Follow the culinary adventures and misadventures of the Cooking Agents (Ray and Katie). Watch as we eat/cook our way into adulthood.
The one year anniversary of our last post is coming up, so we thought it would be as a good a time as any to dig this blog out of its grave. A recap of the holidays seems appropriate.
Knowing that I was going to be taking a rip to China for two weeks during Thanksgiving, led me to organize a little Friendsgiving a few weeks before I took off. I was originally thinking of inviting around 10 folks, but since I had a new roommate who wasn’t around and gave me more control of the common areas, 25 people ended up accepting an invite and 19 people showed up. It was the first time I was hosting so it felt like a good opportunity to go big. One thing that helped was that I didn’t take a vacation day from work in 2012 until late October so I had plenty of time to prepare. I had the Friday off before the party (on a Sunday), but the total prep time stretched to the weeks before hand.
3 weeks out-send out invitations, start planning menu (the fun stuff)
2 weeks out-trim down menu, begin shopping lists
6 days before party-regret decision to host, buy alcohol
5 days before party-buy pantry goods, dry ingredients, turkey
4 days before party-plan out prep and cooking schedule, assign dishes to pots and pans
3 days before party-clean, set up chairs and tables out of storage
2 days before party-brine turkey, buy fresh foods, prep and make apps, soup, desserts, snacks, beast mode
1 day before party-air dry turkey, cook majority of side dishes, beast mode, panic attack
day of party-showtime
Luckily, my sister and her husband came a few hours early to help out with the last of the prep so the afternoon was a lot less stressful. The final menu looked like this:
White bean dip, roasted garlic hummus, pita chips with oregano, brie and gouda cheese plate, stuffed mushrooms, deviled eggs
Chilled potato leek soup with pesto genovese, southwest squash soup with ancho cream and toasted pumpkin seeds
Roasted turkey, beef stew with herbed dumplings
Jalapeno cheddar biscuits, cornbread, apple sausage stuffing, mushroom leek stuffing, green bean casserole, braised red cabbage, spaghetti squash with cranberries, mashed potatoes, quinoa with caramelized onions and mushroom, mac n cheese, gravy
Apple pie, pumpkin cheesecake, vanilla ice cream, chocolate coconut ice cream
Take Home Snacks
Cracker jacks, peanut clusters, candied pecans, gingersnaps
Some of the recipes were from the 6 week cooking course I took at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts in the fall. I cooked for two and a half days straight days. It was exhausting, but also so damn satisfying. It was my greatest culinary achievement to date. No regrets.
Mandatory Smiles for the Most Part
China- Yunnan Province and Shanghai
Moving on to my trip to China, the food was unremarkable, since we were on a tour group and ate rather generic plain food. The only highlights were some lamb and yak skewers at a night market and the signature dish of the Yunnan Province- Cross Bridge Noodles. It is a hot noodle sou, were you put raw, thinly sliced meats, and other toppings along with noodles into a hot bowl of broth with a layer of oil on top. When I went back to Shanghai prior to flaying back to the US, I had the best Beijing Duck (though there are probably better ones out there) in my life at a place near my aunt’s apartment.
For Christmas (NJ for a little over a week), I ate a rotation of all the favorites. Dim sum, stir fried noodles, diner fare, pizza, steamed lobsters, hot pot, frozen yogurt and my mom’s home cooking.
I was back in Boston for New Years and hung out at 28 degrees (cocktails, french fries) for most of the night before heading to Katie’s new place (quiche, the largest shrimp cocktail I’ve ever seen).
I took a look back at my 2012 food resolutions, and I only managed to complete 1.5 of the 5 items I listed so here’s hoping the 2013 list will be more successful.
1. Make Thomas Keller’s fried chicken! (carry over from last year)
2. Make pasta or Asian noodles from scratch (carry over from last year)
3. Make key lime chiffon pie and rice pudding
4. Cook or try a new exotic meat, vegetable and fruit
5. Try sea urchin and Spam
6. Eat at Toro, Island Creek Oyster Bar and RF O’Sullivan’s
7. Visit East Boston for Italian eats and 1 other ethnic cuisine
Happy New Year and be on the look out for more updates!
Nice spread! Coincidentally, learning to make pasta is also on my 2013 goals list and I’ve signed up for a 4-hour, $175 class that’s in a few weeks. If you happen to be in the NYC area then, you should check it out too, it’s by Pizza a Casa whose pizza class I took in 2011 and really enjoyed.