Happy birthday to me!

Incidently, the blork blog turned three years old a few days ago (December 27). My, how my life has evolved since then!

Yes, at roughly 240,000 words and 795 posts, that could have been a novel.

(Note: there has been some strange behavior since my “leftovers” post, with it appearing and disappearing randomly. The lovely people at TypePad have been alerted….)

Christmas leftovers

Last night’s menu of Christmas leftovers:

– Classic shrimp cocktail
– Christmas Turkey Minestrone Soup
– Mushroom-truffle tagliatelle


1: Classic Shrimp Cocktail

We had some leftover cocktail sauce from the shrimp ring on the hors d’oeuvres table from Christmas Eve, so I decided to make a classic shrimp cocktail, as follows:

Line two large chilled martini glasses with lettuce; spoon some shrimp cocktail sauce into each; Add some steamed, peeled, and chilled shrimp; top with some paper-thin rings of raw red onion.

2: Christmas Turkey Minestrone Soup

This would not have been possible without the fabulous turkey stock I had made previously (see bottom of post for recipe).

  • Sweat a sliced carrot and a sliced celery stalk in a few drops of olive oil for a couple of minutes.
  • Add half an onion, chopped.
  • Add one clove of smashed and diced garlic. Sweat for another minute or two.
  • Pour in one litre of turkey stock and bring to a low boil.
  • Add one chopped tomato.
  • Add a few pinches of dried oregano, a couple of spoonfuls of dried parsley, and a hint of dried thyme.
  • Add half a can of small white navy beans.
  • Add some chopped sweet red pepper (optional).
  • Add a handful of cooked chopped turkey meat.
  • Simmer for about ten minutes.
  • Add a cup of cooked al dente soup pasta (such as elbow macaroni or ditali).
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Simmer one more minute.

Pour into soup bowls and garnish with a few shavings of parmesan reggiano (optional). (This recipe serves four, so we had leftover leftovers for lunch today.)

3: Mushroom-truffle tagliatelle

This simple pasta dish can be prepared in no time at all. Its success depends on quality ingredients and a light touch with the heat.

  • Boil a large pot of salted water and add some tagliatelle.
  • Lightly sauté some quartered button mushrooms and a finely sliced shallot in a small amount of olive oil.
  • Deglaze as necessary with a bit of water from the pasta pot and remove from heat.
  • Scratch in a bit of salt and pepper.
  • Roll in the cooked and drained pasta.
  • Toss with one cup of coarsely shredded parmesan reggiano.
  • Drizzle liberally with truffle oil.
  • Grace with a few pinches of finely grated orange zest.

Needless to say, this is not your grandma’s Christmas leftovers. In case you’re wondering, I pulled the recipes out of my imagination, except for the shrimp cocktail.

Turkey Stock a la Blork

In a large stock pot, add:
– one de-meated turkey carcass (including any leftover leg bones),
– three onions, quartered,
– two roughly-chopped carrots,
– two roughly-chopped celery stalks,
– a spoonful of cracked black peppercorns,
– one bay leaf,
– four litres of cold water.

Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 90 minutes. Allow to cool overnight in the fridge. Skim off fat. The stock will likely have taken on a gelatinous texture; if so, rewarm slightly on the stove to liquefy. Strain well using a strainer and cheesecloth.

So far so good…

Mid-afternoon on Christmas eve. The turkey is brined and ready for the oven. The apple-sausage (un)stuffing is in a pan, waiting its turn in the oven. The beets are roasted for the beet salad. Various vegetables are primed and ready to go. A couple of rubbermaid roughnecks are in position, stuffed with snow and a selection of beers; three varieties of Boréal, three varieties of Sleemans, as well as some Grolsch, La Montoise, and Boris (a bière d’alsace which seems to be completely absent on the Web). The snowbank by the backdoor is usefully chilling several bottles of bubbly and white wine.

The guests from Ottawa are here, and the ones from Quebec city are enroute. Less farther-flung guests from Pointe-Claire and Saint Bruno will be here in a few hours.

Now I can take a moment to breathe, and to writhe in pain. Unfortunately, I sprained my back this morning while lifting something from the car. Three Advils later it hurts a bit less. Oddly, it’s when I slow down for a breather that it hurts the most.

So back to work in the kitchen I go. Hopefully the bubbly and some of that beer will dull the pain and add to the cheer. Happy Holidays everyone!

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Ain’t life tough…?

My kind of evening…

Here’s the scene chez nous last Friday night. I’m on the sofa, there’s a Java Log in the fireplace, a snifter of cognac on the coffee table, M at my side, Spiff on my knee, and a wireless Internet connection in my lap. Of course that was before all Hell broke loose, culminating in the turkey emergency of Sunday afternoon.

Things seem to have fallen into place since then. The first of the dozen or so family guests we will entertain over the next few days have arrived, and Spiff doesn’t seem to mind Jessie — the canine among them (in fact, he’s downright curious about her). The stinky old oven is laying on the kitchen floor awaiting removal and the arrival of its welcome replacement (later today). The turkey is in the fridge, prepped for brining. The tree is up in the living room ready for trimming. There’s plenty of beer and wine in the house, and lots of food.

In other words, all Hell is about to break loose. But this time it will be a joyful chaos, as my adoptive family converge on our new house — many will be seeing it for the first time — to begin celebrating the year-end holidays. Cheers!