Friday, January 2, 2015
Well, we're done with the holidays. Commercialism running rampant. First we had Black Friday. Then, Cyber Monday. Then, Christmas Eve. Then, the day after Christmas. I always have trouble figuring out what I want. A new cookbook? Sure, there are about a thousand I want. This year, my son and daughter-in-law got me the two I wanted the most. Bouchon and Ottolenghi. I've been pouring through both plotting meals. Connie and I don't exchange gifts. As I said on a Facebook post, "I must say I'm glad Christmas is over. There are those who love the holidays. There are those who tolerate them. And, those who hate them. I'm in the middle category."
The good news is that now I get to chat about a couple of things I made over the holidays that were really good. As you probably know, I have a group of friends of MANY years called Girls Night Out. There are probably a million GNO groups. Mine is so special to me. They're a group of gals who are so non-judgmental and caring and supportive that they've got to be one of a kind. Yes, I'm very lucky to call these ladies friends! They came over for an appetizer pitch-in. I made a spiced cranberry drink, toasted walnuts with rosemary and dried cherries, salami chips with mustard sauce, deviled ham cheese ball, clam dip, pork tenderloin and brie with brown sugar and pecans. The cranberry drink called for mixing the syrup with vodka and lemonade. Connie helped me prep it and mixed it with the vodka so I'd just have to deal with the lemonade. Those were good. Until Joanie showed up with the prosecco. That pretty much took it over the top!
Then, the kids visited here and we went to Columbus for a couple of days. Thomas Keller's fried chicken (be still my heart,) Christiane's cucumber and herb salad (the kids helped me lick the bowl!,) hash brown casserole (also a big hit at my brother's on Christmas morning,) beef tenderloin with bernaise sauce, pickle dip, goat cheese with rosemary cream, caramel cake... We feasted!
Christmas Eve was my family at our home. Vegetable soup, potato soup, Pat's tomato soup, Casa D'Angelo salad, three bean salad, stuffing muffins. Christmas cookies.
Christmas morning we went to my brother John's for brunch. Cheese and egg strata, ham, fruit salad. I took along my leftover hash brown casserole. Which was devoured. Which should become a regular part of brunch :-) Then, we came home. Connie took a nap. A VERY long nap. I relabeled recipes and uploaded them. We totally goofed off. Went to bed early and happy.
Next, we had Jim and Donna's games party, New Years Eve and New Years Day, But those are subjects for another post!
Let's talk about some of the recipes from above... Actually, first let me tell you about a new purchase I made... It's called nextissue.com. For 10 a month you get unlimited access to a ton of monthly magazines. For an additional $5 you get all the weeklies I love like Time, Forbes, Fortune and Business Week. One of the magazines I dug into first was the back issues of Better Homes and Gardens. I used to take twice as many magazines as I take now. That was one of the ones that had been eliminated. I couldn't justify spending the money when it was so heavily into decorating and fashion and I really just wanted to read about cooking and gardening. Now, I can read what I want when I want. It's delightful. Three of the recipes from the GNO party were from BHG. All three were a smashing success.
These were a hit with GNO, my family, Connie, me. Easy as all get out and SO good!
2 1/2 c walnut halves
2 T unsalted butter, melted
2 T finely minced fresh rosemary (I used dried and it was fine)
1 t kosher salt or coarse sea salt
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
3/4 c dried tart cherries
Heat your oven to 350. Put the walnuts on a half sheet. Pour over the butter, rosemary, salt and pepper. Toss well. Bake for 12-14 minutes. You can stir them once if you'd like. Once they come out of the oven, toss them with the cherries. The nuts can be served warm or at room temperature.
adapted from Better Homes and Gardens
Salami Chips with Grainy Mustard
These were a big surprise. They don't keep well even refrigerated so make them shortly before you're going to serve them.
8 oz thinly sliced salami
1/4 c sour cream
1/4 c mayonnaise
2 T Dijon mustard
2 T grainy mustard
Heat your oven to 375. Set cooling racks on two half sheet pans. Cover them with the sliced salami - one layer deep. Bake 10-15 minutes or until crisp and evenly browned. Mix the rest of the ingredients for the dip.
adapted from Better Homes and Gardens
Spiced Citrus Cocktail
All but Connie loved this. He liked the original version with lemonade. I liked (as did everyone else) the Prosecco version. Or, as my sister-in-law Pam used, Asti.
for the syrup:
3 c sugar
1 c grapefruit juice
1 c cranberry juice
1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
1/2 t cinnamon
zest from one orange and one lemon
pinch of kosher salt
12 oz fresh cranberries
sugar (use for sugaring the cranberries later)
for the drink:
1 c chilled cranberry syrup
4 oz chilled vodka
2 c lemonade or Prosecco
Use a 2 qt saucepan to make the syrup. Combine all the ingredients through the kosher salt and simmer until the 3 c of sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and set your timer for an hour. When the timer goes off, add the cranberries to the syrup. Once the syrup is at room temperature, pour the syrup into a storage bowl and refrigerate overnight. Before serving, remove the cranberries with a slotted spoon and roll them in about 1/2 c sugar. Put them on a pan to dry.
Adpated from Better Homes and Gardens
My sister-in-law and her family LOVE rolls. Any kind of rolls. Dinner is not complete unless there's a roll or three. Preferably with lump-free mashed potatoes. But, I'll tell you that story in my next post. I decided to make stuffing rolls. How tough could that be? Well, they weren't tough at all. They were in fact, very good. I used as my base recipe Sandra Lee's savory muffin tin bread puddings. Except I left out the mushrooms and added celery, onion and cornbread. And, I switched the herbs from Italian seasoning to a more stuffing-like sage and savory. These had all the best parts of stuffing - nice crispy edges, flavor in a VERY convenient package. I think I'm sold on making these again!
Alas, I have no photos. I carefully saved a small end of the tenderloin to take photos and the next day when I got up, gremlins (aka my stepsons) had eaten all of it. That means I'll just have to tell you about reverse searing. It's a technique I read about in Fine Cooking. They usually do their homework so I was anxious to try the method. First, you bring the tenderloin up to room temp. Then, you salt and pepper it. It goes onto a roasting rack in a 300 degree oven. There it roasts until it reaches an internal temperature of 115 for rare. Then, you melt a couple of tablespoons of butter in a heavy skillet that's large enough to accommodate the entire tenderloin. VERY carefully lower the tenderloin into the VERY hot butter. Sear it for two minutes on one side and flip it over. Sear it on that side for two minutes. Remove from the pan and put it on a cutting board or a plate and tent it with aluminum foil. Let it sit for 10 minutes. Then, carve into slices and serve with your favorite sauce.
So, I do have a funny story to tell you about this cooking endeavor. My daughter-in-law doesn't have an especially well stocked kitchen. She had no roasting pan. I'd not thought about bringing one over. What to do? Ah HA! A cooling rack set over a large skillet would work. I'd just have to remember that the handle on the skillet was VERY hot when I pulled the tenderloin out of the oven and put the skillet on the stove to sear the beef... Mission accomplished.