Christmas Peking Duck: When no traditions lead to new traditions…

Peking duck, steamed buns and accompaniments

Peking duck, steamed buns and accompaniments

Usually there are many traditions that I look forward to at Christmas. There’s the smorgasbord my family puts out on Christmas Eve where I double up on the potato sausage and avoid the pickled herring. There’s deciphering my grandma’s occasionally evil gifts (sometimes she makes us translate Swedish or sends us on treasure hunts) and seeing who found the almond in the rice pudding, earning themselves a year of good luck.

This year, with the way the calendar worked out, it made more sense for me to visit my family the weekend before Christmas. On Sunday afternoon we set up the smorgasbord — loaded up with all of my favorites — and opened our gifts to each other. There were Christmas cookies, card games, my mom’s cranberry bread and plenty of wine. It was lovely.

And when it was over, it felt like Christmas was over — even though it was only Dec. 22.

With family and traditions over with, my husband and I spent our first Christmas ever home alone. Deciding to make the best of it, we thought we’d take a less traditional route to our Christmas dinner: honey glazed Peking duck, steamed buns and roasted pork belly.

After all no matter where you are and who you’re with, good food is a must for any holiday.

We started the process by air-drying our pekin duck for two days. (note: Pekin duck is a breed, Peking duck is a dish.) Basically this means we left it unwrapped on a rack in our fridge for a few days. This dries out the moisture in the skin allowing for more crispy goodness — the best part of any duck.

Air-dried pekin duck

Air-dried pekin duck

Next we brushed the inside and outside of the duck with a glaze of honey, soy, ginger, five-spice and Mandarin orange juice.

Brushing on the glaze

Brushing on the glaze

We let the duck come to room temperature for a few hours before putting it in the oven. It roasted for an hour or so, getting a fresh coat of glaze every fifteen minutes until it looked like this:

Continue reading

Pork Belly Steamed Buns: A very Momofuku Thanksgiving

Pork Belly Steam Bun for Thanksgiving

A different kind of Thanksgiving!

In a few recent posts, I’ve mentioned that my husband and I went a less than traditional route this Thanksgiving. Instead of the usual turkey and stuffing combo, we decided to make a variety of our favorite Asian dishes instead. We still had a turkey to cook, but I bought a pork belly too so we could do something more exciting.

Here’s a preview of (a bit of) the spread we put out:

IMG_7338

Steamed Buns, Pickled Veggies, Butter Lettuce and Pork Belly

We started with a batch of scallion pancakes, then moved into turkey yakitori meatballs. To do the meatballs, we removed the dark meat from our bird and ground it. We seasoned the meat with minced garlic, ginger and shallot, rolled the mixture into balls and chilled it until it was able to stay on the skewers. My husband totally gets props for lighting our charcoal grill in the cold just to cook off twenty meatballs. That, my friends, is true dedication. And his balls were very, very tasty. *Ahem.

I only got two pictures because I was too busy stuffing my face:

Turkey Yakitori

IMG_7343

Turkey Yakitori

Continue reading

The midnight torta comes home for brunch…

I’d like to introduce you to a friend of mine.

If your mouth didn’t immediately water upon seeing that picture, I’m not so sure we can ever be friends…

That was harsh I know, but it’s how I feel. It’s been more than a year since I was eating this delicious sandwich and honestly, I can’t believe it’s been 12 months since it was in my mouth. It kind of makes me want to cry, because simply put, this is one of the best (and easiest) brunch dishes I have ever eaten.

Here’s the back story to my love affair: I spotted the ‘Midnight Torta’ in an issue of Food & Wine and was immediately obsessed with it. It was constantly at the front of my “must make” stack of recipes, yet it kept being pushed aside because I never seemed to have all of the ingredients, particularly the main one — the torta rolls. And yet I couldn’t let go. I was determined to one day make this glorious-looking sandwich, especially since it is so named because it’s the perfect thing to eat after a night out drinking.

Continue reading