Sunday, November 18, 2012

Thanksgiving Feast 2012!

This year my girls are with their dad for Thanksgiving.  They will be getting a chance to spend Thanksgiving with there Grandfather, who is a wonderful man, and all of that side of the family.  So Kelly and I will be going to spend Thanksgiving with my family in Reno, which I'm excited for, but I was a little bummed that we wouldn't be getting to cook our own Thanksgiving dinner together.  So a last minute decision was made that he would come this way the weekend before, while I had my girls on an off weekend and we would throw together a little family Thanksgiving dinner of our own.  Since it was a last minute decision and I'm working a lot these days there wasn't enough time for me to do my normal "from scratch" cooking with everything - so we had, as Sandra Lee says, a semi homemade Thanksgiving.  And it was DELISH!

Here is the menu:
A brined and smoked turkey (pre-brined and spice rubbed by Foster Farms)
Cranberry Sauce with Port and Dried Figs
King Hawaiian Sweet Rolls
Simple Is Best Dressing
Celery root mashed potatoes
Shitake Mushroom Gravy
Cucumber, Pear and Fennel Salad
Steamed Carrots and green beans in butter and tarragon.
Dessert:  Hostess Ding Dongs and Ho Ho's - just because it's our last chance!  There would have been Twinkies too if any were left on the shelves.

And now.....for the recipes (how to's):
The Turkey was a pre-brined Foster Farms turkey rubbed in paprika, onion and unspecified spices.  It smelled quite good for a commercial rub!  Kelly smoked it on my charcoal Weber Bar B Q over apple wood.  This is hard to explain, other then you need to cook it over indirect heat and keep a meat thermometer in the turkey and cook it until around 155 degrees.  Instructions will tell you 165, but if you take it off at 155 and let it rest under foil, it will finish cooking and you won't have a dry turkey, but it will be cooked all the way through.   Once charcoals are ready, move them to one side of the bbq and set the turkey over the other side.  Put the lid on, and remove it as little as possible.  Be sure you've soaked the wood chips, and put them on about half way through cooking.  I would say it took around 3 1/2 hours for us to cook a 12 lb turkey.

Cranberry Sauce:
I've been making this sauce for years and it's ALWAYS a favorite.  Way better then that weird jelly stuff in a can, and very easy!
1 2/3 cup ruby port - I usually use Tawny port and it turns out just fine
1/4 balsamic vinegar
8 dried black Mission figs, stemmed and chopped
1 6 inch sprig of fresh rosemary
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 12 ounce bag of fresh cranberies
3/4 cup sugar.
Combine the first six ingredients in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Stir until the sugar dissolves.  Reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes.  Remove the rosemary sprig.  Mix in the cranberries and 3/4 cup sugar.  Cook over medium heat until the liquid is slightly reduced and the cranberries are burst, stirring occasionally.  This takes about 6 minutes.  Cool and transfer to a bowl and chill.  This can be made a week ahead of time, and it makes 3 1/2 cups.

The Hawaiian Rolls - stop at your nearest grocery store and pick some up.  ;-)  I have seen a recipe for these and hope to one day try that out.  But for now - store bought worked just fine

Simple is Best Dressing from November 2012 Bon Appetit Magazine.
I cut this in half for just the 4 of us:
3/4 stick of unsalted butter, plus more to grease baking pan.
7 1/2 oz of dressing croutons ( the Bon Appetite recipe used day old white bread torn into 1 " pieces dried out in an oven for 1 hour)
1 1/4 cups chopped Walla Walla onion - grown in Kelly's garden.   - the original recipe calls yellow onions
3/4 cup chopped celery
1 tbsp of chopped fresh sage
1/2 tbs of chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 tbs of chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 cup homemade turkey broth (original calls for low sodium chicken broth.)
1 large egg.

If you want to do the bread crumbs from scratch, preheat the oven to 250 degrees.  Butter the baking dish and set that aside.  Scatter the bread on a rimed baking sheet and bake stirring occasionally until dried out - about 1 hour.  Let cook and transfer to a bowl - OR
Put the 7 1/2 oz of dressing croutons in the bowl.

Melt 3/8 cup butter in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add onions and celery.  Stir often until just beginning to brown, about 10 minutes.  Add to the bowl of bread/croutons.  Stir in herbs, salt and pepper.  Drizzle in 5/8 of the turkey/chicken stock.  Toss gently and let cool.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Whisk together 5/8 stock and 1 egg together. Add to bread mixture.  Fold gently until thoroughly combined.  Transfer to the prepared dish, cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes.  The dressing can be made a day ahead and rebaked, uncovered for 40 to 45 minutes.  If chilled add 10 to 15 minutes.

Celery Root and Mashed Potatoes.
This one I more or less made up.
I took one celery root and peeled it and chopped it into 1/2 inch pieces.  I boiled it in cream and whole milk with a sprig of thyme and a tbs of butter - just enough liquid to cover the celery root - and I boiled it for about 25 minutes until it was softened.  I removed the thyme and puree the celery root and milk mixture in a cuisinart. 

Kelly boiled about 6 yukon potatoes and mashed them together with the celery root mixture with a cube of butter.

Shitake Mushroom Gravy:
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup dry Sherry
3 tbsp butter
 12 oz fresh shitake mushrooms stemmed and sliced.
1 tbsp fresh rosemeary
4 cups of my homemade turkey stock ( or chicken broth)
1/3 cup whipping cream
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
2 tsp chopped fresh tarragon

Mix flour and Sherry in a small bowl until smooth - shaking them up in a plastic container works great!
Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over medium high heat.  Add mushrooms and rosemary and saute' until they begin to soften ( about 3 minutes)  - this step can be done 3 hours ahead of time.

Transfer any juices you may have from the turkey if you have any - we didn't because we were bbqing - and add enough broth to measure 5 cups.  Add to saucepan with mushrooms.  Add flour paste and whisk until smooth.  Bring mixture to boil, stirring frequently.  Boil until thickened to a light gravy - about 10 minutes.  Mix in cream, thyme and tarragon.  Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Cucumber Pear and Fennel Salad.

This is a recipe that I modified from the 2012 November Bon Appetite magaizine.
I peeled and cut up 2 cucumbers, chopped one small fennel bulb into 1/2" squares, placed them in a bowl and added 1 diced pear and 1 diced apple.  I tossed in some pomegranate soaked dried cranberries and tossed with a balsamic vinaigrette - which consisted of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, walnut oil, and rosemary.

Steamed carrots and green beans:
1 small bag of baby carrots and one small bag of harricot verts.
about 1 tbs butter and 1 tbsp chopped tarragon.

Steam the carrots for about 15 minutes and add the green beans.  Steam for no more then 10 minutes.  Put in a bowl while still hot and toss with butter and tarragon and a pinch of salt.  Easy peasy!

Normally I pride myself on some yummy desserts, but there was no time, and considering my girls have NEVER had a Ding Dong or a Ho Ho ever in their short lives, I thought it would be fun to let them have a little taste of mine and Kelly's childhood. It's their last chance right? And I know they will be indulging in some yummy desserts on Thanksgiving with their aunts, because they're both amazing cooks.  And I know Kelly and I will be getting some delicious goodies from my Aunt in Reno as well. 

So that was our first semi homemade, semi official Thanksgiving together.  And it was awesome!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Canning on a beautiful fall day.....

Ok, today I'm actually back with a couple of recipes.  I'm not going to spend a whole lot of time "talking" about these recipes, because I'm flat out beat right now, but I will get the pictures posted and the recipes published. 

Got my canner going sterilizing some jars and quickly boiling some tomatoes that my fiance' grew in his garden so they would be easy to peel. 
This is the Walla Walla onion my man grew in his garden.  About 1/2 cup of that will be going into the chutney. 
And here are all the magical ingredients:
I found this recipe at An Oregon Cottage and cut it in half based on the amount of tomatoes I had left. 
2 lbs of tomatoes peeled and chopped - I had a variety of Roma's and plum tomatoes.  The Roma's were perfect for this because they're so meaty and not so watery. 
1/8 cup minced garlic
1/2 cup copped onion
3/8 cup of brown sugar
3/8 cup of white sugar
3/4 cup cider vinegar
1/2 tbs pickling salt
1/2 lime zested and juiced
1/2 tsp pepper flakes
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup chopped white raisins
Combine all of the above ingredients and bring to a boil over high heat.  Lower heat and cook at a low simmer for 1 and a half to 2 hours, until thickened.  Stir often to avoid scorching or sticking. 
Ladle into 1/2 pint canning jars leaving 1/4 inch head space and boil in a hot water canner for 10 minutes. 
This is what it looked like after about 1/2 hour.  It smelled AMAZING!

This is what it looked like before jarring it.  The smell was so intense and mouth watering.  The taste?  Wow!  If we have a good tomato season next year, all the tomatoes are going to this recipe and I'm never eating ketchup again!  That's how good this is!  As the author from The Oregon Cottage says, this is adult ketchup - and it's delicious! 

So while the chutney was simmering away and I was cleaning, doing laundry and walking the dog in between I started in on this:
14 lbs of apples.  These came from my ex husbands tree.  You may have seen me post on here about them before.  They're HUGE and very juicy.  They may look a bit beat up, but they very good apples.  I'm grateful he was kind enough to share these with me this year. 
So I got into my meditative apple peeling mode and kept going until my hand cramped up too much to go anymore. 
And made it through 7 lbs of apples.  I was thinking about saving the peels and make juice for jelly later, but knew I would be biting off more then I could chew, so I let go of that notion and stayed focused on the applesauce.  This recipe isn't so structured.  My guide is, as always, my favorite canning book, Putting Food By by Janet Greene, Ruth Hertzberg and Beatrice Vaughan. 
They recommend putting about an inch of water in the bottom of the pan and filling the pan with peeled and quartered or cut into eights apple slices until they are no more then 2 inches from the top.  Their only recommendation on spices is what ever sounds good to you.  So I put in 4 tsp of vanilla, sprinkled generously with cinnamon, and grated about 1/8 of a tsp of fresh nutmeg on them.  They do recommend a sweetener and I put in a cup of a mixture of brown and white sugar.  I would have done all brown, but was out and was not about to make a trip to the store at this point. 
Then this is boiled down until the apples are soft.  This doesn't take long at all.  There were a lot of apples here so it took 10 minutes at the most.  A smaller batch could take 3 to 5 minutes. 
At this point my house smelled wonderful!  So much like fall. 
My final product before canning.  I like my applesauce chunky, because that's the way mom did it.  It takes me back to my childhood, but at this point you could run it through a strainer, a french mill or a cuisinart to make it smooth.  You want to reheat it before you jar it though.

Place it into hot sterilized pint jars ( it took 9 pint jars for 7 lbs of apples) and process in a hot water bath canner for 20 minutes. 

This is my final bounty for the night, minus a couple of jars that are still being processed in the canner. It wasn't big enough to hold all of them at once. 

9 pints of comforting applesauce from a local tree and 1 and 1/4 pints of tomato chutney made with home grown tomatoes and a home grown walla walla onion.  Food tastes so much better when it comes from close to home. 
I can't wait to grill up some lamb burgers and put some of that chutney on them - Oooo, and pork chops and applesauce are going to be soooo good! 

Now, to figure out what to do with the other 7 lbs of apples.......

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Regroup - Restart

I have taken quite a long break from here.  Life just got crazy busy and some things just needed to be put aside.  Unfortunately Omnivores Delight was one of those things.  But I'm back!  I've changed things around a little bit.  Let me know what you think.  Too busy? 

I've got a few food projects coming up.  I have a bag of apples that are hopefully still worth using. (Pie? Apple sauce? Chutney, Apple butter?  hmmmm)  A bag of banana's that need to go in the freezer for banana bread later, a bowl of tomatoes that I'm thinking I may make into tomato chutney, and I have another super cool project coming up that I will fill you in on later.  Let's just say a certain hunting season has opened and consequently has opened up a fun little opportunity for me. 
To be continued......

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