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.


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


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


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.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Rainy Slushy Day

An overcast, cold, slushy day is the perfect day to work on some canning projects!

I pulled out 4 ziploc bags of chicken bones from the freezer and made stock this morning. Four quarts are set aside for canning later and I might set aside more. It depends, as I'm also making chicken soup and we'll see how much I need. So the rest of the morning was spent cleaning out the freezer a bit, reorganizing, and pulling chicken meat off bones.

Also this morning, I made a 2.5x batch of Cranberry Rhubarb Compote, which made 13 cups of compote. Of those, 12 got canned and are just coming out of the canner now. My gift stash is quite complete, I think, but I always add more and more people to my list so I have to double check!

Another thing that I've been working on is baking. I've baked about 12 dozen cookies so far in the last week: Oatmeal Scotchies, Chocolate Chip Cookies, and Orange-Hazelnut sandwiches. I have a plan to give some to the staff at work, and I want to make more cookies for home as well. I might have to make some gingerbread cookies soon!

Friday, December 2, 2016

My Continued Earl Grey Fixation

So, as promised, I made Earl Grey Vienna Finger Cookie ice cream for the youngerchild. Who am I kidding? It's really for me!

First I made a creme anglaise, using milk that was steeped with Earl Grey tea for thirty minutes. Then I chilled that until it was time to freeze it in the ice cream maker. At the last minute I tossed broken cookies into the ice cream maker and then froze the mixed ice cream until dessert time.

The tea was a gift from a friend and is one of those teas with the little blue flowers in it. It also seems to have pieces of bergamot peel. It's amazing. It's from the Spice and Tea Exchange. Mmm.

The only problem with making a lot of ice cream is that the recipe only uses egg yolks, not the whites. Now I have a lot of egg whites waiting for something to do. Maybe there will be some macarons in the near future?