Monday, January 31, 2011

Playing Catch-Up

I used to make desserts according to my recipe and creativity five days a week.  Now I'm using someone else's ideas and recipe at work.  And so I have less material for writing.

Or so I thought.  My new goal is to write more about all food, this will mean more entries, but less on desserts.  And I think that's okay.

My kitchen is still a busy one.  Most recently with glazed salmon.  My father-in-law gave me a subscription to Cook's Illustrated for my birthday.  Talk about a gift that keeps giving.  I love it for their pursuit of perfection and constant experimenting (even if the writing is a little flat).  My glazed salmon is just one example.

The glaze is pomegranate.  I have to say the pomegranate doesn't have a pronounced presence.  The balsamic and mustard add such complexity that it gets slightly lost.  While the name may be a misnomer, as far as glaze goes it was delicious.

For the salmon It was seared and baked to 125 in a 300 degree oven.  It was tender, juicy, and flavorful: i.e. pure deliciousness.  I served it with Israeli couscous with dates and pistachios.  The flavor--accented with ginger, cardamom, and cilantro--was intriguing.  It complimented the fish well.

On the side was a bed of spinach.  Because I can't have a meal without vegetables.

I (heart) Zingerman's

I try not to be biased.  But I LOVE Zingerman's Deli.  I am wide-eyed and salivating every time I go there.  And it's not just because my husband works there.  It's because it really is an exceptional collection of some of the best foods in the world.  It is Disney World for people who love food.

All that quality doesn't come cheap.  Once in awhile, though, we use our discount and indulge.

In this case, a sampler  of cured meats and cheeses; something we became so accustomed to in Italy and now hardly eat.  For two month I had a sheet hanging on our bulletin board so I'd remember the names of what we had.  Finally I got rid of it, resigned to the fact I would never write of it. 

So, here I am, writing about it months later and can hardly remember a thing except a happy and full belly.  One of the cheeses I do remember was St. Nectaire, the one with the gray(ish) rind.  That was my least favorite, it had a moldy note that disrupted the flavor for me.  My favorite was the hard looking slab on the right.  It had crystals, like parmigiano does, and was caramel(ly) and delicious.

But really how can you go wrong with good bread, cheese, and meat?


Thanksgiving, naturally, is my favorite holiday.  Because it's all about food. 

This year was particularly exciting because we hosted Thanksgiving at our house for the first time.  It was an intimate affair, my husband, mother, and grandmother.  We had a wonderfully relaxing day at home, decorating for Christmas and of course feasting.

The dinner menu was carefully planned with some of our favorite foods.  Our poultry was chicken instead of turkey, since the crowd was small.  I did a cranberry chicken, which I brined in a mixture of red wine, cranberry juice and some spices for two days beforehand.  The chicken turned a spectacular red color, looking like it came straight out of a magazine.

To accompany the chicken we made mashed potatoes with celery root (I love this combination, the celery root adds such intrigue!), Aunt Donna's cranberry sauce, cranberry pecan stuffing, and brussel sprouts.  For dessert we made a brandied chestnut pumpkin pie.  I really love chestnut, but found this recipe disappointing.  Both the pumpkin and chestnut got lost to each other and neither was as strong as it is on its own.

Thanksgiving was lovely with full tummies and sleepy heads...Grandma really bonded with puppy during her visit, as you can see.