T-Day Preparations

In preparation for the eating holiday of the year, my fellow squabbling asians drove out to Davis to prepare for the feast. Yuan made some delicious turkey stock with roasted turkey wings and necks, onions, carrots, celery, bay leaf, salt and peppercorns. Little Miss did a wonderful lattice on her festive cranberry pear pie and Yuan and I had a stuffing making contest.

Mr. Turkey, a free range 18 lb bird from Mollie Stone’s, drove up from San Francisco in his cooler chariot. Yuan made a brine out of salt, pepper, brown sugar, garlic, thyme, rosemary, apple cider, and orange slices, and Mr. T bathed in it overnight. The next morning, a citrus herb butter was prepared…

… and rubbed all over Mr. T before he went into the oven breast side down at 425 degrees for a hour. We then flipped him over, lowered the heat to 350 degrees and he cooked for another two and a half hours.

Duck, Duck, Not Goose…

Alas, the holidays are over and our food binge has at least slowed down. I spent Christmas with Princess (girls, do I really have to call you by these names?) and I guess that would make him Prince. All we did was eat, drink, cook, read food porn and watched a whole lot of TV.

So we decided to do a two meat Christmas dinner with duck and Princess’ specialty, tenderloin. I found a lovely duck with clementine recipe which promised crispy skin and not a lot of fat. The trick is to braise the duck first to render out the fat and then dry the duck in the fridge for a while, much like how my peeps make Peking duck.

The only duck I could find the day before Christmas was at the local Chinese market which was really the WHOLE duck, head and all. No big deal but turn your head away if you are squeamish.


For those of you interested in making the duck, do read the comments in the recipe on Epicurious and start checking the duck after the first hour during the braising process. I braised it for 2 hours and it was definitely too much, the skin had a few holes and the wings were falling apart. The legs were also spread at an rather obscene angle.

The duck went into the fridge to dry out after the braise and we proceeded onto the rest of our meal.

Tenderloin before and after

We also made a shaved fennel and citrus salad

Potato Dauphinoise

Meanwhile we also made a stock with the leftover duck part (ahem, head and feet) and made the clementine glaze for it. I brushed on a little of the glaze right before roast the duck to give it a slightly deeper color and voila! The duck ended up tasting amazing, not much fat and crispy skinned. Although next time I think can streamline the process a lot.

We also made some sauteed broccolini done my usual way (another post). Now that was a Christmas dinner!

And let’s not forget, the eggnog tart and home made cranberry ice cream.

Man, I think I’m hungry again…

Night Before Christmas

While Little Miss braved the holiday crowds and chilly weather in Chicago, Yuan came to our house in Davis for a low-key but food focused holiday. Yuan and I, having come from predominantly non-Christian Asian nations, never had strong family traditions around Christmas. For me, Christmas meant Bond marathon, TNT’s Christmas Story marathon, and a giant Christmas tree my dad usually got on Christmas eve when the big trees were on sale. Yuan arrived on the afternoon of Christmas eve after battling holiday traffic with a holiday duck in tow. We did some last minute holiday shopping at the grocery store and cooked our Christmas Eve meal.

Although my Christmas traditions revolved around the cable tv schedule, Bjorn, having descended from Vikings, actually has family Christmas traditions. As far as I can tell, Norwegians celebrate most of Christmas on Christmas Eve – at least the fun parts that involve food and presents. Christmas Eve dinner feature Norwegian meatballs (NOT to be confused with Swedish meatballs which have cream….oh the horror) and lefse, a thin potato pancake that is rolled up and usually slathered in butter and sugar. There are always mashed potatoes and sometimes herring salad which is actually quite good (although not if you don’t like pickled fish). Since lefse apparently requires some special equipment (lefse roller, lefse flipper, lefse skillet), we skipped the lefse and focused on the meatballs. I make a lot of meatballs, but mine are usually Italian style meatballs so there was some anxiety to be a good Norwegian wife and make some Norwegian meatballs. Norwegian meatballs contains ground beef and onion, held together with fresh breadcrumbs and milk, and then crowded in the pan where they are cooked until very very brown. The meatballs simmer and then a dark gravy is made from the pan drippings.

While I was fretting about overcrowding the meatballs, Yuan wrapped some prawns in pancetta.

Yuan also made some brussels sprouts cooked with hickory smoked bacon and Bjorn made some garlic mashed potatoes to complete our Christmas Eve meal.

For dessert, I made some sour cream cookies that I’ve been making forever. They are always as delicious as I remember them being…maybe a little too delicious because I promptly ate five of them in succession.


Aunt Annie’s Cookies

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 sticks of unsalted sweet butter
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla (be generous)
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (1/4 pint)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp milk

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add baking powder, vanilla, eggs, flour and sour cream and mix together until blended. Drop spoonfulls of dough onto cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 20 min. Make icing with powdered sugar mixed with milk and brush onto cookie when they come out of oven.

Our Christmas meal featured 3 lbs of protein, 2 lbs of potatoes and an entire stalk of brussels sprouts. We ate almost all of it, oh and half a carton of egg nog. Holidays are great because somehow it’s okay to drink an absurd amount of spiked liquified custard.