Your Thanksgiving leftovers

This year’s Thanksgiving feast could only have been more low key if we’d gone the TV dinner route. My mother-in-law wasn’t able to visit, so I planned to simply roast a chicken and serve a few veggies for the two of us, but ended up doing even less than that when our neighbors invited us to share dinner with them. It’s a little embarrassing that I’ve lived here for four years as of this weekend (which reminds me, this blog just turned three!) and haven’t managed to get to know them yet. I blame Gil for not introducing me around when I moved.

Not wanting to go empty-handed, I pulled out the bag of almost-overripe persimmons I’d been storing for a couple of weeks and got to work on an upside-down cake that sounded like a perfect ending to a Thanksgiving meal — with two sticks of butter, it was possibly the most indulgent cake I’ve ever made.

091129_cake_lg

I did a quick google search when the idea for the cake hit me (my standard approach, since very few ideas are truly new), and found only a couple of recipes. Joanne Weir‘s parmesan flan has been one of the highlights of my summer for the past two years, so I opted for her version of the cake and came away very, very happy indeed.

091126_eggs_lg

Her secret for keeping things light and airy in such a rich cake? Whipping the egg whites, then folding them into the rest of the batter. Even so, the cake was much more soufflé-like in the pan than I expected:

091129_souffle_lg

Anyway, we had a wonderful time with the Edwards family and I feel like I finally have friends in the neighborhood, which is no small thing. They’re a creative family, into drawing, painting, photography, music, fashion…so you can imagine how much I enjoyed myself. Oh, AND I finally got a house tour with details of the major renovation they did last year! So we have lots of inspiration for our own house project, whenever we start.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The next day, I roasted the Zuni chicken (with bittersweet pimenton added to the salt & pepper rub) originally intended for Thanksgiving and made a bread-based dressing with roasted acorn squash on the side. Nothing terribly exciting, but repurposed as breakfast this morning, I fell in love:

091129_dressing_egg_lg

I pan-fried some of the leftover dressing, served it atop a thin drizzle of gravy and topped it with a fried egg. “X + egg = heaven” is undefined for Gil, so I waited till he was running an errand to work it up. (How anyone can snub a runny egg yolk over just about anything is beyond me, but hey, in sickness & in [mental] health, etc…)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

For Saturday’s dinner, there wasn’t a hint of Thanksgiving left over in the leftovers, though I forced myself to use the contents of my fridge and pantry in a stab at eating down the house. We ended up with a North African-inspired couscous dish that took maybe 30 minutes to make, but had a great depth of flavor mainly because it relied so heavily on leftovers.

To start, I made a quick harissa paste and set it aside for the flavors to develop while I worked on the rest of the meal. I hit the freezer for a package of caramelized onions, which I browned in some olive oil, then added two thinly sliced cloves of garlic, and reinforced the warm spices from the harissa — ground cumin, caraway seeds and ground coriander — in the sizzling oil. When the spices were fragrant, I added a package of Israeli couscous, bite-sized pieces of dark chicken, chopped roasted acorn squash, leftover chicken stock and two tablespoons of harissa paste. Only 15 minutes later, we were sitting down to a meal I wouldn’t even mind making from scratch someday.

091129_couscous

I hope you add had a filling and fun-filled Thanksgiving. Now I need to figure out a way to work from home, because the last four days spent with all of my boys has been too good to miss again for 13 hours a day or more.

recipes and sweet doggy pictures after the jump

Continue reading “Your Thanksgiving leftovers”

Better late than never

I’m a week behind, so let’s hear it for Halloween pictures! We should celebrate with leftover candy (assuming it’s lasted this long).

091101_ru1

Rufus begged to wear his Halloween costume to the last farmers’ market of the season. How could we refuse? All I cared about was getting a few veggies and a nice chuck roast for beef bourguignon. As you can see, we both left happy.

091101_beefbourguignon

I combined the classic recipe from Julia Child with a couple of Anthony Bourdain’s modifications and tweaked a bit more based on ingredients we had at hand. To say this was the best beef stew I’ve had would be an understatement; I’m sure it was the overdose of demi-glace that did it, but that doesn’t demystify things at all.

recipe and more Ru pics after the jump

Continue reading “Better late than never”

Food, glorious food

090602_strawberries

The Ringwood Farmers’ Market has opened for the season, and I rejoice. Don’t ask me how, but I managed to restrain myself and only had to make two trips back to the car during shopping on opening weekend. It’s so wonderful to have gorgeous produce at my disposal again; it was an obscenely long winter.

090602_surf_turf

I’ve been cooking (mostly grilling) quite a bit, just not posting here. Over Memorial Day, we were housebound with our boy (who is doing very well these days — for the lot of updates, visit Gil at VM), so cooking outdoors was a way to alleviate boredom and still feel like I was doing what I was supposed to be doing. From the bottom of the image: grilled porterhouse steak with red chimichurri sauce (which is possibly the most delicious thing I’ve put in my mouth in a long time), grilled sardines, and fiddlehead ferns and asparagus sautéed in a white wine and Dijon sauce. I loved the way the strong flavors all collided with each other, but don’t think I’ll be doing the sardines again. I don’t recall them being so very bony when I’ve had them in the past; was it just that the fishmonger didn’t clean them well enough or is it always the case?

090602_tacos

Porterhouse is a LOT of meat, so we had tacos with our very generous leftovers. Nothing fancy, just leftover steak and fish, romaine lettuce, thinly sliced radishes and more of that divine chimichurri. (Recipe will follow, just as soon as Gourmet gets around to posting it online.)

090602_omelette

’tis the season for morel mushrooms. Here, we had asparagus, shallots and morels sautéed in butter and hit with a touch of half and half. Most exciting about this omelette, though, is the fact that I tried Julia Child’s method of basically manhandling the eggs and it really worked for me!

090602_berry_cobbler

And because no Memorial Day weekend would be complete without a load of berries, we had raspberry, blueberry and rhubarb cobbler for dessert.

090602_strawberry_chiffon

Our friends Ian and Jess paid us a visit a couple of weekends ago. Luckily for us, Jess is a spectacular baker and thoughtful friend who brought plenty of treats to keep us happy over the weekend. Here you see my new favorite cake — banana chiffon (did you know such a thing was possible?) — topped with Greek yogurt and more of those juicysweet strawberries. (No picture of the rocky road brownies or chocolate biscotti, sorry. But I can vouch for them.)

090602_meat

I also didn’t take pictures of the kofta kebabs we had for lunch Saturday because I took pictures last time and it’s so not an appetizing-looking dish. No need to put myself (or you) through it again. Of course, this photo of grilled hanger steak, asparagus and oven fries won’t be featured in a retrospective anytime soon, but boy, were they good.

Your obligatory Rufus photo:

sweet dreams

Good news

3555581540_3c45c2ab1c
Click on the picture to see the full flickr set.

We visited the vet this morning for the first time since Ru’s surgery and things are looking pretty good! Gil posted all of the details over at VM, if you’d like the full update.

But now, we’re getting out of this basement to run errands and pick up something to grill. Yum. More on that later.

Rufus update

Hi, everyone. Thanks so much for all of the good wishes for Ru’s speedy recovery. I’m blown away by the support we’ve received over the past few days. Our boy is home and on the mend, and much happier now that his dad is home, too.

Gil posted an update on his site this morning, so check it out. I’ll have more here over the next few days, plus tales of grilling if the weather stays sunny.

Have a great weekend!

new post

Hey, all. I owe you a big wrap-up of our last week or so, but my mind is elsewhere today. Ru was attacked by a neighbor’s dog yesterday on his afternoon stroll with the dog walker and is at the animal hospital awaiting surgery this morning. Gil’s out of town until tomorrow, so I’m just waiting by the phone and cleaning the house from top to bottom to keep busy.

The situation is especially infuriating because this same dog (a husky) broke through his electric fence and attacked another dog just two weeks ago and it seems the owners didn’t do enough to make sure it couldn’t happen again. So our boy has a big chunk of his haunch missing and needs one surgery today to install a rubber drain and another in a month or so to remove the drain and close the wound. (Ru’s vet took plenty of pictures of the wounds and his office notified the police department, so thank goodness that was taken care of before I even got there.)

So I rushed home from work and got to the animal hospital in time to see him before they closed for the evening.

ru1
He was even more pitiful than this when I first saw him, but at least his bed made him comfortable.

ru2
There was some panting, but he was loopy from the pain meds, so he wasn’t in a bad mood at all. I think he enjoyed the dirty t-shirt I brought for him, too.

ru3
But even getting his favorite new toy (John Calamari or Squid Vicious, depending on which one of us you ask) didn’t stop him from accusing me with his eyes when I was ready to go.

a week’s wrap-up after the jump

Continue reading “new post”

Happy 2009

We sprang out of bed at the crack of mid-morning today, and after a strong cup of coffee, I got started on the traditional new year’s day meal of black-eyed peas and greens (turnip, this year).

Carefully sorting through the beans, I searched for rocks and discarded the misshapen beans, then chopped the other ingredients according to my all-time favorite recipe from The Prudhomme Family Cookbook.

The greens are more intuitive. I never make them the same way twice, but they always start with stemming, chopping and a vigorous washing before I even think of cooking them.

This time around, I chopped the 1/4 pound of tasso leftover from the beans and halved a small piece of salt pork, then covered the meat with water in a large pot. I brought it to a boil, then lowered the heat to simmer for about 30 minutes to create a flavorful cooking liquid for the greens. At that point, I added some chopped onions, cayenne pepper, a little bit of salt and the greens. They simmered for about 20 minutes, though you can certainly cook them longer; I just prefer greens when they have a little bit of bite to them.

I cooked the beans at a lower temperature than usual, so they were more of a soup than side dish, but still just as delicious as I remember from last year. The greens held their own when topped with cider vinegar, so I thought an extra helping couldn’t hurt, especially in these tough economic times. Call it an edible insurance policy.

Thank you for visiting last year, keeping up with my infrequent food and Rufus postings. I’ve loved hearing from everyone and wish y’all a happy and safe 2009, filled with friends and food and many, many naps.

recipe after the jump

Continue reading “Happy 2009”