Thanksgiving, Top Chef, Pictures, progress, and more

Hi, everyone.  I hope you all had a good Thanksgiving!  Hopefully, all your turkeys came out perfect, your dressings were aromatic, your gravies un-lumpy, and all your sides were delicious.

Admittedly, my own turkey (I got a 13.4 pounder for Thanksgiving with the fam) turned out pretty poorly.  I broke my probe thermometer and it was too late to get a new one, so I was roasting somewhat blind.  Then, in the middle of trying to get the bird golden brown, I had to go pick up my grandmother before she got too angry at all of us for forgetting to pick her up (no one else in the family seemed readily willing to go and pick her up for some reason).  I handed responsibility for the turkey over to someone else, who ended up ruining the outside of the turkey despite me giving timely instructions by cell phone (the skin got way too dark), and the foil covering I made for the breast wasn’t put onto the turkey the correct way, nor was it put on at the right time.  Sigh.  Needless to say, dinner didn’t start until an hour and a half later than expected because my family decided to keep cooking new, subpar, mediocre dishes, plus there was a decent amount of bickering and arguing.  Ah, well.  What’s Thanksgiving with the family without fighting, right?

Of course, the turkey dried out.  Between the extra hour and a half and the cycles of resting, cooling, and reheating the bird every time everyone “decided” that dinner was ready (it wasn’t), the breast meat overcooked and got fairly dry, despite my brining the bird for a day before hand, and the legs were starting to dry out as well.  Good thing there’s gravy and cranberry sauce.

I also made a roasted pumpkin terrine that turned out all right.  I layered it with apple, carrot, and dried cranberries for interior garnish.  It was all tied together with a pumpkin butter, apple cider vinaigrette.  I served it with a cream sauce that I made with heavy cream, maple syrup, sage, and some cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.  I wish I took pictures.  The battery for my camera died and I have been scouring my cluttered apartment for the charger.  No luck so far.  Hopefully I’ll have some time to do some cleaning this weekend, since I will be pretty swamped with work this week.

Also, apologies for not updating about the 3rd episode of Top Chef.  Things got hectic with family, food, black friday shopping, etc.  If you missed it, Richard was eliminated.  I was so sad.  I liked him (no homo).  The contestants first had to draw knives with numbers and put their own spin on recipes from the Top Chef cookbook.  The numbers on the knives corresponded with pages in the cookbook.  Grant Achatz was the guest judge (you had all better know who Grant Achatz is.  He’s fantastic).  Maybe 15 minutes into the challenge, Padma and Grant interrupted the chefs and announced that they had changed their mind and wanted a soup instead.  Then, all the contestants had to take what they had already started to cook, and turn it into a soup.

To save time, the Top Chef kitchens provided them all with cartons upon cartons of Swanson broth.  I was horrified — not at the blatant ad placement (c’mon.  This is Top Chef we’re talking about here.  Any fan of the show should be completely desensitized to it by now), but because homemade stock is magnitudes better than the packaged, store-bought kind.  For shame, Top Chef!

Leah made a white asparagus soup with tuna tartare, which seemed to greatly impress Chef G (Achatz), since white asparagus is a tough ingredient to work with.  Danny also made a great soup (a ham and egg soup).  Jamie made a deconstructed falafel soup.  Leah ended up winning the quickfire (I love that damn woman).

For the elimination challenge, Leah was asked to pick teammates that she wanted to work with.  She picked the two Europeans, Fabio and Stefan (nooooooo!  team Europe!!!!), as well as Melissa, Hosea, and Radhika.  Leah’s team was nickednamed Team Sexy Pants.  The other team, fronted by Ariane, was nicknamed Team Cougars (because Ariane is such a cougar, raaar).  Then, the contestants found out that they had to cook for the band, the Foo Fighters, plus their roadies.  This was a catering gig, much like when I cooked for Five Finger Death Punch, Unearth, and some other bands at the Starland Ballroom (see the About Me page on this blog for more details).

The theme for this challenge was Thanksgiving.  Ariane made a bombtastic turkey breast and totally redeemed herself in the eyes of the judges, since it was the best turkey between the two teams.  Unfortunately for Richard, the judges decided that the dessert he made for the Foo Fighters was the worst thing on the menu.

Richard tried to please the band by making a dessert with bananas and chocolate, since they mentioned that they loved to eat chocolate covered frozen bananas.  So, he decided to make s’mores with ganache and banana creme.  The problem was that s’mores should be made a la minute, which he tried to do.  Unfortunately, the s’mores still sat around for a good bit, so they weren’t nearly as good come service time.  The judges commented that the banana creme looked like spit (or something similar in consistency and appearance).

It was too bad for Richard, since he didn’t want to throw someone else under the bus when he had to face the judges.  Danny also made some fairly awful dishes, but being a bullshit artist, he lied his way through the challenge.  “Richard, please pack your knives and go.”  Sadness.

There seemed to be some friction between Jamie and Danny in the stew room, too.  This could get interesting.  Maybe Jamie was just sad that she’s quickly become the only member of the former Team Rainbow?  Remember that Patrick was eliminated in the first episode, and now Richard has been eliminated.

That’s all for Top Chef.

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve had quite a few updates recently.  I must admit, I’ve been cheating somewhat *evil*.  A few weekends ago, I was really quite bored and had nothing to do, so I wrote maybe a dozen entries in the span of a few days.  I used WordPress to schedule them to post at midnight, on just about every night.  So, if you’ve seen a lot of posts (and if you’re wondering why it took me this long to write about how my Thanksgiving was whereas it seems I’ve been writing about cooking with wine, frying chicken, etc. etc.) — well, that’s why.  I’ve been cheating.  So, there you go.  It feels good to get that out into the open.  *sigh of relief*

Finally, once I get my camera charged back up and ready to go, I’m going to be making some aesthetic changes around here.  I got tired of this silly default theme a long time ago, and I think it’s time to spruce the place up a bit — add some pictures.  I may even take pictures related to previous posts.  If I do so, I will edit those posts and also write a new entry with the pictures and links to the relevant posts.  I don’t know . . . something to pass the time, as well as to make the blog more pleasant to look at (I do enjoy pictures, you know).

That’s all for now!  Leave me some comment love if you please.  I’d love to hear about how you spent your Thanksgivings, how the turkey came out, what else you made for dinner, etc.  Also, if you have any questions or suggestions for future blog topics, please leave them here!  I will do my best to answer your questions as quickly as possible, while still posting meaningful, fun to read, informative blog entries.  There’s too much to do!

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