This morning we made French toast using this recipe from seriouseats. I had already bought this bread, and Julie suggested we hold the bourbon (yes, you heard that right!) because it would clash with the raisins. For the rest we pretty much followed the recipe, in smaller amounts. The result was this picture perfect plate that I thought would be a very fitting breakfast for your Valentine, if you need any ideas.
Finish with fresh sliced strawberries, a sprinkle of powdered sugar and coffee, in a Parisian mug, of course. Happy Sunday Brunching!
Dinner tonight: Potato leek soup garnished with a dollop of Daisy, chives and fresh cracked pepper. Served with baguette.
For the second year in a row, Julie and I made several batches of this homemade irish cream to give as gifts to co-workers, family and friends. It’s quite delicious and it does pack a punch! But it also makes for a beautiful, thoughtful homemade gift, and fairly simple to make too. When you’re desperate, it even comes together well enough with lots of shaking should you find yourself blenderless.
The recipe comes from seriouseats, and the ingredients are colorfully displayed below!
Measuring out the booze:
In goes the heavy cream:
The sweetened condensed milk:
Remaining wet ingredients:
A funnel is essential for bottling:
Tagged and ready to gift!
As my niece would say, “1,2,3,4, TOODAH!
(P.S. Please excuse the mess in the background of this set of photos!)
The holiday season tends to be quite busy, but nevertheless it’s a wonderful time to throw a party. It’s a fun, festive atmosphere and chance for the guests to relax for a bit from their otherwise hectic holiday schedules. First up, the Meyer Sisters’ Holiday Party, which Marie hosted, Julie bartended and the three of us collaborated on the food. I don’t have too many pictures, but it was a wonderful event and great to see all the family. Here is the tablescape, complete with a roaring fire:)
The dinner plate:
Roast beef, maple-brown sugar glazed carrots, green beans, hash brown casserole brussels sprouts with white beans and Pecorino and fresh bread with butter.
And of course, the hosts :)
The next event was a reception for the distribution of my mom’s Class of 1961 50th reunion yearbook. It was quite an endeavor that my parents undertook to help create this yearbook, and each time I checked in with them over the past year or so, I would get an update on the project. To see it come to an end was a pleasure, even if just for the sake that it was finally all over. Truthfully, though the project may have fallen upon them, of course my parents saw to it that the finished product was a beauty and a treasure for all the former classmates. To be asked to basically cater the event was an honor and a privilege, so I arranged my schedule just so. After all, my parents have done everything I have ever asked for 28 years, so this was the least I could do in return.
The idea was an open reception from 1PM - 6PM where yearbook recipients could stop by, chat and grab a bite to eat. So we planned a variety of foods fit for the occasion.
Tricuits with cheese log, pretzels and mixed nuts:
Finger sandwiches - Chicken Salad, Egg Salad and Pimento Cheese:
Cookies and candy:
On the left are brown-edged wafers and chocolate chip cookies made by my mom. On the right, Oatmeal Scotties made by me. You can find the recipe here, and also on the back of the bag of Nestle Butterscotch chips. They are technically called Scotchies, but I like Scotties better. These are super simple (coming from me…I cook a lot but I rarely bake…), delicious cookies, and one batch yields 36-40 which is great!
This can be made with or without alcohol, just replace the champagne with Sprite for a kid-friendly version. Given the hours and circumstances of the reception, the one shown above is the kid’s version. This punch was also featured at the Meyer Sisters’ Holiday party and to quote my 9 year old nephew, “It tastes like Christmas!” From what I heard, there wasn’t a drop left in the bowl at the yearbook reception.
Should you use this recipe in the future, lest you make the same mistake I made, it calls for one 6 oz can of frozen lemonade and one 6 oz can of frozen OJ, nothing of 16 ounces. That being said you can alter the amounts of each juice to suit your own taste.
A full table shot, just for good measure:
At last, a few pictures of the main event:
Today I ventured into a meal I have never made before, and although the CSA has ended for the season, I wanted to document this undertaking. I miss my food blog! The house was mine alone for the day since everyone else was working in Lavallette to Restore the Shore. Hurricane Sandy did quite a number there. I knew they would be home for Sunday Night Football, and I decided I wanted to make pulled pork for the game and to welcome them back from a long day’s work. I had made quite a lengthy to-do list for myself last night, and so naturally I decided to embark on a all-day cooking adventure! Luckily, Julie’s sister Caity makes a fabulous pulled pork. It’s the best I’ve ever had and I know at least a few other people who would say the same. (Including people who have spent time in the South!) Caity is an amazing cook, but she is one of those who has it all in her head and her mind’s eye, throws it all together, a little of this, a bit of that, and then creates a delicious meal. It’s like she always has the vision and never needs a recipe. Still, she was able to give me a detailed idea of what I would need to do to make her pulled pork.
The first thing is to find a pork shoulder at the store. After I got home with a pork loin, I googled to see if it would work in place of a shoulder, and the general consensus was no. So I headed back out to grocery store number 2, and fortunately they had the cut I needed.
The loin was on sale, so I threw it in the freezer to use some other time.
Next was the spice rub, mainly composed of chili powder and brown sugar, with a lot of other spices mixed in.
This is a hands-dirty kind of meal. At several points, you just have to use your hands to get the job done. I placed the pork fat side up in the dutch oven, covered with foil at 350 degrees for about 5 hours.
Also in the bottom of the pan: Apple Cider Vineger, Apple Cider, onion - quartered, and a few whole cloves of garlic.
Now I had five whole hours to get my side dishes together! Naturally, I wanted to have some coleslaw. I cheated and bought the pre-shredded mix in the bag, but I made my own dressing, based loosely on Ina Garten’s recipe. I was missing some ingredients, so I substituted here and there. Once this was mixed together, I kept it in the fridge until dinner was ready.
Here is the shot of the pork shoulder, fresh out the oven, 5 hours later:
After letting this cool for about half an hour, I began to shred. My only previous experience with shredding is with poached chicken (and a couple day trips to the slopes in the Poconos, haha). I was majorly dreading this step, but I have to say it wasn’t that bad. The only tools I used were my hands and a butter knife. It was basically like string cheese, maybe even easier. The layer of fat on top peeled right off. Not exactly an appetizing picture, but check it out:
It took a good 45 minutes, but soon I had a plate full of shredded pork, just awaiting the BBQ sauce!
I put this in a skillet with olive oil to crisp it up and mixed in the BBQ sauce at this time as well. (Sweet Baby Ray’s is best.)
While this meal is pretty labor intensive, it also has a good amount of down time, which is great for catching up on clean up and making sides. While I was waiting for the shoulder to cool, I was able to whip up a basket of kale chips:
My other side project was a batch of Loco Fries, a side dish I adapted from The Grub Hut . Basically, these are sweet potato fries with sauteed onions and jalapenos…yum! I’ve made these a few times in the past and they are always very good, but today I was aiming to get my sweet potato fries a little bit crisper. I read a few different people say to coat them in cornstarch before putting them in the oven, so I decided to try this.
I found out that I used WAY TOO MUCH cornstarch. Ok lesson learned. While it did seem to help crisp the fries, I had to do a major rescue and recovery to get rid of the excess cornstarch and save this dish. If I use this method again, I will use A LOT LESS cornstarch. Here are the fries, the onions and jalapenos are hiding underneath:
Finally, so many hours later, a pulled pork sandwich on a mini Portuguese roll, topped with coleslaw and slow cooked onions (the onions I put in with the pork at the beginning…I didn’t expect to use them for anything but aromatics and flavor, but they were so melty and delicious)!
Here is my full plate, though I eventually put my coleslaw in my sandwich too because it tasted better that way:
Ingredients: Pork Shoulder, Spice Rub, Apple Cider Vinegar, Apple Cider, Onion, Garlic, BBQ Sauce, Fresh Rolls, Coleslaw (Dressing: Mayo, White Wine Vinegar, Sugar, Maple Syrup, Salt/Pepper) Loco Fries (Sweet Potatoes, Jalapenos, Onions, Salt/Pepper, Olive Oil, Cornstarch)
Although I used Caity’s “recipe”, mine turned out different but still very good. I think every cook has their own style so no two are the same, recipes or not. My meal went over well with the girls, so I am pleased with my efforts. Next time, I’ll let Caity do the work :)
Waste not, want not. After our dinner party, we used what was left of the chicken to make some stock. I actually threw two carcasses in, the one from Uncle Bill’s Farm and another rotisserie from Costco we had a few days ago.
I used this recipe as a guide (Method One), and kind of threw in what I had on hand as well. As you can see I started just after 6PM with a very full stock pot:
Here it is somewhere in the 8PM hour, reduced a fair amount:
A little after 10PM, well reduced and time to strain:
The keep bowl and the throw away bowl:
14 cups to put in the freezer!!
Haha, doesn’t exactly look appetizing but it will be put to good use!
Ingredients: Leftover bones, skin and meat pieces from whole chicken, Celery, Carrots, Onion, Rosemary, Thyme, Salt/Pepper
Ingredients from Uncle Bill’s Farm: Leftover bones, skin and meat pieces from whole chicken!
I love dinner parties. A small gathering of people surrounded by good food engaging in fun conversation - I’m all about it. The preparation for this party started Thursday night. When possible, it’s always a good idea to get things ready ahead of time! Remember my eggplant stacks? I put them on the appetizer menu, and I was able to make the white bean spread Thursday night. It all goes in the food processor, so it comes together pretty fast:
On Friday afternoon I was able to sneak out of work a little bit early to finish off the appetizers. Here is the eggplant that was sliced, seasoned and grilled:
The finished product:
Ingredients: Eggplant, Roasted Red Peppers, Basil, EVOO, White Bean Spread (Cannellini Beans, Feta Cheese, Garlic, Basil, EVOO, Salt/Pepper)
Ingredients from Uncle Bill’s Farm: Eggplant!
Also on the appetizer menu was kale chips! I thought they might turn out better this time as they didn’t have to travel to a tailgate, and I also used two cookie sheets so as not to overcrowd them.
These disappeared pretty fast, so I’ll take that as a compliment.
Ingredients: Kale, EVOO, Apple Cider Vinegar, Salt/Pepper
Ingredients from Uncle Bill’s Farm: Kale!
Also served, but not pictured, was a French olive dish, cheese cubes, and the leftover white bean spread with pita chips!
On to the main course! It was the perfect occasion to cook our whole chicken from Uncle Bill’s that we had gotten earlier in the season! Here is the bird, stuffed with aromatics, tied and ready to go in the oven:
When you buy a bird from a farm, it doesn’t come with a pop-up timer to tell you it’s finished! I purchased a basic meat thermometer (though there is quite a range of them on the market!)
Just waiting to be carved:
Ingredients: Whole Chicken, Aromatics (Lemon, Garlic, Thyme, Rosemary), Butter
Ingredients from Uncle Bill’s Farm: Whole Chicken!
While this chicken was roasting, we were busy making the sides! First up, roasted brussels sprouts and broccoli with lemon:
Out of the oven and topped with some romano cheese:
Ingredients: Brussels Sprouts, Broccoli, Lemon, Salt/Pepper, EVOO, Romano Cheese
Ingredients from Uncle Bill’s Farm: Broccoli!
Other side dishes, butter brasied radishes and turnips, from the farm, which you may have seen here, or here.
Stuffing (Pepperidge Farm Cornbread - gotta take a short cut somewhere!)
Mashed Sweet Potatoes (made in the style of my mashed butternut squash)
And, for good measure, here is a picture of the carved chicken and the gravy!
And finally, a glimpse at the table before:
The beer pictured is Narragansett Fest, great for this time of year! I took my advice from Ina Garten when it comes to drinks at a dinner party, offer one white wine, one red wine, beer and a specialty cocktail if you like. Of course, we love themed cocktails! On this night, we saved that for dessert. Mulled Apple Cider with Bourbon, garnished with a cinnamon stick!
Ok, so who’s coming to my next dinner party???
P.S. After cooking a whole chicken, save the carcass! I have chicken stock bubbling away on my stove top as we speak!
It’s hard to believe yesterday was the last pick up for the CSA season. It was quite a journey, and I am very glad I decided to document it here. For years I’ve wanted to do a food blog, and the farm food was the perfect push. It was wonderful to meet the farmers and see them week after week, and especially wonderful to never need to buy eggs and hardly any vegetables too! It will definitely be tough to go back to bland, pale yellow store bought eggs, and to think…I was afraid of a chicken fetus! Menu planning was often on the spontaneous side, which was a challenge for us in our constant need to have every thing pre-planned, but it was worth it. It is actually going to be strange to go back to our pre-CSA cooking life. Bittersweet, but they will still have some farmer’s market hours :) Here’s the last pick-up, my basket floweth over!
Turnips, Radishes, Kale, Bell Pepper, Jalapeno, Broccoli, Eggplant, Eggs. So excited to see another new item (Broccoli) but the timing was off as the night before I made cavatelli and broccoli with a bag from the freezer (blasphemy, I know!). I never even thought I would get broccoli from the farm. But it’s ok, this Friday we are having a dinner party and I have plans for that broccoli. Wait for it…it’s going to be an end-of-the-season-CSA-dinner-party-blowout! So in the meantime, to keep it simple before the big event, we made chicken salad over mixed greens and veggies.
Ingredients: Canned chicken (Kirkland Signature brand is the best), mayonnaise, mustard, spices, romaine lettuce, baby spinach, bell pepper, carrots, cheddar cheese, dressing (honey, whole grain dijon mustard, white wine vinegar, EVOO, salt/pepper)
Ingredients from Uncle Bill’s Farm: Bell Pepper!
I cannot stop butter braising my turnips and radishes! Made this last week, Honey Mustard BBQ Glazed Chicken with butter braised turnips and radishes and sauteed turnip greens. Similar to this one, and just another yummy fall meal.
Ingredients: Chicken Breasts, Honey, Whole Grain Mustard, BBQ Sauce, Turnips, Radishes, Leeks, Butter, Turnip Greens, Garlic, Salt/Pepper
Ingredients from Uncle Bill’s Farm: Turnips, Radishes, Leeks, Turnip Greens!