Monday, January 19, 2009

Comfort Food

Saturday evening was our 2nd Christmas. No, this is not a new holiday persay, but we pulled names on my husband's side of the family and we didn't all spend Christmas together so some people (myself included) didn't get their gift.

No big deal to me, but Trevor's mom pulled together a really nice meal (with Devin also cooking) and it was a nice excuse to get together. If not for holidays I don't know when I'd see some of Trevor's extended family members. People are busy. Life happens, but it's nice to see one another.

I made a pecan crusted pumpkin pie, an eclair cake, green tea ice cream and cranberry muffins. I did not bring the muffins; I simply wanted something to munch on in the mornings and my oven was already hot from baking. Pumpkin pie is something I have a love hate relationship with. I love the fragrant spices. I love the velvety texture of custard pies, but something about pumpkin pie is a little too mushy so I can't commit to eating a whole pie by myself. You might ask why I would ever eat a whole pie by myself but Trevor doesn't like sweets that much and if I made a pie I'd honestly have to eat the whole thing. So to offset the mush-factor I added pecans on top to add some crunch. I've seen recipes where they add crushed almonds right into the crust to add depth of flavor and texture, but I didn't have enough almonds for such an experiment. Perhaps another time.

Eclair cake was more Trevor's vote. I mentioned it in passing and he thought I should make it. It's pretty much a gigantic cream puff where you spread your dough out into a cake pan instead of making individual puffs. So it forms a gigantic puff and you push it down and spread your vanilla cream filling on top. I had enough dough for two gigantic puffs so I sandwiched my vanilla cream (which I added cream cheese into to make it sturdy instead of runny) and then drizzled chocolate sauce and whipped topping on.

It wasn't as pretty as I thought it would be, but it more or less created a big eclair.
I think individual cream puffs are better, but in terms of ease this was quite straightforward. And assembling it at the last minute right before serving was way easier than filling each and every puff at the last minute. I really need to work on my pastry bag skills because I'm sure THAT would make it faster but I always make a huge mess.

And I like talking to my mother-in-law. She's always busy so I don't see her that often but I think it's nice to have someone other than my own mother to speak to. My own mother is highly opinionated, constantly overfeeds me and talks to me about new recipes but let's face the fact that that's what I've grown to become. lol So it's nice to have another female figure to chat with.

I had today off from work for the first time in...forever? I've never had Martin Luther King Jr. Day off outside of school. Obviously when you're in school you have pretty much every holiday off. But due to Christmas falling on a weekend anyway this year they gave us MLK day so over the course of the year we'd have an equivalent number of paid days off as we have in past years. I spent the day having a long lunch with my husband at a Japanese Noodle place in Hartford called Tanuki Noodle. It was nice. I wasn't crazy about their pork, which was definitely not roasted (which it traditionally is) and it wasn't freshly boiled either because it didn't have the right bite or aroma, but everything else was good. Next time I might ask them to sub out their pork with something else but the noodles and the soup were yummy. And they even had plastic food in the front entrance like they have in Japan. None of the servers were Asian which threw me off a bit, but I guess they're going for a different modern, upscale vibe.

In any case I think it was nice and it'd be good to go back and try the few other dishes they have. The entire menu is one page front and back and most of it involves the option of adding extra meat, noodles or whatever for a few bucks more. I had the Kimchi ramen and it was mighty tasty if you like kim chi, which I totally do. Coincidentally my mom made some home-made kim chi and later gave me a small jar to eat shortly thereafter, as though to fully satiate my hunger for spicy pungent pickled cabbage. Trevor is not a fan and instead had the miso ramen. Ramen of course not being equivalent to what we think of as "cup o'noodles" fare. This ramen is the grandfather of ramen; before ramen came in little styrofoam cups ramen was legitamate home made thin noodles in an aromatic soup base. And in the same way that some Chef Boyardee could never beat a real bowl of authentic pasta with aromatic tomato sauce and basil, the same is true of ramen.

Real honest to goodness ramen is a Chinese invention, but as anyone who knows Trevor knows, the man is obsessed with all things Japanese so naturally we had to have Japanese ramen. Even though he's quite un-Japanese, his comfort food is Japanese food. It could be worse; most people tend to run for really unhealthy comfort food like mac & cheese, or fried chicken, or an entire gallon of ice cream. Predictably my comfort food is Vietnamese food. Nothing in particular; but if it has some nuoc mam pha on it I tend to enjoy it. Ironically Trevor can't stand the smell of it and I typically eat it all alone or at my parents house so he doesn't make his stinky face at me.