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Monthly Archives: November 2011

Green things. Not always appealing if you are not a fan of eating your veggies. Well, unfortunately vegetables are extremely good for you. Especially those green ones. They may seem unappealing at times, but there is something that can do to make your veggies at least a little bit more appealing.

Have you ever had nasty, over-cooked,  dull-looking veg staring up at you from your plate? The poor little guys didn’t even stand a chance. Not even the most willing of vegetable eaters would find this sight appealing.

These Green Beans look a bit sad right?

So how can you fix this? How can you preserve those amazing vegetable pigments and transform your meal from a veggie funeral, to a lively garden party on your plate?

Blanch your green vegetables!

Blanching your vegetables not only ensures that they will be cooked properly, but they will also look more alive and appealing.

What they should look like after blanching. Nice and green.

To blanch your vegetables:

You will need: an ice bath ( a bowl of water with ice in it )

A pot of boiling salted water.

Procedure:

Bring the pot of salted water to a boil. Place your vegetables into the boiling water just until tender and bright green. After you blanch your vegetables, you should really only have to toss them in a bit of oil to warm and season them. They should be tender, but not mushy. Al dente. Once they have reached your desired tenderness, fish out your veggies with a spider or some tongs and place them in an ice bath. ( this stops the cooking process so they don’t keep cooking after you have pulled them out of the water ). Let them sit in the water for a couple of minutes and then place them on some paper towels to dry until ready to cook. ( Don’t forget to clean your green beans if you have not yet done so )

To finish cooking them, you only need to warm them in the pan with your desired fat and seasonings of choice.

This is what your green beans should look like finished. ( before you put them on the plate of course ) Don't mind the iphone photo.

Plate them up!

From here on out you should be eating your green vegetables like they are mean to be. Green.

 

 

I made the mistake of over-cooking my Thanksgiving mashed potatoes. The result? An awesomely gummy mash that I was most definitely ashamed of. I did the best I could do to fix them… which meant hiding it under the Turkey ( or in my case chicken ). Not exactly ideal. After hours in the kitchen I decided that using a ricer for my potatoes would just be too much work. So I whipped out a hand mixer. Mistake #2. So how do you get those deliciously creamy mashed potatoes?

First off: pick the right potatoes. You want a potato that is high in starch. Like Russets, or Yukon Golds. ( I will also mention that you should make sure to buy these organic because potatoes are loaded with pesticides. )

Procedures:

You will get the best result for mashed potatoes by baking your potatoes in the oven. This really helps dry them out so that they can absorb all the creamy buttery goodness you are about to dump into them. Only one problem– this takes 40 minutes to an hour, and if you forget to poke your potatoes with a fork, you will have a hot mess in the oven to clean up afterwards. ( Potatoes will explode if you don’t poke holes in them. It is amusing but not worth the clean up. )

The second best and faster method is boiling your potatoes.Yep. Fill up that pot with water, dice up your potatoes and throw them in. I am sure you have done this before.

Always start your potatoes in cold water, and let them come to temperature with the water. I also like to salt my water a bit.

After your potatoes are fork/knife tender ( you can insert a knife easily through the potato ) but not falling apart drain your potatoes and return them to the pan. Put them back on the stove and place them over low heat and stir them until they dry out and there is no water left in the pan. Let them sit for a few minutes while you warm up the milk.

Always use warm milk for your potatoes. It keeps your potatoes nice and warm, and helps melt the butter.

After you have allowed your potatoes to sit for a few minutes. It is time to rice them.

A ricer is like a huge garlic press. Only, for potatoes. Just pop them in the ricer and press down until you get something that looks like this:

Kind of looks like rice right?

Here is where you add the butter and the warm milk.

Then stir it up, add salt, pepper, garlic etc. until nice and creamy and delicious.

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!

Tomorrow is the big turkey day, only this year, I have decided that instead of getting a turkey from God-knows-where, that I would get a local, fresh, pasture raised chicken from Chaffin Family Orchards. I know that chicken doesn’t seem so exciting and kind of un-American for Thanksgiving, but this isn’t just any chicken. This chicken is about as fresh as it gets and beats any over-sized frozen turkey raised in a cage that was killed 6 months ago.

Fresh Chicken

I bought two of these little guys. One for Thanksgiving day, and one for lunch. Although these chickens are so fresh and probably don’t need it, I did a quick 1 hour brine. I always brine my chicken, it is a great way to infuse more flavor and keep it moist. Brining your turkey for Thanksgiving is a must, unless you like your turkey dry. If you did buy a Turkey this year and you are not planning on brining it, I recommend you put that sucker in a brine right now. Seriously, right now. Do it.

Brine Your Bird!

So, what is a brine? You might ask, and what does it do? Well, I suggest you read this article, if you want the dirty details but long story short– It helps your bird absorb water, therefore it looses less moisture when you cook it. And, you can get clever with the brine and flavor it with whatever your heart desires.

For your brine you want  1/4 cup of salt for every quart of water

You can flavor your brine with bay leaves, fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme, garlic, peppercorns…the options are endless. ( Kind of, don’t go crazy )

Just fill a pot up with water, throw in your herbs of choice, bring to a boil, add the salt, turn off the heat and let steep for about 30 minutes. Then, cool down your liquid with ice and add your turkey/chicken and put it in the fridge for 24 hours. Easy, and so worth the end result.

Nice herb bath for your bird

Is your bird enjoying a nice herb bath right now? It’s the least you can do after all its been through. Give it a full package spa treatment. After it is done brining give it a little compound butter massage.

Compound Butter

Compound butter is simply butter with herbs mixed into it. Chop up some herbs, add it to room temperature butter and cover your bird with it. Make sure to put some butter under the breast skin.

Notice the butter under the skin

Season with salt and pepper and your bird is ready for the oven! No more dry Turkey on Thanksgiving!

Between watching the twitter feed from the WAPF Conference in Dallas, (#wapfconf ) wishing I was there, and doing homework for class, I managed to put together a video recipe for some delicious butternut squash soup. Normally, I sigh when I see someone look at a butternut squash and only imagine it in their soup bowl. Butternut squash soup is a dish that has been done a million times with all sorts of variations. There is so much more you can do with this mighty winter squash…but I will admit, I will always enjoy it as soup, no matter how many times I have eaten it. Especially when it starts off a Thanksgiving dinner.

Ingredients:

2 Tbs. Coconut Oil

1 cup of Leeks  ( Pale green and white parts only, sliced thin )

2 cloves of Garlic, minced

3 cups of roasted butternut squash ( directions on how to roast it are below )

1 cup of Gala apples, diced

1 tsp. Curry Powder

1 pinch of Nutmeg

3 cups of chicken or vegetable stock

1/2 cup of coconut milk

Chives for Garnish

Salt and Pepper to taste

Procedure:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Cut the butternut squash in half, de-seed and place face down on a sheet pan with a bit of bit of water.

Place in the oven for about 30 minutes or until fork tender. Turn over and lightly oil the squash with some coconut oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place back in the oven for another 10 minutes or until squash starts to caramelize.

For the Soup:

Melt the coconut oil over moderate heat

Add leeks; cook until slightly softened, about 5 minutes.

Add garlic; cook 30 seconds.

Turn up heat to high.

Add apples; cook, stirring, until the apples begin to soften

Stir in curry powder and nutmeg; cook 1 minute. Add the Squash.

Add stock

Purée the soup wih a regular blender or immersion blender.

Bring the soup back to a simmer; add coconut milk and correct seasoning (salt and pepper).

Place in a bowl with a dab of coconut milk and garnish with chives.

Here is the video if you are more of a visual person:

If you have ever prepared Thanksgiving dinner, then you might be guilty of buying canned cranberry sauce at one point. Have you ever looked to see what is really in that stuff? Lets take a look…

For canned cranberry sauce we have cranberries, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup, water, and Corn Syrup….would you like some cranberries with your Corn Syrup? Yes please.

So now that you know what is in one of these canned cranberry concoctions you want to make your own cranberry sauce right? Well you should, and guess what…it takes almost the same amount of time as it does to open one of these cans…with a spoon.

Okay, it takes a bit more time but trust me, it’s worth it. Here is the recipe:

8 oz. (about 3 cups ) cranberries
6 oz. pitted dates ( about 3/4 cup after being processed in a processor )
2 tablespoons of Orange juice
1/2 cup of water
Pinch of Cinnamon

And here is how you prepare it:

You might be thinking that the dates in this recipe is a little weird. Usually cranberry sauce calls for regular old sugar but if I can avoid refined sugars then I will do so. I will also be keeping things gluten free. Stay tuned for some more thanksgiving recipes that will be coming up. What are some of your favorite thanksgiving dishes?