We’re at it again!
So summer is long over and winter is upon us, but Aliza is STILL bringing me farm raised goodies!
As I’ve mentioned prior, the farm to table mentality is one that I embrace. If you haven’t yet, you NEED to connect with your local farmer.
With Thanksgiving on the way, this time she opted to bring an 11 pound turkey; one she raised and butchered herself! Truth be told, I’ve never cooked a turkey, but jumped at the opportunity to prepare one that came from a farm I know and more importantly one of my friends.
Of course, no “prep-party” with Tai & Aliza would be complete without lots of wine, and her favorite, cheesecake from scratch. This time I surprised her with a chocolate, Kahlua version of the latter!
Before you go out and buy that pre-packaged, chemically brined, holiday bird, source one locally – it will be more expensive, but isn’t it worth the peace of mind, knowing where it came from?
Herb Rubbed Turkey
11 lb. Turkey
2 sticks butter (may be unsalted)
2 heads garlic
1 T allspice
1 T ground ginger
2 T salt
1 T cayenne pepper
2 T black pepper
1 onion quartered
1 lemon cut in half
2 stalks celery
2 cups chicken/veggie broth or amber ale (we used the ale)
Blend of carrots celery and onion to line the bottom of roasting pan.
In a food processor pulse together 1 head of garlic –peeled, with thyme, sage and rosemary, reserving a few stalks of herbs to stuff the cavity.
Remove garlic and herb medley from processor and add to a bowl. Add both sticks of room temperature butter to the herb medley. Top with additional spices, i.e. allspice, ginger, salt peppers. Using a fork, work the butter until all herbs and spices are fully combined. Set aside
Quarter onion, half lemon, and cut the additional head of garlic in half without peeling.
Add some herb butter to the cavity – distribute well. Add onions, garlic, celery, lemon and remaining herbs. Tie turkey legs with kitchen twine.
Smear butter all over the bird, making sure to spread some under the skin (this will ensure flavor and help to keep the bird moist).
Line roasting pan with assortment of celery, onion, carrots, stock/beer.
Place bird atop roasting rack, breast side down. (Ever have an extra dry turkey breast? Or one under-cooked? We don’t want that with our farm raised bird! Cooking breast side down for the first 1.5 hours will allow two things: a.) help to keep the breast moist. b.) ensure that it is cooked.) Cover
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. While the oven is preheating allow the bird to rest.
Place covered roaster in oven – set timer for 1.5 hrs.
When timer goes off, remove roaster, flip bird, and baste with turkey jus. Return to the oven covered for an additional 25 minutes.
Baste again. If herb butter remains (it’s quite difficult not to devour this stuff on pretzel crackers– just ask Aliza!), smear what remains over the bird. Return uncovered to oven.
Continue to roast until brown – about an hour.
Let turkey rest. Then Carve and enjoy!
WARNING: place bird while resting in a safe location. You don’t want your pet friends running away the turkey – see A Christmas Story!
Cooking times will vary according to the weight of bird. Many articles that I’ve read suggest that because farm raised birds aren’t filled with preservatives, they cook in a shorter time. When in doubt – use a meat thermometer. Check the roasting chart from About.com - http://homecooking.about.com/library/archive/blturkey7.htm
Sundays are usually reserved for cooking elaborate, eat-left-overs-during-the-week meals. Sometimes I don’t feel like making fancy appetizers, but while we wait for dinner to simmer away and endure the torture of heavenly aromas, we find ourselves craving snacks.
This is a perfect solution: simple, elegant, and so delicious!
Bamboo Skewers with assorted olives. Prosciutto wrapped Mozzarella atop crackers with sliced, garden-fresh tomatoes, & a light drizzle of basil oil.
Oven Baked Spicy Jerk Chicken Wings
At my house this is a game day staple and so very easy!
Start with a bag of frozen chicken wings and Kings Jamrock Jerk (or other favorite brand). Rinse thawed chicken and pat dry. Add chicken to a large baking dish, top with marinade and toss to coat wings in deliciousness! Refrigerate over night, allowing flavors to marry. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 40 minutes to an hour, turning once half way through. Serve with carrots, celery sticks, blue cheese or ranch dressing. Oh, and extra napkins!!
The perfect, simple dessert for a brisk evening. As much as the island girl in me hates to admit it, hates to see summer go, Autumn, with its beautiful foliage, is upon us. One of the things that helped me fall in love with Vermont (believe it or not), was Apple Crisp. I’ve never been much of a dessert person and so perhaps it was my love of instant apple-cinnamon oatmeal (I know terrible. I’ve since upgraded to steel-cut, a later blog) that made this treat capture my heart. Whatever the reason, I can’t think of one better recipe to celebrate Fall and welcome the apple harvest… unless of course its Island-Drunk-Spiced-Baked-Acorn-Squash! I followed the traditional Betty Crocker recipe, with a few minor changes: http://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/apple-crisp/3715a45c-3c00-430c-bbe2-9865f9013238
***Because I was awaiting company and wanted to serve the crisp warm from the oven, I tossed the apples with lemon juice prior to adding them to the buttered dish. I assembled the dish and then refrigerated till ready to bake. (Allow some time to come to temp before baking. No one wants to see their hard work shattered in the oven). * ½ cup packed light brown sugar + 2 T of Vermont Pure Grade B maple syrup, instead of the suggested ¾ C brown sugar. 1 pinch salt
Tuscan White Bean with Spinach
So while everyone was enjoying the last fun weekend before the end of summer, I was curled up under a blanket battling a sinus infection. Not to say I didn’t enjoy cuddling with my hubby and watching TV, but my body needed some healing by way of soup.
Truth: Grandma’s chicken soup could cure anything; I swear there was an extra dose of love simmered in there. Since giving up chicken, this has been one of my premiere struggles – finding a soup that could warm me the way hers did. Sure I love minestrone and lentil soup but they just don’t do what chicken noodle used to do. Finally, I think I’ve found a solution.
I love working with beans from scratch. In the Caribbean, my home, we use beans for everything: soups, stews, sides. Navy beans, Northern white beans; whatever you choose to call them, though not popular in the West Indies, has a buttery, creamy goodness of its own. The hint of turmeric and the caramelized onions, makes this one well worth trying. I promise it won’t disappoint – even my husband commented on the full flavors of this creation.
1 ½ C Dried Navy Beans (soaked overnight or quick soak method), 1 large onion – diced, 1 red bell pepper diced, 2 stalks of celery diced, 3 cloves of garlic minced, 3 small carrots – peeled and diced, 1 habanero whole (optional but I like it hot!), T ground thyme, 2 large handfuls of spinach, 2 Knorr vegetable bouillons, 5 cups of water, 2 dried bay leaves, 1 t of turmeric – for color. Salt and Pepper to taste.
Sauté onions in 2 T olive oil until they are translucent, add celery, garlic, and bell pepper. Continue sautéing for a few minutes until vegetables soften. Add thyme and turmeric, toss to coat veggies. Add pre-soaked beans to the pot. Mix all ingredients together, pour in 5 cups of water. I’m OBSESSED with my pressure cooker – so I did all the steps in the pressure cooker then pressured the soup for 12 minutes! Yes I know – hearty bean soup in 12 minutes! Don’t have a pressure cooker, or scared to try one (I was too)? No worries - this could easily be done on the stove top. In that case, bring items in pot to a boil, add bay leaves and habanero if using, reduce heat, cover and leave to simmer – 1-1.5 hours depending on altitude – check for beans to be creamy and buttery in a beautiful golden broth. Another great option would be to prepare this recipe in a slow cooker. I would advise browning the vegetables and then adding them to the slow cooker. Reducing the amount of water may also be necessary. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Add the spinach, salt and pepper to taste, after the soup has cooked. Grab a ladle, for me- a mug (the way grandma used to serve it), a spoon and enjoy!
With fall on the way, and the dreadful cold of winter close behind, this will be a recipe that I revisit often. Don’t forget to share your thoughts and give a like. Follow me for recipes and other fun stuff: www.peckish101.tumblr.com
Pickling With a Pickering
When my friend Aliza, who is also a farmer, said she wanted to make and can pickles, Suzy home maker over here was beyond excited. Canning for me is the highlight of summers end, amazing flavors to be savored during the dead of winter.
What I didn’t anticipate was that she would show up with two bushels of cukes! Four hours and half a bottle of wine later we had quarts of kosher dill pickles and pints upon pints of bread and butters.
Support local farmers. The farm to table mentality is etched in my character: hence the reason I have farmer friends. I have both fond and vivid childhood memories of boxes of fresh produce being delivered (my house smells like those boxes now) to my grandmother from our farming relatives in the country. I loved best all the excitement that followed as Grandma tried to figure out what to do with things before they spoiled. In this day and age it’s so important to know where your food comes from and what goes into producing & preserving it! Plus the diy process can be so much fun!
On Pickling Cucumbers …
No canning rack? Have no fear! My Mcgyver like husband threw this one together in minutes from canning jar lids held by cooking twine. Be sure to place glass jars on a rack! In early years I learned this lesson the hard way!
Ice and salt the cukes! Do not skip this step! Icing cucumbers whether kosher (quartered or sliced) or bread and butter, alters the consistency of the cuke. Watch and see: after a few hours they become more pickle like! I also think the temperature changes (almost reverse blanching ie cold to hot) helps to secure that crunch we love so much!
Now I challenge you to go hit up you’re local farmer and get pickling, though I have to admit, it’s way more fun with a Pickering!