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Archive for Thanksgiving & Fall

TIP OF THE DAY: Turkey For July 4th & All Year ‘Round

Jennie O Oven Ready Turkey

Jennie-O Oven Ready Turkey

Sweet Potato Salad

[1] and [2] Roast turkey is a year-round treat, especially when all you have to do is put a frozen turkey in a bag in the oven (photos courtesy Jennie-O). [3] Sweet potato salad made summery with corn and tomatoes. Here’s the recipe from Averie Cooks.

 

June is National Turkey Lover’s Month.

There are turkey burgers and turkey hot dogs, ground turkey for meatballs or meat loaf, and turkey sandwiches from turkey breast or [far less appealing] turkey roll.

But the turkey everyone looks forward to is the Thanksgiving turkey (well, except a few folks like our friend Terry’s dad, who doesn’t like poultry).

So why is a roast turkey on the table only once a year?
 
THE EASIEST ROAST TURKEY YOU CAN MAKE, ANYTIME

You can have a delicious turkey (photo #1) year-round with very little effort, with an oven-ready frozen turkey from Jennie-O. It’s our best discovery so far this year.

The turkey comes in a bag with a handle for easy carrying (photo #2). Thanks to whomever thought of this (and other turkey producers, take note).

Just take the turkey from the freezer, remove the outer bag, and place the frozen turkey, housed in an inner bag, into the oven.

That’s it: There’s nothing to baste or watch over. It cooks up super-moist and juicy. And clean-up is minimal.

We received our Jennie-O Oven-Ready Whole Turkey as a sample. We couldn’t believe it would be as easy as described, or produce as good a turkey as the typical frozen turkey, thawed before roasting.

But it is! Jennie-O has a new customer in us, and we’ll have whole roasted turkey much more often, and soon (see the next section).

We also will likely forgo our annual heirloom bird at Thanksgiving, because Jennie-O Oven Ready is just too easy to pass up. (And who likes to scrub a roasting pan?)

TURKEY FOR JULY 4TH

We’re having a roast turkey on July 4th. Turkey was almost America’s national bird, after all. As for those burgers, franks, chicken and steaks: We have them all the time. They’re not exactly a celebration.

There won’t be stuffing or cranberry sauce. We’re making summer sides: sweet potato salad, and a farmers market green salad with a dried cranberry vinaigrette.

We have three bags of cranberries in the freezer, and are planning cranberry sorbet for dessert.

Some participants have been asked to bring potluck dishes that complement a summer roast turkey. We know two of them: corn salad and zucchini ribbon “pasta” salad. We can’t wait to see what the others bring!
 
BACK TO JENNIE-O…

Jennie-O Oven Ready Whole Turkey is also available with Cajun seasonings. Both come with a packet of gravy.

The gravy included with our turkey is not the greatest; but we added Gravy Master, and then bourbon, which helped.

Truth to tell, the turkey is so moist and flavorful, no gravy is necessary. Or, you can make gravy from the drippings in the bag.

 
Don’t like dark meat? Jennie-O offers Oven Ready Turkey Breast options: Bone In, Cajun Bone In, and Boneless.

Check out the line of Jennie-O turkey products including fresh, natural turkeys; cutlets; franks and brats; burgers and ground meat; tenderloins; sausages; meatballs, bacon; even turkey pot roast!

Need turkey tips? Visit Jennie-O for:

  • How to Buy a Whole Turkey
  • How to Thaw a Frozen Turkey
  • How to Brine a Turkey
  • How to Marinate a Turkey
  • How to Rub a Turkey
  • How to Cook a Turkey
  • How to Ensure a Juicy Turkey
  • How to Grill a Turkey, Gas Or Charcoal
  • How to Smoke a Turkey
  • How to Carve a Turkey
  • How to Store Leftover Turkey Properly
  • How To Slow Cook A Turkey Breast
  •  
    THE HISTORY OF THE TURKEY
     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Stenciled Cheese For Holidays (St. Patrick’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Christmas…)

    Add a little luck of the Irish to cheese and other foods, by creating a shamrock garnish made of herbs.

    You can apply the same technique to other themes: Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day hearts, stars for Christmas, Independence Day and New Year’s, pumpkins for Halloween, and so forth.

    You also can use edible glitter, which provides no flavor but adds gorgeous color.

    Spices allow you to play with the colors of the garnish, for example:

  • For Christmas, make separate stencils for green herbs and red spices.
  • Red spices for hearts: cayenne, chile flakes, kebab masala, paprika, red tandoori spice blend.
  • Yellow spices or gold glitter for stars: coriander seeds, cumin, curry, fenugreek, ras el hanout, turmeric.
  • Orange spices for Halloween and Thanksgiving: Cajun seasoning, tandoori masala.
  •  
    RECIPE: STENCILED CHEESE

    Select any cheese(s) that’s moist enough to hold the herbs: burrata, cream cheese log, goat cheese log, feta, fresh mozzarella, paneer, queso panela or ricotta salata.

    Print out the shamrock stencil (or other design) here. Print out a few copies for cutting practice.

    You can make a regular stencil or a reverse stencil, both shown in the photo.

    Ingredients

  • Assorted fresh herbs, finely chopped
  • Cheese(s) of choice
  • Paper stencil
  • Small piece plastic wrap
  • For serving: bread, crackers, fruit
  •  
    ________________
    *Blend two or three herbs: dill, chervil, chives, parsley or tarragon, etc.

     

    Shamrock Cheese

    Herb & Spice Colors

    [1] Shamrock style with a stencil (photo and recipe idea courtesy Vermont Creamery). [2] Spices and herbs provide colors for any occasion (photo courtesy Renegade Expressions).

     
    Preparation

    1. CUT out the shamrock stencil and press it firmly onto the cheese.

    2. PRESS the herbs into the stencil. You can place a piece of plastic wrap over the herbs for easier pressing.

    3. GENTLY PEEL off the plastic and stencil. Clean the lines with a pointed tweezers, as needed.

    4. SERVE with bread, crackers and fruit (apples, grapes, orange/mandarin segments, pears, etc).
     
     
    TIP FOR SLICED FRUIT

    Instead of coating apples or pears in lemon juice to keep them from browning, coat them in calcium-fortified 100% apple juice.

    Here are more ways to keep fruits from browning.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Cranberry Mulled Wine

    She uses a slow cooker: a great way to mull wine or cider without having to tend to it.

    After years of serving mulled wine, we realized that the popular garnishes are wasteful: They can’t be eaten, and are tossed out. That means you, cinnamon sticks, curls of peel, raw cranberries and star anise. So, we’ve settled on a seasonal garnishes that is edible, attractive and aromatic:

  • Orange wheel for the rim, especially blood orange; or a wedge studded with a few cloves for the aroma.
  • We’ve also made a glass rim of orange zest with a bit of superfine sugar.
  • For the same reason, we add dried cranberries to the pot instead of whole cranberries.
  •  
    We start with a conventional recipe and end up with a slow cooker alternative. Slow mulling is great because it doesn’t take up a stove top burner that you may need for cooking.
     
    TIPS

  • the juice and the brandy bring the yield to 46 ounces. If you’re serving 6-ounce portions in 8-ounce cups, that’s roughly 6 servings.
  • Make a batch without alcohol: mulled Apple cider with cranberry juice.
  •  
    RECIPE #1: CRANBERRY MULLED WINE

    We adapted this classic recipe from Wine And Glue.

    TIP: Serve mulled wine in a glass vessel. If you don’t have glass mugs or Irish Coffee glasses, consider getting some. They’re not more than $5 apiece, and you can use them year-round for any hot beverage. Rocks glasses and stemmed wine glasses also work.

    Ingredients

  • 750 ml bottle Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Zinfandel (un-oaked)
  • 1-1/2 cups brandy
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 oranges, sliced and studded with 1 tablespoon cloves
  • 1 cup cranberry juice (not cranberry drink or cocktail)
  • 1/3 cup honey or sugar (we prefer the flavor nuances of honey and use only 1/4 cup for less sweetness, more sophisticated flavor)
  • Optional: 5 cardamom pods, bruised
  •    

    Holiday Mulled Wine

    Orange Studded With Cloves

    [1] The conventional garnishes look beautiful, but you can’t eat them (photo courtesy Kitchen Treaty). [2] Our favorite garnish: an orange wedge (edible) studded with a few cloves (photo courtesy The Guardian).

     
    Variations

  • If you have cranberry liqueur, you can substitute it for all or part of the brandy.
  • Ditto for orange liqueur, like Grand Marnier.
  • Both of these will change the flavor profile a bit: more cranberry or orange flavor.
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE all ingredients in a large sauce pan. Bring to a quick boil, then reduce to a low simmer for 10 minutes. You don’t want the alcohol to evaporate.

    2. SERVE warm. If you don’t have glass cups or mugs, you can also use stemmed wine glasses or rocks glasses.
     
    RECIPE #2: SLOW COOKER CRANBERRY MULLED WINE

    We adapted this recipe from Kate at Kitchen Treaty.

    Ingredients

  • 1 bottle (750 ml) unoaked Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Zinfandel
  • 2 cups cranberry* juice (not cranberry cocktail)
  • 1 cup whole cranberries
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar (substitute honey or maple syrup)
  • 1 medium orange
  • 2 tablespoons whole cloves
  • 2 3-inch cinnamon sticks
  • 1/2 cup brandy
  • Garnishes of choice
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the wine, orange juice, cranberries, and sugar to a 3-quart or larger slow cooker. Stir to help the sugar dissolve.

    2. SCRUB the orange, stud it with cloves and add it to the pot. If you don’t have the time to insert the cloves, just toss them into the pot separately. There are two techniques to stud an orange: use a thimble on your finger (pushing in more than a few starts to dent your finger) or first make holes with an ice pick or toothpick.

    3. COOK on low for 2-3 hours, until the cranberries are tender. Be sure not to boil. Remove the orange and the cinnamon sticks, then carefully pour the mulled wine through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl. Use the back of a large spoon to press on the cranberries and release the juices. Return the wine to the slow cooker and stir in the brandy. Taste and adjust the sweetness until it’s just sweet enough (the sweetness should be more elegant than a soft drink!).

    4. LADLE into mugs, garnish as desired and serve. Keep the slow cooker on the low setting so guests can help themselves to refills. Kitchen Treaty advises that if kept on low for more than three hours, it will boil—and boil off the alcohol.

     

    Mulled Wine Recipe

    Mulled Wine

    [3] and [4] Glass mugs or rocks glasses make mulled wine look even better (photo #1 courtesy Gimme Some Oven. Ali adds star anise to her recipe. Photo #2 courtesy Gordon Ramsay Group).

     

    RECIPE #3: MULLED WINE WITH VODKA

    This ingredient comes from Ocean Spray. The vodka is optional, but we highly recommend it!
     
    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1-1/2 cups Ocean Spray 100% Juice Cranberry Juice Blend
  • 1-1/2 cups dry red wine
  • 3/4 teaspoon lemon peel
  • 3/4 teaspoon grated orange peel
  • 6 whole cardamom pods
  • 6 cloves
  • 2 three-inch cinnamon sticks
  • 6 ounces lemon flavored Vodka (substitute other citrus vodka or plain vodka)
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries/Craisins
  • 2 tablespoons slivered almonds
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE all ingredients except the vodka, dried cranberries and almonds in a large saucepan. Heat to boiling, reduce the heat and simmer 15 for minutes.

    2. STRAIN to remove the spices. Stir in the vodka,

    3. PLACE 1 tablespoon of dried cranberries and 1-1/2 teaspoons almonds in the bottom of each glass or mug. Pour the in mulled wine and serve.
     
    WHAT DOES “MULLED” MEAN?

    According to Harvard University, the origin of the word “mull” to mean heated and spiced is shrouded in mystery. Mulling spices can include allspice, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, peppercorns and/or star anise. A “mulled” drink is one which has been prepared with these spices. The same spices can be added to the brewing process to make spiced beer.

    The custom is believed to have originated in northern Europe to use wine that had gone bad. The spices covered up the off taste, along with additions such as apples, oranges and dried fruits, including raisins.

     
    The technique is to heat the liquids with the spices and then strain them out before serving.

    The expression “cup of good cheer” comes to us from Merrie Olde England, referring to hot mulled cider and wine.

    “Wassail” (WASS-ul), meaning good health, began as a greeting among Anglo-Saxons, who inhabited England from the 5th century. They comprised Germanic tribes who migrated to the island from continental Europe, and initially spoke what we today call Old English.

    Centuries later, the term evolved into a drinking toast. The wassail bowl tradition began in the 14th century in southern England, home to apple groves galore and a lot of apple cider. The first wassail bowls contained hot mulled cider. When you come across references to “a cup of good cheer,” it refers to mulled cider or wine.

      

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    RECIPE: Skillet Cornbread

    Skillet Cornbread Recipe

    New England Open House Cookbook

    Corn Bread Squares

    [1] The earliest cornbread was made in a skillet: Rectangular baking pans were not yet in use. This recipe is courtesy [2] the New England Open House Cookbook by Sarah Leah Chase. [3] Corn pone, also called hoe cakes and johnny cakes, was the immigrant European’s version of the Native American cornmeal flatbread. [4] Today cornbread is most often cooked in a rectangular pan, like this recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction.

     

    Serve this skillet cornbread for breakfast with eggs.

    Or serve it for lunch with a bowl of hearty soup and/or a salad.

    The recipe is from the New England Open House Cookbook via Vermont Creamery, which used its exquisite cultured butter and crème fraîche. Chopped scallions create a piquant counterpoint to the rich dairy.

    The garnish is optional, but adds excitement to an already yummy dish. Crème fraîche or sour cream, plus fresh chopped scallions, are a delightful finish.

    We have three more cornbread recipes for your perusal:

  • Buffalo Chicken Cornbread With Blue Cheese Salad
  • Queso Fresco & Scallion Cornbread
  • Marcus Samuelsson’s Jalapeño Cornbread (video recipe)
  •  
    RECIPE: SKILLET CORNBREAD

    Ingredients

  • 1-1/3 cup cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1-3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup buttermilk (you can make your own—see footnote*)
  • 2 eggs
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup fresh corn, cut from the cob
  • Optional: 1-2 tablespoon fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • Optional: 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh jalapeños, mixed red and green, or to taste
  •  
    For The Garnish

  • 8 ounces crème fraîche (you can make your own) (substitute sour cream)
  • 2-3 scallions or fresh herbs (basil, chives, cilantro, parsley, sage, thyme), chopped
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F. Mix together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl.

    2. WHISK together in another bowl the milk, buttermilk and eggs. Pour in the melted butter and stir well. Add these wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir till combined. Gently fold in the corn kernels.

    3. POUR into the prepared cast iron skillet. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until done.

    4. TO SERVE: Top with crème fraîche and a sprinkle of scallions.
     
    ________________
    *To make buttermilk, just add a tablespoon of distilled white vinegar to a cup measure and add enough milk to make an even cup. Let stand five minutes.

     
    THE HISTORY OF CORNBREAD

    Corn, which originated in what today is Mexico, was turned into flatbread–the tortilla—in its native land. Leavened breads were not indigenous, and the concept of raised bread wasn’t known until the arrival of the Spanish.

    As corn spread from Mexico northward, it was cultivated by Native Americans across the southern region of what is now the United States. When European settlers arrived, they learned to cultivate and cook corn from the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Creek.

    The North American natives had also learned to make another unleavened cornbread, in the form of flat oval cakes or loaves. Mixing cornmeal and water, they cooked the batter in hot ashes.

    The Europeans called it cornpone, or pone. Pone is a shortened version of the Virginia Algonquian word for bread, appone; although pone is fried cooked gruel rather than flatbread (the fine points can be argued, but not here and now).

     

    The immigrant Europeans added some salt and fried the mixture in lard in their skillets. Skillet breads, pies, etc. date back generations before people had home ovens, much less baking pans. Everything was cooked over a fire in a cast iron pot or a skillet; or in some towns, in a central community oven.

    In parts of England, hoe was a colloquial term for griddle. The tale that hoe cakes were cooked by field workers on their hoes over a fire is a story perpetuated but not substantiated.

    The fried corn batter is also known as hoe cakes and johnnycakes. Today, outside the South, we call them corn pancakes.

    Here’s a recipe for hoecakes and for johnnycakes; the photos are below.
     
    Johnnycake is similar, The modern johnnycake is found in the cuisine of New England, A modern johnnycake is fried cornmeal gruel, which is made from yellow or white cornmeal mixed with salt and hot water or milk, and sometimes sweetened

    The immigrants adapted cornmeal to their European recipes: bread loaves and muffins, corncakes, fritters, hoecakes and pancakes, liquor, porridge and so on. Most people had little cooking equipment. The skillet served multiple purposes, from frying to baking.

    Cornbread became popular as the main ingredient for a dressing or stuffing with fowl (the difference: stuffing is cooked inside the bird; dressing is cooked in a separate pan).
     
    What Is Cornmeal?

    Cornmeal is produced by grinding dried raw corn grains. The finest grind is used for baking, a medium grind for porridge and polenta, and a coarse grind for grits. Raw corn kernels spoked in hot water and an alkaline mineral like calcium hydroxide is called hominy (pozole in Spanish) and ground and mixed into masa harina, the dough used to make tamales and tortillas.

    Cornbread can be baked or fried, even steamed. Steamed cornbread is more like cornmeal pudding or mush, moist and chewier than a traditional bread. Here’s more on the evolution of cornbread plus early cornbread recipes.

    One thing to note: Originally cornbread did not contain sugar. As disposable income increased, this expensive ingredient was added as a variation, to make cornbread more like a cake.

    Unfortunately, more and more sugar was added until cornbread became an overly-sweet, simple bread. That’s fine if you want cake; you can serve sweet cornbread with berries and whipped cream.

    But if it’s bread you want, lose the sugar. We prefer to add whole corn kernels for sweetness, or enjoy cornbread as a savory bread.
     
    CRÈME FRAÎCHE, MASCARPONE OR SOUR CREAM?

    When should you use which? Here are the differences.

    Here are the differences.

     

    Corn Pone

    Johnnycakes

    Original Corn Plant

    [1] Hoecakes. Here’s the recipe from the Wall Street Journal (photo Christopher Testani | Wall Street Journal). [2] Johnnycakes come in different shapes—flatter, plumper, individual or the size of an entire skillet. Here’s the recipe for these pancake-syle johnnycakes from About.SouthernFood.com. [3] Who would have imagined that the wisp at the left evolved into the plump ear of corn we know today? Here’s the whole story.

      

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    RECIPE: Cranberry & Pomegranate Holiday Brie

    Baked Brie is a special-occasion favorite, and very easy to make.

    It goes great with sparkling and still wines and cocktails.

    In the spirit of the season, this easy recipe from Liren Baker of Kitchen Confidante will have guests fighting for the cheese knife. It’s a good thing this recipe makes two wheels!

    TIP: If you’re short of time, buy the whole cranberry sauce and only quickly the pecans in spice without candying. You’ll still have a holiday theme on top of the brie.

    RECIPE: CRANBERRY POMEGRANATE BAKED BRIE

    Ingredients For 2 Eight-Inch Wheels

  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries (about 3 cups)
  • 1 cup pomegranate juice
  • 1 cup table sugar, to taste
  • 1 cup pomegranate arils
  • 2 eight-ounce brie wheels
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup candied pecan or walnut halves
  • Garnish: fresh rosemary, spiced or candied pecans or walnuts*
  • Breads and/or crackers for serving
  •  
    Preparation

    Our recommendation is to cook the cranberries two days in advance. The sweetness of the juice and sugar needs time to penetrate the tartness of the cranberries.

    1. COMBINE the cranberries, pomegranate juice and sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, turn the dial to simmer and cook for 5-10 minutes, or until all cranberries have popped.

    2. STIR in the pomegranate arils. Transfer to a jar with a lid; cool completely before adding the lid and placing the cranberries in the fridge. After the first day, taste and add more sweetener as desired.

    3. REMOVE the cranberries from the fridge a few hours before serving; allow them to come to room temperature.

    4. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Place the wheels of brie on ovenproof serving dishes or on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for about 7 minutes, until the cheese starts to soften. Top with the honey and cranberry pomegranate sauce and return to the oven for about 2-3 more minutes, or until the brie is gooey and soft.

    5. REMOVE from the oven, top with candied walnuts and garnish with rosemary. Serve warm with breads and crackers.
     
    RECIPE #2: CANDIED OR SPICED NUTS

    You can candy the nuts—sugar only—or add spice for spiced nuts.

    Ingredients For 1/2 Cup

  • 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon sugar, honey or maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup nut halves
  •  

    Christmas Baked Brie

    Candied Nuts Recipe

    Fresh Rosemary

    [1] A holiday baked brie from Liren Baker of Kitchen Confidante. [2] Candied walnuts photo courtesy Babble. [3] Rosemary is the “Christmas herb,” because it resembles evergreen (photo courtesy Burpee).

     
    For Spiced Nuts

  • 1/8 teaspoon total* cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice and/or cayenne
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MELT the butter in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sugar, stirring constantly until it dissolves. Take care that the mixture doesn’t scorch.

    2. ADD the nuts and stir to coat thoroughly. Pour the nuts onto a sheet of aluminum foil and let them cool, about 15 minutes. Store up to 2 days in an airtight container.

     
    ________________
    *Try this small amount and then increase the spices according to your preference.

      

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