December 28, 2009

Turkey with Escarole, Acorn Squash and Cannelloni Beans over Pasta


Ingredients:
1 lb white acorn squash, peeled and cubed
1 lb escarole, chopped
15 oz canned cannelloni beans, drained
2 cups cubed cooked turkey (or chicken)
1/2 cup chicken or turkey stock
2 shallots, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt
pepper

10 oz small shaped pasta (I used radiatori)

Directions:
Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Heat butter and oil in a large skillet. Saute the squash and shallot until softened. Add the escarole, turkey, garlic, salt, pepper and beans. Add the broth. Saute until cooked through. Toss with hot pasta.


My thoughts:
This is one of those recipes that really looks like nothing but is actually really, really good. I haven't cooked much with escarole before as I've rarely seen it at the store and when I looked up recipes that called for it I found a bunch of soup. Soup is well and good but frankly isn't something I generally get too excited about. I decided to just treat it as I would spinach or rapini and came up with this pasta dish using up some other ingredients I had on hand. Luckily, all of the disparate ingredients come together and create this perfect, homey, flavorful dish. The bitter greens are tempered by the sweet squash and mild turkey and the mixture forms its own sauce after a bit of broth is added. I love dinners that need little effort but yield great results!

December 25, 2009

Eggnog Waffles


Ingredients:
2 1/4 cup flour
1 cup milk
1 cup eggnog
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons rum or 1 teaspoon rum flavoring
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
2 eggs

Directions:
Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir to combine. Follow the instructions included with your waffle iron to complete the waffles. For most large, Belgian-style waffle irons you would use 1 cup of batter for each waffle. I love my waffle maker.



Yield: 4 large Belgian-style waffles






My thoughts:
Eggnog seems to be a fairly polarizing beverage, you either love it or hate it. I guess I am in the love it camp if by loving it you mean "drink maybe one glass once a year". There is a local business that makes a nog that I enjoy (I have to draw the line at making it myself) that my mom would buy growing up. I bought some myself this year and while I enjoyed that cup, I was left with quite a bit leftover. Eggnog always strikes me as sort of breakfasty for some reason so I thought making something for breakfast might be fun. I am so happy I thought of making waffles, they were great! I used half milk and half eggnog and they had the perfect level of nogness. Rich but not sickeningly so and just really festive tasting.

December 23, 2009

Chocolate Chip Vanilla Bean Hazelnut Oatmeal Cookies


Ingredients:
6 oz semisweet chips
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1/3 cup chopped hazelnuts
4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, at room temperature
1 vanilla bean

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Split the vanilla bean in two down the seam. Scrape the seeds into a large bowl, then add the butter, vanilla and sugar. Cream together. Add the egg, beat until fluffy. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, and oatmeal. Mix until well combined. Fold in the nuts and chips. Place tablespoon sized blobs of dough on the lined cookie sheet about 1/2 inch apart and bake for 12-14 minutes or until they look "set" and the bottoms are just golden. Carefully remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Yield: about 2 dozen cookies

My thoughts:
The name is a bit of a mouthful but these are great cookies. Chewy, crunchy, chocolate-y. Not the most showy of cookies but I've never seen anyone turn one down. I love them because they are a bit of a change from a simple chocolate chip oatmeal cookie but are still quick to make with ingredients I have on hand. Homey, delicious and comforting. The best kind of cookie.

December 21, 2009

Tangerine Cranberry Poppy Seed Bread



Ingredients:
2 eggs
2 1/3 cups flour
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup cranberries
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup tangerine juice
2 tablespoons tangerine zest
2 teaspoons poppy seeds
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour or spray with baking spray 1 loaf pan or one mini loaf pan that makes 4 one cup loaves. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, poppy seeds, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. In separate bowl, whisk together the zest, egg, oil, juice, sour cream and buttermilk until smooth. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until a uniform batter forms. Fold in the cranberries. Pour into prepared pan. Bake about 30 minutes (in either sized pan) or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes in the pan on a wire rack, then remove to cool completely.



My thoughts:
I bought this mini loaf pan a while back and was excited to finally use it! I had the worst time finding the right pan. I wanted one pan with wells rather than separate small pans. I didn't want to make tiny individual sized loaves. I also didn't want to have to scale down my recipes in a complicated way or if I shared recipes for it, I didn't want to have to force people to buy a specific pan. You wouldn't believe how widely the mini loaf pans varied in size, shape and design. I decided on this one because it has four, one cup wells. A standard loaf pan holds 4 cups. That way I could make any recipe I've made in a standard pan in it and vice versa. I love that the loaves are big enough to share and get several good slices out of it. The loaves cooked very evenly and slide out of the pan easily.

I've been making a homemade gift for our neighbors for the last couple of years (different flavored nuts and then mustard) and this year I thought I'd bake a trio of quick breads to give, two sweet and one savory. The best part is that since I give three neighbors gifts and the pan makes 4 loaves of bread, we get to keep a loaf of each! I love tangerines and they are at their peak right now. They were very sweet so I paired them with tart cranberries to keep it from wandering too far into cake territory.

December 18, 2009

Chocolate Candy Cane Sandwich Cookies



Ingredients:

for the cookies:
1 egg, at room temperature
1 cup flour
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

for the cream filling:
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 cup cold butter
1/4 cup crushed candy canes
2 1/2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/4 teaspoon salt


Directions:
For the cookies:
Line 3 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350. Cream together the butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add the egg. Mix thoroughly. Whisk together the dry ingredients. Turn the mixer to low and slowly add the dry ingredients. Mix until a thick dough forms. Sprinkle a clean, flat surface with flour*. Roll the dough out until 1/8 inch thick, taking care to roll only in one direction. Cut with cookie cutters. Place 2 inches apart on the cookie sheets. Bake for 8 minutes. Carefully remove from the pan to cool on wire racks.

For the filling:
In a small pan, mix flour with milk and boil until thick. Cool. Beat until fluffy and add other ingredients (except for the candy cane bits) one at a time, beating well after each addition. Fold in the candy cane bits. Refrigerate 1 hour.

Spread the filling on the underside of half of the cookies. Top with the remaining cookies.


*Or roll the dough out between 2 sheets of parchment paper.

Tip: Crush candy canes by placing them in a resealable bag and beat them with a rolling pin against a hard surface.


Yield: about 1 dozen cookies

My thoughts:
I know I am in the minority here but I really don't like Trader Joe's. I've just never had a positive experience there so I stopped going. That said, this time of year, I am almost tempted to go back to try the Peppermint JoJo's everyone is raving about. Almost tempted. Luckily I know how to bake and can make a cookie that is much better than any packaged cookie could hope to be. I made a simple chocolate wafer that wasn't too sweet and a sweet, creamy, no shortening allowed minty filling with crushed candy canes folded in. The perfect holiday treat!

Note: If you live in a very warm climate (indoor temperature over 85) and do not plan to eat the cookies the same day you make them, you may need refrigerate them overnight. Otherwise, store in an air tight container at room temperature.

December 16, 2009

Dill Sour Cream Rolls


Ingredients:
3 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
1/4 oz active dry yeast
2 tablespoons minced dill
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs (divided use)

Directions:
Place water in a a large mixing bowl, sprinkle with yeast, and let stand 5 minutes. Add the sour cream, dill, butter, sugar, salt, and one egg. Mix. Add the flour and mix (use a stand mixer with a dough hook for best results) until a slightly sticky dough forms. If the dough is too dry, add a bit of milk and remix. Grease a bowl with butter. Cover with plastic wrap or a tea towel and allow the dough to double in size. Butter a 13x9 inch pan. Divide the dough into 12-15 pieces. Roll each into a ball. Place in the baking pan (I ended up with 3 rows of 5 rolls each). Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Allow to sit on the counter until it doubles in bulk. Preheat oven to 375. Beat an egg and brush it over the rolls. Bake for 20 minutes or until fully cooked through.

Note: If you want to bake the rolls the same day you mix the dough together, just skip the refrigeration step and continue on to the second rise.
My thoughts:
Until I made these rolls I had never refrigerated dough overnight before baking before. I know it isn't that uncommon of a practice (a lot of people email me about my various yeast recipes asking if there is a step where they can refrigerate the dough) but since I work from home I've never had much reason to try it out. When I wanted to bring fresh rolls to an early event, I thought it was the perfect excuse. I am happy to say it worked perfectly, the dough rose perfectly the next day and the rolls were light, fluffy and tender. The dill and sour cream pair wonderfully together and bring new life to the classic dinner roll without being overwhelming or pickle-y. The creamy butter I used from Challenge Dairy give the rolls a rich taste with minimal effort and was great spread on the rolls themselves.

December 14, 2009

Smoked Salmon & Green Onion Latkes


Ingredients:
2 1/2 lbs Russet potatoes, grated
1 medium onion, grated
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup minced smoked salmon (lox)
1/4 cup matzo meal
1/4 cup finely minced green onion (green parts only)

canola oil

Directions:
In a large pan, heat about 1/4 inch oil. In a large bowl, toss all of the igredients together to combine.



Form into flat patties. Fry in hot oil, flipping half way through, until just golden.



Drain on paper towel lined plates.

Yield: about a dozen latkes, depending on size.

My thoughts:
I love latkes. What is there not to love about a crispy, fried potato? Making them the exact same way year after year can be a bit boring however. This year I decided to add one of my absolute favorite foods, smoked salmon, to my latkes. I wasn't quite sure how it would turn out but after a test latke was a rousing success, I made a whole batch. Crispy potato + freshness from the green onion + smoky flavor from the salmon = best latkes ever. They are exceptionally good when eaten with sour cream, which really brings out the flavor of the smoked salmon.

A quick note about methods:
For this year's latkes I once again used my mandoline which made great, long, thin strips that cooked quickly and gave off very little liquid. That said, you don't need a mandoline to make great latkes, a box grater works fine. I don't recommend (as some do) using a food processor to grate the potatoes, it breaks down the starches and gives the latkes a gluey consistency.

December 11, 2009

Bittersweet Cranberry Brownies



Ingredients:
3/4 cup butter
12 oz bittersweet chocolate chunks
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour

Directions:
Heat oven to 350. Grease or spray with baking spray a 8x8 baking pan* very thoroughly. In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, melt butter. Add 3/4 cup chocolate chunks. Cook mixture over low heat, stirring constantly. Chocolate should be thoroughly melted. Remove from heat. Stir in sugar. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla until well mixed. Stir in flour and remaining chocolate chunks and stir until the flour is incorporated. Fold in the cranberries. Bake about 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean or with just one or two sticky crumbs. Cool on wire rack before slicing and serving.



My thoughts:
When local Baltimore skyline fixture Domino sugar offered me a tiny stipend to create new recipe for a holiday treat, I knew exactly what I had to make.

This is pretty much the richest baked good I've posted here. Three eggs? 3/4 cup of butter? 12 oz of bittersweet chocolate? In a 8x8 inch pan? Insanity. Well, maybe not totally insane but definitely squarely placed in the decadent dessert sphere. This is a very, very good brownie. It is of the chewy around the edges-gooey in the middle branch of the brownie tree. They are thick, super, super chocolate-y and each bite is immensely satisfying. The cranberries are wonderfully tart and chewy which contrasts well with the dark chocolate. No one would ever guess that you could whip up a batch (in a single pot!) in under 15 minutes*. I am not even a big fan of brownies and I could not get enough of them, the mix of deep dark chocolate and tart cranberries is just divine.

*Not including baking time, of course.

December 09, 2009

Slow Cooker Galbi Jjim



Ingredients:
3 lbs boneless beef short ribs
4 dried shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated and sliced
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 pound butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded and cubed
2 onions, halved and sliced
2 green onions, cut into 2 inch pieces
2 carrots, cut into 1 inch long chunks

for the sauce:
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup mirin
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon gochujang* (optional)
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil


Directions:
In a small bowl, whisk together the sauce ingredients. Set aside. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the ribs and boil 10 minutes to render off the fat. Use tongs to fish out the meat. Place in a 4 quart oval slow cooker (I used this one). Top with the remaining ingredients. Pour the sauce over top. Cover and cook on low 8 hours or until the beef is falling apart tender.

*Korean hot pepper paste

My thoughts:
Galbi jjim is a Korean sweet-soy braised short rib dish that is almost more of a stew than a straight up roast or braise. Traditionally, the ribs are bone-in but using boneless ribs makes for a less fatty finished product which is preferred when slow cooking. We used mirin for a touch of sweetness without having to use a lot of sugar (or as I've seen, I swear: soda) in the sauce. I also used butternut squash instead of the oft seen potato because it added natural sweetness and a bit of seasonal flair. It is one of my favorite, easy comfort food dishes.

The boiling step might seem unnecessary, but you would be amazed at how much fat gets removed in the process and how tender the meat is. Need proof of the fat rendering splendor? There will be a lot of fat in the leftover water and virtually none in the finished dish. Since there is little evaporation in slow cooker and meat is cooked for such a long time, it is important to use lean meats lest the meat becomes greasy and stringy. Believe me, I've done a ton of slow cooking. Lean meat is the way to go. I found that fattier cuts of meat can be successfully used in the slow cooker if they were sauteed (good for stews or chili) or boiled (ribs). Meat that has been slow cooked in a slow cooker becomes meltingly tender and just don't need loads of fat to be flavorful.

December 07, 2009

An Excellent Eggplant Pasta


Ingredients:
1 3/4 to 2 lb cubed eggplant
28 oz canned crushed tomato
14 oz canned diced tomato
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large cubanelle pepper, diced
1 red onion, diced
3 tablespoons minced oregano
3 tablespoons minced basil
1 tablespoon olive oil
freshly ground black pepper


1 lb pasta (I used cavatappi aka cellentani)
shredded fresh mozzarella (about 1/2 cup)
grated Parmesan (about 1/2 cup)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Meanwhile, cook the pasta until almost al dente. Drain and set aside. Place the eggplant into colander. Sprinkle with salt. Allow to sit and drain for about 10 minutes then rinse it off thoroughly. In a large pot, heat the oil. Add the onion, pepper and garlic. Saute over low heat until the onion is soft. Add the eggplant and saute for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and spices. Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Stir into the pasta. Pour the mixture into a 13x9 baking dish. Sprinkle with a layer of mozzarella and Parmesan. Bake for 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

Note: It is important to salt the eggplant and make sure the liquid in the sauce is mostly evaporated or the dish will be unappetizingly wet and soggy; eggplant gives off a lot of liquid. Resist the temptation to skip either of these steps.

My thoughts:
This one of those "more than the sum of its parts" recipes. I thought it would be good (frankly, I was just happy to use up this enormous eggplant I had) but it turned out to be so great I had to share it with you. The simmering and baking of the eggplant made it velvety smooth and silky creamy without even a hint of bitterness or stringy texture. It was like a whole new vegetable. The cubanelle pepper added a fresh tasting yet subtle spice that worked well with the red onion and tomatoes. I am honestly contemplating never making a red sauce without cubanelle peppers again. Reducing the sauce really concentrated the flavor and took it to a level of deliciousness not always found in baked pasta dishes where people often look for meat or cheese for flavor. I didn't want to leave cheese completely behind but it only needed a light sprinkling to bump it over the top and towards pasta bake perfection.

After eating this I realized one could sort of think of it as a healthier version of eggplant Parmesan, the eggplant isn't breaded and fried but there is that wonderful mix of eggplant, sauce and cheese that is so comforting. This time of year, who couldn't use a cozy new dish to add to their repertoire?



December 04, 2009

Greek Influenced Lamb Kabobs


Ingredients:
1 lb cubed lamb
8 ounces crimini mushrooms
1 red onion, cut into wedges

for the marinade:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons minced fresh oregano
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup diced red onion


Directions:
Place the lamb in a quart sized resealable bag or marinating container. In a small bowl, whisk together the marinade ingredients. Pour over the lamb. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 8.

Thread on skewers, alternating the meat and vegetables. Since it's chilly out, broil or if possible use an indoor grill. In warmer weather I'd probably grill these outside. Cook until the lamb is nearly cooked through; it took only 3 minutes at 400 in my indoor grill.


My thoughts:
My husband loves lamb. I didn't eat it growing up so it isn't something that immediately springs to mind when trying to decide what to have for dinner. Not to mention how difficult it is to find good lamb locally (for this recipe I used not local but amazing tender grass fed lamb from Lava Lake Lamb). Anyway, while kabobs struck me as slightly cliched, I was missing summer grilling so I went for it. I didn't want to use any ingredients that were egregiously out of season so I decided on a simple red onion and mushroom pairing and I am really glad I did, the lamb was flavorful and juicy and the whole thing took about 5 minutes to make. You just can't beat that. It is especially good served with lemon-oregano roasted eggplant and potatoes which has similar flavors.

December 02, 2009

Chicken & Mushrooms with Rice


Ingredients:
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces
12 oz evaporated milk
8 oz diced crimini mushrooms
2 cups cooked long grain rice
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar
1/2 cup diced green onion
1/4 cup chicken stock
2 shallots, minced
2 eggs
1 stalk celery, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil or butter
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt


Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 2-quart casserole dish with cooking spray. Set aside. In a small skillet, heat the oil. Add the shallot, chicken and mushroom and saute until the chicken starts brown and the shallots, celery and mushrooms are soft. Pour into a bowl and add rice, cheese, green onion. In a small bowl, whisk together the spices, egg and evaporated milk. Pour over the rice mixture. Stir to evenly distribute all ingredients. Pour into the casserole dish. Cover and bake for about 45 minutes or until the the chicken is fully cooked and the dish looks "set".

Note: If the dish is still runny looking but looks otherwise fully cooked, remove the cover and cook until some of the excess liquid evaporates. This is mostly an issue if the lid of your dish is very tight fitting.

My thoughts:
Recently a reader emailed me asking if I had a chicken and rice casserole recipe that that didn't use condensed cream of mushroom soup. Now, I didn't grow up in a casserole eating family so I actually haven't eaten too many casseroles much less made them but I had a good idea what I was up against. My husband is just getting over a bout of illness so I thought it would be the perfect time to make this comforting dish. I used undiluted evaporated milk because it tastes much creamier than milk but isn't nearly as high in fat as cream or half and half or even whole milk. I sauteed the chicken, shallots and celery to add a depth of flavor that canned soup just can't deliver. Using cooked rice (you can even leave leftover rice from another meal) eliminates the "will this dry out before it is finished cooking" issue that baking raw rice often runs into and gives the dish a creamy, more risotto-like texture.


November 30, 2009

Triple Ginger Cranberry Sauce Bread



Ingredients:
2 1/4 cups flour
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup cranberry sauce
1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 oz finely diced candied ginger
1 egg, at room temperature
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground ginger

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour or spray (with baking spray with flour) 1 loaf pan. In a medium mixing bowl, combine sour cream, egg, oil, brown sugar and cranberry sauce until thoroughly incorporated. Add flour, baking powder, and spices. Mix thoroughly. Fold in the chopped candied ginger. Pour into prepared loaf pan.

Bake 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in pan about 5 minutes then invert to a wire rack.


My thoughts:
We are cranberry sauce lovers. I am not a jam or jelly person but I've made a wee bit of cranberry sauce expressly for a single chicken sandwich before and I am not afraid to admit it. Even so, there is a time when we have an excess of leftover cranberry sauce that needs to be taken care of. I've made a truly divine cranberry ribbon cake and a lovely cranberry sauce-oatmeal muffins but I wanted something new. So I made this loaf of bread, which admittedly has slight purplish hue, that has the cranberry sauce mixed directly into the batter. I used the pomegranate version of cranberry sauce (which my husband adored) and it was delicious, although I think any cranberry sauce would work. The flavor of the cranberry sauce is evenly distributed and punctuated by the the ginger. the result: a moist, flavorful bread perfect for breakfast (with a smear of cream cheese) or a snack.

November 28, 2009

Southwestern Turkey & Dumplings



Ingredients
3 cups diced, cooked turkey breast
7 cups chicken or turkey stock
1 1/2 cup diced Russet potatoes
3/4 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 onion, chopped
1 poblano pepper, chopped
1 shallot, minced
4 oz crimini mushrooms, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 chipotle peppers in adobo, minced
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon hot Mexican chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
salt
black pepper

for the dumplings:
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup diced green onion (green parts only)

Directions:
Heat the butter and oil in a large pot with a lid. Add the onions, carrots, celery, poblano pepper, potato, garlic and mushrooms. Sauté until the potatoes start to soften. Add the chipotle pepper, spices and stock. Cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Add the turkey and corn. Then whisk together the baking powder and flour in a medium sized bowl. Stir in the buttermilk, egg and green onion. Mix to combine. Scoop out 2-3 inch dumplings with a spoon or old fashioned ice cream scoop. They do not have to be particularity round and the dough will be very sticky. Carefully (to avoid splashing!) drop the dumplings one at a time into the pot. Cover and cook until the dumplings are fluffy and cooked through.

My thoughts:
I am always thinking of new ways to use up cooked turkey. While I love a turkey sandwich, there is only so many of them you can eat before collapsing of taste bud fatigue. I do occasionally freeze pre-measured amounts of cubed, cooked turkey breast for future use in soups, stews and chili but I don't mind using up some freshly cooked turkey in a new way. I've made some excellent chicken & dumplings in the past and thought I could revamp the recipe a bit to bring out the best in turkey. Turkey has a slightly stronger flavor than chicken so I decided to go for a full flavored, spicy dish.

This version of turkey and dumplings will make memories of bland chicken and dumplings completely disappear. Tons of vegetables and chiles give this a rich flavor without adding fat and leave the dish tasting fresh rather than heavy or insipid. It is just a revelation. I honestly can't wait to make it again!

November 26, 2009

Turkey & Pea Risotto


Ingredients:
5 cups turkey stock
2 1/2 cups diced turkey breast
1 cup frozen peas
1 onion, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups Arborio rice
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
1/3 cup grated smoked Gouda
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
salt
pepper


Directions:
In a saucepan, bring the broth to a simmer. Heat oil and butter in a large saucepan Saute the onion, celery and carrot until softened. Add the rice and sauté for 2-3 minutes, stirring continually. Add the broth a 1/2 cup at a time, stirring continuously, and waiting until the liquid is absorbed before each addition. When you are about half way through the broth, add the peas and turkey to the rice. Continue to add broth and stir. When the risotto is creamy and the rice is al dente remove from heat and stir in the cheeses.
My thoughts:
Can you get any homier than risotto? It is just so creamy (without actually using cream!) and warm-perfect for cold weather. I love adding meat and vegetables to risotto to make it a filling one dish meal. This version has peas and turkey stirred in at at the end to give it a really fresh flavor. The small amount of smoked Gouda gives it a richness without being overpowering. This risotto reminded me of those old fashioned turkey and rice casseroles with the gravy but is much lighter and has brighter flavors. Perfect for post-Thanksgiving when you want to use up the leftover turkey (and probably have peas and carrots on hand) but don't feel like making a big, fussy meal.

November 24, 2009

Oyster (un)Stuffing


Ingredients:
25 slices torn sandwich bread
1 pint shucked oysters, drained (reserve liquid)
2 large onions, diced (about 1 lb)
1 bunch celery, diced (about 1 lb)
1 bunch parsley, minced
1/2 cup chicken or turkey stock
2 1/2 tablespoons butter
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon sea salt
zest of one lemon


Directions:
In a large pan, saute celery and onions in butter and olive oil over very low heat until the onions are translucent. Do not brown. Allow to cool slightly. Add to bread cubes in bowl and add spices, zest and parsley. Combine with egg, oysters and broth. Add oyster liquor to further moisten if necessary. Form medium-sized balls. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Place balls in the bottom of the roasting pan under the rack and around the turkey on the rack for the last 1/2 hour of roasting.



Yield: 8-10 servings
My thoughts:
I've always heard about oyster stuffing and its popularity, especially here in the mid-Atlantic but never actually had it until I made this. I grew up eating a more basic stuffing but as an adult I've branched out a bit while still making the stuffing into balls and arranging them around the turkey. It really is the best way to get the flavor of the turkey without compromising the cooking time or safety of the turkey. Anyway, I am not sure what traditional ingredients are in oyster stuffing besides oysters so I added my favorites, celery seed and lemon zest along with some basic seasonings. I loved it. The oysters added a great flavor and made the stuffing seem extra special and worth the effort. Not to mention it was a great excuse to buy some local, Chesapeake Bay oysters which I always appreciate.

November 22, 2009

Pomegranate Glazed Turkey



Ingredients:
1 14-16 lb turkey
1/4 cup pomegranate molasses
1/4 cup olive oil
sea salt
coarsely ground pepper

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325. Place the turkey on the rack and position in the roasting pan. Whisk together the molasses and olive oil. Brush over the bird. Sprinkle the turkey thoroughly with salt and pepper. Roast for about 3 hours or until the juices run clear and the leg is easily moved. Allow to sit for about 10 minutes before carving.
My thoughts:
This method of roasting turkey results in a moist, juicy turkey with crisp, burnished skin. The pomegranate molasses adds a bit of tartness but it also really seals in the juices. The salt draws the moisture out of the skin so it crisps up. The result: the perfect nontraditional turkey.

November 20, 2009

Cranberry-Pomegranate Sauce


Ingredients:
12 oz fresh cranberries
1/2 cup pomegranate arils
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 cup pomegranate juice
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons lemon juice
zest of one lemon

Directions:
Place the cranberries, pomegranate arils, water, juices, sugar, and zest in a medium saucepan and, stirring occasionally, cook for 20 minutes over medium high heat to reduce and thicken. Remove from heat. Serve hot or cold.


My thoughts:
As I am sure you can tell, we are cranberry sauce fans. I am always trying to think of a new variation. I was more than pleased at how this one turned out. I wasn't sure what would happen to the pomegranate seeds (the cranberry seeds, of course, pop) but they reacted to cooking in the best possible way; they stayed whole and provided explosive bits of flavor. The seeds inside softened enough that they weren't terribly crunchy or intrusive, which had been a bit of a concern. While I love eating pomegranate seeds out of hand, a hard bit isn't expected in cranberry sauce. A welcome addition to our cranberry sauce rotation: fresh, sweet-tart and intensely fruity.

November 18, 2009

Pomegranate Wild Rice Salad


Ingredients:
vinaigrette:
3 tablespoons pomegranate juice or PAMA
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
salt
pepper


salad:
2 cups cooked wild rice, cooled
1 cup thinly sliced fennel
1 cup pomegranate arils
1 shallot, very thinly sliced
1 stalk celery, very thinly sliced

Directions:
Whisk together the vinaigrette in a small bowl. Set aside. Toss together the salad ingredients. Stir in vinaigrette. Serve at room temperature.

Quick Tips: If you have one, a mandoline makes quick work of thinly slicing the vegetables. I bought this inexpensive mandoline last year and it works well.

I like to make the wild rice for this salad the day before. Refrigerate it then fluff it with a fork before adding the remaining ingredients.


My thoughts:
This is a great late autumn or winter salad. Pomegranates are at their peak and fennel is widely available. A lot of recipes call for mixing wild rice (which actually isn't rice at all but a kind of marsh grass) with long grain rice but I prefer it by itself, especially in a salad. I love how the nutty flavor and chewy texture contrasts with the juicy pomegranate and crisp vegetables. I love the burst of flavor the arils provide. While I like it as a side salad, it is hearty enough to serve as main dish.

November 16, 2009

Thanksgiving Sauerkraut


Ingredients:
28 oz sauerkraut
1 thick cut boneless pork chop (about 1/4 lb)
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons yellow mustard seed
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon dill weed
1/2 teaspoon prepared horseradish
1 large shallot, diced

Directions:
Place the sauerkraut, shallot, horseradish, sugar, vinegar and spices in a 2 or 4 quart slow cooker. Stir to evenly distribute all ingredients. Add the pork chop and cover in sauerkraut. Cook on low 8 hours or 4 hours on high. The pork should be easily shredded with a fork. Shred the meat and stir. Serve hot.
My thoughts:
One of the (many) little quirks of living in Baltimore is that we always eat sauerkraut with our Thanksgiving meal. I was in college before I realized that this practice was unique to Baltimore and that not everyone in country ate sauerkraut with their turkey. It dates back to the days when there was large number of German immigrants in the city. I think it stayed a staple because it is just so good with poultry. The salty, pickled flavor cuts through the sweet and richness of cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes. My family has only served plain sauerkraut (either homemade or commercially prepared) but this year I thought I'd splash out and make something a little different. So I created this recipe.

Perhaps surprisingly, the red wine vinegar makes the sauerkraut slightly sweet and less puckeringly sour. I like mustard seed with my sauerkraut rather than the traditional caraway seed, I think the flavor melds better and the mustard seeds have a softer texture. The pork chop makes it taste more robust but leaving it out would make this a delicious (vegan) side dish.

November 14, 2009

Thanksgiving, Coconut & Lime Style

Starting on Nov. 16th, I will be posting (coordinating) Thanksgiving day recipes starting with side dishes and cranberry sauce. The following week will include turkey and stuffing. Look for Thanksgiving leftover recipes starting Thanksgiving day.

Can't wait? Take a moment and check out some of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes from the past five years.

Turkey recipes:
I've never ended up with a dried out turkey. Check out tangerine scented roasted turkey, apple cider basted turkey, quick roasted turkey, brined turkey for turkey perfection.


Stuffing recipes:
I have a unique way of making stuffing and I've created a few variations over the years. Try pecan stuffing, rosemary-sage stuffing, onion & celery stuffing or crimini unstuffing.

Cranberry sauce recipes:
We love apple cider cranberry sauce, ginger-lime cranberry sauce, tangerine-cranberry sauce, classic cranberry sauce and even homemade jellied cranberry sauce.

Side Dishes:
Choose from Slow cooked rosemary garlic mashed potatoes, potato-celeriac mash, mashed potato gratin, apple cider glazed butternut squash, Brussels sprouts with potatoes and balsamic-Dijon dressing, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts & crimini saute or thyme smashed potatoes


Pie:
Try ginger spiced sweet potato pie with a pecan crust or heirloom apple pie with a cheddar-black pepper crust



Leftover ideas:
Use up your leftover cranberry sauce by making this yummy cranberry ribbon cake, cranberry cheesecake squares or muffins.

Use up leftover turkey in tortilla soup, Thai noodle salad with turkey and shrimp, turkey enchiladas, turkey kasha varniska, and turkey gumbo.

November 13, 2009

Pear & Cranberry Bread


Ingredients:
2 cups flour
1 cup fresh cranberries
1/2 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup pureed Bosc pears
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 egg, at room temperature
5 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

2 thin (vertically) sliced pears, optional

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour or spray (with baking spray with flour) 1 loaf pan. In a medium mixing bowl, combine sugar and butter until fluffy. Add the buttermilk, egg and pear, mix until thoroughly incorporated. Add flour, baking powder, and spices. Mix thoroughly. Fold in cranberries. Pour into prepared loaf pan. Top with 2 thin slices of pear if desired.



Bake 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in pan about 5 minutes then invert to a wire rack.



Note: Peel and core pears before pureeing. It takes roughly 2 pears to make 3/4 cup puree. Don't worry about it being perfectly smooth, some small lumps are just fine.


My thoughts:
After making the truly divine blueberry goat cheese muffins this summer, I kept thinking about other baked goods that would be improved by using homemade fruit purees. I just love how using puree spreads the flavor throughout the baked good rather than just having suspended bites of fruit which, while tasty, leaves some bites fruit-free. I had a ton of pears leftover from a recipe development gig so I wanted to use them up in a new way. I love both cranberries and pears so I thought a quick bread marrying the two would be a great idea. While I have made muffins using chunks of pears that were quite good, I thought an even better way to get a true pear flavor would be to puree the fruit and fold it into the batter. I was right. Rather than fading into the background, the pear is every bit as present as the tart cranberries. The pureed pears also make the bread incredibly moist.