Monthly Archives: November 2011

Peanut Butter Blossoms

I hope that everyone had a very happy Thanksgiving! From roasted turkey to goat cheese mashed potatoes to a delicious pumpkin cheesecake, I was a pretty happy (and ridiculously full) camper. That being said, I did come away with a few second degree burns on account of a (literal) run-in with sweet potatoes. As a result, my right hand is slightly out of commission as it recovers from my cooking misadventures.

Now that one holiday is over, I think I’ll take the approach followed by department stores and marketing agents everywhere and turn my attention to the next holiday: Christmas. Every year, I make a wide variety of cookies to distribute to our family and friends. Sugar cookies, chocolate ganache thumbprints, birds in a nest, rugelach, coconut macaroons–the list goes on and on. This year, I plan on incorporating  peanut butter blossoms into the mix.

I first had these cookies in the first grade when one of my peers brought them in as her birthday treat (this was before peanut allergies made this impossible). I had a hard time finding a recipe I liked, however, until the spring of my junior year when studying abroad. Peanut butter is a bit difficult to find in Florence, and my friends and I found ourselves missing it (even though none of us eat it normally…it’s funny what being away from home does to your tastebuds). Sam’s mom emailed her their family recipe, her dad brought us peanut butter and a giant bag of Hershey Kisses when he visited, and we spent an afternoon happily making cookies.

Here’s hoping you enjoy these as much as my friends and I do. Happy eating!

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It’s oyster time!

People either love or hate raw oysters; there really seems to be no in-between.  I happen to fall into the former crowd.  Oysters, for me, are a real treat.  They are mouthful of fresh, briny ocean.

If you, too, like spending an evening with a glass of wine and a dozen oysters, now is the time for you.  Once, someone told me that oyster season is easy to remember, because it falls during the months ending with r.  Well, November ends in r, and so does December.  There is only a month and a half of r-ending months left this year, so now is the time to act.  Right now, the oysters are fresh, salty, sweet, and delicious.  I am trying to work in a weekly dozen for the remainder of the year.

The master shucker

The pictures in this post are, of course, not taken in November.  They were taken on a trip to Prince Edward Island that Brandon and I took two summers ago.  There, we would buy a five-pound bag of oysters from a fishery, sit at a picnic table, and shuck them ourselves (meaning Brandon shucked them all).  It really was heaven on Earth.

If you’re not willing to shuck your own, look for a reputable fish

Attempting to shuck

restaurant and order away.  Some places even have mid-week oyster happy hours!  Try to order semi-local (West Coast v. East Coast) and try several kinds to find a favorite.  Ours are Olde Salts from Virginia and Beausoleils from New Brunswick.

Also, if eating oysters raw makes you a bit weary, they are also delicious cooked!  If you would like to incorporate them into your Thanksgiving celebration, there are many mouthwatering recipes for oyster stuffing out there.  If that doesn’t interest you, try frying them or making an oyster pot pie.

Lastly, if eating these bivalves still doesn’t satiate your hunger for oysters, enjoy this article from Serious Eats about oyster farming.

Lemony, Roasted Brined Turkey

Sorry the pic is blurry--relied on iPhone

Oh. My. Turkey.

This is noteworthy: You can officially roast a turkey while a 1L. In fact, you can officially participate in the greatest fake thanksgiving feast known to man and have an amazing time forgetting about finals. Apparently, it is still possible to have fun in law school.

My friend Merey and I got it into our heads that what our friends  really needed was a fake Thanksgiving. Having just completed a draft of our  hated memos and suffering from complete and total burnout, we wanted something that was a promise of good things to come. Where better to turn than Thanksgiving? So we embarked on a mission, enlisted our friends, and the MOST EPIC of all dinners resulted.

To say I am proud of my friends is a gross understatement. Everyone contributed and everything was deeeelish (there was even pumpkin pie from scratch–i.e. no canned pumpkin!). If any of you are reading today’s post, consider this an invitation to guest blog and share your recipe.  And, Brad, here’s your official shout-out: you make a mean mashed.

Anyway, I wound up on turkey duty. The recipe is based off of the roasted brined turkey recipe Megan referenced in her Thanksgiving post and that my friend Sam also recommended. I couldn’t find certain ingredients and had to improvise, but the result was incredibly moist and flavorful. Hope this helps as you plan your menu!

Happy eating!

Greek Yogurt Mac n’ Cheese

Quick post today (as I am in the midst of epic memo-writing), but I made a bit of a discovery: there is a healthier, incredibly satisfying way to make good ol’ mac n’ cheese, and it is ridiculously easy. There is no cream in this recipe, no time consuming bechemel sauce, and the perfect amount of cheese. So where does it get its flavor? Greek yogurt.

You don’t have to use mushrooms in this dish. I did because I love them and think mac n’ cheese tastes even better with vegetables in it (I know. Sacrilege.). I refer to homemade Italian seasoning in the ingredients list. This is simple to make, and I was taught to make it by my Italian host father. It’s wonderful to keep on hand and adds great flavor to any Italian dish.

Happy Eating!

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The Omnivore’s Dilemma

As a food lover, it might not be too surprising to find out that I read a lot of books about food.  While I have some favorites (i.e., Kitchen Confidential, by Anthony Bourdain, and Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper, by Fuchsia Dunlop), none have caused me to reevaluate the way I look at food and food culture the way The Omnivore’s Dilemma, by Michael Pollan, has.  And to be honest, this book has done far more than change my view of food, it’s changed the way I eat.

In a time when all we hear about is “America’s obesity epidemic,” it is easy to become desensitized and apathetic.  And if you’re not feeling that way, you might be feeling confused by all of the food jargon out there:  all-natural, organic, free range . . . .  What does any of this mean?

In The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan takes you on three journeys—from the corn farm to the table, from the pasture to the table, and from the wild to the table—to find out what we are really eating.  He meets interesting farmers and foragers along the way who really care about what they do and who are involved in getting our food onto our tables.

In this fascinating and terribly informative book, Pollan not only clarifies all of the confusing food jargon, but he illuminates what we are really putting into our bodies and the bodies of the ones we love.  It is not a book containing weight-loss techniques, and it is not a book geared toward those with sophisticated palates.  It is a book full of information—information that all of us, as food consumers, need.

Like I said earlier, this book has changed the way I eat.  That doesn’t mean that I have stopped eating meat (or ever will) or that I quit using butter (or have even shied away from it); it just means that I am more selective about what I purchase and what I consume.  With this powerful information, I genuinely think that I will be a healthier person, and my family will be too.

Revamped Thanksgiving Staples

Recently, I’ve had a few people ask me, “Megan, do you have any good Thanksgiving recipes?”  Well, boy do I.  I have lots of terrific, tried, tested, and approved recipes for Thanksgiving, and I would love to share them with you.

Now, years back, when we used to live in DC, we would drive to Ohio for Thanksgiving and spend it with our families.  As guests, we usually didn’t do much cooking, but one year, I asked if I could try my hand at preparing the turkey.  My mother-in-law was kind enough to allow me to do so, and I was able to test Martha Stewart’s recipe for a brined turkey that I had been dying to try.  It was my first time fixing a turkey, and I was nervous—especially since generations of family members were doubting my techniques—but in the end, it was a total success.  The bird was moist and flavorful with a crispy skin.  What more could you ask for?

Once we moved to New York, however, Thanksgiving changed.  Instead of returning to Ohio to be with our families, we fix a feast here and invite friends over.  It has been a lot of fun, and it has allowed me to be as OCD about Thanksgiving dinner as I want to.  You see, I grew up not loving Thanksgiving.  I mean, I loved the family togetherness, but I’m not a mashed-potato-lover, and yams covered in marshmallows don’t get me excited.  In fact, the only food I really looked forward to on Turkey Day was the pie.

But once I got full control of the menu, I was able to revamp it and reinvent the “perfect Thanksgiving dinner.”  I stay true to the basics—turkey, stuffing, gravy, cranberries, etc.—but prepare them in a more modern, if you will, fashion.

Below is a list of links to my favorite recipes.  These are recipes that will, no doubt, be on my Thanksgiving table this year.  I hope they make it on yours as well!

Brandon's lovely "tablescape"

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Red Velvet Cupcakes and a New Blogger

Hello, all!

So, as you may have noticed, the blog has been missing a third kitchen for quite some time. Shortly after starting the blog, Ursela realized other commitments would prevent her from continuing to participate, and we’ve been on the hunt for a replacement.

Turns out, the solution has pretty much been under our noses the whole time. I’m excited to introduce you to our new third “kitchen:” Liz.

What makes this funny is the fact that Liz is actually my older sister. To be honest, she started cooking first. While her early attempts at cooking (like those of  most people) were at times interesting, she is a FANTASTIC chef. People fight over her cupcakes. No. Seriously. I’ve had friends issue death threats to one another over these things. People have broken vegan diets for them. They are THAT good. Needless to say, we have a new resident baker here at A Tale of Three Kitchens, but don’t let her baking expertise fool you! Liz also has some great Thai, Chinese, Turkish, and Mexican recipes up her sleeve that are sure to please even the pickiest of eaters. She’s a pretty talented medical student.

Thus, with no further ado, I give you Liz and her delicious red velvet cupcakes:

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