Category Archives: Comfort Food

Thanksgiving Eats


Turkey Time

I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving and adjusted back to life in the grind today. I had all of week plus today off and was pretty happy with the food I consumed over the break. I got home last Monday, and my dad suggested we go to McDonald’s to get some McRibs. Knowing my parents, such a request was pretty shocking. I declined, and he suggested driving up to Edison so I could try some new Chinese restaurants. The first two we tried were closed so we found ourselves in heaven H Mart. Spacious, clean, reasonably priced and delicious food court options. We got a seafood pancake, a bowl of noodle soup, and some Korean fried chicken. Then, we shopped for lobsters and abalone for a late dinner.

On Tuesday my dad got KFC for lunch. My reality is seriously taking a U-turn. Maybe it was a little Thanksgiving warm up? The mashed potatoes and chicken were as I remembered, but the biscuits weren’t as big or fluffy. Recipe change? Sad face.

On Wednesday, the cooking began after some take out Chinese for lunch. I got started on baking treats for in house snacking, friends and neighbors. First up were Chocolate Chunk Cookies based off Tollhouse Cookies without the walnuts and chunks instead of chips. Next were the office favorite, Cookies n Cream Cupcakes, which friends also enjoyed However, they didn’t get them until 2-3 days after so they dried out a bit in the fridge. Finally, Thanksgiving desserts included Pumpkin Cheesecake and Apple Pie.


Chocolate Chunk Cookies


Cookies N Cream Cupcakes


Pumpkin Cheesecake


Apple Pie

The big day included waffles for brunch with a blackberry topping and fresh blackberries and bananas.


Thanksgiving Brunch

For the big meal, we had a 12 lbs. turkey brined and rubbed with sage, kosher salt and a little rosemary along with a half lemon and cinnamon stick in the cavity. Gravy was made using a roux, chicken stock and soy sauce. This was the most successful gravy I’ve made to date in terms of universal appeal, color, texture and taste. I did feel guilty about cutting out the pan drippings, since I had so much to do. Green bean casserole, dressing, sage and rosemary biscuits, sweet potato mash and spaghetti squash with cranberries rounded out the meal. The green bean casserole was the first time I made it completely from scratch, and while it looked sexy, the fried onions still didn’t measure up to French’s. The dressing was still inferior to Stove Top, but I’m still confident that someday I will have a recipe that will be better. The spaghetti squash was a new addition this year and was inspired by a meal at Oceanarie the week before Thanksgiving. The strands from the squash are pretty cool. When my dad asked if I cut the squash into the strands, I was pretty tempted to say yes. Overall, my dad said it was the best Thanksgiving meal to date that I’ve made, so my constant need for approval was satisfied for the time being.


Sage and Rosemary Biscuits


Spaghetti Squash with Cranberries


Green Bean Casserole


The Spread


Coma on a Plate

On Friday night, I met up with a few friends for burgers at 25 Burgers and had a Bull’s Eye Burger with sweet potato fries. The burger itself was pretty messy and greasy, but it’s the best burger within a 15 minute drive from my house. The onion strings and patty were the highlights, while the bun was lacking. The fries were decent, but the portion was rather small. Overall the burger, fries, and drink were a little over $12.


BBQ Burgers Don’t Know How to Disappoint

The next day, I ate at Shanghai Bun and got some sauteed pork and vegetables with Shanghai noodles, and my friend got chicken and mustard green soup. For dinner, I hung out with a few of my sister’s friends and went to the Olive Garden for the first time. The place was pretty empty when we arrived, but was packed by the time we left. I was definitely surprised with the decor and ambiance, since I always though the commercials were so corny. However, the prices were also higher than I imagined. I was thinking most entrees would be $8-15, but the range was more like $12-$20. The seating was interesting, with wheels on all four legs sliding in every direction. The bread sticks were on the salty side, but you can’t go wrong with unlimited warm bread. For my entree, I got braised short ribs. I’m not 100% confident that it didn’t come out of a bag, but the tenderness of the meat was still enjoyable. Overall, the meal was better than I expected, but at $28 with tax and tip, I’d rather spend my dining out money elsewhere.


If Only Plate of Food Grew on Trees


Healthy Can Taste Good


The Most Perfectly Shaped Breadsticks I’ve Ever Seen in my Life


Braised Short Ribs

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I’ll have some west coast with that butter


Katie, Ivy, and Ray — three very full traveling companions, at the famous Chinese Theatre

Guess what? We’re alive and posting from California!

This trip has been a long time in the making. After finally passing my last CPA exam this past February, I was able to make the executive decision to inject more fun into my life.  Why not round out my first summer of freedom with a foodie fueled west coast adventure with old college friends I haven’t seen for years.  Yes, you read that correctly.  YEARS.

Our timing couldn’t have been more perfect.  By a stroke of luck neither Ray nor I typically experience, we were able to fly safely out of Logan Airport Saturday morning right before Irene hit Boston.  We were greeted by a very friendly and familiar face, Ivy who flew into LAX from Palo Alto.

Once we got our big bear hugs out of the way, we headed out to Roscoe’s for some rib sticking chicken and waffles.  Having never experienced this before, I was more than ready to fill my quota of true “soul” food.

We each ordered southern style fried chicken (dark meat obviously!) with waffles.  In a total gratuitous act of fatness, we ordered a large plate of chicken chili cheese fries.  Let it be known, we’ve made a lot of decisions like this one since the first day.

What arrived was a plate full of crispy fried chicken (disappointingly, a breast and a drumstick — seriously, white meat puts the BOO in boob), two golden waffles, a heaping ice cream scoop of butter and a small cup of syrup.  Whether or not it was pure maple was debatable.

After I took it all in, I found myself in a conundrum.  Is this finger food/knife and fork food/a mixture of both?  My comrades took different approaches as Ivy started eating her drumstick with her fingers (a girl after my own heart) and Ray went in with his utensils.  I did some kind of unassertive mix of both.  Am I supposed to have a bite of waffle and then a separate bite of chicken?  Do I put the chicken on the waffle and let some of the grease fill up the nooks and crannies?  Should I sandwich the chicken between the two waffles and risk exposing my true barbaric eating habits to the regular patrons?  Am I supposed to be this boggled by soul food?

Once I decided to stick to utensils and take a bite of everything all at once, the myriad of flavors exploded in my mouth.  This reminded me of one of my staple favorites, bacon doused in maple syrup and not just drizzled, but poured with a very heavy hand.  Savory and sweet, not battling, but dancing together in frenetic excitement.

The chicken chili cheese fries were a sad plate of not surprisingly very soggy french fries.  Though the additional pieces of chicken thigh dotting the dish were fun, I have nothing further to say about these.

This was my first experience with chicken and waffles and though I’m sure this particular experience is not going to set the golden standard for me, it certainly was eye opening.  I think of all of the food out there that has not crossed my path and realize the new experiences are really endless.  I’m just lucky that I have food companions that are more than willing to take on the new adventures with me.

Thomas Keller’s Roast Chicken

My sister came over for dinner on Sunday, and I was going to make Thomas Keller’s Roast Chicken, but since it was only the two of us, I butchered a whole chicken into 4 cuts (2 white meat and 2 dark meat cuts). Since my sister prefers white meat, I managed to remove the breast bone and roasted it with salt and pepper. The simplicity of roast chicken is mind boggling, and over the years I think I’ve gotten better and better. The two tweaks include being more liberal with the kosher salt and tempering the chicken. Letting the chicken air dry lets the skin dry out a bit, which makes for crispier skin and speeds the cooking process. The middle of the meat is also likely to cook all the way through. Enjoy an easy lesson and go make a chicken like the best chef in America!

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

I was determined to put my slow cooker to use and decided kill two birds with one stone by also making pulled pork for the first time. After reading so many times about the wonders of the slow cooker for winter time BBQ, I decided to use a simple recipe so that I could see the pork by itself and then try a bottled sauce as well.

Simple Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
3 lbs Pork Shoulder
Salt and Pepper
Water
1 Bottle of BBQ Sauce

Season pork shoulder with salt and pepper. Place in slow cooker and add water until the bottom of the slow cooker is covered. Set to low for 8 hours. Once shoulder is ready, take shoulder out of slow cooker and let rest 15 minutes. While the meat is resting, remove liquid from slow cooker and add BBQ sauce of choice to slow cooker bowl. Begin shredding meat from shoulder and place in the bowl. Mix with sauce. Return bowl to slow cooker and cook 30 minutes on high. Serve and enjoy. I use a Texas style sauce from World Market, which was bold and just a tiny bit spicy.


Mini Pulled Pork Sandwiches

I initially made some mini pulled pork sandwiches, but decided to use the leftovers with some cauliflower puree. Looks like cauliflower is good for something after all.

Cauliflower Puree
1 Head of Cauliflower chopped into 1-1.5 inch florets
1 cup Water, Milk or Stock
3 Cloves of Garlic
Olive Oil
3 tbsp Butter
Salt and Pepper

Take cauliflower florets and place in a shallow sauce pan with 1 cup milk, water, or stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer covered for 10 minutes or until tender. While cauliflower is cooking, roast 3 cloves of garlic with olive oil in a foil pouch. Place 3 tbsp. butter, garlic and oil, cauliflower florets, salt and pepper in a food processor and blend until desired consistency is reached. Use remaining liquid in sauce pan to thin out the mixture in food processor by adding a little at a time. Season to taste.


Pulled Pork Over Cauliflower Puree