Turkey Leftovers – What to do with ’em

I can’t decide.  Do I like Thanksgiving dinner better or the leftover dinner the next day?  Nope, still can’t decide.  The good thing is that I don’t have to.  We had both.

Now that both the big meal and the equally good leftover meal are in the past, if you haven’t already taken those bones and made stock with them, today is the day to either deal with them in the form of stock or get them well wrapped and into the freezer until you do have time. I talk about how to make stock with your turkey bones in my latest column.

Corn, Bacon and Potato Soup was the final product of our turkey stock last night for dinner.   It works because stock made this way is not as heavily poultry flavored as when you begin with raw bones.  It becomes a mild background flavor rather than the main event.  The oyster crackers are a traditional way of thickening chowder.  I suppose this soup could be considered chowder if you weren’t such a traditionalist and didn’t require salt pork to call it so.  They are salty and so is the bacon.  Therefore, additional salt may not be needed.  Taste at the end to be sure.

Corn Bacon Potato Soup

Corn, Bacon and Potato Soup
2 cups diced onions, about 1 large onion
4 slices bacon, diced
4 cups diced red potatoes, about 6 to 8 small to medium potatoes
several grinds of fresh black pepper
1 cup oyster crackers
4 to 6 cups turkey stock (or chicken broth)
1 cup whole milk
3 cups frozen corn kernels (but if it were in the middle of the summer, I’d definitely use fresh!)
pinch of salt to taste

Heat a large stockpot over medium-high heat and add the onions and the bacon.  Saute for 10 minutes or until the onions are translucent and the bacon has rendered fully.  Add the potatoes, pepper and oyster crackers and saute for another several minutes or until things begin to brown slightly.  Add the stock and bring the soup to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.  Add the milk and corn, bring to a simmer again and taste for salt.

Serves 4 to 6

Hope it was a good one for you all!

Ginger Thyme Granola

Good morning to my cupboard barren of cereal.  Good morning to my refrigerator bereft of milk.  I have things that I can make without going to the grocery store.  I can go one or two more days without spending money.  Today I will have Cheddar Cheese Polenta (Or maybe its grits if you are having it for breakfast. Hmmm…  Will someone from the south please tell me?) with salsa and scrambled eggs.  Even better, I will plan ahead with a little baking and tomorrow I will have Ginger and Thyme Granola on my yogurt.  Day 28 without going to the grocery store.

Ginger Thyme Granola

Ginger Thyme Granola
If you haven’t yet tried Fiore olive oils, they are delicious and healthy and heaven!

4 cups whole rolled oats
1/4 cup minced crystallized ginger
1 cup whole flake coconut
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves; about 1 sprig
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon Fiore vanilla balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and transfer to a parchment-lined 9×13 pan.  Bake for 20 minutes or until golden.

Makes 5 cups

Keeping a promise to myself

What’s in your freezer?

Day 26 without going to the grocery store.  The hot mess (or should I say ‘cold mess’) that I found in my freezer the other day resulted in a last minute change of dinner plans and a whole lot of things that need to be used up pronto.

Hmm… not the prettiest, but still a workable mess

Defrosted raspberries went into breakfast yogurt with honey and Ginger Thyme Granola

Lamb, of course, became Lamb and Red Potato Stew with Sage and Rosemary

Ham, Peas and Cheese became Three-Cheese Ham and Peas with Gemelli – see below

Lentils became Indian Potatoes and Peas over Lentils

Feta cheese became Tomato, Olive and Feta Pizza

Miso became Miso and Root Vegetable Soup

Three-Cheese Ham and Peas with Gemelli
ham sliced into 1/2-inch slices
frozen peas
salt and pepper
grated Parmesan and Fontina cheese
cream cheese

Bring a salted pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta according to package instructions.  When the pasta is almost done, add the peas for 1 minutes or so to the simmering pasta water.  Just before draining the pasta and the peas, add the ham to the water just to heat.  Reserve 1 cup of pasta water and then drain the pot into a strainer.  Return the ham, peas and pasta to the pot and add a large pat of butter, a little salt, pepper and the cheeses.  Stir and add some or all of the reserved pasta water to loosen and melt the cheese.  Serve immediately.

Eat, eat, eat!

Creamy Pumpkin and Broccoli Soup – More Leftovers!

Hurricane Sandy has now moved away from the Maine Coast and the lone casualty in this yard is the Amur Maple that continues to occasionally loose a limb and give us a little extra fire wood in the process.  This tree has no actual horticultural value according to my gardening friends, however, its breadth and width gives us a barrier of privacy in an area of the yard which would feel entirely too open without it.

This is also the tree under which our girls have created small worlds among fairy houses, enacted stories within forts, climbed into notches with books and swung in hammocks for sun-kissed naps.  Hard for me to say this tree has no value, so cut it down we will not.  Instead we’ll just wait for Mother Nature to change it as it must and reap the benefits of the wood it provides.

While outside the weather raged last night, inside we were cozy and warm as we sat to dinner of another meal made from leftovers.  This isn’t a recipe, but more of a guide to show you how I used what we had.  Day 21 without going to the grocery store.

Creamy Pumpkin Broccoli Soup
pat or two of butter
diced onion
dusting of flour
salt and pepper
cooked pumpkin – Canned pumpkin puree will work.  I used pumpkin flesh from a roasted pie pumpkin.
broccoli – Fresh broccoli will work.  I used leftover steamed broccoli with lemon.
vegetable or chicken stock
whole milk
small amount of lemon juice if beginning with uncooked broccoli

Heat a stock pot over medium high heat.  Melt the butter and add the onion and salt and pepper.  Saute until onions are soft and translucent, about 10 minutes.  Dust with flour and stir well to incorporate the flour.  Add stock and milk in equal proportions and then add the pumpkin flesh.  Bring to a simmer and transfer to a blender.  Carefully puree the soup until it is smooth and creamy.  Return to the stock pot and adjust for seasoning.  Add the broccoli to the blender and puree with a little more stock until it is loose and liquidy.  Pour the broccoli mixture into the soup pot and bring back to a simmer.  Remove from heat and serve immediately so as not to loose the bright green color of the broccoli.  If you are using uncooked broccoli, steam it first and then puree with the stock.  Season to taste with a small amount of lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Thankful to be on land and in our cozy house

Mystery Mess – NOW What’s for Dinner?

Yesterday I walked out to the barn to retrieve some lamb chops from the freezer – the last of three lambs purchased last year.  My mouth was set on Dijon mustard, garlic, rosemary and pan-seared medium-rare lamb.

And then I opened the freezer…

Mystery Caption – Too many came to our mind! What’s your idea?

The door to the freezer hadn’t sealed.

New plan.  Take out everything that is already defrosted and deal with it immediately and then work through the mystery mess in the freezer as quickly as possible.  Now, as it turns out, this plan actually coincides with a need to clear out the freezer anyway in preparation for either a whole pig or cow, however, the time frame just got bumped up a wee bit.

As I was sorting, I found some already cooked lamb from both the chop and… maybe some rib cuts?  In any case, I switched gears and got to work on a stew instead.  For those of you who need a recipe recipe, this is going to freak you out.  On the other hand, wouldn’t it be cool if it inspired you to use up a leftover or two instead of waiting for it to develop some serious nastiness and then throwing it out?

The two most important parts of this recipe and any stew or soup recipe is 1) taking the time to saute everything well and 2) seasoning with salt and pepper before the liquid goes into the pot.

Lamb and Red Potato Stew with Sage and Rosemary
The two most important parts of this recipe and any stew or soup recipe is 1) taking the time to saute everything well and 2) seasoning with salt and pepper before the liquid goes into the pot.

olive oil
1 large onion and equal amount of carrot, cut into large 1-inch chunks
about a pound of leftover lamb
6 or so medium-sized red potatoes, cut into large 1-inch chunks (or quartered)
salt and pepper
fresh sage and rosemary tied up with kitchen string
garlic, minced
red wine
tomatoes (I used three small ones from a batch of canning that didn’t have enough to actually send through the water bath)
beef stock (I used a little bit of pork stock, beef stock and leftover au jus from another meal – these were part of the mystery mess in the freezer)

Heat the oil in a large stock pot and add the onions and carrots.  Saute until they begin to brown on the bottom of the pan.  Add the lamb, red potatoes, salt and pepper, and herb bundle and cook until they begin to brown.  Make a space for the garlic and saute for 30 seconds or so.  Dust the veggies with flour and stir until fully incorporated.  Add the red wine, tomatoes and stock, stir well and bring to a simmer.  Simmer covered until the veggies and potatoes are fork tender, at least 10 minutes.

Serving size will depend on how much of everything you use and how meat heavy you want your stew to be.  Mine served 6 to 8.

Switching gears

Salads and Farmers Markets – It’s all Green

The Rockland Farmer’s Market opens today and through no fault of my own, coincides perfectly with this weeks column in the PPH about salads and greens.  With all of the micro and baby greens available to us this time of year, the old stand by of tomato, cucumber and lettuce salads dressed with ranch should be a thing of the past, at least for a little while, until tomatoes and cucumbers are fresh from the garden and irresistible in a number of ways including salads.

The baby greens and baby kale that have just made their way into my refrigerator will become the basis for a number of salads, as will the goat cheese from Appleton Creamery.  The greens are light and delicate so will be accompanied by same in ingredients.  The kale will receive a heartier paring.

Fiore olive oils and vinegars have become a staple for us in our salads and while the company suggests pairing a flavored olive oil with a flavored vinegar, I find they are too special and precious to use both in combination so it’s the standard good extra virgin olive oil pared with a flavor vinegar such as my favorites Black Cherry or Pomegranate Balsamic Vinegars.  For the summer, I’ll end up using the Grapefruit White Balsamic or the Summer Peach White Balsamic.

Favorite salad combinations:
Baby greens, dried apricots, shaved fennel and pinenuts dressed with my standard olive oil and Summer Peach White Balsamic.
Baby kale, Appleton Creamery goat cheese, dried cranberries, toasted walnuts dressed with my standard olive oil and Black Cherry Balsamic.
Oakleaf lettuce, sliced pears, caramelized walnuts and blue cheese dressed with lemon juice and Blood Orange Olive Oil.

The combinations are endless and you almost can’t go wrong.

Thinking of what salad to have with tonight’s lasagna.

Why Salt Ahead?

This menu is one that became a column somewhat recently, but the link will expire soon, so I post it here for you instead.  It might make a nice entertaining menu for a smaller group of people – maybe for a Sunday night meal or if you are feeding guests from out of town.

The original idea for this recipe came from a technique used by Judy Rodgers of Zuni Café.  She salts all of the meat and some of the vegetables as they come into the restaurant, giving days, rather than minutes for a deeper flavor as opposed to simply a surface salting.  It’s a form of dry-salting and actually allows retention of moisture rather than a drying out of the meat.

Here’s how it works.  The chemical reaction that takes place is called osmosis, which is the moving out of or into cells – in this case, salt, moisture and aromatics.  At first, salted meats do leach liquid which is where the still popular idea that “salting ahead of time dries out meat” comes from.  But then, the reverse begins to happen and the moisture that returns to the cells is now flavored with salt, making the cells more resilient to heat and promoting juiciness and tenderness.  The salt actually goes to work on the proteins and “opens them up” allowing them to hold more moisture.

This technique is most dramatic with large, sinuous cuts of meat where the surface area to weight is lesser.  The amount of salt used on these cuts will look too heavy handed initially, but will produce a well seasoned, not salty, succulent slice of meat.

For smaller and more tender cuts of meat such as chicken breasts or in this case, the pork tenderloin, less time and salt is required.  This method is also forgiving.  If you change your mind and decide to have something else for dinner, it will wait another day.  In addition, if you found you over bought at the grocery store and are worried about a few things going before you have a chance to use them, this is also a good technique for extending the life and freshness of your purchases.  Salting is a time honored method of preservation used for centuries, although we are talking about using considerably less salt in this method.  Keep in mind that this won’t bring back from the dead what should be given a “go directly to the garbage” ticket.

I used locally raised pork for this recipe which usually means the tenderloins are smaller due to the smaller size of the pigs when slaughtered.  In the grocery store, they typically come 2 to a package and are 12 to 16oz. each.  I find that if sliced on the bias as you would flank steak, that a full 6 to 8oz. portion per person is not necessary.  This will then serve 6 to 8 people instead of the 4 to 6 listed below and it’s possible to stretch to 10 to 12 if you plan to serve another side.  If you can only find the tenderloins packaged in twos, either save one for another meal or increase the rest of the ingredients by two.

This recipe would also be great with a blue cheese aioli or another cold and creamy blue cheese sauce.

Pork Tenderloin with Toasted Walnuts, Sage and Blue Cheese
2 small pork tenderloins or one large, about 1 pound, silverskin removed
two generous pinches of sea salt, with a grind the size of kosher salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon canola or peanut oil
several grind of fresh black pepper
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup lightly packed sage leaves
pinches of salt for both the sage leaves and walnuts
1 cup whole walnuts
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 oz. crumbled blue cheese

The day before you plan to serve the tenderloin, lightly sprinkle with salt and drizzle with olive oil.  Return to the refrigerator until ready to cook.  They can be salted 24 to 48 hours ahead.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the canola oil to the pan.  Carefully add the tenderloin and season with black pepper.  Sear on all sides for 10 to 15 minutes or until an internal read thermometer registers 145 degrees.  Remove from the pan to a platter and let rest.

In the same pan, add the olive oil and then the sage leaves.  Spread them out so that they are all touching the bottom of the pan and remove with tongs when they darken and become crisp, about 1 minute.  Lightly salt and set aside on a serving platter.  Again with the same pan (being frugal on the water and the dishwasher), add the walnuts and stir until the outsides begin to brown lightly, about 2 to 3 minutes.  Remove from pan to the same platter that holds the sage, lightly salt and set aside.  Once more with the same pan, on medium-high heat, add the butter.  Swirl until the butter has bubbled and then begins to brown.  Pour over the sage and walnuts and toss gently.  Slice the pork with a diagonal cut 1/4 inch thick and place on top of the walnut and sage mixture.  Sprinkle all with blue cheese and serve immediately.

Serves 4 to 6

Roasted Carrots, Red Onion and Kale
Curly or Russian kale will get a little crispy on the edges in this recipe while Lacinato kale (the longer more wrinkled variety) will wilt more like other greens do.  Both are delicious.
1 1/2 pounds carrots, sliced into 1/4 inch slices
1/2 red onion, sliced thinly
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus another 1/4 teaspoon for the kale
several grinds of fresh black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus another 2 tablespoons for the kale
1/2 bunch of kale, stemmed and coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  On a large roasting pan, drizzle olive oil, salt and pepper over the carrots and onions.  Use your hands to coat evenly.  Roast for 1 hour or until the carrots are tender and the onions are beginning to brown.  Add the kale and drizzle with more oil salt and pepper.  Stir well and roast for another 20 minutes or until the kale is bright green and a little crispy on the edges.

Serves 4-6

Crispy Pasta
Like many things delicious, this recipe was invented through necessity, not creativity.  There are times either at home or on the boat when what I thought we had in the way of supplies, turns out to be less than originally planned (say, hypothetically eaten during a late night watch by a ravenous 20 year old deck hand who works hard all day and is still growing into his 6’4” limbs) and I need to move to plan C.

This will also work with leftover dried pasta, but is terrific with the homemade.  This is an intentionally loose recipe intended for the vagaries of the amount of leftover pasta with which you find yourself.  The amount of onions in this recipe is intended for 4-6 people, but if you want to increase or decrease the amount of pasta, then do so accordingly with the onions.

a handful of cold cooked pasta per person
1 cup caramelized onions (about 3 cups before you cook them down)
1-2 tablespoons grated Parmesan per person
salt and black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Toss the pasta with olive oil in a roasting pan.  Place pan on middle shelf in oven.  Bake until the edges crisp up and turns golden brown.  Toss with the rest of ingredients and bake for another 3 to 5 minutes.  Serve immediately.


Easy Turkey Meals – Happy Thanksgiving to ALL

The house is filled with the hum of conversation and bursts of laughter in the family room, the windows are a little steamy in the corners and kitchen is filled to bursting with food preparation and the smells of dishes that haven’t been enjoyed since last Thanksgiving.  I stop for a moment in my whisking and soak in the sounds of my family ensconced in a day together, connecting, reminiscing and sharing – a meal, time, space – together.

This is the day I look forward to having next week and I wish the same for you all.  Over the years I’ve posted many recipes that might be helpful on Thanksgiving Day – Turkey Confit is perfect for a smaller gathering, as is Turkey Galantine (a breast rolled and stuffed), Turkey Stock is a helpful recipe after the main event and Breaking Down a Whole Turkey is a skill that every cook could have up their sleeve.  I hope that one or more of these recipes helps in bringing you and yours together over good food and a table burgeoning with care.


Be well, my friends, and grateful for it all,

Artichokes – How to cut them, how to eat them

Artichokes are one of my favorite foods.  It’s a toss up between the flavor of them and how much fun the leaves are to eat.  This week’s column features these versatile veggie with:

Veal Shanks w/Artichokes, Mushrooms and Cream
Artichoke Leaves with Garlic and Lemon
Artichoke, Feta and Green Bean Salad

Don’t forget that the column links expire in 7 days!

Trimming artichokes may seem like a mystery, but like most everything, once you understand how to do it, it’s not that hard.  Jacques Pepin has a detailed slide show on how to trim artichokes.  One of the best I’ve seen.

Trimming an Artichoke
1.    Cut one lemon into slices and add to a bowl of water.  Slice another lemon in half to rub on the sliced areas of the artichokes.
2.    Cut 1/3 off the top.  Cut all but 1 1/2 – 2 inches off the stem.
3.    Remove the outer leave from the base – about two layers.
4.    With scissors, trim the pointy ends of the remaining leaves.
5.    Trim the base and stem with a paring knife so that they are smooth.
6.    For steaming:  leave whole.
7.    For braising:  Cut in quarters and remove the center purple leaves and the fuzzy choke with a grapefruit spoon.
8.    For a finer look:  remove all outer leaves with a chef’s knife until you have reached the light yellow leaves.  Separate them from the bottom and discard the purple, pointy center leaves, placing the yellow leaves in the lemon water.  Remove the choke (the fuzzy part) from the bottom and add the bottom to the lemon water.
9.    Rub finished artichokes with lemon and place in lemon water until you are ready to cook them to prevent them from browning.

Steamed Artichokes
4 artichokes
2 lemons (One for the water as indicated in the trimming instructions, 1/2 to rub on the exposed parts and 1/2 for the steaming water.)

In a saucepan or stockpot large enough to accommodate 4 artichokes, add 1 inch of water and 1/2 of a lemon.  Steam the artichokes, tops up, in a vegetables steamer for 30-40 minutes.   Drain upside down.  Serve warm or chilled with Parmesan Aioli.

Serves 4 as a large appetizer

Parmesan Aioli

1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 cup vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

In a food processor, pulse the first 6 ingredients.  With the food processor on, slowly add the vegetable oil going drop by drop at first and then increasing to a thin stream.  Add the rest of the ingredients.  Store in the refrigerator.

Makes 1 1/4 cups


artichokes – Veal Shanks w/Artichokes, Mushrooms and Cream, Artichoke Leaves with Garlic and Lemon, Artichoke, Feta and Green Bean Salad,

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Sourdough Starter Questons – Do I feed my starter before or after using it?

This was another question that was submitted about sourdough starters – related to a series of posts that happened in the winter of last year.  I’ve added some of the original posts if you are looking for more information.

I am storing my starter in the frig. I am using it about every 5 days.  When it comes time to use it in a recipe can I use it straight from the frig or do I have to feed it first, let it rest for a day out of the frig, and then use it?

I’ve done both.  Because I’m mostly using the starter for flavor in my no knead recipes rather than a leavening agent, I’m not sure it matters.  However, if your starter smells too strong, then I would feed it first to reduce the sour or ammonia smell and therefore taste of it.  Also, if you decide to use your starter for its rising properties, then I would feed it the night or morning before you use it.

Other posts on the same topic:

Sending out 100 year old sourdough starter

Sourdough starter – can you kill it?

Sourdough starter – can I use different flours in my starter?

And even more questions answered in these posts

Time to pull out the dutch ovens and get baking!

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