Archive | November, 2006

Le Menu

23 Nov

Appetizer
Blueberry white stilton & crackers

Main course
Maple-glazed turkey (Everyday Food, Nov. 2006)
Apple-chestnut stuffing (Everyday Food, Nov. 2006)
Squash stuffed with brown rice (Erika)
Sweet potatoes (Liz)

Wines
Pierre Dupond 2006 Beaujolais Nouveau
Bonny Doon Pacific Rim Dry Reisling (N.V.)

Dessert
Maple pumpkin pots de creme (Epicurious.com)
Trader Joe’s 2004 Late Harvest Moscato (Paso Robles)

Turkeys are done, I’m finished

23 Nov

I’m so proud of myself with this turkey. I know, it’s a little overdone on top, I’m not sure if I basted it enough, it cooked much more quickly than I thought it would. But still, look at it! It’s gorgeous. All brown and pretty. So much different that the plucked fowl I was apologizing to earlier today as I washed out its inner cavities. (Mmm. Appetizing.)

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Everything went pretty smoothly today. I didn’t have the completely leisurely day I was semi-expecting, but that’s OK. The stuffing went together pretty quickly, the gravy is coming together now, and all in all, I prepared everything pretty much right on schedule. Of course, my guests are running late, but that’s OK. It gives me a chance to sing my own praises (i.e., blog), watch the Epicurious video on carving a turkey, and finish up the gravy, which looks good but will need to be strained (there were some burnt bits of drippings on the bottom of the roasting pan).

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I hate our oven

23 Nov

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Those are my pots de creme, not even halfway through the required cooking time.

Our top oven (thank God for the double oven today!) has been giving this F2 error message pretty much every time I cook in it. The first two times it happened, I was using an old cookie sheet that had all sorts of stuff caked onto it (yes, I had foil overtop). It started smoking and set off the F2 thing. Then it’s happened every time I’ve used the oven since then. (Which is why I’m using the lower over for the turkey.)

I just looked it up online and apparently, F2 means that the oven is reaching crazy high temperatures. Great. Another batch of pots de creme ruined.

They’re actually not ruined (just being melodramatic!). I scraped off the burnt top and put them in the fridge. I tried one not too long ago and they’re a little too cooked on the top half and a little undercooked on the bottom half. But they taste good and all the eggs are cooked, which is the important thing. I don’t want to poison my guests.

Here’s a photo of the scraped-off top.

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I’m thankful for pumpkin pancakes

23 Nov

I’m not as thrilled with this batch of pumpkin pancakes, but they are darn tasty AND I made them while making the stuffing for dinner tonight and setting off the fire alarm in the process.

Yes, you read that right. Step 1 of 400 in the making of Thanksgiving dinner and I set off the fire alarm. I was drying the bread in the oven, the timer told me I was supposed to switch the pans on the racks, I turned off the timer, and then the alarm went off telling me I should have switched the pans.

So that made me think that I would blog about cooking my first Thanksgiving dinner. I’m so excited about it!

So next on the order of operations is to finish the stuffing (I’m about halfway done), clean out the turkey, stuff the turkey, and make the giblet broth for the gravy. Then put the turkey in the oven, make the pots de creme, and ta-da! All I’ll have to do is baste and finish the gravy when the turkey’s done.

Anyway, here are the first photos:
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Food Adventures

21 Nov

I love cooking lately. I’ve been having so much fun doing it. A week ago or so, I made pumpkin pancakes for Kerry and me as we were interviewing potential roommates. It was the recipe from Martha Stewart Living, repeated in the October 2006 issue. I added extra ginger (since I love ginger) and left the batter thicker than I usually do. It was perfecto! The first few were a little underdone in the middle, but when I got the heat set to the right level, they turned this beautiful orange-brown color. Lovely.

And now I’m gearing up for my first-ever Thanksgiving dinner. I’m using the Everyday Food menu:
– Maple-glazed turkey
– Apple-chestnut stuffing
– sides provided by the guests
– maple-pumpkin pots de creme (take 2) for dessert

Should be good. I will, of course, post a report afterwards. The Chronicle Food and Wine newsletter recommended riesling to pair with turkey, but MSL recommended beaujoulais nouveau. I’m going to stop at BevMo on the way home tomorrow to try to pick up a bottle of that.

Baking Tip: A Must for Crust

6 Nov

In the new Everyday Food, there’s an awesome tip for dough: roll it onto floured wax paper so you can turn the paper (not yourself) when you need to roll the dough in a different direction. I’m so trying that.

Maple Pumpkin Pots de Creme

6 Nov

I’ve been doing a lot of baking lately. My roommate Gayle invited us over to her soon-to-be-new apartment (she’s moving in with her fiance, Aaron, and his roomies) for a family dinner on Sunday. So I took that as an excuse to make the maple pumpkin pots de creme I’d seen on Epicurious a while ago.

I made two batches, with errors in each. The first batch, I ran out of maple syrup (THAT’s what I need to get at Trader Joe’s today…), so I added some sugar. I wanted to use brown sugar for the flavor, but we were out, so I used regular white sugar. I started mixing the eggs into the cream, and was thinking, “I thought I was supposed to heat up the cream.” Well, I was. That’s what happens when you have to run between the computer and the kitchen while cooking.

Fortunately, I had only whisked in a little bit of the egg mixture. So I brought it slowly to a simmer, added in the rest of the egg, and strained it pretty thoroughly before I poured it into the ramekins. No one wants scrambled eggs in their pots de creme.

For the second batch, I used pure cane sugar to sweeten it, which was a mistake. The larger bits didn’t dissolve, even in the simmering cream, and I think it contributed to the mottled texture. Also, I used the last 7 eggs in our kitchen for the egg yolks, and sadly, lost an egg yolk. I scooped up half of it in the sink before the rest escaped down the drain. I did add some ginger to the cinnamon and nutmeg used as flavoring (which was added to the yolks, not the cream).

The flavor of the first batch was good–nicely spiced and moderately rich. The pumpkin wasn’t overwhelming; it was just a nice, solid flavor. But the consistency just wasn’t what I’m used to in my chocolate pots de creme (the recipe I use is from Martha Stewart’s February issue from a few years back). Those are so nice and dense.

The flavor of the second batch was a bit off–neither sweet nor complex enough without the maple syrup, and Aaron’s roommate Dan mentioned that he crunched into a couple chunks of sugar. And the consistency was terrible–more like custard than a pot de creme. It also took longer to cook (about 45 minutes compared to 40).

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Here are the elements I’m going to put to the test in my next batches:
1) Follow the recipe exactly. This is the control sample.
2) Check the MSL recipe to see how many eggs. I wonder if an egg white or two might help with the consistency issue.
3) Reduce the amount of cream/milk.
4) Put the spices in with the cream.

Next project: mango sticky rice for the next stitch ‘n’ bitch. I ate it for the first time this weekend, and I gagged on the mango. I think it might have been the coconut milk on the mango. I guess that means I already have a problem to solve!