Putting semi in the semi-live: aftermath

November 23, 2007 in baking, cooking, holiday

Things were going ok and then pow, time contracted and chaos ruled the house!

I hope you all had an excellent Thanksgiving. We had an excellent time.

Today I am going to step through a few more shots. Food photography in our kitchen is tough so you will have to forgive the somewhat scary images, especially of the turkey!

Thanksgiving 2007: toasting crostini

I toasted baguettes for crostini.

Thanksgiving 2007: making appetizers

I enlisted grandpa to help with the crostini. Cucumbers, caramelized onions with fig vinegar, roasted garlic, salmon, etc.

Thanksgiving 2007: crostini with cukes and caramelized onions

They came out beautifully!

Thanksgiving 2007: asparagus frond decor

I used asparagus fronds as greenery around the house.

Thanksgiving 2007: baby O watching, about to go to a nap

Baby O had to watch from his area, drove him nuts.

Thanksgiving 2007: brining

The turkey was brined overnight.

Thanksgiving 2007: roasting pan

Roasting pan with onions, olive oil and rosemary.

Thanksgiving 2007: turkey before

The turkey is lubed inside and out, salted a bit, stuffed with some garlic and rosemary and roasted breast down for 1 hour and then flipped and roasted until 160 F in the meat (used heat probe) Used foil toward the end.

Thanksgiving 2007: turkey aftewards

The sugar in the brine makes for a dark roasted skin color!

Thanksgiving 2007: grandparents and grandkids

Thanksgiving 2007: making a gingerbread house

While it was cooking the grandparents decorated a gingerbread house with the grandkids.

Thanksgiving 2007: another night-time shot of turkey

Thanksgiving 2007: night-time shot of turkey

Shots of the turkey at the table, after nightfall, are always tough!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Accursed Technology has let me down

November 21, 2007 in cooking


Arrggg, my food processor has died.

I wanted to show you a photo of it exploding into tiny pieces as it was hit by a sledgehammer but I barely have time to write this and get it off my chest, so much to do.

In the grand scheme of things, whats happened is exceedingly irrelevant but in terms of my plans for Thanksgiving, this is a show stopper.

I can’t make a mousseline so now I am reverting back to a roasted turkey.


Stating the Obvious: I am NOT Martha

November 19, 2007 in baking, cookbook, cooking, holiday

Pie dreams

No disrespect to Martha and those who aspire to her homemaking pinnacles

I just have to be honest about this – my act doesn’t include perfect house cleanliness nor coordinated napkin rings.

Our table is more likely to be set with Ball canning jars and mis-matched plastic plates (antique ones marked on the back from some hospital cafeteria lord knows where!) than the china that Martha got handed down to her from her great-grandma. I just do not have that sort of family. I have nothing handed down. And, more importantly to us, we tend to spend the money we DO have on the food versus the plates it goes on.

I make do with what I have.

So with that sort of off my chest (it will climb back on soon, no doubt), I thought I would share what I am doing to try to attain some semblance of a turkey day dinner for us and the visitors on that day.

Its here where I stray into Dilbert territory and swerve away from the pink lacey recipe card get-ups that one might find in a Martha-fied kitchen. No, instead, I have been Mind Mapping our thanksgiving meal with the hopes that some project management might help the day go off well. I am demo’ing NovaMind so this is what you will see.

My preliminary mind map is pasted below.

thanksgiving mind map

Why so many veggies? Because our garden is in it’s last vestiges of existence and I want to use what is out there on Thanksgiving. If not then, when! I will likely reduce the amount of vegetables depending on what the quality of each turns out to be on that day. Food miles here – about 50 paces.

The Big Big Thing: (drum roll please) – There will be no grand turkey carcass on our table

Why, you ask?

Its a human rights issue. If I eat turkey two days in a row, and I am not exaggerating here, I get horrific hallucinations and violently ill (upper and lower GI) for hours. So, to spare me and my family this ignoble Thanksgiving tradition, I am going to make a turkey dish that will have NO leftovers and which I hope will be a nice change of pace.

What is this dish I speak of?

I am going to make a turkey breast mousseline en croute.

You may wonder what ungodly and fresh hell this is, I do not blame you.

Its essentially a turkey wellington of sorts. (Also think filet de boeuf en croute) A turkey mousse (egg white, rosemary, and cream) studded with turkey meat chunks and cranberries will be wrapped with puffed pastry. A savory layer of crimini mushroom puree will coat the inner side of the puff pastry.

Once done, you slice it as thick as you wish. My goal is to make this in a way that doesn’t yield a grainy or overly firm or overly gelatinous mousse interior. Will let you know how that goes!

For further inspiration, I am engulfing the opulent and delicious “Williams-Sonoma Holiday Entertaining” that I received recently to review. I will be doing a thorough review of this cookbook later but for now, its all eye candy. I can not recommend it enough!

Checking it twice

So the list, an organic and variable thing, is growing and evolving up to the last moment.

What grand plans do you have?

Do share, I adore hearing about what other people will do for their turkey day meal.

I guess its sorta voyeuristic but only in the best sort of way.

Become One with the Whole Grain – Maria Speck

October 26, 2007 in baking, cooking

Maria Speck - from her website

Maria Speck

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Maria Speck, a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP), Les Dames de Escoffier and Slow Food USA who is a food writer and journalist. She publishes in the German magazines Stern and Brigitte, the DPA news agency in Germany, Saveur, Gastronomica, The Vegetarian Times, and Cooking Pleasures, to name a few. She was also a Knight Fellow at Stanford University.


I look forward to getting to know her better but in the few moments we got to chat I learned about these interesting classes she is teaching at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts here in Cambridge, MA. She is on a mission to bring more whole grains into our kitchens and our recipes. She approaches these recipes with both a European and Mediterranean sensibility. Its certain that these classes should be interesting and delicious!

Cambridge School of Culinary Arts

The first one is today and its conceivable that you might possibly still have time to get in. You would have to give them a call at 617-354-2020 to see.

Today’s (Friday October 26) course is called:

Warming Fall Stews from the Mediterranean (6:30 – 9:30 pm)

It is described this way:

Mediterranean cooking is most appealing in its simplicity. Find out more about its philosophy and fascinating ingredients by preparing delectable fall soups and stews. Learn how to add traditional whole grains, as has been done through the centuries. Journalist and food writer Maria Speck will demonstrate how easy it is to cook tantalizing dishes with wheat berries, whole wheat couscous or barley. Recipes include: Lamb Stew with Tomatoes and Cinnamon, Fish Stew with Fennel, Ouzo[ and Tomatoes over Couscous, Barley Stew with Porcini Mushrooms and Pancetta, and, for dessert, Orange Ricotta Pudding with Thyme Honey.

Cost: $80.00

Link to course page

She is slated for three more classes, including:

Breakfast Grains with Maria Speck (Friday, November 2, 2007 6:30pm – 9:30 pm)

Have you held off on luscious breakfasts lately? Concerned about all the processed white flour in your diet? Discover the many flavors of whole grains and learn just how easy it is to replace white flour in your familys beloved breakfast treats. Journalist and food writer Maria Speck will present innovative recipes for delicious pancakes, quick breads, scones and more. Learn how to make the most of widely available whole grain flours: whole wheat, whole wheat pastry, white whole wheat, and stone-ground cornmeal. And, most important, you will learn the adjustments necessary to get perfect results with your own favorite recipes. Recipes include Cornmeal Pancakes with Blueberry Maple Sauce, Lemon Poppy Seed Bread with Honey Glaze, Walnut Orange Scones, and Chickpea Potato Biscuits and Herbal Goat Cheese.

Cost: $80.00

Link to course page

Quick and Easy: How to add Whole Grains to Dinner (Friday, February 1, 2008 6:30pm – 9:30 pm)

The experts are shouting it from the roof tops “Add more whole grains to your diet” but how? Learn about the subtle flavors and distinct textures that whole grains can add to your dinner table, and how to incorporate them into your busy life. Journalist and food writer Maria Speck will give a basic introduction to quick-cooking whole grains, including polenta, bulgur, whole wheat couscous and buckwheat. Add a colorful salad and pan-fried fish or chicken et voila, dinner is ready. Recipes include: Quinoa with Chicken, Cranberries and Orange, Sesame Buckwheat Couscous with Dill and pan-fried Salmon, Polenta Verde with Spinach and Parmesan, Light Lemon Custard and Ricotta Millet Cream with Mixed Berries.

Cost: $80.00

Link to course page

A Mediterranean Journey (Friday, March 7, 2008, 6:30 – 9:30 pm)

The last course does not have a link yet but you can check back here for details later.

If I didn’t live so far from Cambridge, MA, I would definitely be going to tonight’s class. Let me know if you decided to give them a try yourself!