Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Merry Christmas from The Weekend Gourmet!! Plus? My Top 10 Foodie Finds of 2010...

I'm hitting the road for Houston in the morning. I'm so excited to spend Christmas with my family and my husband's family...I won't be back home to post again until Sunday. Which leads to an interesting quandry...I didn't want to go a week between postings. There's just one problem: I haven't cooked a single thing since the white chocolate fudge on Sunday. Zip....nada...nothing!

The past few nights have been about shopping and wrapping presents. We've been on-the-go taking care of business, so we've eaten out the past two nights -- and I'm heating up tamales that Michael's brother gave us for our dinner tonight. I'll be doing plenty of cooking for Christmas Eve and Christmas celebrations, but that doesn't help me come up with something to post about in here tonight. Time to get resourceful...

I'm going to share my Top 10 Foodie Finds of 2010. These are the foods and kitchen gadgets that I tried for the first time this year and no particular order.

Wendy's Top 10 Foodie Finds for 2010

(1) Vietnamese High-Oil Cinnamon. You may be wondering if there's really a difference between Vietnamese cinnamon and your basic garden-variety cinnamon. I can now say without doubt that Vietnamese cinnamon smells and tastes much stronger than other varieties I've tried. It makes everything you use it for taste that much better, in my opinion. Definitely seek this one out and give it a try!

(2) OXO Good Grips Angled Measuring Cup (4-cup). Michael bought one for me last year, and I LOVE IT!! This measuring cup eliminates the need to hold your measuring cup in front of you to make sure your angles are precise. Instead, you look down into the cup. It saves me so much time as I cook.

(3) Garlic Confit. I read about garlic confit in the ad hoc at home cookbook that Michael bought me for my birthday in July. It was one of the first recipes I posted in this blog when I started it in August. Two ingredients: garlic cloves + simple canola oil = an amazing end result. The flavored oil is so versatile. The garlic cloves can be pureed and used in soups or mashed potatoes, and the oil is great in dressings. It also makes a great bread dipper!

(4) Silicone Muffin Pan. I've always been curious about baking with silicone pans, and I bought my first one last weekend. I've only used it to make my white chocolate fudge last weekend, but I'm already sold! It releases easily, and it's a breeze to clean up! I can't wait to make some muffins in it after the holiday hustle and bustle is over...

(5) Pomegranate Arils. Until I hosted my POM Wonderful Dinner Party last month, I had never eaten a pomegranate in my life. I'm now officially a pomegranate lover. The juice tastes amazing and is super-healthy, but the seeds (or arils) are a great cooking ingredient as well. I especially love them in salads -- they add a nice sweet-and-sour crunch!!

(6) Pomegranate Molasses. The "theme ingredient" for my POM Wonderful Dinner Party was pomegranate molasses, which is a snap to make at home. All you need is 4 cups of pom juice, 1 cup of sugar, and the juice of a lemon. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for until it's reduced and thick...about an hour. I used it to make a vinaigrette, to glaze roasted sweet potatoes, and as an ingredient in a pomegranate-white chocolate buttercream. It's tangy and just a touch sweet. 

(7) Whipped Brie.'s exactly what it sounds like. Another fantastic find from Thomas Keller's ad hoc at home cookbook. Simply remove the rind from a wedge of creamy brie. Put in your Kitchen Aid fitted with the paddle attachment. Start slow to get it going, then turn the speed to medium-high and whip for five minutes. What you end up with is brie that's doubled in volume and is light and fluffy...with the essence of brie flavor! It's great served with toasted slices of baguette with a salad. 

(8) Mojo de Ajo. This is essentially garlic confit's Mexican cousin. Garlic, olive oil, red pepper flakes, and some lime juice are slowly cooked in the oven until the flavors combine into something that can only be called sublime!! It keeps in the fridge for a week or two and can be used to flavor rice or a lovely garlic-infused vinaigrette. My favorite way to use Rick Bayless's "liquid gold" is to make Shrimp in Mojo de Ajo.

(9) Moroccan Spices. I had never cooked with Moroccan spices until recently. Now it's one of my favorite flavor profiles! The exotic flavor combination smells great and adds a sultry flavor to whatever you use it in. The spice mix I made was a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, paprika, turmeric, cayenne, coriander, cumin, ginger, and salt. This spice combo is great on grilled chicken or fish.

(10) Homemade Caramel Sauce. Jacob from the fabulous blog Jacob's Kitchen shared a recipe for the most AMAZING homemade caramel sauce this summer. I made a batch over Labor Day weekend and was surprised at how easy this tasty treat was to whip up at home...and it's way cheaper than buying gloopy jarred caramel sauce at the grocery store!! I used it as one component of a delicious Bananas Foster Sundae.

There you have favorite new foodie finds for the past year. I can hardly wait to see what 2011 has in store for me in the kitchen! I started this blog in August on a lark...and it's steadily grown into something that I'm very proud of. My photography is slowly improving with practice, and I feel like I'm starting to find my "voice" as I write more posts.

I've made so many wonderful friends in the food blog community the past few months...I enjoy reading your blogs and am constantly amazed at how creative y'all are!! I wish you and your families a wonderful Christmas -- one filled with love, joy...and lots of yummy goodies!! I'll be back on Sunday with a blog post featuring Creole bread pudding with whiskey contribution to our Christmas meal. 


  1. Great picks. Merry Xmas and a great New Year. Have a safe trip!

  2. i love your list... it reminded me that i need to ask santa for some silicone muffin pans!

  3. Oh my word Whipped Brie sounds INCREDIBLE! What a great list you put together. I love how a low of the foodie finds are so different.

  4. Ok I have no idea why my computer changed the word a lot to low?!! Lol

    I meant to say I love how a lot of the foodie finds are so different :)

  5. After we talked about cinnamon the other day I read further in the herb book you gave me for xmas a few years ago. Apparently what we buy in the states is often cassia and not cinnamon at all...There's not a distinction law in some european countries there is! I'll be interested to try this cinnamon which I trust you threw into my goodie bag!;} Have fun in Houston and give my love to the Garcias one and all! (i already told mom and dad that i love them and I'm sure I'll talk to you on xmas eve of day!)

  6. Love the variety of your picks. I must say that I love the OXO measuring cups - I use them all the time. Happy Holidays!!

  7. Everything you posted is something that I love! Have a safe trip and enjoy your holidays!

  8. Excellent choices Wendy! Don't you just love those measuring cups? I have a full set, 1 cup, 2 cup and numerous 1/4 cups. Use them every day!

    Have a wonderful and safe trip. We wish you a beautiful Christmas filled with treats and treasures. I am so happy to have "met" you this year.

    Your Truffles are up in our kitchen today!! Can't wait!

  9. Hi Wendy-Love your gadget choices.
    Wishing you and yours, a joyous Christmas, and a safe and Happy New Year!

  10. I have to try that caramel sauce! I have been looking for a good and easy recipe for over a year! I hope you and your family have a bright and joyful Christmas. I’m thankful that I found you…your recipes, words and sweet comments bring me so much joy. Many blessings!

  11. oh yum! that caramel sauce looks to die for... thanks for sharing this. and hope you have a lovely holiday:)

  12. I also love my Silicone Muffin Pan, I use it for my Tarts and Mini Pies. I love it and think its fabulous too come by and visit me, maybe you will get inspired. I know i am getting inspired by your site.

  13. I'm sorry, but my brain completely froze on the phrase "whipped brie." That sounds just plain awesome!

  14. I have tried 3 of you favorites, poegranate arils, vietnamese cinnamon, and whipped brie. I made a layered whipped brie pomegranate appetizer which was wonderful. I 've made it twice now. I love the Vietnamese cinnamon, a much deeper flavor for all of the cinnamon lovers like me:)


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