Monday, September 25, 2017

Cauliflower Salad

Looking through the refrigerator this morning I found a few items that needed to be used or tossed.  Part of a head of cauliflower was the main ingredient that had to be liberated from the vegetable bin.

This is a wonderful little salad that pairs well with a sandwich.  It was a popular side dish that Tyra and I served in the Tea Room way back in our Midland days.  If memory serves me correctly, we also served this as part of a salad trio along with a marinated carrot salad and a small spinach salad.

Cauliflower, celery, black olives, Hellmann's, and Lawry's Garlic Salt; that's all

Separate the cauliflower into bite-size florettes. Dice the celery and slice the olives if you didn't purchase pre-sliced. I prefer slicing the whole olives. Give it all a gentle toss to combine.

Combine with the mayonnaise and garlic salt.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several of hours or overnight.  

It's crunchy and has a great garlicky flavor. 

Cauliflower Salad
Serves 4 - 6

3 cups small florettes raw cauliflower
1 cup sliced black olives
1 cup diced (1/4" dice) celery
1/2 cup Hellmann's
1/2 to 1 tsp Lawry's Garlic Salt

Rinse and drain the cauliflower.  Slice the olives and dice up the celery. Place all the vegetables in a medium mixing bowl.  Fold in the Hellmann's then fold in the garlic salt.  Blend thoroughly.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

You will need to toss prior to serving.  Regarding the olives, you may buy olives already sliced but I prefer to slice whole black olives.  They seem to hold their shape better.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Turkey Burgers

I've tried recipe after recipe for turkey burgers and they always seem to end up blahhhhh. No flavor and they usually have the taste and texture of cardboard. I eat a lot of cardboard so I know how that tastes 😁.  I found this recipe from Martha Stewart and it's actually pretty good and Lovey liked it; which is what really matters in this house if I'm making a burger out of turkey instead of beef.

There aren't a lot of ingredients; but the few that there are pack a punch of flavor.

Fresh sage.

Roasted garlic. This can be done earlier in the day or the day before. Here's how I do it.

 Provolone cheese.

 And, of course, ground turkey.  I prefer a mixture of white and dark.

Just mix it all up.

Divide the mixture into four portions and form into patties. Conveniently, these can be made early in the day or even the day before.

 I threw them on a medium-high grill for about 3-4 minutes per side.

NOTE:  I doctored my burger up like I do a beef hamburger with onion, tomato, lettuce and kosher pickle.  Although good, it really masked the flavors that this burger has.  I would suggest minimal condiments with this burger because the meat is flavored really nice with the sage and garlic.  The original recipe actually suggested using a simple tomato pureé spread on it.

Turkey Burgers
Yields 4 burgers

1-1/2 pounds ground turkey - mixture of breast and dark-meat turkey
1/4 cup roasted garlic
2-1/2 tsp. finely chopped fresh sage
1-1/4 cups grated provolone cheese - about 5 ounces

1/2 tsp. each Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4 hamburger buns
vegetable oil
melted butter

Mise en Place:
  • roast garlic
  • chop sage
  • grate cheese
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, gently combine with your hands the turkey, garlic, sage, cheese, salt and pepper.  Do not overwork the meat.  Shape into four patties.  Refrigerate, covered, until cold, about 1 hour or overnight.

Preheat grill to medium-high (if you are using a charcoal grill, coals are ready when you can hold your hand 5 inches above the grill for just 3 to 4 seconds). Brush grill and burgers with vegetable oil. Grill, flipping once, until cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Alternately, you can prepare inside using a cast iron skillet.

Brush both sides of buns with melted butter and place on grill until lightly toasted.

Serve with crispy oven fries.

Roasted Garlic 101

I use garlic more than any other ingredient in my kitchen.  I use it in sauces, soups, dressings, marinades and I sneak it in any dish I can; except ice cream.  I've never used it in ice cream. I don't believe I'll ever use it in ice cream.

Roasting it is so easy and you can use it in so many things.  I use it in turkey burgers, hummus, combine it with Hellmans as a sandwich spread, rub it under the skin of a chicken before roasting, and it's great smeared on toasted baguette slices.

I like to do four bulbs at a time.  You will get about 1/2 cups of mashed roasted garlic and it keeps in the refrigerator well.

Slice the tops off of each bulb.  Place on a piece of heavy duty aluminum foil and drizzle 1 Tbsp. of olive oil over the tops.

Wrap the foil up and around the garlic and place in a small baking dish.  Bake in a 400° F. oven for an hour and 15 minutes.

Open the foil pouch and allow to cool to the touch.

 Squeeze the garlic cloves into a mixing bowl then mash with a fork until smooth.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

 The tops of the bulbs that are cut off have alot of good garlic in them that I hate to waste.  I place them in a dish and cover them with olive oil.  The infused oil is great to using in all sorts of dishes.  You can also chop up the garlic and use it as well.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Ham Hocks and Beans

There's nothing more Southern then a pot of beans that has been simmered until tender and creamy, flavored with smoked ham hocks. There's also nothing more controversial than how to cook your beans.  Soak vs Quick-soak vs Don't Soak.......Change water vs Cook in soaking liquid.......Salt at the beginning vs Salt at the end.........Cook covered vs Cook uncovered; and on and on. 

Do what works best for you. It's important for you to figure out what works best for you with your equipment, altitude, etc.  This is what works for me.

Simple ingredients can sure produce a tasty, stick-to-your-ribs meal.  Here we have Great Northern beans, smoked ham shanks (ham hocks are good too), onion, garlic, thyme and bay leaf.

I quick-soak.  Place 1 pound of rinsed, dried Great Northern beans in a large pot of water; enough to cover the beans.  Bring to a boil then remove from heat, cover and let soak for 1 hour.

 While the beans are soaking chop up your onion, dice the garlic and make a bouquet garni of 1 sprig fresh thyme and 2 bay leaves. For this recipe I chose to wrap my bouquet garni in cheese cloth so I don't have bits of thyme floating around in my beans.  I just want the flavor.

After the soaking period add to the pot the ham shanks or hocks, onion, garlic, and bouquet garni.  Add enough boiling water, if necessary, to cover beans.  Bring to a boil then simmer, uncovered, until beans are tender.  Check at 1 hour.  Add additional boiling water if necessary to keep beans submerged.  Beans are usually done in an hour to an hour and a half.

I salt at the end of cooking for a couple of reasons:  1) I agree, from experience, that salting at the beginning toughens the skin of the bean and it takes longer to cook; and 2) you never know just how salty your hocks will be.

Serve with cornbread.  It's the law.

Ham Hocks and Beans

1 pound dried Great Northern beans
8 cups water
1 large yellow onion
1 large clove garlic
1 sprig fresh thyme
2 bay leaves

1 pound smoked ham hocks or ham shanks
Extra water, if necessary
Kosher salt, to taste

Rinse beans and place in 5 quart pot.  Cover with water and bring to a boil.  Remove pot from heat, cover and let soak for one hour.

While the beans are soaking, chop the onion and garlic and set aside.  In a small square of cheese cloth wrap up the thyme and bay leaf and tie with kitchen twine.

Add the onion, garlic, bouquet garni, and ham hocks to pot of beans. If necessary, add enough boiling water to cover beans.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until tender.  Check at 1 hour and add any additional liquid to keep beans covered (be sure to boil water prior to adding to pot).

Remove hocks or shanks.  When cool, remove meat and return to pot.  Serve with hot cornbread.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Drunken Fruit Bread

Lovey loves date nut bread to enjoy with his coffee in the mornings.  I can take it or leave it; I'm more of an eggs and bacon kind of gal.

 Lucille gave Lovey and me a basket of dried fruit for Christmas. It had dates, apricots, papaya, peaches, prunes, pineapple, and angelino plums

As you can see, there aren't enough dates for a loaf of bread so I thought I'd make a bread with a combination of all the fruits.  I also decided to soak all of the fruits in booze for three days rather than the 30 minutes the recipe normally suggests.

I chopped up about 2 cups of the fruit combo to fit in a pint mason jar (I packed the jar fairly tight).  Then I grabbed a bottle of brandy and poured over the fruit until it reached the top. There wasn't quite enough brandy in my bottle so I used a little rum to fill the jar. You can use whatever booze you choose; brandy just seems to pair well with fruit.

Put the lid on tight, give the jar a gentle shake and place in a cool, dark place for three days.  If you think about it you can give the jar a shake each day.

After three days of soaking it's time to bake.  Butter the bottom of the pan line the bottom with a piece of parchment paper.

 Butter the parchment and the sides of the pan then sprinkle with flour.  Set the pan aside.

This is a typical quick bread recipe where the butter and sugar are creamed

then the eggs and flavorings are added

 The flour and spice mixture is added in alternately with the liquids which for this bread include freshly squeezed orange juice and the brandy from the fruit.


The fruits and nuts are then stirred in by hand

The batter is turned into the pan, put into a 350° oven

and this is what you get after about an hour.

It's a dense but moist bread with a beautiful texture and flavor.

Rather than the typical flavor of a date nut bread  this had the distinct flavor of a fruit cake due to the different fruits used along with the dates.   And it is v-e-r-y boozy.  I liked it with a slathering of butter.

Drunken Fruit Bread
Yield 1 loaf

2 cups dried fruit, coarsely chopped
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. grated orange zest
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. round cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

 3 days prior to baking prepare the drunken fruit.  Chop all fruit and pack, somewhat tightly, into a pint Mason Jar.  Pour enough brandy into the jar to cover the fruit.  Secure lid tightly on to jar and store in a dark, cool place.

On baking day, preheat oven to 350°F.  Prepare pan by buttering the bottom of an 8-1/2" x 4-1/2" x 2-1/2: loaf pan.  Line the bottom with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pan.

In bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar. with the mixer on low speed add the egg, vanilla and the orange zest.  Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt.  With the mixer still on low, add the flour mixture alternately with the orange juice to the butter mixture, mixing only until combined.

Drain the brandy from the fruit into a measuring cup.  Fold the fruit into the batter along with a little under 1/3 cup of the drained brandy (if you have more of 1/3 cup brandy drained off, treat yourself and sip on  it).  Fold the pecans into the batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top.  Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Turkey Stock

Good stocks are always welcome items in my freezer.  They couldn't be easier to make. They may take time, but there is always a good day to mark on your calendar to spend comfort time in the kitchen. Turkey stock is the champion during the holiday season.  It can be used for gravies and soup bases.

Stock can be made way ahead of the holiday. In the Fall, as soon as I see packages of turkey necks, wings, legs, gizzards, etc. show up in the meat department of my favorite grocery store, I get to work.

This year I used turkey necks, wings and legs.  Everything gets rubbed in oil, salted and peppered.

These get roasted in a 400° oven for about 45 minutes.

 While the turkey parts are roasting, prepare the vegetables. I used carrots, onion, garlic, celery, and fresh sage leaves.

Once the meats are roasted, remove them, temporarily, and place the vegetables in the bottom of the roasting pan.  Give the vegetables a toss to coat with the drippings in the pan.

Return the meats to the pan placing them on top of the vegetables, turning the meats over with the roasted side down.

This gets returned to the oven to roast for 35 minutes longer.

Once the turkey parts and vegetables are removed from the oven they are placed in a large stock pot, covered with water and simmered for 2 hours.

Everything is strained and the stock is cooled in the refrigerator so any fat can be skimmed off.

The stock is now ready for freezing.  Pour into four 1-quart Mason jars or four 1-quart plastic freezer bags.  If you freeze in Mason jars, be sure to leave space at the top for the stock to expand and put the lid on loosely until the stock is frozen solid.  If you elect to freeze in freezer baggies lay them flat on a sided baking sheet until the stock is frozen solid.  Also,  I would highly suggest NOT using the bags with the slider zippers.  They can leak while the baggy is lying flat on a baking sheet.  Once frozen solid, the baggies will stack well in the freezer.

Turkey Stock
Adapted from a recipe of Guy Fieri's
Yields 4 quarts of stock

2 turkey legs
2 turkey wings
2 turkey necks
2 Tbsp. canola oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 large garlic cloves
2 large yellow onions, quartered
2 large carrots scrubbed
3 stalks of celery, chopped in half
6 fresh sage leaves
6 quarts water

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Evenly rub turkey parts with oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place turkey parts in a large roasting pan, skin side down, in oven and roast for 45 minutes.

Prepare and combine vegetables and sage leaves.  Reduce heat of oven to 350°F., briefly remove turkey from roasting pan. Add vegetables to roasting pan, tossing to coat in pan juices.  Return turkey parts placing skin side up on top of vegetables and continue to roast for another 35 minutes.

Remove pan from oven and transfer turkey parts and vegetables to a 10 quart or larger stock pot. Place the roasting pan over burners of range top (do this only if your roasting pan is a heavy-duty pan), add 2 cups of water to the pan and boil, scraping up any stuck bits.  Pour this into the stock pot.

Add 6 quarts of water to the stock pot.  Bring to a boil then lower heat and keep to a medium to low simmer for 2 hours, uncovered until stock is deep in color and flavor.  Strain turkey and vegetables from stock, pushing any vegetable matter through strainer.  Let stock sit, overnight in refrigerator if time allows, then skim off any fat from top.

Divide stock into 4 Mason jars or plastic freezer bags and place in freezer.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Holiday Cornbread Dressing

I refer to this as Holiday dressing because that is pretty much the only time I make it; Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Most of us create some derivative of recipes we grew up with and that is the category this recipe falls into.

I loved my mom and dad's dressings growing up. Mom would make our traditional cornbread based dressing and dad would like to change it up by adding oysters to his batch. I liked both.

Once I left home for college then living on my own, I didn't make or have dressing unless I went home. Years later at my sister's house she was making a big batch of Mom's dressing and I paid close attention. I've been making mine ever since.  As with so many recipes it's easy to make them your own. This is pretty much the way we had it growing up, except for the "other" bread used in conjunction with the cornbread.

The cornbread....I don't make the cornbread from scratch the way I do for, say, ham hock and beans. I whip up a couple packages of Martha White's Yellow Cornbread Mix. There are others on the market such as Corn-Kits & Pioneer but one that I will not use for dressing is Jiffy. It's much too sweet for my taste.

Using a packaged mix makes things a little simpler; especially when there are so many other things going on in the kitchen during Thanksgiving and Christmas day.

I bake mine in an 8 x 8 Pyrex pan.   Once the corn bread is baked and cooled in the pan crumble it up. Two packages make about 8 cups crumbled cornbread. Whatever other bread you use for your dressing, you want to keep it at a ratio of 2 parts cornbread to 1 part other.

So, for the other bread choices to add to the dressing....I have used plain white sandwich bread (my favorite) such as Rainbow or, here in Texas, Mrs. Baird's. I have also had great luck with baking up a batch of canned biscuits. Enter Lovey into my life and he prefers a 'healthier' choice like La Madeleine Country Wheat. Ssshhh, don't tell him that this will not make his dressing 'healthy'. But, I aim to please my man so I now use the country wheat. In this recipe I'll use about 4 cups bread. Tear it up by hand or cube using a knife.

Once the breads are combine I sauté onion and celery in a couple sticks of butter.  Yes, I said a couple of sticks.  Butter makes everything better and tastier.  Add the vegetables to the mix and use chicken stock to moisten. How moist you like your dressing can be determined by the amount of stock you add. There's not a strict rule; it's what you like.

Prior to adding the egg to bind the mixture I season to taste with salt, pepper, and rubbed sage lastI don't usually have to add much salt because the chicken stock is normally salty enough.  Add sage a Tbsp. at a time.  I like a lot of sage but if you use too much it can leave a bitter after taste.  Get in there with your hands and mix it all up.

If you are serving dinner at a nicely set table, you can bake this in a nice oven proof, serve-at-the-table baking dish.  I made this in a disposable this year because it's just Lovey and myself.

Now, if you want to use part of this recipe as stuffing and cook it inside the bird, please just make sure that, 1) don't cram it in the cavity of the bird; pack it loosely as it will expand; and 2) take the temp of the dressing and make sure it registers at 165°F. 

 Bake for about 30 minutes until hot throughout.

This recipe will serve about 12 if the servings are approximate to the photo above.  In our house this recipe would serve about 6 😋.

2 - 6 ounce packages yellow cornbread baked according to package instructions
4 cups cubed bread or biscuits
2 sticks salted butter
6 stalks celery, chopped
1 large onion, chopped

4 cups chicken broth, boxed or homemade
salt and pepper to taste
5 Tbsp. rubbed sage
3 large eggs, slightly beaten

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Prepare cornbread according to package instructions.  Cool and crumble in a large mixing bowl.  Cube or tear up bread and add to mixing bowl.

Melt butter and saute' celery and onion until beginning to soften.  Add to bread mixture and toss well.  Add chicken broth and mix.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add sage.  Once you are satisfied with the seasoning, add the eggs.

Turn mixture into a 9 x 13 baking dish.  Bake for 30 - to 40 minutes or until top is golden brown.