don't even get me started on the chocolate fountain (thanksgiving cooking)

so, my “being in charge” of leftovers night turned out to be, as sam seaborn might say, an honorary thing. i was permitted to make my linzer hearts (which, because of me being COMPLETELY STUPID, THREE TIMES, were dry and nearly inedible--at least, to my taste they were) but had to totally improvise because i forgot my cookie cutters. note to self: don’t ever try to make cookies using a drinking glass as a cookie cutter.

i had to watch mom like a hawk with the turkey because, ironically, i knew more about brining a turkey (thanks to my obsessive persual of kim o’donnell’s weekly online chats) than she did (but i did learn how to correctly measure the internal temperature of a bird). i got put in charge of heating up all of the williams-sonoma appetizers that we ordered, all of which were totally yummy. and the turkey, incidentally, came out quite well.

the problem came during dessert, when i was (for reasons unexplained) put in charge of making the chocolate fondue fountain work. i begged to not have to do it, to no avail. and the result was an unmitigated disaster that left me feeling pretty crummy. i couldn’t get the damn chocolate to melt all the way. chocolate started spraying everywhere. it was crappy chocolate to begin with, because normal chocolate doesn’t get enough viscosity to flow through a fountain in the first place. and when i suggested adding vegetable oil to thin out the chocolate (a suggestion i pulled directly from the instruction manual) i was completely rebuffed. i was so ashamed.

friday’s crisis turned out to be the dual creme brulees. the prep of the custards went well enough; shockingly, the creme brulee mix mom bought at williams-sonoma was quick, easy and tasty. i had my usual difficulty (despite all of my practicing!) with the from-scratch custard, but in the end we managed all right. the problem was that the custard didn’t have long enough to chill. or should i say, that was the first problem. the custard had only been chilling about 6 hours when i pulled them out to torch them. at this point, mom demaned to know WHY we hadn’t made the custards on thursday. i nearly lost it--i had asked, thursday afternoon, if we should make the custards to give them plenty of time to chill. i reminded her of this and we moved on. secondly, we couldn’t find the kitchen torch. then we found it, but we were out of butane. thirdly, since the custard was not adequately chilled, i needed to pack the broiler tray with ice. which we were out of. fourth, we only had splenda instead of proper brown sugar for the crust. and none of us had ever broiled a creme brulee before, so mom had me overcook one and then undercook the second. TOTAL DISASTER.

everything else, especially the pot pies, came out great. i was pleased to be vindicated in my pleas for the brie soup--everyone loved it. we served it with a garlic-parmesan baguette from wegman’s, which was totally yummy.

i’ll have to try and make some of the w-s phyllo appetizers on my own some day. the two particularly good ones were the truffle risotto ones and the brie/apple chutney variety.


long-overdue update

much to report on since my internet went down at home. i’ve been having great fun with braises, obviously, and this week, my impending departure for paris and NJ (for campaigning) forced me to finally play with all of those “easy suppers” i’ve been pulling for the past few months, with varying degrees of success. friday night i made rosemary and orange chicken. it was good, but not particularly stellar. saturday i made a tortilla pie, which was excellent except that i got a little too spice-happy with the paprika and red chiles. too hot to eat! sunday i finally made the brie soup and a middle-eastern recipe from my spice book, prompted by the presence of lamb chops at the farmers market. i am sad to report that while the braising of the lamb went really well, i flaked out when reducing the sauce for the lamb and ended up with tar. so i had semi-dry lamb with brown rice pilaf--not exactly an appetizing meal. fortunately i’d had the brie soup. dessert was equally disappointing--tried to eat the rice pudding from last weekend, but didn’t like the taste NOR the taste of the chocolate pudding (also from last weekend). i consoled myself with a bailey’s-spiked hot chocolate.

in other news, doughnuts:

excellent, simple ricotta dough that made moist and chewy doughnuts. caveat: they must be eaten straightaway. they do NOT keep well. i was devastated on monday morning to find them almost inedible.

starting to plan the thanksgiving/leftovers menu. although i was nominally put in charge, i’ve had very little input so far. i think i’ve sold mom on the brie soup as an appetizer, and we’re getting a really nice selection of phyllo appetizers from williams-sonoma: apple chutney with brie and mushroom truffle risotto. i’ll have to try those sometime on my own, but they should be a good start. we’re also going to make some latkes and i am definitely in charge of dessert: chocolate creme brulee with some fresh fruit. i was originally thinking of a rustic tart, but ccame to my senses today when i realized exactly how much pie crust that would actually be. so then i started thinking chocolate. first thought was, obviously, a molten cake, but i think the brulee will be fun and tasty and also easy. i’m going to make some linzer hearts for dad and i also want to do the cute little brownie buttons from dorie greenspan’s book. (p.s.--finally caught up on all of that scanning! i think i’ve got, for now, all of my recipes actually in my recipe program!)