Friday, November 25, 2011

The Thanksgiving Meal!

I hope your Thanksgiving meal was as good as mine was. It was a long day of cooking, 6 hours to be exact, but it was all worth it! Here was my menu: Garlic Studded Prime Rib w/ Thyme Au Jus, Honey Baked Ham, Roasted Asparagus, Sun Dried Tomato and Feta Pasta Salad, Sauteed Corn w/ bacon, Baked Potatoes, Green Salad, Roasted Garlic and Rosemary Focaccia, Apple Hand Pies and Chocolate Devils Food Cupcakes.

My family isn't a big "Turkey on Thanksgiving" kind of family. We tend to move more towards a Prime Rib; it's probably a sin, I know. But I figure, we always get a rotisserie chicken from Costco every now and then throughout the year so why have a bigger chicken again for Thanksgiving? Swapping out the turkey for a Prime Rib isn't that bad, right?

I have never cooked this big of a meal since, well, last Thanksgiving and I forgot how hard it is! Especially for this kind of meal, it's all about timing. It's all about "When should I start this dish so that it finishes at the same time as another dish?" Once you get that down you're golden. Everything worked like clockwork at my Thanksgiving.

I was surprised at how well everything was going, with only one oven to use and 5 items that needed to be baked off at different temps. Prime Rib is one of those iffy things especially when it comes to the perfect temperature. I actually had to google the temperature of a medium rare/medium prime rib and came up with weird results. Some said 115 degrees, others said 125 degrees, another said 135 degrees F. So, I kind of guessed on this one and took it out at 132 degrees F and to me it was perfect, for my family anyway! My tip would be baking it about 20 min a pound. Start off at 450 degrees for the first 30 min, then lower your heat to 350 degrees F for the remainder of the cooking time.

With this kind of meal, there was no need to go on a diet. You can bet that a nap was well needed right after.

-Aaron John

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Apple Crisp

4 days until Thanksgiving and counting!! So, what desserts do you have planned on this day that's all about food, friends, and family? Tired of the boring old apple pie. What about that classic Pumpkin Pie. Even though, this Apple crisp has no pumpkin in it what so ever, it is filled with apple upon apples to turn that apple pie around into something different than that staple.

The crunchy, buttery, sweet, nutty tasting topping has cookie qualities to it almost like a lace cookie. Alone, it's just as good as the whole dessert. The apples and the acidity from the lemon cuts through the sweetness just enough so that you want to take that extra bite. 

Still think this is boring? Try adding pears to give a different dimension of flavor. Even add dried cranberries to mirror the flavor of cranberry sauce. Want to intensify this apple flavor? Why not add a little apple cider (maybe 1/4 cup) and a bit of flour to thicken the sauce to "confit" the apples as they are baking. There are many variations to a crisp and since it is the fall season after all, you are more than likely to have a couple of apples laying around to make this sweet dessert.

Apple Crisp
Recipe by Ina Garten

5 pounds McIntosh or Macoun apples
Grated zest of 1 orange
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

For the topping:
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup oatmeal
1/2 pound cold unsalted butter, diced

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9 by 14 by 2-inch oval baking dish.

Peel, core, and cut the apples into large wedges. Combine the apples with the zests, juices, sugar, and spices. Pour into the dish.

To make the topping, combine the flour, sugars, salt, oatmeal, and cold butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the mixture is crumbly and the butter is the size of peas. Scatter evenly over the apples.

Place the crisp on a sheet pan and bake for 1 hour until the top is brown and the apples are bubbly. Serve warm.

-Aaron John

Saturday, November 5, 2011

French Toast


What do you do with leftover bread? Make French Toast
What do you do with leftover Cinnamon-Raisin Swirl Bread? Make Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread French Toast!

Now, I have to admit, there has been plenty of times where I've said on my blog that I'm a carb-a-holic, but even I have my limits. Seriously, who can eat a whole loaf of bread?? That's just absurd. If you can, I would love to see that. ha. Over time, a loaf of bread, as delicious and filled with goodies as it may be, just becomes a loaf of bread. You always need to reinvent that loaf of bread to have some variety. French Toast is the perfect way to continue enjoying a good ol' carb feast.

With my leftover loaf of Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread, it already had plenty of flavor that a simple custard base is all I needed. No need for extra flavorings, just something clean in flavor. French Toast is really something that doesn't need a recipe. Simply, get some eggs and milk, whisk that around and add a tad bit of sugar, dip in your bread and griddle until a delicious crusty golden brown.

I guess the real technique to french toast is the soaking period of the bread. Should you soak for long or little? Well, do you like a mushy, custardy french toast or a firm, yet moist french toast. Some people like one or the other. I personally like a firm, moist french toast. I'm sorry but I def. am not a fan of a custardy french toast due to its texture. I soaked my bread literally for 15/20 sec. a side no more, no less. If you like the other way, soak it longer.

If we can't agree on what's the best texture for French Toast, I think we can all agree that the best part is drenching it all in maple syrup! :d ha

French Toast
Recipe by Alton Brown

1 cup half-and-half
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons honey, warmed in microwave for 20 seconds
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 (1/2-inch) slices day-old or stale country loaf, brioche or challah bread
4 tablespoons butter

In medium size mixing bowl, whisk together the half-and-half, eggs, honey, and salt. You may do this the night before. When ready to cook, pour custard mixture into a pie pan and set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Dip bread into mixture, allow to soak for 30 seconds on each side, and then remove to a cooling rack that is sitting in a sheet pan, and allow to sit for 1 to 2 minutes.

Over medium-low heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a 10-inch nonstick saute pan. Place 2 slices of bread at a time into the pan and cook until golden brown, approximately 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove from pan and place on rack in oven for 5 minutes. Repeat with all 8 slices. Serve immediately with maple syrup, whipped cream or fruit.

-Aaron John


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