Sunday Family Dinner

2 Birthdays Means 2 Desserts for Family Dinner

January 2017 Family Dinner
Somehow along the journey of our Family Dinners, I decided that even if there’s more than one birthday for the month, each bday babe gets their own dessert.

So when it was seester T and Nini’s bday, I found myself baking TWO cakes. Albeit, Nini’s was slightly larger and 15 pounds heavier.

I’m royally screwed in July since there are FOUR BIRTHDAYS!!

Oy vey.

Why do I do this…..

January 2017 Family Dinner
Actually, our birthday gals were very low maintenance. They didn’t request anything over the top which made things quite easy for the other dishes.

PHEW!

We opened up with fresh Salmon Shōyu Pokē and Chips — Nini’s choice.

I have to admit, salmon generally isn’t my fish of choice. It’s fine but I think I went through a period where I was eating it all of the time and then one day….BLEH! NO MORE!

Nowadays, I rarely order it when out and generally just prefer my salmon as lox over bagels. But when seestrah N whipped up this pokē, I was about it!! Fresh, slightly sweet and savory. She based it off my Ahi Shōyu Pokē that can be found here.

Onolicious!

January 2017 Family Dinner

As for the entrée, we went for the rich, stick to your ribs type of dish — as in short ribs!!!

T made a GINORMOUS pot of Red Wine Braised Short Ribs that had tons of herbs, aromatics and ‘shrooms! I may or may not have stolen the below pic from her IG.

Alright…I totally did.

Once the ribs were utterly tender and at the melt-in your mouth consistency, she shredded them and topped them over the freshly made Ricotta Gnocchi by brother V and my SIL L.

And since the beef was so rich, we added a big dollop of gremolata (garlic, lemon zest, and parsley) that our niece prepared. The gremolata adds a much needed freshness and bite to cut through all of that unctuous goodness.

January 2017 Family Dinner
Then one of us (it sure wasn’t me!) thought it would be a good idea to add some greens to the meal and pulled together a Gorgonzola and Asian Pear Salad.

Don’t get me wrong, it was lovely but I would have been fine with just the greens from the gremolata!

January 2017 Family Dinner

And then….DESSERTS!!!

Nini requested a coconut cake. She asked and I delivered this three layered Toasted Coconut Cake.

January 2017 Family Dinner

I used Thomas Keller’s recipe that can be found here. It’s a pretty standard southern coconut cake recipe that uses a combination of coconut milk, buttermilk and mayonnaise for a dense but moist cake crumb. The cake is frosted in a thick Italian Meringue but instead of desiccated sweet coconut shreds, I covered it all in toasted coconut flakes so that it wouldn’t be too sweet. And I generally prefer the texture of the flakes over the shreds too.

Nini was a fan. Success.

What a cutie-patootie.

January 2017 Family Dinner
Seeestrah is slightly obsessed with the Butter Cake from Mastro’s so I did my best to try and replicate it. If you’ve never had the cake from Mastro’s, think of an incredibly rich and dense pound cake….but with more butter!!!

After scouring the internet, I went with this recipe here. Truthfully, I had mediocre success with it and it took nearly twice as long for the cakes to bake. Not to mention we had a heck of a time removing it from the pans. But the flavor was pretty good and there’s nothing that a ton of fresh whipped cream and berries can’t hide—am I right?

Sorry seester, I’ll definitely try again for ya…..

January 2017 Family Dinner

Needless to say, we all nearly knocked out after our heavy meal — but it was worth every calorie!

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This Month’s Family Dinner Menu

Cocktails:  Assorted Wines
Appetizers: Salmon Shōyu Pokē
Entrees: Red Wine Braised Short Ribs over Fresh Ricotta Gnocchi
Sides: Gorgonzola and Asian Pear Salad
Dessert: Toasted Coconut Cake, Butter Cake with Berries and Cream

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Sunday Family Dinner

Southern Comfort Fare for Sunday Family Dinner

September 2013 Fam Din

For September’s Sunday Family Dinner, we decided to jump back to North America and head down South for our inspiration. Southern American Comfort Food to be exact.

You know….the type of food that kind of sticks to your ribs but is OH-SO-GOOD! Worth every calorie.

September 2013 Fam Din

So we gathered the fam to my seester T’s house on a September Sunday—which just so happened to be one of the craziest, scorching last days of summer. (Which explains why our hair was done up like fräuleins to combat the heat!)

And how cute are my seesters‘ with their fams?

Seeblings

To combat the heat and toast our monthly Family Dinners, we started off with cold, refreshing cocktails—my version of a Sparkling Hard Lemonade. Freshly made lemonade, vodka, citrus soda, lemon slices, and fresh mint sprigs all in a mason jar….to keep with the Southern theme. 🙂

Sparkling Hard Lemonade

And what’s a Southern meal without collard greens?

Collard Greens

Eldest seester, N, stewed down these green beauties with this lovely ham hock. Salty, porky, slightly bitter and just darn tummy -lovin’!

Ham Hock

And since we were dabbling in the South, I had to channel Kathy Bates, Jessica Tandy, Mary Stuart Matherson, and Mary-Louise Parker. Yeah..you know what I’m talking about….

Fried Green Tomatoes

My version was quick, crispy, slightly tart and deep fried.

So. Good.

Fried Green Tomatoes

I also took the lead with our main dish…..Crispy Fried Chicken.

It was a no brainer that I opted for Chef Thomas Keller’s beloved Lemon-Brined Fried Chicken. It’s one of the most popular dishes from his restaurant Ad Hoc and after trying it, I don’t doubt it!

The recipe is not difficult but it does take time. The citrus and herbaceous brine makes the chicken so incredible juicy and aromatic. And the crust–when done well, it becomes surprisingly light and almost feathery!

We did have a little trouble with our chicken as we fried them in Dutch Ovens on the outside barbecue burners. But since the burners couldn’t hold a consistent level of heat, we kept on having to adjust the temperature and move the chicken around. Nothing too crazy but it did take a bit longer than expected.

Fried Chicken

Unfortunately these photos didn’t do it justice (I went from using my DSLR to my iPhone) but the rest of our dinner was just as scrumptious! Seester T made rich Mac & Cheese and down-home delish Cheddar Biscuits with Sausage Gravy. There was also some grilled corn but I just couldn’t fit it in my tummy!

Southern Family Dinner

Now I’m told that original Southern Comfort Food was rich and filling in order to give folks the sustenance and energy to do a full day of hard, physical work. We DEFINITLEY didn’t do any of that after inhaling this goodness but we DID take a 15 minute stroll around the block. 🙂 Better than nothing, right?

And then we came back from our walk to have some dessert….

Caramel Apple Pie a la Mode that was INSANELY good. So good that I actually didn’t feel bad about eating it after our gazillion calorie dinner.

As I said before….Worth Every Calorie.

#fact

Caramel Apple Pie a la mode

And with that dear friends, we wrapped up another successful Sunday Family Dinner!

October’s Theme?

New England Fare! Lobstah’s and shellfish beware! 🙂

This Month’s Family Dinner Menu

Cocktails: Sparkling Hard Lemonade
Appetizers: Fried Green Tomatoes
Entrees: Crispy Fried Chicken, Cheddar Biscuits with Sausage Gravy, Mac & Cheese, Collard Greens
Dessert: Caramel Apple Pie a la Mode

Poultry

Thomas Keller’s “Mon Poulet Roti” (Roast Chicken)

Thomas Keller's Roast Chicken

I was on a Keller-Kick. I’m not ashamed to admit it. He’s a Culinary Rock Star and we are but his mere groupies 🙂

I have long since wanted to make his Roast Chicken as he has so often named it as one of his desired “last meals on earth”. I’ve seen him demo it several times (and seen other bloggers give it a spin) and loved the simplicity of it all.

With an extra chicken and fresh thyme conveniently in the fridge, I had no excuse. And although I already had the recipe to refer to, I took the opportunity to view the following video for reassurance:

Looks easy right? And deliciously juicy? Well, it WAS! On both accounts! The skin was crispy and well seasoned—the meat extremely tender. And because of the extra step of removing the wishbone before trussing the bird, it was beautifully simple to carve.

I am happy to report that my young niece and nephew gobbled it up for dinner. And by “gobbled”, I actually mean “inhaled”.  Kid Tested and Approved!

If Turkey seems a tad overwhelming or just simply too much for the upcoming Thanksgiving Holiday, give Thomas Keller’s Roast Chicken a try. So easy and delicious that you’ll be able to save your energy for all of the Black Friday sales/shopping the next day. 🙂

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“Mon Poulet Roti” (Roast Chicken)
From Thomas Keller’s “Bouchon” Cookbook

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Rinse the chicken, then dry it very well with paper towels, inside and out. The less it steams, the drier the heat, the better.

Salt and pepper the cavity, then truss the bird. Trussing is not difficult, and if you roast chicken often, it’s a good technique to feel comfortable with. When you truss a bird, the wings and legs stay close to the body; the ends of the drumsticks cover the top of the breast and keep it from drying out. Trussing helps the chicken to cook evenly, and it also makes for a more beautiful roasted bird.

Now, salt the chicken— I like to rain the salt over the bird so that it has a nice uniform coating that will result in a crisp, salty, flavorful skin (about 1 tablespoon). When it’s cooked, you should still be able to make out the salt baked onto the crisp skin. Season to taste with pepper. (Love freshly ground pepper!)

Place the chicken in a sauté pan or roasting pan and, when the oven is up to temperature, put the chicken in the oven. I leave it alone — I don’t baste it, I don’t add butter; you can if you wish, but I feel this creates steam, which I don’t want. Roast it until it’s done, 50 to 60 minutes. Remove it from the oven and add the thyme, if using, to the pan. Baste the chicken with the juices and thyme and let it rest for 15 minutes on a cutting board.

Remove the twine. Separate the middle wing joint and eat that immediately. Remove the legs and thighs. I like to take off the backbone and eat one of the oysters, the two succulent morsels of meat embedded here, and give the other to the person I’m cooking with. But I take the chicken butt for myself. I could never understand why my brothers always fought over that triangular tip — until one day I got the crispy, juicy fat myself. These are the cook’s rewards. Cut the breast down the middle and serve it on the bone, with one wing joint still attached to each. The preparation is not meant to be super elegant. Slather the meat with fresh butter. Serve with mustard on the side (Which I don’t feel necessary as the chicken turned out to be quite flavorful) and, if you wish, a simple green salad. You’ll start using a knife and fork, but finish with your fingers, because it’s so good.

Desserts/Pastries · Miscellaneous

“Ad Hoc at Home” Winners & Decadent Brownies

Brownies from "Ad Hoc at Home"

Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway for Thomas Keller’s “Ad Hoc at Home“. The response was truly overwhelming—so much so that I was convinced to pick TWO winners!

Drum roll please…..

Congrats to Xochitl M. (Fallon, Nevada) and Virginia R. (Artesia, California)! WOOT! Hope you both enjoy this lovely book and are inspired to try out some of Keller’s delish delights!

And in the spirit of “Ad Hoc at Home“, I decided to make the utterly decadent Brownies from the book. Honestly, you can’t go wrong with these bad boys. And in truth, “decadent” doesn’t even begin to describe them!  So ridiculously choco-licous that you’ll just have to whip them up yourself.

You won’t regret it. For reals.

And if you have a few extra minutes, check out the video link at the end of this post with Chef Keller as he dicusses “Ad Hoc at Home”.

Hope you all have a fabulous weekend! (I know I will—Harry Potter comes out today!!) 🙂

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Brownies from Ad Hoc at Home
From Chef Thomas Keller

Ingredients:

¾ Cup All-Purpose Flour
1 Cup Unsweetened Alkalized Cocoa Powder
¾ Pound (3 sticks) Unsalted Butter, cut into 1-tablespoon pieces
1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
3 Large Eggs
1¾ Cups Granulated Sugar
½ Teaspoon Vanilla Paste
6 Ounces 61 to 64% Chocolate, chopped into chip-sized pieces
Powdered Sugar for dusting


Preheat the oven to 350F. We use a 9-inch square silicone mold, because it keeps the edges from overcooking; if you use a metal or glass baking pan, butter and flour it. Set aside.

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt; set aside.

Melt half the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Put the remaining butter in a medium bowl. Pour the melted butter over the bowl of butter and stir to melt the butter. The butter should look creamy, with small bits of unmelted butter, and be at room temperature.

In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, mix together the eggs and sugar on medium speed for about 3 minutes, or until thick and very pale. Mix in the vanilla. On low speed, add about one-third of the dry ingredients, then add one-third of the butter, and continue alternating the remaining flour and butter. Add the chocolate and mix to combine. (The batter can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.)

Spread the batter evenly in the pan. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until a cake tester or wooden skewer poked into the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs sticking to it. If the pick comes out wet, test a second time, because you may have hit a piece of chocolate chip; then bake for a few more minutes longer if necessary. Cool in the pan until the brownie is just a bit warmer than room temperature.

Run a knife around the edges if not using a silicone mold, and invert the brownie onto a cutting board. Cut into 12 rectangles. Dust the tops with powdered sugar just before serving.

Giveaways · Miscellaneous

Thomas Keller’s “Ad Hoc at Home” GIVEAWAY

It’s the season to take time out to GIVE and be THANKFUL. And because I’m so THANKFUL to all of you readers, it’s GIVEAWAY time! 🙂

Up for this month is the gorgeous hardcover book by the AH-MAY-ZING Chef Thomas Keller— “Ad Hoc at Home“. I chose this specific one as it centers around Chef Kellar’s version of comfort food. So good. So beautiful. You’ll love it.

Want to enter?? EASY-PEASY! If you are already a subscriber to The Culinary Chronicles, you’re already entered! Yay! If you haven’t yet, simply subscribe to us at the top right hand corner of our page. It’ll take all but 5 seconds….ok, maybe 8 seconds.

Deadline to enter is next Thursday, November 18th at 5pm (PST). I’ll randomly select the winner and announce it the next day on the November 19th—which incidentally, coincides with the premiere of the next Harry Potter movie: The Deathly Hallows, Part I. Thomas Keller and Harry Potter?! It’s going to be a fabulous Friday.

So until next time dear friends–Good Luck!

And in case you haven’t seen the trailer for the next Harry Potter, here you go!

omigosh….I’m so excited! 🙂