Saturday, December 31, 2011

Christmas Charcuterie Plate

For my Christmas dinner, I started with a little cold antipasti to snack on- I originally intended this to be the the thing to keep everyone busy while I rested and carved the roast- but the guests decided to wait until everything was ready to sit down, which works just as well for me. My antipasto course consisted of a plate of charcuterie and cheese, a selection of crackers to go with it, and another plate of olives and pickles. While it's a nice way to start a meal, it isn't really all that interesting until you hear what and where about half the charcuterie came from...

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Collard Greens

I feel that Collard Greens almost have a bad reputation. You see them in almost every grocery store, but, most people ignore them. I think many people consider them either too unfamiliar, or let their prejudices show through, and pass them up as "poor people's food" - at least in my part of the country. Collards, and other bitter greens such as turnip greens, mustard greens, kale, and even dandelion greens, are far from deserving of this reputation- they are very nutritious, and very flavorful leaf vegetables when prepared correctly. The southeastern US has the right attitude towards them- they are something that should be embraced on a more regular basis...

Monday, December 26, 2011

Canadian Maple Walnut Pie

A recent issue of Food Network magazine had a pullout section entitled "50 pies"- the idea was to take four very basic pie recipes and produce as many variations on them as possible. The base recipes were an apple pie, a pumpkin pie, a pecan pie, and a chocolate pudding pie. Pecan pie is always one of my favorites, and after reading the article, it seems almost natural that it can have hundreds of variations just by changing the nuts and the type of syrup used. One of the variations on the basic recipe really spoke to me- and seemed to be such a natural and obvious combination that I can't believe I haven't seen it before. Take a generic pecan pie recipe, replace the pecans with walnuts, and the corn syrup with maple syrup, apply a few minor tweaks to adjust the consistency of the custard, and you have a maple-walnut pie...

Monday, December 19, 2011

Char Siu Bao - Chinese Pork-filled buns

So I have a work colleague who is native Chinese, and drives through lower Manhattan on the way to work. The two of us were on the same project this week, and basically spent the last three working days trapped in the same room all day. He's the guy who typically makes the phone call if we're getting Chinese take-out for lunch- not for reason of stereotype, but because he'll order in chinese, and ends up getting us items that are off-menu, or gets us a free side of dumplings or some such treat. In any case, this week he stopped at a shop he knows in New York's Chinatown, and brought in a treat to share with us- those little-known but very good pork filled sweet rolls called "Siu Bao" - and they certainly are a tasty treat!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Turkey Soup with Escarole

Any time you roast a whole bird of any type, saving the carcass and using it to make soup is almost mandatory. Soup-making is an easy way to get the most out of the parts of the bird that would otherwise end up in the trash. Why waste the bony parts when you can easily, and inexpensively turn it into a complete meal. I make my turkey soup different every time- last time, I added cabbage to make it more interesting- this time around I use escarole - a mildly bitter green related to endive, transforming this soup into something similar to a classic Italian Wedding soup.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Thanksgiving Leftover Mayhem- Pasta Shells with Turkey Gravy

This pasta dish is a natural candidate for a post-thanksgiving meal that makes use of the mass quantities of leftover turkey lingering for days afterwards in refrigerators across North America. It is inspired by a simple dish my Mother used to make to use up bits of leftover steak or roast beef. Her dish involved re-warming the leftover beef in a beef gravy, then using the concoction to dress egg noodles. Using the same basic idea, I'm substituting leftover turkey for the beef, pasta shells for the egg noodles, and a fresh turkey gravy made from leftover bones instead of a jar of store-bought gravy.