Sunday, November 28, 2010

"The Great Year-Round Turkey Cookbook" - Turkey Cumberland with Apple-Sweet Sausage Stuffing

Date my husband made these recipes: November 26, 2010 (the day after Thanksgiving)

The Great Year-Round Turkey Cookbook by Anita Borghese
Published by: Stein and Day
© 1979
Recipes: Turkey Cumberland – p. 99 and Apple-Sweet Sausage Stuffing – p. 136

We usually spend Thanksgiving Day with my husband’s family but this year, everyone’s schedule was such that we ended up having T-Day on Friday. And this was no big deal except I had to work and so Andy ended up doing all the cooking. He is a fine cook so no worries there. My job this year was to hand him some recipe books and magazines and let him go to it. His job: make the turkey, stuffing and dessert.

One of the books I got in my huge haul (47 books) from an estate sale this October is today’s featured book: The Great Year-Round Turkey Cookbook. Yes, I know, the point of this book is that one can cook turkey year-round but hey, Thanksgiving was upon us and so one must do what one must do.

Normally my rule is to make one recipe per book but who are we kidding here? Turkey and stuffing go together and so I’m posting two recipes for your consideration. We opted to turn the stuffing into “dressing” cooking it separately outside the bird; both recipes were good although the turkey was a little less moist that anticipated.

But speaking of moist turkey, because the schedules were so goofy on Thanksgiving Day we decided to take a run up to Key’s Café to get take out turkey dinners as it was just the two of us. Key's is your basic comfort food restaurant and they make a damned fine turkey dinner all year round. It is not unusual for us to grab some take out turkey in the middle of summer. When you get a craving, you get a craving.

On Thanksgiving, Key's is open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and I just had to hoot when they informed me by phone the day before that turkey would be served starting at 10 a.m. I’ve eaten a lot of odd things during what I consider to be the breakfast hour but never have I considered turkey and fixings. Guess I’m behind times on that one. We opted for a more civilized 1:00 p.m. pickup but then put the dinners in the refrigerator and lounged around for a couple of hours before eating. And the beauty of that was that we could get comfortable and eat our dinner at the same time – perfect.

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!

Turkey Cumberland – makes 6 to 8 servings
6 pound turkey
¼ cup margarine or butter
½ cup red or black currant jelly
¼ cup Port wine
2 teaspoons prepared mustard
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
Cayenne pepper to taste
1 tablespoon cornstarch combined with 2 tablespoons cold water
Turkey stock or chicken broth (optional)

Wash and pat turkey half thoroughly dry with paper towels. Rub cut side of turkey half with salt. Place cut side down, in shallow roasting pan just large enough to fit comfortably. Preheat oven at 325. (Note: this chapter of the book talks about using cut-up turkey and mixed parts, thus the reference to “pat turkey half.” We used a whole turkey and nobody was the wiser.)

Melt the margarine or butter in a small saucepan with the current jelly. Heat, stirring, until the jelly has melted. Remove from heat and stir in the Port, mustard, lemon juice, vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt and a dash of cayenne, or to taste. Brush the turkey all over with the currant jelly mixture.

Roast until meat thermometer inserted in center of inside thigh muscle adjoining the body registers 180 to 185 degrees or until tender when pierced with a sharp-tined folk, brushing with the currant jelly mixture every 20 minutes. If the wing starts to brown too much, wrap it in aluminum foil. Set turkey on a wooden carving board and allow to stand 15-20 minutes before carving. Meanwhile, spoon off excess fat from the roasting pan. Add the remaining currant jelly mixture along with the cornstarch mixture. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Lower heat and simmer a few minutes. If the sauce is too thick add a little turkey stock or chicken broth and heat thoroughly.

Apple-Sweet Sausage Stuffing (no serving size given but likely 6-8 people)
1 ½ pounds Italian sweet sausage
2 cups chopped onions
1 ½ cups diced celery
2 cups peeled, diced, tart apples
2 eggs
¼ teaspoon sage
1 teaspoon marjoram
½ teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
8 cups whole grain bread cubes, toasted in moderate oven until dry and lightly toasted
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan, Romano or Sardo cheese

Slit sausage and remove casing. Break up the sausage and sauté in a skillet, turning and continuing to break up until lightly browned. Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon and place it in a bowl. To the fat remaining in the skillet add the onions and celery and sauté a few minutes longer. Add the mixture to the sausage meat in the bowl.

Beat the eggs lightly and add the sage, marjoram, thyme, basil, salt, and pepper. Add to the sausage mixture. Add the toasted bread cubes and the cheese and mix well. Stuff the turkey immediately (or place in a separate pan and bake at 325 along with the turkey). You’ll have to check periodically to make sure it doesn’t dry out.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

"All About Sausage by Oscar Mayer & Co." - Wiener Cheesaroni

Date I made this recipe: November 21, 2010 (the annual Packer-Viking game)

All About Sausage by Oscar Mayer & Co.
Published by: Oscar Mayer & Co.
© 1973
Recipe: Weiner Cheesaroni – p. 50

Today marked the 100th meeting of the Green Bay Packers (yay!) and the Minnesota Vikings (boo!). And what a glorious meeting it was with the Packers winning 31-3. Tee hee hee. All I can say is payback’s a bitch: last year with Brett Favre as quarterback (having left the Packers in a huff 2 years before), the team I call the Vike-Queens smoked us. But this year to my great enjoyment, we royally embarrassed our rival as well as our ex-quarterback (traitor!) causing the Vikings owners to fire coach Brad Childress (that’s “Chilly” to those in the know), and Brett Favre to “re-evaluate” the game. Many sports announcers (and me) took this to mean he might sit out the rest of the season but of course not. Yesterday he announced (and not for the first time) that he didn’t MEAN he was going to quit. It just meant he was evaluating the rest of the season. Uh huh, right. Liar, liar, pants on fire.

At any rate, prior to the game, I decided to pay homage to my Packers by making something that just screams “Wisconsin:” sausage and cheese.

Now I have to tell you that I already knew, deep down in my gut, that this dish would probably not live up to the standards set by the back-to-back home runs of Craig Claiborne’s meals and it did not disappoint; it wasn’t a total disaster but it was close. In fact, when I informed my husband that I was making “Weiner Cheesaroni” for dinner, his cute little nose curled up in a gesture I can only describe as the universal signal for “Ew.” Honey, not every recipe can be a winner.

Here’s what is inherently wrong with this dish: it’s not the wieners or cheese or even macaroni that’s the problem, it’s the addition of caraway seeds and green onion. As I’ve said many times before in this blog though, I make the recipes as written and so like it or not, I went with ingredients I knew would be problematic and they were.

So here’s what I think could possibly salvage this next time around: scrap the caraway seeds and the green onion and use real onion instead. I’d sauté it first so the onion isn’t so sharp. And I’d add real cheese to the dish as well to make it extra creamy. Nothing against Campbell’s soup but in this case that canned flavor was just too much.

I’m not sure what to substitute for a spice, if anything, but definitely pass on the caraway seeds or you, too, will experience an “Ew” moment!

And speaking of “Ew” moments, I’d say the Packers handed Vikings fans enough “Ew” moments to last a lifetime. Go Pack Go!!

By the way, when I told the name of this dish to a coworker, he said “It sounds like a great name for a band!” (How true is that?!) Since “cheesearoni” sounds like Beefaroni (a popular canned macaroni product from the 60’s) we also promptly launched into the Beefaroni song. Okay, everybody: “We’re having Beefaroni. Made from macaroni. Beefaroni’s full of meat. Beefaroni’s really neat. Beefaroni’s fun to eat. Hooray! For Beefaroni!”

Thank you, thank you. I’m here all week…..

Wiener Cheesaroni – serves 5
1 pound package (10 wieners) ((I used half the amount but did buy Unsinger’s wieners, made in Milwaukee, WI).
7 ounces macaroni, cooked
1 can (10 ¾ oz.) condensed cheese soup
2/3 cup milk
½ cup chopped green onions
1 teaspoon dry mustard
½ teaspoon caraway seed

Preheat oven to 350. Cut half the wieners into bite-size pieces; combine with remaining ingredients in 2-quart casserole. Top with remaining whole wieners. Cover and bake 30 minutes, or until heated through.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

"The Chinese Cookbook" by Craig Claiborne and Virginia Lee - The Best Fried Rice

Date I made this recipe: November 14, 2010

The Chinese Cookbook by Craig Claiborne and Virginia Lee
Published by: J.B. Lippincott Company
© 1972 – Fourth printing
Recipe: The Best Fried Rice – p. 352-353

So I’m of the mind that if some is good, more is better and so if some Craig Claiborne was good, more of him and his delicious recipes was better – way better! And that’s how I came to cook from The Chinese Cookbook written by Craig Claiborne and Virginia Lee. And honestly, when that man says this is a recipe for “the best” fried rice, he was not kidding. This was so danged good that I honestly could have eaten it all in one sitting, with no apologies to my spouse whatsoever.

Now you may be thinking “So what’s the big deal? There are tons of Chinese cookbooks out there.” Au contraire, Pierre, there are now, but trust me, back when this was written, there just wasn’t a lot available.

And so as I discussed in last week’s blog, Craig once again broke ground, taking some of China’s best recipe and breaking them down into something that most Americans could make without too much work and for this I most heartily thank him.

So what to make, what to make? Lo Mein? Kung Pao Chicken? Chinese Pork Buns? (Oooo-I love Chinese Pork Buns!). All so good but I couldn’t decide so I threw the book over to my hubby and he said “How about the fried rice?”

The man is genius.

Here’s what I liked best about this “best” fried rice—it was not greasy. Not one little bit greasy, not one little bit overly soy-sauced and just oh so tasty. Like I said, Andy was in grave danger of going hungry for the evening because I could not quit shoveling (and I do mean shoveling—with chop sticks, naturally) this dish into my mouth. I think I came up for air now and then but am not sure.

And those of you without a wok have no fear—Target sells a perfectly decent one for not a mere $29.99 (and they threw in a wooden spatula to boot!). If all else fails, (and I’ve never done this) but use a large skillet or even a soup pot so you can rapidly stir the ingredients and mix things properly.

The only substitute I made in this dish was that I forgot to get peas but I had a frozen package of mixed veggies and used that instead. So there were bits of corn and green beans in the dish. Who cared? Oh—and the instructions to slice the shrimp in half lengthwise? Yeah, right. I chopped them into three pieces and that’s all there is to that.

Eat and enjoy. And speaking of enjoy, “enjoy” rhymes with “La Choy.” La Choy is an American company that produces Chinese food items and when I was growing up, this was as close as I was ever going to get to Chinese food without going to Chinatown…only of course, this stuff didn’t taste anything like Chinese food…but I digress. So show of hands, how many of you are old enough to remember the jingle for this (American/Asian) product “La Choy makes Chinese food...swing American!” (Perhaps you had to be there).

This dish doesn’t taste anything like canned Chinese food and for that you will thank me and Craig Claiborne and Virginia Lee.

The Best Fried Rice – yield 8 to 12 servings (unless you’re me in which case, one. One, big serving)
5 cups cold cooked rice (cooked at least one day in advance)
1 cup small raw shrimps, shelled, deveined, and split in half lengthwise
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons peanut, vegetable, or corn oil
2/3 cup cubed Chinese sausages (2 small) or cooked ham
3 eggs
½ cup cooked fresh or frozen green peas
1 tablespoon salt, approximately (Okay—only if you like eating salt licks will you like this much salt. We went with one teaspoon and that was plenty.)
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 cup fresh bean sprouts
½ cup chopped scallions, green part included

Flake the rice so that the grains do not stick together. Set aside.

Combine the shrimps with the soda and salt and let stand 15 minutes or longer. Rinse thoroughly in cold water and pat dry on paper toweling.

Heat the oil in a wok or skillet until it is almost smoking and add the shrimps. Cook, stirring quickly and turning them in the oil until they turn pin, about 30 seconds. Remove them to a sieve fitted over a mixing bowl and let them drain well. Return the oil from the drained shrimps to the pan.

Add the sausages or ham to the pan and cook just to heat through, stirring. Add the rice, stirring rapidly, and cook until thoroughly heated without browning.

Do the following quickly: Make a well in the center of the rice and add the eggs, stirring constantly. When they have a soft-scrambled consistency, start incorporating the rice, stirring in a circular fashion.

When all the rice and eggs are blended, add the peas and the salt, stirring. Stir in the oyster sauce and the cooked shrimps, tossing the rice over and over to blend everything. Stir in the bean sprouts and cook, stirring and tossing, about 30 seconds. Add the scallions and serve immediately.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

"Craig Claiborne's Favorites" - French Pot Roast with Red-Wine Sauce

Date I made this recipe: November 7, 2010

Craig Claiborne’s Favorites (Series II) from The New York Times
Published by Times Books
© 1975
Recipe: French Post Roast with Red-Wine Sauce p. 291 (September 21, East Hampton, “Side Dish, Front and Center” with Pierre Franey) (Note: this recipe calls for an overnight marinade plus 3 hours of cooking)

Back around the first of October, I was listening to the radio show, The Splendid Table, when I heard Lynne Rossetto Kasper and guest, southern writer, John T. Edge, talk about the influence Craig Claiborne had on American cooking. At the time, I made a mental note to make something of his, seeing as how I have a couple of his cookbooks but one thing led to another and here we are in November. Time flies when you are having cooking fun!

I don’t know as I had much knowledge of Craig until I started reading James Villas’ cookbooks several years ago. Craig and James were good friends and James often mentioned cooking with Craig (and partying with Craig) in his books.

Like James Villas and John T. Edge, Craig Claiborne was from the south. There’s just something about southern cooking and southern life that intrigues me even though I can’t imagine living there (because of critters—like snakes and whatnot).

Craig, though, branched out beyond the south, not only with his recipes but with his writing; as restaurant critic and food editor of The New York Times, he got to go around the world without leaving Manhattan. The availability of a vast variety of food is one of the many things I love about New York.

What I really like about this cookbook is that each chapter is a theme. On one page, you can find a recipe for Black Forest Cake, taken from the entry on February 9 (1975) titled Pride of the Forest, and a few pages later, you’ll find a chapter titled Persian Cookery. Let me just say that I had a hard time selecting a recipe but am glad I waited until now to make the pot roast with wine—a perfect dish for a fall day. (Let me also just say that my house had a wonderful mulled wine smell in it for two days thanks to the wine and spice marinade this roast had to rest in!).

And speaking of marinade, you should know that you need to plan in advance to make this recipe. Your meat has to marinade minimally overnight (if not longer) and then you need to allow 3 hours for cooking time. Making the marinade was a piece of cake though, so don’t let a little thing like that deter you! You should also know that I emptied out two bottles of wine for the marinade but drew the line at opening a third bottle and that was wise because as it is, the stuff splashed all over my refrigerator and floor. Oops! (And no, I didn’t have a little nip as I was preparing the dish.) (And let me just say that this is when it pays to lay in a case of “Two Buck Chuck” from Trader Joe’s!).

And speaking of wine, let me just mention that Craig (and James Villas) often cooked and collaborated with Frenchman (chef) Pierre Franey. Craig and Pierre share this recipe and Pierre likely had a hand in the wine selection, both for the table and the pot roast.

And speaking (once again) of the pot roast, the pot roast is actually a “side dish” to a potato recipe they named Potatoes Chateau Chinon (p. 292). I decided long ago to make one dish per cookbook and while these potatoes sounded good, I was more interested in the roast and so went with the side dish instead. (And by the way, isn’t making the roast a side dish creative?) But you, dear reader, are not held to my standard so knock yourselves out!

Finally, I have waxed poetic about James Villas cookbooks in previous blogs but that’s more due to his mother (and co-author), Martha Pearl Villas. That was one damned funny woman and to this day, her recipe for Coconut Cake is one of the best things I’ve ever made. You can read about her and it on my blog posting from June 27, 2007; you can also link to it by clicking on “Martha Pearl Villas” in the “Labels” section on the right-hand side of the page. Martha Pearl passed away last January and my, oh my how I wish I had met that woman! She liked to give everyone grief in the kitchen and I have no doubt that Craig and Pierre caught an earful from her on more than one occasion!

To listen to The Splendid Table discussion about Craig click:

French Pot Roast with Red-Wine Sauce – 6 to 10 servings
1 5-6 pound round beef roast
½ cup red wine vinegar
2 ¼ cups chopped onion; use 1 ½ cups to make the marinade and the remainder the next day
2 ¼ cups chopped carrots; use 1 ½ cups to make the marinade and the remainder the next day
1 ½ cups chopped celery; use 1 cup to make the marinade and the remainder the next day
2 cups chopped leeks, optional (I like leeks so used them in the marinade)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 sprigs parsley
1 teaspoon each of leaf sage, dried rosemary, marjoram, and coriander seeds (Note: you will need to make a cheesecloth bag of these spices)
4 to 5 cups dry red wine (or whatever is necessary to cover the roast)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
¾ cup diced salt pork or 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
¼ cup flour
2 cups beef broth

Place the beef in a mixing bowl.

Combine the vinegar, 1 ½ cups each chopped onion and carrots, 1 cup of celery, all the leeks (2 cups), garlic and parsley in a saucepan. Tie the sage, rosemary, marjoram, and coriander seeds in a cheesecloth bag and add the bag. Bring to the boil, stirring.

Pour the vinegar mixture over the meat and add enough wine to barely cover the meat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Cover closely and refrigerate overnight or longer, up to 3 days.

….24 hours later, after having poured your own glass of wine….

Remove the meat and pat it dry. Strain and reserve 3 cups of the liquid. Discard the remaining liquid and vegetables.

Heat the pork (or just the oil) in a heavy Dutch oven or casserole and cook, stirring, until it is rendered of fat. Scoop out and discard the solids.

Sprinkle the beef with salt and pepper. Add it to the Dutch oven or casserole and brown well on all sides. Transfer the meat to a warm place.

Add the remaining ¾ cup each of chopped onion and carrots and remaining ½ cup of celery. Cook, stirring, until onion is wilted. Sprinkle with the four and stir to blend thoroughly. Add the reserved marinade and beef broth, stirring with a wire whisk. When the mixture is thickened, add the meat. Cover closely and cook over low heat about 3 hours or until the roast is thoroughly tender.

Remove the meat and keep it warm. Cook the sauce down to the desired consistency. Slice the meat and serve with the sauce and with potatoes Chateau Chinon.

Monday, November 1, 2010

"Cooking from the Heart - The Hmong Kitchen in America" - Whole Roasted Coconut Chicken

Date I made this recipe: October 31, 2010

Cooking from the Heart – The Hmong Kitchen in America by Sami Scripter and Sheng Yang
Published by: University of Minnesota Press
ISBN: 978-0-8166-5326-3
Recipe: Whole Roasted Coconut Chicken – p. 114-115

Today, class, many of you are going to get a geography/sociology lesson. This book is about Hmong (pronounced “Mung”) recipes and depending on where you live in America, you may not be familiar with this culture.

The Hmong people are mountain people from China, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand. My husband says that they are basically a people without a country and that’s because they haven’t really settled in one place.

During the Vietnam War, the Hmong assisted the United States in fighting the Laotian Communist government. Although many Hmong settled in camps in Thailand during and after the war, many were brought to the United States by religious groups offering them refugee status.

Today the highest concentration of Hmong is in California, Minnesota and Wisconsin. In Minnesota, they primarily live in an area of St. Paul called “Frogtown” and a drive by the Hmong Market the other day (a cross between an outdoor farmer’s market and a grocery store) prompted me to use this cookbook (recently issued, I might add).

For those familiar with Asian foods, Hmong food is pretty similar. This dish was something I had never had before and seemed like a good thing to make on a Sunday.

And speaking of making this…you might be tempted, like I was, to chop your veggies in a Cuisinart. Resist that temptation. I went a bit overboard and pulsed the entire stuffing mixture and let’s just say that had to be the most unattractive stuffing I have ever seen. Luckily it tasted better than it looked. My husband really liked the flavors but I am not a fan of mint and felt like I was sucking on a Mojito. I suggest adjusting your ingredients accordingly.

Before I leave you with the recipe, let me pass on a few recommendations for books and movies that do an excellent job of providing a peek into Hmong life.

A book that is just absolutely outstanding is The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman. This book chronicles the life of a Hmong family dealing with a young daughter who has epilepsy. The family doesn’t know the Western term for this affliction and so they dub it “the spirit catches you and you fall down.” This book highlights the challenges of Western medicine in dealing with traditional Eastern methods of treatment, including the sacrificing of animals and the summoning of a “witch doctor” to eliminate the evil spirits. It is enlightening as it is moving and I’m sure you will be blown away.

The movie that I highly recommend is Gran Torino, starring (and directed by) Clint Eastwood. Here’s the best thing about this movie: the screenplay was written by local boy, Nick Schenk, who happens to be a friend and former writing collaborator of my brother-in-law, Ben Martin (Ben and his buddies had a retrospect of their cable shows many years ago at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis’ modern art museum. This was a well-deserved high honor). Ben was just busting his buttons with pride on Nick’s behalf when this movie came out. Although the story is based on experiences with the Twin Cities Hmong community, for various and sundry reasons, the movie was made in Detroit. Oh well.

Gran Torino is the story of a grizzled old Korean War veteran (Eastwood) who is having a hard time dealing with the “Huh-mong” people who live next door. At the beginning of the movie, Eastwood’s prejudice against the Hmong ring out loud and clear. But of course things change and his attitude takes a complete 360 after a series of events take place. It’s a great movie and to Nick I say – “Well done!”

One a final note, you will need more time that the recipe calls for when roasting this chicken. The recipe said to roast it for 40 minutes, then baste with coconut milk and then cook approximately 30 more minutes. Nuh uh. The meat was pink and we had to put it in the microwave. Be sure to use a meat thermometer (although note, ours was not much help!)

Whole Roasted Coconut Chicken – serving size not indicated
(A note at the end of the recipe indicates that this recipe was adapted from the Hmong Recipe Cook Book, edited by Sharon Sawyer. (First Presbyterian Church, South St. Paul, 1986).

1 young frying chicken, at least 5 pounds
3 teaspoons salt (you will reserve some of this for later)
½ pound lean ground pork
4 to 6 hot Thai chili peppers, minced (more or less, depending upon desired heat)
1 teaspoon coarse-ground black pepper
1 cup toasted peanuts, coarsely ground
1 cup mint leaves, chopped
1 cup fresh cilantro sprigs, chopped
5 green onion, white and green parts, chopped
1 can coconut milk (14 ounces)
1 tablespoon fish sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash the chicken well with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Remove the giblets and refrigerate for use in another dish. Sprinkle the chicken inside and out with 2 teaspoons of salt.

In a large bowl, mix the ground pork, chili peppers, pepper, and the remaining teaspoon of salt. Add the peanuts, mint, cilantro, green onions, and half of the can of coconut milk and mix well. Stuff the chicken with about two-thirds of the pork mixture. Put the chicken in a baking dish, breast side up. Tuck the wings underneath. Loose the skin over the breast and push the rest of the stuffing under the skin, patting the surface to distribute the stuffing equally. Sprinkle the chicken with the fish sauce, and cover.

Bake for 40 minutes. Remove the lid and pour the rest of the coconut milk over the chicken. Baste several times with the pan drippings while the chicken continues to cook. It is done when a meat thermometer inserted into the middle of the stuffing registers 170 degrees and the chicken is golden brown (about 30 more minutes). (NOTE: as I stated before, use your meat thermometer religiously during this process. I recommend using it on the stuffing and the meat or you will get wacky results!).