Wednesday, November 18, 2009

TDay Countdown

It's that time of the year. Time to start pulling out the recipes, deciding which oldies are still goodies, and what new ones you are willing to try. I was born on Thanksgiving, as was my sister, interrupting our mother's turkey day celebrations 11 years apart - of course this makes it my favorite holiday! This year I will be celebrating with my in laws, so the only requirement of me is bringing the wine. What a treat for a cook:)
I have a Friday Four reader who asked me to send her my recipes for Thanksgiving. She has been dating a guy from Norway who is having both parents and children in the States for the holidays. So far, she says my recipes have helped make the relationship a "go", so I am hoping these will be winners as well. Another friend told me she was going to buy dressing, (stuffing), for her turkey since she had never made it before. "Ooh! Don't go to the dark side - make it", I said. So here is my recipe for very traditional dressing for the turkey. Whether you stuff the turkey with it, (make sure to cook your turkey longer with a chest full of stuffing), or put in a side dish, dressing makes the meal.
This is a time to celebrate old traditions and create new ones. About 6 years ago, I entered and won a contest by Maxwell House to have Susie Coehlo help me reinvent my holidays. It was a blast - they flew me to New York and I spent the day with her, (and 5 other winners from across the country), remaking Thanksgiving. This inspired me to try some new ideas for my holidays - its always fun to shake things up. Below you'll find my recipes for the big dinner. Check it out and see if there are any you'd like to try for the turkey day table.

Hope you have a wonderful creative Tday with friends and family!

** Check out the blog post on October 23rd (Julie and Julia) for Turkey Tricks. All the tips for chicken work will with turkey, too!

Thanksgiving Menu

Feta, Apple and Spinach Salad
Roast Turkey with Jim’s Cornbread Dressing and Apple Cider Gravy
Spinach and Artichoke Gratin
Roasted Parsnip and Potato Puree with Rosemary
Tangy Cranberry Sauce
Orange Bourbon Sweet Potatoes
Toasted Pecan Pumpkin Cake with Whipped Cream

Feta, Apple and Spinach Salad
1 5-6 OZ Bag Baby Spinach
1/3 Cup Dried Cranberries, Coarsely Chopped
3 Green Onions, Greens only - Thinly Sliced
1 Large Granny Smith Apple, Chopped
½ Cup Red Grapes, Halved
1/3 Cup Chopped Pecans, Toasted*
½ Cup Feta Cheese, Crumbled

Step One
Place the Spinach in a large salad bowl. Place the remaining ingredients in the bowl and toss with the salad dressing.
* To toast nuts, place in a 375F oven on a sheet pan for 8 – 10 minutes. When you begin smelling them – they are done. Set the timer and you won’t burn the nuts!

1 TB Apple Cider Vinegar
1 TB Lemon Juice
1 Tsp Honey
1 Tsp Dijon Mustard
3 TB Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher Salt and Black Pepper

Place all the ingredients in a jar and shake well.

Roasted Parsnip and Potato Puree with Rosemary

1 1/2 LB Parsnips, Peeled and Cut into 1” Pieces
2 Large Yellow Onions, in 1” Pieces
1 Tsp each Kosher or Sea Salt and Freshly Cracked Black Pepper, Plus More To Taste
2 TB Extra Virgin Olive Oil

3 LBs Yukon Gold Potatoes, in 1” Pieces
4 TB Unsalted Butter
1/3 Cup Skim Milk
1 TB Freshly Chopped Rosemary, Plus More For Garnish
3 TB Light Sour Cream
1 TB Light Mayonnaise

Preheat the oven to 400F. On a half sheet pan lined with parchment paper and sprayed with nonstick spray, toss the parsnips, onion, salt and pepper with the olive oil. Roast for 30 – 45 minutes or until the parsnips and onions are tender and beginning to brown. Cool slightly and transfer to a food processor. Process until slightly chunky.

While the parsnips are roasting, cook the potatoes in boiling salted water until tender, about 20 minutes. Mash the potatoes with a masher until desired smoothness, then add the parsnip mixture.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter with the milk and rosemary over medium low heat. Add to the parsnip/potato mixture and stir. Mix in the sour cream and mayonnaise. Taste for salt and pepper and garnish with chopped rosemary.

Spinach and Artichoke Gratin
2 Packages Chopped Spinach, Defrosted and Drained (Well!)
2 TB Finely Chopped Yellow Onion
1 TB Unsalted Butter
2 Pkgs Frozen Artichoke Hearts, Defrosted
1 TB Fresh Lemon Juice
1 8 oz Tub Light Soft Cream Cheese, Room Temperature
1 Tsp Kosher Salt
½ Tsp Black Pepper
Panko Bread Crumbs (Japanese Breadcrumbs)
Non-stick Butter Spray

Step One
Defrost the Frozen Spinach. Squeeze the Spinach in a clean kitchen towel or paper towels to remove all the water. Set aside.

Step Two
Toss the Artichoke Hearts with the Lemon Juice.

Step Three
In a sauté pan over medium heat, cook the Onion until softened but not brown. Set aside.

Step Four
Mix the Chopped Spinach with the Soft Cream Cheese, the sautéed Yellow Onion, and the Salt and Pepper.

Step Five
Place the Artichokes in the bottom of an ovenproof casserole dish. Add the Chopped Spinach mixture on top. Sprinkle the Panko Breadcrumbs over the Spinach, and spray with non-stick butter spray. Bake in a 350F oven for 20-30 minutes or until warm and crust is golden brown.

Roast Turkey with Apple Cider Gravy
Probably every one has seen this recipe somewhere - this is my take on this delicious classic!
2 cups Kosher salt
2 Quarts Apple Cider
1 Whole Bunch Fresh Thyme
¼ Cup Black Peppercorns
1 12 to14-pound turkey, neck and giblets reserved for stock

1 apple, halved
1 lemon, halved
1 large bunch herbs consisting of any combination of parsley, thyme, oregano, rosemary and sage
1 onion, peeled and halved
Kosher or Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Large Onions, Chopped
2 Large Carrots, Chopped
2 Large Parsnips, Chopped
¼ Cup Olive Oil

Apple Cider Gravy, recipe follows

Step One
Using a clean large heavy-duty plastic garbage bag, (or a purchased brining bag) combine 6 quarts water with 2 cups kosher salt, 2 quarts apple cider, thyme and black peppercorns. Add turkey, cover and refrigerate overnight.

Step Two
Heat oven to 375F, Toss the onions, carrots and parsnips together with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Place on the bottom of a large roasting pan with a rack in it. Rinse the turkey inside and out and pat dry. Rub the turkey inside and out with salt and pepper. Put the turkey on the roasting rack. Place the apple, lemon, herbs and onion in the cavity. Fold the wings under the body.

Step Three
Cook the turkey, about 2 hours or until an instant read thermometer registers about 165F. Remove from the oven and set aside while you make the gravy. The bird will stay warm for at least an hour. Make sure to not carve the bird for a half an hour to ensure the juices have settled.

Step Four
Discard the apple, lemon, herbs and the onion from inside the turkey. Holding it with a large fork or tongs inserted into the cavity, Tilt the turkey to release any juices into the roasting pan. Transfer turkey to serving platter.

1 cup Apple Cider
4 cups low fat/low salt chicken stock
1 large onion, minced (about 1 cup)
¼ cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter,
4 fresh sage leaves, chopped
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
Ksoher or Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Step One
Remove the rack from the roasting pan, and *discard the vegetables. Pour the pan juices through a sieve into a large glass measuring cup. Place the roasting pan across two burners over high heat, add the cider and deglaze pan, stirring and scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Cook until reduced to about 1/2 cup, about 5 minutes.

Step Two
Pour the roasting pan mixture into a glass measuring cup, skim off any fat. Add enough chicken stock to the roasting pan mixture to equal 4 cups. Set aside ¼ cup of the mixture.

Step Three
Using a large sauté pan over medium heat, add the butter and melt. Sauté the onions, stirring occasionally, until golden. Add the sage and cook for about a minute. Add the turkey stock mixture and any turkey juices accumulated on turkey platter and bring to a boil.

Step Four
In a small bowl whisk together flour and reserved 1/4 cup cup of the turkey pan mixture. Whisk into the gravy, reduce heat and simmer, whisking, until thickened, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
*If desired, and the veggies are not too brown – you can puree some or all of them and add them back to the finished gravy.

Jim’s Cornbread Dressing
1 Recipe *Cornbread
3 cups fresh breadcrumbs
½ Cup Unsalted Butter

2 large onions, diced (3 cups)
1 large bunch celery, diced (3 cups)
2 – 3 TBs **Poultry Seasoning

4 eggs
32 Ounces Low Salt/Low Fat Chicken Stock, (plus more if necessary)
16 Ounces 2 % Milk
1 TB freshly cracked black pepper
Kosher or Sea Salt to Taste
Step One
Crumble cornbread into a large bowl; stir in breadcrumbs, and set aside
Step Two
Melt the butter in a large skillet, add onions and celery, and sauté until tender. Stir in the poultry seasoning, and sauté 1 more minute.
Step Three
Add the eggs, chicken broth, milk and pepper into cornbread mixture. It should create a very soupy mixture – if necessary add a little more chicken stock. Pour into a non-stick sprayed 13- x 9-inch baking dish. You may have a little extra left over – just bake in another baking dish. Bake, uncovered, at 375° for 45 to 60 minutes or until golden brown.
** if desired you can add up to ½ cup fresh sage or 2 TB Dried sage in place of the poultry seasoning.

¼ Cup + 2 TB Vegetable Oil + more for skillet

1 cup Yellow cornmeal, (stoneground if possible)
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tsp salt
1/2 Tsp baking soda

2 Large eggs
1 cup buttermilk

Step One
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and pour just a little oil in a 6” cast iron (or oven proof) skillet, wipe it out with a paper towel and place it in the oven while it preheats.

Step Two
Whisk together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl.

Step Three
Whisk together the eggs and buttermilk and the oil.

Step Four
Combine the wet and dry ingredients and stir just enough to form a batter. It is ok if there are a few lumps. Avoid overbeating as this will make the cornbread tough. Pour into the pan and bake about 30 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs

Fresh and Tangy Cranberry Dressing
1 Bag Fresh Cranberries
1 Large Navel Orange, cut in 8 pieces (peel and all)
¼ Cup + Honey or Pomegranate Molasses

In the bowl of a food processor add all the ingredients and pulse until desired thickness. Taste and add more honey if desired.

Orange Bourbon Sweet Potatoes
3 lbs sweet potatoes. Peeled and cut into chunks.
4 oz Unsalted butter, melted
Zest of 1 Orange
¼ Cup orange juice
1/4 tsp salt
2 TBs Bourbon
1 Cup Chopped Pecans, tossed with 2 TB Brown Sugar
Bake sweet potatoes in a 400F oven until tender, Remove the skins and mash while hot. Add the butter, zest, oj, salt and bourbon. Mix well, (the butter should melt), and place in a non stick sprayed casserole dish. Top with the pecans and bake at 350 for 20 - 30 minutes or until warm.
** To add to the "wow" factor, scoop orange pulp from 8 oranges that you have cut in half. Load the sweet potato mixture into the oranges, sprinkle with the pecans and bake. A really pretty presentation on the Thanksgiving table!

Toasted Pecan Pumpkin Cake
3 Large Eggs
1 15 oz Can Pumpkin Puree
3/4 Cup Canola or Vegetable Oil
½ Cup Water
1 ½ Cups All Purpose Flour
1 Cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
1 Cup Sugar
1 ¼ Cup Light Brown Sugar
1 ¼ Tsp Salt
1 ½ Tsp Baking Soda
1 Tsp Freshly Grated Nutmeg
1 Tsp Cinnamon
1 ½ Cups Toasted Chopped Pecans
Whipped Cream and Powdered Sugar for Serving

Step One
Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease and Flour, (or use Baker’s Joy*), a Bundt Pan.

Step Two
In a large bowl, whisk the 3 eggs. Add the pumpkin, oil and water. Whisk until smooth. Add the flours, sugars, salt, baking soda and spices. Mix well. Stir in the nuts

Step Three.
Pour the batter into the pan, bake 65 to 75 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes clean. Let cool on a rack for 10 minutes, remove from the pan and let cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar and serve with freshly whipped cream

Friday, November 13, 2009

It's That Appetizer Time of the Year!

This is the time of year thoughts of delicious appetizers float thru my mind daily. So here are two of my favorites to add to your repertoire. Easy, quick and impressive, they can be made ahead of time, and just put together right before your gathering - whether it is dinner tonight, or a weekend party!

Wild Mushroom Tartines*

The Mushrooms
½ LB Wild Mushrooms, coarsely chopped
1 TB Unsalted Butter
2 TB Parsley, Thyme, Tarragon or Chives, finely chopped
Kosher Salt and Freshly Cracked Black Pepper to taste

Sauté the wild mushrooms until softened and the liquid has evaporated about 5 – 7 minutes. Add the herbs and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside

The Goat Cheese
1 Log Goat Cheese, Softened
2 TB Parsley, Thyme, Tarragon or Chives
Kosher Salt and Freshly Cracked Black Pepper to taste

Mash the Goat Cheese with the herbs, salt and pepper

The Tartine Shells
1 Loaf Pepperidge Farm Very Thin Sliced Whole Wheat Bread
Non-Stick Spray
3 Small Muffin Tins
2 ¼” Cookie Cutter

Step One
Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray the muffin tins with Non Stick Spray.

Step Two
Cut each piece of bread with the cookie cutter, and carefully put it into the muffin tin. Bake at 350F for 10 minutes or until the bread begins to brown.

4 TB Parsley, Thyme, Tarragon or Chives, finely chopped for garnish

In each tartine shell, place a tiny dollop of goat cheese. Top with mushrooms, garnish with fresh herbs.

* Tartine is an open faced sandwich

Sesame Soy Pork Tenderloin Tastes

1 to 1 1/2 LBs Pork Tenderloin
1/3 cup Soy Sauce
2 TB Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice
Zest of an Orange
2 Large Garlic Cloves, Grated
2 Tsp Ground Ginger
1 TB Sesame Oil
1/4 Cup Honey
2 TB Dark Brown Sugar
1/8 Cup Sesame Seeds, Toasted
1/8 Cup Black Sesame Seeds

2 Oranges, Sliced Thinly - Spread out on a Large Platter

Step One
Cut the pork into 1” cubes.

Step Two
Combine soy sauce, orange juice, zest, garlic, ginger, and sesame oil; place in zippy bag with the pork. Turn bag to coat pork; refrigerate and let marinate for 3 hours, or up to overnight, turning occasionally.

Step Three
Combine honey and brown sugar in a bowl. Add the marinated pork and stir around to coat.

Step Four
Place the Pork on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Roast at 375° 25 to 30, minutes or until done* 145F – 155F Remove from the oven. Place on serving tray and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Step Five
Serve the pork with toothpicks – Warm or room temperature

*The pork’s temperature will rise with carryover cooking – the USDA recommends 160F for pork.

FAST FOOD FACT Toasting Nuts (Seeds)
Place the nuts on a sheet tray and slide into a 350F oven. Set your timer for 7 minutes, check the nuts (seeds). If not done – set your timer for another 3 minutes – after this remove the nuts. They will continue cooking with carry over heat. Remember soft nuts and seeds like pine nuts and sesame seeds will take less time

Monday, November 9, 2009

You Want to Take Them Home With You!

Since it is November and a special time of the year to say thanks, this is my profound thanks to all the wonderful help I receive when teaching classes at the Cooks Warehouse. (Thanks too - to Wendy Allen, the director of the cooking school. You are the reason that the assistants know what they are doing!) The assistants in every class are really special. With the exception of the Principal Assistant, each volunteer is there for the love of food and cooking - and does not get paid. (Except in vouchers to take more cooking classes:) So this means they help me unload the groceries, prep the recipes, assist me during class, (and the class members, too), serve the food, pick up the dishes and clean up the kitchen. Sounds exhausting, yes? It is. And they do all this with a super attitude and an inquiring mind. So thanks to all the wonderful assistants I have had over the past 3 years. You know who you are - and you are incredible. You'll see pictures of the assistants throughout my blog, and on my website. Once you see those dynamos in action - you too will want to take them home, too!

Here is a recipe from my last class - a great use of the last of the summer's basil.

Macadamia Basil Pesto Salad
1 (15 oz) Tin Cannellini Beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15 oz) Tin Black Beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15 oz) Tin Chick Peas, drained and rinsed
2 Heads Romaine, Shredded
1 Recipe Macadamia Basil Pesto*
½ Cup Parmesan or Pecorino Romano Curls for Garnish
Toss the beans with a small amount of the pesto until well coated. Serve on a bed of the romaine and garnish with the parmesan curls.

Macadamia Basil Pesto*
1 Cup Macadamia Nuts
2 Cups Packed Basil
2 Garlic Cloves
1 Lemon Zest and Juice
½ Cup Grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano
1/8 – ¼ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher or Sea Salt and Freshly Cracked Black Pepper to Taste
Place nuts, basil, garlic and lemon juice in a food processor or a blender, drizzle in the oil a bit at a time and blend until creamy.