Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Kahlua & Amaretto Cream Pie
The quest for the perfect pie crust stops here!!
Chocolate Gingerbread Cake (Decoration by Yosh & frantic Mas)
Apple Pie with Pecan/caramel topping
Friday, December 26, 2008
........I think you should know a few things about me:
1: I looooooove pears
2: I equally love light green (can you see the corner of my keitai in the pic?)
3: I triple equally love home-made gifts
4: I am hopelessly endeered to caracatures with lopsided facial features.
Therefore my dearest supermodel/mom/friend has scored massive bonus points with me & had better dig up jeans 2 sizes bigger before she comes to visit. :) Tx, Kari!
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Bread Pudding with Whisky Sauce
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Cornbread, sausage, cranberry, raisin, pecan, walnut stuffing!
Thursday, December 18, 2008
I get a fair amount of phone calls every year around Christmas time. My first thought is, "Aww, how sweet, Christmas made you all sentimental & you thought of me?".
"What is this paper bag doing in the turkey?" or"How do you make the nog in the egg?" As much as I love to hear from you I'm probably going to be simultaneously policing Christmas Tree vandalism & cookie snatchers. So after giving it no thought whatsoever I've decided to review the basics of turkey making for you. It's something you do so infrequently that you're bound to practically forget each year anyway. If you call me anyway, I'll probably direct you here. Let's get on with it then:1# To brine or not to brine: I personally am sold on brining, thanks to my bro-in-law, & will never go back I would encourage you to try it too, it's not that difficult. Here's where you can find the basics on Brining your turkey, recipes are many & varied but will involve lots of SALT & a sweetener like sugar/molasses/honey/maple syrup etc... & herbs/spices. Here are some ideas of brine recipes, I'm sure there are a lot more out there, but these are pretty basic with fairly common ingredients. Come on now, you can do it!
2# Timing the turkey: Once you've decided on that you need to plan the timing of your cooking. WORK YOU WAY BACKWARDS! Find your dinner time, and go back from there. Here are the approximate cooking times for stuffed & unstuffed turkeys:
You need to give yourself time for the following things:
- Defrosting your turkey (Here's a chart for that too) Remember cold bath thawing is quicker than refrigerator thawing but you'll have to be faithful to change the water every 1/2 hr.
- Brining (if you choose to) Brining time takes 1 hr for each lb. (easy to remember) Convert your kgs to lbs & you got the time. (roughly it will take btw 9-15 hrs, give or take)
- Preparing your turkey for baking
- Covering & setting with foil for 10 min or so (makes it more moist & makes cutting easier)
So grab a pencil & do your math. Here's an example of your cooking schedule for a 12 lb (5.44kgs) brined & stuffed turkey: (remember cooking time is longer with a stuffed turkey)
Day of dinner
6:00pm Dinner time:
5:45pm Enough time to let it sit for 10 min before carving
12:45pm Turkey in the oven (about 4 1/2 - 5 hrs cooking time, go with the longer cooking time to be on the safe side, nothing like keeping dinner waiting.
11:45am Preparing for baking (1 hr) Turkey washed, dried, stuffed & buttered etc...
11:45pm Start brining (14 hrs)
11:15pm Preparing turkey for brining, (1/2 hr) pulling out giblets, taking off plastic or wire clip etc... freaking out etc..)
4:00pm defrosting in a cold bath (7 hrs) and make brining solution (it needs enough time to cool off completely after heating)
Once you have your Turkey schedule, guard it with your life. There's nothing like having to re figure the whole thing when you're stirring, whisking & burning Christmas dinner.
3# Preparing: Before we talk about what to do to prepare, A few items that you want to have on hand (I always forget to have prepared until it's too late) DON'T BE CAUGHT UNPREPARED!
- 100g. (1 stick, 1/2 c) butter (BUTTER, not Margarine)
- PAPER TOWELS
- TWINE. (if you want to tie the legs)
- Tin foil for covering during & after baking
Whether you brine or not you'll have to prepare your turkey for baking by pulling the paper sack with the giblets, & liver & the neck. DON'T toss it but save it for turkey stock for the gravy. Fry them in a little oil & put them in 2 l. of boiling water, simmer for about 1 1/2 hrs. (This also will freak out your house hold who will insist that they need to eat Christmas dinner NOW, at 9 in the morning)
As for that annoying leg holder plastic thingie, I always forget how to do that but usually figure it out in a fit of frustration which usually ends with me half in the sink pleading, "Just give it up, already." Good luck with that!
Rinse off the turkey with cold water (rinse extra well if you used brine) Wipe off the outside & inside with a lot of paper towels. Go for it, use them all!! Don't forget to take silly pics of you peering into the gaping cavity of your turkey like a skilled & deranged surgeon.
Even if you do not want to make a "rub" for the turkey (usually made of olive oil or butter & spices, NEVER EVER USE SALT) you can very simply grab 1/4 a c of butter (1/2 a stick) nuke it for a few secs then rub it ALL over the turkey.
Another uper groovy trick I learned is to slice of 4-6 thin (1 cm) slices of butter & using a chopstick or butter knife, slip it under the breast of the skin. Push it pretty far back. 2 or 3 slices on each breast. Ooooh la la!
Stuff the turkey, if you want. Personally I learned from my good friend Niki that stuffing it with sliced whole orange, apple, onion, & bouquet of rosemary, bay leaves & thyme (use the twine)gives it great flavor & your stuffing is left looking a lot less stuffed. Suit yourself!
Nows the time to tie the legs if you like. (Cooking time is longer with the legs tied, & some say the turkey is less moist) but ascetically it looks nicer of course. I'm not particular either way.
#4 Baking: Now is the blessed time to bake, oven should be preheated at 175c (350f)
You'd be hard pressed to find a turkey baking pan in Japan but if you have one more power to you. At the very least put it on a wire rack so the drippings can drip down onto the baking tray underneath. Another tip for a golden crust: After the 1st half hour of baking (or when it's starting to brown) melt another 2--3 tbsp of butter & baste or brush the entire turkey. You'll want to continue basting the turkey with it's own drippings every hour or so.
About 1/2 way into the cooking you'll notice that the skins getting pretty golden looking so you can use heavy foil to cover it. Pretty tricky to get it covered but you'll want to do a good job or you'll have some darker spots. Also as much hasle as it is continue to baste the turkey (probably only 1 or 2 times more) till it's done. Keep it from drying out.
5# Setting: And if you have a "pop-up" button you'll know when it's done. I don't have a meat thermometer so I don't know all the specs on that. Plus this post is turning into a major epistle. Take it out, move it to your serving platter (channel the strength of Samson) and cover with foil for about 10 minutes. DO NOT THROW OUT YOUR DRIPPINGS (That oily burnt goop on you baking tray)
6# Gravy: I'd love to go into the gravy "thing" but instead I'll direct you here for a pretty thorough pictorial review. Not to mention you'll want to dive through your computer screen to get a piece of her kitchen. At least I do. IMPORTANT NOTE: if you've brined your turkey the drippings will be salty so you won't need to add very much salt at all to your gravy. Proceed with caution.
And that's it folks, if you've made it this far, you're obviously a real foodie fan or you're terribly bored but either way I love love love you!
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Nearly every morning that I wear my bathrobe I remember this & just need to get it out of my system, so bear with me. This happened about a year ago now. I’m not sure what this story has to do with anything but I just get tickled thinking about it.
I have a tendency to just literally "drag-butt" when I wake up. It’s not that I have a hard time getting out of bed, on the contrary, I’m up alright, it’s just that I feel the desperate need to look like an electrocuted Rastafarian on downers in beggar attire until roughly 9:30 in the morning. Yes, it’s true & if you live with me you’d verify this sad statement. Not to mention if there was a contest for worst bad hair days I’d win hands down.....ON AN AVERAGE DAY! (but that’s another story)
I have this enormous bathrobe that I got about 7 years go on my birthday, and in my blind love for it I try to imagine that it’s not a ratty 7 year old bathrobe but rather a warm & fuzzy old friend that I pull out at the end of the year to warm my soul. I ceremoniously throw it on, shlump down the stairs. And what do I do before anything else? No, I do not look in the mirror. (Very funny!) No, I don't brush my teeth, or wash my face. (the secret to my "flawless" complication?)That’s right, to the kitchen to put on a pot of water to boil.
So on this particular mornings of mornings, I shlump down, looking as ghastly & electrocuted as ever. (thank God, DH is already taking out the trash, no need to alarm him with my appearance, which he seems to take in stride anyway!) I grab the kettle fill it up & clunk it down on the stove. It is upon turning on the stove that I am met with a rather sudden & rude awakening. My entire left bathrobed arm bursts into flames, (No, this is not a joke) and not just normal “flames” mind you but those silent, near invisible, evil blue flames that you can hear hissing. As I’m trying to half-heartedly pat out the flames on my arm (occupational hazard of being a cook is a lack of fear of fire). Immediately, I feel a gust of alarmingly warm air on my neck, followed by a toasty sensation on my back & left arm as well. It is at this point that I tear my bathrobe off stomping wildly on top of it like I'm at a rock concert and there is no tomorrow…....wearing only, or should I say NOT wearing…….well, bygones....Let’s just say the kitchen was coooold, I was awake & I did not need a coffee that morning.
Surprisingly, my bathrobe ended up with only a very faint yellowish brown staining…….OVER PRACTICALLY THE ENTIRE THING!! And upon further inspection the tag says that my bathrobe is (what do you know) NOT flame resistant!! Thank God it didn’t read “FLAMMABLE”
I sort of secretly wish someone was there to see it now, cuz’ I’m sure I looked like a total splendid moron. I’m sure I was a sight to behold. Something you only see on Japanese TV, where the skinny comedy duo team light each other's yukata on fire & jump screaming into huge vat of wasabi. But still it’s always funny to think back on
I confess, up until that point I had been guilty of serious neglect when it came to loose clothing in the kitchen. If my DH would let me, I might have cooked all day in my bathrobe. But you can be sure now that I’m a bit more aware of how close I get to the fire with my “non-flame resistant” clothing. I still get a kick out of how I’ll periodically check the back of my arm if I suddenly feel a heat wave from off the stove.
So my friend, if you ever see me wildly spinning in circles patting my back screaming, “GET IT OFF, OH GOD, GET IT OFF!!” you’ll know why.
Have a good one! And be safe in the kitchen.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Meet my new friends, Mort & Pes, they are bringers of tiding of comfort & joy. If you've never smashed stuff in a stone mortar you should come by sometime & try it, it's great fun. All this banging & clanging & nothing shatters. (Except the cardamom seeds, mind you) And if you want to smell something that will literally "blow your nasal cavity to the 7th heaven" you must crush whole cardamom seeds. Doesn't look like much but I'm still reeling. My kids could smell it from the school table & came running. (Not to mention it also sounded like Mommy had finally snapped & was breaking all the dishes in the kitchen)
Whisk the dry ingr together in a separate bowl. As usual with cookies, the butter & sugars get beaten together till their light & fluffy. Then add the honey & then the egg & vanilla. Next add the dry to the wet, mix till well blended.
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star!
PS. The recipe says that it will keep for 2 weeks in an air tight container, not that it will survive that long. I kept some for about a week & found that they lost that crunch, I wouldn't suggest keeping them too long.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
I found that baking them for 8 min was even a bit much, as you can see some of them that were in the natorious "Hot Spot" in my oven came out pretty toasted, I would've done them for a bit less for a more chewy center.
Saturday, December 06, 2008
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Once upon a time a very round mommy gave birth to a very round baby. To be sure, no one knew why a 10 day early baby could look quite so huge. At 4.2 kgs (9.2 lbs) the midwife had too much fun snapping pics of the "biggest umbilical cord" she'd ever seen & a placenta nearly 2 kgs. (4.4 lbs) that she desperately wanted to pass around to all present. :)Did the kids gather round and adore his TINY little hands & feet?.....well....they gathered round alright to observe the time honored tradition of "Baby goes kuro-goma paste poo through 3 layers of clothes & pees on mommy & onlookers" while kids are scard for life & will never spawn.
Story that comes to mind when I think of his 1's: Us running around Walmart looking for him in a half panic. He's on the other end oblivious, running around with two rolls of wrapping paper in his hands like baseball bats.
The secret to keeping a guy like this busy? Changing it up! If it's a challenge, he's on it. If he can't do it yet, you're off scott-free for at least a 1/2 hr till he figures it out.
Is he just about the action? No way! He's bound to be anything & everything when he grows up. And I'm not about to tell him he can't. To name a few he's been:
- break dancer, cook, skateboarder, Lightning McQueen, bobsledder, baseball player, Michael Phelps, contemporary dancer, naked drummer, ballet dancer, Steve Mcnair, compulsive duster & sweeper, basketball player etc etc etc.....Truth be told, I was always a bit afraid of having a high action kid, I'd look at other parents with energetic kids & subconsciously think they were doing something wrong. And in case you look at me & think that, you're probably right! But, I'll never look at the "happy kid" in a family like that again. Honestly, If I tell you I'd take your hyperactive boy or crazy tomboy daughter for the weekend.......I do mean it! :)