This the season of desserts, and these look awesome!
I apologize in advance for the insanity that follows.
In which Randy cooks four times during Thanksgiving week (click to reveal madness)
On Monday, at a friend’s “Lost Puppies Friendsgiving” at a local indie movie theater, I prepared Food & Wine’s “Maple-Ginger Roasted Vegetables with Pecans,” visible near the back of the spread we had there.
Then, on Wednesday, I did Thanksgiving for my partner and I at our place for just the two of us.
My annual dismal attempt at a roasted turkey breast. I always get lazy and fed up with stuffing herb butter underneath the skin and just slather a bunch on the outside, where I know it’ll burn, but. . . meh.
Not especially exciting, but green beans almondine with crispy fried shallots.
My first(?) stuffing, with leftover sourdough, lots of herbs, stock, and sage sausage in a standard egg-and-broth bath. I actually liked it more than I remembered liking stuffing in the past, though some of the sausage got a bit tough from the long bake.
Halved dates wrapped in prosciutto stuffed with a mixture of goat cheese, marscapone, parsley, and toasted walnuts. Topped it with a balsamic vinegar/honey reduction that’s not pictured here.
Ludicrous mashed potatoes with a 3:1 potato:butter ratio and my first attempt at turkey gravy? I disliked it exactly as much as I remember always disliking brown gravy. Mmm, herbacious brown meat water. No thank you.
A well-spiced, not-overly-sweet pumpkin pie with some from-a-tub whipped cream. It was tasty, though!
My full spread for the two of us :)
On Thursday proper, we went to another couple’s house, joined by yet another couple, for a 6-person Friendsgiving where all the assembled apart from my partner are excellent cooks. We ate like kings and queens!
My infamous 7-cheese bacon-mac-n-cheese, baked till the parmesan-asiago-romano-breadcrumb coating is crisp and the cheese sauce is bubbly.
My usual little spinach-feta-cranberry-pecan-and-apple salad, before a drizzle of cinder-maple vinaigrette was applied.
Partly visible in the upper portion are my roasted potatoes, mixing together Serious Eats and Jamie Oliver recipes. 5lbs of Yukon golds, boiled till fluffy and almost falling apart in an alkaline solution. Meanwhile, fried chopped rosemary, thyme, and garlic in a good half a cup of duck fat. Strained the duck fat, reserving the crispy fried herbs and garlic. Drained the potatoes and roughly shook them up to make all sorts of craggy goodness on the outside before tossing with the flavored duck fat and a lot of salt and pepper. Roasted, turning regularly, at 425, until they were crispy-crunchy all over and creamy in the middle. Then tossed with the fried herbs and garlic at the end, plus some parsley.
My buddy Cord’s baked brie (including gratuitous melty cheese leakage, mmm), plus some baked spiced apples as a topping.
Cord’s wife Maloree’s baked jalapeno-cheese-bacon poppers and water-chestnut-bacon poppers with a maple-mustard dipping sauce.
Cord’s roasted homemade herby sausages with sweet potato and onions, plus his wife’s super garlicky creamed green beans with homemade fried onions, and their collab maple-glazed carrots.
My buddy Daniel’s cheddar-apple-sausage pie, a portion of his wife Kayleigh’s Thin Mint Chocolate Cheesecake, and Maloree’s infamous brown-bottom butterscotch meringue pie, albeit sadly with a split in the meringue.
My continuing tweaks on Alton Brown’s The Chewy cookie recipe, now featuring brown butter for the base, plus white chocolate chips, cranberries, and toasted walnuts and pecans mixed in. Cooked those for my regular very large RPG meetup on Friday night :)
Holy cow, I’m amazed you’re still up and about and not down for a winter hibernation after that much food over the holiday. I especially love the spread you did for you and your gal. Everything looked fantastic.
I too make a 7-cheese macaroni and cheese, with crispy thick cut bacon, also baked to finish, also with crispy breadcrumb top. It’s good. I am here to tell you that I’ve had a MUCH more simplistic mac and cheese that is as good, and I was blown away by it. Bacon, in our recipes, adds a nice smoky and savory taste to the dish. But what if … you highlighted the smoky/savor front and center. I’ve made mac and cheese several times now with various things out of the smoker: pork, turkey, and chicken. And wow is it good. And this is without going to extreme on a full blown 7-cheese, roux + bechamel + too much time + baking goodness that we value. This is with, dare I say it, plain old boxed mac and cheese. If you can make or source some decently smoked stuff there, DEFINITELY try it in some mac and cheese. You can kind of sample what it’s like at any number of BBQ joints that will add brisket, chicken or pork as part of their house mac and cheese side dish.
Will you ask Cord and his wife if they will be my friends?
Tbh I love love love the kinda BBQ-laced smoky Mac you describe, but the lady friend distinctly doesn’t, alas. But I always get some at the state fair when I go!
And meeting my buddy Cord was a very lucky thing indeed! Plus he’s a metal head: we drove out to Richmond on Saturday to see Arkona and Korpiklaani together. Can it get any better? #Bromance
My SO is somewhat similar. She’s just particular about which meats she likes. So I’ve zeroed in a couple of times with her on what she would like, then we use some of the leftovers from that for mac and cheese and she loves it. Turkey isn’t usually my thing, but smoking a turkey breast is dead simple and she loves it.
You use a lot of things when cooking, so I don’t recall, do you grill or smoke as well, Armando?
I don’t. We’re in an unventilated third floor condo in a community with no communal grills.
My best friend owns a dual gas / charcoal grill that I get to play with when I hang out over there sometimes, but that’s about it, sadly.
There are very few things I don’t especially like about our insanely cheap rental. That’s one of the big ones, heh.
Also the aforementioned bees near your place. Never forget the bees.
Guacamole with smoked salmon and bacon. It was supposed to be trout instead of salmon, but they were out :/
I’m sorry, but that sounds awful
It’s not fishy at all, if that’s what you’re thinking.
Last night was busy:
Clockwise from the top-right: Guasacaca sauce (blended avocados, onion, chilies, bell peppers, parsley, cilantro, salt & pepper, white wine vinegar, and lime juice), some queso fresco, a late with a couple of toasted arepas (Venezuelan corn “cakes” – sorta like very fat, crispy-fluffy tortillas) with some tostones–fried plantains–and lime, some Venezuelan style rice (fried in olive oil with garlic, onion, and red bell pepper, carefully removed after cooking for the gf’s sake), some black beans cooked with olive oil, onion, red bell pepper, garlic, cumin, thyme, and bay leaves, and finally some shredded pork shoulder that was braised in onion, roasted chilies, garlic, broth, and cumin, then shredded while the braising liquid was reduced before getting added back in.
Two arepas, split and assembled. The one on the left mid-process, the one on the right finished :)
Jesus fuck I am sore today. Unfortunately I took ill on Tuesday, so I had to do the whole week’s worth of cooking last night, since I’ve got an RPG session tonight, a concert tomorrow, an anniversary date (15 years!) with the missus Saturday, and movie night with my team for the Seek the Stars! project I’m working on on Sunday.
Jesus dude. Congrats!
I’m kinda excited for 34 in a couple of years. Half our lives at that point <3
God I wish I could find someone like that. Even if they hated amazing food like ‘mando’ s lady. ;)
Ground beef, onions, grated cheddar cheese, A1 sauce, tomato paste, 2 eggs,s/p. Topped with cheddar cheese slices.
A suggestion for the next iteration, though you’ll get less meat browning:
Top that motherfucker with frozen tater tots.
I made a "shepherd’s (actually a cottage pie, since it used beef, I guess) but used frozen tater tots in place of the mashed potatoes, and it was the most glorious fat kid thing I have ever cooked, I think
I also sloshed the 9x13 when I was pulling it out of the oven, dousing my wrist and the bottom of my oven in cheesy beefy grease at a lovely 375F, which was less awesome.
Which I always have. Great idea.
My apologies to your arteries, Rich. Your GP can send my commission via Paypal or Amazon Pay ;-)
Screw 'em. What have they done for me la…egklitrjhugfbnc vm