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November 2008
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January 2009

Posts from December 2008

Belated Picture

Well, not exactly.  I made another apple pie and remembered to take a picture this time:

Pie

I won't get to see how it came out until tomorrow, as I'm bringing it up to the wilds of Connecticut for a long New Year's weekend, full of good company and food.  When I come back, I'll catch up on some of the rest of the pictures that I haven't yet posted!  Happy New Year, all!


Starting My Next Year Off Right

I began my 38th year with a trip to the gym -- I feel younger already!  The rest of the day brings shopping and cooking for a very small dinner party tonight.  The guest of honor is a duck, which was given to me as a gift (someone knows how to win me over).  I've already received many birthday wishes -- some thanks to the magic of Facebook -- which are all making me smile.  I feel so lucky to have wonderful friends and family to help me usher in another year.  And the duck helps too. 


Holiday Checklist

  • Chanukah gifts -- done
  • Wad of cash for the building staff -- done
  • Granola-- done (double batch!)
  • Toffee -- done (although mangled half the batch, so will be distributing a lot less this year)
  • Eat, drink, eat, drink, eat, drink, lather, rinse, repeat -- ongoing through New Year's
  • Fix up the GOD DAMN APARTMENT -- ongoing, with furniture placement deadline/commencement of picture hanging by 12/30/08.  Includes trip to Ikea.
  • Relax -- ongoing.

Tiny Kitchens Rock

Sure, I dream of a kitchen with scads of counter space, an island or other spot where my friends can hang out while I cook, and windows where the sun streams in, but that's not what I have.  My kitchen is the size of a suburban closet.  Yet, like Mark Bittman, I have to say, "so what?"  Having a small kitchen has never stopped me.  Turducken for 20?  Sure!  Thanksgiving in my law school dorm?  Bring it on!  Passover seder in my college dorm?  Why not!  Who cares if I use my hall table and sometimes even an ironing board to get the counter space I need -- it all comes out just fine in the end.  There's even an extra element of pride about it -- I made this feast out of my tiny kitchen, when there are people out there with huge gourmet kitchens who don't even cook.  Ever.  I'll still keep saving for the grand kitchen renovation, but in the meantime, I'll keep on cooking. 

For another great take on tiny kitchens, check out the Tiny Kitchen video series from the NYT Moment blog (she has more counter space than I do!).


Turducken!

In November 2003, I became acquainted with a culinary phenomenon known as a turducken.  I described it thusly (and yes, I was blogging in 2003.  I am a nerd.): "this is a chicken in a duck in a turkey, with layers of stuffing in between."  Indeed it is.  Back in 2003, I decided that I would partake in said gastronomic delight the following year.  Well, dear readers, I am sad to report that it took me FIVE years to get to that turducken, but this year, thanks to the generous folks at The Cajun Grocer, I got to experience it first hand.

Turduckenbefore

Now I'm not sure how they found me, but when I received an email asking if I'd like a turducken, I had to restrain myself from sending an email that said "HOLY FUCK, YEAH! I SURE DO!!!"  I think, instead, I responded a tad more subtly, with "Would love one, thank you!!"  When I got the email announcing its imminent arrival, I did a little dance around my apartment, like a 12 year old girl who had just gotten asked to the dance by the captain of the football team or something (I wouldn't know -- I was never asked to the dance by the captain of the football team.  Thank the lord.).  The beast of beauty arrived a short time later, frozen and packaged in a styrofoam container.  I placed it in the fridge to thaw for several days and decided to serve it up for the following Sunday, which was right before Thanksgiving.  I invited about 20 people to help me out -- I didn't want to have tons of turducken leftovers before heading off for the holiday, and had folks bring drinks, apps, and desserts.  I made a few sides and whatnot, but my main goal was -- the turducken. 

Turducken2

I realized fairly early on that my largest roasting pan was not quite big enough for the bird. That said, I made do, fitting it in with barely enough room to spare.  I had to buy one piece of equipment for the occasion -- a new baster.  The rubber bulb on mine had melted from storing it in the cabinet next to the oven.  Apartment living.  Sigh.  I used my digital meat probe thermometer and set it about 5 degrees shy of their recommended temperature.  I roasted it at 325 degrees and basted it every so often.  Finally my thermometer beeped, announcing that it had cooked thoroughly, and out it came. 

it emerges from the oven

Here is where I will admit my mistakes.  First, I think I should have set the thermometer about 10 degrees lower than the recommended 165 degrees, to allow for resting time.  Second, I think I had jammed the thermometer probe a little too far in, so that it was measuring more stuffing than bird.  Perhaps I should have left it in the thigh?  Either way, I overcooked it a bit.  In was in longer than the recommended time, as I was relying more on the thermometer rather than the clock.  Finally, we probably didn't carve it all that well.  I don't have a proper carving knife, and I think we were so eager to get it out that we sort of mangled it while carving it up.  That said, it was quite good.  Nicely seasoned, with a definite Southern bent due to the pork and cornbread stuffing.  Had I remembered to serve the cranberry sauce I made alongside it, it might have been that much better, but regardless, my guests and I gobbled it up (pun totally intended, leaving only the drumsticks and wings, which I happily finished off over the next few days.

Turduckenprecarve Turduckencarving

We agreed, en masse, that the turducken would become an annual tradition, perhaps every Sunday before Thanksgiving.  Thanks again, Cajun Grocer, for sending along 15 lbs of Cajun-y turducken deliciousness and getting us all warmed up for the holiday season!  You can read more about the particular turducken I got here, and the full, ridiculous picture gallery is here.

Turduckenend


My Little Red Book

Last night I attended a lovely dinner at Adour where the meal was paired with a myriad of wines from the Rhone Valley. In our gift bags, we each received a red leather journal with lined pages and gold edges.  As you may know, I like to entertain.  I was asked recently if I kept a book with all of my dinner parties, complete with guests, wines, and menus.  I've thought about doing this, but I haven't.  Now I have the perfect place to do so, and plan to start with my next dinner, whenever that may be.


Welcome, Serious Eaters!

As some of you know, I'm now writing for Serious Eats NY.  They were kind enough to put my bio into today's post so I noticed an increase in visitors.  I'll be doing at least one column a week there, on Thursdays, which you can find here.  I'm also writing for the Tasting Table --  my first piece is here and there's another on the way.  Plus, one other weekly post in the works elsewhere.  Will be sure to keep you posted!


Am I That Transparent?

Was at Grand Central Market yesterday to pick up a few burger accoutrements (namely blue cheese, which I was craving on my burger for some reason), and took the opportunity to swing by the recently opened Murray's Real Salami.  I stood gawking longingly at the cured meats and pates galore, but really had no intention of buying anything, as I thought a burger would be plenty of meat for one night.  Inside my head, however, I was figuring out my dinner and lunch plans for the week, strategizing -- would I haveroom for some pancetta in a pasta dish one night, or some salami in a sandwich later in the week?  The gentleman behind the counter must have seen the glow in my eye (or maybe I was drooling?), so he offered me a taste of the La Quercia proscuitto, which was salty, tender, and sliced so thinly you could see through it.  Perhaps based on my reaction, he then made me taste the lardo, a rosemary-infused bit of pork-fat goodness.  Somehow, I left without buying either, and headed home for one of the best (and messiest) burgers I've had in ages.  But I'll be back.


Jam-Packed

Beef

What you see here is just one jam-packed part of my weekend -- a cooler jam-packed full of grass-fed and finished beef from a farm in CT, taking the ride home with us on Metro North.  This is only a portion of the half of a cow that we picked up -- the rest is scattered in various freezers.  The rest of the weekend was busy too -- Thanksgiving recovery, minor progress on the apartment (TV gone, a few pictures hung), and my 20th high school reunion, which was a trip and a half.  Surreal, but loads of fun.  Now if I could just figure out where those 20 years went . . .