’08 Advent Calendar, Day 2

Apples are a particular favorite of mine this time of year. Varieties range from sweet to tart, they can be used for snacking out of hand, baking, mashing, or even braising, and they pair equally well with sweet or savory ingredients.

They’re extra-delicious in caramelized apple bread pudding, too. What’s not to love?

For the 2007 Advent Calendar, click here.

recipe after the jump

Continue reading “’08 Advent Calendar, Day 2”

Happy 2008

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I don’t mind messing with tradition on New Year’s Eve by staying in and avoiding crowds, but you’ll never catch me shirking my duty on New Year’s Day — for if I don’t have black-eyed peas and some form of greens to ring in the new year, disaster will surely fall upon the Roth household. And so we filled ourselves to the gills with creamy black-eyed peas for luck and spicy collard greens to attract money into our lives. Maybe it doesn’t work, but boy, are they tasty. And since they seemed to be crying out for some kind of plain protein, I added a poached chicken breast topped with a mustard sauce I made by mixing together Dijon, maple syrup, whiskey, a few drops of Worcestershire sauce and cayenne pepper.

As always, I used the black-eyed peas recipe from The Prudhomme Family Cookbook, and this time followed it to the letter by making my own pork stock. I think it added a depth of flavor to the dish that plain chicken broth just can’t, but if you don’t want to go to the trouble of making it yourself, it isn’t necessary. How, pray tell, did I make this stock? Well, I preheated my oven to 350 degrees and roasted one quartered onion, three lightly crushed garlic cloves, some pork short ribs, and a few split pig’s feet until they were golden brown. The smell was heavenly, even if the sight was decidedly less so:

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Once the meat and veggies were roasted to perfection, I put the feet and ribs into a stock pot, added four cups of chicken stock, and additional water to cover the meat by an inch or so. After they simmered for about an hour, I added the roasted onion and garlic along with one stalk of celery and continued to simmer it for another hour. I set the ribs aside for later use (still trying to decide what to do with them, in fact), strained the broth, and refrigerated it overnight to more easily dispose of the fat. Because these beans have puh-lenty enough fat in them as it is if you use the full half pound of bacon suggested in the recipe.

They start out so healthy and with such potential, though:

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But then you add the bacon, and — oh, yeah! — ANOTHER form of pork. This would be tasso — an intensely spiced, smoked bit of pork used for seasoning:

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Did you observe any New Year’s Day culinary traditions, dear reader? Here’s wishing you all the luck, good fortune, and prosperity your life can hold. Cheers to a great 2008!

recipes after the jump

Continue reading “Happy 2008”

My week of living gluttonously

Aaaand hello again! How was your week? Mine was terrific! An extended vacation was just what I needed, but it’s good to be back in my own bed, and very good to be in control of my caloric intake again, just the same. Let’s just say that if I didn’t gain weight over the holidays, it wasn’t for lack of trying. My dad greeted us everyday with, “Good morning. Y’all want biscuits?” and it just went downhill (calorically speaking) from there.

Oh, there were pork-laden dishes and creamysugary sweets and good ol’ home cooking and then three meals in New Orleans, one of which was among the best of my dining experiences. Whew! My stomach is exhausted and my taste buds need their own vacation, but more than that, I think I’ll be adding copious amounts of vegetables to our diets; we saw very few vegetables that weren’t used as mere seasoning in other dishes.

So, what specifically did we have? Well … my dad started us out with his chicken and sausage gumbo with warm potato salad, one of my favorite meals. My sister and her family joined us for our first lunch of the week, and it was just the way to kick off the holidays.

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And then Mom and I started baking for Christmas Eve. Behold, the German Chocolate Pie (completely delicious, btw):

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I’ll get the recipe from my mom the next time we talk. You’ll thank me.

And after a hard day of baking and wrapping presents, we all relaxed with my dad’s family and chowed down on some incredible food. Uncle Hubert brought his delicious jambalaya, Aunt Chris made her crock pot meatballs and pineapple-basted smoked sausage, and Aunt Geraldine picked up my favorite Christmas Eve treat on her way to town — spicy boudin. Here you see the Official MI Husband demonstrating his still-developing boudin-eating technique (he leaves a lot in the skin, but he’s getting better):

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He just needs more practice. We caught a few episodes of the Bizarre Foods marathon during the week, one of which featured Andrew Zimmern doing a tour of a few gulf states. He started in bayou country and went to the place that made turducken famous — Hebert’s Specialty Meats. They also do a mean stuffed chicken and link their own boudin, so I think we’ll have to pay a visit when we’re back in town next June. All in the name of getting Gil up to speed, of course.

We came back home exhausted but too wound up to sleep, so we tuned in to the Christmas Story marathon on TNT (it’s a marathony time of year, I guess) and made our way to bed eventually, once we were sure Ralphie got his Red Rider BB Gun.

And then the smell of baking ham woke us Christmas morning. I’m no joy before my first cup of coffee, but I greeted that day with a smile, believe me.

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We spent the day with my mom’s family, where we dined on the above-pictured ham, Uncle Phil’s cornbread dressing, cheesy broccoli casserole, mac & cheese, and lots of desserts. And this was only Tuesday! We still had three full days to go!

Dad refused to let us slow down in any way and cooked an enormous pot of white beans with the ham bone for Wednesday’s lunch. Oh, and because we couldn’t just have white beans (what kind of host would he be?) he fried a bunch of delicious tiny catfish filets for an accompaniment. How could I refuse? I was down a few pounds at the start of the trip, anyway…

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Oh! I forgot the crab-stuffed mushrooms Mom made sometime during the week! Silly me.

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And after ALL of that, we still had a day and three meals to go in New Orleans. Stay tuned for the details…

(If you want to check out the full flickr set of the week’s food & fun, just click here. I’ll let you know when Gil’s set is posted.)