Saturday, December 25, 2010
I was so happy to host Christmas Eve this year. For the first time in my life I had control over the menu. NO FEAST OF THE SEVEN FISHES! Christmas Eve was never my favorite holiday growing up. After years of dreaming of certain foods at Christmas, I was going to be making the kind of meal I always wanted to make.
The scene was set on a chilly winter's night with my beautiful tree and some good music (Stings CD "If on a Winter's Night" is awesome). Gifts were ready to be unwrapped.
I made sure the beverage table was well set. I specially ordered the pinot gris and pinot noir from Noble Pig. The scotch is for my stepmother.
For pre-dinner nibbles I simply put out a wheel of brie, some fig spread, some store-bought cilantro pesto and some flat breads. I'm learning I don't have to make everything myself.
Dinner officially started with a salad of grilled portobello mushrooms and pears tossed in a lemon-thyme dressing. I forgot to take a photo, but everyone loved it, even Sir Pickypants ate the pears.
My standout was my main course. I bought the most beautiful bone-in pork loin ever from Whole Foods. It was a thing to behold. I didn't know if I should eat it or worship it.
I cooked it with a molasses balsamic glaze and sliced it up into giant chops. Well, not all of them were giant, but the folks who took smaller ones ended up grabbing seconds anyway. It was that good.
My stepmother said she was having her nails done earlier that day and when the manicurist asked her what her plans were she said she started bragging about the meal I would be cooking for her that night. I'm glad I didn't disappoint!
I took a photo of my full meal, although I couldn't resist a few bites of pork first as evidenced here. My sides were spicy gingered green beans and brown butter mashed potatoes, recipe courtesty of More Than Burnt Toast. You can't believe just what magical things browing your butter can do for your potatoes.
I don't know why I forgot to take a photo of dessert. It's one of my most favorite cakes in the world, Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse Cake. I highly recommend this recipe for anyone who wants an incredible and easy cake. It's made with Nutella and mascarpone. How could it be bad?
Then it's on to brunch at Mom's. She keeps it simple, but I made a big batch of cinnamon rolls courtesy of the Pioneer Woman. She uses maple flavoring in hers with no nuts. I filled mine with pecans and just used vanilla to flavor the icing.
I took these out of the oven and told my husband, "Look at these and tell me how much you love me."
I can burn all of this food off with MY NEW KINECT YYYYEEEESSSSSSS.
Tonight I'm heading to Chicago once more so my husband can watch the Jets play the Bears at Soldier Field and freeze his butt off while I stay nice and warm inside a museum. I won't be doing any more food reviews this time. I don't want to insult any more Chicago restaurants or take offensive lamb chop photos again.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Was it perfect? Was it the ultimate chili? Well, I have to say it was the best turkey chili I have ever made so far. It really makes a difference when you sit down and think about everything you like in a pot of chili and carefully consider ingredients than it does to simply throw stuff in a pot, or simply use a random chili recipe.
Sunday, December 12, 2010
This week's inspiration came from my mother's port-ginger cranberry sauce that she makes every Thanksgiving. I love that sauce. I had some fun the last time I made Thanksgiving dinner converting the leftovers into a glaze for pork by thinning it out with red wine.
I wasn't sure what I was thinking when I saw a bottle of pomegranate juice in the store and decided that I just had to make something with it. I wasn't thinking of Mom's cranberry sauce, but once I decided I wanted to have some pork chops for dinner, something clicked in my brain. I thought of making a variation on Mom's sauce, but with pomegranate instead of cranberry.
I simmered the POM juice with port, grated fresh ginger, and a piece of cinnamon stick.
I'm not sure what made me do this, but I pounded a pair of boneless loin chops to half their thickness, coated them with almond flour and sauteed them in butter and olive oil. (Normally I leave my chops thick, brown them on the stove, and finish them in the oven, often with the glaze on top.)
I drizzled my glaze over them and served with some nice creamed spinach.
The sauce was a bit too tart. If I make this again, I will definitely add some honey or agave syrup. In fact, the recipe I'm going to give you includes some sweet. I'm going to start with 2 teaspoons. That's what I would start with if I were making this again and work my way up from there if I still felt it wasn't sweet enough.
Pork with Port-Ginger-Pomegranate Glaze
2-4 boneless loin chops, about 6 oz each, pounded to about half their original thickness
Salt and pepper
Almond flour (or whatever flour you like, but nut flours give a nice flavor dimension) for dredging
2 Tbl butter
2 Tbl olive oiil
1 1/2 cups pomegranate juice
1/2 cup port wine
2 tsp grated ginger
1/2 cinnamon stick
2 tsp honey or agave syrup
Place juice, port, ginger and cinnamon stick in a small saucepan. Gently simmer until it becomes thick and syrupy. Do not bring it to a high boil or it will just evaporate away.
Meanwhile, heat oil and butter in a large frying pan. Brown chops well on both sides, about 5 minutes each.
Serve on a plate, liberally drizzled with pomegranate sauce.
You know what else I made this week?
Don't look at the burger. It's just a turkey burger embellished with sauteed mushrooms, shallots and soy sauce atop roasted tomatoes.
Look at what's next to the burger.
I have opened Pandora's Box and there was a Fry Daddy inside it. This was my first attempt at homemade French fries. It's too bad the Fry Daddy only fries at one temperature because I always wanted to try the double-fry trick where you fry them a second time at a higher temperature. Regardless, these came out pretty good and my husband was asking for me to make turkey burgers and fries again soon.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Earlier this year I posted about making fried chicken and how I finished it in the oven because I always fear that I can’t keep a consistent cooking temperature when I fry on the stovetop. I said that if you want me to fry a chicken the entire way, you’ll have to buy me a temperature-maintaining Fry Daddy and that my birthday was coming up.
Lo and behold, look what Kevin’s cool friends gave me for my birthday this year.
I always thought it would be dangerous to have a Fry Daddy. Owning a Fry Daddy carries the same risk as permanently storing the chamber to my ice cream maker in the freezer. Being able to deep fry something on a moment’s notice is quite the temptation. After all, I once said that my favorite food is, “anything spicy, fried, or chocolate.”
For a while I was just plain in awe of my Fry Daddy. I just wanted to stare at it all the time. Look at my Fry Daddy. I really have a Fry Daddy. Is it really true I have a Fry Daddy? Imagine everything I can do with my Fry Daddy.
Then it all became sort of paralyzing. I sat and thought of everything I could do with my Fry Daddy. I thought of homemade French fries and fried chicken, and fish and chips, and fried candy bars and zeppoli and fried polenta and tempura veggies. The possibilities were endless. That’s when it became paralyzing. What, exactly, was I going to do with this wondrous machine? What would I fry? Besides, eating all of that fried food wasn’t going to do much for my health. A recent visited to the doctor earned me some subtle encouragement about needing to to lose some weight. Unable to come up with an answer, I stuck it in a cabinet and didn’t look at for a while. Whenever I saw my Fry Daddy, it just sort of mocked me. It almost seemed like a case of “Be careful what you wish for.”
Then a few weeks ago Emily made this great post about homemade doughnuts. She had the same wistfulness about deep fryers that I used to have, along with the same misgivings about the dangers of being able to easily fry things. She fried doughnuts the old-fashioned way. I’ve made doughnuts that way too, but wouldn’t it be easier to do them with a Fry Daddy? Don’t I really love doughnuts?
This week the stars aligned and two lucky events coincided. The fist was Hanukah – a holiday known for Sufganiyot. The other is that I was invited to a party where it was my job to bring dessert. What a perfect situation! I could use my Fry Daddy to make homemade Hanukah doughnuts and I could share them at the party, sparing me the shame of eating them all myself.
It’s really neither here nor there that I’m a Shiksa who doesn’t actually observe Hanukah in any real meaningful way.
I used a recipe from Martha Stewart. Doesn't she make you think of Bubbes? No? Oh well.
I normally use the yeast in packets. My local supermarket always carried those little yellow packets. Not anymore. All they had were these weird blocks. It smelled pretty horrid.
Roll out dough that is gently spiced with nutmeg and cut with a cookie cutter.