Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Brining Test!

So you don't think I offed us all with turkey poisoning, I shall finish my report on the science experiment.

Ah yes, the "Brine Test".

Everyone needs a good shaking of their faith to get them back on their toes. And mine was a in the form of a little crispy brown fat looking bird.

So, there he was all nice & golden brown, looking plump & pleasant, and until then I hadn't given the taste a second thought. But upon pulling it out, a bit of the turkey stuck to to the oven rack & so I pop it in my mouth thinking "Yum, Turkey". And what does it taste like?

Well, like you'd expect something to taste if you've any brain at all & your turkey had been soaking it in salt for 13 hours.....SALTY. Oh no, not just SALTY but, I mean, SALTY!!! Suddenly I was struck with the thought that I had just made the dumbest mistake of my Christmas dinner life and a certain brother in law was on the other side of the world with his salsa & bean dip & having a good laugh on my account.

But just when I was about run away from home with stuffing and gravy in tow, dear Significant Other cut the turkey, and to my shock (though not his, I guess he had faith) it was not overly salty but just about the softest turkey you ever did eat. It cut like butter & it was smooth & soft, even the very outer breast parts.

So all that to say......I BELIEVE!!!

It worked great & I intend to try it out with other poultry in smaller increments. And if you're weak in faith...............Just grab yourself a turkey & brine it!

Post Script: My S.O. & I have concluded that I tasted the part of the turkey at the very bottom of it, probably the part that got all the salt & drippings into it. The gravy was the perfect saltiness without having to add anything either.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Merry Christmas!!

Thanks to my Jono-in-law I have decided to try brining my turkey. It's not yet baked so I'll tell you how it goes. It was all very "science experiment" like. The turkey. It's 13 lb. (6 kgs)
The container I'm using. Thank you Ashley, it's her treasure box washed out. (Can never be too sure about some of those treasures, you know)
The ENORMOUS amount of salt used. (2 1/2 c for my 2 1/2 gallons of water)
The spices
and seasonings
The brine (It's brown cuz of the brown sugar) I kept it in a cooler w/ ice cuz' I have not room in the fridge)
And here is poor Oscar in the bath. Makes me feel like going to the sento!! With onions floating with me.
Well, wish Oscar luck. And I'll have to fly to Mexico to strangle a certain brother in law if it doesn't!
Christmas dinner will be pulled off with 2 adults towing 8 children & a frying pan. Have a good one too.
And PS: if you wanna call me for a recipe or cooking advice, have the kindness to PRETEND that you're just calling to wish me a Merry Christmas first!!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Go Stuff Yourself! (in the non-Aussie sense!)

Thought I should post at least one Christmas recipe since I haven’t put up anything for Christmas cooking. But if you want to snoop around my Dec 2006 archive you’re sure to find a few good pie recipes at the very least.

It turns out I already put this one up as well come to think of it. (oh well, I’m tired) Here’s my “Al’s messed up stuffing”. I don't know about you but nothing says stuffing for me like dried cranberries. I don't think it would be the same without them. Or apples, or pecans for that matter. I'm putting this up for Gabe (of Winny) who asked me what I do for my stuff. Here you go bro. In true authentic "Al" fashion (aka: total chaos) right next to (what else) nikujaga! Don't stress about getting the bread incriment right. It's about 6 1/2 c. of bread of whatever type. My main tip: DON'T OVER MIX! OKEY-DOKEY?

Though you’re already eating it tonight at M/F’s Party. Which BTW, was great fun cooking for & I do NOT envy the clean up crew. YIKES!!! My contribution was a drop in the bucket but it was great fun. Can you believe it, I didn't even take any pics of my food. Darn!

Thanks everyone at home for letting me have some “hobby time”. Now it’s on to C’mas dinner, FOR REAL!

Love, Peace & Turkey Grease!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Cooking for Fun!

The Lord must love me today!! I offered to help a Mark & Faith with their Christmas dinner party & I’m going to help with a few things. Believe me, it’s just a drop in the bucket, they have a few other helpers, but I got to choose the desserts. I picked some good Christmassy ones. I couldn’t help it with the Grasshopper Pie, it just has got great coloring. So anyway here’s what I’m making. I know it sounds wacky but it’s just so darn fun to cater, esp. when you have a flexible budget & menu. It’s like playing ‘food toys’. Though I’ll have to do most of it in my spare time I think I’ll be able to cover it OK. So here’s the list:

Roast Turkey
New England apple nut stuffing
Cold Tuna Mozarella Pasta
Mushroom & Bacon Pasta
Raspberry Cheesecake
Grasshopper Pie
Pumpkin Chiffon Pie
Avocado Salsa
Bacon Sour Cream Dip

And for you in the United States of America, cranberries are like GOLD about ½ a cup of frozen cranberries for about 4.00$. That would mean it would cost about 30.00$ to make cranberry sauce. So I guess I won’t be having any this year. PTL!!

I’m wishing I could get some real solid advice about Trifle, for example, what’s the closest thing to the Ladyfingers, or whatever you use for the “biscuity” part. And what’s the traditional liquor to use, I’ve read for the most part Sherry or Brandy? Gee, I wish Nick was around, that dude knew pretty much all there was to know about Trifle.

OH, & BTW, if anyone has a tried & proven cornbread stuffing recipe please email me.

Nighty night!!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Eggnog Night

I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s a tradition, (That word makes me squirm just a little too much) but it’s something that my kids sure enjoy. Bake a couple of batches of cookies & whip up a batch of eggnog, put them all in their PJ’s & watch a Christmas movie or sing some Christmas songs.

Then, when all the cups are washed & the kids are occupied in goes the rum & out sneak all the sneaky mommy & daddy ‘noggers’. It does mystify me though that something as simple as basic custard with whipped egg whites & cream with some nutmeg could become a favorite. No doubt it was invented by some Puritan over-indulgent-whip-cream-snitching lady who had 18 children & added a little rum to calm her frayed nerves. (Sounds like something I would have invented)

So since I shall be busy hosting an Eggnog Night for the hoards I don’t have time to expound on a recipe per se. And since I don’t even use one I won’t bother. I’ve seen several varieties & people seem pretty protective of their eggnog groove, I won’t make any blanket statements. I’ll just leave you with a few noggin thoughts.

Thought 1#: LESS IS MORE! If you ever want to think kindly of eggnog, please don’t drink more than 2 cup fulls. Unless you are like a certain Gene-ious with good hi-Gene, who shall remain anonymous --- and who easily downed 8-9 cup fulls and nearly jumped into the punch bowl to lick the remains. JUST DON’T!

Thought 2#: COOKIES, ANYONE! If you don’t have time, make some dough in advance & freeze it, (roll it into a cylander & wrap it with wax paper) that way you can slice it up & bake a batch for your nogg nite. I would recommend a simple spice filled cookie, or gingersnaps.

Thought 3#: BLEND BABY! That is to say, give the flavors a chance to blend, make it the night before & let it sit in your fridge with a huge menacing sign to ward off midnight snack hunters. But beware of adding egg whites too far in advance.

And with that I shall put in a personal plug. If ever you happen to find a nutmeg tree, please be so kind as to cut down a few pods for me. To heck with that, saw down the tree & drag it my way & I’ll be eternally grateful. Thank you, and good night!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Soup & Scones (Pt 2)

So, here’s the “scones” part of the “Soup & Scones”. I know that the onion topping sounds a bit radical (or at least it did to me) but I ended up really enjoying these. Even though I had a "consistancy" issue & didn't even try to roll & score these, nonetheless they were great as "dropped" scones.

According to the cookbook I got these from they were called "Savory Scones". Aptly named too. The word “Savory” totally describes these. The brown sugar in the topping gives it a slightly sweet hint & I used fresh rosemary (my favorite) in the topping & that to me set this in a class of it's own. The scone itself was crispy on the outside & inside almost similar to cornbread in texture. Not bad!! So here’s how I did it. First the topping:

Butter or margarine 2 tbsp
1 large onion thinly sliced
rosemary 1 tsp (or 1 tbsp fresh)
thyme ¼ tsp
Brown sugar

Melted the butter in frying pan & saut├ęd the onions with the rosemary & thyme & brown sugar till clear & soft. Apparently according to the recipe I was supposed to add the spices & sugar at the end (after I was done w/ the onions) but I was in a hurry & in typical fashion didn’t read the recipe properly. OK, well…big deal!

On to the Scones:

Flour 3 c.
Sugar 1 tbsp
B. Powder 4 tsp
B. Soda 1/2 tsp
Salt ½ tsp
Oregano 1 tsp
Basil ¼ tsp
Garlic Powder ¼ tsp
Butter or Margarine 6 tbsp

1 egg
1 c milk

This part was simple, in typical biscuit/scone fashion. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl, cut butter till crumbly. Add beaten egg & milk stir & make soft dough. Here’s the part where I had to deviate from the recipe. It claimed you could kneed it 8-10 times, on a floured surface,--- NO WAY!! I just had to add 1/3 c more flour & then turn it over in the bowl & put heaping spoonfuls (@ 2 heaping tbsp per scone) on the baking try about 2 cm apart. Preheat oven to 220c for 20-25 min makes about 15-18 scones. And there you have it. Not the best lookers, I'll admit, but they sure tasted great!

Ah, and of course here comes the professional “goof up” part of the recipe. I did not grease the baking pan & had a rather mortifying time trying to pry these babies off of the pan, while the kids were sitting at the table banging their plates with their silverware & singing rounds of “Oh-Thank-you-Jesus” in keys A-G at various tempos (just to remind me they were waiting). At least that’s how it seemed to me. But all in all, I liked these, and I would make them again. Definitely would recommend adding these to a simple chicken or beef stew meal. Just the kinda thing to have on a cold winter day!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Last Birthday Cake of the Year

Here's Travis' 4th B'day cake. It was the 2nd Lightning McQueen cake I had to make. Although I abhor encouraging the whole obsession with one particular animation character I couldn't help it with this cake. I've only had to make 2 "decorated" cakes this "birthday season". So I was willing to take it on. The two girls opted for pies for their birthday. Lani, raspberry cheesecake & Ashley, Lemon Meringue. So that made my job a lot easier this year.

I'm really not one for originality when it comes to cakes. Take for example this one, c/o Fay (I'm assuming) look at it. It's a virtual movie set. Check out the car wreck, in the middle. Pure genius. Well, in any case.. Hat's off to all mommies who juggle Birthday hysteria & cake decorating too.
All I can do is the-color-by-number-type cake. Well, in any case, he liked it. Thank God I have black food coloring from the US.

Note to all concerned mothers: Don't ever let your little 3 year old hyperactive boys watch a movie that says "I AM SPEED" for it's opening line. You & everyone else you live with will regret it.