It’s Turkey Time!

The biggest foodie day of the year is tomorrow, and I like many of you have been shopping and preparing, and researching. For those of you who are looking for the perfect turkey on Thanksgiving Day, I thought I would share:

MY FAVORITE TURKEY RECIPE

I thought this sounded good! Here is a turkey recipe that also includes the use of popcorn as a stuffing ingredient — imagine that. When I found this recipe, I thought it was perfect for people like me, who just are not sure how to tell when turkey is thoroughly cooked, but not dried out. Give this a try.

8 – 15 lb. turkey
1 cup melted butter
1 cup stuffing (Pepperidge Farm is Good)
1 cup un-popped popcorn (ORVILLE REDENBACHER’S LOW FAT IS BEST)
Salt/pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush turkey well with melted butter, salt, and pepper.
Fill cavity with stuffing and popcorn. Place in baking pan making sure the
neck end is toward the front of the oven, not the back.

After about 4 hours listen for the popping sounds.

When the turkey’s a** blows the oven door open and the bird flies across the room,…. it’s done.

NOTE: This recipe isn’t for turkey, it’s for LAUGHS. Please don’t try this at home. If you’re unsure on the best path to a delicious turkey, please see any of the pros on Food Network, or call the Butterball Hotline, or make RESERVATIONS instead of dinner.

And now I’m off to make my cranberry sauce, and prep the vegetables I’m using for my root vegetable stuffing. Two turkeys are thawing, my ham is thawed, and I still have to find more chairs…. More later!

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You are the salt of the earth

Aren’t these CUTE? I want them. Found on http://www.gizmodiva.com/

Well if I’m going to have an earworm, that’s a good one to have…

“You are the salt of the Earth,
You are the salt of the Earth,
But if that salt has lost it’s flavor it ain’t got much in it’s favor.
You can’t have that fault and be the salt of the Earth.”

Speaking of salt, one of my pet peeves is something my sweet spousal unit does at nearly EVERY SINGLE MEAL. Before ever taking a bite of anything I have cooked, he will grab a salt shaker and liberally dose his plate. He is not the only one who does this, I’ve seen folks in very nice restaurants receive their food and before tasting anything at all, they grab that salt shaker and salt away.

It is everything I can do not to scream.

Before y’all get the wrong idea, I am a HUGE proponent of salt. I LOVE salt. I buy and use a TON of salt, (Kosher, coarse sea salt, Fleur de sel, etc.) I have absolutely no problems with the sodium in my diet, but I almost NEVER EVER salt the food on my plate before eating it. The notable exception here is freshly sliced garden tomatoes.

Instead, I use salt on food before and during the cooking process. Why? Because the liberal application of salt to food, or to cooking liquid, actually intensifies the flavors of the food being cooked. Look up the term “osmosis.” Salting a food before it is cooked or the water that a food is being cooked in causes the water in the food to be expelled and that allows for flavors to intensify.

I liberally salt raw meat and let it sit a bit before cooking. I put salt in all of my baked recipes, I even add at least a pinch of salt to every dessert recipe I make. The water I use to cook vegetables or pasta is salted to the point of tasting like the ocean before the food ever goes in it. Salt ENHANCES flavor… but it enhances flavor most if applied BEFORE or DURING cooking.

Also take into account that there are ingredients in dishes that are inherently salty (Parmesan, feta, anchovies…). These ingredients do the same job that an application of Kosher does. Ever have spaghetti sauce that seemed a little bland? Add a little Parmesan as it heats up, and taste the magic.

Add salt after cooking and all you taste is… salt.

Now, as I said, there are exceptions. Tomatoes? Slice them thick, salt, drizzle a little high quality olive oil and I’m a happy girl. Watermelon and cantaloupe both benefit from a little sprinkle of salt. Sushi gets it’s extra YUM from the salt in soy sauce… but these foods are fresh/raw. By the way, lemon juice has many of the same abilities. If you have high blood pressure, or need to limit sodium, try lemon juice on your food. It really brightens up the flavor and “wakes up” your taste buds. Your more sensitive taste buds register more of the taste in your food and you get a more flavorful bite!

And I agree that sometimes (especially during certain monthly events) we just crave something salty. I’m all about salted caramels, and I am not ashamed to admit that I have salted BROWNIES to satisfy two cravings at once. Just keeping it real, y’all.

So, what to do? Shall I hide the salt shaker? Tell him I’ve already salted his food? Eat in another room from my spouse? Never go out to eat again?

Is there a tasteless salt look-alike that I can put in the tabletop shaker to fake out the heavy salters who eat with me? Help me out Internets, you may be the only hope left for my salty sanity.

Have a delicious weekend, folks!

I mounted a sauce tonight

Okay, I admit that title is for the laughs… because not so deep down, I have more in common with my adolescent son than I’d like to admit.

But I really did mount a sauce… and it was gooooooood. Go ahead… snicker all you want. I am!

Seriously, mounting a sauce is to take a water (or broth) based sauce and whisk in cold butter at the end. This thickens the sauce, gives it a glossy appearance, and also gives it a buttery finish or taste. I had a small beef tenderloin in the fridge, so I trimmed it of its silverskin (for instructions on how to do this, look here), seasoned with salt and pepper, put a garlic and herb rub on it and let it sit a moment. I pre-heat my oven to 350, put my cast iron skillet on the stove top with a little olive oil, and as it heated, I sliced some button mushrooms and set them aside. Once the oil began to shimmer, I seared the roast in that skillet, letting the surface develop a beautiful brown crust all over. Once it was well seared, I placed it into my Pampered Chef Deep Covered Baker with some garlic, small onions, and a splash of organic beef broth. Into the oven it went. I added a bit more olive oil to the skillet along with a small knob of butter (about a tablespoon), and when it heated, I laid the sliced mushrooms in the pan.

Here’s the thing about mushrooms… they’re like little bits of magic in a funny looking package. They will soak up flavors like a sponge (like that infused oil/butter mixture), but they also ADD a distinctive earthy flavor when they later release that fat and their own juices while browning. This is a culinary WIN-WIN! To brown the mushrooms, use a mixture of olive oil and butter (higher smoke point), DO NOT SALT them, and for goodness sake, make sure they aren’t crowded in the pan. Too many mushrooms in the same pan will all release their juices at the same time without enough surface area to cook it off, and you’ll end up with flabby steamed mushrooms rather than beautifully browned ones. You don’t really need to futz with them much either… just turn them a couple of times to make sure they get beautifully brown on both sides. It usually takes than 5 minutes a side for me to get gorgeous mushrooms.

Now you can salt them a bit, and add some black pepper… and it’s time to free up all that flavor on the bottom of the skillet. This stuff is GOLD – the meaty taste of the roast and tiny bits of browned mushroom! I added some of that beef broth to the skillet to de-glaze it, using my flat wooden spatula to scrape up all those amazing brown bits. The broth came to a boil pretty fast, so I turned the heat down and just let it simmer, lid off, with the mushrooms happily floating along.

My tenderloin finished cooking (I pulled it when the internal temperature reached 120 and let it rest, covered, on a serving plate) and I emptied the pan juices (and those cooked onions and garlic cloves) into my skillet as well. Again, I let the sauce cook down a bit, and found that the onion and garlic practically dissolved into the sauce too, also helping to thicken it. Bonus! My spouse sliced the beef after about 15-20 minutes rest time, and just as he finished, I whisked in about 2 Tablespoons of cold butter (cut into fairly thick slices) into my mushroom sauce. In no time the butter melted and emulsified with the pan juices, giving the sauce a gloss and thickening it further. Please note this is NOT a gravy… it is not as thick as if it had been thickened with a starch, but rather it is a lovely sauce with medium body and a deep brown sheen. I grabbed some fresh parsley, chopped it up (a couple of Tablespoons) and as I took the sauce off the heat, I added the herbs and gave it a quick stir to incorporate.

Man oh man was that the perfect accompaniment to the slices of beef! Rich, deep in flavor, I clearly tasted not only the mushrooms, but roasted garlic, the sweetness of the onion, a little spice from the black pepper and finally that parsley just sang through the buttery mouth feel. I paired the beef with fresh green beans, and a Caprese salad made from not ONLY locally grown tomatoes, but also locally produced fresh mozzarella.

Nothing like a little mounting before eating, I always say. Well I don’t ALWAYS say it, but maybe I should.

By the way you can also mount cheese sauces and risotto. And if the end result is tasty enough, you might get mounted yourself.

Go mount something! You’ll be glad you did.

Oh dear, I may have gone too far there. I’d apologize… if I could JUST STOP GIGGLING.

My life is a learning experience

I may have mentioned that I have been feeling poorly over the past few days. It really started on Friday at work, when I started sniffling AND learned the outcome of the two job interviews I went on. Then it came to a deafening crescendo today when I was, quite frankly, unable to rouse myself out of bed to go to work, or to stop sneezing for a full two and half MINUTES (the longest of my life) this afternoon. It was then that I realized that I had been completely whooped by the microscopic sex cells of plants.

I was humbled. Then I realized that this was a LEARNING opportunity for me… so allow me to share with you what I’ve learned over the past four days. Some are food related, some are not. All are true:

You will eat ice cream in times of stress before your job interview and this is okay. Because when you get two rejections in one day, you won’t feel like eating at all.

Ragweed is the devil.

It is possible for the human nose to produce and expel enough snot to wipe out an entire box of tissues, plus two whole rolls of toilet paper.
This copious amount of matter leaving your body will NOT be reflected as weight lost. It is a cruel joke of nature.

With your nose on the fritz, you cannot smell. When you cannot smell, you cannot taste. This will NOT stop your appetite. You will make everything in the house in an attempt to satisfy your appetite. Nothing will work (see: NO SMELL/TASTE).

In your attempts to appease your appetite, you will use every dish in your house, and it will irritate your husband and children as they are left to clean it up.

Even the softest tissues will rub and chafe your nose. However, Chap Stick does the same wonderful job on chapped nose skin as it does on your lips.

Do not use the same Chap Stick for both jobs.

Allergy medicines like Benadryl are effective for relieving nasal symptoms. Hot tea is effective for relieving allergy related sore throat symptoms. A combination of enough Benadryl and hot tea are effective in replicating the feeling of vodka mixed with Red Bull – minus all the fun parts.

When the rain comes and you can once again breathe, and smell, and taste…it is acceptable to once again have ice cream for dinner. Call it a celebration and don’t feel guilty.