Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Clam Chowder

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!!!

While I didn't do any cooking for the holidays, I still haven't finished my Thanksgiving posts, so here's one more.

I was a bit worried that the soup wouldn't get eaten and that I'd have a ton of leftovers, but apparently, it wasn't something that I needed to worry about. I made the clam chowder the day before and then popped in the crock pot in the morning to heat it up and left it there during dinner to keep it warm. Anyone who wanted it, had to get up off their butts, walk over, pour themselves a bowl, and bring it back to their seats.

The crock pot happened to be near my father-in-law who took it upon himself to tattle on people who went for seconds. I told him it was fine and that we had plenty - people could go for seconds and thirds as much as they wanted. Apparently that wasn't the reaction he was looking for out of me, so he decided to report to everyone, how many bowls each person had helped themselves to. Luckily, that didn't deter anyone from going back for more and we had less than one bowl's worth left at the end of the night. I'd call that a success :)

Happy New Year!!!

- Clams and clam juice (I used canned clams that were packed in its own juices)
- Stock (clam stock would be best, then fish, then veggie or chicken. I used chicken because that's all that I had on hand. Water will do too if you don't have any stock at all)
- Milk (I used soy milk)
- Cream (I used half & half though I'm sure heavy cream would have been wonderful)
- Potatoes
- Onions
- Celery (optional)
- Parsley
- Salt
- Pepper
- Flour
- Butter

- Peel and dice the potatoes.
- Finely dice the onions.
- Finely slice the celery.
- In a heavy bottomed pot, add a bit of butter or oil and the onions and sweat them until softened.
- Add the potatoes and celery.
- Saute everything until the potatoes and celery have softened a bit. They don't need to be totally cooked through yet at this point.
- Remove everything.
- Make a rue by mixing equal parts of melted butter and flour and cooking it until it is just starting to turn a bit golden in color.
- Add any of the liquids (milk, cream, stock) and whisk the mixture until the rue has been fully incorporated into the liquid and it has thickened nicely.
- Add the rest of the liquids, the clams, clam juice, onions, celery, potatoes, etc and bring everything to a simmer.
- If the soup is not thick enough, either add more cream or make more rue in a separate pot, add a bit of the liquid from the soup to the rue and add the entire mixture back to the soup once it's been fully incorporated.
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- Add the parsley at the last minute.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Baked Brie

I've been wanting to try this forever! I keep hearing how fabulous baked brie is and how it's always such a hit at parties, but I never got a chance to try it. Well, I still didn't get to try it this year since brie is on the "do not eat" list for pregnant ladies, but everyone else seemed to enjoy it!

Next I had to decide on what kind of baked brie I wanted to make. Wrapped in puff pastry? Topped with a fruit compote? What kind of fruit compote?

In the end, I decided to save myself a bit of trouble and just go with the easiest version out there...topped with honey and nuts.

I can't give a personal report on whether it was good or not, but it seemed to go over well with the guests. Hopefully I'll get a chance to try it myself one of these days...

- Brie

- Honey

- Nuts (I used sliced almonds)
- Crackers


- Place the brie on a piece of foil and pop it in the oven at 350 until the middle is soft and gooey. It shouldn't take very long at all.

- Transfer the brie onto the serving plate and drizzle honey on top.

- Garnish with nuts.

- Serve with crackers.
(I also placed a few apple slices around for a bit more color)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Sweet Potatoes

Normally, I'm a bit of a control freak. I like to do everything myself, but seeing as how we had 20 people coming and I was low on energy because of the pregnancy, I was forced to concede and let my mom help me out. But even then, I couldn't quite bear to give up control on anything too big like the turkey, so I let her be in charge of the sweet potatoes.

I had all sorts of ideas for the sweet potatoes, but my mom claimed she had a fabulous way of preparing them and I was too tired and short on time to fight her, so I bit my tongue and let her do them her way. And lemme tell ya, they were really good! I might even steal her recipe in the future and pass it off as my own :)

And next time, I'll remember to get a picture of the completed dish instead of it just simmering in the pot.

- Sweet potatoes
- Orange Juice
- Brown Sugar
- Butter

- Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into bite size pieces.
- Place the sweet potatoes in a large pot with orange juice, brown sugar, and LOTS of butter.
- Simmer the sweet potatoes, gently stirring them ocassionally until they're mostly cooked through. (You can skip this part if you want and put them directly into the oven, but since oven space is scarce on Thanksgiving day, we did most of the cooking on the stovetop and just finished them in the oven).
- Transfer everything to a baking dish and bake them at 375 until they finish cooking and have a bit of crisp and color to them.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Sauteed Green Beans II

I'm not a fan of the typical cream of mushroom green bean casserole, so I served sauteed green beans instead.

I made something similar last year and used a lot of bacon grease and decided to go a little healthier this year. There's still bacon, but it was crisped and crumbled separately and just sprinkled on top. Still delicious and a bit healthier :)

- Green beans
- Red onions (or shallots)
- Mushrooms
- Bacon
- Oil
- Salt

- Clean and trim all the green beans.
- Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil.
- Blanche the green beans until they're cooked but still crunchy.
- Immediately remove them from the water and plunge them into an ice bath.
- After the green beans have cooled, drain them.
- I did all this a few days ahead of time and put it in a ziploc bag in the fridge to make the day-of less stressful.
- Slice the onions length wise.
- Quarter the mushrooms.
- Cook the bacon until crispy and then crumble it into large chunks.
- In a large pan, heat a bit of oil.
- Add the onions and a bit of salt. Saute them until they're soft.
- Add the mushrooms and saute until cooked and slightly browned.
- Add the green beans and a bit more salt if necessary.
- Mix everything together until the green beans are heated through.
- Put it on the serving platter and top it with the bacon.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Pork Roulade

Since we had 20 people coming over for thanksgiving dinner and the turkey was only 20 pounds, we decided to do a second meat dish, just to be on the safe side. We decided on trying something new and made a pork roulade.

My husband went out and bought a big old pork tenderloin while I decided on a pear butter, bacon and mushroom filling. I've never tried it, but it sounded like a tasty combo.

The day of, my husband cut the pork loin in half to make it easier to work with. He then butterflied, but in 3 sections, is that still called butterflying? Anyway, he made 3 long cuts length-wise in each half of the pork loin to open and flatten them out. I diced and sauteed the mushrooms, my mom crisped and crumbled the bacon, and then I mixed the filling together and slathered it on the pork. My husband then rolled up the roulades, tied them up to keep them from unrolling and oil, salt and peppered them generously. We then browned them on our griddle and popped it in the oven at 350 for a little less than an hour and then took them out to let them rest.

Unfortunately, it turned out a little overcooked and dry because the turkey had hogged both of our probe thermometers (the turkey is more important after all) and we guess-timated how long it would take. Plus, this was our first time making something like this, so it really wasn't our fault. Especially for a first attempt and with all the other craziness going on in the kitchen, I think my husband did a fabulous job. With a little more practice and access to a probe thermometer, I think this could be a lot juicier and prettier in the future. It's definitely a keeper.

What do you think?

- Pork tenderloin
- Pear butter
- Mushrooms
- Bacon
- Oil
- Salt
- Pepper

- Dice the mushrooms and saute them to release most of the liquid. Set aside
- Crisp up the bacon and crumble it. Set aside.
- If your pork loin is really long, consider cutting it in half to make it easier to work with.
- Make 3 cuts into the pork loin (length-wise), so that it can be "unrolled" into one large piece of pork that is evenly thick the whole way through. (This is much easier said than done and may take some practice).
- Mix the pear butter, mushrooms and bacon together.
- Slather the mixture on the "cut" side of the pork loin, leaving about half an inch to an inch of empty space along the border.
- Roll the pork and filling up and tie it every few inches with kitchen twine to keep it from unrolling.
- Generously coat the outside with oil, salt and pepper.
- In a large pan (we used our griddle), brown each side of the pork roulade.
- Put it on a baking sheet and place it into a 350 degree oven.
- Cook until it reaches an internal temperature of 160.
- Take the pork out and let it rest for at least 20 minutes (you can tent it with foil to keep it warm).
- Cut off the strings, slice the pork and serve. If there are any juices, pour those on top. Cranberry sauce and gravy go well with it too.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Thanksgiving Turkey

This year, we had a 20 pounder and I decided to do my own brining. I definitely think it was worth the extra hassle. The meat was juicy and flavorful and I believe that it definitely made a significant difference.

Last year, I bought a pre-brined turkey from Trader Joe's and I think this year was better, though it is difficult to remember and compare against something I had a year ago. Even if it wasn't, brining is not difficult, so I'd rather not pay more for the pre-brined and do it myself.

I used Alton Brown's brine recipe and used the same tips and tricks I used last year to get a nice juicy bird with perfectly browned crispy skin.

Here's a recap. The night before, brine the turkey. I put the turkey and brine in a gigantic brining bag and stuck the whole thing in the fridge overnight.

Brine Ingredients:
(adapted from Good Eats)
- 1 cup of kosher salt
- 1/2 cup of light brown sugar
- 1 tbs of black peppercorns
- 1 1/2 tsp of allspice berries
- 1 1/2 tsp of chopped candied ginger
- 2 gallons of water

Brining Directions:
- Heat 1 gallon of water and mix the rest of the ingredients in until the salt and sugar are dissolved.
- Let the mixture cool. I made mine 2 nights before and chilled it in the fridge overnight. If you don't have time to chill the mixture, add lots of ice to bring the temperature down (take that amount of liquid out of the 2nd gallon of water if you do).
- The night before, put the turkey in a large brining bag and pour in the mixture along with another gallon of water.
- Make sure the turkey is fully submerged and that the cavity is filled with the brining liquid instead of a big air bubble.
- Place the brining bag in a large pan (I used the roasting pan) to catch leaks and refrigerate it overnight.

Turkey Ingredients:
- Vegetable oil
- Rosemary
- Garlic
- Lemon zest
- Salt
- Pepper
- Aromatics (such as onions, apples, lemons, oranges, etc)

Turkey Directions:
- Take your brined turkey out of the fridge.
- Dump all the brine down the sink and rinse the turkey well (be sure to get both the inside and the outside)
- Carefully use your fingers to separate the skin from the meat whereever you can reach (mostly the breast).
- Either pat the turkey dry, or put it on the baking rack in the roasting pan and place it in the fridge for a while to dry out the skin.
- Flip the turkey so that it's on the baking rack, breast side down.
- Place a bag of ice inside the cavity, resting against the breast and another bag of ice underneath the turkey breast.
- Let the rest of the bird come up closer to room temperature while icing the breast. Since the breast tends to cook faster than the dark meat, this will help the two reach the perfect temperature at the same time, resulting in perfectly cooked and juicy light and dark meat.
- Mix the oil, finely chopped rosemary, minced garlic and lemon zest together in a bowl.
- Remove the ice bags from the turkey.
- Slather the mixture all over the outside of the turkey and underneath the skin in the areas that you were able to separate it from the meat.

- Generously salt and pepper both the inside and outside of the turkey.
- Stuff the turkey with the aromatics.
- Place one probe thermometer in the deepest part of the breast without hitting the bone and another in the deepest part the leg and the body, without hitting the bone.
- Put the turkey into a 500 degree oven for 30 minutes until the skin is crispy and browned.
- Cover the breast with foil and turn the oven down to 350 degrees and cook until both thermometers reach 161 degrees.
- Take the turkey out and tent it while letting the turkey rest for at least 15 minutes.
- Carve the turkey and serve it to your hungry guests!

Saturday, December 5, 2009



I know. I've been MIA lately and I apologize, but I have a good excuse (at least I think it is).

We have a bun in the oven!

I've been pretty tired (though that's getting better these days) and I have had no interest in food, hence the lack of posts. I don't enjoy cooking, eating, or even thinking about's really quite sad. Even tried and true favorites have no appeal to me, though that's starting to ease up it seems.

We did manage to cook a Thanksgiving dinner for 20, so I'll be slowly posting those.

In the meantime, I want to thank Juliana at Simple Recipes for the Kreativ Blogger award! I promise to try to blog more regularly so that I'm more deserving of it.

Thanks Juliana!

So, to play by the rules, here are 7 things about me (I'm going to cheat a little here):
1. I'm pregnant!
2. I'm pregnant!
3. I'm pregnant!
4. I'm pregnant!
5. I'm pregnant!
6. I'm pregnant!
7. I'm pregnant!


And here are 7 bloggers I'd like to share the award with:
1. Skinny food by Amy
2. Elizabeth's Edible Experience
3. Made with Love
4. Petite Nyonya
5. Journey of an Italian Cook
6. Dunkin Cooking the Semi-Homemade Way
7. Pig Pig's Corner