Thanksgiving Meal: A Photo Essay

>> Sunday, November 28, 2010

I'm continue to be baffled about cooking for parties, in which I'm unable to understand how much food I have to cook for the amount of people participating. I'm sure there's a standard something saying 1 serving of meat plus 2.5 sides per person somewhere, some experienced caterer probably know but not me. Every time there's a party I go hog wild thinking the things I can cook and most of the time I end up with leftovers but then it's usually ok, since people would take stuff home.

Apparently I don't know how much ingredients cost either, we started out saying $15 a person and expected 20 but at the end it ended up costing about $450 just for ingredients and booze and we got 25 attendees. If I were ever to open up a catering business I would most definitely go lose money.

I do enjoy cooking and the planning part of it. Every time I create a cheat sheet for it and it's most fun. It reminds me of academia which I used to take these notes that is more or less a paper saving game for me.

If you're interested to recreate the recipes, do enlarge the picture to read from it, I might suggest to be slightly generous on the salt and pepper end. The twice baked potato involved some piping action that is both messy and enjoyable. I altered the recipe and put some smoked turkey in it and they turned up pretty good. I also tried a new roast beef technique by just salting it and put it in the fridge uncovered for 24 hours to day up the meat. It's called "dry brining" and the beef turned out juicing and softer, it worked!

I try my damndest to put some vegetables in my friends so that they can have a balanced meal but the people I hang with go crazy with meats and not much else, so I have to resort to bacon wrapping them. We didn't have a chicken or a turkey because from experience, no one seems to know how to cut and after cooking a whole day I'm not going to be serving as well.

Even though they don't go for vegetables, they would go for this lobster fruit salad. We bought a big lobster for it but it didn't yield much meat at all. I much rather buy shrimps, they are more meaty and plentiful. Gutting the lobster was a bit of a hassle too, and the lobster was so fresh that it was quite dirty, some hazard of being a cook.

That's the spread here: Mushroom sherry soup, spiced roast beef, pineapple baked ham, popovers, pumpkin orzo risotto with scallops, green bean bacon rolls, cauliflower gratin and twice baked potatoes

A benefit of having Asian friends is that there's bond to have a few photographers around. My friend's father who was present was an award winning photographer and another younger guy has a very stylized iPhone app that got a close up of the roast beef here:

For dessert, one of them made tiramisu and another made a cheesecake that uses sponge cake as the base and then a layer of red bean cream cheese and a layer of green tea mousse on top that was marvelous. I'll try to recreate it sometimes.

After playing til 5:00 in the morning, everyone was quite exhausted and some turned into drunken messes. All around, we had a very merry time. 27 days til X'Mas.

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