Saturday, November 26, 2011

Sweets, Mostly

My stick-to-the-vegetable-book plan didn't work out all that well over the past week. My in-laws were in town for Thanksgiving, and Matt wound up cooking most days. I intended to make Perfect Vegetables' recipe for candied sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving, but as I was about to get started, I read the instructions closer and realized that they wanted me to stir it every five minutes for 50 minutes. Opening the oven door every five minutes seemed like it would be very bad for my turkey, so I switched gears and just mashed the sweet potatoes instead. So much for my plans.

My French Fridays with Dorie efforts were a flop this week, too. This was a free choice week, so I planned to cook the duck breast recipe from a few weeks ago, since supposedly my supermarket would now have them. I'd like to note that only one other person in the FFwD universe had a problem getting duck breasts. What the frig? They're only seasonal in Texas? ANYway, I was told that they'd definitely be at the store by this past Monday. I went this morning, and they once again had no idea what I was asking for.
Me: I was told you'd have them as of Monday.
Lady butcher: Then they must have just had them for thanksgiving.
Me: So you sold duck breast for a total of four days?
Lady butcher: Yes.
Me: Really?
LB: I don't know.

She then called a dude over.

LB: She wants duck breast.
Man Butcher: Turkey breast?
LB: Duck breast.
Man Butcher: Turkey breast?
Me: DUUUUCK BREAST. You were supposed to get it in on Monday.
MB: We have frozen ones.
Me: I know. I don't want a whole bird.
MB: You need a whole bird. Their breasts are only this big. (Holds hands into a small circle.)
Me: Duck breasts are bigger than chicken breasts. OH FORGET IT.

I give up. Someday, if I run across duck, I'll try this recipe.

Moving on...

The one thing I did make from Perfect Vegetables this week was Roasted Parsnips with Warm Spices (pg 178). The parsnips are mixed up with melted butter, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, and honey, and roasted. They were good, but I expected them to be a little sweeter and stickier. I guess the honey altered my expectation for how it would turn out. They were pretty dry, and burned more than I would like on the bottom. The instructions say to shake the pan halfway through. I stirred everything up instead, but they still burned.
Conclusion: I liked them, I'll just have to monitor them more closely and play around with the seasoning a bit more next time.

My mother-in-law loves biscotti, so I baked up David Lebovitz's Almond and Chocolate Chunk Biscotti (pg. 216 of Ready for Dessert). Slicing them after partially baking them was difficult, because there is so much chocolate included that it got melty and pieces crumbled off. Turned out perfectly in the end, though. They're great dunked in coffee. On their own, not so great.
Conclusion: Loved them.

Because two pies didn't seem like enough for Thanksgiving, I also made Lebovitz's Maple-Walnut Pear Cake (pg 35). Cinnamon upside-down cake with maple syrup, pears, and walnut baked into the top. YUM.
Conclusion: Liked it.

Lastly, and most tragically, I baked Dorie's Caramel Pumpkin Pie (pg 322 of Baking) instead of my normal pumpkin pie. Sounds good, right? It was awful. She says to make a very dark caramel, and warns that you'll think you've gone too far, but you haven't. I believe I made the caramel just as I was meant to, but between it and two tablespoons of rum, the mere one cup of pumpkin imparted no flavor. This tasted like a bitter rum pie. Now I need to bake a normal pumpkin pie to make up for it.
That's not burned. It was that dark even before I cooked it.
Conclusion: Disliked. All my guests said it was okay, but no one ate more than a sliver.

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!


  1. You've been busy! I can't get over that duck story. I KNOW they have duck in Texas cause my mom gets them all the must raise some hell!

  2. There's one guy who works there who seems to have any idea what's going on, so if I see him again, I'll ask him about it. Then again, he's also the one who told me they'd have fresh duck as of monday, so who knows??

  3. Are you serious? After all that waiting, you still couldn't get the duck? That's a bummer.
    Hope you had a good holiday anyway & survived it all!

  4. As long as you tried to get the duck breasts, you get an "A" for effort!

  5. that quest for duck breasts is just sad!!! Is this Moody's meat mkt?
    check this post out:

    just order them over the phone- I have confidence you will prevail!!!

  6. I tried 3 butchers closer to my house, and none of them had it. I'll give Moody's a shot, and then I'm done. :-)

  7. The biscotti looks amazing and looks like you are a big David Lebovitz fan. I haven't tried making any of his recipes so far (big Ina garten fixation) though I love them.

  8. I've found Lebovitz to be across-the-board reliable, and I like that he uses so much fruit in his desserts. Lots of unique flavor combinations. I love him!

    I've actually never tried any Ina Garten. She has too many books. I get flustered and never buy any, because I can't choose one.

  9. I wish you had more luck finding duck, those conversations are priceless! Your pear cake sounds fabulous...I need to crack open his cookbook this week!

  10. Okay, the "duck breasts" anecdote MADE my week. It's almost worth your not getting your "ducks in order". The butcher must be a "quack." I hope it didn't "ruffle your feathers too much." All I could think was, "What the duck?????"