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Joel & Sue's 2018 Holiday Party pictures

Joel & Sue's 2018 Holiday Party pictures
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  • Joel & Sue's 2018 Holiday Party pictures

    Post #1 - December 26th, 2018, 9:06 am
    Post #1 - December 26th, 2018, 9:06 am Post #1 - December 26th, 2018, 9:06 am
    So we pulled off another marathon cooking session. It was touch and go for a couple hours when the porchetta wasn't getting finished nearly as fast as the cookbook implied and we thought we'd be short on ovens, but preparation and planning paid off.

    This year's theme was "The books we devoured" -- children's books we loved that inspired us for food. A couple favorites such as Mouse and the Motorcycle or Swiss Family Robinson didn't make it due to lack of inspiration, not love.

    Here's the menu board:

    Doctor Dolittle in the Moon / The Book of Three - Cheese Board
    As we've done in past years, anything with "moon" in the title makes a good source for a cheese board. We break the rule of 3, and go with one hard (Mahon, for our trip to Spain), one soft (Saint Andre) a blue (Buttermilk) and a flavored (cranberry Wensleydale). The other inspiration is the character Gurgi from the Chronicles of Pyrdain by Lloyd Alexander (who shares mythological origins with Gollum), who is always looking for 'crunchings and munchings.' So we made rice crackers, spiced cashews, roasted pumpkin seeds, and goldfish crackers.


    Over Sea, Under Stone - Cornish Pasties
    Susan Cooper's "Dark is Rising" sequence starts with three children on holiday in Cornwall, so pasties (using dough from Nicole Routhier's "Cooking Under Wraps" -- one of our no-fail party recipe books) filled with beef, potatoes, turnips and parsnips were a natural. These were made and frozen three weeks prior to the party.

    Pippi in the South Seas - Beef Rendang Meatballs
    There aren't a lot of children's stories in southeast Asia, until we remembered Pippi Longstocking's second adventure. We always do a meatball, and rendang's rich (but not too spicy) flavors worked well. This came from an online recipe, and didn't quite smell right after cooking -- it was lacking cinnamon which was added at the last minute. These were also panfried and frozen with the sauce three weeks ahead, then defrosted for the crockpot.

    A Wizard of Earthsea - Egg Rolls with Pork and Shrimp
    OK, using pork and shrimp to mean earth and sea stretches things a little far... but eggrolls are also shaped like wizard staves, right? We used the recipe Cathy2 posted from the Antoinette Pope Cookbook, including peanut butter, and dipping the egg rolls into a thin cornstarch batter before frying. We made some of them vegetarian with fried tofu and wood ear mushroom, and added a little cabbage for bulk after letting the (cooked) filling sit overnight wilted the heck out of the vegetables. Pictured are the vegetarian ones -- the batter let us stick black sesame seeds to help us tell the veg from the meat ones. Filling was cooked, and the rolls assembled two weeks ahead of time, fried on game day.

    The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - Kibbeh, a Turkish delight
    Nobody actually likes turkish delight, so we thought we'd make one of our favorite dishes from the middle east, using the recipe from Mary Bsisu's "The Arab Table" for Kibbeh in the Tray. Lamb and beef sauteed with onions and allspice between two layers of kibbeh dough. This nearly burned the house down, as the olive oil and butter that are poured over the top dripped onto the oven floor and caught fire. We put it out as soon as it started, though, and saved the dish. Made the day before and reheated (we've made it before and knew it would reheat well).
    Post-mortem: this was not very popular, I think cramming it into the little steam tray was not the best presentation

    The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death - Avocado Salad
    OK, we cheated here, this book is from 1983, years after our childhoods, but it was too good an opportunity to pass up using Daniel Pinkwater. This was a recipe I winged somewhat, but was well received so I'll try to post it here:
    2 5-oz packages baby arugula, rinsed and spun dry
    4 Avocados, diced
    2 Bell Peppers, diced
    1 large Red Onion, diced
    8 oz aged Gouda, diced small
    1 10-oz jar sun-dried tomatoes, sliced thinly
    1.5 C pecans, toasted in the oven
    4 oz wild rice (not mix), cooked as directed, cooled
    3 cups of lupini beans, drained, then marinated with olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, and oregano, then drained again.
    Dressing: (quantities of oil and vinegar approximate)
    3 cloves garlic, minced on microplane
    1 tsp black pepper
    2 tsp salt
    2 Tbs tomato paste
    2 tsp dijon mustard
    4 oz red wine vinegar
    10 oz olive oil (use the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes as a start)
    1 Tbs (real) maple syrup
    Combine all ingredients except oil in stick blender beaker, blend. With motor running, add oil.
    Toss everything together, then add 2/3 of dressing, toss again, taste, add more dressing if needed.
    (photo missing)
    Last edited by JoelF on December 26th, 2018, 11:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #2 - December 26th, 2018, 9:39 am
    Post #2 - December 26th, 2018, 9:39 am Post #2 - December 26th, 2018, 9:39 am
    I love your creativity!
  • Post #3 - December 26th, 2018, 2:11 pm
    Post #3 - December 26th, 2018, 2:11 pm Post #3 - December 26th, 2018, 2:11 pm
    And now, the rest -- yes that was only halfway.
    Secret of the Andes - Aji de Gallina Tamales
    I really really wanted to do alpaca (as the meatballs), but it's a hard meat to find, with shipping costing more than the meat itself (which wasn't cheap), and the nearest brick&mortar source a five hour drive. This is a masa-and-sweet corn tamal, flavored with a jar of Aji paste I got in Lima and the broth I made from poaching chicken with more aji paste, garlic, onions, and some achiote for color. Wrapped in banana leaves a week ahead and frozen, then steamed day-of. Delicious, if a little denser than the ones I had at Panchita in Lima. Served with salsa criolla (pickled red onions).

    Charlotte's Web - Some Pig Porchetta
    This was the first idea we came up with for the theme. Yes, it's a little cruel, but it's soooo delicious. Recipe from Cheers to the Publican at about half size (a Costco belly and a half loin). Cooked to 145F to get it crisper and cooked through. Note that the Publican recipe said to turn up the temp at 100F, checking at 90min and every 15 thereafter... which was more than another 90 minutes. Lessons learned: let it rest longer before slicing, and the belly will stick better to the loin, but slicing it into more than one piece per round probably ruined the chances of that staying together anyway.

    Dragonsinger - Dragon Deviled Eggs
    Eggs were crackle-dyed (break the shells then soak in food coloring for four hours after boiling), filling is pretty standard deviled egg filling, with smoked paprika (from Spain trip). Garnished with olive "eyes" and carrot "thread."

    Stranger from the Depths - Shrimp in 'lava' sauce
    Shrimp fra diavolo, nicely spicy. Lessons learned: this turned to mush. I didn't overcook the pasta, but sitting with a relatively wet sauce the pasta fell apart. Leave the tomatoes chunky, drain much of the liquid

    Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet - Mushroom Tart
    This is one of the first SF books both SueF and I read as kids, had to be included. The dish is one we'd made previously for a Dessert Exchange, from the Pie and Pastry Bible: puff pastry, a mix of button, wild (cremini and oyster) and dried mushrooms with thyme and sour cream, and a "streusel" made with parmesan and crushed croutons.

    Jack Pumpkinhead of Oz - Smoky Braised Pumpkin
    A Rick Bayless recipe, which ended up too spicy: the original recipe called for 3-6 1/4 to 1/2 oz dried chipotles. So in tripling, I went for 4.5 oz total, which was more than that number of chiles (I had a mix of the bigger moritas and smaller mecos), but it was way too much. Lessons learned: follow the damn recipe's instructions

    I need some cookie photos from Sue's camera, will post later.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #4 - January 1st, 2019, 4:45 pm
    Post #4 - January 1st, 2019, 4:45 pm Post #4 - January 1st, 2019, 4:45 pm

    "I like this place and willingly could waste my time in it" - As You Like It,
    W. Shakespeare