Food Hunter's Guide to Cuisine: December 2009

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Our Christmas Goose Adventure

Every meal seems to be an adventure in our house and our Christmas dinner was no exception. I was determined to have Goose this year; and so we did.   Right after Thanksgiving we started our "hunt" for the perfect frozen (because let's face it the only bird you can find fresh here in Phoenix is a chicken) goose.  Believe it or not we actually found several stores that sold the frozen bird. Prices and sizes varied among them. We ended up purchasing ours from our favorite butcher shop Hobe Meats. There was only going to be 4 of us this year for dinner and they were able to offer us the smallest bird; a 10 pounder.

"Hunting" the bird turned out to be the easy part.  It was less than a week before Christmas and we still needed to find a recipe.  There were several recipes available online but having never cooked goose before we wanted to make sure we got a good one.  Since Lidia Bastianich had never let us down before we decided to go with her recipe for Roast Goose with Mlinzi

Mlinzi is basically fresh pasta that has been rolled into thin sheets and baked in the oven until crisp and then broken into pieces before being boiled like ordinary pasta.  This method brings a nutty flavor to the pasta which compliments the dark meat of the goose.  It also makes the pasta more porous which allows it to soak in all of the pan juices from the cooked bird. 

Prepping the goose begins the night before you're  going to roast it.  The bird must be cleaned, fat removed, and salted.  It must then sit uncovered, in the refrigerator, until the next morning.  This didn't bother my husband or I in the least bit but it sure did put my mother in a tizzy.  "Shouldn't that bird be covered" is what we heard every time she caught a glimpse of it.   Her real panic set in the next morning when the goose needed to be brought to room temperature for about 2 hours before roasting. I found my mother frantically closing the kitchen blinds and moving the bird around the room to make sure it wasn't anywhere near the sun. (Ahh... if she would've only done that to me years ago...)

Finally the goose went into the oven and my mom was able to relax.  That is until she heard all the noise coming from the kitchen.  "I think the goose is trying to get out"  "No mom I think that would be the grease splattering"  We had read in advance that there would be a lot of grease but I don't think it was as bad as some people made it out to be.

About 3 hours and 170 degrees later and the goose was ready.  It was time to carve the bird.  This proved to be the real challenge.  The joints were extremely difficult to find. So instead of breaking off the wing/leg and serving them whole we had to cut the meat off the bones.  The breast was only slightly easier to carve. After what seemed like a long battle; that I'm still not sure who won; my husband finally got the carved bird to the table. 

The mlinzi were mixed with the thickened pan juices and used as a bed for the goose meat.  Although we had plenty, I was amazed at how little meat a 10lb goose yields.  The meat was delicious and went extremely well with the nuttiness of the mlinzi, (Lidia sure knows her stuff). 

All in all we were pleased with the dinner but my husband and I both agree that we will reserve goose for a very special occasion. The amount of work and money (did I tell you it was $51) we put into it didn't compare to the amount of meat or stress we got from it.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Twas The Weekend Before Christmas

Twas the weekend before Christmas, and all through the house everyone was going crazy, even the damn mouse!

People were gathering in the dining room with care, in hopes that dinner would soon be served there.

Our friends were chatting amongst themselves, while hubby and I played the cooking elves.

John in his chef coat, and I in my wrap, just wanted to settled down and enjoy a nightcap

Instead we served bowls of Bucatini Americaiana, followed by braised pork belly, and then played Pollyanna.

Bucatini Americaiana
(adapted from Mario Batali)

Braised Pork Belly with Aromatic Spices
(adapted from Scott Conant's, New Italian Cooking)

For the spice mix
2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp whole cloves
1/2 tsp whole black peppercorn
1/2 tsp whole mustard seeds
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp paprika
4 tsp salt

In a small saute pan, heat the whole spices over low heat, occasionally stirring the spices with a wooden spoon, 5-8 minutes. Add the cinnamon and paprika and cook the spices for an additional minute. Allow to cool for a few minutes and then grind them coarsely in a spice grinder. Mix in the salt. The spice mix will keep for at least 1 month.

For the pork

1 5-51/2 pound skin on whole pork belly (bone-in)
5-6 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 quart chicken broth
1 quart chicken reduction

To marinate the pork: Rub the pork all over with olive oil. Sprinkle the spice mix evenly over it on all sides. Wrap it well in plastic wrap and let it marinate in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours and up to 36 hours.

To cook the pork: Heat the oven to 325. Place the pork, skin side down, in a heavy roasting pan and cook for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, heat a couple tablespoons of oil in a medium saute pan over medium low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and thoroughly browned, 25 minutes. Turn the pork over and add the onion , chicken broth, and reduction to the pan. Reduce the heat to 300 and cook the pork until it is very very tender, another 6-7 hours. When the pork is fully tender, you will be easily able to pull any bones right out.

Remove the belly to a sided sheet pan and gently pull out any bones and any cartilage, without disturbing the layers of the meat.

Using a ladle or large spoon, spoon off the thick layer of clear liquid fat floating on to of the broth and pan juices. You should be able to remove a few cups of fat easily this way. strain the mostly defatted braising liquid into a large saute pan.

When the meat is cool enough to handle, use a sharp knife to remove the skin, leaving the layer of fat below intact.

Heat the oven to 350. Using a large chef's knife, cut the meat into serving pieces 11/2-2 inches square, between 3-4 ounces each.

Remove any remaining fat from the surface of the braising liquid and pour about 2/3 of the liquid into a roasting pan.

Heat a couple tablespoons of oil in a large saute pan over high heat. Season the fat side of the pork belly with salt and pepper and put the pork pieces in the pan fat side down. Cook them undisturbed until well browned, a few minutes at least. You are not trying to render all of the fat. You are just trying to create a crisp top. Place the pork pieces seared side up in the roasting pan with enough of the strained braising liquid to come 1/2 way up the side of the pieces. Heat the meat and liquid together in the over for 15 minutes. If the pieces of pork have lost some of their crispness due to moisture in the oven, recrisp them in a dry hot saute pan, before serving.

Serve on top of cabbage and spoon sauce around.

Cabbage Braised with Bacon
(adapted from Scott Conant's, New Italian Cooking)

1 head green cabbage
1 tbs olive oil
4 strips bacon
2 cups thinly sliced onion
2 cups dry white wine
1 cup chicken broth
Slice the cabbage thinly to yield about 9-10 cups shredded cabbage. Set your oven racks to accommodate a large pot and heat the oven to 350. In a large ovenproof pot, heat the oil over medium heat and saute the bacon until they render some fat, 5 minutes. Add the onions and cook until tender and beginning to brown. Add the cabbage, increase the heat to medium high and cook tossing the cabbage with tongs until it wilts and begins to take on some brown color, 8-10 minutes. Add the wine and broth and cook uncovered on the stove for 5 minutes. Over the pot and cook the cabbage in the oven stirring it occasionally until very tender about 2 hours. Reserve the bacon and serve.

Happy Holidays To All And To All A Good Night!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

I'm Having an Affair...

Yes, you read right: I'm having an affair; his name is Nutella. I’m not proud of this affair but I really just can’t help myself. Ever since I got back from Italy I have been in love with Nutella. I find myself reaching for him all hours of the day. It seems I just can’t keep my hands off his creamy chocolaty nutty goodness. Is it because he invokes vivid memories of my mornings on the Amalfi coast soaking in the sunshine with him. Or is it just that I find him irresistible.

Whatever the reason…I think my husband is catching on. I’ve started meeting Nutella for breakfast; at least once a week and I’m even bringing him home for dessert. I mean really can you blame me…who doesn’t love Nutella??

Now that the affair is out in the open let me share something special I’ve done with Nutella when I get him alone in the kitchen.

Nutella Swirl Pound Cake
adapted from Food and Wine Magazine

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
One 13-ounce jar Nutella


Preheat the oven to 325°. Lightly grease and flour a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan, tapping out any excess flour. In a glass measuring cup, lightly beat the eggs with the vanilla. In a medium bowl, whisk the 1 1/2 cups of flour with the baking powder and salt.

In a large bowl, using a handheld mixer, beat the butter with the sugar at medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. With the mixer at medium-low speed, gradually beat in the egg mixture until fully incorporated. Add the flour mixture in 3 batches, beating at low speed between additions until just incorporated. Continue to beat for 30 seconds longer.

Spread one-third of the batter in the prepared pan, then spread half of the Nutella on top. Repeat with another third of the batter and the remaining Nutella. Top with the remaining batter. Lightly swirl the Nutella into the batter with a butter knife. Do not overmix.

Bake the cake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Invert the cake onto a wire rack, turn it right side up and let cool completely, about 2 hours. Cut the cake into slices and serve.

And when he’s not around…because let’s face it I can’t be with him all the time…I've found something so similar in likeness:

Bittersweet Chocolate and Hazelnut Cookies Adapted from Dolce Italiano by Gina DePalma

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup whole hazelnuts, skinned or unskinned
1 cup (2 sticks/8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
5 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, for dusting

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Place the hazelnuts in the bowl of a food processor and pulse them 2 or 3 times to chop them medium-fine. Add the hazelnuts to the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir to combine them.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and granulated sugar on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract and scrape down the sides of the bowl. On low speed, beat in the dry ingredients, followed by the chocolate, and beat just until combined. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill the dough until firm, about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease two baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray or butter or line them with parchment.

Place the confectioners' sugar in a shallow bowl. To form the cookies, roll 1 scant tablespoon of dough into a 1-inch ball, then flatten it slightly with your fingertips to form a small disk. Roll the cookie in the confectioners' sugar to coat it evenly and place it on the baking sheet. Repeat until all of the dough is used, spacing the cookies 1 inch apart on the baking sheets.

Bake the cookies until they are puffed and cracking, 8 to 10 minutes. Rotate the baking sheets 180 degrees halfway through the baking time to ensure that the cookies bake evenly. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets for 1 to 2 minutes, then use a spatula to transfer them gently to a wire rack to cool completely. If desired, dust them with additional confectioners' sugar.

The cookies can be stored in an airtight container, layered between sheets of parchment paper, and kept in a cool, dry place for up to 1 week.

I'm submitting this to Susan over at Food Blogga for her Eat Christmas Cookies Event

Monday, December 7, 2009

And The Winner Is...

As you know the people over at are graciously providing an 8” Classic Clad fry pan by Henckels for one lucky blog reader. And the winner of that fry pan is:

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:


Timestamp: 2009-12-07 21:06:38 UTC

Joanne from Eats Well With Others. Congratulations Joanne!

Thanks to everyone that participated!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Product Review & Giveaway

I’ve been given the opportunity to review a product of my choice from; and too offer a similar product to one lucky reader of this blog.

Commercial Break:, is an online retailer of both home furnishing and house wares. They sell a variety of products including: Rachel Ray Cookware, pub tables, and counter stools. With the holidays right around the corner now is the perfect time to check out

Back to the Review:

I’ve wanted a small fry pan for a long time; but never really got around to getting one. We have several large pans, which are great for family meals, but nothing small. So when the approached me about doing a product review I decided to try out the 8” Classic Clad fry pan by Henckels.

My pan arrived last Friday and since then I’ve used the heck out of it. It's the perfect size when cooking up meals for one. I've heated up thanksgiving leftovers; sauteed a small amount of veggies for my lunch and made myself a delicious breakfast omelet. Obviously it won't be my primary pan when cooking for my family but it is perfect when cooking for myself. I’m not sure how I managed without a pan of this size before now.

I mentioned above that I made an omelet using this pan. Normally I would cook eggs on non-stick; but for personal reasons I'm really trying to move away from using non-stick surfaces. With just a minimal amount of butter I was able to cook my egg on this stainless pan and didn't have any issues with sticking.

Commercial Break:

Henckels Classic Clad 8” fry pan is designed with ergonomic handles that are riveted for a secure fit and are hollow cast to stay cooler to the touch. Clad construction of heavy gauge aluminum and stainless steel layers for maximum heat conductivity and quick response to temperature adjustment. It’s also oven safe.


I'm really happy with my new 8" pan and hope one of you will be too

Leave a comment on this post telling me what your favorite piece of cookware is. The giveaway will end on December 6th at midnight. The winner will be chosen randomly on December 7th and contacted by email.