Scrambled eggs with poblano 

I’ve made similar a thousand times, but this morning my eggs same out perfect. 

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 poblano 
  • 1 jalapeno 
  • 2 tortillas
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 2 TB salsa
  • 2 slices pepper jack cheese
  1. In a small bowl, beat the eggs , add a dollop of salsa, and whisk to incorporate. 
  2. Cut the peppers into vertical strips, discarding stems, seeds, and membrane. 
  3. Fry the pepper strips in hot oil until slightly limp and starting to brown around the edges. Skin should be blistered and peeling.
  4. Drain peppers on paper towels and sprinkle with salt. 
  5. In a nonstick pan, melt the butter over low heat
  6. Add the eggs, tilt the pan to coat evenly. Add the shredded cheese and stir to scramble the eggs until barely set.
  7. Spoon the eggs onto a warm tortilla, top with pepper strips, and roll up. 

Spinach Orange Salad

Made a quick salad for dinner, only a few ingredients but the flavours work well together. 

  • One package baby spinach 
  • One package baby arugula 
  • One large orange
  • One small red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
  • 1-2 tsp fresh ginger, grated 
  • 1 TB light miso
  • 1-2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1-2 TB cider vinegar 
  • 1 piece of miso glazed ahi tuna (optional)
  1. Lightly wilt the greens in a large pan over medium high heat, preferably in a bit of bacon grease. Don’t over cook, just warm up a bit. 
  2. Make the dressing in a large salad bowl: mix the ingredients well with a whisk to emulsify the oil
  3. Grate the Orange zest and ginger into the dressing. Or add to the greens when warming to take the edge off the rawness. 
  4. Peel the orange and cut into bite sized chunks or thin slices. 
  5. Toss well. Taste and adjust seasonings. If too mild, add a splash of rice vinegar and fish sauce. 
  6. Slice warm tuna and add on top of salad. 

Braised Turkey Legs 

I like to braise turkey legs in red wine and brandy as if they were lamb shanks. But also include elements from Chicken With 40 Cloves of garlic. 

  • 2 turkey legs
  • 1 sprig fresh tarragon 
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary 
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 head garlic (or more)
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 stalk celery 
  • 1 onion
  • 1/4 cup Brandy 
  • 1 cup red wine
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F
  2. Separate garlic into cloves but leave the inner peel intact. 
  3. Chop or slice remaining vegetables to make a mirepoix. 
  4. Add herbs and vegetables to casserole dish with cover large enough to snugly hold the two legs
  5. Season the meat and vegetables with salt and pepper 
  6. Add meat and liquids, cover, and braise until meat is cooked through and tender and golden brown. If desired, turn halfway to cook evenly, or just leave with skin side up 

Spread the garlic onto bread and dip in the pan juices. Or strain and thicken into a sauce, mashing in a few of the garlic cloves. 

Turkey Tip

For whatever reason, this is the only time of year when fresh turkeys are readily available and affordable in this country. I therefore urge you to pick up a bonus turkey. It can be the same as the thanksgiving bird, but doesn’t have to be. For instance, this year I splurged on a fancy D’Artagnan free range organic turkey to roast whole. But for 1/3 the price I got a natural fresh Nature’s Promise bird.

Turkey is really delicious and makes a great substitute for most pork or veal recipes. Slice the breast into cutlets and make schnitzel. Use the thighs whole in any braised recipe. Or make my turkey carnitas. Or use any of it in any chicken recipe. The wings and legs are fantastic smoked. Or the meat can be ground and used to make burgers, chili, or just about anything that needs chop meat. It really is quite versatile. And if you get it on sale, it’s only $1 or so per pound, a phenomenal bargain. It will keep for months in the freezer. 

 I cut it up into pieces as I prepared the main bird for brining. The wing tips, neck, giblets went into the saucepan with the ones from the feast bird. The two livers I ate as a snack (recipe to follow). The extra fat and skin is being rendered into schmaltz. 

To cut the bird, use a sharp boning knife. Separate the thighs from the breast and slice through the skin. Do each side. Then flip bird to breast side down, bend in half, and use a heavy knife to cut across the backbone, severing the turkey into two halves. Set aside the darkmeat half for now. Remove the wing tips, save for soup. Carefully remove the wings by probing with the knife point and cutting through the joint. 

Using the boning knife, remove the breast from the carcass, starting with backside up. Use the tip to gently release the meat from the bone as you slide along, in layers. Watch a YouTube video if you’ve never done it, it’s not as hard as it sounds. Just don’t expect it to be perfect, there may be a bit of excess meat left on the bone, or a few extra cut marks. No one will care. Work up to the top, then flip over and do the other side. Remove the carcass and set aside, then cut the two sides of the breast into separate pieces, and trim off any excess skin and fat or connective tissue. 

Return to the bottom half. Cut off the two legs, again probing with the knife to find the joint. The thigh can either be deboned as with the breast, or left whole. A big heavy meat cleaver will be needed to cut into halves. 

Label a few gallon size freezer bags. Don’t forget the date. I like to separate the two breasts, the wings, legs, and thighs. And the carcass/bones/scraps if not using right away. If grinding right away, measure out one pound portions and put in quart sized freezer bags. Make sure to press all the air out to make a tight seal before freezing. And blot off any excess moisture before putting in bag. 

Thanksgiving Update

A couple of years ago I posted my traditional Thanksgiving menu with full recipes in an easy-to-print format.

https://aardvark007.wordpress.com/2013/11/26/thanksgiving-menu/

I had intended to post last year’s rendition, but never got around to it. The main difference was the turkey, which was done following a combination of Alton Brown and Thomas Keller’s methods. It was the best I’d ever done. And to top it off, I accompanied the traditional gravy with Rick Bayliss’s full Mexican molé sauce. The combination was spectacular.

The beauty of this method is that pretty much any turkey can be used. I get the cheap fresh “all natural” version, this year on sale for $1.99/lb. No need to spend $6.99 for the fancy one from the butcher, it just takes a bit of advanced planning. Can even work with a frozen bird, it will defrost as it brines.

Basically, start with brining the bird a la Alton. Use 1 Cup of Kosher salt per gallon of water. Season with brown sugar, allspice, peppercorns, bay leaves, sage, etc. Dissolve the sugar and salt in some hot water with the spices, stir until all mixed together, then dilute with cold water/ice. I use a large stock pot, which holds the turkey. Refrigerate overnight, or leave outside if its cold out and there is no room in the fridge.
The next day, remove from brine, and dry out a la Keller. Then roast as normal. Last year I had about a 12 lb bird, it fit on the upright “chicken on a throne” beercan holder, which is highly recommended and far better than lying down as it browns evenly all over. Don’t worry about basting, its a waste of time and slows down the cooking every time you open the oven. Use Convection Roast on the oven if it has the option. Otherwise rotate a couple of times as it cooks. Cook unstuffed, Alton Brown likes to add aromatics to the cavity, I prefer the “beer can”.

Alton “traditional”:   http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/traditional-roast-turkey-recipe.html

Alton “Good Eats” version: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/good-eats-roast-turkey-recipe.html

Thomas Keller: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes-menus/how-thomas-keller-makes-his-juicy-crispy-thanksgiving-turkey-article

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/my-favorite-roast-turkey-51258050

 

Pajeon

These Korean scallion pancakes are delicious and exotic, yet surprisingly easy and inexpensive to make at home. Makes a great appetizer cut into quarters, or a quick meal. 

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1/3-1/2 cup cod, shrimp, or squid
  • 1/3-1/2 cup kimchi 
  • 4 scallions, cleaned, trimmed, and cut into 1″ lengths 
  • 1 tsp light miso
  • 1 TB oil

Dipping sauce 

  • 2 TB rice vinegar 
  • 2 TB soy sauce 
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp gochujan chili paste
  • 1 tsp sugar 

Directions 

  1. Mix the sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Let the flavors mingle while preparing the pancake. Adjust balance of sweet/sour/salty/spicy to taste. Garnish with thin slivers of scallion and red chili if desired, with a sprinkle of sesame seeds. 
  2. Mix the flour and water with miso in a bowl.
  3. Heat oil in heavy skillet. Non-stick helps, but cast iron works well too. 
  4. If not precooked, add the seafood and half cook. 
  5. Add the scallions and kimchi, spread out evenly across bottom of pan. 
  6. Pour the batter over the filling, spreading to make an even layer and fill in the gaps. There should be just enough to keep it together. 
  7. Cook over medium heat until lightly brown, then flip and do other side. If pancake is thick, cover pan for a couple of minutes to make sure it cooks through. 
  8. Slide onto plate, cut into wedges, and serve with dipping sauce. 

Atonement Kugel

A traditional food this time of year is noodle Kugel. I will find my mother’s traditional recipe and share it. But today, that is not what I made. Mostly because I didn’t have the right ingredients. And because I couldn’t find the recipe. And ran out of time. So I consulted Joan Nathan’s holiday cookbook for inspiration, then proceded to largely ignore it. Also because I didn’t have most of the ingredients. Etc.  

Luckily what I came up with was delicious, if a bit bizarre, even by my own rather generous standards. Still, it worked for what I needed. A quick and easy yet festive and unique one dish holiday meal without meat. Would also be great as a side dish as part of a more traditional meal. 

Ingredients 

  • One pound wide egg noodles 
  • 8 oz low fat sour cream 
  • 8 oz fat free Israeli or French feta, soaked in fresh water to reduce salt
  • Grated zest of one lemon 
  • Handful of raisins, soaked in calvados to cover
  • 2 dried figs, chopped and soaked in armagnac to cover
  • 2 egg whites 
  • 2 TB Sugar 
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon 
  • 1/2 tsp Hawaij for coffee
  • Handful Chopped pecans
  • 1 tb Butter

Directions 

  1. Soak feta and fruit while bringing a large pot of water to boil and preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Boil noodles for about 7 minutes, until cooked am dente 
  3. Drain noodles, allow to cool slightly, return to pot, and mix well with other ingredients 
  4. Spray medium baking pan with non stick butter flavour cooking spray
  5. Spoon mixture into pan. 
  6. Top with crushed pecans and dot with butter
  7. Bake for 30 minutes or until crisp and golden brown
  8. Drink an atonement cocktail made with the reserved soaking alcohols (see previous post) while it bakes
  9. Serve warm or at room temperature with an Israeli pinot noir. 

Atonement Cocktail 

I made a cocktail for Yom Kippur 
Atonement Cocktail 

  • 1 jigger (1.25 oz) calvados 
  • 1 jigger sweet bourbon (eg Michters, Elijah Craig)
  • 1/2 oz old fashioned rum (150 proof)
  • Dash orange bitters
  • Juice of one small lemon
  • 1 tsp honey
  1. Stir well with ice, strain and serve up in fancy cocktail glass. 
  2. Garnish with twist of lemon peel. It should be strong, a tiny bit sweet, and quite tart.
  3.  If you don’t have anything to atone for, reduce the lemon juice. 

Roasted Ratatouille 

Another end of summer delight. Roasted Ratatouille with sausage, cabbage, and chickpeas. Makes an easy meal in a bowl. 

Ingredients 

  • 1 eggplant 
  • 1 red bell pepper 
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 1 small head red cabbage 
  • 1 yellow tomato 
  • 1 red tomato 
  • Fresh thyme
  • Cooked chickpeas 
  • 2 andouille sausages
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

Directions 

  1. Preheat oven to 425° F
  2. Cut veggies into largish chunks, slice sausages 
  3. Add to roasting pan, drizzle generously with evoo, season with salt and pepper, stir well to coat evenly
  4. Roast for about 30 minutes, then check doneness 
  5. When almost tender, add chickpeas, return to oven for another 5-10 minutes to heat through 
  6. Scoop into bowls and serve with a nice syrah

Caprese Salad

One of the absolute best things in the universe. For best results use a late season Jersey tomato. The key is the freshness and quality of the ingredients. Simplicity elevated to perfection. 

Thinly slice a ripe yellow tomato, discard ends. 

Sprinkle with coarse fleur de sel and freshly ground black pepper. 

Drizzle with evoo. 

Put a fresh basil leaf on each slice. 

Add a slice or dollop of creamy burrata or fresh buffalo mozzarella to each piece of tomato. 

Drizzle with balsamic vinegar. 

Eat with crusty bread.