A new look at cooking and home decorating...with an attempt to add more greens to the plate, more vegetarian options & hopefully lots of new ideas to explore

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Post Thanksgiving

When people ask me how Thanksgiving was this year I immediately think how different, yet oddly the same it was from every other year. I spent thanksgiving at my parent’s country home. We all noticed how my mom seemed to not be doing so well. The chemo drugs and cancer have taken a toll. I think my mother is cut from a different cloth; perhaps it is a generational thing. All I know, is that if I were feeling as ill as she clearly dose I would close myself in a room and rest. Not mom. She sat on a chair placed smack in the center of the kitchen and directed every move that anyone made in the for the Thanksgiving preparations.

After the meal I asked her why she wouldn’t let anyone else carve the turkey since she can barely stand, she replied, “Because no one else can do it right.” I have been using Bobby Flays method of carving the turkey – where you lop off the entire breast then carve a chunk for everyone with a piece of the skin. I think I learned this from Bobby first show Boy Meats Grill. My mom doesn’t like that method, she prefers paper-thin slices.

I have spent the past few days busying myself in the kitchen. I have made Quiche, and Beef Bourguigon and homemade French fries. The Bourguignon turned out fantastic and I was pleasantly surprised by the Quiche (mostly because my kids loved it and ate it like pizza). The French fries were ok, but I was lazy and didn’t use my deep fryer. I think the pan just didn’t get hot enough, next time I will drag out the fryer. We also made blueberry scones.

I have been thinking a lot about appetizers, and Christmas dinners. I hope to post something a bit later in the week. Daylight and sunny skies seem to have given way to darker days and fewer bright hours with less sunlight. Photographing food in the cold is not enjoyable and the pictures are looking rather horrid. For some posts you may need to rely on imagination.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Roast Turkey

Nothing can replace a turkey on thanksgiving. Turkey meat is relatively inexpensive and which makes it a very viable choice for feeding large crowds. You may want to consider turkey an option for an open house, tree-trimming buffet, or as part of a more lavish banquet. Some people feel turkey can be a bit difficult to deal with because the white meat tends to get dry as the dark meat rises up to a safe temperature- if this worries you simply carve off the entire section of each breast and put the legs and thigh meat back in the oven to finish cooking. *Please note some people love to brine their turkeys- while I sometimes brine chicken parts I find turkey takes up too much room, some kosher birds have been bathed in a salt bath and will help eliminate the whole brining, turkey in your bathtub scenario.

1 Turkey- 12 pounds (remove any packets they have stuffed inside the cavity) and bring the turkey to room temp for 1 hour before cooking
1 recipe for classic stuffing (feel free to use any stuffing you like)
1 stick of unsalted butter, room temp or very soft
½ tablespoon kosher salt
1/8 tablespoon ground pepper
2 red onions, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
1 cup chicken stock

Preheat oven to 350

Take your room turkey and place it in a roasting pan with a v rack. In a small bowl mush the salt and pepper into the butter. Rub the butter all over the bird even underneath the breast skin, coating the breast meat with a good layer of butter. Stuff the bird with stuffing (any extra may be baked in a separated dish until warm). Add the sliced onions to the bottom of the roasting dish as well as the chicken stock. Cover loosely with aluminum foil. After 1 hour remove foil. Continue to cook until the breast meat is 165-170 and the dark meat is 175-180. (As I said I often pull the bird out when breast meat is 165 and cut off the two large chunks of breast meat then place the legs and stuffing back in the oven to continue cooking until the juices run clear). Total cooking estimated cooking time for a 12-pound bird would be 2 ½ to 3 hours.
Serve with simple pan gravy.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Classic Stuffing

1.9 oz rustic bread (or 1 medium size round loaf), cut into a large dice, approx 1”
1 stick butter
1/3 cup olive oil
2 shallots, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
5-6 sage leaves, minced
1 small sprig rosemary, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup white wine

In a large 14” skillet (I am using non stick) melt butter and add olive oil. Once the butter has melted add in the shallots and cook shallots over medium heat for about 3 minutes or until transparent. Add in the sage, rosemary, salt, pepper and white wine. Cook for 1 more minute or less then add in the bread cubes. Turn heat to high, and toss and cook the bread until it is thoroughly coated with butter/oil, once coated allow the mixture to cool down a bit before stuffing the bird.

Please note- this will stuff a 12-pound turkey with about 3 cups of extra stuffing- the leftover stuffing can be warmed in an oven and served separately.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Cranberry Sauce

A designer who worked for me gave me this recipe. He came from the mid west and was home schooled by his mom. This cranberry sauce has become a favorite at our thanksgiving table.

2 bags fresh cranberries, picked over and stems removed
1 large apple, peeled and cut into a 1/4” dice
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ cup Grand Marnier
Zest of 1 orange (fine zest)
Dash of nutmeg

Place all of the ingredients in a saucepan (I like to use non stick for this) and cook on medium high heat for about 10-15 minutes or until at least ¾ of the cranberries have burst. Stir often while cooking. You can make this ahead it keeps well.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts with toasted hazelnuts

2 container of Brussels sprouts- 10 oz each
2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 cup whole hazelnuts, with skin
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 425

Slice off the very end (brownish part) of the stem on each sprout. Remove any tough or discolored outer leaves. Slice the Sprouts lengthwise in quarters. Place the Brussels sprouts onto a baking sheet and drizzle on the olive oil. Sprinkle on the salt and pepper then toss the mixture together. Place in oven for 25 minutes tossing the mixture once or twice during cooking.

To toast the hazelnuts or filberts- Place them on a baking sheet and toast in toaster oven (or in a skillet) until fragrant. Once cooled the outer layer of the filberts will fall off with just the slightest touch. It is not necessary to remove the entire outer layer – a little left on looks pretty.

Toss the filberts in with the cooked Brussels sprouts and serve.


I am looking forward to the week ahead. Soon we will all be celebrating Thanksgiving. Most people have wonderful memories of Norman Rockwell-ish Thanksgivings. Memories that include huge roast birds, cranberry sauce, fall vegetables and pie. Love these items or hate them, they are part of our lives every year so the easiest path is simply embracing them. I enjoy to the crispy skin of the turkey, and the huge turkey carcass with which I make stock after the meal. Lace tablecloths and Grandmas fine china grace just about every home in America for one huge celebration and we may as well enjoy the feast.

Many cooks will try to alter the dinner with fancy sauces and exotic spice rubs. To be frank, as fun as it is to try out a few new recipes each year, people really seem to enjoy the simplistic nature of this holiday. Nobody wants duck in place of turkey on thanksgiving. I plan to post a few recipes that I hope you will try. All recipes simple enough that even grandma or grandpa (hopefully) will not realize that you have added a little extra spice or seasoning here or there!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Apple Butter (slow cooker)

4 pounds McIntosh/Red Delicious apples, Quartered- leave skin, stems and core on the apple)
2 ¼ cups apple cider
4 cups sugar
2 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon allspice

In a large heavy saucepan or Dutch oven (at least 5 quart) combine the apples and the cider. Simmer, semi covered on med heat for 30 minutes until the apples are tender. Stir occasionally. Turn off heat and allow time for the apples to cool, and then pass mixture into a mixing bowl, through a food mill or a strainer (do not use too fine a strainer if you do nothing will pass through). What will come through the food mill into your mixing bowl will look much like applesauce.

Place the apple mixture into a croc pot/slow cooker. Add in the sugar, cinnamon, cloves and allspice. Set heat to high and cook for 4- 41/2 hours. Stir one or twice during cooking. Mixture should look thickened. Place into Tupperware or pretty glass jars. Once the mixture has come to room temperature put it into your refrigerator. It will continue to set and thicken as it cools.
This apple butter is great on toast or even as a filling in tarts and pastry.