This week’s weekly obsession post is going to be about just one thing: foodporn. It was midsummer last weekend, and my mom’s cousin’s family is visiting from China, and I was in charge of whipping up a midsummer feast for 8 people on Sunday. Since it’s just me alone cooking, it took me a day to plan, three different trips to two different grocery stores and two days of prepping and cooking. I needed everything to be perfect and delicious, and I’m not a very fast cook, so the planning was crucial. I figured I would need a couple of appetizers, two different meat, a carb main dish, went a little crazy with the sides and then a simple dessert cos many Chinese including my parents aren’t that big on desserts. I know, crazy, right? At least I don’t need to wonder why most of them are so tiny. So I did most of the shopping on Thursday and Friday, and made all the preparations and cooked some dishes already on Saturday.
I’m on a low-carb diet but I know a bunch of Chinese would want some carbs so I made my favorite pasta dish: ham mushroom spaghetti with a creamy mushroom sauce. It took all of my self-control not to eat more than a little forkful of spaghetti to assess the taste, I was determined to save myself for my cheat days and although I’m not on a strict no-carb diet, pasta is an obvious no-no. So I fried my mushrooms, browned my ham, made the delicious mushroom sauce, combined it all together and added the al dente spaghetti. Once it’s all done, I stabbed a little spoonful of spaghetti, ate it and went to heaven for 10 seconds and wept a little inside that I could have more. I put the gloriousness in a glass container and put it in the fridge overnight. The next day I brought it out, put a generous amount of cheddar and mozzarella cheese on top and reheated it in the oven. I didn’t taste it again, but I was told in the dinner table that the spaghetti was super tasty as it had absorb much of the sauce for being twice cooked. I wept a little more inside at the dinner.
As I have tested the recipe before, Waldorf salad is a delicious and easy recipe that can be prepared a day before. Simply I chopped up some apples and celery, crushed some walnuts, squeezed some lemon juice on top and scrambled it all together with some lemon mayo. It didn’t need anything else. I also made some deviled eggs the previous day as I heard they taste yummier overnight. I obviously did something wrong as all my eggs had the yolk in the bottom. So they didn’t turn out that pretty and I also didn’t have anything to make pretty ribbons of egg yolk mixture. The mixture I took from a Youtube channel Laura in the Kitchen. An excellent recipe. The only thing I would have done differently is grinding up the sweet pickled relish, cos I would have enjoy a more silky texture in my egg yolk mix. But it did taste divine though, I was being very generous with the tabasco. And they sure look pretty. And then the rye bread bites are actually my stable appetizer, cos everyone likes salmon. I got some tasty cold smoked salmon, spread some cream cheese on a slightly sweeter rye bread, salmon on and couple slices of cucumber and some chives. Sir Atticus’s nemesis is cucumber, and every time I prepare something with cucumber, I would hear His voice in my head heavily disapproving. But smoked salmon and cucumber taste very good together, as does salmon roe with chives and cream cheese. The eggs were a huge success, as were the salmon roe bread bites. The smoked salmon was slightly too salty, but still tasty.
I love using the dark meat of a chicken, so for one of the main meat dish I chose some fatty boneless chicken thighs. I cut them into ‘fingers’, seasoned with some dried thyme and rosemary, black pepper, dried garlic and rock salt. Then I wrapped them up inside some parman ham and let them marinated overnight. On Sunday before dinner, I fried them up in some olive oil butter mixture. They were so tasty and juicy! I very much dislike using chicken breasts cos there are so many tricks that must be done to make them juicy and stay juicy and they are so easily overcooked. With chicken thighs, I don’t need to worry about a thing. The meat stay juicy and tender even if you are paranoid and overcook your chicken. I know I do, just to be on the save side. And thighs keeps beautifully too, it doesn’t mind the microwave treatment at all. My local supermarket de-bones and remove the skin and cut them into steaks. I appreciate the de-boning, but I would love to have the skin on. And if you want a healthier version of the thigh, leave the skin and trim out all the fat that I love to leave on.
The only thing I bought semi-ready made was the mini ribs in barbecue sauce. They are these tiny ribs swimming in some delicious barbecue marinate and I get a huge box of them for under four euros. All I neede to do before the dinner was to put them in the oven for 30 minutes and out comes some tasty ribs. Admittedly not a lot of meat on lots of bones, but it was super yummy, very inexpensive and easy to prepare. Summer BBQ time is so great even if I don’t own a grill, cos lots of summer-only products like these ribs were sold everywhere. I do want to someday own a grill, cos I love barbecue food.
Like I said, I went crazy with the sides. I myself love side dishes, for me they aren’t the extras in the movie set, they need to be maybe even better than the mains. I love baked veggies, with simple seasoning like some dried thyme, dried garlic and some salt and olive oil on top, they can be very tasty on their own. Asparagus ran out from both supermarkets I visited cos it is the BBQ season. So instead I got me some broccolinis, seasoned them like I did with the carrots and sprinkled some parmesan cheese flakes on top for the extra umph. I boiled some potatoes too, mashed half of them (cos my dad loves mashed potato) and melted some butter with chives as a sauce. And then beets, they are one of my favorite veggies cos they are tasty and healthy and their color is out-of-this-world stunning. I used the same seasoning as my other baked veggies but I also drizzled some honey on top before putting them in the oven. They turned out sweet and delicious. I need to make some beet smoothie soon. And then finally, another of my favorite side dish, bacon wrapped jumbo mushrooms. In Finland, especially during summer, they often sell huge mushrooms. I mean gigantic ones, some as big as my fist. I love to wrapped them up in bacon, and put some cream cheese, chopped onion and more cheese on top and baked them in the oven for like 20 minutes. I forgot to buy onion though, so I improvised and chopped up some celery left from making the Waldorf salad. They added some extra crunch and tasty pretty good too. I wouldn’t mind switching from onion to celery from now on for this dish.
I couldn’t help but proudly take a photo of all the hot food when I was done cooking them like 30 minutes before my dad came to pick me up to go to my folk’s house. It took me a long time, but I was pretty proud of myself that I was able to pull it off alone. On the other hand, I think it was because I was by myself, I had a very clear picture in my head about what needed to be done and in what order and not once was I confused. Well, except forgetting to buy onion.
And upon arriving at my parents’ house and putting everything on the table, I had to take another foodie photo. But I only took one, everyone else took like 100 photos. 😀 Everyone enjoyed the food immensely, the pasta leftovers were left at my parents’ house, I got some chicken, ribs and veggies back so my lunches are pretty much covered for the week. 😀 I really had a blast to make such a huge dinner to others to enjoy, cos seeing someone eat and like what I’ve cooked is one of the greatest joys in life in my opinion. For many Chinese people, food is love. To cook for someone is our way to express that we care, and although I grew up in a Western country, I still share the sentiment.
Oh and dessert! Almost forgot that. For dessert, I almost repeated the same thing I made on Mother’s Day brunch. I bought some coconut flavored Greek yogurt, mixed in some fresh pineapple cubes, sprinkled some cookie crumbs and topped it all off with some fresh raspberries. It’s simple, fresh and very delicious. Although I should have left out the cookie crumbs cos it was slightly too sweet for my aunt and I agree with her. Initially I planned this with fresh strawberries and blueberries and those berries were on the sour side so they needed the cookie to sweetened them up. But berries ran out and I was left with super sweet raspberries only, so there you go. Luckily, I don’t mind the sweetness like at all. So guess I have some yummy dessert all to myself for a day or two. 😛