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Archive for November, 2010

Delicate?  Ummm, not so much.  Not after that gorge-yourself-all-day-and-then-eat-a-plateful-of-heavy-starch-laden-food day that we call Thanksgiving.  Oh, I was thankful alright.  Thankful for that box of elastic-waisted maternity pants I still have hanging around!

We’ve been eating leftovers all week, including turkey sandwiches, and I just never get tired of them.  Scott really goes heavy on the Dijon mustard, which brings back fond memories of the trip to Burgundy that I took with my sister and her boyfriend.  It was freezing.  Like really, dang cold. I mean, for a California girl it was really, dang cold. But the skies were blue (or should I say “bleu”), and most days there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.  Amazing. Take this for example…

I took that picture.  With my little point-and-shoot.  Talk about a brilliant “bleu” sky.  Ahhhhh, ohhhh, ooooooh.

And then I come out of my “oh, I’d love to get back to France one of these days” trance, and remember that there are baby toys littering the floor, the cat litter needs cleaning, and we still haven’t figured out a plan for dinner tonight.  And do I feel delicate?  Ummmmmm.  Nope.  Not so much.  (Don’t get me wrong…I love my new life!  Especially since I- just this morning- discovered that I can once again fit into my favortite, pre-maternity, cold-weather, comfy jeans.)

So what’s the perfect antidote?  Why Delicata squash, of course!

I did a very simple thing.  I roasted it with butter and rosemary.  We ate it alongside braised dinosaur kale and a poached egg and it was a refreshingly light, tasty meal.  It left me feeling sated, happy, and well…not exactly delicate, but at least I didn’t feel stuffed beyond capacity.  (I still have more pre-maternity clothes to get into, afterall!)

 

Roasted delicata squash with rosemary and butter
serves 2

While this turned out great, next time I may try baking at 425º or 450º to see if I can get a little more browning on the edges of the squash.

  • 1 delicata squash
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2″ sprig of rosemary, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon butter, softened
  • sprinkling of fleur de sel (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400º.

Cut the squash lengthwise, into quarters.  Rub the cut sides of each piece with the butter, evenly distributing it among all four pieces.  Sprinkle the rosemary and salt over the four pieces, and then place the squash on a cookie sheet or baking dish.  Roast in the oven for 45-60 minutes, until the squash is completely tender and the edges are beginning to brown.  Remove from the oven and sprinkle with fleur de sel.  Allow to cool slightly before serving.

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Cranberry Sauce

I’ve been pondering cranberry sauce for about a week  now.  And truth be told…(I’ll let you in on my little secret)…I have a special place in my heart for canned cranberry sauce.  I just kinda love the perfect round slices from the perfect round can-shaped cylinder.  But that and the homemade stuff are two completely different things.  I was hoping to make something that had a nice, fresh, jammy flavor with flavors that sing, “the holidays are here!”  So I fiddled around this morning, and this is what I came up with…

homemade maple-cranberry sauce
yields a little more than 1 quart

Make the cranberry sauce at least a day in advance to allow the flavors to marry.

I used Grade B maple syrup because it has a stronger maple flavor, but I’m sure Grade A would do just fine.  Also, it’s important to use a wide, shallow pan to poach the cranberries so that they are mostly submerged in the cooking liquid.

  • 2-12 ounce bags of cranberries
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 chili pods, broken (or a pinch of chili flake)
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

In a 12-inch saute pan, combine the water, maple syrup, sugar, chili pods, cloves, bay leaf and salt.  Warm over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes to dissolve the sugar and salt and to  allow the other flavors to bloom.  Add the cranberries and turn the heat up to medium, stirring occasionally.  When the cranberry skins begin to pop, turn the heat back down to low.  Continue cooking for a total of about 20 minutes, until most of the berry skins have popped, allowing the poaching liquid to penetrate.  Remove the pan from the heat and cool the sauce either in the same pan or in a shallow dish.  Pour the sauce into jars or a bowl until ready to use.

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And so today, I offer you this cute, fake bird so you don’t have to look at a giant (27-pound!!) raw turkey bobbing in a bag o’ water.  This Thanksgiving we get to cook for 29 people.  Ahhh- the best holiday of the year.  And I’m pretty sure my parents think they’ve won the lottery now that my sister is dating a cook too.

So today’s job is brining the turkey.  This is what we’re gonna do.

(…and slotted for tomorrow…cranberry sauce!)

Brining our turkey

This brine can be increased or decreased depending upon the size of the bird.  This year, we tripled it.

  • 3/4 cup kosher salt
  • 3/8 cup sugar
  • 1 gallon room-temp water
  • a few bay leaves
  • half a head of garlic
  • 1/2 bunch of sage
  • 3 whole allspice berries
  • 3 juniper berries

Combine half the water, salt, sugar, bay, garlic, herbs, and spices in a pot large enough to hold it all. Place over high heat and bring to a bare simmer.  This will allow the salt and sugar to dissolve and the aromatics to bloom. Cool to room temperature and add the other half of the water.  Place the turkey in the brining bag* and pour in the brine. We’re going to brine our bird for 3 days.

*If you’re using a brining bag as opposed to a bucket, you’ll need to be sure to rotate it a few times over the next few days to make sure that the whole bird gets equal contact with the brine.

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