Sunday, January 8, 2017

Muffins and My New Scoops

Good morning! We awoke to about 6-8 inches of new snow and before anyone felt like shoveling a proper breakfast was required! I pulled out my school cookbook and found a recipe for berry muffins. I had to cut the recipe in half, or I would have ended up with 32 muffins! This also gave me an opportunity to use my new scoops so I could distribute the batter evenly amongst the muffin cups. The tops were sprinkled with sanding sugar, yum!

Yesterday during the snowstorm I went to a friend's house to teach her how to make macarons. What I found was that, even with her newer and better functioning oven, they still didn't do the right thing. I'm not sure where to go from here, but I've been eyeing professional grade convection ovens for my kitchen and I might just have to go that route. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Meyer Lemon Ideas

Happy New Year!

There's lot to write about, particularly the adventure of co-roasting a goose for dinner the other night, but I'll get to that when I make goose stock, hopefully soon. Today's slow-payoff project was to brine Meyer lemons.

A few weeks ago I'd purchased Meyer lemons to make curd but never got around to it. As it's the beginning of the season around here, I figured I will have a chance in a few weeks to do that but these lemons really shouldn't wait that long. My sister tipped me off to a blog called Punk Domestics (although, I think I made the slow cooker pulled pork using a recipe from there a long time ago) and I saw that someone had brined lemons for a year, dehydrated them and then ground them into a powder which was used as a spice. That sounds awesome. I want to do that.

Getting the lemons brined is a very quick process. I followed these instructions and incompletely quartered them and salted them, but when it was time to get them into the jar I added bay leaves and some water which had been boiled and then cooled, so I knew it was sterile. I'll leave it on the counter a few days until the salt has been dissolved and then they'll go into the fridge for 6-12 months.

That gives me that much time to figure out if I want to purchase a dehydrator or maybe by then I'll have an oven with a dehydrator feature. We'll see!

Monday, December 26, 2016

The Fruits of All Our Labor

Yesterday after the meal and the presents and driving around to look at light displays it was too late and I was too tired to post anything about dinner. But it was lovely.

Once again, the ducks were roasted to perfection. They seemed to be bigger than previous years so three had a hard time fitting in the oven. When it came time at the end to crisp them up, we had to separate them into different broiling pans to give them space. From them I rendered six pints of fat for this year's confits and other yummy things. They were served with Persian rice with barberries (zereshk polo), roasted sunchokes and green beans. For dessert there were Nanaimo bars and the chocolate sweet potato pie. With the bourbon whipped cream. Of course.
Today after work I simmered the remaining duck meat in a tikka masala sauce from a jar, to which I added a little garam masala to boost the flavor. We served this over more of the rice and there were various cheeses and a panettone as well. Then we went to go see "Rogue One." A thoroughly entertaining evening!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Feasts

So many intriguing recipes, so little time!

Since we're roasting ducks today for our Christmas dinner, we'll be rendering duck fat. (And later I'll take all the duck livers and make paté.) But that meant it was time to get rid of all the duck fat I've saved up from last year. There were 6 or 7 pints of it and I've used it throughout the year to make confit, in baking, and as a topping on vegetables instead of butter. While it could probably last longer I felt that turnover was a good thing and found a recipe for which I could use up a bunch.

Donuts.

Not just ordinary donuts! Duck fat donuts. Actually the recipe calls for duck confit to be stuffed inside the donuts but I didn't have any confit nor the will to take two days to make some, so I just made the dough and deep fried them as a side for dinner last night. It turns out the initial step is to make a sort of poolish from yeast, milk and flour and waiting an hour. If I do these again, I might try using a cup of Legion for this step. It'll save time and might add something interesting to the flavor. Anyway, once the donuts are rolled into little balls, they are deep fried in duck fat. They came out perfectly! Light and fluffy and ever so slightly gamey. And really not that hard.

Dinner last night consisted of maple-bourbon steak tips, fresh fruit, these donuts, and chicken milk. Which is what we call eggnog ever since the elderchild took French and learned that the French word for eggnog is lait de poule. Chicken milk.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Christmastime

Today was a day of last minute shopping, even if it was just for food!

I picked up the ducks that we'll be roasting on Sunday, and some other groceries, and we went to the Korean super-mega-grocery-store for lunch. It's on the way to the mall, which we generally try to avoid by this point in the holiday season, and with good reason. As we were heading back home, the traffic to the mall was backed up for miles!

Also this morning I made our pie for Sunday, chocolate sweet potato. Yum. This is definitely my favorite, I think. I'd had the sweet potato purée in the freezer so thawed that out and then, since it wasn't hot, I melted the chocolate to mix with it rather than toss chocolate chips into warm purée and letting them melt. Everything else was basically the same. Oh, except I tried something different with the crust edge. I'd hoped for some sort of braid or basketweave but that wasn't working out so instead I just twisted strips of dough together. I think it came out rather pretty in the end, don't you? When we're ready to serve dessert I'll make the bourbon whipped cream to go with it.

Tomorrow I have to work; I'm hoping that it's not too crazy and I get out at a reasonable time. Today we went and delivered a lot of the neighborhood gifts, but there are six more houses to go and I want to try to get as many delivered as possible before Sunday. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Holiday Preparations

And giving!

I've managed to give out at least two dozen jars already, to my coworkers, various friends and teachers. I have another two dozen to get to my neighbors which will happen in the next day or so.

Today, however, I took that chicken stock I made a week ago and made another batch of chicken soup; this one was for canning. I wanted quarts this time, so 1 full gallon of stock plus chicken meat, turkey meat, 2 leeks, some celery and carrots were simmered for about an hour. I added egg noodles but then didn't let them cook. Instead, I immediately canned the soup. Normally, when you add something starchy like noodles or rice to a soup you're going to can, they absorb all the liquid during the canning process and you're left with a big gelatinous mass. This time, by canning the soup with uncooked noodles, they cooked the right amount without getting too oversoaked. What I am left with is chicken noodle soup that looks rather appetizing instead of condensed!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

BACON.

Today I converted 4 pounds of bacon into about 7 cups of bacon jam. I used this recipe from Martha Stewart but, since I was scaling up, made a few changes:

1. Instead of just coffee, I used half coffee, half bourbon.
2. The vinegar was about 1/3 sherry vinegar and the rest was cider vinegar.
3. I used a mixture of yellow and red onions.

I decided not to pressure can these, partly because I only had jars of varying sizes and so there is a lack of consistency. They will be stored in the fridge and freezer instead; eight jars in all.