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Christmas dinner, summarized. December 26, 2008

Posted by sarawr in baking, dessert, entertaining, herbs & spices, holidays, menu, potatoes, poultry.

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!


Taking over for Kip: Strawberry-margarita cheesecake. November 13, 2008

Posted by sarawr in 10115157, baking, dessert.

My goodness! Kip seems to be — dare I say it — slacking! Well, never fear: Junk Food Girl is here, with a delicious bit of baking magic just in time for the holidays! Trust me, this cheesecake needs no more introduction.


2 cups crushed graham crackers
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup melted butter

1 cup fresh strawberries, hulled
24 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup tequila
1/4 cup Triple Sec


Mix the crushed graham crackers, melted butter and sugar thoroughly then press into the bottom and 1 1/2 inches up sides of a 9-inch spring-form pan (or the cups of a muffin pan, if you prefer). Bake at 325 degrees F for 8 to 10 minutes; set aside.

Purée strawberries in electric blender; process until smooth, scrape down sides to get all the strawberries. Reserve 1/2 cup purée.

Beat cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy. Gradually add sugar, beating well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Stir in 1/2 cup strawberry puree, lime juice, tequila and Triple Sec.

Pour into prepared pan; pour reserved strawberry purée on top in a circle and gently swirl it through the batter with a knife. (If you made muffins instead, fill the cups about 2/3 full, then proceed as directed.)

Bake at 325 degrees F for 1 hour and 10 minutes (45 minutes for muffins; test them with a fork or toothpick at about 30 minutes — they should be sticky, with the consistency of really hard Jell-O). Center will be soft. Remove from oven and run knife around edge of pan to release sides. return to oven; turn oven off and leave cheesecake in oven 30 minutes.

Remove cheesecake from oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.

Remove from pan; cover with plastic wrap (not foil, trust me on this) and chill for 8 hours.