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Christmas dinner, summarized. December 26, 2008

Posted by sarawr in baking, dessert, entertaining, herbs & spices, holidays, menu, potatoes, poultry.
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From a comment I left over on Kip’s journal:

Mine was a 13+ pound turkey, brined 15 hours in a stockpot full of lukewarm water and 1.5 cups salt. Drained, blotted dry, stuffed with the giblets and a purple onion; sage butter spread very lightly (about a tablespoon total) under the skin, salt and pepper rained over the top. I set it atop about 2 cups of halved baby carrots, more diced onion, and a couple of stalks of sliced celery to make a vegetable rack, dusted more sage over the whole shebang, and popped it in a 425F oven uncovered for about 3 hours.

It was… the best turkey I’ve ever encountered, if I’m being honest instead of modest, and it will live on in my memory as a sort of Platonic ideal turkey. It came out cooking-magazine-golden with crisp skin all over, incredibly juicy, and flavorful in the way that you could taste the turkey instead of a bunch of seasoning.

I didn’t save the carcass to make stock because I had no room anywhere to store it and I wasn’t energetic enough to jump right into stockmaking last night or this morning, but I think I’m gonna do the whole thing over next month and I’ll make stock then. The more I experiment with whole poultry, the better I get at it, and while stockmaking has turned out to be something I don’t particularly enjoy, it is well worth it.

I let my mom take home the leftover stuffing, vegetables (I made green beans and corn, both with lemon butter), potatoes, etc. The potatoes were a dream as well (I used a borrowed electric mixer to whip them with cream cheese, sour cream, plenty of butter, and parsley — not “health food” by any stretch, but gosh, were they ever tasty), but I made far too much and didn’t want to hassle with separation and storage. We’ve got a good-sized Tupperware full of leftover turkey, and if I want more potatoes or veg to go with it we have plenty of those too. I think the only thing I forgot was cranberry sauce, but on balance it wasn’t really missed.

I made a strawberry-margarita cheesecake (which turned out kind of disappointing; it was tasty, but not the heavenly goodness it usually is) and a blueberry cheesecake (for which I had to invent my own recipe, because the ones I found all called for ingredients or equipment I didn’t have) for dessert, and the blueberry was the undisputed winner… although it came out more like pudding than pie, due to my absentmindedly taking it out of the oven 20 minutes before I should have.

On balance, the meal was a roaring success. We had plenty of food for everyone, and everyone seemed to like it; I got to experiment with a turkey (which I hadn’t done before, really) and have it turn out brilliantly on the first try; I did some baking, which isn’t something I particularly love, but was fun nonetheless.

ETA: How is it that we didn’t have a tag for potatoes? You can bet I fixed that right quickly!

How was your Christmas food, Schizoids? The comment section awaits!

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Chickpeas and Eggplant December 17, 2008

Posted by panterazero in African food, Kip of the Week, tomato, vegetarian.
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I’ve been doing “chickpeas, onions and tomatoes” for years — there’s an Indian name for the combination that I forget — but I finally came up with the truly delectable variant, so here it is.  It’s easy, but you do need to watch the eggplant carefully.  A warm oven, such as you would have if you were for example baking dessert, is also helpful.

one medium eggplant, chopped small
1/4 cup olive oil
2 leeks, white and light green part only, washed and chopped (do save the rest for stocktrash)
one 15-oz can chickpeas with 1/4 cup of the packing liquid
2 cups (half a jar) good grade tomato basil pasta sauce, OR
2 cups good marinara sauce and 1/4 tsp dried basil, crumbled
1/3 cup shredded parmesan or asiago cheese

crusty Italian bread, like a ciabatta

Put the eggplant and oil in a saute pan with 1/4 cup of water and bring the mixture to a boil, then turn the heat to medium, cover, and cook about 15 minutes.  You want all the water to steam away and the eggplant to get truly soft while it browns on the bottom.  When it’s done, stir-scrape the browning back into the mixture.

Add the leeks and stir till they too are tender, slowly adding the packing liquid from the chickpeas if you need it to forestall burning.  Stir in the chickpeas, red sauce, dried basil if you’re using it, and the packing liquid if you didn’t already.  When the mixture is bubbling nicely, top it evenly with the cheese, and slide the pan into that warm oven till you need it.

Serve over big torn chunks of warm bread.  This is so delicious that, the night I first made it as a vegetable side dish, it turned into the main course.

© /KC December 2008

Pantera’s Meatloaf December 10, 2008

Posted by panterazero in herbs & spices, Kip of the Week, red meat.
2 comments

Announcement

I was recently invited by our administrator, Junk Food Girl — hereinafter referred to as NetHeadChef — to become a full voting member of this blog, and I accept humbly and gleefully.  From now on I will be posting as panterazero, the name on my birth certificate, rather than as Kip of the Week.  And I hope that I will properly answer the honor that has been done me.

Pantera’s Meatloaf

Many of us are just emerging from a stretch of concentration on poultry — personally I’m still using up the dark meat from our Thanksgiving turkey — and, because the US holiday calendar is so odd, we’re about to enter another one.  So, given what I said earlier about saving red meat for special occasions, let’s have some while we’ve got a chance.  I messed around with half a dozen meatloaf recipes from prestigious (or dilapidated or both) cookbooks before I realized that, by its nature, the tastiest meatloaf is also quick and simple.

Preheat oven to 400°F (375°F convection)

four cloves garlic
two slices whole-grain bread, toasted dark and broken up
one teaspoon dried oregano
one teaspoon dried marjoram
one teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red flake pepper
one large onion, diced
one generous pound ground beef
one generous pound ground turkey
two eggs
one 7-oz. can El Pato Mexican tomato sauce
1/4 cup whole-grain mustard

1/4 cup good commercial barbecue sauce or bulgogi sauce mixed with 1/4 cup water

In food processor, mince garlic, then add bread and grind to crumbs, add dried herbs and pepper, and pulse.  Add to large bowl.

In food processor, mince onions, add to bowl.

Add ground meats, eggs, El Pato sauce, and mustard. Combine with a large spoon or with your hands, and mix thoroughly, but don’t overwork the mixture. Mound the mixture onto the pan. Bake 15 minutes at 375°, then reduce heat to 325° and bake about 1 1/2 more hours, until the juices in the pan have browned and the internal temperature is 150°.  For the last fifteen minutes of baking, brush with the thinned-down barbecue sauce to glaze.

Let cool slightly, cut into nice thick slices, and serve with pico de gallo, mango chutney, or sriracha.  This recipe is as good cold as hot.

© /KC December 2008

Guest of the Week: Walnut Balls December 3, 2008

Posted by schizodigestive in appetizers, cheesy goodness, Kip of the Week, tomato, vegetarian.
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These are from my longtime friend Anne, who paints landscapes, designs databases, plays the flute, and lives in the coastal redwood forest north of San Francisco. Her home is smack in the middle of one of the most beautiful parts of California, and here’s what she does with it.

This appetizer, like most of what Anne does, is excellent in a way that you’ll really notice. I make them once a year at the outside, because I want everybody to wait for them — they’re that good.

Mix together:

one cup walnuts, ground
one cup Parmesan cheese, grated
one cup breadcrumbs

Sauté until soft:

one large carrot, grated
one medium potato, grated
one medium yellow onion, grated

Combine the two mixtures and add:

Three eggs

The result should have about the same consistency as meatloaf. Roll this mixture into balls about an inch and a half in diameter. Sauté in butter or oil until firm and well browned.

At this point you can do one of two things. Bake these in a glass dish at 300° for 15 minutes, then serve them on toothpicks as appetizers — in which application they’re sort of like falafel, but a lot better. Or you can keep going:

Three or four Yukon gold potatoes, sliced fairly thin
Walnut balls as above
One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes (or whole ones cut up)

In a buttered baking dish, arrange overlapping potato slices. Add walnut balls in one layer. Pour tomatoes over. Cook covered in a 350° oven for one hour.

© Anne Kessler December 2008