Friday, January 28, 2011

From Curdled To Creamy... or How Julia Child Saved My Sandwich

From Curdled To Creamy: Saving a broken mayonnaise
I'm a mayo girl... I'm even a Mayo girl (heritage-ly speaking that is). I don't like dry sandwiches, and have to have a smear of mayo inside each slice of bread or I'm just not happy. 'Tis true. So when Hubs and I decided we couldn't finish off this roasted turkey without having a turkey sandwich or two... the wallet said, "If you want mayo on it, you'd better make it yourself!". And why not? It's just eggs and oil, a little mustard, salt and vinegar or lemon juice. We have all of that in our pantry and fridge at any given moment. Besides, I've made it before, it's a cinch...

Never Send A Blender To Do The Job Of A Food Processor.... I'll never stray again.
Not wanting to stray too far from the recipe/method I used before, I chose the Machine-Made Mayonnaise (page 363-364 of Julia Child's The Way To Cook [1989])... but I thought I'd use my new blender instead of the food processor. This soon proved a mistake. It began with the continuous fine spray of egg and oil out the center of the lid as I drizzled in the oil. And it ended with a blender full of separated mayonnaise-y liquid and a very disheartened girl whining about her cursed beginners luck.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Fan Of The Cran

Cranberry Sauce with Orange & Apple
Back in November I was delighted to find ginormous bags of fresh cranberries at our local Costco. Hubs convinced me to get two bags—they were a great price, only available for a short time, and I could freeze any I didn't use for later—all the criteria necessary for justifying a bulk grocery purchase.

Forward to January and we still had quite a few of those tart little jewels socked away. While I could never have foreseen the big roasted turkey we now have in our midst, it's truly delightful to have some cranberry sauce with it and really do things up right. Cranberry sauce is the perfect counterpoint on a plate of turkey, mashed potatoes and rich gravy (and it goes great with a pork roast too).

For this cranberry go 'round, I wanted something quick and easy but a little bit special too–just not so special that I'd have to make a trip to the store...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Meet My Friend Tom

A lot of assumptions get made when someone gives you an 18.64 lb. frozen turkey... It's assumed that: (1) you like to eat turkey...  (2) you have a freezer large enough to house the big bird... (3) you have a roasting pan big enough... (4) you even know how to roast a turkey. Of course, if the first assumption is correct, the others will take care of themselves one way or another. Today it all fell into place. I have to say, it was a pretty good feeling.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

So Many Soups

The big list of soup links as promised. As with all of these bookmark-clearing link lists I've been posting, I have yet to make any of the yummies listed. They're kind of like my wish lists. If anybody makes one of these scrumptious sounding soups... let me know! Sometimes it's hard to decide what to make next... what sounds good to you?...

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Cremini Créme Soup

I'm getting a big list of soup links together from my backlogged bookmarks folder, but since this soup actually got made and consumed (and loved)... it gets a post all its own. It deserves it. This soup knocked my thick woolen winter socks off.

Initially I had doubts, but was won over in the end by an amazing complexity of flavor that was created from a few unusual ingredients. Like a good mystery novel with 4 or 5 different story-lines going in different directions, this soup kept me guessing the whole time as to how all the elements would finally work together to a satisfying end. It all wrapped up nicely, in fact deliciously so, and I'm ever so glad of it.

Earthy and dark, and yet delicate and bright. Perfect for a cold winter's eve...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Pumpkin: it's not just for pies

Pumpkin: It's not just for pies!
Sometimes I forget to think about pumpkins very much beyond the Thanksgiving weekend. But pumpkin is a winter squash after all, and the last time I checked... it's still winter. We are, in fact, right in the thick of it.

Did you stock up on canned puree before the holidays? I'll bet there's a can or two in your pantry right now. Maybe you roasted and pureed your own this year... like me, you may have a little left in the back of the freezer.* Go make some homey and hearty pumpkin-rich muffins, quick breads or biscuits... they'll make winter worthwhile. Besides, once Spring rolls around, you won't even give pumpkin another thought... why not use it up and enjoy it now?
*Don't have any? Used it all up? None at the store? Try substituting a different winter squash or even roasted and mashed sweet potatoes for the pumpkin puree.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Waiter, There's A Birdie In My Soup!

I make soups because they are generally cheap, filling, easy and healthy. Sometimes the soup tastes great and sometimes the toast I serve alongside it is the best part of the meal. When the latter happens, we suffer on through, looking anxiously forward to the day it's all gone and we can have something else for dinner. Anything else.

Because of this hit-and-miss proclivity I have with choosing soup recipes, it may seem strange that I would take the chance of trying new soups at all. But I do. Maybe it's like how the Hubs describes golfing... how it can be frustrating, maddening, and infuriating... and then you hit the ball just right and in that fleeting instant, the planets are in alignment, a choir of angels sing, and you have just made the most perfect shot off of the most poetic swing in the whole entire glorious history of the sport. Or so he says.

Maybe that's how I am with soups. Because I have made great soup before, and regardless of any lackluster soups that may come afterward, I know that another great soup might be right around the corner. I just have to keep swinging.
Last month I made a soup that was so good—so amazingly good—that I wanted to drop everything and post it right then and there. With fanfare. I couldn't though. Too much else going on. Frankly I was lucky to post anything at all between Thanksgiving and New Year's. So what did I do? I made the soup again.

This is the kind of soup you look forward to having for a few nights in a row. The kind you're disappointed in finding out that there's no more of. The kind of soup I wish I had a bowl of right now.

Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup from What Megan's Making

Notes: First time out substitutions... I used dried mushrooms, turkey stock, brown rice, smoked turkey meat. I used 3/4 cup half &half and made up the difference with 2% milk. Second time making it, I used vegetable stock (it's what I usually have on hand) and brown rice. Don't freak out over the amount of spices! I almost cut back on the quantities, but ultimately decided to trust the recipe. So very glad I went with trust. It all came together magically and with a little pinch of sea salt at the very end... unbelievably delicious.

*For non-golfers (or people without golfing friends to ask)... a "birdie" is when you get the little white ball into the cup in one less hit than they think it should take you. It means you're a better golfer than most. See, each hole has a number assigned to it which is referred to as "par" ... as in the saying "par for the course". This is the number of hits or strokes it should take a good player to get from point A to point B. If you're better than good, and can do it with one less stroke (e.g. 1 under par)... that's a "birdie". Well done, you! If you're able to do it in two strokes under par... it's called an "eagle". If you make eagles all the time... well, maybe think about giving up your day job and go out on tour (you hotshot, you).

(Just For Fun) Favorite golfing movies: Guys will undoubtedly say Caddyshack or Happy Gilmore, while gals will say Tin Cup. Then there's the one most people all like... The Legend Of Bagger Vance, which is all kinds of wonderful on all kinds of levels... even if you're not into golf.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A Bowl-a Granola

I'm clearing out the bookmarks this month and will be posting lists of links to stuff I've been wanting to make, but haven't gotten around to yet. There are, after all, only so many hours in the day. Believe it or not, I occasionally spend some of those hours in other parts of the house, and when it's really nice weather I like to be outdoors. But, yeah, mostly I seem to find myself in the kitchen....  

Here are the front runners in homemade granola. Which will be the first one I try? It's anybody's guess... they all look great—from the low-fat to the addictive and everything in-between....

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A Perfect Pie For Epiphany

January 6th is a  pretty special day. Known as The Twelfth Day Of Christmas (regardless of how many drummers you  have drumming)... Twelfth Night... the first day, or Feast of Epiphany... and around here, we also remember it as Dad's birthday. It's a day to mark  transitions (maybe even more so than New Year's), as well as the revelation of something remarkable. To me, that's a date that deserves special observance.

This is the perfect pie for the occasion.* Sweet, but not too sweet. Festive, but without strict nostalgic ties to any other holiday. Comforting, as all apple pies should be. Sparkling, with surprising flavors to awaken your palate from all the hearty winter foods of late. A transitional pie. A revelatory pie.