Sunday, December 25, 2016

a feast for one

Here's a look at tonight's Christmas dinner, which didn't take nearly as long to prep as Thanksgiving's dinner because (1) I started prepping the day before, and (2) the turducken main course itself didn't take as long to prep as last time: I used a different (and better!) method involving mandu skins, which turned out to be much easier to handle.

Et voilà:

You've never had Christmas turkey like this before, have you? Having concluded, based on the travails I went through at Thanksgiving, that it's better not to overthink the main course, I switched from my complicated spring-roll-and-panko design to the much simpler Korean mandupi (dumpling skin), into which I inserted small, rolled-up discs of turducken and cheese. I over-fried everything, once again, but once again it was only to a deep brown, not to a burn. The end result tasted fine.

I had wanted to make homemade cranberry sauce again, but High Street was out of frozen cranberries. I bought some canned cranberry sauce from High Street, then bought a bag of frozen blueberries from my building's grocery to make a blueberry sauce that got used for everything: as a drizzle for tonight's dinner, as a topping for tonight's mousse, and as an accent for yesterday dessert with JW's family.

I'm actually a fan of the cafeteria/prison-tray aesthetic, so I piled dinner into a tray I'd bought at Daiso. You see whole green beans done up with butter, salt, and pepper; that weird-looking morsel in the "northeast" pocket of the tray is actually mashed potatoes that were oven-baked in a muffin tin with slices of cheese on the top and bottom, then drizzled with chicken gravy; the main pocket holds my mandu-style turduckens drizzled with blueberry sauce alongside stuffing with chicken gravy on top. In the "southeast" corner is my canned cranberry sauce with some blueberry sauce on top to accent it.

Next time I do the potatoes, I won't be so ambitious. I over-flavored the spuds with more than just butter and milk: I added Gorgonzola cheese, a bit of honey, some sour cream, and a few other seasonings. In all, there was way too much going on in those potatoes. Sometimes, as my boss likes to say then he's paring away the prose in the textbook manuscripts I've written, less is more.

I'll also be more careful when frying the mandu skins. They fry up super-quickly, moving beyond golden-brown in a flash. Luckily, unlike those rice-based Vietnamese spring-roll skins, they don't stick to anything once they're in the fryer, which is great. So: it'll be a lower temp for the oil next time, and I'll avoid letting the mandu skins go dark brown. With all the skins I have left, I may practice making some dessert crisps to get my fry-timing right.

Ah—the mousse! This was more a chocolate panna cotta than my usual "mouce" au chocolat. Aside from the stuffing, this might have been the best thing about dinner.

And that was tonight's Yuletide repast. All in all, quite good, but it could use some improvement. Third time's a charm, or so they say...

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