Sunday, November 29, 2009
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
I made two pans: one with sausage and one without. I'll pop them in the oven when the turkey comes out. I take several shortcuts with my stuffing, including using packaged breadcrumbs, and this cool package of fresh onions, celery and herbs, already chopped. Sure, I've made my own from scratch before, but it's a lot of trouble, and it really isn't all that much better than this way. So, I save myself some trouble and people still love it.
First, there's my mom's famous candied yams (or sweet potato casserole, take your pick of names - it's all delicious).
These will be the only appetizer tomorrow. I don't usually do apps with such a big meal, but a while back I had a party where I served these. One of the guests, D, was on a restricted diet at the time, and couldn't eat them. She told me she's thought of them ever since. So, they're on the menu for her tomorrow.
More specifically, watched Bailey set the table. It's her one job every year, and as you can see, she tackles it with artistic flair.
If I needed a reminder of everything I have to be thankful for, this was it...
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
I brine my turkey, which makes it really moist and flavorful. I've heard brining is becoming passe, and everyone salts their turkeys now. Whatever. To me, nothing gets the kind of flavor into the meat the way brine does. I used to make my own solution, but I fell in love with Williams-Sonoma's last year. You add apple cider to the mix while the turkey brines, and then stuff the turkey cavity with apples. Heaven.
Monday, November 23, 2009
- Bought groceries. I stocked up on everything I'd need for the meal, including fresh cranberries and turkey necks (for the gravy). Of course, Thanksgiving would not be complete unless you forgot something; I have to go back tomorrow for onions.
- Organized my kitchen cabinets. No one will see this but me, of course, but it's easier for me mentally to cook that much if my cabinets are organized.
- Tracked down my baking and serving dishes. I'm missing one bowl and need to buy a couple of more glasses. A Target run seems in order.
- Set the frozen stock out to thaw. It's all homemade stock - some chicken and some turkey that I made with the remains of last year's Thanksgiving turkey.
- Cooked dinner for the week. I always feel bad for cooking non-stop for two days straight, and then being too tired to make Bailey dinner. So, tonight, I made a huge pot of Chicken Bog (an easy chicken, sausage and rice dish - I'll post the recipe soon). That will give her something warm and tasty to have while I'm getting the main meal ready.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
See the hand in this picture? That belongs to a guy in the office who was slowly working his way into the rarified Cake Person stratosphere. Then, while devouring my masterpiece, he pointed out that he didn't actually have to make me like him enough to become a Cake Person. He just had to make friends with the other Cake People, and then he'd get their cake.
Perfect Party Cake
For the Cake
2 ¼ cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups whole milk or buttermilk (I prefer buttermilk with the lemon)
4 large egg whites
1 ½ cups sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ teaspoon pure lemon extract
For the Buttercream
1 cup sugar
4 large egg wites
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 large lemons)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup seedless raspberry preserves, stirred vigorously or warmed gently until spreadable
About 1 ½ cups sweetened shredded coconut
Getting Ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9-x-2 inch round cake pans and line the bottom of each with a round of buttered parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.
To Make the Cake: Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl.
Put the sugar and lemon zest in a mixer bowl or another large bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the butter, and working with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light. Beat in the extract, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and eggs, beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients. Finally, give the batter a good 2-minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and will aerated. Divide the batter between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the cakes are well risen and springy to the touch- a thin knife inserted into the centers should come out clean. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unmold them and peel off the paper liners. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up. (The cooled cake layers can be wrapped airtight and stored at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to 2 months.)
To Make the Buttercream: Put the sugar and egg whites in a mixer bowl or other large heatproof bowl, fit the bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like shiny marshmallow cream. Remove the bowl from the heat.
Working with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, beat the meringue on medium speed until it is cool, about 5 minutes. Switch to the paddle attachment if you have one, and add the butter a stick at a time, beating until smooth. Once all the butter is in, beat the buttercream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6 to 10 minutes. During this time, the buttercream may curdle or separate-just keep beating and it will come together again. On medium speed, gradually beat in the lemon juice, waiting until each addition is absorbed before adding more, and then the vanilla. You should have a shiny, smooth, velvety, pristine white buttercream. Press a piece of plastic against the surface of the buttercream and set aside briefly.
To Assemble the Cake: Using a sharp serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion, slice each layer horizontally in half. Put one layer cut side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper. Spread it with one third of the preserves. Cover the jam evenly with about one quarter of the buttercream. Top with another layer, spread with preserves and buttercream and then do the same with a third layer (you’ll have used all the jam and have buttercream left over). Place the last layer cut side down on top of the cake and use the remaining buttercream to frost the sides and top. Press the coconut into the frosting, patting it gently all over the sides and top.
Makes 12 to 14 servings
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
This is my Mama's recipe, and I print it as she gave it to me. This is one of those recipes that you kind of have to do by feel but, honestly, you smother it in melted marshmallows. How could you really mess it up?
1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2.) Drain and mash 2 big cans sweet potatoes
3.) Mix in well:
Dash of salt
Pinch of cloves
Some cinnamon (I heart this ingredient. Precise, no?)
Brown sugar to make it sweet (This is even more precise!)
A few chunks of butter
Handful of mini marshmallows (you'll need more for topping)
4.) Spread into a pan and cook until heated through, about 30-45 minutes.
5.) Remove from oven, and cover with mini marshmallows. Return to oven until the top marshmallows are ’melty’ (exact phrase ala Mama) and browned.