Thursday, October 27, 2011

Birthday Boy - Part II

So Devin left for work on Tuesday at 7:30 a.m.  He returned home from work at 7:30 p.m.  Very unfortunate that his birthday fell on a Tuesday.  At least it wasn’t on Wednesday because he gets home at 11:30 p.m. on Wednesdays.  I started making his birthday dinner as soon as he left in the morning by putting the chicken in the buttermilk.  I have a picture of this, but I do not think that raw chicken floating in buttermilk is all that appetizing. 

I think rather than go chronologically through the day, I am just going to talk about each component of the meal.  It was a very complex meal to make and to have timed correctly.  It all worked out well but I don’t know if I would make it all together again.  Perhaps if I had a bigger kitchen and better appliances, including a deep fryer.

The Chicken:
I followed Emeril’s recipe for Fried Chicken.  It called for a lot of Essence (see the bottom of the recipe).  Rather than buy it, I made my own.  The recipe called for 1/4 cup in the buttermilk (along with a whole head of smashed garlic) and 1/4 cup in the flour.  It made the breading deep in color.  It was very bold in flavor.  Bam!  The chicken sat in the buttermilk until 6:30.  Then it went into the flour (in a freezer bag for easy shaking/coating) and sat on a rack for 20 minutes to rest and come up to room temperature. 

I used a whole huge thing of peanut oil in a soup pot for my fryer.  The recipe says that the most important thing for frying the chicken is a constant oil temperature.  It needed to remain between 280 and 300 degrees.  I bought a candy thermometer for this exact purpose.  I began heating up the oil slowly around 6:15 expecting to give it a half an hour to get to where I needed it.  The oil slowly approached 300 and then soared right past it to 320.  I lowered the heat to try and get it down but it was not going anywhere.  Then all of a sudden it plummeted to 270 and froze there.  I pretty much bought a thermometer to tell me how wrong my oil temperature was and that there was nothing I could do about it.  I planned dinner for 7:45, so the first batch of chicken had to go in, oil at 270 and all.

I made two batches of chicken, each were in the oil for about 16-20 minutes.  The chicken pieces were pretty small so I think that they cooked in the normal amount of time despite the oil being slightly too cold.  I didn’t take a lot of pictures of the finished chicken, in fact I took one. A picture of my piece, a breast. I was hungry, I’m sorry.

I made honey ketchup for dipping the chicken in.  Just mix together ketchup and honey in roughly a 2-1 ratio.  It is delicious with the bold flavor of the chicken!

The Biscuits:
I decided last minute to make Buttermilk Biscuits.  I had a cup of buttermilk left and I think that you are always supposed to have biscuits with fried chicken.  At least according to Colonel Sanders.  This is the second time I have made these, and it couldn’t be easier.  They taste just like Pillsbury but are so much better for you.  I dare you to try and make homemade biscuits the next time you need them.  They are seriously as simple as popping open a can.

Twice Baked Potatoes:
Twice baked potatoes are one of my favorite things.  They are not hard to make, but they take awhile, so I only tend to make them for special occasions.  If you make them, make more than you need.  Since they take so long, you might as well have some left over for dinner the next day.  I made them early and put them in the fridge, then baked them off for about 20 minutes before it was time to eat.  I made four large twice-baked potatoes.  You start by baking the potatoes like you normally would.  I clean them and then rub them in olive oil and salt.  I put them directly on the oven rack at 400 degrees until a fork goes in nicely.  Then I just let them sit and cool down.  This is important a) so you don’t burn your hands and b) so that the skin gets stronger again and you don’t bust through it when hollowing them out.

P.S. we have had a lot of toaster ovens and we always save the little baking sheets that go inside.  They are very useful.

Once cooled, cut the side out of each one of your potatoes and hollow them out.  Be careful and go slow so you don’t break through the potato skin.  Season them all up with salt and pepper.

Next mash the potato you scooped out.  I add in milk/butter/sour cream until they get to the consistency/texture/flavor that I like.  I added in a combination of sharp yellow cheddar and some extra sharp white cheddar, fresh parsley and thyme from my garden and more salt and pepper.  I scored the mixture into four and then loaded it back into the potatoes.

This is when I put them in the fridge.  Keep the pieces of potato skin that you cut off to make potato skins.

When ready, put them in the oven at about 375 to heat them through.  About 5 minutes before dinner, put more cheese on the top of each potato and on the skins and crank the heat until it is melty and delicious.

So yummy!

The Pie:
Oh my god.  Making apple pie takes soooo long.  I am telling you right now that my pie did not look amazing, but it definitely tasted amazing.  I used the Apple Pie recipe from the Joy of Baking.  I was absolutely making my own crust because I do not normally like pie crust, especially store bought crust.  This is why I generally do not like pie.  I do however like (love) the coconut cream pie from Gullifty’s that uses a coconut macaroon for its crust (I have to learn how to do that!).

The recipe started with me making the crust.  This is the two sticks of butter that went into the crust.  It had to be good with that much butter right?

The crust was actually very easy to make in my food processor.  I lost a bit of flour when I ran it (as seen below).  I was nervous that would be a problem.  I also don’t think I added quite enough ice water.  Hey, it was my first time.  You live and you learn.

Here are my two dough disks that needed to go in the fridge for an hour. 

Next I had to roll out the dough to put back in the fridge (forever).  My crust cracked.  A lot.  I think it was the ice water thing.  It didn’t come together enough.  I was bummed.

With the crust rolled out (the bottom in the pie plate, the top on a cookie sheet) and in the fridge, it was time to prepare the filling.  I used 7 golden delicious apples.  It took forever to prepare them.

I need the fancy peeler/corer that my mother-in-law has.

They got mixed with some sugar, cinnamon and lemon.  Then they needed to sit for a few hours at room temperature.  The apples were supposed to create 1/2 cup of liquid.  I did not see that happening, but to my pleasant surprise, it did!  The apples then needed to drain for 30 minutes.  I took the liquid and put it in a small saucepan with some butter and boiled it down until it was syrupy and only about 1/3 of a cup remained.  That got mixed back in with the apples and then finally it all got put into the pie crust.

I put on my puzzle pieced together top and cut the slits.

It baked for about 45 minutes.  I had to put foil around the outside of the crust to prevent it from burning about 25 minutes in.  It baked kind of funny and had weird spotting on top.  Hence, the not looking so amazing.  I think that is because I have the worst oven in the world.  

But, like I said, it did taste amazing.  Especially when paired with Hagen Daaz Five Vanilla Bean Ice Cream (our favorite).

Baking a pie takes forever.  It was worth it though because it was really tasty.  I even liked the crust!  I have a piece of crust left over in my fridge to make a galette one of these days.  

By the way, the pie tastes even better on days 2 and 3!

This dinner was intense and took all day to prepare, but it was worth it!  I think Devin enjoyed the two hours we spent together and all the hard work that went into his Birthday meal! 

Here are the girls waiting for their dad to come home and dinner to be served.

So Long!

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