Sunday, November 30, 2008
4 meats and 3 stuffings later...Thanksgiving 08 was a success; although going into it you may not have guessed it. (see Turducken - A Thanksgiving Story)
The results were astonishingly good; seriously tasty and completely worth it. In the post Turducken- Part Deux I explained the process- so in this post I'll just offer the stuffing recipes I created. You could also use these by themselves, should you decide to just roast a simple chicken rather than the meaty breasted beast; in which you will probably want to double the recipes. If you are going to make the stuffings- make them ahead of time and store in the refrigerator (you can't stuff a cold bird with a hot stuffing.) Don't add any bread until just before stuffing. Good Luck!
Spinach Mushroom Stuffing for the chicken
Sautee about 10 minutes (the mushrooms are going to give out a lot of moisture, cook until most of the moisture is gone from the pan
4 Tbls butter
1 package of button mushrooms, sliced
1 package of crimini mushrooms, sliced
fresh ground black pepper
Add and sautee until softening:
1 1/2 cup white and red onions, chopped
1 1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/2 pepper (yellow) chopped
add and sautee until the spinach begins to wilt
4 cloves of chopped garlic
1 tbls fresh chopped sage
2 tbls fresh chopped thyme
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
4 cups of spinach
Season with salt and pepper; stuff or bake.
Apple Cherry Stuffing for the duck
Sautee in olive oil until beginning to soften
1 cup celery, chopped
1 1/2 cups onions (white and red) chopped
1 cup yellow (or orange or red) peppers chopped
add and continue to sautee for a few minutes
2 red apples, 1 green apple, chopped
3/4 cup dried cherries or cherry craisins
1/4 cup pomegranate balsamic vinegar (optional)
1/4 cup chopped fresh tarragon
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
broth if needed to moisten
Either stuff or bake in oven. You can round this one out with a few extra cups of bread crumbs or croutons and a bit of broth, but it doesn't need it if you are doing the turducken.
Cornbread Sausage Stuffing for the turkey
Sautee in 2 tbls butter and 2 tbls olive oil:
2 cups onions chopped (both red and white)
add and continue to sautee until softened
2 cups peppers (green or yellow), chopped
2 cups celery, chopped
4 cloves of chopped garlic
1/4 cup chopped fresh Thyme
1/2 cup chopped fresh Sage
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 stick of andouille sausage, chopped
4-6 cups of chopped cornbread (I used the very simple little Jiffy box kind, but add jalepenos, corn and use butter milk.)
roughly 1 cup of broth to moisten and bring it all together.
Stuff or bake
Friday, November 28, 2008
If you haven't read Turducken - A Thanksgiving Story, and Turducken - Part Deux, you might want to start there first.
No time update the story today, but I did want to get some of the photos uploaded. Take a look- enjoy, and come back the the rest of the story!
I will tell you everything was fabulous!
I'm back to finally do a little updating on this process. First I need to send out props to my dad. The weekend prior to 'the event', Dad gave me lessons on how to debone the birds. It was pretty funny- a bunch of the nieces and nephews were watching this process. We each had our chicken on a cutting board in front of us and the kids were on the other side of the counter. They were a good audience (all between 4 and 8), oohing and aahing, and shrieking all when appropriate. How funny did they think they were, when at the end they announced that mine did not like Dads did! I'm not even sure what they were talking about! Crazy, silly kids talkin' nonsence!
Based on all the research I did; I had planned on cooking this meaty breasted beast for about 10 hours. My oven cooks slow- so I bumped up the temperature to 250, instead of 190. We had just returned from the airport (picking up Aaron and Alina), and the bird was done! In fact, I could have taken it out half an our early. So 6 1/2 to 7 hours is all it took. It is important to drain the fat out once in a while during the cooking process so the bottom of the turkey doesn't fry! And you need to let that puppy rest for about an hour before cutting into it too.
The various stuffings really made a difference! The flavors all melded well together as well as stood on their own. The left overs were as good as the entire experience!
Thursday, November 27, 2008
The alarm went off at 5:50. I hit snooze.
Dave's favorite phrase is: "There's a 6 AM (emphasis on the A.M?) ???!!?"
Yes, there is and this morning we watched the sunrise as we stuffed the turducken. We were right on schedule....until I accidentally melted the butter. Now we have to wait the for the butter to cool and harden (its goes under the skin). So the saga continues!
Stay tuned for the rest of the story and more photos (and recipes) - we are going back to bed!
Back up after the nap, I didn't really fall back asleep, I kept having visions of the oven on fire from all the fat! As you see I posted photos, this is one meaty breasted beast! It was actually fun, but I do suggest having a strong man on had to help push it all together. It was like when you pack 20lbs of cloths in a 10lb bag and you're taking turns sitting on the suitcase. Or, like when you have to lay on the bed while your friend tries to zip up your pants! (can you guess whose analogy was whose??!)
The process: lay down the deboned turkey- notice we left the wings and thighs in place. Season and now layer on your stuffing (for the turkey, I made the cornbread -andouille sausage stuffing). Take your duck and lay it out on top of the turkey and stuffing, season and add stuffing (I made the apple cherry for the duck). Now do the same with the chicken (here I made the mushroom spinich stuffing.)
That's the easy part! Now, have 3 metal skewers and and the kitchen string ready. Take the edges of the chicken breast, pull them together and skewer through them like you were trying to sew it up. Got that? It starts getting harder. Now do the same with the duck. and then the ...ha ha ha ... turkey! Good luck with that. This is were the muscle comes in! Look at the photo above- that thing is not coming together. Use your forearms, start with some string and keep working it. You're gonna get real close with your turkey.
Once that's done, now just tie it all up- season the outside, add butter under the skin if you can (this proved impossible) and drop it in a pan and then the oven.
Wash every counter and utensil in the kitchen.
It took up the entire oven!! Temperature wise - I did 500 degrees for 15 minutes, then 250 for what I think will be about 10 hours. What could go wrong?
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
I was on the beach playing volleyball- so it had to be summer still- maybe August? Aaron and Alina called: "we are coming for Thanksgiving, and two words for you - Turducken!" It's technically only one word, but I saw no point in correcting them because I was too busy responding: "O.K., sure."
Nope, I have not attempted this before.
As a a Project Manager and serious foodie/previous restaurant owner- this does not scare me in the least. I also realize going into this that there are bound to be some problems. If a PM ever tells you that they expect a project to be simple and follow the project plan; or if they tell you they had an engagement actually followe a plan- cry bullshit! They are a bold faced liar. What makes a good PM is being able to roll with the changes in a schedule; to be nimble in the face of adversity.
The week before T-day, I made a project schedule and started creating a few recipes in my head. It's Dave's birthday the day before on top of the Holiday, so add a cake to the schedule. Aaron and Alina will be arriving mid-day on Thursday so work in an airport trip and according the schedule, the turducken will be nicely roasted by 5pm, about 2 hours after arriving back from the airport.
Had I only known that come Thanksgiving I would have my right arm in a cast, perhaps I would have said no ... I doubt it. I've come to find out that my right arm is my Achilles heel!!
Shopping trip planned for Sunday got pushed to Monday- apparently everyone in Chicago decided to shop on Monday (bastards!). First stop Stanley's - cheap produce that only lasts about two days (cheap does not equate with quality, nor did cheap seem to hold true for the Holiday week pricing!!!) No parsnips. Damn- I'll pick them up at Dominicks.
We make our way to Dominicks, it's cold, we're both starving and it's now sleeting! For the first time I've ever seen at this store there are samples, cracker and cheese samples! Dave and cleaned the poor taster women out of everything; she didn't find us very funny either. Get the shopping done - but, crap, there's no parsnips and they are out of cream! What the hell- now add a third shopping trip to the project plan.
Project plan says make Cranberry Swirled Black Pepper Ice Cream, the marbled chocolate sheets and the cranberry praline garnish. Start this at 9:00 pm... by 9:30pm I've got cream sloshed all over the floor, already burnt a pan of pecans and cut my remaining 'good' hand (it's my left, how good can it really be?) Dave makes me drink, he's a helper monkey! Put the ice cream custard in the fridge along with the cranberry swirl- It's midnight and I give up- I'll finish the rest tomorrow.
Tuesday- lots of early meetings, can only hit the snooze 5 or 6 times this morning rather than they 10 we usually do. Defrost birds, make cornbread (crap, forgot to buy corn!), finish praline and ice cream, premake stuffings and debone birds- the birds that are completely still frozen. New plan, put the birds in cold water, start on the birthday cake. I've decided to make Dave a Malted Milk Ball cake so I need to make a layer of meringue. Shoot- who used the last of the sugar? (clearly this was me, but I stand in the middle of the kitchen asking this question out loud as if by magic new sugar would appear.) Add a fourth shopping trip to the project plan. Okay, I'm a Project Manager I remind myself, I can do this.
Remake the praline, start the sugared cranberries and get the cornbread in the oven (substituted peas for corn- there similar enough aren't they?) add chopped jalepenos and touch finger to eye. Damn! Now run to the store, stop by Binny's Liquor, and back home by 8pm.
Load up the fridge and then realize I forgot to leave room for the turkey, duck and chicken, which were all in the sink defrosting. Dave makes me a drink.
Tackle the meringue first...add the malt powder I talked Ed Debevics Restaurant into giving me ....and whamo- watch the meringues fall. Blast! Ever wonder who you pissed off in a past life?
Now finish the ice cream- doh! I had forgot we took the cylinder part out of the freezer to make room for ice at our last party, so couldn't finish the ice cream. Dave makes me another, stronger drink.
Grated my pinkie finger while trying to maneuver an orange with a cast on - finally give up for the night. Push everything on the schedule to Wednesday.
The malted cake sunk. Smash it into glass dish...volia! It's a deep dish malted milk ball cake.
Where's Dave with my drink?
Here's a few photos- I've gotta get back to kitchen because right now I only have the cake and the sugared cranberries complete. My arm hurts.
Back at it, I chop all the veggies needed for the three stuffings for the turducken. Chat with Dave on IM- he'll be home in a few hours; we are supposed to go out for his birthday so I've got to finish everything by the time he gets here. I can do this.........why isn't the sink draining? The garbage disposal seems to work- but why is there standing water in the sink??? Call building maintenance- can't fix it; gotta call the plumbers. By the time they get here it will be 5:00 pm the night before Thanksgiving- that can only mean one thing- Holiday pricing!! Call Dave, he's not amused. I really hope that cake I made is the best cake he's ever tasted...
Fast forward 6 hours- the sink is fixed, the birds are deboned, and it really was the best cake I've ever made Dave, thankfully since we didn't make it out for his birthday! But he was excited with his cake and present (soon he'll be sporting a utilitkilt!) Somehow, things always always work out in the end. I may be skipping out on making the bread sticks, but I did manage to make two dips and get the crudite cut. The birds are deboned, Dave did the turkey and I did the duck and chicken. Now all we need to do is get up at at 6am, finalize the stuffings, stuff the three birds, sew it up and get it in the oven... how hard can that be?
It sounds like this all has been a disaster, and while it has not gone as planned, the measure of any good cook/Project Manager is adaptation- not sure I can adapt any more than I already have!!!! But I wouldn't change any of it; it feels good, like the old days at at the restaurant. My feet hurt, my arm hurts and my back hurts... but there is some really great food in the fridge and I can't wait to serve it tomorrow and to see Aaron and Alina!
The turducken story continues, part two
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Cast countdown: 1 week.
It is when I do seemingly futile efforts like these which has historically prompted my parents to say "You're doing too much." Why on earth would I attempt to make buns from scratch with one arm in a cast? I had a craving for them and I clearly like to test my limits.
Much to the chagrin of many- the buns came out great, not the best batch ever, but still better than store bought!
These buns are super fabulous just by themselves, rewarmed in the oven, with a little butter on them. Jam too! Try them as a side to a salad or a soup. I freeze them in ziploc bags and take them out as needed. They defrost quick- just don't microwave them.
The recipe is one that's been handed down through the family; but let me tell you, that actual recipe card has nothing more than the basic ingredients on it- it really is a learned thing. By trial and error, you come to your own hand. Below is my version- I will update this on occasion as I tweak. The last batch I made into mini buns- so size to your needs. Being fat and happy is eating one of these warm buns!
2 cups of warm water
add 2 envelopes of yeast, let foam
then add: (its going to seem like the crisco will never mix in- but it will when you start kneading it!
1 beaten egg
2 tsp salt
1/2 cup crisco (hard)
1/2 cup sugar
4-6 cups flour (may need more or less- this is the hard part, you need to just feel it out)
Knead about 10 minutes, dough will be slightly sticky
place in an oiled bowl, top with plastic wrap and cover with a dish towel. Place in a warm spot. Let rise 1 1/2 hours until it gets twice in size. Punch down, and rise again.
Then form into balls, for mini buns, make them about the size of a golf ball, size of a cue ball for larger hamburger type buns. Just be sure to size each consistently for even baking. Place on a cookie sheet and cover for the final rise. Bake at 350 degrees until they are golden brown; the time will vary on the the size of the buns.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
There is a marvelous tapas restaurant in Chicago ( Cafe Ba Ba Reeba). We always get an order of the baked goat cheese, its a little dish of warm goat cheese in a pool of a creamy tomato sauce, and pitchers of sangria! That dish gave me the inspiration for this dish even though its not really similar at all; that and the fact that I just love warm goat cheese! This dish has great wine flavor with little hunks of tomatoes; the addition of chorizo makes this a hearty dish that could act as a side to simple dinner rather than an appetizer. This really is super; just doesn't photograph that well!
Goat Cheese Chorizo Wine Dip
Put 1 stick of chorizo in a sautee pan on medium low to cook, you're going to see a lot of orange/red grease come out of that stick.
Sautee in a large pan, just until they begin to soften (roughly 5 minutes):
1/2 cup chopped onions 1 cup diced onions
with some fresh ground black pepper
add and simmer until sauce begins to thicken (roughly15 minutes):
1/2 bottle dry red wine (always choose a wine you would drink)
1 can diced tomatoes (I used use fire roasted, but it's not necessary)
2 Tbls balsamic vinegar
2 bay leaves
sprig of oregano
1 log goat cheese (10.5 ounces)
1 stick of chorizo (as much as the goat cheese)
Saturday, November 15, 2008
What better way is there to make a salad appealing than to add bacon to it!!? You could call it "Fat and Happy Salad."
Lemony BLT Salad
1 head of butter lettuce (this is a small head of lettuce, but do use whatever lettuce you have- Romaine, leaf, arugula)
1 green onion, chopped
1 roma tomato, seeded and chopped
2-4 slices of bacon, chopped (cooked to your liking)
handful of chopped olives (optional)
Parsley to taste (small handful, chopped)
Toss with the smoky lemon dressing and serve with a biscuit or bread on the side.
Smokey lemon dressing:
1/2 cup of mayo
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup buttermilk (if you don't have any buttermilk, just omit and use 1/2 cup of sour cream)
1 TBLS liquid smoke
juice of 1 lemon, plus lemon zest from half
Fresh ground pepper, lots of it (I probably added 2 tablespoons; grind to your liking, but the more the better as it will play off the lemon!)
Mix all ingredients together using a whisk; if you need to thin it out slightly, add a tablespoon at a time of either buttermilk or water.
This should make more than you need for the above ingredients, store any extra on the fridge for future salads or sandwiches.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
cast count down: 2 1/2 weeks
I may be overusing my arm, so need to stop cooking again for a couple of days, This is a dish I made Dave last Valentines Day and apparently never got around to posting. It's a good thing I jotted down some notes back then!
The mango plays so nice with the green chilies, the bacon and the polenta; and if you read this blog often- you know what a fan of polenta I am!. Honestly- wrap anything in bacon and it's gonna be good!
Bacon wrapped shrimp on polenta with mango-green chili sauce.
Creamy Polenta, as previously prepared.
Wrap each piece in a bacon slice (cut the slice of bacon in half first, and secure with a toothpick if needed)
fry or bake until the bacon is crispy and the shrimp is pink.
Sautee in olive oil
¼ cup white onions, diced
Add 1 small can of green chilis, chopped, reserve juice
Continue to sautee and add
½ mango, diced
Add reserved green chili juice, 2 tablespoons of lime juice and ½ cup white wine.
To plate: place a spoonful of polenta in the middle of a plate or shallow bowl. Add 2 pieces of bacon wrapped shrimp and top with mango sauce and fresh parsley.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Who doesn't love a crunchy snack? Problem is, unless you're chomping on a raw veggie, most crunchy tasty snacks are bad for you- like potato chips. Enter the roasted garbanzo bean, (also known as the chickpea.)
It's a super simple concept, but does take a while to roast these crunchy morsels so plan accordingly. But it's a healthy, high protein snack that cost less than one dollar. I have since made variations using different seasonings, like chili powder and cumin; so play around with these- you can't really go wrong. And think about other ways to eat these besides a snack, like topping salads and hummus or mixing with granola, nuts and m&m's for a healthy gorp mix.
Crispy, Crunchy Garbanzo Bean Snack
1 can of Garbanzo beans
salt and pepper
Open the can of beans, rinse and drain. Spread the chickpeas and spray with Pam (or toss with olive oil). Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven until crispy; I used 250 degrees and it took a couple of hours.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
I created this for a party recently and it was met with a rave reviews. This is a version of a French recipe for caramelized onion tart. Using frozen phyllo dough makes this pretty simple. It is tough with only one hand because the dough needs to be rolled out, and the onions need to be sliced- but if I can make it with one hand in a cast, you can surely make this with two!
A rich tart that makes a super great appetizer or a nice dinner option paired with a simple salad. I made two tarts, the photo is a second one I made in which I used less onions and also added some chorizo and few other random left overs in it- my preference is for the simple bacon and onions one but feel free to try out your own options.
Caramelized Onion Bacon Tart
Makes 2 tarts
Two sheets of phyllo dough, thawed
Chop 6 or so bacon slices into 1 or 2 inch pieces
fry until nearly done (add fresh ground black pepper) (or use prosciutto)
Drain off some of the bacon fat, leaving just enough to sautee the onions
Slice thin and add to bacon pan, sautee for a few minutes, leaving them slightly crisp:
1 large white onion
1/2 small red onion
In a blender (or Cuisinart), mix:
1/2 cup creme fresh
1/2 cup cottage cheese (drain slightly)
2 tbls olive oil
salt and lots of fresh ground black pepper.
You can have the above steps done ahead of time and just assemble before your party for ease.
Roll out your phyllo sheet, use your cookie sheet pan as your guide- so know how wide to make it (length wise it won't be as long or it might get too thin). Take the outside edge and just roll and pinch in about 1/4 inch of dough to form and edge around the tart. Transfer each dough to a seperate sheet pan. Use a fork and poke holes in the base of the dough, to help keep it from bubbling up.
Pour 1/2 of the creme fresh mixture onto each dough. It will seem like it's to runny or too wet for the dough- but trust me, it works. (on my first tart I didn't put enough of this mixture as I wasn't sure if it would all run off- but it sets up as a layer of baked filling, so rich and tastey!)
Top with the onion bacon mixture and bake until the outside crust is brown and puffy. (375 degree for about half an hour.) Serve warm or room temperature.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
2 1/2 weeks to go
With my fingers and wrist becoming more usable, I'm testing my abilities to cook and bake again. The one downfall still is that I don't have the steadiness in my left hand to make the final presentation picture perfect. But the food is still outstanding!
These little dessert cups are downright amazing. My goal was to make a creamy chocolate ganache-like filling, and pair that with a minty gelato....I was choosing a gelato here because I didn't want a real creamy ice cream. I was going for more of a sherbert quality, so that it would consist of little tiny ice crystals; hoping the minty crystal would pair well with the creamy ganache.
Success! This worked out exactly as I strived for. And it's a super fun mini dessert in these little chocolate cups; but feel free to serve in just a bowl. You can also use chocolate ganache as a sauce, either use while still warm before putting in the fridge to cool, or warm later to a runny consistency and pour over the mint gelato (or whatever) like a sauce. I prefer it the original way as I think more of the baileys and kalua flavor come through- but try it both ways and go with your preference. You may find yourself with a spoon in hand just eating directly out of the bowls....just remember to get a new spoon- nobody likes a double dipper!!
Mint Gelato and Baileys Chocolate Dessert Cups
For the chocolate ganache filling:
warm to just below boiling:
1 cup cream
8 oz semisweet chocolate (chopped up to help the melting process)
Stir until chocolate is al melted.
Add and stir:
1/3 cup baileys
1/4 cup Kalua
Place in the refigerator for about half an hour to chill.
Remove from fridge, using a hand held beater, whip the ganache until light and fluffy. (use immediatleyto maintain texture or cover and place in the fridge.)
Fill chocolate cups with a scoop of the ganache and top with a scoop of the mint gelato.
Icy Mint Gelato
Heat to just below boiling, whisk often to be sure the sugar and cornstarch are dissolved:
1 cup cream
1 cup half n half
1 cup skim milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbls corn starch
1 cup (packed) mint leaves
muddle in the pan (use a wooden spoon and press or chop down on the leaves to help release the flavors).
Cool and steep overnight, then strain out the leaves (be sure to push all the tasty milk out of the leaves), pour into your ice cream maker and process as normal. You may find this will not get as thick and creamy, but remember, I made this to be more icy. Perfect by itself on a hot sunny day!
Thursday, November 6, 2008
3 more weeks in the cast... but somehow I managed to create these simply delightful cupcakes. I completely love figs, but can't seem to find decent figs for some reason. So I've been using fig jam a lot- it comes into play again here, with some gorgeous sunflower honey that Alina and Aaron sent me as a strange ingredient.
I turned these into cupcakes, but would make a great fall cake too! The streaks of fig jam caramelize and then the glaze soaks into the cake--mmh mmh! It's like a grown up cupcake!
Fig Honey glazed Spice Cupcakes
2 1/3 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp b powder
1/2 tsp b soda
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground clove
1/2 tsp salt
in Mixer, mix until light and fluffy:
1 1/4 cups sugar
12 tbls butter 1 1/2 sticks) I use unsalted
add one at a time:
mix the sifted flour mix and buttermilk with the sugar/butter; alternating in batches:
3/4 cup plus 2 tbls buttermilk
1/2 cup of fig jam to the mixture; don't overbeat- let the batter have streaks of jam in it.
Fill cupcake molds, or a 9x13 cake or a bunt cake pan (well greased!)
Bake at 350 degrees until a toothpick comes out clean. Check them sooner than you think, as they don't get too dark!
Once out of the oven, warm together (drop in the microwave for 20 seconds or warm on the stove until hot and runny):
3/4 cup fig jam
1/2 cup sunflower honey
Pour over the still hot cupcakes (or cake), this will help the mixture soak into the cakes.
Top with cream cheese frosting if you want.