Wednesday, November 25, 2009

What I'm Reading Today

If ever there was a time to get in the kitchen and cook, this is it.  Wishing you all a juicy turkey and a Happy Thanksgiving.

Appetizers on Thanksgiving are risky.  People show up at your house starving, having waited for this meal all year long.  Fill them with too many snacks and they don't eat dinner.  No apps at all and the hungry guests just get damn cranky.  What's a cook to do?  Make just one or two things, keep them light, and when they're gone, they're gone.  Today's LA Times has a great list of 25 last minute appetizers for your Thanksgiving feast. With crab season finally here, I love the idea of a Shrimp and Crab Platter drizzled with orange and red chile and of course Bacon Wrapped Dates.  I bought all the fixins to make those myself, although I'm filling mine with mascarpone and Marcona almonds instead of blue cheese.

I love Spanish tortillas.  Much like a frittata, the egg, potato, and onion "cake" is delicious hot out of the pan or served room temperture.  The trick is cooking the onions and potatoes in lots of oil.  In this recipe, from today's NY Times, that's 3 cups of oil to be exact!  Seems like an obscene amount but the oil is actually drained off (and reserved for your next tortilla) after the veggies are cooked. They become meltingly tender without creating a hash-brown crunch.  It's how a tortilla should be and is what makes it delish.  Perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, the tortilla would be a great way to start off your Thanksgiving day.  It'll give you the protien you need to keep you cooking, and fill your belly enough to hold you over until turkey time.

"Perfect Mashed Potatoes" means something different to everyone.  Some need those lumps to make them like mom's, others use a food mill to get them silky smooth.  There are additions like roasted garlic, cream cheese, or truffles that show up at the table too.  I like mine on the smooth side with milk or cream and lots of butter.  Today's Washington Post explores the three pillars of the perfect mash:  dry potatoes are fluffier than wet ones so drain them really well, manage the starchiness with dairy-cream, milk or butter all balance the starch for a creamier consistency, and finally use a gently hand-never try to mash the potatoes in the food processor or you'll end up with paste.  Try a hand mixer, ricer, or even an electric mixer on low speed instead.  They recommend two recipes, one is Simple Mashed Potatoes, an old fashioned mash, hand mixed and studded with a few pieces of garlic.  The other recipe is Rich, Velvety Potato Puree from French chef extrodinaire, Joël Robuchon.  This one comes out very smooth and calls for pushing the potatoes through a seive or ricer two to three times.  It's a bit more work but if this is the style you consider Perfect Mashed Potatoes, why not give it a try?

Happy Reading and Happy Cooking.  

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