Entries Tagged 'Wannabe chef' ↓

Thanksgiving Dinner #7

We cooked our 7th Thanksgiving feast yesterday – started back in 2006 (hoping for an urban family tradition in NZ after having been in the States the prior year getting married when it was Thanksgiving!) and our first one cooking in the States was 2 years ago in San Francisco with Kara (last year we went to Bev and Dan’s).

We had a possible posse of 5 lined up but in the end it was a true family occasion with us and Cousin Grant. We had the usual menu lined up:

Thanksgiving Dinner 2013

Roast turkey with wild rice & cranberry stuffing
Homemade cranberry sauce
Kumara & orange gratin
Coleslaw

Apple pie & cream

We finally got our hands on the turkey we’d ordered – thankfully not the 18 pounder (read that drama here!) and oh what a wonderful place America can be – the supermarket on Thanksgiving morning has LOTS of everything anyone could need  – fresh cabbage, fresh bread, plenty of dairy, sauces, pastry, flowers etc etc – not like a New Zealand supermarket running out of things when a food-based event rolls around the same time every year!

We cooked throughout the day with a couple of rest stops to catch up on The Mentalist and other than setting off the smoke alarm because the gas grill caught our crostini on fire, the food all turned out great and Cousin Grant was very impressed :)

Menus and run-sheets from previous years were consulted to check cooking times and reminisce

Thanksgiving menu prep

Out to get the fresh supplies in -1 deg C

Thanksgiving supplies

Made cranberry sauce from scratch – was a great batch this year

Thanksgiving prep

Good batch of cranberry sauce this year #thanksgiving

Ninja knife skills for the kumara (yams)

Thanksgiving prep

Bit of a rest and a small lunch snack

Thanksgiving pre - bit of a rest!

Turkey time!

Thanksgiving prep - turkey's up

Thanksgiving prep - turkey's up

Thanksgiving prep - turkey's up

Thanksgiving prep - turkey's up

Best husband in the world went out for afternoon coffee (mind you we were too scared to leave the oven unattended in case the gas caught the turkey bag on fire!)

Thanksgiving prep - afternoon tea!

Proud of the turkey!

Thanksgiving

Finishing touches on the crostini (luckily we had a long enough baguette and could make some more!)

Thanksgiving

Family.

Thanksgiving

18 pound Thanksgiving turkey

Long-time readers will know of our troubles with automated voice systems and the New Zealand accent (per this trouble we had with United Airlines scroll almost to the bottom where I transcribed a previous conversation (and still laugh now reading it!)) and now we’re having turkey troubles for Thanksgiving … we ordered a turkey for Thanksgiving while in the supermarket, we wanted 10 lb. We were told the brackets were 8-10 or 10-12 – in the true spirit of over eating we went with 10-12.

However, some guests are unable to make it so we needed to change the order to 8-10 which they told us in the store we could do by phoning with 48 hours notice and quoting our order number. So The Mister phoned this morning (I should’ve done it, alarm bells were going off when I realized they were asking him to leave a message with details of the change) but I didn’t want to be the bossy wife, so left him to it. Nice and clear, my order number is yada yada, I’d like to change my order from the 10-12 size to the 8-10 size.

Well …. thanks to AT&T he missed a call back from the supermarket, so they left him a message … “thanks for letting us know you want to change your order to an 18 pound turkey, larger size turkeys are very hard to come by this year so I hope this is big enough and you don’t change your mind again.” WTF??? Sigh. 8-10 sounds like 18 I guess. So he’s had to phone them back, alas, the answer phone again.

God I hope they get it this time, he shouted words like DOWNSIZE and SMALLER down the phone. I don’t fancy paying for and wasting all that turkey!! Happy Thanksgiving!!

Update …

The Mister finally circumvented the answer phone service at the supermarket and spoke to a real person. Explained we wanted SMALLER … apparently by now there are no small turkeys left so we’re back to the original 10-12 for our small table of 3. We’ve found some good looking recepes for left-overs: Turkey Pot Pie and Turkey & Arugula Sliders so we’ll see!

Strawberry lemonade, fish pie, pumpkin spinach lasagne & strawberry shortcakes!

Have tried a couple of new things in the kitchen with various visitors over the last 6 weeks – a drink, some fish, a riff on lasagne and a dessert.

Strawberry lemonade – delicious!! Had some at the Ferry Building Market one Saturday when Mother and Father were here which prompted the idea. Steph had made it on a visit to Blenheim so I got her recipe emailed to me, aptly titled ‘American Strawberry Lemonade’ – yum – water, sugar, lemons, strawberries. Went very nicely with pulled pork burgers.

Pulled pork & strawberry lemonade

We made a good old Edmond’s Cookbook fish pie while Mother and Father were here. Not that I haven’t made fish pie before, just not for years and years, but wandering around the Ferry Building Market that same Saturday we came across a guy with his own smoked fish. We got a lovely moist piece of cod and wow, the fish pie was delicious with veggies we got at the market – fresh peas (felt odd to be shelling them outside of Christmas time!) and roasted baby root vegetables of different colors – 3 colors of carrots (including purple ones) and little beets (including orange ones!)

Fish pie

Someone at work was sharing a recipe for pumpkin and spinach lasagne which I grabbed a copy of knowing we’d have a vegatarian in the house while Dean and Steph were staying. It was interesting to make with raw spinach, which skewed the layering process because it was very bulky at the spinach layer so I got a bit out of kilter with the roasted pumpkin slices and white sauce – nevermind – tasted great and the whole dish went in one sitting. It wasn’t until after we’d planned to make it that I had a doubt that we’d be able to get pumpkin – grown only for Halloween decorations here – however, you can get squash (butternut pumpkins) through out the year – phew!

Pumpking & spinach lasagne

And lastly delicious strawberry shortcakes when Dean and Steph were here – I made the shortcake dough by hand without losing my patience and added a little of my own flair to the berries – partially crushed with a little icing sugar and honey! I’d seen the recipe in a book while lining up at Wholefoods – the shortcake was a cross between scone and cake – really soft and kept well to have with butter like a scone the next day in my packed lunch for work – although The Mister put jam in his and reckoned it was better than just butter.

Strawberry shortcake

Orange juicer

We’ve seen a mechanical juicer in action at Elite Audio Cafe and wondered about getting one. An appliance to just make toast seems acceptable to me but one to just do orange juice seemed a bit of an extravagance. However, when we saw them on sale at the Ferry Building today we decided to get one. And then a $10 bag of oranges which didn’t get me as many oranges as I’d hoped!

We had orange juice for afternoon tea today – fresh orange juice is just so good. We’re amazed how much juice it gets out of an orange, 2 oranges each got us a good glassful. A good buy!

Orange juicer

Hot x buns

Easter in the States comes and goes. There are no public holidays although some observe the Good Friday. We looked around for some Hot x Buns or equivalent. Nothing easy to come by. However we did find a plastic packet of buns labelled Hot Cross Buns in Wholefoods so thought we’d give them a try.

They were some kind of sweet brioche bread with raisins dotted with an iced cross.

US hot xo buns

They toasted up alright – a bit too sweet – not sure if they were supposed to be toasted because the icing melted off. Hmmmm. Might have to make our own next year.

US hot xo buns

You can get cinnamon buns here (and our colleague made a brought some into work after I asked about and described Hot x Buns) but they’re not the same either.

Key Lime Pie

Key Lime Pie is quintessentially American to me. Along with the likes of apple pie, whipped cream in a can and pick-up trucks. Key Lime Pie is in diners on the telly and in Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta books. So when Kara made a recent trip to visit family in Florida we asked her if her mom knew how to make Key Lime Pie – she did! While we were in New York last weekend we got a couple of tweets from Kara reporting that she had a recipe and had procured some limes.

The limes and a lovingly written-out recipe were on my desk on Friday.

Time to make Key Lime Pie

I grated a couple.

Key Lime Pie

Squeezed a few million!

Key Lime Pie

Baked the shell and filling until it ‘jiggled slightly’.

Key Lime Pie

Piled whipped cream on top.

Key Lime Pie

Cut a slice to take to Kara.

Key Lime Pie

YUM! It was delicious, although not green as I was expecting. I thought it would be lime green! Thanks Mamma Kara!

Collard greens

Now then – what are we going to do with this bunch of leaves? Looks a bit like horse food.

Collard greens

Might be similar to silver beet but the leaves are much thicker. Wholefoods had a big pile of ‘healthy greens’ with this being listed at the top so we wanted to take a closer look – they had a recipe tied onto them so that made it easier, a rice, ham and collard greens concoction.  We looked up collard greens on Wikipedia (thankfully we were cooking them on the day before Wikipedia went down to protest SOPA … hopefully by the time you’re reading this it will still be there) for some more info about them after I said they smelled a bit like cabbage when I started cutting them and apparently ‘cabbage plant’ is a common term and indeed the leaves are very healthy – vitamin C, fiber etc.

So we followed the recipe to chop them up and put them in a pot with rice, ham and chicken stock.

Collard greens

Simmered away for 25 mins and ta daaaa – a hearty, risotto-type dish, tasted quite meaty and the greens didn’t have an overwhelming flavor, hard to explain but cauliflowerish. Not bad, but not sure if we’d have it again. Plus our gas elements are incredibly frustrating and don’t quite go low enough that everything didn’t boil dry and stick to the bottom of the pot.

Collard greens

Fish n chips

We didn’t eat fish n chips much in New Zealand but lately The Mister has been feeling like some so decided to make them himself. We had to get some non-olive oil, he chose canola, and then figure out what the fish is here. The nice man in the supermarket picked some firm fish but none of the names are familiar to us. Well, there was halibut but we couldn’t remember if that’s the fish we remember from our childhood’s as being used by bait the last time either of our father’s fished!

I was fixated on keeping the place aired – I left The Mister to do the cooking but wasn’t so keen on the ‘huge pot of boiling oil’ but the recipe he had only need 1cm of oil so there wasn’t much splattering and nothing caught fire! I hurried some creamed spinach together and it was a delicious meal!

Fish n Chips

New Year’s Eve 2011

I asked my new friend the Bay Bridge on Twitter (yes, a tweeting bridge) if there were New Year fireworks in the harbor – he replied that they were right overhead!

Screen Shot 2012-01-02 at 9.01.47 AM

We decided to stay awake this year so invited Kara over for dinner and a show, and dressed up a bit.

New Year's Eve dinner 2011

We had pulled pork and I made lemon meringue pie from scratch – hot on the heels of the successful non-tanty pastry for Xmas fruit mince pies I thought I would try a full-sized pastry based pie. It was touch and go with the pastry being a little crumbly and I had to patch the sides once I got the pastry into the dish but other than my lemon filling being runny and my meringue not being anywhere as fluffy and high as Mother’s it worked out fine!

New Year's Eve dinner 2011

New Year's Eve dinner 2011

New Year's Eve dinner 2011

New Year's Eve dinner 2011

New Year's Eve dinner 2011

After being worried earlier in the day that the 2 towering apartment buildings out our window were going to block the fireworks we were very exited to see that we could actually see most of them! They were good and noisy and went on for 15 minutes with lots of whooping in the streets below. It was freezing out on the balcony taking photos. Traffic on the bridge slowed down and everyone on the fireworks side slowed to a crawl and the cop cars with their loud speakers that came along to shout at them to keep moving didn’t have much luck!

New Year's eve dinner 2011

We opened some orange and green fortune cookies to start out the year.

New Year's eve dinner 2011

Happy New Year everyone!

Comfort food

With The Mister being a bit snuffly between Christmas and New Year it was the perfect opportunity to have some potato-based comfort food. These little treats were in the Cuisines Magazine years ago and are great to eat on the couch in front of the telly – not sure of their proper name but we call them Mash Toasts! (Garlic & parsley mash on grilled ciabatta, sprinkled with parmesan.)

Comfort food