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Monday, December 29, 2008

Turkey Sweet Potato Soup

This time between Christmas and New Years is a funny time. The holidays aren't quite over yet, but I'm ready to start that resolution about eating better and drinking less! Salads come to mind- but without any lettuce on hand I turn my attention to a veggies.

A sweet potato, a parsnip and a zucchini- toss those with some left over turkey and you've got a nice turkey veggie soup that's slightly different than the norm. Nothing spectacular, just a simple soup that allows the flavors of the veggies to come through.

I was avoiding the carbs, but some nice options in this soup would be the Ditalini pasta (tiny tube-shaped pasta) or rice (wild rice would be super flavorful!) If you have some extra tortillas in the house, that would top this soup well too (cut them into strips, salt and bake them until crispy).

If you can find a few nights to relax at home (a night away from the party), treat your body to a relaxing meal too!

Turkey Sweet Potato Soup

In a slow cooker or pot on the stove, add:

left over turkey, shredded (around 2 cups is what I used)- if you're using fresh turkey, slow cook by itself until nearly complete- then add the rest of the ingredients below.
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 can of black beans, drained
Chicken broth- enough to cover the ingredients, may need to add more once you add the rest of the veggies below.

In the meantime, sautee in olive oil-until onions begin to soften (like 5 minutes):
1/2 cup diced onions (white or yellow)
1 diced parsnip
1 large sweet potato, diced

add and continue to sautee to soften garlic
2 garlic cloves, mashed and chopped
1 zucchini, diced
1 Tbls lime pepper
1 tsp oregano
salt and pepper to taste

Add all ingredients to the pot. Let simmer for at least an hour for the flavors to meld and potatoes are softened- go longer if you have time.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Port Soaked Cherry Shooters (aka chocolate covered cherries)

We were invited to the Lorch's for a Holiday dinner (perfectly cooked beef tenderloins topped with Gorgonzola, in a cranberry, port and rosemary sauce - amazing!) It was a great evening with fabulous food; Dave and I especially loved the 30 year old port.

Our contribution was dessert. I wasn't really sure what I was making yet but there was a port theme to the night- so I started with sauteeing some frozen cherries, first with a few tablespoons of water and sugar and then with a Zinfandel port. This past summer I froze a bag of fresh cherries for just such an occasion. The port I used was a fabulous little bottle that our friend Heather introduced us to; she had found this special item in Napa at Elyse Winery and it appears that was our last opportunity to enjoy this. The deep berry flavors with the black pepper undertone was amazing!

After finding chocolate cups in the closet, a little port custard came together after that and next thing I know I had port cherry shooters on my hands. Voila!

Dave said it best -it's pretty much a chocolate covered cherry, my version of one anyway! They are fun little shooters- meant to be eaten in one bite- it's a big mouthful! Go ahead and take it down in two if you need to (it will just be slightly messy and you may not get a cherry in that second bite). I've crushed open one of the shooters so you can see the custard on the inside; it takes on a purple hue from the deeply colored port I was using. Of course, use what ever port you have on hand.

It was a wonderful evening with a beautiful family and superb food- just the way the holidays are meant to be!

Chocolate Covered Cherry Shooters

Port-soaked Cherries
(if your cherries are fresh, go ahead and just soak them in port. If they are frozen, sautee as directed below. You will only need 1 cherry, 2 halves, per chocolate cup)

1 cherry per chocolate cup
Sautee in a few tablespoons of water and 1 tablespoon of sugar until the cherries are defrosted and soak up the liquid. Add about 1/4 cup of port and sautee until the port reduces to a syrup. Remove from heat and cool.

Port Custard

Whisk together:
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbls flour
pinch of salt

Whisk in and bring to a soft boil:
1 cup milk

Temper one egg (beat one egg in a bowl, slowly whisk in one cup of the hot milk mixture, then add back to the pot)
1 egg
1/4 cup of port

Stir constantly over medium heat until the custard thickens (just a few minutes).
Remove from heat and stir in:
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbls butter

Cool. Keep in the fridge until ready to use.

Use pre-made mini chocolate cups. Spoon a scoop of the custard into the chocolate cups. Top with 2 cherry halves. Spoon a little drizzle of the port cherry sauce over the top. The flavors come through the best at room temperature.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Mock (no - sauce) Mac n Cheese

Slumdog Millionaire - it's only the second movie we've seen in the past two years (the other was The Dark Night!) We needed dinner to soak up all the popcorn we ate- did you know you get free refills on popcorn now? It was too late to get into anything involved, and we didn't have a lot to choose from. I had toyed with the idea of a mac n cheese but wanted to do something super quick.

With the help of a little cheese and pasta water, it mimics a sauce but only takes about 15 minutes total time. And it's slightly healthier than a typical cheese/flour sauce. Try using hot marinated artichokes for a little zing!

Oh- and the movie? Two thumbs up! Fabulously done, great story, beautifully shot and a heart wrenching yet fascinating insight into a completely different world.

Mock (No Sauce) Macaroni and Cheese

2 cups of pasta (cook according to package)

While pasta is cooking, chop:
1/4-1/2 cup rough chopped olives (when chopping these, leave them on the large side)
1/4 -1/2 cup rough chopped artichoke heats (when chopping these, leave them on the large side)

Lightly drain, reserving one cup of the pasta water
Immediately return pasta to the same pot, adding a simple drizzle of olive oil to the bottom of the pot. Leave the flame off.

Quickly add and toss:

the olives and artichoke hearts

1/2 cup goat cheese (just eyeball this- goat cheese is to messy to measure, so just scoop some out of the package and crumble it as you are adding it in

1/2 - 1 cup of the pasta water (you may not need all of this- start with half and add more if the pasta is a bit dry.)

Lots of black pepper

Serve immediately in a large bowl- add grated Pecorino cheese and fresh ground black pepper on top.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Sweet Granola

Granola... it sounds healthy. In fact, it sounds earthy and bland- it almost sounds like something I wouldn't like or want to waste my time making.

Words can be deceiving! Granola (when done right) is a great breakfast, a super snack, a good topping on ice cream and also makes amazing crusts.

Let's start by deconstructing this delectable treat. In most cases- it's not really healthy. I know- how can that be, you ask, when its main ingredient is oats! It's not the oats, but what you top them with. Especially store bought granola- lots of sugar! Like the potato, the potato itself is a healthy vegetable, but it's also a vessel. A vessel to carry butter and sour cream.

As I usually do, I have created a few different granola recipes. This particular one is a sweet granola- super yummy, but it's not the healthiest. (I have another really wonderful healthy granola recipe that I created utilizing applesauce if you're searching for healthy.) But this one is just like it sounds- sweet and tasty. And there is blueberries in there- so how bad can it really be? Try it, and granola just may have a new meaning for you!

Sweet, Brown Sugar Granola

Mix in a big bowl
2 cups old fashion oats
1/4 cup craisins
1/2 cup dried blueberries
1/2 cups sliced almonds

melt together:
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 Tbls vanilla
Pour over the dry ingredients and mix really well. Spread on a lightly greased sheet pan, bake at 250 degrees, stir every half hour, until lightly crispy. (this usually takes about 2 hours)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Apple Ice Cream Pie with Granola Cust

There was another 'bake off' at work, this time it was apples. What ever you want to make with apples. I was convinced a pie had to be made.

Since I was sure somebody would make a classic apple pie, and I was still heavy into making ice cream at the time- I thought I would wow them with an ice cream apple pie!

Wow them I did! This is really super- but there's two thing you need to know about this recipe: there are a lot of steps to it and this is one dish that you don't want to leave in the freezer for very long because the granola will become soft and mushy.

This is another good fall recipe, which is when I created it...just getting around to posting it now. Yup, I'm on top of things. Oh- and I did win first place that day...just barely beating out a bowl of cut up apples! Oh to be fat and happy.

Apple Pie Ice Cream
Combine all the ingredients, bring to just below a boil; remove from heat and let steep for 1 minutes.
1 1/2 cups cream
1/2 cup half & half
1 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp vanilla
slice of lemon rind

While that is steeping, whisk until light and doubled in size:
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar

Temper the eggs with the cream mixture. Simmer until the custard holds to the back of a wooden spoon. Cool. Freeze according to your ice cream makers directions. Add the apple mixture (recipe below) at the end of the cycle.

apple mixture:

Peel and slice 2 apples (use a little variety, like a red delicious and a granny smith), peeled, sliced in 16 and then in half

Sautee until the apples are softened:

2 Tbls butter
3 Tbls brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
1 tbls lemon juice

Cool; then add to the ice cream at the end of the freezing cycle.

Granola Crust
1/4 stick butter

Add and mix in a mini cuisinart:
2 cups oats (I always use Quaker old fashion oats)
1/3 cup of walnuts
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup almonds
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Push this into the base of your pan, (I divided it between individual pans, but you could make one large pie).
Bake (at 350) for about 10-15 minutes- just till they begin to brown. Cool.

The Finale
Add the completed ice cream on top of the baked granola. Place in the freezer to freeze. Unmold (if necessary) and let warm slightly. Add a layer of very thinly sliced apples on top, and drizzle with warm caramel.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Chili Soup

Today is the day I decided to try out a grocery delivery service. The fridge was bare and the cupboard only housed a few cans of beans. I fully planned to drive to the store- but a blizzard hit. Nobody needs me on the road driving in bad conditions- I haven't had to drive in snow in over 6 years. I would be one of those people I used to when Californians or Texans drive on ice for the first time. It's a learned ability.

I was able to piece together this very humble soup- it's good and simple, but it would be nice to have more options than 2 can of beans and some nearly unidentifiable frozen meat. I made this soup in the crock pot, but on the stove would be just fine too.

I'll let you know how the grocery delivery goes... so far it's not the same a perusing the aisles with a cart looking for something that interests me. And you don't get to feel the veggies or smell your fruits.  And do you tip the driver?  Oh, but they do deliver liquor... hmm,  maybe there is something fat and happy about grocery shopping on line.

Tips and Techniques: You can choose cheap cuts as long as they stew for hours; the longer you keep them stewing, the more tender they will be. Dried beans will be better than canned, if you have them.

Chili Soup

pork shoulder (1/4 -1/2 lb)
beef shoulder (1/4 - 1/2 lb)
Seasoning salt
1 can of black beans
1 can of red beans
1 can of diced tomatoes
2 Tbls garlic powder
2 Tbls onion powder
2 Tbls cumin
2 Tbls paprika
Fresh black pepper

Season the meat, then braise in the crockpot for about an hour.

Add in the remaining ingredients, cover and allow it to simmer for a few hours (or however long you have.) Use your tongs and pull out the hunks of meat. Tear it apart with a couple of forks and return to the pot.

Serve with a simple bread.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Sauteed Radishes

My friend Hope was coming over for lunch, and I really didn't have much in the house. I managed to put together a quite lovely chili soup (another reason to always have beans in the cupboard). A quick bread came together as well, I used my English muffin bread recipe, but did not have any milk - so substituted 1/2 cup water and 1/4 cup butter for the milk. It worked out well- not as airy, but a nice little loaf!

In the fridge I found half a bag of radishes and some lemons and some beer and wine of course; I felt like I needed to have some sort of little side dish or an appetizer- but I was real limited here. Not sure how this was going to work out, but I decided to sautee the radishes. So I sliced them up, sauteed them with a couple tablespoons of butter, and a little left over cheese dip. Really quite nice, a recipe I'll play with again- adding parsley, maybe some sugar snaps.

Sauteed Radishes

Sautee in 2 tablespoons of butter:
scant 1/4 cup of red onion, sliced thin

Add and sautee until the radishes are still slightly crunchy:
about 2 cups of radishes, sliced
2 cloves of chopped garlic
(salt and pepper to taste)

Add and toss to coat
2 Tbls cheese dip (or cream cheese)
1/4 cup peas (defrosted)

Serve warm, top with parsley.

Slice about 2 cups of radishes.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Pear Sage Ice Cream

During this past fall, when I was still making a new ice cream every week, pears were all the rage. I wanted to do something with pear ice cream, but needed to add a twist to it. At this point in the season, there wasn't much to choose from in my herb garden except the sage. But this sounded like a great mix- pear and sage.

I'm super happy with this recipe and the flavors. Sauteeing the pears and sage with wine first really enhanced everything. And with these flavors, you could serve this all winter long!


Pear Sage Ice Cream

Sautee until the pears are well steeped and softened
5 large sage leaves
1 ripe pear, peeled, cored and sliced in 16's and then chopped in half
black pepper
1 tsp butter
1/4 cup of white wine

Set aside to cool. Remove the sage leaves before adding to the ice cream mixture.

In the meantime, bring to just below a boil:
2 cups milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup sugar

Remove from heat
Add 10 sage leaves, cover and steep for 15 minutes

Whisk together until light and doubled in size
3 yolks
1/4 cup sugar

Temper the eggs with the steeped cream and return to heat. Simmer over medium heat, stir often, until the custard coats the back of a wooden spoon and leaves a definitive line when you run your finger on the spoon. Cool. If you have time, let that sit overnight in the fridge.
Make according to your ice cream manufacturers directions, adding the pear mixture at the end.
Eat or freeze.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Amazing Malted Milk Ball (Whoppers) Deep Dish Cake

Did you ever watch that Seinfeld episode where George says something really funny in a meeting- and realizes that he'll never be able to follow it up- so he announces "I'm out!" and leaves the meeting on a high note?

This cake is my George-moment! Swear to God I may never make anything as amazing as this ever again! Ever! In fact, Dave is questioning my ability to actually re-make this cake (although I'm pretty sure he's just saying that just to get me to make it again!) I did create this for Dave's birthday since he is such a Whopper fan! I'm telling you this cake is like eating a giant, moist, chewy malted milk ball. It's unbelievable.

In a rare Monique experience- I actually tried to keep meticulous notes...well, notes anyway. Perhaps not meticulous. While in the midst of creating this, no one would have never thought this cake was going to work out.

Before you jump into making this cake- I feel the need to forewarn that there are some steps involved, it's a bit of a process. And the cake is not going to look or bake like a normal cake, at all! It may look like its going to rise, but it falls, and you can't rely on the toothpick to be clean, it's too fudge-y to come out clean. Another really important piece is that you have to use real malt powder! And you can't get that stuff at normal stores. I went to a malt shop (Ed Debevic's) and talked them into selling me some. Do not attempt this with say- carnation powder, it is not the same.

But the rewards of this cake soooo far outweigh the risks. The fudge-like cake and the frosting turn the meringue into gooey, chewy center that is so hard to even describe. You will be a God, on a pedestal if you can pull off this cake! Seriously! Amazing!

The Amazing Malted Milk Ball (Whoppers) Deep Dish Cake

Malted Meringue

Preheat oven to 200 degrees

3 egg whites, whip on medium until soft peaks form.
slowly add
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Add 1/2 cup of malt powder
continue to whip until the whites are shiny with stiff peaks
(don't worry if the white fall, they will still work. Trust me!)

Spread the whites on the parchment paper. I made several smaller meringues rather than one large one.

Bake for about 2 hours. You can start them at night and shut the oven off and leave them till morning.

Malted Cake
1 cup sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour-
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ cup malt powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoons salt

Cream in a stand mixer:
1 cup sugar
1 cup melted butter

Add to the stand mixer:
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Now combine the wet and dry in the mixer, blend slightly, and then add:

3/4 cup boiling water

Pour this into 2 round greased cake pans (the batter will be somewhat thin)
Bake at 350 degrees. Now, you need this to just set up- when you stick the toothpick in- it's going to still come out with fudge on it. When I first baked this, I did this in one cake round -and it worked but also dripped over the edge and onto the oven. So I suggest using 2 basic 9" round cake pans. So for my one- I took me over an 1 hr to bake this. So I would try for around 35-45 minutes for two. Cool.

Make the frosting while the cake is baking

Malted Frosting

Beat with hand blender until it's all smooth:
½ Cup of malt powder
1 Cup of chocolate chips, melted
½ cup cream cheese
½ cup cream

Add and blend again:
1 cup powder sugar

Now add the final malt powder:
½ cup malt powder
-don't beat too much. This last addition should actually stay somewhat grainy in the frosting - which helps give the grainy feel similar to a whopper!

Putting it all together
Place one layer of the malt cake in a deep dish casserole-like dish. You might have to push the edged in some, remember its a gooey cake so it's forgiving.

Place a layer of the meringues in next. Divide the frosting in two. Add a layer of frosting on top of the meringues. Now add the second layer of cake on top- again, pushing all the edges in and down. Add the final layer of frosting. Decorate the top with malted milk balls.

I kept this in the fridge and it lasted for over a week.

Buttermilk Mac n Cheese

I was heading out of town to catch up with part of my family in Detroit - we were catching the Christmas Spectacular Rockettes show. This was my first time seeing the show and there were some unfortunate technical difficulties, so the double decker bus and the cab scene were cut.

But it was still a fabulous show. The best part might have been watching it with my nieces and nephews. We danced in our seats and laughed and giggled- it was amazing!

While I was out frolicking in the holiday spirit- Dave was left at home alone. I wanted to leave him some good food that he could just heat up. Being the cheese lover he is, anything with cheese would do. We settled on a Mac and Cheese that he could pop into the oven.

There's a million mac and cheese recipes and I make it different every time I make it. (try my goat cheese mac and cheese some time!) This time I had some buttermilk that was nearing expiration, so I used that along with the rest of the leftover milk products in the fridge. I love the slightly tangy sourness this added and this is now one of my favorite recipes-be forewarned that this is real rich!

Again I had not written this down until weeks later-but I'm fairly sure this is close to the right measurements. Give it a try and let me know how it worked out for you. Dave loved it and was able to just reheat it while I was partying with the fam'. You'll love this version too! It should be real sauce to accommodate for the oven baking. Feel free to add to this- I added chorizo to the left overs and it was amazing! This is a huge recipe, you may want to cut it in half.

Buttermilk White Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese

Sautee in olive oil or butter
1 1/2 cups onion, chopped small (white or yellow)

Add and sautee until garlic is softened
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 Tbls garlic powder
1 Tbls onion powder
Fresh ground pepper

Add, stirring to incorporate, and let cook for a minute
3 Tbls flour

Add and simmer until sauce begins to thicken:
3 cups buttermilk
1 cup cream
1 cups half and half
1 cup broth (chicken or other)

Remove from heat, stir in:
12 oz (or roughly 3 cups chopped) White cheddar, chopped for easy melting
1 cup chopped (roughly) Havarti
1/2 cup chopped (roughly) Parmesan

In the meantime, cook 1 box (around 8-10 cups of uncooked pasta) of rotini pasta (use what ever past you like) according to directions, but leave this slightly al dente, since this will go into the oven to cook further.

Combine the pasta and sauce, pour into a large oven proof dish or individual dishes. Don't worry if the cheese chunks are not all melted- they will melt in the oven.

Top with shredded white cheddar, Parmesan cheese and black pepper. Bake at 350 until the top is crusty and the sauce is bubbly.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Horseradish Goat Cheese Dip

When I explained to my friend Aaron what was in this dip- he gave me one of those looks ... I get those looks from Dave too. The look that says "what the hell am I gonna eat?" It's the look little kids do when you tell them you're making them brussel sprouts.

Perhaps I went a bit too far with this dip...naw! It's great fun! The horseradish and chili oil gives this a real kick without being overly spicy!

I incorporated a little cream cheese for creaminess, you could go all goat and skip the cream or if you find that too thick- add a little sour cream to help thin it slightly. This is a hearty dip, not a thin dressing dip. Afterall, runny, thin dip is not fat and happy!

Horseradish Goat Cheese Dip

1/2 cup goat cheese
1/4 cup cream cheese
3 tbls horseradish
1 tbls chili oil
1/4 cup caramelized shallots
1/4 cup cooked chopped bacon
fresh ground black pepper

Add all ingredients to a mini food processor and blend until mixed. Serve with hearty bagel crisps, celery and pepper sticks.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

White Cheddar Breadsticks

Thanksgiving of '08 was a cooking paradise. My days were busy with creating a turducken from scratch (a chicken stuffed inside a duck stuffed inside a turkey with three stuffings- this story begins tells my crazy turducken adventure) Because the turducken is a large undertaking, I needed simple recipes for all the other food options from veggies to bread.

These are super simple breadsticks that will wow your guest. We found they worked well with a holiday dinner or just with cocktails!

If you like crispy, flaky sticks- roll them slightly thinner and bake slightly longer. Leave them a little thicker for a doughy center. My oven was literally taken over and held hostage by the turducken, so I made my first batch in the toaster oven on a piece of tin foil. The breadsticks allrose and baked together, leaving the insides just slightly chewy. It was heaven in a toaster oven and almost makes we want to write a toaster oven cook book. That is the feeling of being fat and happy!

Tips and Techniques:  Use this as a base recipe and change up the cheese and fresh herb: try Parmesan or Asiago with basil, or fresh thyme with manchego cheese, or go for a spicy jalapeno, cheddar and oregano!

White Cheddar Breadsticks
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup shredded sharp white cheddar
1/2 tsp (heaping) baking powder
1 tbls fresh sage, chopped
1/4 tsp salt (a pinch)
3 tbls olive oil

Ice cold water
course salt

Pulse all ingredients in the food processor. Add ONLY 1 tbls at a time:
Ice cold water (roughly 1/4 cup or as needed)

Just want to add enough water to make the dough all come together. It will form in ball and 'ride the blade' of the processor; the dough will be slightly sticky.

Place the dough on a lightly floured surface. Cut the dough in half, cut each half in half, and then half again; you should have 8 little pieces.  Roll each section out to form a breadstick. Place on an oiled sheet, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with a course salt.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, until lightly browned.

**In case your curious, using powder sugar in place of flour does not work ... and it's not necessarily Dave's fault that happened ... when you consider that flour and powder sugar look similar and they are stored in the exact same size container and neither container is marked...

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Blue Cheese Dip

This recipe was created while Dave was feeding me drinks on his birthday (if you know anything about Dave, then you know his bartending skills are old school, formed prior to the ounce nipple measuring thing that pansy, micromanaging bars use today!)

All I'm saying is that it's such a super simple, easy and quick recipe that even a tipsy caveman can make it! And you'll get rave reviews!! Serve it with simple crudites (celery, radishes and bread crisps) and top with a little crispy chopped bacon.

This makes a great spread for a sandwich as well! This was a great amount for about 5 people, amongst other appetizers.

Blue Cheese Dip

1/2 cup blue cheese (buy a good cheese, don't skimp)
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup shallots, diced
Fresh ground black pepper
2 tbls crispy bacon (optional)

Dice the shallots and caramelize in a little butter and olive oil. Add all the ingredients to a mini food processor and blend. Add more sour cream if it's a bit too thick for your preference. Top with crispy bacon (optional) and parsley.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Cranberry Black Pepper Swirl Dessert

When you're serving Turducken, it doesn't seem appropriate to follow it up with pumpkin pie. No, this day needed something special. Something familiar, something classic and yet something with a twist.

My mind it often does... pumpkin ice cream was too obvious; think, what else says Thanksgiving... cranberries! Is that boring? Yes- but not if mixed in ice cream...oh, and with black pepper! That's it!

I imagined being so full from the 4-meat turkey (because I always over eat, this is just a fact and now is going to be no different!) that I wouldn't want much of it, just a little scoop...

Again- a bit boring. But perhaps it will dress up a bit with some pecans and I'll incorporate some chocolate in some way.

Somehow, I've managed to take an already complicated Thanksgiving meal and add yet another complicated preparation to it. Really, this isn't hard, it's just that there are a few steps to the process. Make the ice cream and pecans a day or two ahead and prepare the cranberries and chocolate the day before. Then you only have to assemble when ready to serve.

You will be the hit; you're dessert will wow everyone.... it will truly be the worth the trouble! After all, what was your first thought when you looked at the photo?

Black Pepper Cranberry Swirl Ice Cream

Heat on the stove until just before boiling:

2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup half and half
1 cup whole milk
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

In the meantime, whisk until thick and creamy:
7 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar

Return all custard to the stove top and cook over medium heat (stir often and don't boil) until it's thick. You can tell when you drag your finger across the back of the wooden spoon, a clear line is drawn.
(I would like to note here that I think it could stand more pepper- really, go for 4 tsp if you're brave!)

Cool, overnight in the fridge if possible, and then use your ice cream maker as instructed. Fold in the cranberry when complete and freeze.

Cranberry Swirl

4 cups of fresh cranberries
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup of corn syrup
zest of 1 orange
Juice of 1 orange
1 cup water
pinch of salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 cinnamon sticks

Simmer until thick (roughly 1/2 hour) and all the flavors have melded. Strain pushing all the berries with the back of the spoon. This will be your cranberry swirl as well as the simple plate decoration.

**If this gets too thick prior to using it (and it will if when you hold it in the fridge) simple warm it with some of the reserved sugar water from the sugared cranberries.

Sugared Pecans

2 cups pecans
Sautee in 1 tbls butter until toasted

Roll in a plate of sugar, and set aside to dry. Store in an air tight container

Sugared Cranberries

heat until dissolved. don't boil:
2 cups water
2 cups sugar

2 cups fresh cranberries

Cool and put in fridge to steep overnight. Drain (keep liquid), roll in superfine sugar, dry and store in an air tight container.
For superfine sugar- simply take regular sugar for a whirl in the food processor!

Marbled Chocolate sheets

Melt 1/2 cup dark chocolate
Melt 1/2 cup white chocolate (Add a tsp of oil if this starts to dry, not cream!)

Pour the dark chocolate onto parchment paper, pour the white chocolate and then smooth them as fine as you can using an offset spatula. You will need to work quickly. Let set, break into roughly 4 inch lengths.

Use a small ice cream scoop, layer two scoops on top of each other with a chocolate sheet between them. Sprinkle the plate with sugared pecans and cranberries. Warm the Cranberry swirl and add a simple plate design using a spoon or squeeze bottle. Voila!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Turducken - The Stuffing Recipes

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

Turducken - The Finale

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

Turducken - A Thanksgiving Story, part deux

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?


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