Tuesday, December 16, 2008

5 Dishes, 5 Roses, and an Early Christmas

UWAGA: very long entry.

With that being said, here comes a mega-update with enough recipes to last for the rest of the year. So consider this the last 2008 update as I will be gone for the next few weeks for Christmas break, yayyyy. So to what do I owe this extreme pleasure of laboring 4 hours on a Saturday night? You've guessed it: Christmas dinner! Last year JLo and I spent Christmas eve roaming the streets Madrid looking for an underground Chinese restaurant recommended by my aunt. This year, we'll probably be end up in a long cue outside a kebab store in some hidden corner of Istanbul. I'm not saying that it's gonna suck, but who wouldn't want to spend Christmas at home and enjoy a hearty home-cooked meal followed by long movies and an endless supply of Christmas cookies? Mmmhmm, that's when i decided to surprise JLo with a Christmas dinner that I have been preparing in my mind for the past few days:
  1. Roast Chicken
  2. Potatoes Au Gratin
  3. Caesar Salad
  4. Salmon risotto
  5. Simple corn sautee

Yea i know, these 5 dishes sounds simple enough but let me tell you, the preparation was freakin' hard work especially when you're doing it alone! To think that I thought I'd have some time in the middle to whip up some cookies or dessert AND pick out a nice romantic movie, HA! Yea, right. I'm just glad there was actually food on the table. So even though my dinner didn't turn out exactly as planned, at least I still got to spend some quality, fattening, weight-gaining time with JLo while watching the 2008 Victoria Secret's Fashion Show. Mmmhmm, great combination, i tell you. So enough with the blabber, here are 3 recipes of my Christmas dinner (salmon risotto and corn sautee aren't special enough to share) :
P.S Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Caesar Salad
from allrecipes.com

  • 6 cloves garlic
    (3 cloves for the salad dressing, 3 cloves for the croutons)
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 6 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated and divided
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 cups day-old bread, cubed
  • 1 head romaine lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces

  1. Mince 3 cloves of garlic, and combine in a small bowl with mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cut the remaining 3 cloves into quarters, and add to hot oil. Cook and stir until brown, then remove garlic from pan. Add bread cubes to the hot oil. Cook, turning frequently, until lightly browned. Remove bread cubes from oil, and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Place lettuce in a large bowl. Toss with dressing, remaining Parmesan cheese, and seasoned bread cubes.

Lemon Thyme Roast Chicken

from foodwishes (youtube), about.com
  • - 1 whole chicken
  • - 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • - 1/2 cup of butter, at room temperature
  • - 3 teaspoons of dried thyme, divided
  • - 1 lemon, zested and sliced
  • - salt and pepper


  1. COMPOUND BUTTER= Combine the butter, garlic, 2 teaspoons thyme, lemon zest, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl and mash until completely mixed [picture 1].
  2. Rinse the chicken and remove any giblets from the cavity. Cut off the chicken neck if they haven't done so.
  3. Position the turkey so that the cavity is facing you and you are working forward towards the neck. Using a long, thin flexible rubber or silicon spatula, slowly slide the tool between the skin and the flesh of the breasts on both side of the breastbone [picture 2].
  4. The skin is fairly tough and won't tear if you go slowly and carefully. You can pretty much separate the skin all the way from the cavity, where you started, to the front of the breast, and down toward the wing joint. Do this on both side of the breast, but leave the skin attached along the center of breastbone itself.
  5. Then simply divide the butter mixture in half and stuff it under the skin on both sides and massage it down toward the front of the bird. Spread as evenly as possible, but don't worry about getting it perfect, as it will melt and spread out as the chicken roasts [picture 3, 4].
  6. Season the chicken cavity with 1 teaspoon of thyme, salt, and pepper. Then stuff it with the sliced lemon [picture 5].
  7. Truss the chicken by using kitchen twine to tie up the legs (or you can just criss-cross and stuff the legs into the cavity to close it). Trussing helps the chicken to cook evenly, and it also makes for a more beautiful roasted bird [picture 6].
  8. Place the chicken on a roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil, 1 teaspoon of thyme, and season with salt and pepper [picture 7].
  9. Bake for 60 minutes and check for doneness by inserting a thermometer into the thigh meat; it should read 75 C (165 F). Cover the breasts with a piece of foil if it's getting too brown towards the end of the cooking time [picture 8].

Potatoes Au Gratin
from harvesteating.com

  • 2 lbs thinly sliced potatoes
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup of onions, chopped
  • 2 cups infused milk and cream
  • salt & pepper
  • 1/2 cup of seasoned bread crumbs

  1. Using a Mandoline, slice the potatoes as thin as you can. If you don't have a Mandoline, just slice it as think as possible with a normal knife.
  2. Put the sliced potatoes in water if you're not ready to make this, keeps it from oxidizing.
  3. Layer in the order of potatoes (dried), cheese, onions, milk mixture, salt and pepper. Repeat until your heavy bottomed baking dish is full.
  4. Top with remaining cheese and seasoned bread crumbs.
  5. Bake at 375F until bubbly and starting to brown.

J&A's Pseudo-Christmas Dinner 2008


  1. I tried the Caesar Salad last night. Instead of putting 3 cloves of garlic in the sauce, I read 6 cloves of garlic in the ingredient list and put all of it in the sauce. No vampires that night ;)

    It's a great recipe, love fresh salad.

  2. oops, sorry! I'll make the changes in the ingredient list so there won't be anymore confusion :S

  3. Haha .. thanks :D
    Btw .. know any good egg tart recipe?

  4. Yes i do! I was just looking for egg tart recipes a few days ago and found this: http://www.ytower.com.tw/movie/mov_search.asp?key=%B3J%B6%F0&imageField.x=0&imageField.y=0
    It's a video in Chinese so you'll probably understand. I've been wanting to make that for a while but I have a feeling my dorm oven's gonna ruin it. But tell me how your egg tarts turn out! :D

  5. Can't understand chinese. Am a banana ... hahaha. Shd have paid more attention during mandarin lessons in primary school. I think I will wait for your english translation :D

    Btw happy chinese new year. With you plenty of luck in your studies and may you get plenty of As.

    Since it is CNY, I wanted to make steamboat with some home made bouncy pork balls. Here's the recipe that I used http://neckredrecipes.blogspot.com/2008/10/chu-yoke-yuen-bouncy-pork-balls.html
    It turned out pretty good! Thought I wld share with you.

  6. Oh wow!! thanks for the recipe! I never thought it was possible to make pork balls at home, I'll definitely try it out. Yay! i'm excited :D