Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Pastry Shops

One of the things I miss from living in Providence is that there are so many wonderful pastry shops in the city. Growing up I used to shop at Scialo Brothers on Atwells Avenue with its Art Deco design and bins of Italian candies and sugared almonds and of course there was The LaSalle Bakery across from LaSalle Academy. They are the kind of bakery where you could buy bread, cookies, pies, cakes, egg and wine biscuits, bread-and-tomato only pizza strips wrapped in waxed paper, and of course pastries. There is nothing of the like that I have found on the Cape. I miss that kind of place so much that I did make a pilgrimage last year to Ladurée while I was in Paris to pay homage to the muses of flour and sugar but that place is, in the words of L. Frank Baum, a "horse of a different color".

Last week, I went "off Cape" with The Contessa and we went to visit Crate and Barrel at the Derby Street shopping center in Hingham, where there is a bakery/pastry shop called White's. We went in for a look around and I felt like I was a child again. Cakes, pies, brownies, hermits, "lobster tails", ricotta pies, rum cake slices and strombolis were in abundance. It really was a great "memory blast".

Well Mr. B and I went back to Hingham to visit the Apple Store in the Derby Street location as he wanted a new mouse for his computer and lo... the bakery swept me up in its Siren's song and I couldn't resist going in for a macaroon or two. I ended up getting a couple of cookies and a few cupcakes just to have around the house in case anyone was hungry, you understand. The cupcakes are still in the fridge but I am not guaranteeing that any or all of them will make it to November 17th but I can tell you they look damned tempting.

Give White's a look-see and let me know of your bakery memories.

T (Thanksgiving) Minus 10 and counting...

A new cooking method for the turkey has been sent in by Linda, La Reine du Barbecue, from LJ's BBQ in Pawtucket, RI. It does sound intriguing. It calls for wrapping up the turkey in foil and baking it at 450 degrees. What do you think?

From Linda:
I expect you will get an avalanche of turkey recipes, but I am SOLD on this method. I have continued ever on and it produces consistently the best ever turkey with moist (yes!) white meat and the foil removed at the end for browning and curb appeal.. Because it is cooked at high heat and less time, you also aren't a slave to the thing. The only tricky part is that it can be so moist that upon transfer to platter at the end it can literally fall apart(legs from body), but you were only going to have to cut it up anyway to serve it, so who cares!

Happy T-Day dahlink!!!


Foil-wrapped Turkey
8-10# 450 degrees 2 1/4 - 2 1/2 hrs
10-12 # " 2 1/2 - 3 hrs
14-16 # " 3 - 3 1/4 hrs
18-20 # " 3 1/4 - 3 1/2 hrs
22-24 # " 3 1/2 - 3 3/4 hrs
Place trussed turkey, breast up, in center of greased, wide heavy duty foil. Bring ends of foil up over breast; overlap fold and press up against ends of the turkey. Place bird in shallow pan (no rack). Open foil last 20 minutes to brown turkey.

Anyone else tried this one?

Monday, November 16, 2009

How pumpkin pies are made...

Hilarity from a tiny island in Washington State. Thanks MD!!!

Thanksgiving "prep"

Thanksgiving is little more than a week away and I am in full "gay nerves" mode. We are, once again, hosting my in-laws for Wednesday and Thursday night this year as well as the usual suspects for Thanksgiving dinner. They would be Bob, Tobe and The Contessa di Pomodori. That makes 7 for dinner.

In preparation, I have already taken down the drapes and sheers in the living and dining rooms, washed and ironed them, and rehung them. Dusted all art and tchotchkes. Also, the silverware is polished, although I noticed the coffee service needs just a little more care. The table linens have been washed, ironed and refolded so that I won't have to work on them next week. Mr. B and I have also given the living and dining rooms "the big clean" too.

So far the menu looks like this:

Hors d'oeuvre:
Shrimp, crostini varie, asparagus with proscuitto.

Roast Turkey (Cook's Country method, see below)
Sausage and cornbread dressing (my own recipe)
Mashed potato casserole (America's Test Kitchen recipe)
Green beans "Elegantes" (Dr. Joe's recipe)
Puree of Turnip & Carrot (Mom's recipe)
Cranberry sauce (Direct from the can. I made a "scratch" version last year and it was nasty. Plus I got a serious "bead reading" from my side of the family over it, so I am just going to take a can of Ocean Spray Whole Berry sauce and "doctor" it up with some orange zest.)
Squash Rolls (from B&T)

Apple Pie (Mom-in-Law's baking this)
Pumpkin Cake (from the Contessa)
Canoli (also from the Contessa)

Recipes have been pulled and printed from cookbooks and I have also been gathering diverse methods of turkey cooking as my efforts last year were a little lacking. Last year the turkey was as dry as a buckwheat fart but no one complained. (I do have good friends and relatives, don't I?) I am trying to narrow down the method from 3 that I have garnered. The first is just a standard "rub with butter and herbs and toss in the oven" method (Bobby Flay). The second involves brining the turkey, rubbing the skin with a mixture of salt and baking soda to produce a crispier skin and roasting (America's Test Kitchen). The third, which I saw on Cook's Country TV" on Public TV, has a layer of salt pork draped over the breast and leg meat, covered with water-soaked cheesecloth, and roasted (with the cheesecloth/pork on for a little while and then removed). I am leaning toward the third method but I need to decide soon. I haven't purchased the turkey yet so I do have a little time left.

That's it for T (for Thanksgiving) minus 11 days and counting. If you have any tips, ideas or suggestions for me or for any of my readers, please make sure you enter them in the comments section.