Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Eating My Way Through Thanksgiving

I'm. So. Excited. It's Thanksgiving tomorrow. I have lots to do. And lots to eat. My kitchen is about to explode. I have a few precious moments to spare, dear readers, so here I am. I'm sitting on the very edge of this chair as I'm typing, back ramrod straight, which is a clear sign of how pumped I am. My brain is a scattered mess. All I know is that I have the next few minutes to finish this post, then I must watch the new Top Chef episode because it would be sacrilegious to miss it. I wonder if I can say "Top Chef" when asked tomorrow about "things I'm thankful for"?! Erm, I suppose not.

Hah, I was just kidding about all the stuff I have to do for tomorrow. Listen to this. I've rather conveniently gotten myself invited to Thanksgiving at a relative's place tomorrow, so all DH and I have to do is show up. On time (tougher than you think, since we have to drive about 2-3 hours to get there). I'm so giddy with relief that I could skip and hum all the way there. So really, my entire prep for this holiday is getting my stomach ready to ingest copious amounts of delicious goodies - something I've become quite the expert on. But I'm not completely shameless, folks. P-Dub has taught me a thing or two, after all. So I think I'll make Ree's amazing acorn squash recipe, which I can warm up in the hostess' oven before the meal. I did a trial run on these, and look at the golden deliciousness that ensued.
Pretty as a flower, isn't she?

Sweet-Roasted Rosemary Acorn Squash (adapted from Ree's recipe)
Serves 2-3

Click here for printable recipe

1 acorn squash
1-2 tbsp olive oil
Half stick of butter, at room temp
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp fresh rosemary or 1 tsp dried rosemary
Salt to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.

2. Cut your squash in half, then into wedges. Place them in a baking dish, skin side down. Splash the olive oil over them and place in the oven for 15 mins.
This shot's for you Ree, because I *heart* Pioneer Woman ... erm, but not in a psycho-stalker kind of way, of course. I should've taken that knife out of the shot, shouldn't I? Shoot.

3. Combine butter, brown sugar, salt and rosemary in a bowl and mix into a paste.

4. Remove squash from oven and generously schmear all of the butter mixture over the wedges, then put them back in the oven for 30 mins.
5. Halfway through the roasting process, your butter paste will have become a sweet sauce. Brush this sauce over the squash wedges then continue roasting till time is complete.

6. Serve in the baking dish, drizzling more sauce in the end. And if you happen to lick the spoon after, you are perfectly within your rights, so don't let anyone else tell you otherwise!
Hot dayyum! How you doin' good lookin'?!

Verdict: Roasted squash has got to be nature's vegetable candy. And baking it with butter and brown sugar just takes it over the top. I can't get over how great these turned out. Tender and glossy, with strong butterscotch notes all over. Even DH was ooing and ahhing over this. I can see myself pairing this would many other dishes, like chicken or lasagna - or a mid-afternoon snack, perhaps?!

This is my contribution to the Thanksgiving round-up over at Foodie Fans of The Pioneer Woman, hosted by myself and Debby of A Feast For The Eyes. What're you waiting for? You should join in the fun! See you at the round-up on Nov 30th.

Have a fantabulous Thanksgiving my lovely readers!

Monday, November 23, 2009

100th Post - Time To Tackle Those Meringues!

Ah, my 100th post. Can't believe I actually had a hundred different things to say to you so far, dear readers. And I haven't run out of steam yet either, much to my own amazement, and your dismay! Well, I do tend to yammer on in the conversations I have in my head, which inevitably spill over into this blog. Isn't blogging wonderfully therapeutic, folks? It's my little bubble of calm in an otherwise crazy world. I have these little bouts of creativity that like to burst out of me at random intervals, so blogging is a great way to channel them. It gives me a sense of accomplishment, finishing off a post in one sitting, and having it out there in the infinite blogosphere for all to see. And you know what? It takes a certain amount of guts to leave yourself vulnerable to all kinds of feedback. That's right my fellow food bloggers, we should all stand a little taller knowing that we are brave enough to bare a piece of our soul to the world on a regular basis.

Last week, Debby from A Feast For The Eyes and I asked all of you Pioneer Woman Cookbook winning hopefuls this question: What kind of recipe/dish have you always wanted to make, but never got around to it? By going to our new blog, Foodie Fans of The Pioneer Woman, and leaving a response to that question, you give yourself the chance to win a copy of P-Dub's fabulously funny new cookbook (I've been reading my copy, and it cracks me up!).

So my own answer to the question was meringues. Those lighter-than-a-feather morsels of deliciousness. I've always admired them, only ordering them in fancy restaurants. Somehow, this delicate combination of egg whites and sugar always eluded me. I felt that even though the ingredients were at hand, it was the technique that I couldn't master. For some reason, I just thought that meringue-making was for the delicate hands of a pastry pro, not a clumsy cook like me. But being a food blogger is about conquering those long-held fears! And those of you who can make meringues with one hand tied behind your back will laugh. But for me, diving into the deep end looked mighty scary - little did I know that once I jumped in, the water was just fiiiiiiiiiine.Plus, erm, I think DH bought me my KitchenAid mixer for the sole purpose of making meringues - they're one of his all-time favorite sweet treats. For weeks now he's been going on about "what about those meringues you promised you'd make??" - so I finally did. It's taken me at least a 100 blog posts to get to it, but I did it, and now I can check that off my list - while licking my lips, because this meringue dessert turned out phenomenal! Great way to celebrate my personal milestone.
A magical meringue moment.

Go on. Take a closer look, and tell me you don't want to swim in that pool of yum!

Meringues Chantilly With Berry Compote (adapted from Ina Garten's recipe on
Serves 4

Click here for printable recipe

2 extra-large egg whites
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
Pinch of kosher salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract

2 cups frozen or fresh strawberries and blackberries
Few tbsp sugar, depending on how sweet you want the compote

Vanilla ice-cream to serve

1. Preheat oven to 200 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt on high speed till frothy. Add two-thirds of your sugar, and continue beating on high speed till egg whites form very stiff peaks. They should also be glossy! Whisk in the vanilla, then carefully fold in the remaining sugar.

3. Using a pastry bag, pipe the meringue mixture into disks, like so, with raised sides, so that it works like a bowl for all that luscious compote.
Mine are a little wonky, but pretty decent for a first attempt!

4. Bake for an hour. Then turn off the oven, and let the meringues sit in the oven for another 2-4 hours, or even overnight. These can be stored in an airtight container; no need for the refrigerator.

5. Heat the berries and sugar in a small saucepan, over medium-low heat. Keep the mixture bubbling slowly till it reduces and thickens to your liking. Cool it down before serving it with the meringues and vanilla ice-cream.

Verdict: I couldn't take my eyes and camera off of these beauties! And when I finally took my first bite - whoa. It was definitely a "stop the presses!" moment. The flavors and textures were exactly like the meringue desserts I order at my favorite restaurants. DH had the same reaction, so I know I'm not crazy. Crispy-crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside, just the way they should be. And combining it with the strawberry compote and vanilla ice-cream, slowly melting over the whole ethereal combo - well that's just an evil genius thing to do. But I did it. And I'll keep doing it now, again and again.