Sunday, December 30, 2012

Cooking outside of the cubicle

The holidays mean getting a much-needed break from work.  But along with not having to deal with meetings, e-mails, and other office calamities, it means not getting to bake treats each week.  It's probably good to get a break from this as well, just to keep from getting 'burnt out'.  It also gives me a chance to do something other cooking for the holidays.  Specifically, savory.  Over the past two weeks or so, I've set aside my cake mixes and chocolate chips and done some different dishes in the kitchen I'd like to share.

I already told you about the cheesy muffins I made for the Yarnorama holiday party, which were delicious.  In that same post, I also mentioned the potato salad that is made every year, without fail, for Christmas dinner.  Even if, for whatever reason, it cannot be made for the actual December 24th evening, it is always a part of the belated celebrations.  Without giving away any family secrets, I can share that the salad basically consists of:

  • Potatoes
  • Mayonnaise
  • Frozen veggies (corn, peas, carrot, etc.)
  • Onion
  • Boiled eggs
  • Bologna sausage
  • Pickles (and a little pickle juice)
All mixed together in correct, though inexact, proportions, and stored in the fridge.  Sometimes it's that last part that can be the most complicated, because we are talking about a lot of potato salad.  This year, it completely filled a 6 quart bucket.  We are serious about our potato salad.

Another serious issue: Brussels sprouts.  I might have an addiction.  I was basically uninterested in them for most of my life, but maybe a few years ago I rediscovered them.  And then I made them using this slow cooker recipe from Stephanie O'Dea, and they went from just another vegetable to bona fide craving.  I'm considering how to put dijon Brussels sprouts into some kind of tart shell or flaky pastry crust for a possible birthday cake.  I don't know what it is exactly, but I love them.  So those have featured highly in my holiday eats as well, sharing side dish space with the potato salad and being the first of the leftovers to disappear.

With my mom on Christmas day, we decided to tackle something other than the traditional turkey, and instead chose toad.  Toad in the hole, that is.  In the US, toad in the hole is usually a breakfast dish of toast with a fried egg in the middle (literally, there's a hole in the toast that the egg is cracked into in the frying pan).  In the UK, however, neither eggs nor toast are involved.  Instead, it is basically sausages baked into Yorkshire pudding in a casserole dish.  Having had this in the UK, Mom and I had attempted it only once before, to disappointing results when the 'hole' didn't quite rise around the 'toad'.  This time around, we followed this recipe with great results.  The only changes we made were to use chicken sausage, and we cut the links into quarters (once in half, and once lengthwise) to give more even coverage of sausage in the dish.  It was really good, and now I'm actually wondering about the possibility of bringing the two versions of the dish together with some divots in the casserole and semi-baking some eggs in the final few minutes in the oven.

But next week it's back to work.  And I'm already plotting my baked treat to start off 2013 right.  For now, I can only say: sprouts will not be involved.

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