Friday, November 29, 2013

A Hand-Washed Turkey...

In honor of Turkey Day, this bit of stupid:

You have to watch it all the way to the end to get my reference, but yes, it has to do with turkey. This fantastic video is from 2003 but I still remember the song.

Yesterday was of course Thanksgiving Day (and today is Buy Nothing Day, so as much as I'd like to buy rolls to have yummy turkey sandwiches I am going to go without) and I was honored to feast with my team at the Fourth World Movement New Orleans. I accompanied my turkey, green-bean casserole, macaroni and cheese, collard greens, stuffing, and sweet potato pie with brown sugar bourbon, Beaujolais Nouveau and chardonnay. Not only was I in a food coma but I was also in a bit of a too-much-alcohol-too-fast stupor. Not drunk, but just unable to stand. At one point I was so full that I just had to sink into the couch and stare contentedly at folks. I have two Tupperware containers full of leftovers as well.

My contribution to the dinner (as it was really a Thanksgiving potluck) was a yummy satsuma and pecan cake. I wasn't sure how it would turn out as satsumas are so tough and membrane-y but it was delicious. How could you go wrong, really, with cinnamon-spiced pecans, sugar, and butter?

I adapted the Crustless Cranberry Pie recipe to make it more local and was thrilled with the results. Everybody gobbled it down, so I guess everyone else liked it too!

Before the wet ingredients were added, it looked like everything was covered in snow. =)

I freaked a little bit while the oven was pre-heating because I could have sworn we had a 9-inch glass pie pan in my house but I couldn't find it. Good thing I had these heart-shaped cake pans that my friend Maya gave me! They added a nice touch to the presentation.

So yummy. The top developed a crunchy crust and the insides were chewy and sweet. I highly recommend this recipe!

Enjoy your turkey sandwiches and turkey soup and turkey salad and turkey tacos and turkey...

Friday, November 22, 2013

A Whole Dang Chicken - and some promo!

We're actually going to start this off with a promotion (which also has to do with chicken).

A friend and co-worker recently opened a cafe in a restored and re-purposed Chinese laundry on Bayou Road here in New Orleans. Pagoda Cafe is run by Dan Etheridge, who also works with Tulane City Center and helped start up the N Roman and Columbus clubhouse where the guys cook hot dogs every Tuesday. All great folks. Last week I met another community member at the cafe for a lunch meeting and had the roasted chicken, pesto and arugula sandwich. Oh so good!

So after eating chicken at a restaurant, I tsk'ed myself because I had an entire chicken in my freezer that was waiting to be eaten. It was a little intimidating, honestly, and boy did it take forever to defrost. After a hard day at work where I knew I wasn't going to be able to go in the next day, I put the chicken into the fridge to start defrosting. Twelve hours later the chicken was still a little frozen. I left it out on the counter for a few hours and decided it was finally time to get it ready, frozen or not frozen. 

I Googled "how to roast a whole chicken" and found the simplest recipe possible: some salt, some pepper, some olive oil, and whatever herbs I could find (local, dried thyme and oregano with a generous sprinkling of TrueLemon). The grossest part was taking the neck out but all the other giblets were out so it wasn't so bad. (Turkey neck is also a big thing here; folks chop it up and put it in crawfish boils and it's actually pretty delicious). Also, damnit, if I'm going to eat meat, I need to be able to deal with the icky bits. And in case you're wondering, this chicken ran around and ate grass happily for the duration of its life (screw you, Tyson). I bought it from my farmer friend Nancy at the Mid-City Crescent City Farmer's Market. 

Once the chicken was prepped it looked like this (with just a little ice in the cavity).

It was actually really cool to rub a chicken. I liked the way it felt in my hands. I popped the chicken into the oven and roasted it according to the recipe. The house smelled SO good. It smelled so good that once the chicken was done I started eating and carving it before I even took a picture. So here's the meat. 

Mmm... meat. So much yummy meat. I don't know what I'm going to do with it. There's one drumstick and some thighs under there. What's probably going to happen is I'll freeze it; thanks to The Kitchn for their tips

Once all the meat was off I knew I was going to use the carcass, so I Googled "how to make stock from a whole chicken" and found this recipe. Just look at those beautiful jars of stock. I'm going to have some in about an hour and a half. I didn't have a huge stock pot so I used the biggest pot I had and got it going.  

The stock's currently simmering but once it's done I'm going to use it to make stuffing for Thanksgiving next week. 

What's everyone planning to make for Thanksgiving? 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Botched Baking

Now is the time of year when you actually want to be baking, especially when the heat is a little iffy in your house. It's been in the low 50s during the day and 40s at night (which in New Orleans is a big deal! it's even a little hard to type because my fingers are cold) and I'm all bundled up. I actually turned the heat on to try to get the house to 65; it was at 54! I've had the heat on for awhile now and I'm still pretty cold.

First I wanted to share a photo of some baking that a friend did. My co-worker brought in cupcakes for Halloween, which I thought looked great. She said that she'd put sprinkles on the cupcakes for a dirt effect but they melted into the frosting and created a Dalmatian-esque topping.

Okay, maybe more black mold than Dalmatian... but this is New Orleans after all, and black mold is kind of a thing here. The bones added a nice crunch and red velvet - how could you go wrong? 

Where did red velvet cake come from anyways? I Googled it, hoping to find out the history, and found all sorts of urban legends including that it was a ploy by the food coloring company to get folks to buy more food coloring during the Great Depression, that its secret recipe was leaked via chain letter from the outraged housewife who didn't want to pay the chef's $350 bill for his secrets, and that the red color is caused by a chemical reaction between cocoa powder and baking soda (pretty sure that's not true). Sounds like an NPR Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me! game! And because I love BuzzFeed, here's their take on the cake. I didn't know that Emma Stone ever talked about red velvet cake but I think I like her even more now. 

So after my bike ride to Angola, which was an amazing experience that I didn't journal during (gasp!) because I was too damn tired after each day of riding (54, 73, and 30 miles respectively), I was left with a bag of peanuts, chocolate-covered raisins and raisins that I had eaten on the road. For some reason my stomach didn't react well to the trail mix so I was hesitant to continue eating it after I got home. One weekend before a potluck I was thinking about the trail mix and Googled "leftover trail mix." This is the recipe I came up with and decided to make. 

This is what came out of my oven.

Luckily there were two dozen other brothers and sisters of these cookies, otherwise I would have been sorely put out. The cookies had so much butter in them that they just melted. When I tried to separate these, both from the cookie sheet and from each other, they just came apart so I wound up throwing them out. I regretted it after tasting the ones that came out all right. They were so crispy and so buttery and so amazing. I think I would like this recipe better with chocolate chips and not raisins and peanuts. I'm keeping you in mind for next time, Whisking Through Life!

The third botched baked thing in this installment is a baked macaroni and cheese that I made a little while ago. I had a butternut squash that literally sat on my countertop for almost a month, just patiently waiting until I got my shit together and cooked it. When I got my hair buzzed by my co-worker in September we made baked macaroni and cheese and left out the butternut squash, though I had wanted to add it even back then. Finally I was making the comfort food just for myself and could add whatever the heck I wanted. The result is below, not a great rendition but a picture.

I essentially made a box of Annie's shells and white cheddar (the only boxed macaroni and cheese I've ever eaten, even as a kid - thanks Mom!) and added a few extra ingredients.

- the butternut squash, which I roasted with olive oil, salt and pepper
- crushed up bran, minus the raisins from leftover Raisin Bran
- goat gouda cheese that I had in the fridge
- grated parmesan cheese that I had leftover from eating out

I whipped everything together and baked it at 450 for about 20 minutes and - here's the botched part - the bran never really crisped but just sort of got warm. The macaroni and cheese, which had been so gooey and cheesy and rich, dried out in the oven. When I reheated the dish for lunch the next day, the bran was soggy. So I'm not sure how I could fix any of those problems... but hey, it was still a success when I first baked it!

Now it's time to go cozy up under my four covers and dream about breakfast.


Sunday, November 10, 2013

I Love Bok Choy!

November at the farmer's market means bok choy and all kinds of other delicious greens. I've been eating a lot of sauteed bok choy (with bacon grease, with butter and garlic, with sausage...) and today I decided to try a roasted bok choy dish.

I Googled "bok choy with bread crumbs" and came up with this recipe: Epicurious's Bok Choy Gratin.

It's in the oven right now and smells amazing. I'm bringing it to a potluck and I'm crossing my fingers that the dish survives the bike ride there!

Cross your fingers!