Monday, November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving Week.... Let's get ready to rumble!! lol

Okay, Thanksgiving Week is finally here (OMG! that means Xmas is a month away!!!) and it's time to get down and dirty and DO IT. No more putting things off in case you haven't done your shopping and selected a menu or whatever....... IF a turkey is in your future, you need to go get it (unless you're getting a fresh one that is) so it has time to slow thaw (always best) in the fridge so it's ready for the oven...... or maybe you want something else as the star of the day, like Prime Rib, or Crown Roast of Pork, or Pork Loin, Roast Duck, Goose, Cornish Hens (little individual turkeys and oh so cute!), Salmon...... the list is endless and there are no rules anymore!

Traditionally we all know the drill: turkey, yams, stuffing, green beans, cranberry, pumpkin, gravy. Pretty good and has served us well all through the years (plus, you can't beat the leftovers either, best sandwiches this side of the moon, right? And for those of you in the cold, turkey bones soup is a classic too!) - but how about some new takes on these old favorites? Yes, I've seen the fried turkeys and even though these are good, fried everything doesn't appeal too much to me. I realize the "fire theme" is big with the BBQ crowd, but all that oil just isn't my thing, I'm more the brined / flavor injected / marinated / awesome crust & slow cooked bird kind of person with a fantastic sauce of course (love those sauces!!!!.....). But some of the new styles are not for me. So we'll go the Classic yet New, ok?

Maple Roasted Turkey with Riesling Gravy.- Doesn't this sound fabulous? YUM!

1 fourteen-pound fresh turkey, neck and giblets removed and reserved for stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup Riesling wine
2 cups homemade-turkey-stock, or low-sodium canned chicken broth, skimmed of fat
2/3 cup seedless red and green grapes, each cut in half

Heat oven to 425 degrees with rack in lowest third of oven. Wash turkey inside and out with cold running water, and pat dry with paper towels. Tuck wing tips under body. Generously season neck, body cavities, and underside with salt and pepper. Loosely fill the neck cavity with the stuffing. Using wooden skewers or toothpicks, secure the flap. Holding the turkey upright, loosely fill the body cavity with stuffing. Pull the legs together, and tie them with kitchen twine. Heap on additional stuffing so that it is bulging out of the cavity. Generously sprinkle salt and pepper over the bird, and set it on a rack in a roasting pan.

Cut a double layer of cheesecloth to fit over the entire turkey. Melt 4 tablespoons butter. Place cheesecloth in the butter, completely soaking cloth. Drape cheesecloth over the bird. Place turkey in the oven, and roast 30 minutes. Baste with butter that has accumulated in the pan. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and loosely cover bird with a large piece of aluminum foil; roast 30 minutes more. Baste again. Continue roasting, basting once an hour, until a meat thermometer registers 180 degrees in the leg and 170 degrees in the breast, about 3 hours. During the last half hour of roasting, place grated ginger in a small, double layer of cheesecloth; squeeze juice into a small saucepan. Add maple syrup and 1 tablespoon butter. Heat the mixture until the butter has melted and is bubbling. Remove the maple-syrup glaze from heat. Remove foil tent and cheesecloth from bird, and discard. Brush glaze over bird several times during last half hour. Remove turkey from the oven, and transfer to a carving board. Let rest 30 minutes before carving.

In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1 tablespoon butter with flour, and mix together until smooth; set aside. Pour pan drippings into a fat separator or glass measuring cup, and let stand 10 minutes. If using a fat separator, carefully return juices to pan; discard fat. If using a measuring cup, use a spoon to skim fat from top, and return juices to pan. Place the roasting pan on top of the stove over medium-high heat. Pour wine into the pan, and, using a wooden spoon, stir up any brown bits on bottom. Cook liquid until reduced by half, about 6 minutes. Add turkey stock, and cook until reduced again by half, about 7 minutes. Pass the gravy through a cheesecloth-lined sieve, and pour into a small saucepan. Whisk in the reserved butter-flour mixture until the butter has melted. Reduce heat to medium-low, and let gravy simmer until slightly thickened, about 8 minutes. Add red and green grapes to the gravy; serve gravy with turkey.
NOTE: I no longer stuff the bird, instead I mix some turkey broth into the stuffing to make it moist and place it in a casserole dish and bake alongside the turkey (but not for 3 hours) and cover, this seems to work better for me. I also place dried, fresh herbs or cut up oranges and lemons in the turkey cavity instead to infuse extra flavor.
Fruit and Nut Stuffing.- A lovely variation for the traditional style which also makes a fabulous side dish anytime!

12 whole pitted prunes, halved
12 dried apricots, halved
1 cup dark raisins
1/2 cup dried currants
1/4 cup bourbon
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tart cooking apples, unpeeled, cored, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
2 large onions, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
2 ribs celery, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 cup walnut pieces
2/3 cup whole macadamia nuts, unsalted
2/3 cup whole cashews, unsalted
4 (1-inch) day-old brioche, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup chicken broth
2 cups fresh cranberries
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh parsley
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

Place prunes, apricots, raisins, and currants in a medium bowl; pour bourbon over fruit. Cover with plastic wrap, and soak overnight. Melt butter in a large skillet over moderate heat; add apples, onions, and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft and celery is tender, about 10 minutes. Set aside. Heat 2 teaspoons vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat; add nuts. Toast them, stirring constantly, until golden. Transfer sauteed onion mixture to a large bowl. Add brioche and broth; mix until incorporated. Add macerated fruit, toasted nuts, cranberries, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, cayenne, parsley, and eggs. Season with salt and pepper. Using 2 large spoons or your hands, gently mix stuffing until evenly blended. Set aside while turkey is prepared for roasting.
NOTE: To make it easier you could buy 2-3 bags of the dried fruit mix sold in stores and wing it, ok? Whatever you think is best and easiest or you have in your pantry..... Those bags also make a great hot fruit drink (add spirits) to welcome in the holidays!
can Sweet Potatoes.- Great flavor and crunch, you'll love these!

8 medium sweet potatoes (5 pounds)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse salt
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons light-brown sugar
1/3 cup pecan pieces
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel potatoes and halve lengthwise; slice crosswise 1/2 inch thick. On a baking sheet, toss potatoes with olive oil; season with coarse salt.Transfer half the potatoes to a second baking sheet; cook both sheets until potatoes are tender, tossing occasionally, 25 to 30 minutes. Sprinkle with butter, brown sugar, pecan pieces, and cayenne pepper, dividing evenly. Bake until sugar is caramelized and hard, about 10 minutes. Gently toss; serve immediately.
Lemon Brussels Sprout Strips.- A different way to serve these yet a great side dish, super easy and fast.

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds Brussels sprouts, shredded with a knife or food processor
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high, add brussels sprouts and 2 tablespoons water; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in lemon juice.
Garlic Mashed Potatoes.- A favorite at our house any time of the year!

8 medium russet potatoes (about 4 pounds)
1 head peeled garlic cloves (about 15)
1-2 tbl olive oil
Coarse salt
1 1/2 cups milk or heavy cream or half and half (your choice)
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), cut into small pieces

Peel potatoes and quarter lengthwise; cut crosswise 1/2 inch thick. In a 5-quart saucepan, combine potatoes and garlic cloves; cover with water (about 8 cups) by 1 inch. Add 1 tablespoon salt.

Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer until potatoes are easily pierced with the tip of a paring knife, 25 to 30 minutes. Drain; return garlic and potatoes to pan. Stir over medium-high heat until dry, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat. In a small saucepan, bring milk to a boil; pour over potatoes. Add butter and 1 teaspoon of salt. Mash until smooth and creamy.
NOTE: OUR way: Cook the potatoes, but don't peel. If you want richer potatoes cook in chicken broth. Take head of garlic (yes, the whole one or TWO) and cut off the bottom part about 1/8 thick where the root was exposing the garlic sections, leave as is. Take a small piece of foil, put the olive oil there and sit the garlic head(s) on it and seal this little package up well. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 45-60 min or until the garlic is golden brown and very soft and comes out out of the garlic peels by itself. When the potatoes are done, drain and place them in the pot with the butter and some of the cream, salt and pepper (unless you used the broth which was already seasoned) and all the garlic and mash until almost smooth. I leave some chunks and garlic pieces around, more rustic and oh so good!)
Real Green Bean Casserole.- Just like real Mac & Cheese, this is fabulous and good food.

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for dish
1 medium onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 pound button mushrooms, stems trimmed, quartered
2 teaspoons coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 pinch grated nutmeg
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup canola oil
4 shallots, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch rings

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add onion, and saute until it begins to soften, about 4 minutes. Add bell pepper and mushrooms, and cook until softened and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 8 minutes. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Set aside to cool. Prepare an ice bath: Fill a large bowl with ice and water; set aside. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Add beans, and cook until bright green and just tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain, and plunge into ice bath to stop cooking. When cooled, toss drained beans with mushroom mixture; set aside.

Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add 1/4 cup flour, whisk constantly until mixture begins to turn golden, about 2 minutes. Pour in milk, and continue whisking until mixture has thickened, about 3 minutes. Stir in cayenne, nutmeg, and the remaining teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Remove from heat, and let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Pour over beans, and toss to combine. Butter a 9-by-13-inch glass or ceramic baking pan. Spread half the green-bean mixture over the bottom. Sprinkle on half the grated Parmesan, and spread with the remaining green beans. Combine the remaining Parmesan and the breadcrumbs, and sprinkle over casserole. Cover with foil, and refrigerate until just before serving.

Heat canola oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Toss shallot rings with the remaining 2 tablespoons flour. Fry the shallots in batches, turning frequently, until golden brown. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Place in an airtight container, and set aside until ready to serve. Heat broiler, positioning rack about 8 inches from heat. Cook casserole, covered, until mixture is bubbly and heated through, about 10 minutes. Uncover, and cook until top is golden brown, about 30 seconds. Sprinkle fried shallots over top, and serve immediately.
Cranberry Duff from New England.- Like an Upside-Down cake with surprising flavor!

1/2 cup unsalted butter, (1 stick), softened
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1/3 cup pecans, toasted, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup plus 1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter bottom and halfway up sides of an 8-inch square glass baking dish using 2 tablespoons butter. Spread cranberries evenly over bottom of dish. Sprinkle pecans on top, then sprinkle with 1/3 cup sugar; set aside.

Melt remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat; set aside. Put egg and the remaining 1/2 cup sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until pale and thick, about 1 minute. Reduce speed to medium-low; gradually beat in flour, and then salt. Pour in melted butter in a slow, steady stream, beating until smooth. Slowly pour batter into pan to cover cranberries. Bake until golden brown and a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack 10 minutes. Run a knife around edge to loosen, and invert to unmold onto a serving platter. Serve warm with ice cream or at room temperature with whipped cream!
Nut and Caramel Pie.- Here's a change from the usual Pecan Pie.... Great! Feel free to change the nuts around to what you like too!

All-purpose flour, for dusting
Pate Sucree
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup honey
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 pound assorted mixed nuts, such as hazelnuts, pistachios, almonds, pecans, or cashews
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Have ready two 9-inch tart pans with removable bottoms. Cut out two 12-inch parchment circles, and set aside. Lightly flour a clean work surface. Roll out one disk of pate sucree to a 12-inch circle with a 1/4-inch thickness. Roll dough onto rolling pin, and unroll over one of the tart pans. Press pastry into place, being careful not to stretch dough; use a paring knife to trim any overhanging dough. Repeat with remaining disk pate sucree and tart pan. Chill both pans for 30 minutes.

Line pastry with parchment circles, and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until pastry begins to take on color, about 25 minutes. Remove the parchment and weights; continue baking or until light golden brown all over, about 10 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Wrap in plastic; set aside until ready to use. Reduce oven to 325 degrees. Place butter, both sugars, honey, and heavy cream in a large saucepan set over high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil 5 minutes. Stir in nuts and vanilla; remove pan from heat. Pour filling into reserved tart shells. Bake tarts on the center rack until the filling bubbles, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer tarts to a wire rack to cool. Store in an airtight container up to 2 days.

Pate Sucree.- This is a great recipe for a great crust you can use in many recipes. A keeper!

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
2 large egg yolks
1/4 cup ice water
In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour and sugar. Add butter, and process until mixture resembles coarse meal, 10 to 20 seconds.

In a small bowl, lightly beat egg yolks; add ice water. With machine running, add the egg mixture in a slow, steady stream through the feed tube. Pulse until dough holds together without being wet or sticky; be careful not to process more than 30 seconds. To test, squeeze a small amount together: If it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Divide dough into two equal balls. Flatten each ball into a disk, and wrap in plastic. Transfer to the refrigerator, and chill at least 1 hour. Dough may be stored, frozen, up to 1 month.
NOTE: If you don't have a food processor, simply cut the butter into the flour with a "cutter" or a couple of forks, don't worry.
Above all else, especially during holidays or special occasions don't forget that enjoying them with friends and family comes first. The recipes don't matter if they stress you out or make you spend all your time in the kitchen instead of being with everyone else, so if you think you'd rather get your holiday meal at the A&P and have them prepare the whole thing, then great! Go ahead and do it, holidays shouldn't create more stress and strife, they should bring people together. If you want to have a pizza delivered on that date.... great too!

The "No rules" apply every day and should make preparing food fun, bring people together and be a creative outlet. If this doesn't sound like you, then change it around so it does, ok? Live free, love and be happy.
From our family to yours "Have a Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!!!!".......

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