Wednesday, December 28, 2011

My Holiday in Food

Something went wrong with nearly everything we cooked over the holidays, to the point that I started to laugh, and then decided not to make the apple pie I'd been planning to bring to some friends in Austin, because surely, it would only end up being a waste of ingredients.

It was just us for Christmas Eve and Christmas, so as a way to make dinner special, I had the adorable idea that we (aka Matt) should cook a goose, and I'd make a plum pudding, and we'd be all English Christmasey. Matt remembers the Christmas goose that his close German friends made once as being one of the best meals of his life. He got their recipe. I don't know what went wrong. Maybe German geese are different than what we have here? The meat was dry and tough, and the skin never crisped up. Matt couldn't decide if he overcooked it or didn't cook it enough, like maybe he was supposed to cook it so long it fell off the bone. I have no clue. All I know was it was gross, and I was very grateful that we also had potato gratin.
The moment before our goosey dreams were smashed.
 As for the plum pudding, I knew it was supposed to sit in the fridge for a few weeks after it was steamed, but I didn't get around to it until mid-December. We decided to give it an extra week, and eat it for New Years, instead. I'll let you know how that goes.

My chocolate chip cookies flattened out. Anyone know why that would happen? Does the type of baking sheet make a difference? Temp of ingredients? These were Toll House, and they've never done this for my Mom. I notice this with a lot of my cookies lately. I suspect the baking sheets.
 I made bagels for breakfast. I think I've finally tweaked the recipe so that they would have come out perfectly, if Matt had set the timer like I asked him to. They were still edible, but were VERY dark. Still, I'm happy that I think I've finally merged several recipes together to form a bagel that I'm happy with.

Growing up, my Dad always made lasagne for Christmas. We call it his "Never again, Margaret" lasagne, because that's what he'd call out to the house, in general, and my mother, in particular, as he tired of dealing with sauce all day. He threw in a little bit of this and a little bit of that, and I try my best to duplicate his "recipe" every year by scrolling back through 25 years of memories.

I can tell you, though, that THIS never happened when he made the sauce...
 Even on the lowest possible setting on this stupid electric stove, the bottom burned, and I scraped it up into the sauce before I realized what was happening. I spent the rest of the day spooning black bits out. Never again.
 Okay, that was a lie. I'm sure I'll do it again next year. The sauce was good, despite the charred bits. I retrieved all of them of any size.

Then the aluminum foil ripped the cheese off of the top layer of lasagne. I forgot to stick toothpicks in to keep it raised. Woops. This is the point where I started to laugh, and gave up on any thought of baking a pie.
Food imperfections aside, we had a wonderful Christmas, and hope you did too! All I can say is, I'm glad we didn't have any company. It wouldn't have seemed so funny, then. I learned an important lesson for next year, in that I should pick simpler food that can be prepped in advance of Christmas (lasagne is good for that--I just didn't get around to doing it ahead of time this year). Who wants to spend the day in the kitchen? Not I. Good to know for next year.


  1. Merry Christmas Ei! About that goose...judging by your picture and if your goose was stringy and dry I am certain it was just cooked at too high a heat and for too long.It should be cooked just until you can wiggle the leg bone, and it should be very juicy. I made two ducks for x-mas, and i am super careful when cooking ducks- 1st they need to be pricked carefully all over-I use corn cob holders but the tip of a sharp knife is fine- the trick is the pricks must be parallel to the flesh, so only the fat is pierced, not the flesh, because if the flesh is pricked the juices will run out and make the duck meat dry. I cook them at first for about 375º for maybe a half hour, then lower the temp to 345º for the next half hour. Then all the fat gets drained from the pan after an hour- I just take them out and let them rest a bit, remove them from the pans and drain the fat into a coffee can for disposal. then I stuff them with a pre-cooked wild rice apple nut stuffing and cook them at a low heat 325º until done. I also start basting them with port wine/stock/ giblet gravy that I cook separately after 2 hours, and finish basting with apricot jam/oj mix for the last 20 mins only. (2) 5lb ducks end up taking just under 3 hours to cook at low heat. I would be curious how big the goose was that you cooked and how long did Matt cook it, at what temp.
    Because with ducks and geese it is tricky dealing with the fat and timing the cooking temp. they have to finish cooking slowly at low heat and you have to prick the fat very carefully to start with.

  2. oh one last thing- duck and geese HAVE to rest for at least 15 minutes before carving them

  3. Here is the Google translation of the instructions from our Germans. Blame the strange wording on Google. I left the goose in Matt's hands, so I can't really tell you how closely he stuck to the recipe. He didn't mention changing anything, though. We haven't tried our schmaltz yet. Hopefully that came out ok.

    remove the fat from the goose, what is inside. The goose with salt well and good rub with marjoram, outside and inside. The skin prick with a fork so the fat can then leak into the oven. I put two apples in the goose and stick them with toothpicks to the neck and at the bottom. Then the filling stays in the goose, at 180 degrees bis200 it comes with the breast side down in the oven. To approximately 250 ml of hot water pour into the frying pan so that the underside of the goose breast with the skin does not stick to the frying pan. Most are from much the goose fat. Every 30 minutes, I pour the fat over the goose. After about 90 minutes it is browned nicely and is turned. Then they can simmer another 45 minutes and should be ready by then. This depends, however, by the total size. At the end, I brush salt water over the animal, then the skin is crispy, then perhaps I increase the temperature of the oven briefly. Done. The sauce with flour binden.Lecker!

  4. I know he rested it, b/c I took a shower between it coming out of the oven and him carving it. :-)

  5. Oh my god what a hilarious recipe!! " at the end I brush with salt water over the animal...!!!" No wonder!!! The basting with the fat is weird- I don't think that's a very good idea- I would baste with gravy/stock instead. All the fat should just be poured off, then water is put in the pan to replace it. The timing of the recipe seems ok, depending on the size of the goose though I am pretty unclear about the temp as indicated esp. the translation. I also don't think the heat should ever go up at the end of cooking poultry, that's a good way to ruin it and dry it out. I always go in reverse, start high and slowly turn the heat down. A good rule of thumb is 25- 30 mins per lb at 325º - and cook at higher heat just for a half hour in the beginning to get it going and seal in the juice.

  6. Oh my! I have never wandered into goose territory, so I don't know what to say.

    At least you are able to have a sense of humor about it all.

    I made a Christmas lasagne too - great minds!

  7. I'm impressed you put so much effort into your holiday cooking. I'm with Parsley Sage; this is why I'm glad my family did a Skype Christmas conference so I could get takeout from the steakhouse across the street.

  8. I have a couple ideas about the flat cookies. It could be the pans, but have you tried putting the cookie dough in the fridge for a bit before baking? Sometimes that helps keep them from flattening too quickly. Another trick is to use shortening instead of butter.

  9. Hmmm...maybe I need to bake another batch, pronto, to test out your theory. It makes sense. I'm going to try that next time I bake cookies, and see if it helps. Thanks, Michelle!

  10. Wish I could help you with the goose, but I always let my mother in law make the christmas goose and I have no idea what she does with it. All I know is that it's delicious! One of these days I'll have to give it a try myself.

    As for the cookies, when I was young we always followed the Toll House instructions exactly and had perfect cookies every time. Nowadays, I don't know if the butter has changed or what is happening, but my cookies started getting flatter and flatter (and don't even get me started on making cookies with european ingredients!). I've read several remedies for this, including using margarine instead of butter, but butter tastes better so that doesn't really work for me. I have solved this problem simply by adding in an extra quarter cup of flour. If they are still flat, try one third cup extra and see how that works. Or if you want to go the other way, simply cut out a few tablespoons of butter.