Tuesday, December 26, 2006

"¡Michoacán, Te Alabamos!"

Just a little word play there, folks. I recently learned that the Spanish word, alabamos, meaning "we praise" or "we laud" is a conjugation of the verb "alabar". What could be more appropriate than this word to start off a description of Christmas Dinner with our Alabaman friends and neighbors, Geni and Larry?

The dinner was cooked in both of our houses. Larry and Geni did a great job of serving the meal in their 12 ftx 12 ft dining room. Below, our menu.
Tequila, salt and limes.
Cream Cheese stuffed Celery Stix w walnuts.
Hommous a la Michoacana with Marinated Arabic olives, Fiibran Crackers (like onion matzoh).
Carrot Ginger Soup, with cilantro, carrot, crystallized ginger and lime zest gremolata, creme fraiche. (****)
Angel Biscuits, Potato Rolls.
Roast Chicken (bought), Apricot Ginger Chipotle Chutney.
Spanish style Oven Roasted Potatoes.
Giblet and egg gravy.
Cornbread Dressing.
Creamed Baby Onions.
Fresh Green Beans Amandine

Fresh fruit Dessert of oranges, bananas, pineapple, coconut, cut up. Optional Raisin Walnut Ruggelach and Panettone. (None eaten tonight, as yet.)
Concha y Toro Selecta Merlot Cabernet blend with the meal.

(I don't know how we got so full so quickly!)

After dinner, we sat outside in the last warm rays of afternoon sunshine. Doña Chucha came to the gate to invite us to a family dinner on Wednesday, in honor of a christening of a neice or granddaughter. We had already made plans to go to a fiesta at El Jaguey, about 3 miles from here, so we had to decline. But Larry and Geni will represent us there. (It just might be possible to do both.)

The evening concluded by watching the film, "Big Fish", with Albert Finney, thanks to computer technology, a projector, a conveniently white wall, and Larry's technical prowess.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Piccola Italia in México

We are planning a holiday party, with an Italian food theme (but with Mexican touches.) Today, inspired by a post on the lonelyplanet.com Thorn Tree, Get Stuffed Branch, I decised to make panettone. Although I'm somewhat familiar with the process, it took hours and hours for the cakes to rise. Somewhere around 2 1/2 hours for the final rise. Together with the sponge stage and the dough fermentation, the total rising time was on the order of 7 hours. This is a laborious process. We even made our own candied citrus peels.
I was vindicated in my faith. They turned out very nicely.

This morning, I cut a slice and toasted it for a sample. Below are my comments To "CHRISSY" on the Thorn Tree Get Stuffed Branch:
Tastes great, but it's still a bit undercooked in the center of the smaller one. (The one that had no tube.) This is a problem I feared. I hope the larger came out better. The properly baked part is very tender and cake-like, not the long fleecy strands I had in a panettone made by experts, yet quite satisfactory. There is a bit too much acidity from the sourdough plus the juice of a lemon. I could have left one or another out.

As to the recipe, I didn't find a recipe that pleased me, so, instead, using a recipe for "Panettone-No Knead" in The Joy of Cooking, I improvised from their basis. I would tell you what I did, but it's irreproducible.

Besides, the results were flawed. I will say that I used a little sourdough starter and very little yeast, about 1 TBSP. There was a cup of warm milk and 2 cups flour for the sponge, then 4 egg yolks and 3 whole eggs, a cup of sugar, 3 tsps of salt, vanilla, candied peels (homemade, so that they are tasty), a cup of dark raisins (sultanas—all I had, no golden raisins—, a cup of moist dried apricots, snipped into quarters, the lot soaked in dark rum, and drained before adding to the mixed dough. There's also about a cup of toasted blanched almonds, chopped. (This project was a lot of work, but I enjoyed it.)

Earlier today (today felt like 2 days in 24 hours, but fun.), I roasted vegetables for a Lasagna di Verdure.

To be continued...