Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Dinner

Right after the wedding my parents left for Italy. Johnny and I came back to North Carolina with my brother and his girlfriend, Claire. We had a really low-key Christmas with just my God daughter and her family, us, and my brother. I loved the small Christmas. It was really fun company and just enough food to feed us, without going overboard with a gazillion sides and stress.

My brother cooked Christmas dinner, so no recipes, just sharing the day in photos!

First, he rinsed off the duck that had been brining for 48 hours.

Then, he scored the skin so the fat could render as it cooked.

Our first course was ...cheese. Just cheese. Lyn brought cheese, Michael brought cheese, and I had cheese. It was pounds and pounds of all kinds. Salami wrapped provolone, goat cheese, baked brie, and sharp cheddars.

Michael brought this wine all the way from California to share with us. He has been storing it for 4 years in a cellar, so we were really excited about it.

He was really proud of this "crust." Apparently it's sediment, and meant he stored it correctly on its side? He told me to take a picture, so I obliged...

All of the meal in progress-- busy kitchen!

The duck resting.

Awesome, crispy skin.

Really cute presentation. Legs, thighs, breasts, then wings.

My god daughter, Marissa, led us in prayer.

Then the family was ready to chow down!

The roasted duck with red wine cherry gravy.

Roasted teeny tiny potatoes with onions and garlic.

White wine braised kale with bacon.

The wine continued to flow...

...which led to funny faces...

...and new brother-in-law love!

After dinner, we went down the road to show the girls a really over-the-top decorated house. It's been on The Today Show and HGTV.

The Newlyweds!

Merry Christmas! :)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Brining a Christmas Duck

It's no secret that I'm a fan of duck over turkey. Since roasting duck for Project Food Blog (boo hiss), I've made it again for Johnny and myself, and last year for Thanksgiving.

My brother is home for Christmas this year, and my God daughter and her family are coming to visit. I asked my brother if he wanted to do duck and he said yes, and that we should brine it.

I've never brined a bird, but he said "Mrs. Food Blogger" could handle it, and I accepted the challenge.

I googled a bit and went off his recommendation of "salt, sugar, and orange" to come up with the below on my own, based on what we had.

1.5 cups table salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp mustard seed
1 Tbsp fennel seed
1 tsp celery seed
1 Tbsp black pepper
3 bay leaves
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup brewed tea, cooled
1/4 cup orange juice
2 navel oranges, cut into chunks (include peel)
1 head of garlic, cloves crushed and peeled
1-2 cups water, as needed

I put everything but the oranges and garlic in a 2 gallon zip bag. I squished the bag for a few minutes to help dissolve the salt and sugar. Then I added the oranges and garlic. I let everything sit for about 30 minutes to let the flavors start to blend.

Then I added the duck and squeezed the air out of the bag. I added about 1 cup of water for the solution to cover the entire duck. Once the bag was sealed, there was no air in it and the brine surrounded the entire bird. I put the bag in a giant bowl in the fridge to avoid any tipping or unplanned leaks.

I'm going to let it brine until Sunday morning when Chef Michael comes to prepare it. I'll let you all know how my first brining experience turns out! I'm excited!

Have you ever brined anything?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

I do!

Johnny and I got married Monday!

Here is a teaser photograph we got yesterday that I thought I'd share with you guys.

A few FAQ:

We got married at Bear Mountain State Park in upstate New York. My family is from the area, so I still have a lot of family, friends, and connections there. Not to mention it's absolutely beautiful and perfect for a winter wedding!

I am 27, Johnny is 34. We were together 5 years in September.

I got my dress at David's Bridal and absolutely loved it! It did not have a train, so I chose a cathedral length veil for the ceremony to trail behind me.

Instead of carrying a bouquet, I carried my Grammy Calvino's prayer book (pictured above). She carried it down the aisle for her December wedding.

Because we got married at a state park, the venue area is open to the public on the weekends until 5pm. We could either have a much later and shorter wedding, or choose a weekday. That is the reason we had a Monday wedding.

We are not going on a honeymoon right away. Johnny has a big work project for his company he's been working on. We're hoping to go sometime in February or March after the project is wrapped up.

I'll post more photos as we get them and also some food photos!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Tonight I cooked dinner, intending on blogging about it.

I miss cooking.

I miss taking pictures of my food.

I miss blogging.

I miss sharing with you guys.

Anyways, here's what my house ended up looking like:

Yes, that's thick, dense smoke.

I had to scream for Johnny's help.

The fire alarm went off. The dog howled.

We opened all the windows. Turned on all the fans.

It's two and a half hours later and my eyes still burn.

Dinner was steak, caramelized onions, and roasted butternut squash.

My pictures of it ended up looking like grainy cat barf, so I deleted them.

Maybe one day I'll get my blogging juice back.