Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Roast Turkey

Here is a quick post for a roast turkey from Martha Stewart Living.  This is my second time using this recipe, and both times the turkey turns a dark golden color and is very juicy.

Ingredients for Martha Stewart Living's Roast Turkey:
-One 20-21 pound fresh turkey, giblets and neck removed from cavity and reserve (a slightly smaller turkey is fine, it will just cook faster)
-1 1/2 cups unsalted butter (3 sticks), melted, plus more for rubbing the turkey
-1 bottle dry white wine
-2 teaspoons salt
-2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper

Rinse the turkey with cool water and dry with paper towels.  Let stand for 2 hours at room temperature.

Warm the butter and white wine together and soak a large piece of cheese cloth in it.  Meanwhile, rub the bird with butter and season with salt and pepper.
Place rack on the lowest level in the oven and preheat to 425 degrees F.

Place the bird breast-side up on a roasting rack in the roasting pan.  A roasting rack will prevent the bird from sticking to the bottom of the pan.  Remove the pop-up thermometer if there is one.  Use an instant read thermometer for a more accurate indicator of doneness.

Insert the stuffing just before the turkey goes into the oven, and do not pack too tightly.  I place the stuffing into a cheesecloth bag, before going into the bird, so it is easy to remove.  Do not forget to pack the neck cavity.  Secure the neck flap by pulling the flap of skin at the neck down and use toothpicks to fasten it.
Pull the legs together loosely and tie them with kitchen string.  A bow will easily untie later.

Cover the turkey with cheesecloth that has been soaking in the butter and wine.  It should cover the breast and part of the leg areas.  Place the turkey in the oven and roast for 30 minutes, then take out and brush the cheesecloth and the exposed turkey parts with the butter and wine mixture.  Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F.  Beware that the cheesecloth might burn if it is drooping too much off the bird.  My smoke detectors were going crazy.
Every 30 minutes, use a pastry brush to baste the cheesecloth and exposed turkey parts with butter and wine mixture.  Watch the pan juices, if your pan is shallow.  Spoon them out if they are overflowing and reserve for gravy.

After the second hour of cooking, carefully remove and discard cheesecloth.  I brush the butter and wine mixture on spots that are sticking to the bird, to prevent the skin from tearing.  The turkey will be quite brown.  If the legs and wings are getting too brown, wrap them in foil to slow down the browning.  Brush the turkey with the pan juices and return to the oven.

After another 30 minutes of cooking, insert an instant read thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, avoiding the bone.  When the temperature reaches 165 degrees F, the bird is ready.  This will take an hour or two more (start taking temperature after 2 1/2 hours cooking time total).

Transfer the turkey to a serving platter, remove stuffing, and let rest for 30 minutes.  You can tent with foil to keep the heat in.  Meanwhile, make your gravy.  Then carve and serve.
Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

How To Brine A Turkey

In these past few years it seems that brining a turkey has become a popular way to prepare the big bird on Thanksgiving Day.  Maybe I am just imagining it, since I have only really been in charge of my own turkey since moving to New York three years ago, but seriously every magazine I pick up or cooking show I watch, brining the bird seems to be an essential part of the process.  What is brining?  It is a salt-water solution mixed with other aromatics that the bird soaks in over night, to ensure even moisture content throughout the bird.  The result is a juicy, tender turkey.  Although, I am a vegetarian, I have been assured that this turkey is very delicious, but honestly I have never tried it.  I trust my carnivore friends though.

Just some tips to mention before you start your brining.  Make sure your turkey is fresh or thawed out completely if frozen.  Also, you can either set the turkey in a large 5-gallon container, or a brining bag, which you can find at Whole Foods.  You can also get them on Amazon here.  Brining bags are like a huge ziplock bag, and are actually really sturdy.  It does help if you have a friend help you hold the bag while you place the ingredients in.  I also like that you can smush it into the refrigerator.  The last tip, is make sure you get your bird early enough.  You need to start brining your bird the morning before you plan to eat the turkey (at least for this recipe).  So have your bird thawed and ready on Tuesday night, brine on Wednesday, and cook on Thursday.

Ingredients for Riesling Brine from Martha Stewart Living, November 2008:

-7 quarts water (28 cups)
-1 1/2 cups kosher salt
-6 bay leaves
-2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
-1 tablespoon dried juniper berries
-2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
-1 tablespoon fennel seeds
-1 teaspoon black or brown mustard seeds
-1 fresh whole turkey (18-20 pounds) patted dry, neck and giblets reserved for stock, liver for stuffing
-1 bottle dry Riesling
-2 medium onions, thinly sliced
-6 garlic cloves, crushed
-1 bunch fresh thyme

Bring 1 quart water, salt, bay leaves, and spices to a simmer, stirring until salt has dissolved.  Let cool for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, slice onions and garlic.  Place onions, garlic, and thyme in the bag or container.  Place turkey on top and pour in Riesling.  I like to pour in about half the remaining water (3 quarts), then the spice mixture, then the rest of the water (3 quarts), so everything gets mixed well, and the warm spice mixture doesn't directly hit the bird.
If the turkey is not submerged, weigh it down with a plate.  Refrigerate for 24 hours, flipping the turkey breast side down once in the middle of brining.

Monday, November 22, 2010

CSA Week Twenty-Four

Last Wednesday was my final week of my CSA.  It has not really hit me yet, but I know it will once I run out of all the produce.  Seriously, I don't realize how the CSA shaped my eating until it is gone.  Here is what I got my final week:
-Sweet potatoes
-Butternut squash
-One quince

Oh CSA, how I will miss you!  Stay tuned for Thanksgiving recipes :)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Thanksgiving Invitations

I am having Thanksgiving a little early this year, in fact it's this weekend.  Here are my invitations I sent out.  Gotta run, I am in the middle of making cinnamon ice cream.

Click here to see last year's.

How To Cut A Pomegranate

I remember the first time I tried to remove all the seeds from a pomegranate.  My clean white shirt was spotted with dark red specs all over it.  Today, I actually know how to cut a pomegranate without all the mess, and it is just in three steps.  When purchasing a pomegranate, look for glossy skin, make sure it does not look withered.  Pick the pomegranate up, it should feel full and heavy, that is sign of a juicy pomegranate.

First, quarter the pomegranate.
Second, take a large bowl of water and submerge each quarter in the water.  Use your fingers to separate the arils from pulp.  This a bit time consuming, but well worth it.  Repeat with the remaining three quarters.
Thirdly, pour your water and seed mixture through a sieve, and pick out any bad looking seeds, or pulp you missed.
Now you are ready to enjoy as is, or pop into a recipe.  Nature's candy - yum yum :)

Check out this Aztec Hot Chocolate Ice Cream I made last year.  It is to die for.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Best Thing I Had In My Mouth - Pomegranate

Did you know that it is National Pomegranate Month?  Well it is!  Pomegranates are one of my favorite fruits.  I have been fascinated by them since my seventh grade English teacher brought some to class to celebrate the end of our Greek studies unit.  Their leathery pink skin hides the sweet and tart jewel-like clusters inside called arils.  Once you take the time to break open the pomegranate and separate all the seeds, I let them chill in the refrigerator for a bit and just eat a huge bowl of them, like I did today.  I just love how each juicy seed pops in your mouth.  They were definitely the best thing I had in my mouth.

Stay tuned for tips on how to separate out the pomegranate seeds without making a complete mess.

Click here to read about last year's visit to Afton Apple Orchard in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Friday, November 12, 2010

CSA Week Twenty-Three

This my second to last week of my CSA.  So sad!  Here is what I got:

-Sweet potatoes
-Lettuce and other greens
-Carnival squash

Next week, I hope to be posting more frequently as Thanksgiving is quickly approaching.  For now, check out my perfect pie dough recipe.  Click here.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Doughnut Plant Counter

Just a pretty picture I took at The Doughnut Plant, while my parents were visiting a month ago.  Man, I wish I was there right now.  Click here to read my review.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Best Thing I Had In My Mouth - Pineapple Fizzy Lizzy

Okay, this week the best thing I had in my mouth is actually a drink!  My friend brought this Fizzy Lizzy Pineapple Fruit Juice + Fizzy Water drink home to me as a special treat.  I request a lot of special treats.  Simplicity is what makes this drinks so sweet and special.  It is just pineapple puree and triple-filtered carbonated water.  Ummm, why didn't I think of that?  All Fizzy Lizzy drinks are around 60 percent juice per bottle, and they make a pretty convincing argument as to why their fancy juice drink is better than the rest.  My only suggestion for Fizzy Lizzy is to make their website as cute and fun as their bottle.  Come on guys!  I am not a huge soda fan, but I could definitely see me adding this to the end of a Mexican fiesta, making it a delicious liquid dessert.  I actually had to go to the grocery store to get myself another one the next day!

CSA Week Twenty-Two

Hello!  I got a lot of greens this week from my CSA.  I think I am going to my FAVORITE soup - hearty winter vegetable with this produce.  Here is what I got:
-Collard greens
-Boy choy
-Acorn squash
-Jonagold Apples
-Mutsu Apples

Have a great weekend, I am off to watch the NYC Marathon!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Lime-Chili Pumpkin Seeds

If you have some pumpkins left over from Halloween, do not let it rot away on your porch or window sill, cut off the top and scoop out the seeds and toast them.  I have had a teeny pumpkin sitting on my kitchen window sill for two months now.  It traveled in my suitcase all the way from my best friend's backyard in Minneapolis, to my apartment in Harlem.  I felt foolish even taking it on the plane, and even thought about throwing it away behind her back.  But I am glad I thought otherwise, because it landed in perfect condition, and every time I see it I think of her.  Although I wanted to carve it, I just did not find the time, so toasting the seeds was as good as I could get for Halloween.  My coworker gave me the great suggestion of using lime juice to flavor the seeds before baking, so I thought I would share the recipe with you.
Here are the ingredients for Lime-Chili Pumpkin Seeds, for about 1 cup of seeds:
-Pumpkin seeds, rinsed and dried completely
-1 to 2 teaspoons chili powder
-1 to 2 teaspoons of salt
-1 teaspoon olive oil
-Juice from one lime

I have found that it is easier to scoop the seeds out with your hands instead of using a spoon.  Your delicate little fingers separate the pumpkin strands from the seeds as you pull them out.  Rinse them in a colander and make sure you get all the extraneous strands of pumpkin off.  Lay out the seeds on a paper towel, and let them dry completely.  I usually do this over night.  My coworker, suggested this to be a good time to sprinkle with lime juice so that the juice will soak in an dry out on the shells.  I had already dried mine out, so I just splashed the juice right before I put them in the oven.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Take your dried seeds, and mix with salt, chili powder, olive oil, and lime juice (if you have not added the juice already).  Feel free to add more or less chili powder, depending on what you like.  I will definitely add more next time.

Spread onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, and bake for 10 to 15 minutes.  Take out once the seeds are crisp and toasted.  Let cool for a few minutes, then serve warm or at room temperature.

If you want to do something with the actual pumpkin, try David Lebovitz's roasted pumpkin recipe.  Click here.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Paris Vs. New York

Just had to quickly share this adorable blog I came across last week.  It is called Paris Vs. New York, and the blog simply illustrates the differences between the two cities.  I am including a couple food-related ones, but please check out the blog to see the rest of Vahram Muratyan's illustrations.  Someday I hope to go to Paris and compare for myself :)  Enjoy!

The Best Thing I Had In My Mouth - Zaza Candy

If you have ever been to B & H, you know just how crazy it can get in there.  Most people go there for their huge assortment of camera equipment, but I go there for their Zaza candy.  This small, chewy taffy is kosher and comes in a wide variety of fruity flavors.  There are small bowls taffy throughout the two-floor store.  I usually pretend to be looking at equipment, but really I am scouting out my next bowl, which I quickly snatch taffy and put in my pockets.  I come out of the store with my pockets filled to the brim - no joke.  The grape flavor Zaza is definitely the best thing I had in my mouth last week :)