No malice was intended...we always put our gifts back under the tree. The problem is the tree (a gift from Tyler's dad) contains our nativity scene. This year, my mom gave the gift of beer, so that meant that Jesus was watched over by the beer shepherds. We know that God has a sense of humor.
Our tradition has become to serve pandoro french toast on Christmas morning. I'm not sure how it started - maybe its because we never sell all of our pandoro. This year was no different. We simply slice, batter and fry - yes fry! That's my dad's way of cooking french toast. Its not healthy but you know its good. A little Brown Family Farms syrup and we were good to go.
Tyler was testing the limits when he put an entire can of chipotles into this pork recipe with bell peppers over saffron rice. It was a Lynn Rosetta Kasper recipe which clearly had a mistake in it. This also marks the start of Tyler's return to pork, which is a good thing to this Midwestern raised boy!
Patrick and I made a 470 ball croquembouche for the store display topped with a sugar star. Not the prettiest I've seen, but its a good effort with which we learned a lot. The most important thing that we've learned is to make our puffs identical in size - it makes for easier assembly and decorating. All in all, we're happy.
Tonight I rushed out a Demayo Chocolate cake courtesy of Amernick. Very intense cake with coconut, pecan (walnut in this case) filling. If it weren't for 1 full cup of cocoa, this might pass as German Chocolate, but it was too intense for the Germans.
We're wrapping up our trip to the Palm Springs area, and have learned quite a bit about the culinary scene here. I found it to be totally uninspired - that's not to say there isn't good food here, its just the fact that the menus began to all look alike. We dined at The Cork Tree, Zinc American Bistro, Native Foods, Beaux Arts Foods, and El Mexicali. All provided good meals, but Beaux Arts and El Mexicali were the favorites.
El Mexicali had a dish I had never heard of before - Chiles Gueritas Rellenos de Camaron (Shrimp stuffed yellow peppers). It was oddly served with soy sauce and mayo, but was one of our favorite dishes of the trip.
The best wine I had was at Beaux Arts with a Chardonnay Fortant - perfectly balanced for my palate, and great with my quiche.
Another highlight was finding La Quinta Baking company - a nice selection of French/French-inspired pastries. We walked out with $40 in treats, which is unusual for my cheapskate ways.
On any future visits, I would throw away any internet lists and just start exploring the strip malls. There won't be any French Laundry in the midsts, but there are many great restaurants to be found.
that spicy chicken...but I had the catfish instead. Tyler had never had Popeyes, but when I lived in New Orleans it was a staple to my diet. A good friend and I would go to the regular $5 all-you-can-eat and spend about 4 hours filling our college bellies full of grease. I knew I was done when I started eating the sides like red beans and filling in the gaps. The good times always ended in abdomenal pains. But that's good eatin'.
We travelled to Indio, CA (Palm Springs) for the annual tamale festival. I ate way more than I should have but, just like Chinese food, was hungry an hour later. One of our favorites was the sweet corn tamal, and of course, my favorites were the dessert tamales (strawberry, chocolate/raspberry, pineapple/raisin). The chicken, ginger, habanero was the most unique and tasty.
Last night we made French Onion soup for the first time - a recipe out of Saveur. Didn't much care for it thank you. But we also made latkes from the same issue and did enjoy them. Served with applesauce.
You know a dessert has to be good to get people to eat it the weekend after Thanksgiving when everyone is dessert-ed-out. So I made three. Amernick's Chocolate Viennese Cake (Sacher torte), a Spirited Peach Chocolate Cake, and a Hungarian Chestnut Cake with crushed Cacao Nibs. All were hits and eaten out of existence.
Last night Tyler wanted to recreate a part of our childhood. He made pasta with red sauce and cut up hot dogs. Of course it was fancy creste pasta, jarred Cortina sauce, and Applegate Farms hot dogs, but still...
Turkey soup from the leftover turkey carcass with a quiche that had blue cheese, pimiento strips, and fresh mushrooms that some homeless guy sold us that he had picked in the mountains - we're still alive, and they were good.
Today I got to make a turkey for our local LGBT Thanksgiving potluck. Actually Tyler volunteered us, then promptly left for Tucson. Anyway, not being a turkey maker/roaster/cooker dude, I consulted www.eGullet.org for unique but trustworthy cooking techniques. I settled with a technique offered by The_Old_Foodie, a woman from New Zealand. She suggested emersing your turkey in milk overnight, covered. Then bake as usual, but breast down, in the milk. I did and it was incredibly moist, and gave a super broth for the gravy. It was a huge hit. (My little secret - I also stuffed pancetta under the skin just to be sure.)
Now keep in mind that I fed myself for many years, but when Tyler leaves, I don't remember how to make nice meals from scratch. But, I go for full fat when I do it myself. Last night it was miniature gnocchi that I finished is the skillet with pancetta, cream & 5 year gouda. Pretty dern good.
Every now and then Tyler prepares a meal of nshima to remind him of his days in Africa. The meal is polent (used to pick up the other items similar to enjima in Ethiopian food), greens with nuts, and chicken.
This past Saturday we held a youth holiday confections class. The kids prepared pumpkin pie marshmallow, French nougat and Seafoam dipped in dark chocolate. Here's what one participant thought of the afternoon:
First is a fresh pesto with our "joint" pasta. Its such a good pasta for pesto. This was also the first time we had tomatoes from our garden that we could eat. Next is a salmon that was plank cooked on the grill, served with an avocado salsa. Very good.
In preparation for a big middle eastern order coming this week, I made a super easy baklava described on eGullet. This took less than 20 minutes to prepare and used our whole wheat fillo and orange blossom water.
Wanting to use our scrap puff pastry (leftovers from desserts), Tyler threw them on top of the wild rice from the store, morels, oyster mushrooms and garden vegetables. We served it with a baby arugula salad topped with the only tomato to come from our garden so far, which was drizzled with LeBlanc Walnut Oil and 6-Year Balsamic.
When your freezer is so full that you can't put anything else in, that's the time to throw it all away. So we did. In the process we found a couple of discs of pastry dough, a bag of fig puree, and some Ginger People candied ginger. We also had some 70% Sharfen Berger chocolate. And voila!
I spent my final weekend before Tyler's return cranking out recipes. I chose a Filipino focus in honor of an eGullet friend who had just passed his final med school exams. I'll post a variety of pics, but the last one - cassava cake is the most interesting. I had my mom ship me a cassava root and a few other key ingredients that I couldn't find. Filipino Cassava cake is apparently like a Texas sheet cake - found at almost any potluck or family gathering. But every recipe ended in "dump a can of sweetened condensed milk over the top." That was just too much - I'm sure it was good, but too much (even for me). I lightened the cake itself and then topped it with a mango mousse. The mousse was then topped with a pineapple gelee that I infused lemongrass into. Nice flavor combination. I also experimented with the crust using both filo dough and lumpia wrappers. The filo was pretty, but of course, soggy. The lumpia turned out well - not super crisp, but convenient and well suited for this cake.
Well, if Tyler is going to go away for 2 weeks, I'm going to throw a party for our friends! Tonight was a big Indian meal I had been planning for quite some time. First was a chai tea caviar with warmed honey, chai masala and brown sugar. Then homemade chapati naan with tomato chutney. Followed by a cucumber, strawberry salad with walnut oil, mint, orange juice dressing. The entree was tandoori chicken cannoli style filled with basmati mousse, alu ghobi, fried turmeric rice patty with browned ghee powder (tapioco maltodextrin), and adorned with chat masala and saffron oil. Fried homemade paneer with walnut. Dessert was fresh coconut scoop with chocolate caviar, cinnamon dacquois over chocolate pastry cream, and hot chocolate with cinnamon, vanilla, almond and madras curry marshmallow.