Sunday, November 25, 2007

Our First Thanksgiving

And what a lovely feast it was! As much as I gathered recipes and opinions and hints and ideas...I was a little worried about cooking several dishes that I had never made before and timing it all to be ready to serve at the same time. Thankfully (pun intended), everything came out perfectly. Thanks to all who listened to me talk about my Thanksgiving menu for two months!

The Menu:
Hors d'Ĺ“uvre:
* Shrimp wrapped in Sage and Prosciutto a la Rachael Ray
* Sliced Parisian bread with onion & tomato confits and olive tapenade
* Gerkin pickles - mom's request!

Main dishes:
* One 13-pound fresh turkey, brined and stuffed with herbs & veggies
* Portobello and Crimini Mushroom Pan Gravy
* Sage, Apple, Cherry & Mushroom Stuffing (from homemade bread!)
* Rosemary and Roasted Garlic Mashed Red Bliss Potatoes
* Green Bean Casserole (recipe straight from the Campbell's can)

* Homemade Apple Pie with Non-Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream
* Sweet Potato Pie from Community Servings (Good idea, bad pie.)

Our tiny T-Day table (forced us into eating buffet-style):

Dad did the honors with his electric carving knife (I kind of forgot to take a photo of the intact turkey - who has time for that while preparing a feast?!):

A beautifully carved bird (with green bean casserole in the background):

I am admittedly proud of my stuffing:

Piled high, pre-gravy:

My dad wouldn't have come if I didn't make apple pie! (Kidding...I think...)

Is it too early to plan for 2008?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Crock-Pot Pot-Roast

This was my second attempt at Alton Brown's Pot Roast recipe from his Good Eats episode A Chuck for Chuck. During my first attempt, I slow roasted the hunk of chuck beef in sealed aluminum foil. So, I thought, why not just put the darn thing in the crock pot and slow cook it all day?

The olive-raisin-balsamic-tomato sauce that accompanies this dish is so good that I think it has (twice!) masked the fact that the chuck is a bit tough and chewy. It could certainly be my cooking technique, and I'm not ready to get rid of this recipe, but it is safe to say that I have not yet conquered pot roast.

Mac No More or You've Come a Long Way, Baby!

As I embark upon preparations for my first Thanksgiving dinner, I am proud to say that I came across these 6 boxes of my previously beloved Kraft Macaroni & Cheese in the kitchen cupboard, all of which were both dusty and expired by 5 months. And, I thoroughly hated the last box of mac I made.

Not all people viewing my blog (if there are any at all) know that there was a time when Kraft Mac and Cheese was not only all I could cook (er, "cook"), but also all that I ate. Despite a slight identity crisis, I am proud to have disposed of these dusty boxes, never to replace them.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Sunday Dinner - Turkey Testing

I am hosting my first Thanksgiving this year. Really, it's the only time of year that I *eat* turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy and the like - let alone *cook* it! So, I haven't had much practice with the meal prep involved for the holiday. Ever.

I recently made my first Green Bean Casserole (complete with nasty-looking mushroom soup - so good!) and have been testing some stuffing recipies. The turkey, though, is the star of the show and I decided I had better practice with a chicken roaster:

I didn't brine it, but I rubbed it in olive oil and rosemary and started it on very high heat for about half and hour. Once it was browned, I covered the breast with the foil "turkey triangle" suggested by Alton Brown so the breat meat doesn't overcook or dry out. My digital probe thermometer told me when the meat reached 165 degrees, I pulled the bird, and let it rest while I made my first gravy ever. It was a beautiful thing.

Malden Baked Beans - Attempt #3

The first time I made Boston baked beans in the crockpot, my beans never cooked. We left them in the crockpot for another entire day (!!) - the beans barely softened, but the heat from the crockpot melted the glue between the wood panels in our kitchen table.


The second time I made baked beans I soaked them overnight prior to tossing them in the crockpot. Still no luck.

This time - the third time - I made baked beans, I boiled the beans for all of two minutes in the evening before adding them to the crockpot where they were to cook for the entire next day until dinnertime. Somehow, the beans were already done in the early morning! Boiling them for 2 minutes had more of an impact on the beans than heating them in a high-heat crock pot for 36 hours! I wonder what the science is there...? I'm not a fan of mushy beans, so I need to find a happy medium for attempt #4.