6 dozens of these, I fed them Typhoid-Mary style to Mike and some of my co-residents at the hospital. Somehow, no one fell ill. But Mike got a pretty severe case of Cookie Hunger.

As you can see, I was eating them as they came out of the oven. GI = GO, as if!

I will now describe the method I followed in creating these non-dairy delights. Good thing I decided to do this, because I just now fished out the recipe card from my recipe box and was disturbed by how little my notes captured the spirit of inventiveness, resourcefulness, and spontaneity from whence burst forth my dainty delectable darlings.

Crispy Crisco Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 1/4 c all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 c unsalted butter-->1 C butter-flavored Crisco + 2T oil + 2T water
1 1/4 c granulated sugar
3/4 c packed light brown sugar
1 t salt
2 t vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 c chocolate chips

1. I put the flour into the Kitchenaid Mixer then tossed in the baking soda and salt.

2. I filled the 1 c measuring cup with Crisco and dumped that into the mixer.

3. Feeling like a greaseball, I haphazardly underfilled a 1/4 c with Crisco and put that into the mixer.

4. Fearing that my cookies wouldn't be delicious, I decided to add 2T of canola oil (I recalled that this particular recipe historically required thinning out the batter with a small amount of water).

5. Remembering the conversion of Crisco to butter (1 c butter = 1 c Crisco + 2T water), I added 2T water.

6. I added 1 1/2 c white sugar to the mix, then 3/4 c brown sugar.

7. I mixed that biznaz and it became fluffy (a good thing), crystalline from sugar (probably normal), and strangely pale in color for chocolate chip cookies (ERR?!).  

8. To correct the paleness, I added molasses until the dough was a little more golden. This required 3 teaspoons--not enough to thin out the dough.

9. In went the vanilla and it smelled like heaven.

10. I tasted the dough and it was delicious so I proceeded to add chocolate chips.

11. I used the 1T spoon to scoop dough onto parchment paper and baked them at 350 for about 10 min, checking on them like a constant gardener and took them out only as they had just turned golden.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Outfits to Span a Season

Oy...I just emerged from beneath a rock and realized that October and November have elapsed and December lurks dangerously close.

But look how festive our apartment has become, adorned in twinkly lights!
It goes without saying that my protracted disappearance from this blog reflects my ever-presence in the hospital and/or other locales. Ok, mostly in the hospital.

One of these "other locales" I allude to is Atlanta.  I went to Atlanta for a national scientific meeting! During my 4 days there, I rotated the same key clothing pieces in various combinations, ever-changing from day to night.  Not a soul was aware of how light I packed (I detest checking in  luggage). Here are some examples:

J.Crew (No. 1) pencil skirt (ca. 2011), Etienne Aigner boots, and Forever 21 scarf display their versatility
I love that funnel neck sweater. The funnel seems to have slouched down in that particular picture but I still love it all the same :)

Back home, I proceeded to blast through the ensuing autumnal chill while maintaining my loyalty to color (as you will see in the ensuing line up). Unfortunately, I did not emerge unscathed--I suffered a horrible cold and actually had to take the day off as the inside of my face melted and was expelled via incessant sneezing and nose blowing.

It was during this nadir of November when I discovered Downton Abbey.

J.Crew (Collection!) Midnight Trench does not insulate that well but looks and fits great!
Talbots espadrilles add some height to make a long skirt work (found amongst my mom's Toss Pile.)
First time wearing the J.Crew Clea dress (spring 2012) to work, made sillier with addition of F21 glasses necklace.
Spearmint hues with Anthro San Pedro skirt and Free People squishy sweater.
I went to the mall wearing these J.Crew Hutton Trench Trousers and everyone liked them.
Sometimes when it's cold, I don't take my hair out of  my sweater.
A Pink and Brown Milieu!
In the end, I actually chickened out on the F21 pink pants and wore black skinny pants instead.
Mixing maxi check and feather paisley was hard, but all the brown elements tied it all together  (I hope).
J.Crew Pixie Pants are becoming more and more ridiculous and NEVER go on sale! I keep entertaining the thought of obtaining them in charcoal but having 1 indestructible pair is quite is enough for now...
Thanksgiving food shopping made possible by adding and sweater and trusty J.Crew Carlin Coat (ca. fall 2009).
 Bought this lovely pink top in Madrid many moons ago. It was a EU size 8, therefore it fits??
Anthro Just Right Skirt looks good with everything in all seasons!
New thick cotton J.Crew top boasts awesome back zipper. 
 I've strangely lost the desire to label all of my outfits. So I decided to make random comments about them instead. I just recovered from several events, including interviewing for fellowship, submitting my rank list, quaking in wait for Match Day, and cooking a full Thanksgiving Dinner (post to come). But look, even in the aftermath of having people for Thanksgiving, the apartment stayed clean and nice:

Note my psychedelic drawing in the wall and our wedding album...among all the other crazies :)

Next up: Thanksgiving cooking adventure and who knows what else!