How To Roast a Turkey

Dear Tyler,

Roasting a good turkey takes time.

A roast turkey prepared for a traditional U.S....

See the pop-up timer in the bird? (the white thing)

Your first turkey!

The adventure begins.

If you use an aluminum roasting pan, put a sheet pan under it and do not lift the foil pan without the sheet pan support.

The bird:

Defrost:

See the post on 4 ways to safely thaw food.

Whenever you handle poultry products, act as if you are handling potential contaminates.

Defrost in the refrigerator: at least 5 hours per pound.

If on roasting day it is still not thawed, complete the thawing under clean running water. Again, see 4 safe methods for thawing food.

Be sure to wash your sink both before and after rinsing the bird.

Remove the bird from the wrapper. Do this in the sink because of all the juices that will be in the bag from defrosting. If your bird has a bag of giblets, neck and livers, remove it. Some use these to make a stock and gravy but I don’t.

Your Grandfather (my dad) loves the neck! He would boil it and then pick all the little slivers of meat off the tiny neck bones, savoring every morsel.

You, on the other hand, can throw them away unless you like such things.

Rinse the bird.

Pat the bird dry with paper towels.

Pre-heat the oven to 400°F.

Before the oven gets hot, take a look at the shelves and adjust them so the turkey will fit in. In my oven the only rack that will fit is the bottom rack. It leaves just the right amount of space between the top heating elements and the bird.

While the oven is preheating, finish preparing the bird.

Place your aluminum roasting pan onto a sheet pan for safety. The aluminum pan is not strong enough to hold a 15-pound bird without support.

Chop carrots , celery and onions (not you, Tyler) to line the bottom of the roasting pan.

Chop your carrots and celery into chunks and place them on the bottom of the pan. If you liked onions, you would put some of those in there too. Since you don’t like them, leave them out.

Place the turkey, breast side up into the pan. Tuck the wings under the shoulders so the tips don’t burn in the long roasting process.

Gently loosen the skin and press some seasoned butter under the skin. This will help baste the bird as it roasts.

Season the skin and place some herbs, orange or citrus fruit into the cavity. Season inside the bird too. Season it with salt, pepper, your favorite spice mixture, what ever seasonings you like.

Tie the legs together and plump up the breasts.

Cover with bacon strips to baste the turkey during the initial phase of roasting. Remember the large bird will roast for several hours. After the first 2-3 hours, the bacon will be done, remove it and this becomes the “cooks treat”. Continue roasting the bird, basting every 30-40 minutes. The skin will crisp and become golden brown. If the skin starts to get too brown before the bird is done, tent it with foil.

Cover the surface of the turkey with bacon strips.

Place the supported roasting pan into the oven. Reduce the heat to 325°F. Roast until the internal temperature reads 165°F or higher in the leg or thigh. For your 15 pound bird that will take about 3 1/2 to 4 hours, maybe longer.

My 17 pound bone-in breast took 6 hours.

If the bird starts to get too brown, cover it with a tin foil tent.

When the bird is done, remove from the oven and allow the bird to rest at least 1/2 hour (covered in foil) before carving.

How do you carve a turkey? I found this video on You Tube that shows you step by step.

I didn’t have time to make a video for you, sorry.

Enjoy your Turkey! Take pictures of your first.

How odd in our culture, roasting your first turkey is some kind of right of passage.

I love cooking this meal and hope you do too.

Watch the carving video, use a sharp knife and enjoy your dinner!

Here is a tip:

Place your cutting board in a sheet pan to catch all the juices that run out while carving. Stir these juices into your gravy.

Tyler, remember, I am just a phone call away if you get stuck.

There are also many other “Turkey Hot Lines” for those  who get stuck.

If all else fails and you totally blow it, Chinese restaurants are usually open on Thanksgiving as an Emergency Back-up Unit.

Love you!

Mom

 

How to make Cranberry Sauce – easier than you think!

Dear Tyler:

Cranberry Sauce is easier than you think! Glad you asked. It is very exciting to be cooking your first Thanksgiving Feast! So here is the recipe you asked for:

How to make cranberry sauce

Forget the can. Grab a bag of fresh cranberries, sugar and some water, oranges and sherry (a fortified wine, like Marsala) and we can have an array of cranberry sauces to amaze everyone.

Here are 3 super easy and full of flavor cranberry sauces. The only one I don’t think you’ll try is the sherry one, but one day, perhaps you will enjoy the complexity of flavors of sherry and cranberry.

The first recipe is found on nearly every bag of fresh cranberries.

Easy Cranberry Sauce

  • 1 12-16 ounce bag of fresh cranberries or equivalent  of frozen berries.
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt

Put it all in the pot and bring to a boil

Add all ingredients to a  deep sauce pan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer at an active simmer for 5 minutes.

Boil then actively simmer for 5 minutes. Serve warm or cold.

Serve warm, room temperature or cold with roasted or grilled meats. Especially Thanksgiving Turkey!

Cranberry Orange Sauce

  • 1 orange, cut into quarters
  • 1 12-oz bag fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • pinch salt

Remove the pithy core and seeds’ cut into quarters. Use a blender or food processor to puree.

Remove the seeds and the pithy core. Add the oranges, cranberries and sugar to a food processor or blender and puree until almost smooth. Thin with either cranberry or orange juice if needed.

Process until smooth

Place in a container and serve with just about whatever you want. I like turkey especially.

If you make this with frozen cranberries, you get a sorbet like consistency. Delicious!

Sherried Cranberry Sauce

  • 1 12-16 ounce bag of fresh cranberries or equivalent  of frozen berries.
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry
Cranberry Sauce 003

Cranberry Sauce 003 (Photo credit: MGF/Lady Disdain)

Add all ingredients to a  deep sauce pan, except the sherry. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer at an active simmer for 5 minutes.

Stir in the sherry. Blend until smooth if desired. Strain if you want a smooth sauce.

Serve warm, room temperature or cold with roasted or grilled meats.

These are the 3 most popular cranberry sauces our family uses.

So here you go. You can now carry on Turkey traditions!

3 Cranberry sauces from left to right: Orange Cranberry, Easy Cranberry Sauce and Sherried Cranberry Sauce

Tomorrow:

Since you are cooking your first turkey Thursday, I’ll write a post on:

How to Roast a Turkey

Love,

Mom

The Gift of Pears

My crazy friend Joanie gave us a remarkable gift of pears. I was immediately struck at their shapes and colors. Since they were a bit firm, the pears were placed into a bowl to ripen.

While they were still firm, I shaved on onto a salad, as they ripened, they became more sliced. One of our favorite salads now days is pear, Roquefort and arugula salad, which is a post soon to follow this one.

We have enjoyed the pears, both as a centerpiece and as tasty delights. I’ll even wager there is a pear tart in the near future.

This is how we enjoy the pears in the early evening while we sip our wine and watch the sun go down.

Sliced pears, Roquefort, walnuts, cashews, local honey, cut from the comb and berries or dried fruits like apricots or cranberries.

Enjoy!

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Easy Grilled Vegetable Rosemary Skewers

The other day Robert was going to the lake with some of his friends. They were going to grill out and get caught up on each others lives.

He asked me if I could make a vegetable they could grill so I made these vegetable kabob on rosemary skewers.

Rosemary Vegetable Skewers

To make these skewers, cut the rosemary twigs on a bias to form a point.

You will need:

  • 2-3 zucchini
  • Whole button mushrooms
  • Pappadew peppers
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Rosemary stems
  • Balsamic Vinaigrette

Slice zucchini very thin the length of the zucchini. Wrap the zucchini around a drained pappadew pepper, thread it onto a rosemary skewer.

Next, thread a button mushroom, the top with a cherry tomato.

Marinade in a balsamic vinaigrette for at least 30 minutes.

Season each skewer with kosher salt and pepper.

Grill on each side for 2-3 minutes each side or cook over indirect heat for about 8-10 minutes.

Serve with grilled meats.

Since Robert does not eat red meat, when he stays out I usually turn into a carnivore. This particular evening I had some beautiful lamb chops marinated in garlic, rosemary, mint, lavender, oregano, olive oil, and black pepper. We grilled fresh buckwheat bread seasoned with olive oil and rubbed with raw garlic. Marvelous.

I had some mint sauce I made from an arm load of mint during the summer so I couldn’t wait to eat some lamb.

With Robert away, my friend Joanie and I grilled and set the table in the courtyard, poured some wine and had quite a feast.

All because of a rosemary vegetable skewer.

Oatmeal Cranberry Bars or What To Do With Leftover Cranberry Sauce

Oatmeal Cranberry Bars

This recipe is a great way to use up any leftover cranberry sauce you may have from holiday meals. I find whole berry works best but if you like the jelly kind, use it too. Store bought, in a can or fresh, any cranberry sauce will work out quite well.

For the best, make your own cranberry sauce.

Oatmeal Cranberry Bars

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Cranberry Sauce 003

Cranberry Sauce 003 (Photo credit: MGF/Lady Disdain)

Pre-heat the oven to 350°F. Prepare a 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Spray the bottom and sides with baking spray, line the pan with a sheet of parchment, allowing the sides of the paper to overhang on the long edge of the pan. This makes for easy removal from the pan after the bars are baked. Simply lift the paper and the whole thing can be moved to a cutting board or platter.

Spray the parchment with baking spray. Set aside until ready to use.

Make the dough:

  • 8 ounces soft  unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Using a mixer with a paddle attachment, add the butter and sugar, mix just until it comes together.

Add the eggs and vanilla.

Mix together: flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and pecans in a separate bowl. Add the mixture to the butter and eggs, stirring slowly to combine, slowly add all of the oats and mix only until combined.

Press 1/2 of the dough into the bottom of the baking pan.

Top with cranberry sauce. Make sure to cover the entire surface, all the way to the edges. I added some seedless raspberry jam in dollops all over the dough too.

Dot the cream cheese over the surface of the dough.

Using the remaining half of the dough, dollop it over the top of the cranberries and cream cheese.

Bake in the pre-heated 350°F for 45 minutes or until the top is lightly golden brown.

When the bars come out, drop 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips on top. The heat from the baked bars will melt the chips, then spread the melted chocolate in swirled patterns over the top. You could drizzle some fondant icing over them too but that might be overkill.

Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack for about 1 hour.

Carefully lifting the sides of the overhanging paper, lift the baked bars onto a cutting board and cut them into the desired size with a sharp knife. Sprinkle any crumbles over yogurt.

Store covered at room temperature for up to 7 days. (If they last that long!)

Plated Oatmeal Cranberry Bar

In My Kitchen this September

 

September already?!

My kitchen has been busy, my life busy and bustling.

School has started which is consuming me from early to late hours. Thankfully my evening class is now over. Grades have been posted and it is time to move on to other projects such as the upcoming shoot for my TV show, Charlotte Cooks.

September heralds changing weather; last night a blue moon!Full Moon HDR

I hope you all got to catch a glimpse of the second full moon in a month. The next blue moon will occur in 2015.

August life caught me in between my parents in California and the earthquake tremors (news reported over 400 in one day; they said it was ‘down below from them’) and my son being slapped around by TS Issac in Florida. I must say he holds his cool much better than I do. For anyone keeping track, his apartment renovations have been extended for an additional 4 weeks due to “discoveries” during the current re-model. They need to replace all duct work, pipes and ventilation, carpeting, appliances etc before they get to move back in.

So his cooking skills are on hold as are the “How To Cook” posts until he gets back into his apartment.

Some gifts to my kitchen this month are:

Anaida returned and brought me a wonderful carving kit from The Carving Academy in Moscow so this is new in my kitchen this month.

About a hundred German chocolate cupcakes marched through my kitchen last weekend. I am writing a post on baking from a box that will be out in a few days. A friend bought an expensive mix and wanted to know if it was worth the money.

We delivered the cupcakes and mini-cakes  all over the neighborhood to the delight of lots of children.

The most delightful Thank-You for German Chocolate came from our neighbor Suzanne. I found this hanging on our door.

What a delightful bunch of fresh herbs! They smell so good!

This August has my garlic chives in bloom. Every time I cut any of my fresh herbs, I always say thank you. Bumblebees visit the flowers every day, I like this photo. It was one of those surprises when I downloaded the photos to my computer.

 

How to Boil Potatoes for Making Mashed Potatoes

To make perfect mashed potatoes, you need to use the right kind of potato.

Russet potatoes are the potato of choice because of their high starch, low moisture content.

Read All about Potatoes  to learn which kind you choose for different dishes.

Wash, peel and cut potatoes into uniform sizes so they cook at the same rate.

Wash and peel to potatoes. It is advisable to use 1 potato per person plus 1. Left over mashed potatoes can be used in many ways and you will be lucky if there are any left over.

Put the cut potatoes into a sauce pan and cover them with COLD water.

Cover cut potatoes with cold water; bring to a boil.

Once the potatoes boil, add salt. Please don’t forget to add salt while boiling the potatoes. If you do, you will be left with very bland potatoes. Remember potatoes absorb flavor best while hot.

When the potatoes are cooked, drain. Process the potatoes through a ricer to produce perfect mashed potatoes.

Once the water comes to a boil. test to see how done the potatoes are. They should be almost done when they come to a boil.

Drain the potatoes when they are done.

Press the cooked potatoes through a ricer to get a fluffy lump-free texture.
A ricer is a good investment. This one belonged to Tyler’s grandmother. She used it to make spaetzle and soup noodles made with Romano cheese and lemon.

After ricing your potatoes will be light and fluffy.

In a small sauce pan, Bring 1/2-1 cup of cream to a boil. Add 2-3 tablespoons of butter to the hot cream, melt the butter. Carefully add just enough hot cream and butter to the potatoes to just moisten them and bring them together.

Be careful of over stirring which would cause the potatoes to get gluey, which isn’t very appetizing.

Adjust the seasonings with kosher salt and white pepper (so you don’t see black pepper flecks in the nice white potatoes).

Fluffy Mashed Potatoes

To serve, you can mound them with a spoon, scoop or my favorite way is to pipe them out using a smooth tip, in decorative designs on the plate.

We used to do this at the restaurant and I always loved how it looked.

These are some of the ways to pipe mashed potatoes onto a plate.

So, there you have perfect mashed potatoes.

What can you do with left overs?

Make potato pancakes, add scallions and make potato scallion cakes, use them to thicken cream soups. Use left over mashed potatoes to top a casserole or to make Shepard’s Pie.

If you wanted to make them more low-fat, skip the cream and butter and use chicken stock instead. I would still use a bit of butter, but you won’t need much.

Bon Appétit!