Archive for December, 2011

Roast Turkey

Sorry it’s been a while since I continued my Thanksgiving recipe series. I have so many things that I want to share that I keep getting distracted. So here I go back to our holiday of last month. As with most major holidays, I have more recipes for you from my childhood. The turkey was so tasty, moist and delicious!

Before the bird was ready to roast, my dad marinated it in brine for two days in the refrigerator.

Thanksgiving Turkey 2011Basic Turkey Brine
Yields
enough brine for a 14 to 16 pound frozen turkey

Brine Ingredients
2 C Sea Salt
4 T Unsulphured Molasses
½ C Light Brown Sugar
2 Gal. Low or No Salt Vegetable Stock or Filtered Water
2 T Black Peppercorns
1 T Allspice Whole Berries
1 tsp Fresh Ginger, minced
2 Gal. Filtered Water, iced

Directions
Combine the first seven ingredients in a large stock pot, and bring it to a boil to meld the flavors together. Remove it from the heat, and let it cool to room temperature. Chill the mixture in the refrigerator.

Do this the day before or early on during the day of cooking: Combine the brine mixture with the ice water in a clean 5 gallon bucket. Place the turkey breast-side down in the brine. Chill the turkey to below 40 degrees F for 6 hours.

Notes: Three 49-ounce large cans of vegetable stock equal one gallon. A 15-pound turkey fits into a large stew pot.

My Parents carry on the tradition of using my Grandmother’s (my mom’s mom) Betty Crocker turkey recipe from either the 1940s or 1950s; my mother copied it down about a month before I was born. 🙂

Grandma Birdie’s Turkey
Servings
vary and depend on the size of the turkey, but recommended servings are about ½ to 1 pound of meat per person.
Make sure your oven heats properly by testing it with an oven thermometer. Only use thawed or unfrozen turkey; if your bird is frozen, completely thaw it. Never salt the outside. Do not be afraid to ask for help from friends and family, since they are eating, too. 😉

Ingredients
Turkey
Dressing (Stuffing for the Turkey)
-1 Apple, cored, coarsely chopped
-1 Sweet Yellow Onion, peeled, coarsely chopped
-1 – 2 Stalks Celery, coarsely chopped
-1 – 2 Medium Carrots, trimmed, coarsely chopped
-2 Red Potatoes, coarsely chopped or quartered
-Onion Powder
-Garlic Powder
-Extra Virgin Olive Oil
-Sage & Savory Stuffing Seasoning
1 5-in Sprig Rosemary
Shortening, Butter or Margarine
Gravy

Directions
1. With some help, wash the brine off and out of the turkey with cold running water over the sink. Drain the cavity.
2. Thoroughly dry the inside and outside of the bird with a dish towel. If necessary, have a helper tilt up and hold the bird as you liberally coat the cavity walls with coarse grain salt and fresh ground peppercorns.
3. Prepare the stuffing for the bird, not the accompanying side dish. Grandma Birdie usually made a corn stuffing with margarine, celery, carrots, parsley and other goodies to stuff her turkey. We mixed together the apple, onion, celery, carrots, red potatoes with the onion and garlic powders, oil and sage stuffing seasoning. Stuff the rosemary into the cavity.
4. With someone else standing up the turkey (or with it tilted upward in a large bowl), use your hands to fill the cavity with stuffing.* Do not use a spoon.
5. With your hands, loosely fill both ends of the bird’s cavity with stuffing, which will expand while roasting, so do not overfill the turkey.
6. Pull the neck skin down over the stuffing and pin it to the body with 3 metal poultry skewers. Turn and tilt the bird neck-down, and loosely stuff the other end. Tie the wings down securely under the bird like a package with food-grade cotton twine. Get help to tuck in and secure the legs together close to the body with more twine, as this may be challenging; if the legs came pre-bound, you do not need to rebind them with twine. If the tail is still attached, tie it to the legs.
7. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
8. Coat the outside of the dry turkey with shortening, butter or margarine. Season the outside liberally, if you like or use a flavor injector. Transfer the turkey breast-side up to the rack in a large roasting pan. Do not turn or baste.
9. Tightly cover the legs and lower back with a rectangular piece of aluminum foil.
10. Form a foil tent over the entire turkey, leaving an inch of space between it and the edge of the roasting pan. Lightly tuck the foil around the edges of the pan.
11. Insert a meat thermometer into the inner thigh near the breast, but do not push it in all the way to the bone. Do not rely on the commercial disposable pop-up thermometer pre-inserted into the turkey; ours fell out at some point. Roast the turkey for the recommended time determined by its weight, until the thermometer reads 180 degrees F and the juices run clear. Make sure to also check the internal temperature of the stuffing’s center with the meat thermometer; for food safety, it must read at least 165 degrees F.
12. To finish browning the turkey, remove the foil for the last 30 minutes of cooking.
13. When the turkey is done, transfer it from the oven to a carving surface or serving platter. Loosely cover the bird with foil, and let it cool for 10 minutes while you make the gravy.
14. Remove the foil and the cavity stuffing.
15. Carve the meat into slices (as best you can), setting the bones aside for making soup or broth later. Serve and enjoy with the gravy.

*You can either stuff the bird directly, or you can insert a clean food-grade cotton muslin drawstring bag into the cavity first and fill that. The bag will make emptying out the cavity after roasting the bird much easier, but it’s optional.

Advertisements

After Nine to Five’s Hot Chocolate Gift Jar Tutorial

This homemade hot chocolate gift jar tutorial on After Nine to Five looks yummy!  Check it out for more tasty pictures and pretty ideas.

Add the ingredients in this order:

  • 1/3 cup  dried nonfat milk powder
  • 1/8 cup Hershey’s cocoa powder (Hershey’s was a staple in my grandma’s kitchen, and now mine.)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup dried nonfat milk powder
  • 1/8 cup Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder
  • 1/4 up sugar
  • 1/4 cup non-dairy creamer
  • 1/8 cup Hershey’s cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup dried nonfat milk powder

Next, put enough marshmallows to fill the jar to the top in a sandwich bag, put the bag in the jar and put the lid on it.. The bag makes it easier to take the marshmallows out so the recipient of this yummy gift can shake up the powders before mixing them with boiling water- or (better yet!) steamed milk.

Christmas Spritz Cookies

On Friday night, Anise got together and made Christmas spritz cookies with lemon powdered sugar icing adapted from her mom’s “The Great American Cookie Cookbook” of 2001. It’s a fantastic book, and I want a copy. We converted the recipes to gluten & dairy free, and it will be very easy to make them vegan (see my note below).

Earlier that night I went to Ross, the overstock store, and found some great kitchen gadgets that I’ve been wanting for a while and priced less than on Amazon. I found new spritz cookie dispenser with 16 cookie stencils, a frosting dispenser/decorator with five different tips and a vegetable spiral slicer for making vegan noodles! I was shocked, amazed and absolutely tickled pink. Yea! What great finds! Then I went to the local book store next door and found the newish Gluten-Free Cake Mix Doctor cookbook also for a terrific price. Ha, ha! I felt accomplished, and we hadn’t even started baking yet.

Spritz History
-Spritzgebäck is a traditional German and Scandinavian Christmas cookie have been made by parents with and for their children. There are several different family recipes out there that have been passed down through the generations, eventually coming across to America as people emigrated from northern Europe.
-According to McCalls Magazine’s (December 1994) article, “America’s Best Holiday Cookies”, spritz cookies became widely popular throughout Europe by the 16th century. Germany, Sweden and Norway each had their own recipe versions: respectively Spritzgebäck (buttery), Papparkakor (spicy ginger) and Krumkake (lemon and cardamom). The Dutch brought them to North America in the early 17th century.
-Spritzen is German for to spray, squirt, extrude, shoot, inject (like into a mold). Gebacken means baked. The umlauts over the “a” in Spritzgeback makes it plural. (Thank you Leo German Dictionary – http://dict.leo.org/)

If you want a more traditional full look to your cookies, do not use apple sauce or other purees. You have to use a whole cup of butter for the cookies to spread out. Otherwise your cookies may look a bit pokey where they detached from the dough mass in the press. The cookies should come out buttery, stiff, dry and fragile.

Christmas Spritz Cookies
Yields:
about 5 dozen

Ingredients
2 ¼ C Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour
½ tsp Xanthan Gum
¼ tsp Sea Salt, crushed small
1 ¼ C Powdered Sugar
½ C Apple Sauce, at room temperature
½ C Coconut Butter or Canola Oil Spread, softened (not melted)
1 Large Egg, shelled, at room temperature*
1 tsp Almond Extract, non-alcoholic
1 tsp Vanilla Extract, non-alcoholic
Green Food Coloring, as needed, optional
Red Food Coloring, as needed, optional
Candied Red and Green Cherries or Other Fruit Bits
Assorted Decorative Candies
Assorted Decorative Sanding Sugars
Powdered Sugar Icing, optional

*or 1 Golden Flax Egg or White Chia Egg (1 T ground seeds mixed with ¼ cup filtered water; use more water if needed to obtain egg-like consistency)

Directions
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. In medium bowl, stir flour, gum and salt together. Set aside. In large bowl, cream sugar, apple sauce and butter with an electric hand mixer until fluffy. Mix in the egg and extracts. Gradually add about a quarter of the flour mixture at a time, thoroughly beating after each addition to smooth out any lumps. You may need to add some extra flour a little at a time, since gluten-free flours tend to make doughs more sticky and wet.

If you want colorful cookies, divide the dough into two bowls. Tint half of the dough green and the other red, adding enough dye to create the shades you want. Baking the dough will not significantly affect the colors.

Coat your hands with flour. Fit the cookie press with the first stencil plate. Fill the dispenser with dough using a your fingers or a spoon. We found it easier to use our fingers, so that we could more easily fill up the press and get out all of the air pockets. Put the plate and cap on the end. Press the dough onto your ungreased cookie sheets with about an inch between the cookies. You can switch plates half way between each batch or whenever you run out of your first color; we ended up using four different stencils. Don’t take too long between pressings though; this dough really started drying out much faster than I wanted. At this point, you can decorate the cookies with fruit and candies or wait until after baking and icing them.

Bake the cookies on the center oven rack for 10 to 12 minutes or until set. Cool the cookies on wire racks. (I kept breaking the wreath cookies, since the dough didn’t spread enough.) Prepare the icing, if you are using it. Pipe or drizzle (like we did) on the icing. Decorate with candies and sugars. Eat them or hang them on your tree.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Note: You can also press out long curls or tails of dough, kind of like churros, and either cover them in sprinkles, powdered sugar or dip them in melted chocolate once they are cool. Over in the ChefKoch (Koch means cook or chef.) forum there’s a topic, called Frieda’s Favorite Spritz Cookies. It’s in German, but there are some nice pictures.

Additional Spritz Flavor Ideas (from What’s Cooking America)
Almond Spritz – Substitute more almond extract for the vanilla extract.
Caramel Spritz – Substitute the powdered sugar in the dough with brown sugar. Use the dark brown cane sugar for a richer flavor.
Chocolate Spritz – Add 2 ounces melted room temperature unsweetened chocolate to the creamed sugar, or substitute ¼ cup cacao powder for ¼ cup flour, adding the flour mixture to the sugared eggs as normal.
Coffee Spritz – Add a tablespoon instant coffee and ¼ cup chopped pecans to the sugar mixture.
Lemon Spritz – Substitute a tablespoon of lemon juice for the almond extract, and add a teaspoon of lemon zest.
Lime Spritz – Substitute a tablespoon of lime juice for the almond extract, and add a teaspoon of lime zest.
Orange Spritz – Add a tablespoon of orange zest to the flour mixture.
Peanut Butter Spritz – Only use 2/3 cup of butter or spread, and add ½ cup peanut butter.
Marbled Spritz – Fill half of the tube with one dough color or flavor along one side and another color or flavor along the other side. (I tried marbling by adding the two dough colors in layers, which didn’t work too well, but that might have been due to the dough drying out and stiffening up.)
Here are even more recipes at Cooks.com.

Powdered Sugar Icing
Yields:
about 2 cups icing

Ingredients
2 C Powdered Sugar
2-3 T Non-Dairy Milk, more necessary
Food Coloring, as needed

Directions
In a small mixing bowl, mix the sugar and milk with a spoon until smooth, adding a little bit of liquid at a time to reach your desired consistency. Add more milk if the icing is still too thick. If you like mix in food coloring to reach the shades you want to use to decorate the cookies. Make sure you pipe or drizzle only few cookies at a time before sprinkling on the sugars and candies or else the decorations will not stick. This icing dries rather quickly.

More Icing Flavors (From What’s Cooking America)
Rum Icing –
Substitute the milk with ½ tsp rum extract and 4 tablespoons filtered water.
Lemon Icing – Substitute lemon juice for the milk.
Vanilla Icing – Add a teaspoon non-alcoholic vanilla extract to the plain icing.
Apple Icing – Substitute the milk with 2 to 3 tablespoons of apple juice and 1 to 2 tablespoons of filtered water. Start with 2 tablespoons of juice and one tablespoon of water; add one more tablespoon of juice or water, depending on your preferred flavor strength. (This can also be done with other juices.)

We had a ton of fun making these cookies. Which versions have you tried?

Breakfast for Dinner!

It is a rare occasion when my husband actually asks me to make something specific for dinner; Wednesday he asked for an egg scramble. At first I felt a bit hesitant, since I can’t generally have eggs unless I only have the whites of cage free or organic ones. It was also strange that he requested red bell peppers, since he usually loathes every variety. He also wanted meat mixed in with possibly some cheese, too. So since he was being decisive ;), I decided to go all out. Yes, I might suffer because of it, but at least it would be delicious and healthy. I have pills for these instances anyway, which take care of most of my issues (just not the sulpher). I really don’t like being an unnecessary pill-popper on a regular basis.

I added lots of herbs though for flavor without a plan in mind; I just chose whatever sounded good and aromas complimented each other. I kept track of what and how much I was adding as I went along though. I don’t usually think about it, but herbs and spices contain many health benefits, like antioxidants, digestives, anti-inflammatory elements and all sorts of good stuff. Using food as medicine is an age old tradition that really works and tastes amazing. McCormick and Fitness Magazine even have webpages on them.

I’ve been wanting to try purple potatoes for a while, ever since I spotted them on Leanne Vogel’s Monster-Mashed Potatoes on her blog, Healthful Pursuit. The color is amazing even after they are cooked. Yea for flavanoids! If you have higher blood pressure, these beauties will really help you lower it. For recipes and more information about purple potatoes, check out the Specialty Produce website. If you have generally low BP like I do, be careful not to eat potatoes too often.

The brown eggs are from local cage-free, free-range chickens; they are healthier and taste better. I chose some leftover Thanksgiving spiral-sliced black forest ham; I eat sulphate and nitrate-free meats, since I can’t digest those chemicals. The kale and carrots were locally grown and bought at the farmers market. The beautiful potatoes were bought at a local organic market. I know the ham and eggs are not vegan, but you can substitute the ham with lentils or something to make the dish vegetarian. I cooked the two dishes simultaneously, but since I knew the eggs required more cooking time, I started them first.

Ham & Eggs with Kale
Serves
6

Ingredients
1 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Sweet Yellow Onion, peeled, chopped
3-4 T Garlic, peeled, minced
1 Red Bell Pepper, cored, seeded, chopped
2 C Spiral-Sliced Black Forest Ham, cooked, chopped*
¼ tsp Himalayan Sea Salt
¼ tsp Black or Mixed Peppercorns, ground
1 C Curly Kale, stemmed, torn into bite-size pieces
1 C Red Kale, stemmed, torn into bite-size pieces
½ C Vegetable Broth, low or no salt
6 Large Eggs, cracked, beaten
1 tsp Herbs de Provence Seasoning
1 tsp Italian Seasoning
1 Large Bunch Carrot Greens, stemmed (about 1 C)
4 oz White Cheddar (Dairy or Non-Dairy), optional shredded garnish

Directions
Heat the oil in a large pan (I love using my cast iron) over medium heat. Saute the onion and garlic until the onions turn clear. Reduce the heat to low. Add in and blanch the bell pepper, ham, salt and pepper. Stir in the broth. Add the eggs and kale, and cover to cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Uncover and mix in the seasonings and carrot greens. Stir the mixture frequently to evaporate the liquid in the bottom, increasing the heat to medium if necessary. Serve and garnish the ham and eggs with cheese.

*You can use beans, lentils or some other protein, if you want to make this vegetarian.

Herbed Carrots & Purple Potatoes
Serves
4

Ingredients
2 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 Medium Carrots, chopped
4 Purple Potatoes, chopped
¼ tsp Black or Mixed Peppercorns, ground
¼ tsp Himalayan Sea Salt
½ tsp Mesquite Smoke Flavoring, without salt
½ C Vegetable Broth, low or no salt
1 tsp Fenugreek, dried
2 T Parsley, dried
1 tsp Poultry Seasoning
2 tsp Sage & Savory Stuffing Seasoning (Sage, Savory, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Rosemary, Ground Black Peppercorns, Ground Ginger, Marjoram, Red Bell Pepper, Coriander, Allspice & Oregano)
4 Scallions, sliced

Directions
Heat the oil in another (cast iron) large pan over medium heat. Add in the carrots, potatoes, salt, pepper and mesquite, and saute and stirring them for about 1 to 2 minutes, until they become blanched.

Turn the heat down to low, and mix in the broth and dried herbs. Cook the carrots and potatoes with the lid on for about 10 minutes or until they start to soften, stirring occasionally. Remove the lid, and add the scallions. Cook the mixture until the potatoes are soft.

I after sprinkled the cheese on my ham and eggs, I mixed both dishes together on my plate to blend the flavors together. It’s tasty this way, but you don’t have to mix them. This is not normally how I scramble eggs; mine usually involve lots of garlic (of course), spinach, fresh or dried cilantro or basil, salsa and Pepper Jack-style rice “cheese”.

To Die For Baked Corn and Bacon Pudding

 

Baked corn and bacon pudding rocked my world!  Fulling, warm, bacony, and with garlic.  So many things I love.  This recipe is from Raley’s Something Extra.  I don’t even shop there anymore, but I picked up their free magazine the other day because it always has a great recipe or two in it.  I am posting my slightly altered version, since thats what I ate.

 

Baked Corn and Bacon Pudding

Cook: 30 minutes (I gave it an hour, but my oven runs cooler)

Serves: 8

 

6 strips of bacon

1 large onion, chopped

4 cloves of garlic, chopped

6 tbsp. whole wheat flour

3 cups of milk

4 eggs

6 tbsp. cornmeal

1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese

3 cups corn kernals ( two cans, drained)

1 1/2 tsp. sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

 

1. Preheat oven to 400 F and lightly butter a 9×13 dish.

2. Cut up bacon and fry until delicious.  Drain on a paper towel.  Pour out most of the grease.

3. Sauté onion and garlic for about 5 minutes, until delicious.  Add the flour for about another minute.

4. Transfer to a large bowl and whisk in milk, then eggs, and cornmeal. Stir in remaining ingredients.  Pour into the baking dish and bake 30 minutes or until the center is set.

Spiral Apples

When I was little, one of my favorite places to visit with my folks was a great organic farm in the Central Valley, called Blooming Gales Apple Ranch, I think (it was a long while ago). They had all sorts of apple varieties that they grew on site. I loved to visit with and feed the horses and chickens. They had a very impressive shop inside an old barns, where they sold apples, nuts, pies, turn overs, juice, cider, apple chips, a myriad of apple themed items, and local produce. Their apple pies and turn overs were made from scratch with lots of love and care and were absolutely delicious. One year my mother, grandmother and I even went to one of their annual fall apple harvest fairs, which was lots of fun.

Theirs was the first unfiltered apple juice I had ever had, and for years we would visit just to buy it and maybe a pie or two. I’ve been hooked on unfiltered apple juice ever since. Thankfully I have found three local organic companies that make bottled unfiltered apple juice, one in Chico and two in Sebastopol (Nana Mae’s Organics and North Coast Apple Products), which I can get at some of the local organic markets in town. My husband also likes it, so unfiltered is the only kind of apple juice I buy now.

The neatest thing about buying Blooming Gales’ apples was if you wanted, the owners made apple springs right in front of you to snack on. They had a classic peel-core-and-slice spiral apple cutter that clamped down to their table. I loved watching the apples being peeled and cut and then playing with the springy apple coils. For sentimental reasons, amusement and general apple slicing, I’ve wanted a turn crank spiral apple slicer that attached to the kitchen counter. I had never really found one for a decent price until last month, when Anise and I were shopping around and looking at some local stores. Well, low and behold I found a great slicer that does everything I wanted for cheap! After a few tries we figured it out and must have peeled and sliced a whole pound of apples. It was so exciting, and I only nicked my fingers twice. Thank you Anise for all of your help! I had so much fun.

Last weekend was the annual Christmas party for one of the local children’s mentoring organizations at my husband’s masonic lodge, so my husband got out the apple slicer (he must have also cut up a pound or so) to practice earlier on in the week. He really seemed to enjoy himself. We discovered that firm apples are definitely needed for the slicer, otherwise only the corer works, leaving the apple turning literally to your hands instead of just using the crank shaft. The morning of the party my hubby cored and sliced two to three pounds of apples for the kids, who all had a tasty lunch and great fun. Success!

Cashew Basil Pesto

One of the tasty vegetable dips I made for Thanksgiving was a cashew-based basil pesto that I adapted from a carrot top pesto recipe I found earlier this year. I use green leafy carrot tops, which are chalk full of vitamins, minerals and protein, in salads, soups, dressings and all sorts of things. I feel it’s a waste to just pitch them out with the compost. There are whole recipes focused around them.

Cashew Basil Pesto with Carrot Greens
Makes
5 cups dip

Ingredients
2 teaspoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 cup Filtered Water, more as needed
Pinch Sea Salt, to taste
2 – 4 Cloves Garlic, peeled, trimmed
2 cups Fresh Italian or Californian Basil, stemmed
2 cups Fresh Carrot Greens, stemmed
1 cup Cashews, soaked, rinsed, dehydrated
1/4 cup Almond or Cashew Butter
OR 1/2 cup Cashews, soaked, rinsed, dehydrated
1/4 – 1/3 cup Nutritional Yeast, optional

Directions
In a food processor, combine liquids, salt and garlic. Add in basil and carrot greens and puree. Mix with cashews until they form crumbs. Add the nut butter or more nuts with nutritional yeast. Pour in more water if needed. Puree until smooth.

Since I have an allergy to whey and an intolerance to lactose, I decided to add a bit of cheesy flavor by using nutritional yeast, which is a common ingredient in some dairy free and vegan foods that provides a cheese-like flavor. If you want to use dairy cheese, you can substitute for Romano or Parmesan directly. To me, cashews are rather mild and tend to easily take on flavors of other ingredients. Pine nuts are more pricy, and I did happen to have a bunch of cashews in my cupboards ready to go. This dip is rather thick, due to the sheer amount of nuts in it, which you can reduce it if you like for more of a sauce or dressing consistency (3 to 6 tablespoons) for pasta, vegetables, salad, etc. You can also follow my recipe below and then dilute it as you need to. I used it yesterday as a sandwich spread with turkey leftovers, kale, avocado, heirloom tomato and Dijon mustard on dark rye. It was so scrumptious!