Cooking Expectations

>> Tuesday, November 24, 2009

This month had gone by pretty fast and Thanksgiving is coming up soon. Being in a "foreign" land with no family around, it can get pretty lonely during a celebration holiday where everyone left to be with family. Good thing I know how to cook. Last year, I've been invited by my Straizian friends to cook for friends and Mahjong buddies alike. This year, I got invited by a former colleague to attend her early afternoon dinner, an early evening gathering with a gay Asian friend and a few of the single "orphans" in the city. Then Saturday, it's all day Straizian Thanksgiving BBQ and Mahjong.

I've learned my lesson last year that cooking for 20 by myself is no easy task, it takes hours of preparation and then hours more of cooking. I'm thankful that this year I just need to make one dish for each party. For my excolleague's party, I've got assigned a vegetable dish. She and her family and friends are pretty much all vegetarians, even though she will accommodate me and another guest by having a turkey breast waiting. The whole menu is already set up and I got assigned with bringing a vegetable side dish with the rule of no reds, no mushroom, no asparagus and no brussels sprouts. I find it highly amusing that some vegetarians would be picky about what kind of vegetables they would eat as if they haven't denied themselves enough. At the same time, I feel like I'm not being trusted to make anything fancier since the Turkey, stuffing, green bean casserole, desserts and any big dishes had already been assigned. To counter that, I'm going to make a zucchini & squash fettucine. Pretty much just shredding the squash and zucchini down to the shape of fettucine, saute them with garlic onion and pesto. It quite flavorful and it's one of my staples when I'm on my low carb diet. If I'm Rachel Ray who loves to make up words, I might call it Squasta.

Note to self: Get a shredder!

For the evening party, I've resigned myself to make a cheesecake. Since last time I made a caramel, banana cheesecake with moderate success. I'm thinking about making another even though I've lost my recipe along with my old computer. I only need to decide what flavor I want to make. A simple raspberry might be good, or Oreo, or maybe a pumpkin cheesecake. The boyfriend will probably appreciate the leftovers.

I have been wanted to make a Mont Blanc cake for years but always thought the skill level required is beyond me. I like to bake but I'm certainly no cake decorator and every cooking or baking I ever did are all self-taught. So for the Straizian party on Saturday, I will try to attempt the challenge that is Mont Blanc. How difficult could it be, right? It's just genoise, chestnut mousse, whipped cream and marrons glacés. Maybe infuse the whipped cream with a bit of rum and fold in some chestnut meat and decorate the cake with some chocolate designs. Something manageable and nothing too fancy. It's one of my favorite pastries growing up, somehow French pastries got very popular in Asia and it took hold.

Something like this but less tart like and more birthday cake like

I've been to the farmer's markets yesterday and it was quite insane. A lot of stressed individuals filling up the aisle fighting for poultry and produce. Though since it's a turkey holiday, the steaks are half-priced. Even the supermarkets were mobbed and you can hardly find a bag of sugar left. Hope I can find a can of chestnut puree somewhere.

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