Sunday, October 18, 2009

it's the most wonderful time of the year

Well, ladies and gentlemen, today I sat down and planned out my Thanksgiving menu, and started on the incredibly complicated process of figuring out exactly how I'm going to manage cooking a FULL Thanksgiving feast as well as preparing for Brandon's birthday party. (Brandon's birthday falls on Thanksgiving this year, and due to a series of odd circumstances, his party is most likely going to be the next day, rather than the weekend before as I originally wanted.)

I'm trying a couple of new recipes this year, as well as roasting the turkey (we normally fry, but can't this year because we don't have a yard!), and putting together both Brandon's enormous Gravedigger cake, and a smaller one for the family to eat on his actual birthday. I tried to figure out the order in which to do it all on a piece of paper like I usually do, but it quickly got too complicated. So I wrote out (a summarized version of) each step of each recipe on individual index cards, which are now in order, in a pile about 2 inches high. I am sure I will be tweaking the order for the next several weeks.

I also just did one of my favorite things to do when preparing for a big cooking event: I made my Master Ingredient List. I go through every recipe I'm going to make, and write down every ingredient, along with the amounts required. Then I go back and add them all up. I divide this list into 3 or 4 weeks worth of shopping lists. It's an excellent way to make absolutely certain that you have enough of everything.

Adding an admittedly-too-large birthday cake into the mix really bumps up the amount of certain ingredients that you need. For instance, I'm carving Gravedigger out of 1 1/2 9x13 sheet cakes (and a cake baked in the bottom 2 inches of a loaf pan), with the 1/2 of a sheet cake that will be left over used for the small family cake. Unless my figuring is way off, that's 4 boxes of cake mix. Since I do the "add a box of pudding and an extra egg" variation to make it firmer, that's 2 large boxes of pudding (or 4 small) and 16 eggs. SIXTEEN. And two cups of canola oil. That's just for the cake. Not to mention the 2 cups of crisco, 4 sticks of butter and 4 pounds of powdered sugar for the double batch of buttercream. And the pound of chocolate and 2 cups of heavy cream for the ganache filling - and to tell you the truth, I'm not 100% certain that will be enough.

Again, that's just for the cake. (Which of course I will be baking in advance - as soon as the turkey moves from the freezer to the fridge, the cakes will be taking its place! But like I said, I spread the shopping out over a whole month, so I have to include the cake ingredients in the master list.)

So without further ado, here are some highlights from this year's Master Ingredient List:

  • 10 1/2 cups of chicken broth (I make Emeril's green bean casserole, which involves making the mushroom soup from scratch. You end up with a lot of extra soup, and it is DIVINE.)
  • about 5 tbsp of salt (recipes from Bon Appetit call for coarse kosher salt, ones from Clean Eating call for sea salt - I'll probably just use sea salt for all of it since I have some nice Maui sea salt in my pantry)
  • 3 1/4 cups of half & half
  • 10 sticks of butter
  • 5 1/2 cups of sugar (much less than usual, since I'm not making the cakes from scratch this year)
  • 5 envelopes of gelatin
  • 7 3/4 cups heavy cream
  • 5 cups whole milk
  • 35 eggs
Yes, that's 10 sticks of butter, almost 8 cups of cream, 5 cups of whole milk and over 3 cups of half & half. That's a lot of butterfat. Paula Deen would be proud, I'm sure.

No comments: