Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

AKA the first year I cooked the turkey. That's right. I accomplished what I had always envisioned to be an impossible task. I cooked a moist and flavorful 14 pound bird. Surely this must have been a fluke? I'm still not quite sure how I pulled this off. I spent the whole week before Thanksgiving worrying about the many ways that I could mess this up. Would it still be rock hard frozen Thanksgiving morning? Would I drop it? would my dog Maddie eat it? Would I burn? What if it was dry? Undercooked? These were my worries.

So what did I do? I spent the days before searching for recipes and advice. I called my mom numerous times a day to ask the many questions that came up. Particularly about her stuffing/dressing recipe. I gathered this information and the night before Thanksgiving I decided that instead of brining the turkey I would salt it. Kind of like brining, but a lot easier. All you have to do is cover the turkey with kosher salt. Lots of kosher salt. Then I left it in the fridge, uncovered, in the roasting pan to dry it out a bit. This helps the skin get crispy and browned.

The next morning I took the bird out about 2 hours before oven time and let it warm up a bit. Then I drove it over to my friends house where we would be having our Thanksgiving meal. I heated up the oven to 450 F and let it get nice and hot in the oven. I quartered an onion and an apple and stuffed them inside the cavity, but only after disgusting my friend as I pulled out the hidden neck. I grabbed some butter, put some under the skin of the turkey and melted the rest. I then covered the turkey in cheesecloth and poured the hot butter all over. I poured some chicken broth into the bottom of the roasting pan put the turkey in the oven and turned down the heat to 325 F.

We had other dishes to prep while the bird did its thing. So I left it alone for 45 minutes then basted it, I did this a few more times. Then the kitchen began to smell like lovely roasted turkey. Yum! So I took its temperature and it was ready to take a little rest. I pulled it out of the oven, covered it with foil and left it along while we finished the rest of the dishes: cornbread stuffing, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, macaroni and cheese, and mashed potatoes. I had already baked 2 apple pies and made cranberry sauce the day before. This doesn't even begin to take into account all of the dishes our friends were bringing. Wow, there was going to be a lot of food.

People began to flow into the kitchen and once those sides were done I was presented with another daunting task. Carving the turkey. I had quickly looked up how to do so and followed some pretty basic directions. I could do with a little practice, but all in all I did a fairly good job with the carving. As I was carving I was astonished at how moist the turkey was! I couldn't believe it. All of that worrying for nothing.

We sat around for hours, eating and overstuffing ourselves with delicious food. It was a great Thanksgiving and I was so happy to get to celebrate it with all of my friends and all of that great food.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Apple Crumb Pie

Apples are an under-appreciated fruit in my opinion. Sure, you can buy them almost anywhere. And yes, sadly, the grocery stores only sell a few varieties. But for me they are one of the most versatile and delicious fruits. They are great to snack on anytime of the day and also make the most elegant desserts. Nothing beats a warm slice of apple pie, whether its for breakfast or for a late night snack, or anywhere in between.

When making apple pie I usually stick to my mom's recipe. But I was in the mood for something that took a little less time than making my own crust and was a little bit different. I found a recipe for an apple crumb pie made with an almond crumb crust by Martha Stewart. Yummy! This pie is delicious! The crust is almondy and crispy, while the apples are warm and tart. I even got to use my new apple peeler. Trust me, if you don't have one of these and you use apples a lot in cooking then you need to get one. They will make your life so much easier, especially around this time of year.

Apple Crumb Pie
Adapted from Martha Stewarts Baking Handbook
For the filling I used my mom's recipe

For the crust:
1 1/2 cups AP flour
1 cup plus 1 2 tbsp almond meal (or used ground almonds)
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 sticks of butter, really cold and cut into small pieces

1) Whisk together all of the ingredients except the butter. Cut the butter into the flour mixture until it it is crumbly. Then with your hands squeeze the dough together until it starts to come together a little bit.

2)Press a little more than half of the filling into a 9-inch pie pan then freeze for 15 minutes.

3) Follow instructions for making the filling
4) Add the filling to the pie and then dot with a few tbsp of butter from apple pie recipe, then cover with remaining dough crumbs

5) Bake in a 350 F oven for about 1 hour, then let cool and enjoy!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Autumn Minestrone

After the dust (or flour in my case) has settled from Halloween festivities we decided that we needed something a little healthier in our diet. Something warm and comforting, yet not overly heavy, like pot roast. I love pot roast, but sometimes you need to mix it up a bit. So I decided to make a hearty stew full of sweet potatoes, carrots, celery, kale, and orecchiette. An Autumn minestrone if you will. This is one of those meals that will become a favorite. Perfect for lunch and dinner. I even had some for breakfast to warm me up. It's also a very versatile recipe. You can spice it up or spice it down, adding whichever seasonings you like best. I'm always a big fan of crushed red pepper and rosemary, but if you like something else, by all means, add that. I hope everyone is staying warm as the weather cools down!

Autumn Minestrone
1 onion, diced
5 carrots, peeled and diced
2 stalk celery, diced
3 sweet potatoes, diced
2 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
5 cups or so of kale (I used about half of a bag of the already chopped kind)
2 cups cooked white beans
5 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1 tsp rosemary
Crushed red pepper to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
8 oz cooked orecchiette or other small pasta
Olive oil

1) In a dutch oven saute the onion, celery, carrots, and garlic until onion is translucent, then add the chicken stock, sweet potatoes, white beans, seasonings, and kale
2) Simmer soup until vegetables are soft and to your liking
3) Add the orecchiette and stir to combine, season to taste and pour into a giant bowl and enjoy!