Saturday, December 1, 2012

What I did on my Thanksgiving break

My thanksgiving consisted of working on my holiday gifts while watching Castle marathon all day. Then a little cooking for dinner, steak and some steam broccoli [so sweet and tender] from the farmers market. Wanted to try out a new chocolate pudding recipe, but I was just too lazy start something new after our early dinner.

Holiday Gifts
The gifts that I was working are for the family. Started two things at the same to keep my interest going. Knitted gifts are a bit tough when you have 3 knitters and a crocheter in the family [on top of that a sister who is a great knitter]. But I've been in the mood to knit lately and I thought I better take advantage of it. I made a second bandana cowl for WG with some left over yarn [he found a crochet knight's helmet, that he wants me to make for him. Yes, I said knight's helmet. Need to get the pattern will try and start after making my gifts.] 

Working on a cotton bamboo lace-y scarf in a coral. Using the yarn I got in May when my family was here. We went to the Lion Brand Outlet and picked up a few things [few. . .hehe]. The pattern is the Lace Ribbon Scarf by Veronik Avery from Been want to knit something in bamboo for a while. It has a nice drape to it, looks nice in this pattern.
Ribbon Lace

The other project I started is a cowl in red merino wool. Maryse cowl by Amy Christoffers from Knitscene, Winter 2012 Something warm and cozy. The pattern is pretty easy, have ripped it out totally yet.
red cowl

Didn't do any cooking on Thanksgiving except for the steak for dinner. But this past weekend, I cooked up a storm. Tried several recipes that I've been wanting to try. 

I did most the prep in the morning, roasting up pumpkin [pumpkin cheesecake and maybe a pumpkin cake or cupcake with cream cheese frosting], the delicata squash and some candy cane beet from the farmers markets. The beets were so sweet, I made the for a salad but it so delicious on it own. 

I found this stuffed delicata squash recipe and wanted to try is for a while. But of course, I didn't have all the ingredients and had to improvise. Used ground chicken instead of sausage, swiss chard instead of kale and adjusted the seasoning to my taste. Had enough for 3 meals plus.

stuff delicata squash

WG for some reason bought 2 pineapples, left them @ the restaurant, told no one they were there, till one day I ask him about it. They were getting quite ripe so I brought them home cut the first one up. Wanted to make something with the other but didn't know what. 
Then I remembered I want to try caramelizing the pineapple for hand pies. 

pineapple hand pies

Been struggling with my pie crust and I'm determined to get better at it and why not practice making these hand pies. Last time I made hand pies that the filling was just to juice and didn't set up. That's where caramelizing the fruit might work. I caramelized the pineapple like I do with the apples in my bread pudding. 

Here's a quick run down on how I made these. Melt 1/4c butter, add 1/2c sugar and cook till light brown and smooth. Then add 1 1/2c pineapple, diced. As the juices from the pineapple comes out, the caramel will seize and become hard. But don't let that scare you, continue on reducing the juice and caramel and they will come together. When the juices have reduce by half and thicken, the pineapple is done. Cool to room temperature then refrigerate. Roll out your pie crust, cut into about 5" circles, add refrigerated caramelized pineapple [this is so the juices firm up even more], fold in half and crimp edges and add vent holes. Refrigerate the hand pies for at least an hour. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle sugar on top the pies and bake @ 425º for 25 minutes or till golden brown.

This is the second batch of pies I made. I was thinking of making apple pie with the crust but didn't have enough apples. They were just as delicious as the first batch, just the perfect size for after dinner sweet. 

Here's one more recipe to I tried out. Been reading about the best chocolate chip cookie for a couple of years now. When I looked at the NYT recipe, I kind of hesitated--2 different kinds of flour, fancy salt and I need to refrigerate the dough overnight. I knew in my heart I just didn't have the energy for this cookie no matter how delicious it was. 

But then one day, I found this version from Blue Ridge Baker. Slightly different--no extra kind of flour but dough had to rest overnight if you could wait. I gave it a try. 
chocolate chip cookie

It's a crunchier cookie than I normally like but the taste was delicious. I see what the sea salt on top does to the cookie, goes so well with the bittersweet chocolate. But I think what makes it taste so good is the brown butter. I didn't tell WG there was sea salt on the cookie and when I asked him how it was he said a little bit salty. I guess he's a traditionalist. It got the thumbs up from most people @ my office. I will make this again soon.

I guess that's it for now. Took me a long time to finish this post. More update on my holiday gifts to come and I'm sure more recipe testing.

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