Holiday feasts Part 1

Feeding the troops for the New Year’s LAN party teaches you a few things: patience, planning ahead, and preparing more food for unexpected guests. And…last minute improvisation.

I went with a turkey (Kroger brand again), this time a 17-pounder. Luckily, it barely fit in the brining pot, but it displaced a lot more liquid than my Thanksgiving turkeys. Two things that I observed with the New Year turkey was the milder flavor and the white meat seemed less moist. The reasons were obvious: too much ice water diluted the brine, the turkey had only brined for 12 hours and the breast was not facing down while brining. Let that be a lesson!

Three of my recipes for the weekend worked out reasonably well. The first covered here today was a vegetarian dish of bok choy and chinese mushrooms.

1-2lbs green bok choy, halved and separated
dried chinese mushrooms, rehydrated and stemmed
chopped garlic
peanut oil
medium sweet soy sauce
corn starch

Normally I would choose the baby bok choy for being smaller and tender, but the asian market was out. Also, I didn’t measure how much mushrooms I put in the recipe, I simply plucked a handful of mushrooms from a pile that I had rinsed and de-stemmed.

In hot peanut oil, I lightly browned strips of ginger and chopped garlic, then added the mushrooms to absorb the flavors. I suppose if I had chopped the mushrooms into strips, they might’ve soaked up the flavors faster. The mixture sauteed for about 10 minutes before I added the bok choy leaves. I covered the pan to help steam the bok choy without turning it limp and watery. Finally, I mixed a tablespoon of cornstarch into a small bowl of soy sauce and water, then threw it into the pan to thicken slightly. When the sauce thickened, I added some more water. If it got diluted, I just added some more soy. Within 15-20 mins, I took it off the pan and served it in a glass dish. Tasty!

More adventures in cooking coming up!