Monday, November 24, 2014

Thanksgiving Sides

I'm so excited.  It's Thanksgiving this week, and I'm going to join some friends for dinner.  

Which means I get to make some sides and bring them along.

I love the sides at Thanksgiving.

I like the basics, turkey, mashed taters and gravy, but the sides is what elevates it for me.   In fact I can make an entire meal out of the sides, and have done so in the past.   The turkey was kinda an afterthought.

Not really.  I need a slice of turkey so I can put some of my Boozy Cranberry Sauce on top.

I'm making some this year and bringing it along with a Pumpkin Pie















 and some of my
No-Knead Bread.

And even though I'm not making some of my other favourites, nothing says I can't share the recipes or links here with you. 

Ummm, by the way, is your turkey in the fridge thawing yet?  Remember, to safely thaw a Turkey you need to allow at least 24 hours for every 4-5 lbs.  In other words, if you're cooking a 12 lb. turkey you should have put it in the fridge on Sunday to start thawing it.  

In the past I've also made this Green Bean Casserole that the Pioneerwoman made on her website.   If you want rich, cheesy, bacony goodness, this is the way to go.   I'm getting hungry just thinking about it.   But I'm not making it this year.








I also love my Wild Rice Stuffing, and while I'm not making it for next week, I may just have to whip some up for myself.















And last, and most certainly not least, you need a pretty table.   Let me share a couple of ideas.








Sunday, November 23, 2014

Tapas Night for November

I want to apologize, a lot of the links are broken here, and I've been fixing or attempting to fix them as quickly as possible.   

We had quite a turnout last night, standing room only.   Well, not quite, I did have some seating available.   But people seem to like standing around, talking, moving from one conversation to another and it was all good.
 

However, I'm sure you're not here to hear about the great people and conversations that we had, you want to know about the food. 

And we had food, wow.

We didn't quite have everything from soup to nuts, sometimes we do, but not last night.

We had dishes that showed influences from almost all the world.

I made a couple of items that I'd actually made and posted about earlier, but I thought that they deserved a repeat.



Let me just start with a couple of overviews of the tables.

Yes, I said tables.   I have two buffets, a regular table and an island.   They were all covered with food.

  From the front, clockwise.   Some Garlic Baked Mushrooms,  Cheese from Spain, Pumpkin Beignets, Chicken and Kohlrabi Slaw, Deviled Eggs, Casserole, Carrots, Cheese spread, Spring Rolls.
 And from the front, clockwise again..
Bacon Wrapped Chestnuts, Spring Rolls, Cheese Spread.


See what I mean?   Of course I did take some of the pictures after my guests had managed to consume  most of the offerings.

Now for the overview:
Pumpkin Beignets, and they were good.   A touch of Garam Masala for seasoning, and a couple of other spices.











Emanadas, and they disappeared in short order.













Deviled Eggs, always a popular choice, both to make and eat.












 I didn't get a chance to taste this, everytime I headed over to grab a bit, I got waylaid, but judging from the empty dish it was very good.  And it looked so pretty. 
 Carrots, I did manage to snag a taste in passing.  Very nice.
 I managed to get a shot of these bacon wrapped chestnuts, but didn't get a taste, they disappeared fast .
This was a popular dish, Lasagna, vegetarian even, but it disappeared fast.
 I didn't get a chance to try this either.  
 I'm not sure what these were, by the time I put the camera down, they were gone.
I do want to say, that both dishes the food was on were made by a local potter, she does some lovely work.
 Jon brought his beans again, and as usual, they were so good.
 Can't go wrong with deviled eggs, really, you can't.
 Stuffed Jalapeno's, didn't take long for them to disappear.



There was also this wonderful shrimp dish, which I did get a chance to taste.   It was so good on top of a cracker. 
Brie and Pepper Jelly on bread, and as you can see from the picture, by the time I got around to taking the picture, they were pretty much gone.



I got one shot of this taco dip, and it was popular. 
I mean this is one of those great go to ideas. 




I had fun with some dishes I made as well.   I'd made these Chicken and Kohlrabi Slaw Bites for an event earlier in the week, and decided to make them again.   I even made a few vegetarian.   This time round I added a little bit of Cranberry Chutney to it, more for color.   And it tasted good as well.



 I made some of my No-Knead bread.   Well, actually I made two loaves, but only one was eaten.
 I'd picked up some cheese at Trader Joe's the last time I was in the 'big' city.  The label on it said it was for Tapas, and gee, I had to buy it and serve it.  I also put out a wedge of brie, cause it was hiding in the fridge.
 I served this Antipasto plate alongside the bread, one of those just for fun ideas.  Besides which, I love having different foods out.
 I also made some more Garlic Baked Mushrooms.  And this time I remembered to squeeze a lemon on top.  I have to say, that totally transformed the dish.   I think I have my new go to way of cooking mushrooms, at least while it's still cold outside. 

And no one saw me dip a piece of bread into the juice that was left on the bottom of the dish, did they?

I also threw some Spring Rolls together.   They're quick and easy to do.  And good for you as well.
In fact I think I see some more in my near future.




Now, for the desserts:
I'm just going to let you look and drool here.    I didn't taste them all, I'm sorry to say.

 Shortbread cookies
 Apple Pie
 Lemon Pie
 Brownies
 Partridge Berry Cake, and I did try a piece of this.  I had to.  The berries were brought all way from Newfoundland and I'd never had them before.   Heard of them, but never tried them.    To the best of my knowledge, they don't grow in B.C.   The taste reminded me of huckleberries.  
Biscotti




I was told these were yummy, but didn't get a chance to try them either.



To the left, a interesting take on a cake.   A yellow cake mix with a can of pumpkin, a cross between a pie and a cake.   And the sauce that was used over the top, made this very tasty.  I managed to snag a bit.  
At the back some brownies, apple pie, the lemon pie and I didn't get a shot of the crock pot chocolate peanut candies that were brought as well





I do try to take pictures of all the food, really I do, but, the whole purpose of Tapas Night is to get together with friends and enjoy their company, which is what I do.   The food is just a wonderful bonus.   A lovely, fattening bonus.

And I get to cook as well.  


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Home Made Mayonnaise

 I made some mayonnaise the other day, and was about to do something rude to myself, cause I realized, that this is so much better than any commercial mayonnaise, and why haven't I been making this more often?

Have you ever tried making some?   I guarantee you, it's not hard, and the taste and texture, well, hands down I think it's better than most commercial brands.  

And with an immersion blender, so dang easy to make, I'm kicking myself I haven't made it for myself in a long time.  And when you make your own, you can customize it, however you like.   I like mine a little on the lemony side, but sometimes I like garlic or tarragon or an herby kind of mayo.

But for your basic old mayonnaise, this is the way to go.

Just 4 basic ingredients and I bet you have them all in your house.

Recipe:
1 Egg yolk
1 teaspoon Lemon juice (half a lemon works well here)
1 cup mild Oil (I like using a bland vegetable oil, but have made it with olive oil in the past, but it takes on the flavour of the oil)

1 teaspoon Mustard

That's it.

I have to add in a caveat here, I love my immersion blender, especially the little wisk that came with it.    I use it a lot.

First off.   Separate an egg, set the white aside, you can always add it to the omelette or freeze it or do what I did, which was add it to the dog food I was making.

Sorry got sidetracked there.

Place the egg yolk in a beaker, add a squeeze of lemon juice, a little mustard.  I used some Grey Poupon Country grind, about 1/2 tsp. (sorry I didn't measure too carefully).
Whisk the egg yolk mixture together, you'll notice it thickening up a little, well, OK a lot.  Then start drizzling the oil in, just a drop or two to begin with.
Then the magic happens. 
It starts to look a little thicker, and as you add more oil, drops at a time, it all comes together.  After you've managed to get about half the oil in the beaker, then you can drizzle the oil in, whisking it continually.  
That's the trick, continually whisking as you're pouring in the oil.  And drizzle the oil in very slowly.

And after you've got the whole cup of oil incorporated, you end up with this luscious, velvety, smooth concoction called Mayonnaise.
Which you can use how you use regular mayonnaise, cause, umm, gee, this is real mayonnaise.

Couple of hints here. 
I did say it's been a long time since I've made mayonnaise, and I 'broke' it.  Which means it started to separate, which is not what you want it to do.
But I rescued it.
I added a tablespoon of hot tap water, whisked it through just a tad and the mayo got reacquainted and made up.
Just a little trick to keep in mind.
And if you have access to pasteurized eggs, go ahead and use them if you're concerned with any kind of salmonella contamination.   You are using an uncooked egg yolk here, and don't feed it to anyone who maybe be immune compromised, you know the drill.  

Home made mayonnaise will keep for about three days in the fridge, but mine never lasts that long, it gets eaten.

****BTW****  Is your turkey in the fridge thawing yet?  It's not too early to haul it out of the freezer and stick in the fridge to start thawing.    Remember for every 4 lbs. of turkey, you need to have it in the fridge for 24 hours.    So that 20 lb. turkey needs to go in the fridge today.  


Friday, November 21, 2014

Chicken and Kohlrabi Slaw Bites

They say necessity is the mother of invention.

For a cook, you also need a pantry.

I wanted to bring something fun to nosh on after a talk at the library this week.  I had some hummus in the fridge and was planning on picking up some pita chips on my way into town, but...

I kept thinking I could/should make something.  

And by gum, I finally had a brainstorm.   This was after half freezing my fingers off trying to find some stuff in my little chest freezer.

I felt like I was on an archeological dig, but somewhere in the frozen north.

I was looking for inspiration in all the wrong places.  Kinda.

I had some Mini Fillo tart shells in the freezer, which were already baked.  I had thought of maybe making some Spanakopita bites, but couldn't find the spinach.  I guess I used it already.

But I got my AHA!!!! moment when I looked in the pantry and found my stash of canned chicken.  I'd bought it for hurricane season.
And then there was the Kohlrabi languishing, semi forgotten in the fridge.
I'd meant to eat it, but kept planning meals that didn't include it.

So...

I peeled and shredded up the Kohlrabi,
then pulled an apple out and peeled and shredded that as well.
All I needed was some kind of dressing.   And there the pantry came into its own.

I had a jar of Major Grey's Chutney and mixed that almost half and half with some mayonnaise,












 then smooshed up the drained can of chicken, and mixed them all together. 
Then I tasted it.
OMG, I think I could have eaten the whole bowlful right then and there.
I did hold out some of the kohlrabi and apple mixture, just in case there were some people who didn't eat meat.   And filled a couple of shells with just that, but the rest of the shells got the full treatment.
Filled up the Fillo shells and I have to say, 
I'm so going to make this again.  It was very tasty.  The slight sweetness from the chutney totally complemented the apple and kohlrabi as well as the chicken.  

And I got all kinds of compliments on them as well.   

Recipe:

1 small Kohlrabi, peeled and shredded
1 apple, peeled and shredded
1 can chicken in water, 15 oz. size
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup Major Grey's Chutney

Mix all together and serve in baked fillo shells or inside a mini croissant for a light lunch.

I'm thinking this might be good for Tapas?