Monday, November 28, 2011

Tis the day after Thanksgiving

Plate #1

and obviously I am having a hard time coming up with blog post titles ;) Actually it's not even accurate anymore--it's now several days after Thanksgiving. Oh well, punctuality has never been my strong point, but we did have a lovely, low key Thanksgiving at home.

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There was very little planning ahead this year, aside from actually buying and defrosting the turkey (which Pops did). We went with frying like we've done for a couple of years now, except this time we really had no other option because the oven at home is out of commission! Yes, this photo was taken in the garage. Yes, that is a terrible idea and you should do your turkey frying out of doors. Don't get me started. Here's a picture of the frymaster at work in a previous year; you will note that he is still using the same Doraemon glove.

Sides

While the brother was diligently watching over the frypot (and while the dad was diligently watching football), I put together the rest of the meal. We went very, very basic this year with mashed potatoes, sauteed asparagus, cranberry sauce (made with lots of orange zest and orange juice), and homemade sausage stuffing. The asparagus was actually supposed to be brussels sprouts, but I went to two different supermarkets and the Korean grocery and there was not a single sprout to be found. Oh well, we like asparagus too! We're easy going like that. And I was pretty happy with the stuffing, although it's never as good when it's not cooked inside the turkey (can't do that when you deep-fry though). Oh nuts, I should have tried deep-frying stuffing balls!

What's missing...

It didn't actually take us that long to put everything together, but still, I was starving by the time the food was ready. Here's my first plate, minus the turkey, and let me tell you, I spent some time staring forlornly at my plate while my brother took his sweet time carving, and while my dad was off making use of the deep-fryer:

Prawn crackers

Yech! Prawn crackers! Taste and look like styrofoam! I had had these grand plans of deep-frying everything under the sun, but in the end I was too lazy. Which is just as well!

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Here's the beautiful turkey (sorry, vegetarians!). The best part about fried turkey is that the skin is crispy and deeeeeelicious.

More Crust Apple Pie

Afterwards, there was pie (yes, this is that less-filling-more-crust pie; this is the 4th one I've made in the last couple of weeks, I think?)--no pumpkin this year, but I missed it, and I think I might make myself a mini one....and I don't know if it was all the sugar and food that went straight to my head, but I was suddenly inspired to play with my food.

Snowman

Hello Snowman!

Beheaded

You seem to have lost your head! Eek! (I thought this was really funny; my family thought I was nuts. What do you think?)

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Me, I am thankful for a lot (family, friends, you wonderful bloggers, quiet neighbors), but especially for getting to see No comments: Links to this post

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Twas the night before Thanksgiving...

Caramel People

And here I am, totally not doing any prep for Thanksgiving. I did actually bake a pie (it is cooling on my windowsill as we speak! Er, type. You know what I mean) but everything else is going to wait until tomorrow when I head home for the big feast. We are frying a turkey! (Yes, outdoors, and yes, we are very careful!) I can't wait.

In the meantime, I made up a batch of caramel in the microwave (!) last night, which turned out to be absolutely dead easy so I'm never making caramel on the stove top ever again. Most of it is earmarked for cookie projects, but I poured some of the leftover caramel into a silicone mold my friend Kaimono from Gastronomy Hut had sent me--look how adorable these came out! (Pardon the terrible photo.) The cranky one on the bottom left bears a startling resemblance to how I look when I'm in a bad mood. :)

Well, happy Thanksgiving to those that are celebrating tomorrow! And stay tuned, because there is a whole lot of cookie-ness going on soon!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Butternut Squash Lasagna

CSA Week 23-Veggies

Well, I am sad--the CSA season is over! 23 weeks of awesome vegetables....now I actually have to go to the supermarket. That's my last haul above, and I'm talking like I'm totally out but that's a lie. I have SO MANY POTATOES left. Weeks and weeks worth of potatoes! They will probably last me the entire winter.

Butternut squash

Similarly, I have quite a lot of squash! And when I made that butternut squash mac and cheese a few weeks ago, my Flickr friend Hedgiehog very kindly shared her recipe for butternut squash lasagna, which you can get here! Butternut squash lasagna--sounds like a pretty great idea, right? Maybe I'm weird, but I actually kind of like raw butternut squash. It's yummy and munchy. And the most cheerful color!

Butternut squash lasagna

So I realized I don't really have any pans suitable for baking lasagna (except my brownie pan, and that's been sitting on my desk at work for like 2 months--I'm awesome at procrastination). So I made a couple of individual-sized portions in various bakeable dishes. This lasagna has layers of pasta, bechamel sauce (flavored with sage, nutmeg, and parmigiano), ground turkey and onion, and thin slices of the squash. The original recipe called for ground beef, but I had some ground turkey left over from last week so I used that instead, and I think it went very well with the sage. The whole thing was then topped with a bit of mozzarella and into the oven it went!

Ready to eat!

Here it is after baking, just in time for a late Sunday lunch. I think the before-shot is prettier, which is why this one is at the bottom of the post and not at the top! But the important thing is that this was seriously tasty; I've not made or had a lasagna before that had bechamel instead of ricotta so this was new to me and I was very pleasantly surprised! (Although now that I think about it, how could this not be good?) I'm kind of tempted to skip the lasagna sheets next time and just layer squash and bechamel; I bet that would be awesomely tasty too. Fortunately I've plenty of squash left to experiment with....

CSA Week 23-Fruit

P.S. Did I mention I also have plenty of fruit left from the CSA? Anybody want some apples?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

M-m-m-macarons!

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Last week we had a joint birthday party/baby shower for two of my friends, which, as usual, meant a ton of food, including an overdose of desserts. There was some miscommunication--I had said I was bringing pie, but we ended up with pie, 2 mini cakes, a couple of dozen of mini cupcakes, and some regular cupcakes, not to mention boxes of macarons from my friend's cafe. I've mentioned the macarons from Artichoke Cafe a couple of times before, but check it out, they've got new packaging (and you know I'm a sucker for packaging)! So I couldn't resist taking some more pictures.

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They've even got cute little carrying bags now. Yay! Okay, I know, I know--not everyone is as fascinated by packaging as I am. But you can't deny that it's important! And it seems especially true for macarons. After all, look at the huge variety of packaging designs you can get at Laduree (for which some people will happily pay a few dollars extra).

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The flavors in this box, from top to bottom: mocha, raspberry, pistachio, chocolate, white chocolate, and rose. I am slightly bummed that this box does not contain red bean, which is my favorite! (And yes--I totally took these macs out to the park to take pictures. I may have gotten a few weird looks.)

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My favorite of these flavors is the pistachio, followed by mocha and chocolate. I've tasted a lot of macarons in NYC and my opinion may be slightly biased, but these are some of my favorites. I would say they are a little more "rustic" than Laduree or La Maison du Macaron, but they are also a bit more reasonably priced, and the flavors are delicious. Anyway, don't just take my word for it--stop in and give them a try. Especially if they have red bean available!

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And here's a bonus shot of the park on Sunday. The leaves seem to be hanging on a lot longer (actually I feel like they've only just started changing color) this year. It makes for a nice backdrop :)

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Artichoke Cafe
240 W. 37th St. (between 7th & 8th Ave.)
212-695-9085

Friday, November 11, 2011

It's 11-11-11

11-11-11

Happy 11-11-11! And of course I had to say it with food again--don't you remember 10-10-10?

:)

(These are from the 2nd to last week of my CSA which ends next week. I am sad. But I have carrots, parsnips, potatoes, and onions to last probably into next CSA season. Especially carrots. If you have great ideas for using up carrots, I want to hear from you because I am really tired of eating carrots in stir fry.)

Monday, November 7, 2011

It's almost holiday baking season! Sign up for Cookie Swaps!

Christmas Cookie Box-2009

I am super excited because it's getting to be that time of year when I kick into cookie-producing overdrive! I took a break from giving out cookies as gifts last year (photo above is from 2009) because I didn't have time, but did manage to participate in the Lower East Side Girls Club Holiday Bake Sale. This year though, it's going to be different--I'm getting a head start and planning everything out (and in fact, I've already made my first batch of dough to be tucked away in the freezer--double ginger snaps!)

stuffed cookie

For New Yorkers, there's the NYC Annual Holiday Cookie Swap tickets here to benefit Cookies for Kids' Cancer. I'll be attending this one for the first time, and it sounds like it's going to be a lot of fun. I mean, barbecue, homemade cookies, and a bunch of bloggers, how can you go wrong? Go buy your ticket, but hurry up because there were only 13 left last time I checked--and if you recognize me, say hi!

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2011

For those of you not in NYC, there's also the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, a cookie exchange by mail--and yes, I'm participating in this one too! (I know, I may be a little cookie-crazy by the end of all this.) You have until Nov. 15th to sign up, and this sounds like it's going to be good fun too! The basic idea is that you sign up and then receive the names and addresses of 3 bloggers who you will send a dozen homemade cookies to. In return, you'll get 3 boxes of homemade goodies! Perfect for all those holiday gatherings...

Now the only question is what cookies should I make?? The possibilities are endless.

Giant Cookie

Giant chocolate chip cookies?

green tea shortbread leaves

Green tea shortbread?

Munchmunch

Bunnies?!

giant mouthed domokun

Or maybe the ever popular Domo cookies....decisions, decisions!!! Happy cookie-baking (and eating)!!

***Edited to add 11/8/11***
Ooh, and one more! The 2nd Annual international holiday Cookie Exchange, hosted by Lori of Fake Food Free and Andrea of Food Embrace! This is a virtual swap, meaning you get a recipe from a fellow food blogger, then you bake and post about it (this also means you get to hoard the cookies to yourself, if you so choose...greedy? meeeee?). And you only have until Nov. 10th to sign up, which is this Thursday! So get cracking!!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Cinnamon Pull-apart Bread

Cinnamon loaf section

Oh, the joys of browing food blogs--the list of things I've bookmarked to make gets longer and longer every day, with no end in sight. And it's not very often that I actually get around to making things (although I have good intentions!) But sometimes you come across a photo or recipe that is so compelling that you must make it immediately--so it was with the cinnamon pull-apart bread from Joy the Baker. Actually, I first made this weeks ago, but it was so good that I kept craving it (and cursing myself for having given half of it away) and this weekend, I finally gave in.

Dough whisk

I always think of yeast breads as being too time-consuming to make, but honestly, that's kind of silly. Most of the time involved is waiting for the dough to rise, so it's not like you have to sit around babysitting it. This dough comes together really quickly, especially if you have a handy implement like the dough whisk! I stirred this up by hand in about 5 minutes.

Dough

It's a very wet, sticky dough, which is why it looks so rough here. That's just the way it should be, and I left it to hang out near my radiator for an hour or so while I went on with my normal Saturday morning tasks (and by tasks, I mean knitting my sock).

Dough

Here it is after an hour! Nice and puffy. This gets turned out onto a floured surface and then a bit more flour is kneaded in, just until the dough is smooth and loses its stickiness. It's actually a pretty nice dough to work with and didn't resist being rolled out (much). I got too floury to take more pictures, but basically you roll the dough out into a rectangle, cover it in butter, then sugar and cinnamon, and slice into strips which you stack and slice again! (Just go look at link above for the recipe and much better photos!)

Loaves rising

The stacks of dough squares get layered into a loaf pan (or multiple loaf pans, depending on size). You'll notice the smaller pan on the right; this one was the experimental loaf, and rather than buttering and sugaring the dough, I spread the layers with my new favorite thing in the entire world:

Biscoff spread

Biscoff spread aka speculoos spread! Okay--if you haven't had this? You have to go out and buy a jar RIGHT NOW. Think Nutella, except instead of chocolate, this is made out of GROUND SPICE COOKIES. Yeah, that's right--it's a spread made out of COOKIES. It's GENIUS!!

Speculoos spread loaf

Oh, what the heck--here's another gratuitous shot of my speculoos-spread loaf. I was a little afraid of the spread burning so I wasn't as generous with it as I would have liked. I should have added more! Fortunately I can just apply as I eat...

Speculoos loaf, baked

Here it is baked! The spread baked into a crusty kind of topping, which was good, but wasn't as good as caramelly sugar and butter in the original loaf.

Crazy cinnamon loaf

See all those gorgeous layers? As the name implies, after you turn this out of the pan, you eat it simply by pulling off layer after layer. But I highly recommend you invite someone to eat it with, because this can get addictive and before you know it, half the loaf has somehow disappeared....

Cinnamon loaf closeup

Now if you'll excuse me, there's some bread calling my name!