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Sunday, November 27, 2011

And I really have tried new things!!!!!!!!

Wow!!! Where does the time go? I have tried several new, untried before recipes lately but have been a little busy and just have not taken the time to sit and write about them. I would offer a boatload of excuses but everyone knows what Thanksgiving weekend means right? For most people it means a weekend of reflection and Thanksgiving accompanied by some family time and possibly the beginning of the Christmas season. This year TheHub and I had a very different Thanksgiving weekend. Son3 was in New York and Philly with his high school band, which left TheHub and I unencumbered and free spirits. We had decided to go to the beach and have a very non traditional Thanksgiving week. Unfortunately TheHub had to work through Wednesday and then go in early Friday morning until about lunch. We were going to have to be home by midnight Friday anyway and there was no point in driving to Florida for just one measly day so we decided to stay home.


We did have options for celebrating Thanksgiving, but decided we really wanted to stay home and clean out the basement closet. We have been piling junk in it for over 3 years and have taken nothing out of it. We were Thankful for a day to purge. And trust me when I say it took most of the day to clear it out. This week I should make Goodwill very happy. We talked about going out to eat but neither wanted to quit and get gussied up for lunch so we ultimately chose to cook a light Thanksgiving lunch ( There is no "we" in cooking however. The " we" in kitchen "we" is always me. Well, other than the eating part and then we both do it.)

For Thanksgiving I cooked Rachel Ray's Herb Roasted Turkey and Pan Gravy. I had seen it on the Food Channel and searched for it online.












Eureka! I found it.




Ingredients
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
Directions
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.


I cooked this more or less as the recipes suggested, but altered the seasonings a little. Since I had a turkey breast in the fridge but had no fresh parsley or fresh bay leaves I used dried. I also used a little dried savory and thyme in the herb blend to shove under the birds skin. I did not use butter at all but infused olive oil with the bay leaves and it worked quite well for basting the breast.

Instead of just using the bay leaves to flavor the underside of the bird I put 2 stalks of dried lemon grass, bay leaves and 1 chopped up Granny Smith apple in the breast cavity and just roasted it, basting with the bay leaf infused olive oil.

It was without a doubt the best turkey I have ever cooked. Moist and flavorful! I will do this again and again. As for the gravy part, we I punted on that. I had a jar of turkey gravy in the pantry and convenience trumped flavor!. Hey! it was just a topping for mashed potatoes and it was only for the two of us. It was perfectly fine and was not worth my time worrying about making real gravy. I might do it next year, but then again I might use jarred gravy as well!

Since there were just the two of us for dessert also I tried a new take on an old favorite. This year I made pecan pie in canning jars. Using clean ( supposedly sterile, but I washed mine in the dishwasher) jars, put a large walnut size ball of pastry dough ( Your favorite recipe. Mine is Pillsbury prepared pie dough ) in each of 8 jars. With fingers or a dough tamper ( I only thought to get the dough tamper out of the drawer after the 4th jar and wow, did it ever make things go faster) press the dough to cover the bottom and 3/4 up the inside of the jar. Prepare the following filling.

1/2 cup real butter, melted,
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup dark corn syrup
2 eggs, a pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup of toasted pecans.

Mix all but the pecans until thoroughly blended then add the pecans. Stir well to incorporate and then fill the 8 mason jars equally. Bake until the crust is golden brown and the filling is set. I would give you a specific time but I think you just have to watch and keep checking. The recipe I used called for 30-45 minutes in a 350 degree oven. My stove took about 40 minutes.
THE OBJECT OF MAKING THEM LIKE THIS WAS TO HAVE ONE EACH FOR DESSERT AND THEN FREEZE THE REMAINING.

TheHub suggested I wait a day before freezing and I found out why. For 2 days he would sneak in the kitchen and come out with a little jar of pie. Now it is Sunday and we are down to one pie left. This is probably the best idea I have ever seen and the next time I make them I am going to freeze most before I tell anyone ( TheHub) I even have any. I think I am going to make some apple pies and pumpkin pies this week and have them sitting in the freezer waiting for a quick thaw and rewarm. I think it will be a good thing to have on hand for any impromptu Holiday meals.



The 3rd and final recipe I tried during the long weekend is from the cookbook that started my love of cooking. I do not ever remember not loving to be in the kitchen, in fact my parents have a picture of me at 2 stirring a pot in the kitchen. When I was in the 3rd or 4th grade my Beloved Sister and I got a cookbook as a together Christmas gift: Betty Crocker's Cookbook for Boy's and Girls. I would look at the recipes and salivate wanting to try them, and we really did try a good many of them. Especially the Jolly Breakfast Ring, which became a favorite. As I got older I cooked from my mom's adult cookbooks and then my own, My Beloved Sister took possession of the Betty Crocker book and I had not really thought of it until Son3 was in about the 4th grade. My childhood cookbook was reissued in it's original form, so of course i bought it for him ( At least I pretended it was for him) I still love reading it and seeing the things I used to make and getting to try some of those I never tried before. All my childhood I wanted to try this recipe but my mother would never let me ( Probably because it did not sound good to her), So finally for the first time umpteen years later I go to try ( Drumroll Please!!!!!)

Toasted Cheese-Bacon Sandwiches

4 slices toasted bread
8 slices cooked bacon
1 egg slightly beaten
3/4 cup grated cheese
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Mix the egg, cheese, paprika, and worcestershire sauce in a small bowl. Spread on the top of each slice of toasted bread and broil until the cheese is completely melted. Top each with 2 bacon slices and run under the broiler for about 1/2 minute. Serve hot and toasty.


Ok truthfully this sounded much better when I was a kid than it tasted. The worcestershire competed with the cheese flavor and changed the color a little. I thought the paprika neither added to nor subtracted from it. I will try this again but will make the following adjustments: Each sandwich needs 1/2 cup of cheese. The egg needs to be beaten until it is very fluffy and then mixed with the cheese. It would taste better to have a couple cheeses instead of just one type. Cheddar and Assiago maybe? Also when I make these again I will use some of the really delicious thick cut applewood smoked bacon ( like Nueske's).

I will omit the worcestershire and the paprika but will sprinkle some minced jalapeno before the cheese is broiled.
I had a picture of this but my phone auto-updated and I lost the image. Just imagine if you will cheese toast with 2 slices of bacon on it. That is pretty much what it looked like.

Since I am in a rush to finish out the remaining recipes I am going to be in a new recipe cooking flurry. Fortunately there are several things I want to try that can be prepared as small lunch portions. Whew! I thought I was going to have to cook supper every night this month!

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