Friday, November 27, 2009

The morning after

Well, things got a bit hectic in the afternoon. Far too much going on to blog about it. In the end we had about 30 people and the food and friendship were both fantastic. We also pissed off the neighbours with a swordfighting championship in the street at 11pm (I won!).

Now I'm just doing the morning after dishes and waiting for the xmas tree to get delivered before I head into the office. But before we part, a few recipes...

Potatoes Dauphinois

White Potatoes
Ground Nutmeg

Peel and then slice your potatoes super thin. I use a mandolin set at 1.5mm then pat them dry on a clean tea towel. Spread a thin even layer in your baking dish. Lightly salt, pepper, nutmeg, crushed garlic, dot with butter. Repeat this layering manoeuvre until your layers are about 3 inches deep. Pour over cream to just cover. Pop into preheated 180C oven for about 1 hour.

Indulgent Bread & Butter Pudding

I hate raisins so I've come up with this alternative recipe.

Plain Panettone or brioche
Apricot Jam
Cooking Chocolate or Good Choc Chips

Quantities are variable based on the size of your baking dish.

Slice your panettone or brioche into slices the thickness of bread. Spread butter and then jam on each slice. Spread a generous amount of choc shavings or chips on each slice. Arrange in a baking dish. Mix 275ml milk, 60ml cream, 3 eggs and 50g sugar then pour over. If you've made a big pudding you may have to mix up and additional batch of the liquids. The custard mix should be about an inch below the surface of the bread. Pop into a 180C oven for 30-40 minutes (or more) depending on the size of your pudding. Cook until the custard is set.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


After a frantic email rally and hastily written report, I decided to get to work on the stuffing. Or at least the vegetarian stuffing. Which is the same as regular stuffing but I use veggie stock cubes instead of lovely fresh chicken stock.

These ingredients made enough for about 6 people...

1/2 head of celery, finely sliced
1 medium onion, diced
1 tbsp sage
1 package ready chestnuts, coarsely chopped
10 slices bread
butter to taste
Boiling water

Big lump of butter in the pot, add celery and onions and saute until onions are translucent and celery is soft. Add butter as necessary so nothing sticks or burns. Stir regularly.I add the sage about halfway through so it doesn't burn but infuses everything with its herby goodness. Add chestnuts. Add stock. Cube bread and add. Give it a good stir so the flavours coat the bread. Add water carefully - we want stuffing not soup! Keep stirring the water in so that the stuffing begins to cohere. Decant into a baking dish and cover with foil. I'll set this on the side and pop it in the oven when the final bird comes out to rest (about 30 minutes) and leave it covered in foil.

Candied Sweet Potatoes

I'm now prepping side dishes. I put the sweet potatoes on to boil for 40 minutes, skins on and then drained them. When they have cooled enough to handle, I will skin them and cut them in 2 inch chunks. I'm using 2 kilos of sweet potatoes.

I'll put the potato pieces in a large baking dish and sprinkle a cup of butter, a cup of brown sugar and about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of maple syrup over then pop that in a 160C oven for 30 minutes or so, basting regularly.


Or rather, corn muffins. I see no point in making these from scratch when the Jiffy corn muffin mix is so good.

So, open box of carefully smuggled and hoarded Jiffy corn muffin mix. Add to egg and 1/3 cup milk, mix, let sit for a few minutes while you grease the muffin tins. Spoon in until 3/4 full then bung in 400F/190C oven for 15-20 minutes.

Boston Baked Beans

Mom has arrived with supplies, the beans are up and I've got crappy daytime TV on. Let the gossiping begin!


550g smoked streaky bacon
6 cans canneloni beans
3 Large onions
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup maple syrup (or molasses)
2 tbsp dry mustard

This is a slow-cooker recipe so just chop up your bacon and onions and bung all of the ingredients into the slow-cooker. Taste for flavour in 6 hours.

Also, when opening the cans of beans, watch out for kamikaze cats who equate all cans being opened with being fed.

Fauna of the Biritsh Isles

Let me tell you the megillah (that's yiddish for a very long story) of locating the bird for today. In the states I would normally cook a 25 lb bird but monsters of that size are almost unknown here and if you really, really want one you need to pre-order it months in advance. For Xmas. Not for Thanksgiving.

Now I know that the Waitrose at Canary Wharf gets a few fresh birds in for the American contingent so I trotted over there last week. They couldn't take an order for Thanksgiving - only Xmas. Ordering for Xmas is no good to me. For one thing it's too late and for another I already have a 7 kilo goose ordered for THAT holiday.

But they told me not to worry, they would be getting in plenty of fresh birds on Tuesday, they just couldn't take an order. So Tuesday I rocked up nice and early to inspect the flesh on offer. Hah! The biggest one they had just brushed 5 kilos. Good thing I checked. So I bought the biggest frozen bird they had and even THAT was only 6.8 kilos. Mind you, the ovens and roasting pans available here don't really accommodate anything bigger.

So the turkey has been defrosting since Tuesday, mostly in my fridge because otherwise I have to valiantly defend it from my cat, Princess Glinda. My mother has been defrosting another bird at her place and Richard has also bought a fresh turkey crown which is 2 kilos of pure turkey goodness.

Right then, time to brush my teeth and then get the slowcooker out of the garage for the beans.

Turkey Day: Bloody Dawn

Silly me, I had my Lib Dems AGM last night (I was reelected as Data Officer) and then got home late and watched 2 episodes of Battlestar Galactica. Hmmm.

Anyway, I'm up. Have made a pass through the kitchen and emptied the dishwasher. The kitchen is clean because I did a blitzkrieg on it this weekend, including the 15 loads necessary to wash all of the glassware and shelving.

I've also just turned on the ice cream maker to begin chilling. Last night, before the Lib Dem thing, I scurried home to quickly prep the sorbet mix (double batch) so it would be able to cool overnight. In parallel I prepared the cranberry sauce which is now in individual ramikins and set in the drinks fridge.

I'll just have some coffee and a cig and by that time the ice cream maker should be cool enough to pour in my sorbet mix.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pumpkin Pie

If you live in the US, just get out one or two of your nice pie plates to bake this in. If you like in the UK - well, rotsa-ruck as Bugs Bunny used to say. It is almost impossible to find a proper pie plate in the UK and you can almost forget about deep-dish pie plates. Asti was lucky enough to find one - but I think she may have bought it in another country and brought it back here. So if you are in the UK - use a quiche pan or tart pan or as I have, 2 "sandwich" cake pans. (I have no idea why they are called sandwich cake pans but they are cheap and handy to have in your kitchen)

Thanksgiving a la Two Project Managers

What you need to understand is that my daughter Astrid and I are project managers both by trade and nature. Therefore, all tasks and preparations leading up to Thanksgiving Dinner are scheduled and assigned in advance, whatever can be made the day before, is.

So today, Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, my local Tesco supermarket delivered the order that Asti & I placed. Altho dinner is at Astrid's house, delivery was to mine because my Tesco is reliable and Asti's isn't as we've learned by sad experience. This is a critical detail if you rely on any deliveries - how reliable is the supermarket/supplier. Want to trust your Thanksgiving dinner on some bloke who will shrug and say, "not my job, couldn't be helped, gov"?

The recipes I'm posting tonight were for desserts - all made the night before the big day. Sorbet is chilling in Asti's freezer now. I've just put 2 pumpkin pies in the oven to bake. Apple pie follows. Then 2 pans of potatoes dauphanois.

Tomorrow at 7am I'll pack everything into my little car and drive over to Asti's house where the turkeys will be roasted, sides cooke, and all the other bits come together - and yes, recipes and photos will be posted.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Turkey Day?

I will be doing Thanksgiving on Thames again this year and wonder if anyone would like me to share my Turkey Day Recipes? Mom can photograph and blog from my kitchen.

The menu, in addition to the recipe that Mom previously posted includes:

Turkey (of course)
Chestnut Stuffing
Potatoes Dauphinois (Richard hates them but I tell him that for one day a year he can shut up about that and just don't eat them)
Candied sweet potatoes (or yams depending on what's in the shops)
Brussels Sprouts with pancetta and chestnuts
Slow-cooked Boston Baked Beans
Cranberry Sauce
Cranberry Port Sorbet (recipe already posted)
Apple Pie (mom)
Pumpkin Pie (mom)
Chocolate Apricot Bread & Butter Pudding

And don't forget the gravy