Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Butternut, before I forget.

AH. The month's practically vanished!

I guess I forgot to say that I was going on an extended vacation. To the land of back-to-back family shindigs.

I missed Food Blahg and Twitter. I hope everyone had a great holiday. Well, I suppose it isn't all over yet, with New Year's coming up and all. And yes, even more family shindigs await.

At least one more thing to wrap up here before year's end, though. Even though it's old news. Oh well.

Busted butternut.

You may remember that I went a little squash crazy this fall. I managed to cook with a handful of different squashes -- kabocha, buttercup, and pumpkin -- but my favorite was definitely butternut.

The first I bought was a beaut -- practically perfect as far as butternuts go. I got it early on in squash season so I had prime pickin.' And then I bought a couple more later on. I used up the less attractive ones first because I really adored that first one I got. My mother, who also discovered how much she liked butternut squash after she'd had a bit of mine, asked if she could have it. I refused.

And then later, this happened:

My beautiful butternut took a dive to the kitchen floor and cracked (see the bottom left?). I teared up a bit. I suppose this is the consequence of being a butternut hog. And since I could not just leave it out like that, I reluctantly cut it into two manageable pieces to be able to store it in the fridge. Bye bye, butternut.

Oh, and thank you for the tasty dishes.

Roasted butternut with shallot and sage, tossed with goat cheese and penne:

Butternut gratin with goat cheese and hazelnuts:

I also made a butternut bisque to help soothe my cough (no photo).

Yes, I realize I made pretty much the exact same dish with three slight alterations. You can't blame a girl from wanting to use up her leftover ingredients from Thanksgiving!

I still want/need to try the spaghetti, acorn, and delicata varieties. Perhaps it'll be a New Year's resolution. Along with updating this blog more often.

See you next year.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

My Thanksgiving weekend...

In a word: rough.

Here's a summary of what went down:

- Felt a little handicapped by two new recipes for the mashed potatoes and stuffing/dressing (the previous recipes I could do with my eyes closed).
- Was completely confounded by a new turkey-trussing method, which, ironically, was Alton Brown's. Every year, I forget how to truss turkey (I guess I need to make whole poultry dishes more often), so I look up the same instructional video on Food Network -- except I couldn't find it this year. Aren't you supposed to be making this easier for me, Alton, instead of delaying my turkey from getting into the oven by half an hour?
- Took out the turkey too early because I am apparently unable to properly use a thermometer. I just could not get in sync with my turkey this year! My stuffing and sweet potatoes were taking up space in the oven by the time I realized that my bird was a few degrees away from saying "GOBBLE," so I had my sister make a frantic run to my aunt's house where Thanksgiving is hosted (luckily only 3 minutes away) with the turkey in the passenger seat, while my car was beeping incessantly warning her to buckle in her 20-pound turkey child.
- Made a mess in the oven by forgetting to place my springform pan, containing my post-Thanksgiving pumpkin cheesecake, on top of a sheet pan. I felt really bad about it because my mother had just made the oven all spic and span when she cleaned up the turkey splatters. After that, I cleaned it up myself of course, but not without forgetting to use kitchen gloves. So now I have a scaly monster for a right hand.
- Finally: contracted a really, really annoying cold/cough.

BUT. Despite all the mishaps, Thanksgiving was a success. After we cooked it all the way through at my aunt's, the turkey was still super tender and tasty. The two new recipes -- caramelized shallot and sage mashed potatoes and hazelnut, sage, and mushroom stuffing -- were well worth the extra effort. I added a little oomph to my turkey stock this year, resulting in a superbly rich gravy.

I just hope next year's Thanksgiving runs a tad more smoothly.

Now, please join me as I look back on reaping the rewards of a rough weekend!

Counter-clockwise from top left: my mom's salad with peanut dressing -- a staple at any family party (oh, forgot to mention that we always have American + Indonesian food at Thanksgiving), BBQ chicken, mac 'n cheese, corn spoonbread, baked sweet potatoes and apples, turkey turkey, Honeybaked ham, creamed spinach and corn (a dish I'm retiring to the dismay of a beloved cousin), fried bakmi, Oma's bakso soup, krupuk, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy and cranberries. I only made seven of these dishes.

The stuffing was among my favorites this year. I used a Pullman loaf from Poul's Bakery in Orange instead of a box of dried bread cubes. I'm definitely not opposed to shortcuts, but using real bread is WORTH it. The creminis are great, and the hazelnuts make it so festive!

Aaaand this is why I love having a pastry chef for a cousin.

YES that is a mini crème brulée next to the mini fruit tart, pumpkin pie, pecan pie and brownie!

A pretty good first attempt at making cheesecake, if I do say so myself. The crust is made from gingersnaps, pecans and candied ginger; the topping is sour cream and marshmallow. All of it is creamy, dreamy and wonderful.

Thanksgiving is still my favorite holiday.