Monday, 30 November 2009

Season's Eatings

It is a shame that Thanksgiving Day is not celebrated in Britain. I think any celebrations that involve stuffing your mouth with delicious food should be celebrated everywhere. I heard about Thanksgiving Day from TV shows and films but I didn’t experience the whole rituals until when I lived in America. I still remember my first Thanksgiving with my host family. Well, I didn’t remember much what we did on the day, but I remember all the food we had; traditional bread stuffing with onion, celery, sage, sourdough bread, sausage meat and lots of butter; creamy mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and of course, it is not thanksgiving unless you have a beautiful and golden roast turkey on the table. And for dessert, a generous slice of warm pumpkin pie and a big dollop of whipped cream. You just eat and eat and get ready for the Black Friday sale the next day.

This year is the fourth year I host Thanksgiving dinner since I moved to the UK. I invited some friends over yesterday (normal Thanksgiving dinner falls on the last Thursday in November, but due to some scheduling reasons, I had mine on the Sunday). I made Jamie’s the best whole roast turkey, Christmas or any time which was delicious. One of the biggest challenges when cooking a turkey is the legs and thighs take longer than the breasts. The breasts tend to dry out in the oven while you’re waiting for the legs to cook. Jamie’s solution to this is by pushing an amount of stuffing between the turkey’s skin and breasts to increase the thickness of the breasts so they take the same time to cook as the legs. The result? Juicy turkey all round!

The stuffing is made with sausage meat, lemon zest, sage, red onions and celery. Yum! I had some extra and I made them into stuffed mushrooms which again, Yum!

I also made my traditional bread stuffing because it is my favourite dish at Thanksgiving dinner. Side dish wise, I made some boiled new potatoes with lemon, butter and parsley and maple glazed carrots. The cranberry sauce is store bought, and there is nothing wrong with that. I know making cranberry sauce takes hardly any work, but if I can save some time, I don’t mind it being the cranberry sauce. For dessert, I didn’t make the traditional pumpkin pie this year. Instead I made Nigella Lawson’s quadruple chocolate loaf cake. It is quadruple because there are four different elements of chocolate in the cake in the forms of coco powder, dark chocolate chips, chocolate syrup that glazed the cake and chocolate shaving on top.

An evening with great food and great company, what more can you ask.

I never celebrated Thanksgiving the way it was intended to be, a symbol of co-operation and interaction between the English colonists and Native Americans. To be honest, I don’t know anybody who does today, even in America. For me, Thanksgiving Day is kind of like a declaration and opening ceremony that Season's Eatings starts here. It is now the time for indulgence, for sharing wonderful food with family and friends.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

food for thought

I constantly think about food and I cannot wait until my next meal.
It's Thursday evening and I cannot wait for Sunday's Thanksgiving dinner (I know Thanksgiving Day is today, but I didn't get off from work until 8 pm on Thursday; I'm still working on Friday; my friends can't make Saturday; so I'm gonna have it on Sunday instead). I cannot wait!

I cooked my first duck last week and oh I love duck... The duck was roasted for 2 hours until crispy and then shredded and made into gorgeous slow-cooked duck pasta. Man, it was so good.

For lunch today, I made roasted chicken breast with creamy butternut squash and chilli. It was delicious. I added a little parmesan cheese to the squash. It wasn't part of the recipe, but I couldn't helped it.

My friends asked me with all of these food, why aren't you fat? Well, I was once 'bigger' but I now believe in balance. I know that I love to eat and therefore I need to exercise. I go to the gym, two or three times a week and do my time. Plus, since I started this project few weeks ago, I have used four, 2L bottles of olive oil, and exercise is definitely needed for this project to continue. I know Jamie loves his olive oil and the occasional butter (and I do too) and he drizzles olive oil on everything; and I seem to picked up the habit. Olive oil, especially the extra virgin kind suppose to be the greatest exponent of monounsaturated fat with higher levels of antioxidants and vitamin E. In other words, it's good for us. But at the end of the day, oil = fat and fat = flavours = YUM! I am conscious about health but I'm not prepared to skimp on anything, because I want to enjoy my food.

I heard about this 'good' food and 'bad' food thing: are pasties good or bad? what about salt? is whole wheat better? is margarine better than butter? I'm not a nutritionist, but what I do know, every thing is good in moderation.

Anyway, I'm gonna stop here and go to bed. I don't wanna be late for breakfast.

day 87, recipe 38

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Weekend feast

Today I made ultimate rib of beef with rosemary and garlic roast potatoes. I love it. love it. love it. This is my kind of meal: meat and potatoes. The meat was marinated with lemon zest, rosemary, garlic and olive oil and then cooked to medium-rare which is my favourite and it was beautiful. To accompany the meal, I also made the best whole baked carrots. At first I wasn't sure about this whole baked carrots thing because I normally like my carrots crunchy, but you've got to try it and it is now officially my favourite way to eat carrots.

For desserts, I made the best shortbread in the world. I was feeling a little adventurous and I added some orange zest to the dough. It was fairly easy to make and I love the crumbly and buttery textures of the shortbread. When a recipe calls for a whole block of butter, you just know that it's got to be good.

Today is day 68, recipe 29 and... I'm feeling good.

Sunday, 1 November 2009


I made my first potato gnocchi today and it was fun! I can't believe I made gnocchi. It's normally something that I get in a packet from the supermarket. The biggest challenge of making the gnocchi was probably looking for the right ingredients. Jamie's recipe for the lightest potato gnocchi calls for tipo 00 and semolina flour. I looked through all the major supermarkets in the area but couldn't find them. I searched online and finally found the necessary flour from an Italian deli in Cambridge. Yay!

I served the gnocchi with simple sausage ragu and fennel seeds. Yum! The gnocchi was light but a little too soft; extra flour is definitely needed next time.