Weekend Fare: Curried Lentil Soup

This delicious soup was featured in this month’s issue of Bon Appetit. I wished I had doubled the recipe – it was creamy, perfectly spiced, and great for a winter supper. I did not have green onions so we just enjoyed it without. This vegetarian soup would be a wonderful starter for meal or served as the main dish. You could omit the butter for a vegan dish but the addition of the butter took the flavor to a whole new place – so good!

CURRIED LENTIL SOUP – Bon Appetit, December 2010
Print This Recipe

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, chopped, divided
2 tablespoons (or more) curry powder
1 cup French green lentils* (I used regular green) 
4 1/4 cups (or more) water, divided
1 15- to 16-ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained, rinsed
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 lemon, cut into 6 wedges

*French green lentils are small, dark green, and speckled with black; they can be found at some supermarkets and at specialty foods stores.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onion and carrot; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until onion is translucent, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Add half of chopped garlic; stir until vegetables are soft but not brown, about 4 minutes longer. Add 2 tablespoons curry powder; stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add lentils and 4 cups water. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Increase heat and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, puree chickpeas, lemon juice, 1/4 cup water, remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, and remaining garlic in processor.

Add chickpea puree and butter to lentil soup. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and additional curry powder, if desired. Add water by 1/4 cupfuls to thin to desired consistency. DO AHEAD Soup can be made up to 1 day ahead. Cool, cover, and refrigerate. Rewarm before continuing.Divide soup among bowls. Sprinkle with thinly sliced green onions and serve with lemon wedges.


Market Fresh: Sweet Potatoes

Well, this post will kick-off a week full of Thanksgiving recipes. We will be providing a couple of new recipes each day as well as linking back to other great ideas from last year! All of the posts will be collaborative. We are so excited!

Sweet Potatoes are so versatile. They have good nutritional value and our whole family enjoys them! We eat them all fall and winter but we especially like them around the holidays. Today we are offering three different types of recipes.

Both of my (Alaina) recipes are from this month’s Bon Appetit. They were both fabulous. The first is Sweet Potato Biscuits. These were only sweetened with maple syrup and the recipe is actually gluten free. I did not have gluten free flour so I used regular which worked just fine. The pecans were a wonderful addition – the texture and the flavor.

(Bon Appetit, November 2010)
Print This Recipe

1 large red-skinned sweet potato (yam; about 1 1/4 pounds), pierced with fork
1 1/3 cups gluten-free flour plus additional
2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup Grade B maple syrup
1/2 cup pecans, toasted, chopped

Preheat oven to 425°F. Line baking sheet with parchment. Microwave potato until tender, about 6 minutes per side. Halve; scoop out 1 cup flesh. Cool. Blend 1 1/3 cups flour and next 3 ingredients in processor. Add butter; pulse to coarse meal. Add potato, buttermilk, and syrup; process to blend. Add nuts; pulse to blend.

Sprinkle dough with flour. Pat into 8 1/2-inch square. Cut into 16 biscuits. Transfer to baking sheet. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, 18 to 22 minutes.

This next recipe is a Sweet Potato Pudding – perfect for your Thanksgiving celebration! The gingersnap, pecan topping provides a wonderful balance of crunch and sweet. I would have added just a little more half and half or milk to make this slightly creamier. Overall, we loved this!

(Bon Appetit, November 2010)
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3/4 cup coarsely chopped gingersnaps
1/2 cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes

3 pounds red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams; about 3 large), scrubbed
3/4 cup half and half
1/2 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons (packed) dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons orange marmalade
1 3/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
4 large egg yolks
5 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Toss first 4 ingredients in medium bowl. Add butter; using fingertips, rub in until well blended. Cover; chill. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.Preheat oven to 400°F. Roast potatoes on baking sheet until tender, 45 to 60 minutes. Cool. Cut in half lengthwise. Scoop flesh into bowl; mash. Transfer 4 cups potatoes to large bowl. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill. Bring to room temperature before continuing.Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 13x9x2-inch baking dish. Add half and half and next 5 ingredients to potatoes. Using mixer, beat on low speed until blended. Season with salt and pepper. Add yolks 1 at a time, blending after each addition. Using clean dry beaters, beat whites in another large bowl until foamy. Add salt and cream of tartar. Beat until peaks form. Fold whites into potatoes; spoon into dish. Sprinkle with topping.

Bake pudding until puffed and brown, about 45 minutes. Serve immediately.

The other evening I (Stephanie) realized I needed to make something for Jeremy to take to work the next day and I need to use ingredients I had on hand, chicken and sweet potatoes.  Browsing online I found a chicken and sweet potato stew recipe from a blog.  I adapted the recipe significantly, but the result was a deliciously spiced and warming stew.  Jeremy, not always a sweet potato lover, happily ate leftovers the following day.

Print This Recipe

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-in. cubes
2 slices bacon
1 Tbsp butter
olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried sage
1 bay leaf
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-in cubes
3 carrots sliced in 1/4-in rounds
2 ribs of celery, diced
1/2 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
3 c. chicken broth
1 c. milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

In a large saucepan, heat olive oil and butter over medium heat and brown the chicken with the bacon. Remove the chicken and set aside. Remove the bacon and dice.

Add a little more olive oil along with the onion, celery, thyme, sage, and diced bacon. Saute until the onion and celery are tender. Add garlic and saute until fragrant.

Add the chicken, sweet potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, chicken broth, milk, bay leaf, salt and pepper.

Simmer for 20-25 minutes until vegetables are cooked and fork tender. Taste and add more salt and pepper as needed. Remove the bay leaf. Enjoy.

Off the Shelf: November Magazines

It’s that time again – the holiday magazines are arriving packed with recipes and ideas! I’ve browsed my issues several times – folded the corners down, made shopping lists, and decided which recipes to try. My favorite of all the magazines – by far – Bon Appetit. I have many recipes that I want to try and it was tough narrowing it down. You will definitely be seeing more recipes from this issue here on TCND before Thanksgiving. Of note – Midwest Living, Saveur, Everyday Food, & Cook’s Illustrated were also lovely issues this month!

Bon Appetit (Alaina) – Like last year, this issue provides several variations of things like potatoes, cranberries, stuffing, turkey and more. They provide menu ideas for various types of Thanksgivings and even include a vegetarian menu. I especially like (it is perhaps my favorite feature) the helpful tips on what can be prepared ahead and how to time your meal. Ths issue boasts 115 recipes and techniques. You are sure to find dishes to suit your menu and palate.

With recipes like Sweet & Spicy Cranberry Sauce, Vanilla-Spiced Caramel & Pear Tart, Roast Turkey Breast w/Potatoes, Green Beans & Mustard Pan Sauce (Thanksgiving all in on dish!), Maple-Braised Butternut Squash w/Fresh Thyme, and Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges w/Smoked Chile Cream, it was a tough choice. I decided on Sauteed Shredded Brussels Sprouts w/Smoked Ham & Toasted Pecans. I picked it partly because I have a mostly negative relationship with brussels sprouts – something about the texture and so I was eager to try them shredded. They were quite good and I would actually make them again. The smoky flavor of the ham was a wonderful addition and the texture was entirely different. Next week I’m going to share another recipe from this issue that I loved even more!

Sauteed Shredded Brussels Sprouts w/Smoked Ham & Toasted Pecans
Print This Recipe

2 pounds brussels sprouts
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 1/4-inch-thick slices smoked ham (about 6 ounces), coarsely chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced
2/3 cup low-salt chicken broth
Coarse kosher salt
1/2 cup pecans, toasted, chopped

Trim root ends from brussels sprouts. Using sharp knife or processor fitted with coarse shredding disk, thinly slice brussels sprouts into shreds. DO AHEAD Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.Melt butter with olive oil in large deep skillet over medium heat. Add ham; sauté until golden, about 3 minutes. Add garlic; stir 30 seconds. Add brussels sprouts and broth; sauté until crisp-tender but still bright green, 3 to 5 minutes. Season with coarse salt and black pepper. Transfer to serving bowl. Sprinkle with pecans.

Food Network Magazine (Alaina) – This issue is also quite festive and is packed with lots of recipes. The pull-out section is 50 different stuffing variations which include traditional stuffing, cornbread stuffing, and rice stuffing. They look so good and I plan to pick one to try for our Thanksgiving (did I mention that I will be hosting my very first full Thanksgiving meal?). Food Network does a great job of including side dish ideas and quick dinners in every issue and this one is no exception. The pooled talents of so many great chefs makes for an interesting and diverse magazine.

There were many recipes that sounded wonderful – some holiday and some every day – Chocolate-Toffee Pecan Tart, Endive & Blue Cheese Salad, Parker House Rolls, Butternut, Arugula, & Pine Nut Salad, Spicy Cumin Fries, and Thai Chicken Soup are just a few. Bobby Flay shares a Macaroni & Cheese that I’m pretty sure is amazing. 🙂

I made the Stuffed Baby Bellas. These are great appetizers – the recipe says it will serve 4 but I’m pretty sure 2/person would be an appropriate starter size so you can count on it feeding at least 8. The recipe made too much filling so you can either halve it, make meatballs with the leftover (that’s what I did), or buy more mushroom caps. The lemon zest and fennel made for a bright and flavorful filling. Overall, we really liked these.

Print This Recipe

16 baby portabella mushrooms (creminis)
1 pound ground chicken or turkey breast
1 teaspoon fennel seed, 1/3 palmful
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, grated or finely chopped
1 lemon, zested
1 cup shredded asiago cheese
1/2 cup breadcrumbs, a couple handfuls
1 10-ounce box frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and wrung dry in a clean kitchen towel
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil)
1/4 cup pine nuts or chopped almonds

Wipe the mushrooms clean with a damp cloth. Remove the stems and finely chop them. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground meat, fennel seed, onion, garlic, lemon zest, half of the cheese, the chopped mushroom stems, breadcrumbs and spinach and season with salt and pepper. Brush lightly with EVOO and stuff the mixture into the caps.

Arrange the caps on a rimmed baking sheet or in a baking dish. Leave some room around each mushroom to prevent the caps from getting steamy. Sprinkle the remaining cheese and the nuts on the caps and transfer to the oven. Bake until the mushrooms are tender and the filling is cooked through, about 25 minutes. Serve warm.

Every Day with Rachael Ray (Stephanie) – This issue was, in my very humble opinion, quite a disappointment. There were a few recipes that sounded promising, like Potato Cake with Bacon, Sour Cream and Apples or Penne with Bacon, Butternut Squash and Spinach. And I even tried a couple recipes, Roast Mushrooms and Kale over Mashed Sweet Potatoes (not worth making!) and Chipotle-Barbecue Chicken. But, if you’re looking for good Thanksgiving ideas, look somewhere else. Other than four different ways to cook a turkey and small section of unusual side dishes, this issue evokes little Thanksgiving cheer.

Print This Recipe

Serves 4

6 Tbsp butter
6 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 large onion, chopped
¼ c. chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, chopped
¼ c. ketchup
3 Tbsp cider vinegar
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
8 chicken thighs (about 2 pounds)

Preheat the oven to 425°. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.

In a deep skillet, heat 3 Tbsp butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until golden, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the garlic to a small bowl. Add the onion to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 8 minutes. Add the chipotle chiles in a adobo sauce to the skillet. Add the ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar, Worcestershire and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 5 minutes.

Using tongs, coat the chicken in the sauce and place skin side up on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until the chicken is cooked through, about 30 minutes.

Cooking Light (Stephanie) — This issue was packed with lots of yummy looking recipes Broccoli Slaw with Oranges and Crunch Noodles, Apple and Cranberry Turkey Roulade (which I hope to try!), Egg Nog, Pecan Spice Cake with ample Frosting. There is also a 50-page holiday cooking section divided up by appetizers, sides, main dishes, desserts, etc. 

Although there were many recipes I considered making, I decided on Apple Kuchen. I thought it was a bit of work for the result, but my husband declared them delicious. I altered the recipe to make it gluten free, as well as cut back the sugar by about a 1/3 of a cup.

Print This Recipe

3 Fuji apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 c. sugar, divided
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt, divided
6.75 ounces (about 1 1/2 c.) all-purpose flour or all-purpose gluten free + 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 c. butter, softened and divided
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 c. nonfat buttermilk
1/2 c. chopped walnuts, toasted
1/4 c. apricot preserves
2 tsp apple juice

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine apples and lemon juice, toss. Add 1/4 c. sugar, cinnamon, and 1/4 tsp salt. Toss to combine.

Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, the remaining 1/4 tsp salt, and baking powder in a bowl, stirring well (if making gf, add xanthan gum here). Place remaining 3/4 c. sugar, 6 Tbsp butter, and cream cheese in a bowl; beat with a mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs, beating well. Stir in vanilla. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to butter mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture, beating just until combined. Stir in walnuts.

Scrape batter into a greased 13×9-inch metal baking pan. Arrange apples over the batter. Melt remaining butter; brush over apples. Bake for 45 minutes until set.

Combine apricot preserves and apple juice; microwave on high for 30 seconds or until meltd, stirring once. Brush over apples; cool. Cut into 15 squares.

Off the Shelf: October Magazines

The weather is cooling and filling the house with good smells is one of the best activities! Our October magazines arrived and fall is officially ushered in – at least in our kitchens. We talked about magazines we would review and we have chosen four but the reality is – you can’t go wrong with any of the fall magazines. I have Bon Apetit and Cooking Light in my menu plan ideas with several recipes marked. All of the magazines have wonderful, seasonal recipes and there is a good chance you will see a few more recipes featured here during October and November.

Everyday with Rachael Ray (Alaina) – This magazine has a great variety of recipes. It was such a tough choice of what to make. The Pear & Goat Cheese Crostini, Spiced Squash with Browned Butter Glaze, Maple-Walnut Chicken Thighs & Cheddar-Apple Rice, and Apple Tart Tatin were all tempting. I think I’m just ready for the fall fruits and vegetables!

Mini Meatloaves Smothered with Onions finally made the cut and they were delicious. The combination of beef, dates, bacon, and onions with worcestshire sauce and balsamic vinegar made for flavorful and moist meatloaves.

(Everyday with Rachael Ray, October 2010)
Print This Recipe

1/2 cup pitted dried dates, chopped
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 1/3 pounds ground beef
3 onions, 2 thinly sliced and 1 finely chopped
3 slices cooked bacon, chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper
4 tablespoons butter, melted

Position racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven and preheat to 375°. In a bowl, combine the dates and breadcrumbs, working the mixture through your fingers to separate. Mix in the beef. Mix in the chopped onion, bacon, egg, worcestershire and vinegar; season with salt and pepper. Divide into 4 mounds and, on a baking sheet, shape into loaves. Place on the upper rack and bake for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, on another baking sheet, toss the sliced onions with the butter and season with salt; spread out evenly. Bake on the lower rack, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 30 minutes. Serve the meatloaves with the onions.

Food Network Magazine (Alaina) – I love this edition of Food Network. The recipes all look wonderful and again it was such a hard decision. How can you go wrong with a pull-out full of 50 delicious Panini ideas?! And the use of fall ingredients is impressive.

I’m still planning to make the Pumpkin Waffles with Trail Mix Topping and the Slow-Cooker Squash Stew and perhaps a few more!  The Caramel Apple Cake, Pumpkin Pie Parfaits, Honey-Mustard Chicken & Apples, and Portabella Fries all sound so good.

After many requests for more side dish recipes, I decided to try a couple of the recipes included in this magazine. So, we enjoyed Sweet Potato Mash and Sesame Broccoli. We really liked both dishes.

(Food Network, October 2010)
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Pierce 4 sweet potatoes with a fork; microwave 8 minutes. Scoop the flesh into a bowl, then mash. Brown 3 tablespoons butter in a skillet, then add 8 sage leaves and fry until crisp; transfer to a plate. Cook 4 chopped scallions with salt and pepper in the browned butter. Drizzle over the sweet potatoes; top with the sage.

(Food Network Magazine, October 2010)
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Cook 1 bunch broccoli spears in a steamer set over simmering water, 10 minutes. Pulse a 1-inch piece peeled ginger, 1 garlic clove, 2 tablespoons each water and sesame oil, 1 tablespoon rice vinegar, and a pinch each of sugar and salt in a mini food processor. Drizzle over the broccoli and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.

Midwest Living (Heather) — Although Midwest Living is not technically a food magazine, the Sept/Oct issue included a huge spread focused on cranberries. The article was so beautiful and inspiring that I felt it was worth mentioning here.

The cranberry article included things such as cranberry scones, cranberry layer cake, and cranberry apple sweet potatoes. I chose to try the Crimson Slaw and it was delicious. The color, taste, and texture were right on and paired perfectly with my baked ham, roasted sweet potatoes, and steamed green beans.

(Sept/Oct Midwest Living 2010)
Print this recipe

1/3 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. dry red wine (optional — but added a great depth)
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. dry mustard
4 cups shredded red cabbage (1/2 of a medium head)
1  6-ounce package dried cranberries (I used half this amount)
1/4 to 1/2 of a medium red onion, thinly sliced

For vinaigrette: in screw-top jar, combine oil, sugar, vinegar, wine (if you like), salt, pepper, and mustard. Cover and shake well.

In a large bowl, toss together cabbage, cranberries and onion. Pour the vinaigrette over cabbage mixture; toss gently to coat. Cover and chill for 2 to 24 hours. (I had to serve it immediately and it was great.)

Serves 6.

Victoria (Heather) — Victoria has always been my favorite magazine. The beauty and romance of its pages capture my heart. I enjoyed flipping through this magazine while on our recent “staycation”. Since I am a devoted Anglophile (more precisely a UK-phile), I particularly enjoyed this issue.

Page 38 contains a beautiful photo of an amazing cake: who knew it was gluten-free?! I had to make it. The result was beautiful, but strangely tinny. After some reflection I realized the recipe had been altered in translation and the “tablespoons” should be read as “teaspoons”, especially where baking powder is concerned!!! So, if you’re going to make this cake, be sure to follow the recipe below, or remember the proper translation when you read the magazine!

(Victoria Magazine, Sept/Oct 2010)
Print this recipe

1 1/2 cups butter, softened (margarine can be used if you can’t use butter)
1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 1/2 cups all-purpose, gluten-free flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill with great results)
4 tsp. gluten-free baking powder
2 tsp. xanthan gum
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
6 large eggs
4 apples, peeled and coarsely grated

garnish: 1/4 cup walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped; 1/4 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 325F. Grease and line two 9-inch cake pans.

Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment at medium-high speed, beat together butter and sugar until smooth.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, xanthan gum, and cinnamon. Add to butter mixture, and mix at low speed until combined and smooth.

In a medium bowl, combine eggs and grated apple; fold into butter mixture.

Divide batter between prepared pan, and bake for 40 minutes, or until wooden pick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Cool cakes in pans for 15 minutes. Transfer cakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

To assemble cake, place one cake layer on plate and spread half of the icing over top; top with second cake layer, and spread remaining icing over top. Garnish with walnuts and dried cranberries, if desired.

(Heather’s Recipe)

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups heavy whipping cream

Place all ingredients in the bowl of a mixer and whip (slowly at first) until cheese is thoroughly mixed in and mixture has thickened.

Market Fresh: Snow Peas

Snow peas are such a delicious, healthy, and wonderful vegetable. They are great raw on a veggie tray with or without dip and they are an excellent addition to stir-frys. Today I’m sharing three recipes for crunchy, yummy snow peas. They are all adapted from foodnetwork.com and they are all vegetarian and gluten-free. We really liked all three! Hope you enjoy!

Print This Recipe

10 oz. snow peas
2 ribs celery
1/3 c. toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
Olive oil
Lemon juice
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 Avocado, thinly sliced
1 Tb. fresh chives, chopped

Thinly slice snow peas lengthwise. Toss with thinly sliced celery ribs (add
the leaves, too) and toasted walnuts. Dress with olive oil and lemon juice to taste (I used equal parts of both), and
season with salt and pepper. Gently stir in a thinly sliced avocado and minced chives.

Print This Recipe

2 tsp. olive oil
2 shallots minced
1 lb. assorted fresh mushrooms, sliced thinly
1/2 lb. of fresh snow peas, julienned
3/4 c. toasted pine nuts
1 lb. orzo, cooked according to box directions
1 Tb. of butter, optional
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat olive oil in a saute pan. Add shallots and saute. Add mushrooms and saute until brown. Add snow peas and cook for 1 minute. Add pine nuts. Add mixture to the orzo. Butter may be added, to taste. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Print This Recipe

2 Tb. butter
8 oz. snow peas
1 bunch scallions, chopped
pinch of sugar
1/4 c. water
salt to taste

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add snow peas, chopped scallions, a pinch of sugar and water. Cover and simmer 2 minutes, then uncover and boil until the water evaporates, 2 more minutes. Season with salt to taste.

Holiday Feast: Turkey

So, last week I made my very first turkey. I had made turkey breasts before but never a whole turkey. It will not be my last. This recipe made an amazingly moist and deliciously flavored turkey. I’m including the gravy recipe which I did not strictly follow but I’m sure is just as delicious.

Heather is also contributing turkey soup which is a perfect way to use up leftover turkey and to cook up the carcass.


SAGE BUTTER-ROASTED TURKEY with Cider Gravy (Alaina)
(Bon Appetit, November 2009)

For the Turkey:
3 Tb. coarse kosher salt
1 Tb. dried rubbed sage
1 16- to 18-lb. turkey, innards removed and bird is rinsed and patted dry (save the neck, heart, and gizzard  if you are making turkey stock – I did not do that)
1/4 c. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 c. chopped fresh sage
3/4 c. fresh refrigerated apple cider or fresh refrigerated apple juice

Rub salt and dried sage together in small bowl. Place turkey in roasting pan; sprinkle all over with sage salt. Cover pan with plastic wrap; chill turkey overnight (I chilled for about 6-8 hours).

Set rack at lowest position in oven and preheat to 375°F. Pat turkey dry. Tuck wing tips under; tie legs together loosely (mine were already tied). Stir butter and chopped sage in small saucepan over low heat until butter melts. Brush all over turkey; sprinkle with pepper.

Roast turkey 1 hr.; baste with any pan juices. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Roast turkey 45 min. Pour 3/4 c. apple cider over; turn pan around. Continue to roast turkey until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 165°F, basting and turning pan occasionally for even cooking, about 1 1/4 hrs. longer. Transfer turkey to platter; tent loosely with foil and let rest 30 to 45 min. (internal temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees).


For the Gravy:
2 c. (or more) turkey stock or low-salt chicken broth (I used broth)
3/4 c. fresh refrigerated apple cider or fresh refrigerated apple juice
2 Tb. all purpose flour
2 to 3 Tb. Calvados (apple brandy) or applejack brandy (I did not have either)
1 Tb. chopped fresh sage

Pour all pan juices into large measuring cup. Spoon off fat that rises to surface. Transfer 2 Tb. fat to heavy large saucepan; discard remaining fat. Place turkey roasting pan over 2 burners. Add 2 c. stock or broth and 3/4 c. cider. Bring to boil over high heat, scraping up browned bits. Boil liquid until reduced to 1 1/2 c., about 6 min. Add mixture from roasting pan to degreased pan juices. If necessary, add enough stock to measure 3 1/2 c stock mixture.

Place saucepan with turkey fat over medium-high heat. Add flour; whisk 2 min. Whisk in stock mixture. Boil until gravy thickens enough to coat spoon thinly, about 6 min. Whisk in  Calvados, or more to taste, and sage. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve turkey &  gravy together.

Here are a few of my turkey tips:
– Allow time to thaw.
– Check the neck as well as the cavity for innards.
– Make sure your thermometer is accurate or that the turkey comes with one that pops up.
– Don’t stress – it’s really not that hard!


      The taste of homemade turkey soup is deeply satisfying. After all the work and effort of the Thanksgiving meal, this soup can be put on the stove and nearly forgotten for most of the next day, with just a few additions just before serving.


      1 turkey carcass
      1 onion, peeled and quartered
      3 carrots, peeled and halved
      2-3 stalks celery, cut in 6-inch pieces

      1 pound carrots, shredded
      1/2 bunch celery, chopped

      Place the turkey carcass in a large pot and fill with water (ideally to cover the carcass, but if that’s not possible, as far up the pot as safe for cooking). Add the onion, carrots and celery. Bring to a boil and simmer for several hours (I covered my pot and left it for 3-4 hours). Turn off the heat and let the soup cool some.


      When cool enough to handle, strain the broth into another pan and pick all the meat of the carcass. Put the meat in the pot with the strained broth and add the grated carrot and chopped celery. Bring to a boil and add noodles of your choice (I chose thin spaghetti broken into 1 1/2-inch pieces). You can also throw in cooked rice or barley instead of noodles. Simmer until the noodles are finished cooking. Season with salt and pepper.

      Weekend Fare: Mushroom & Goat Cheese Frittata

      The weekend is here and I have a simple recipe for you that can be changed hundreds of different ways with delicious results. This one was inspired by the October issue of Cooking Light and is suitable for any meal of the day. It is so easy and so quick that you just have to try it! It’s perfect for weekend cooking and this version is vegetarian.

      1 – 8oz. package of mushrooms (I used baby bellas)
      1 1/2 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
      1 1/2 tsp. fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp. dried thyme)
      4 eggs
      1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper
      1/2 tsp. salt

      Preheat broiler. Clean* and slice the mushrooms. Heat an ovenproof skillet (I use an iron skillet) over medium-high heat with non-stick cook spray (or use a small pat of butter or drizzle of olive oil). Saute mushrooms until lightly browned – about 7 minutes. Remove from heat and put mushrooms in a bowl.


      Combine eggs, goat cheese, thyme, pepper, salt, and mushrooms in a medium bowl with a whisk. Spray skillet again and place over medium heat. Add egg & mushroom mixture.


      Cover and cook for 3 minutes or until almost set. Remove from heat and place under broiler for another 3 minutes or until completely cooked and golden on top. Cut into wedges.

      Serves 2-3


      *Do not run mushrooms under water to clean, they will retain the water and become woody. Instead, gently wipe clean with a damp towel or paper towel.  

      Some other ideas for delicious additions:
      Spinach or other greens
      Bacon, ham, really any meat
      Other Cheeses
      Different Herbs

      I would have especially enjoyed some shallots in this version and if not making it vegetarian, a little bacon. Enjoy!

      Weekend Fare: Soup Pot

      There is nothing more comforting than a big pot of soup.  It warms the soul as well as the stomach. One of my favorite things about the weather turning cold is being able to serve soup. Most soups are wonderful leftover (some even better the second time!) and most can be made in advance making soup a great food for weekends.

      Today I’m sharing a family favorite. We love lentils and this recipe is especially one of my husband’s favorites. It’s very easy and you can even combine all the ingredients in your slow cooker on low for 6-8 hours – just make sure you brown the sausage first. You could also make this a vegetarian meal by omitting the sausage, increasing the lentils by 1/2 c. and using vegetable broth.



      1/2 lb. sausage, casings removed or bulk sausage*
      2 Tb. Olive Oil
      1 c. carrots, finely diced (or coined)
      2 stalks celery, diced
      1/2 bell pepper, diced (I like red but any color will do)
      1 med. onion, chopped
      2 cloves garlic, minced
      1 c. dry brown lentils, rinsed and drained**
      6 c. chicken stock (or 1 qt. plus 2 c. water)
      1 1/2 tsp. salt
      1/2 tsp. rosemary
      1/2 tps. dried sage
      1/2 tsp. chili powder
      1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
      1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes

      Brown sausage and remove from pan.  Saute carrots, celery, bell pepper, onion, and garlic in olive oil until tender. Add sausage, lentils, chicken stock, and seasonings.  Cook until lentils are al dente to soft – about 45 min. – 1 hour.

      Serve with a green salad and fresh sliced bread or biscuits.

      *I use a seasoned sausage like mild Italian or breakfast sausage.
      **There are several different varieties of lentils and any would be suitable but the cooking times will vary.  It will be less time if you use red lentils – they will fall apart and become mushy when cooked too long.

      Just another note: If you decide to use the slow cooker, you do not need to saute the vegetables in olive oil – instead omit the olive oil and put all vegetables in the slow cooker raw.

      Simple Suppers: Apples & Onions with Sausage

      The fall is a time for simple dishes that give one a sense of home, the fireside, and cozy evenings. Apples and Onions is one such dish that has given comfort to generations of Americans for hundreds of years. Set alongside a plump sausage and a daub of seriously good grainy mustard, not to mention mashed potatoes and perhaps a few vegetables, this easy dinner will pay big dividends for just a small amount of effort.


      1 package sausages (I used fresh mild Italian sausage)
      3 large onions, sliced in thin wedges
      2 apples, peeled and cut into medium slices
      canola oil

      Begin by throwing the sausages into a 350-degree oven to begin cooking. Get the mashed potatoes started by peeling and cutting up your potatoes and putting them on to boil. Heat a frying pan with some canola oil. Dump in the chopped onions and cook over medium-high heat for about 20 minutes until the onions are golden and beginning to carmelize.

      Meanwhile, prepare whatever vegetable or salad you want to accompany your meal. I chose to roast broccoli in the oven (to keep the oven top for the potatoes and onions). I washed and cut the broccoli into florets, drizzled on oil, sprinkled salt and pepper and popped them in the oven to roast for about 30-40 minutes.

      When the onions are beginning to carmelize, throw in the apple slices and continue to cook for about 10 minutes until they begin to soften and color.

      Drain the potatoes and mash with butter, milk and a bit of parmesan cheese (or whatever you prefer).

      Remove the sausages from the oven when they are fully cooked (about 30-40 minutes after you started them). If you like, you can brown the sausages in a pan on the stove top (that takes about 5 minutes).

      When the broccoli is finished roasting you are ready to serve up your plates and enjoy!

      This served 3 adults and 4 small children.

      Depending on what sausages you use, this can be a gluten-free meal!

      Market Fresh: Squash

      Farmer’s Markets and supermarkets are filled with winter squashes of all kinds right now. Years ago I only remember seeing spaghetti squash and perhaps acorn squash in the stores. Now one is spoilt with variety.

      I came home from a local apple orchard with a Turk’s Turban, Pie Pumpkin, Acorn Squash, Spaghetti Squash, and a giant, green and white striped Cushaw Squash to add to the five Butternut Squash already sitting at home. I tend to buy squash in quantity when I find a good price and then use them for decorations until I need them in the kitchen.


      In case you’re wondering just what I’m going to do with all those squash, I’ll give you a few ideas: the Cushaw may turn into pies (I hear they are particularly good for that), the spaghetti squash is destined to become a substitute for pasta under a good batch of meatballs and sauce, the acorn (while not my favorite) will probably be baked with some sort of sweet or savory topping, and the Turk’s Turban, which is so beautiful, may just remain a decoration since, as one book puts it, “it’s fibers and lack of flavor” suit it for looking at rather than cooking.


      I’ve used the first of the Butternut Squash in this amazing recipe:


      adapted from Roast Figs Sugar Snow

      1 crust pastry

      1 lb butternut squash
      olive oil
      9 oz fresh spinach (could use frozen spinach, thawed and drained)
      2 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk
      1 1/4 cup half and half
      1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
      freshly grated nutmeg
      7 oz Feta cheese (original recipe called for Gorgonzola, if you like)

      Preheat the oven to 350F. Peel the squash and chop it into 1/2-inch size pieces. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until tender.

      Wash the spinach and place in a large saucepan over medium heat) to wilt in the water left clinging to it (or thaw frozen spinach).
      Drain spinach thoroughly.

      Line a tart pan  (or 6 small tart tins) with the pastry and chill.

      Make the custard by mixing together the eggs, egg yolk, cream and Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper.

      Prick the bottom of the tart shell and bake blind — line the pastry with parchment paper and put ceramic baking beans or ordinary dried beans on top — in the preheated oven for 7 minutes. Remove the paper and beans and cook for another 4 minutes.

      Spread the drained spinach on the bottom of the pastry. Sprinkle lightly with a tiny bit of grated nutmeg. Place the roasted squash on top of the spinach (you may not need all the squash you cooked). Dot with the Feta cheese. Pour the custard mixture over the tart and bake at 350F for 40 minutes for large tart or 25-30 minutes for smaller tarts. Let tart rest 10 minutes before cutting after removing from the oven.

      Makes 1 large tart or 6 small tarts.

      Gluten-Free: This can be made gluten-free by omitting the pie crust or substituting a gluten-free pie crust for the wheat pastry.