Friday, November 25, 2005

Quick Homemade Chicken Stock

From Cook's Illustrated

This makes an excellent stock although I didn't think it was particularly quick.

This stock can be refrigerated in airtight containers for up to 4 days or frozen for 4 to 6 months.

Makes about 2 quarts
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion , chopped medium
4 pounds whole chicken legs or backs and wingtips, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 quarts water (boiling)
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2 bay leaves

For a Turkish-style garnish, mix 2 teaspoons sweet paprika and 3 tablespoons melted butter, then swirt a bit on the surface of each serving.

1. Heat oil in large stockpot over medium-high heat until shimmering; add onion and cook until slightly softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer onion to large bowl. Brown chicken in two batches, cooking on each hside until lightly browned, about 5 minutes per side; transfer to bowl with onions. Transfer cooked chicken to bowl with onion. Return onion and chicken to pot. Reduce heat to low, cover, and sweat until chicken releases its juices, about 20 minutes. Increase heat to high; add boiling water, salt, and bay leaves. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to low; cover and sim

mer slowly until stock is rich and flavorful, about 20 minutes, skimming foam off surface, if desired.

2. Strain broth and discard solids. Before using, defat stock. After stock has been refrigerated, the fat hardens on the surface and is very easy to remove with a spoon. To defat hot stock, we recommend using a ladle or fat separator.

Parker House Rolls a la Ruth Schmidt

from Bobby Flay & Ruth Schmidt

This recipe made a great Parker House rol; it was just what we had in mind! The dough was soft and satiny, and made a tender, flavorful roll that wasn't sweet inspite of the sugar in the recipe. Jim did a great job forming & baking them.

6 cups all-purpose flour (about)
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 packages active dry yeast
1 cup margarine or butter (2 sticks), softened
1 large egg

In a large bowl, combine 2 1/4 cups flour, sugar, salt, and yeast; add 1/2 cup margarine or butter (1 stick). With mixer at low speed, gradually pour 2 cups hot tap water (120 degrees F to 130 degrees F.) into dry ingredients. Add egg; increase speed to medium; beat 2 minutes, scraping bowl with rubber spatula. Beat in 3/4 cup flour or enough to make a thick batter; continue beating 2 minutes, occasionally scraping bowl. With spoon, stir in enough additional flour (about 2 1/2 cups) to make a soft dough.

Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes, working in more flour (about 1/2 cup) while kneading. Shape dough into a ball and place in greased large bowl, turning over so that top of dough is greased. Cover with towel; let rise in warm place (80 to 85 degrees F.) until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours. (Dough is doubled when 2 fingers pressed into dough leave a dent.)

Punch down dough by pushing down the center or dough with fist, then pushing edges of dough into center. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface; knead lightly to make smooth ball, cover with bowl for 15 minutes, and let dough rest.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. (We used the convection oven at 375 degrees.)

In 17 1/4-inch by 11 1/2-inch roasting pan, over low heat, melt remaining 1/2 cup margarine or butter; tilt pan to grease bottom.

On lightly floured surface with floured rolling pin, roll dough 1/2 inch thick. With floured 2 3/4-inch round cutter, cut dough into circles. Holding dough circle by the edge, dip both sides into melted margarine or butter pan; fold in half. Arrange folded dough in rows in pans, each nearly touching the other. Cover pan with towel; let dough rise in warm place until doubled, about 40 minutes. (Dad didn't dip the sides into butter; he simple put a pat of butter on the round before folded it in half--this is the way his mother did it.)
Bake rolls for 15 to 18 minutes until browned.

Sweet Potato Pie with Crunchy Cranberry Topping

from Florence Tyler

I really liked the topping & the crust, but didn't think the pie itself was that interesting. The topping would be great on a lot of other desserts.

2 pounds sweet potatoes, for 1 1/2 cups puree
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
Pinch salt
3 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon sugar
Pinch salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small chunks
2 tablespoons ice water, plus more if needed
1 egg white, lightly beaten

1/2 cup pecans
1 (8-ounce) package frozen cranberries
1 (2.3-ounce) package amaretto cookies (about 12), such as Amaretti di Saronno

Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Prick the sweet potatoes with a fork and bake them until they are soft, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven and set aside until they are cool enough to handle.

While the potatoes are cooking make the pastry: combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and mix with a pastry blender or your hands until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Pour in the ice water and work it in to bind the dough until it holds together without being too wet or sticky. Squeeze a small amount together, if it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 teaspoon at a time. Form the dough into a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes.

Sprinkle the counter and a rolling pin lightly with flour. Roll the dough out into a 10-inch circle. Carefully roll the dough up onto the pin and lay it inside a 9-inch pie pan. Press the dough firmly into the bottom and sides so it fits tightly. Trim the excess dough around the rim and pinch the edges to form a border. Place a piece of parchment paper over the crust and fill with uncooked beans or pie weights. Bake the pie crust until it sets, about 20 minutes. Remove the parchment and beans. Brush the bottom with the beaten egg white and set aside.

While the crust is cooking make the filling: When cool enough to handle, peel the sweet potatoes and puree the pulp in a food processor with 1/2 stick butter and a pinch of salt. Measure 1 1/2 cups puree into a bowl. In another bowl beat the eggs and sugar until the sugar has melted. Add the eggs to the sweet potato puree and whisk well. Add the cream, orange zest, cinnamon, and nutmeg and stir well to combine. Pour the mixture into the pie shell. Place the pie pan on a sturdy cookie sheet to catch any spills. Lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees F and bake until the pie is set but still jiggles slightly, about 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool.

Meanwhile, put the pecans on a baking sheet and bake them with the pie for about 10 minutes to toast them. Remove them from the oven and let them cool. Thaw the cranberries in a strainer set over a bowl to catch the liquid. Put the cookies, pecans, and cranberries into a food processor and pulse them a few times until they are coarsely chopped. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the cooled pie and serve immediately.

Roast Crisped-Skin Turkey

From Cook's Illustrated

We prefer to roast small turkeys, no more than 14 pounds gross weight, because they cook more evenly than large birds. If you prefer, halve the amount of salt in the brine and brine 12 hours or overnight. When you remove the turkey from the oven to rotate it, be sure to close the oven door to prevent heat loss.

Serves 10 to 12

4 cups kosher salt or 2 cups table salt
1 turkey (12 to 14 pounds gross weight), rinsed thoroughly; giblets, neck, and tailpiece removed and reserved for gravy (see related recipe)
3 medium onions, chopped coarse
2 small carrots, chopped coarse
2 ribs celery, chopped coarse
6 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

An overnight stay in the refrigerator produced a bird with crackling crisp skin.

1. Dissolve salt in 2 gallons cold water in large stockpot or clean bucket. Add turkey and refrigerate or set in very cool spot (about 40 degrees) for 4 to 6 hours.

NB: do not brine if using a Kosher Turkey

2. Remove turkey from salt water and rinse well under cool running water. Pat dry inside and out with paper towels. Place turkey breast-side up on flat wire rack set over rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan and refrigerate, uncovered, 8 to 24 hours.

3. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Toss one-third of onions, carrots, and celery with 2 sprigs thyme and 1 tablespoon butter in medium bowl; fill cavity with mixture. Tuck wings behind back, following illustrations 1 through 3 below, truss turkey.

4. Scatter remaining vegetables and thyme in shallow roasting pan; pour 1 cup water over vegetables. Prepare V-rack following illustration 4, below. Brush turkey breast with butter, then set turkey breast-side down on foil-lined V-rack. Brush back of turkey with butter. Roast 45 minutes.

5. Remove roasting pan with turkey from oven; brush back with butter. Using thick wads of paper towels or potholders, rotate turkey leg/wing--side up. If liquid in bottom of roasting pan has evaporated, add 1/2 cup water. Roast 15 minutes longer.

6. Remove roasting pan with turkey from oven, brush exposed surfaces with butter, and, using thick wads of paper towels or potholders, rotate turkey second leg/wing-side up; roast for 15 minutes longer.

7. Remove roasting pan with turkey from oven, brush exposed surfaces with butter and, using thick wads of paper towels or potholders, rotate turkey breast-side up. Roast until thickest part of breast registers 165 degrees and thickest part of thigh registers 170 to 175 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 30 to 45 minutes longer. Move turkey from rack to carving board and let rest about 20 to 30 minutes. Carve and serve with gravy, if desired.

Salad wtih Herbed Baked Goat Cheese and Vinaigrette

from Cook's Illustrated

NB: choose a goat cheese with a little stronger flavor than you normally select because baking the cheese seems to lighten its flavor.

Herbed Baked Goat Cheese
3 ounces Melba toasts, white (about 2 cups) (Melba toast was an excellent choice)
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
12 ounces goat cheese, firm
extra-virgin olive oil

Vinaigrette and Salad
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (I might use part rice-wine vinegar next time)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon minced shallot
1/4 teaspoon table salt
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (I used Walnut oil)
1 tablespoon fresh chives (sprinkled on salad greens)
Ground black pepper
14 cups hearty greens (mixed), washed and dried (I used Watercress, but would use Arugula next time)

1. For Goat Cheese: In food processor, process Melba toasts to fine even crumbs, about 1 1/2 minutes; transfer crumbs to medium bowl and stir in pepper. Whisk eggs and mustard in medium bowl until combined. Combine thyme and chives in small bowl.

2. Using kitchen twine or dental floss, divide cheese into 12 evenly sized pieces. Roll each piece into a ball; roll each ball in herbs to coat lightly. Transfer 6 pieces to egg mixture, turn each piece to coat; transfer to Melba crumbs and turn each piece to coat, pressing crumbs into cheese. Flatten each ball into disk about 1 1/2 inches wide and 1 inch thick and set on baking sheet. Repeat process with remaining 6 pieces cheese. Freeze cheese until firm, about 30 minutes. (Cheese may be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and frozen up to 1 week.) Adjust oven rack to uppermost position; heat to 475 degrees.

3. Remove cheese from freezer and brush tops and sides evenly with olive oil. Bake until crumbs are golden brown and cheese is slightly soft, 7 to 9 minutes (or 9 to 12 minutes if cheese is completely frozen). Using thin metal spatula, transfer cheese to paper towel-lined plate and cool 3 minutes.

4. For Salad: While goat cheese is baking, combine vinegar, mustard, shallot, and salt in small bowl. Whisking constantly, drizzle in olive oil; season to taste with pepper.

5. Place greens in large bowl, drizzle vinaigrette over, and toss to coat. Divide greens among individual plates; place 2 rounds goat cheese on each salad. Serve immediately.

Thanksgiving 2005

A Distributed Feast!

Kevin called it a "Distributed Feast" because we ate all day!


Roasted almonds

Vertical tasting of Murphy's vs. Guiness (Murphy's won)
Salad wtih Herbed Baked Goat Cheese and Vinaigrette


Peel & Eat Shrimp with Horseradish Cocktail sauce
Manhattans w/Agostura Bitters (Bitters are an excellent stomatic--they are also tauted to be a cure for flatulence)


Roast Crisped-Skin Turkey

Gravy made with Quick Chicken Stock (with either brined or Kosher birds you really have to watch the salt content--I used a combination of the dripping from the turkey & the Quick Stock & it was almost too salty; next time I think I'll use mostly my stock because it is less salty). BTW: this is a great recipe for stock.

Mashed Potatoes

The next day we made a gratin from the leftovers: 4 cups mashed potatoes, 3 eggs, 2/3 cup grated Guyere cheese. Place the potatoes, eggs & most of the cheese in the food processor & blend just to combine. Place in a greased au gratin dishes & sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 35 minutes.

Green Bean Casserole

This is a great casserole, but requires a lot of attention to pull off. I can't do it justice when trying to manage the gravy & other last minute dishes. Next time I won't make it unless there is someone else in the kitchen who can give it the loving care it demands.

Bread Stuffing with Sage and Thyme

I didn't put enough Sage in the stuffing; I've added a note to the recipe for next year. Also, I cooked it is too big a glass dish (13 x 9).

Tart Cranberry Dipping Sauce
Simple Cranberry Sauce

I combined the two sauces after the dinner, and they were great as one!

Parker House Rolls (a la Ruth Schmidt)

This recipe made a great Parker House rol; it was just what we had in mind! The dough was soft and satiny, and made a tender, flavorful roll that wasn't sweet inspite of the sugar in the recipe. Jim did a great job forming & baking them.

Hess Selection 2001 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon


Sweet Potato Pie with Crunchy Cranberry Topping

We loved the topping & the crust, but were unimpressed by the pie. This topping on a pumpkin pie would be great. The next day we had some pie with Hagaan-Das Pistachio ice cream--fantastic ice cream!--.

Calvados & Cognac

We did a vertical tasting with no decisive victor--one preferred one; the others, the other; some couldn't taste the apples; one didn't know Calvados was distilled from apples & was made in Normandy--and this person probably isn't who you think it is!).

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Herb Roasted Turkey Breast with Pan Gravy

From Rachael Ray
Serves 6-8

Although sage is the herb most used with turkey, I love the flavor and aroma of fresh bay (laurel) leaves. Fresh bay leaves are now widely available in supermarkets. Since the leaves are a bit woody, and no fun to eat, I baste my turkey with bay-infused butter and roast the breasts right on top of the leaves, which perfumes the meat.

1 small (golf-ball sized) onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 lemon, scrubbed clean
12 fresh sage leaves
Large handful fresh flat-leaf parsley (about 1/2 cup, from 12 stems)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for oiling pan
1 teaspoon salt, plus more as needed
6 fresh bay leaves
4 tablespoons butter
2 boneless turkey breast halves, skin on (about 2 to 2 1/2 pounds each)
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup apple or regular brandy (recommended: Calvados)
2 to 3 cups apple cider
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Oil a roasting pan and set it aside.

Put the onion into the bowl of a mini food processor. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the zest from the lemon in thin strips, being careful not to cut into the bitter white pith. Add the lemon zest to the food processor and reserve the whole lemon for another use. Chop the onion and lemon zest until fine. Add the sage, parsley, olive oil, and 1 teaspoon salt and pulse until it forms a coarse paste.

Put 2 of the bay leaves and the butter into a small pan and heat over medium-low heat until the butter is bubbling. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Put the turkey breasts on a work surface. Carefully run your fingers between the skin and the flesh from 1 end, being careful not to pull it completely off, creating a pocket. Season the turkey breasts generously with salt and pepper. Stuff half of the herb paste under the skin of each breast, and spread it evenly under the skin. Transfer the breasts to the roasting pan, and slide 2 bay leaves underneath each one. (The heat of the pan will release the bay leaf oils and flavor the breast.) Using a pastry brush, baste the breasts with half of the bay butter. Place the turkey in the oven and immediately decrease the temperature to 400 degrees F. After 20 minutes, baste the turkey breasts with the remaining butter, and roast for an additional 20 to 25 minutes, until cooked through, and a thermometer placed in the thickest part of the breast registers 170 degrees F.

Remove from the oven, transfer to a platter, cover, and let rest for 10 minutes before carving while you make the gravy.

Put the roasting pan over the burner on medium heat. Sprinkle the flour over the pan juices, and cook, stirring, for a few minutes. Add the apple brandy, and scrape the pan to lift the bits that are stuck to the bottom. Cook for a minute to burn off the alcohol, then, while stirring, pour in the apple cider. Bring to a simmer, and stir until thickened. Season with salt and pepper.

Slice the turkey breast on the diagonal, and serve with warm gravy.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Crab Cakes in Red Sauce

from Jacques Pepin's Fast Food My Way

This is delicious as an appetizer or a main course. It is made with pasturized crab meat. The best brand is Phillip's Crab meat (Costco). I serve them with an arugula salad and some of the Red Sauce which doubles as a dressing.

Salmon in Mirin

from Jacques Pepin's Fast Food My Way

I've prepared this dish at least 4 times; until the last time, I used Murakan unseasoned rice wine vinegar instead of Mirin (Japanese sweet cooking wine). I didn't realize I was using the wrong ingredient. Much to my surprize, I much prefer this dish made with the rice wine vinegar!

Rack of Lamb

from Julia Child's The Way to Cook

1 trimmed rack of lamb (about 7 ribs weighing about 1 1/2 lbs.)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped fine
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive or peanut oil
1/4 cup fresh white bread crumbs
1 tablespoon melted butter

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees with the shelf in the upper-middle position.

Frenching the ribs: From the fat-covered top side, trace a line ac ross the ribs halfway from the bone ends to the meat; cut down through it to the rib bones. Remove the fatty lower layer to expose the lower part of the ribs. Cut and scrape the meat from around the rib bones.

Removing cap meat: starting at the heavier end of the rack, cut and lft off the fatty layer, leaving a thin covering over the eye of the meat. When you are finished your rack should have nicely defined, long rib bones and a round core of meat with only a thin layer of fat around the core (Julia says, "a labor of love" and I concur).

Whisk the mustard, rosemary, lemon juice, and then the oil, to make a mayonnaise-like cream.

Score the fat on the side of the racks lightly mkaing shallow crisscross knife marks. Leaving the rib ends free, paint the mustard mixture over the tops and side of the rack. Fold a double strip of foil over the rid end so they won't burn. (Ma be prepared to this point a day in advance; refrigerate covered.)

Roasting--about 30 minutes at 500 and 400 degrees: Roast the lamb for 10 minutes at 500 to sear. Reduce the thermostat to 400, rapidly spread the bread crumbs over the top fat, drizzle on the butter, and return to the oven. Roast another 20 minutes, to rosy-rare (125 degrees); the meat will be just lightly springy when pressed.

Rest before carving: remove from the oven and let rest 5 minutes (lightly tent with foil).

Serving: lay the rack on a little watercress or arugula and cut into 1-rib portions.

Serves 2.

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