Archive for November, 2008

Tasty Tools: Roasting Pan

Thanksgiving is absolutely my favorite holiday, so I had a great time yesterday and Tuesday getting ready for the big feast. Not so big, actually, since it was just Dan and me this year. But it was great 🙂

I’ve had this fear of making turkey gravy for several years, but now – yay! – I’m over it. I think one year, I didn’t cook the flour-fat (roux) mixture enough, because the gravy tasted floury, and after that, I convinced myself I was no good at sauces. So my mom came for Thanksgiving several years in a row and I told her the gravy was her job 😉 But she and Leo have gone south on the Intracoastal Waterway already this year, so I had to do it myself.

Luckily, earlier this week, I got an email from America’s Test Kitchen for make-ahead gravy, from a Cook’s Country magazine recipe. It called for roasting turkey wings (I couldn’t find them, so I used necks) with chopped carrots, celery, onions and garlic and using the roasted veggies to make stock for the gravy.

Oh. My. God. It was so good, I went back today and bought more necks so I can make more stock. It was so good, I’m going to make soup tomorrow with the next batch. Yum.

Roasted veggies and turkey necks

Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy

Makes about 2 quarts

6 turkey drumsticks, thighs, or wings
reserved turkey giblets
reserved turkey neck
2 carrots, chopped coarse
1 head garlic, halved
2 ribs celery, chopped coarse
2 onions, chopped coarse
Vegetable oil spray
10 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups dry white wine
12 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Table salt and ground black pepper

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Place giblets, neck, drumsticks, carrots, celery, onions, and garlic in roasting pan, spray with vegetable oil, and toss well. Roast, stirring occasionally, until well browned, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. (I set my oven to 400 and checked after 1 hour; I think 1 hour and 20 minutes would be enough).

Transfer contents of roasting pan to Dutch oven. Add broth, wine, and thyme and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until reduced by half, about 1 1/2 hours. Pour through fine-mesh strainer into large container (discard solids), cover stock with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until fat congeals, at least 2 hours.

Using soup spoon, skim fat and reserve. Heat 1/2 cup fat in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until bubbling. Whisk in flour and cook, whisking constantly, until honey colored, about 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in stock, bring to boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. (Gravy can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.) Reheat gravy in saucepan over medium heat until bubbling.

This is my contribution to Tasty Tools: Roasting/Braising Pans, hosted by Joelen of Joelen’s Culinary Adventures.

Poor Pippen

Poor goggieWe were planning to go to Michigan to visit Dan’s family for Thanksgiving, but Pippen, our black Lab, fell on the stairs and tore her ACL (anterior cruciate ligament – one of the ligaments that holds the knee joint together).

So, rather than travel with an injured dog, or board an injured dog where she would be alone for at least 12 hours every night, we decided to stay home with her. Since we’re both off of work for several days, we’re able to take care of her while she recovers initially. We have to put that sling on so she doesn’t put too much weight on the leg when we take her out to go to the bathroom. Poor thing – she keeps wanting to go for a walk, but she’s just not ready for that yet. I’m also going to look into setting up a Web cam, so we can keep an eye on her when we go back to work.

ETA: Have a Happy Thanksgiving! We just finished cleaning up – that was a great dinner, if I do say so myself. On the to-do list tomorrow: turkey stock with the carcass – yum.

Photo Friday: Food

Wow, look at that – I know last week was a very busy one at work, but I didn’t post anything all week! Amazing.

So, this week’s Photo Friday challenge topic is Food – kinda funny, since this has turned into primarily a food blog 😉 I have lots of pictures of food. This one is some absolutely fabulous macaroni and cheese that Dan made not too long ago. This is the real stuff, too – made from real roux with real cheddar cheese. Major delicious comfort food for the cold nights we’ve been having lately.

macaroni and cheese

Original Recipes: Mexican Casserole

Culinarty Original Recipe Food Blogging EventA couple of weeks ago, we had a potluck lunch at work, the annual Fall Fling. Amy in HR had begged me to bring the pesto pasta I took last year – she had never had pesto before, and loved it. But I like to bring something different each time, so this time, I ended up making up my own recipe.

That was because the recipe I started out with turned out rather dry and bland. So I bumped it up a few notches and came up with something really good. It’s perfect for a potluck, too. It’s a casserole, so after making it the night before, I put it in my Crock-Pot crock in the fridge overnight. I took the Crock-Pot to work and set it on high, and by lunchtime, it was nicely heated up. So I took the heated Crock-Pot to the lunch and it stayed good and hot during the entire hour and a half or so. And it got rave reviews – several people asked how it was made.

Next time I bring something that’s a bit ambiguous, though, I’ll put a little sign next to it. I heard from a few people that they didn’t try it because they didn’t know what it was. To me, that’s a reason *to* try it, but some people aren’t so adventurous.

Mexican Casserole

Mexican Casserole

2 lbs. ground beef
2 medium onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chopped green chiles (I used Anaheims from the garden)
3 tbsp. ground red chile pepper (I used ancho chile powder)
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. chili powder
8 corn tortillas, torn into pieces
2 14-oz. cans white or yellow hominy
1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes
1 can Rotel diced tomatoes with chiles
1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
1/2 lb. grated sharp cheddar cheese
salt and ground black pepper

Brown the beef and pour off all but 1 tbsp. fat. Add onions and garlic and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add green chiles, spices, hominy, tomatoes and tomato sauce and mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add half of cheese and stir well.

Place the mixture in a 5-quart slow cooker and put on low to keep warm for serving. Or, chill and serve within 2-3 days. Place mixture in slow cooker and put on high for 3 hours to warm up, then put on low to keep warm for serving.

You can also divide the mixture and freeze half for later. Put half the mixture in a 2-quart dish and freeze up to four months. Bake the other half in a 350*F oven for 45 minutes. Top with the remaining cheese and serve.

This is my entry in the food blogging event Original Recipe, hosted by Culinarty. The roundup of all the recipes is here.

Photo Friday: Sharp

This week’s Photo Friday photo challenge topic is Sharp. I took the photo below from the Oak Park train station, outside Chicago, where my brother and sister-in-law live with their children. I’ve always liked German-style half-timber architecture. Of course in Germany, there would be colorful window boxes lining the windows.

Photo Friday: Sharp

Grow Your Own: Tabasco Sauce

Grow Your Own 2008We planted a pretty good variety of peppers this year, both hot and sweet. We had so many Tabasco peppers, I decided to make homemade Tabasco sauce.

So I Googled for recipes, and the same one kept popping up. That seemed like a good endorsement, so I tried it. I’ll be honest – I haven’t actually tried this on anything yet. I mean, I like hot food, but after whizzing it in the blender, I gave it a sniff and you know what? I have one piece of advice: Don’t sniff the blender 😉

Tabasco peppers

Homemade Tabasco Sauce

12 large Tabasco chile peppers, stemmed (I used 15 because that’s how ripe ones many I had)
1 clove peeled garlic
½ cup vinegar
½ tsp salt
½ tsp sugar

Boil the chile peppers and garlic in vinegar in a small, non-metal saucepan until tender. Puree in a blender with the salt and sugar. Run through a metal sieve if necessary.

Dilute this paste with more vinegar until it is the consistency of rich cream. Pour into a non-metal saucepan, bring to a boil, then pour into a hot, sterilized bottle to within ½ inch of the rim.

Run a sterilized knife around the inside of the bottle to release air bubbles. Wipe the rim clean and seal with a scalded top. Store in the refrigerator once opened.

From: Red Hot Peppers by Jean Andrews

Tabasco sauceThis is my entry in Grow Your Own, the twice-monthly food blogging event that celebrates homegrown produce and other items, originated by Andrea of Andrea’s Recipes and hosted this time by Heart and Hearth.

The roundup of all the recipes is here.

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