Yum Peaceful Cooking: November 2009

Monday, November 30, 2009

Turkey Stock, or is it Broth?

One of my favorite things to do after Thanksgiving is to make a rich, flavorful Turkey Stock.

Or...is it broth?

I did a quick little research to figure out the difference. The first place I looked was in my Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Funny thing is, I didn't see "broth" in the index. But I did see stock...with lots of recipes. Not much help in defining the difference between the two...sigh

Then I searched the internet. And that wasn't all that clarifying, but a little better. Usually broth is made from boiling the meat and stock is made from boiling the bones. Broth is what's used for soup....stock is a flavor enhancer for sauces and such, but stock can become broth or used as broth. hmm...whatever! I boiled my turkey bones (with some meat still on them) and that's that. Whatever you wanna call it, I made it and it's good.

And it makes the house smell all wonderful again while you're making it.

Just a little preface...when I cook my turkey, I wrap it up in foil. It helps keep the turkey moist and makes it cook a little faster. Towards the end of the cooking time, I do open up the foil so the skin gets all nicely browned and crispy. The sad part is, I don't get all those pan drippings in the pan. They're in the foil. (this doesn't stop me from making wonderful gravy but makes it a little more challenging).

Soo...with that said, I pour the dripping that are left in the foil (after making the gravy)  into a bowl and set that aside.

Yep..I think even a bit of stuffing made it in there.

Then I remove the turkey from the foil and put it all into the roasting pan, broken up as much as possible. .

The roasting pan goes into the oven to roast again, until it's nice and golden. This step adds incredible flavor.

How hot of an oven and for how long? Well, I had to run to the store so I turned the oven down low...around 300' F, and left. An hour later when I returned, I cranked the oven up to about 400' F and let it cook for another 15 minutes or so. If you're going to be home....just crank the oven on high and get her done.

Once its all nice and brown and crispy (but not burned of course) carefully (cuz it's hot) place the bones and stuff into a very large stock pot then drain the pan drippings into the bowl that you set aside earlier. I may have placed the drippings bowl in the fridge to be safe.

Look what the bird left behind in the pan?! Ooooooh yum!! Caaaaaaarispies!!!

Now...put that roasting pan on the stove and add a couple of cups of water (enough to cover those wonderful crispies and delaze that pan.

Once it's deglaze, pour it into the stock pot over those turkey bones.

Get out an onion or two, a couple of carrots, a few celery stocks and several cloves of garlic....plus a bunch of herbs and seasonings...whatever sounds good to you. I used salt and pepper, bay leaves, poultry seasoning, cumin, margoram and savory...or ya, and some parsley.

Cut the veggies into big chunks, leave the garlic whole and toss all that into the pot with the bones. Now get that bowl of drippings that you set aside and skim off the fat, dumping the rest in with the bones.

Add your seasoning and fill the pot with enough water to cover.

Bring your pot to a boil and then turn the heat down, cover and simmer away. For as long as you can. Several hours at least. All day at best. About half way through, I tasted the broth and added more seasoning.

I have a confession. I added some chicken broth granules to the stock. It just seems to add something...(besides sodium and MSG)...a flavor that I haven't figured out how to duplicate. I don't add a bunch....but some...maybe a tablespoon?

Ok....the house smells good, you've gotten lots of other things done while your stock pot has been busy making you some yummy turkey stock.

And it's done.

Let it cool a bit and then strain everything out into a very large bowl

You can still see some stuff in there....that well, maybe you don't want in there. The holes in my strainer aren't small enough so I got out a cheese cloth and very carefully strained it again, back into my rinsed stock pot (because besides the bowl it's already in, the stock pot is the only thing I have big enough to hold it all.

Look at all that crud that I strained out. Toss it. Toss it all...bones and everything. Well, if I had a blender (mine broke and I haven't replace it yet...it's on my Christmas Wish List), I probably would've put some of the stock in the blender with the boiled onions, celery and carrots and garlic and pureed them to add back into the stock...just for that added depth. But....I couldn't, so I didnt....sigh.

Anyways....Now I have this huge amount of stock. I let it cool some more and put the pot into the fridge until tomorrow. Then I'll divide it into freezer bags to save for later. Or....in the fridge for a day or two where I'll use it for something for dinner.

What will I use it for?

You'll just have to wait and see. :)

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Unbaked Fruit Cake

What is it? right? I knooow....it's looks are...undefining (if you're being nice). It's not meat. It's not bread....no veggies...no appealing color to draw you in. But if this was on your buffet table, people would be asking....

"What is this?"

Especially cuz it's on the dessert end of the table.

I had this at Grandmother Upton's one year. It was waaaaaay back when I was in jr. high school and the family had flown to Alabama for Christmas. I loved it.

Fast forward about 20 yrs or so and once again the family (only this time it was my own little family) was flying to Alabama for Christmas. It was the first time I'd had Christmas with my mom, dad, brother, sisters and all the rest of the family since I was 18 and I was looking forward to it. My mom, sisters and I were on the phone a lot...preparing ahead for the feast. I was going through cookbooks and pulling out recipes to bring with me. One of the recipes I came across in some holiday cookbook I had sounded good and I thought I'd give it try once we were at our destination.....and I did. It smelled and tasted very familiar though, but I couldn't put my finger on it. I think it was my dad that figured it out. It reminded us both of Grandmother Upton's Unbaked Fruit Cake, only we couldn't remember what it was called...and this recipe from the book was different.

Last year I called grandmother up to ask her for her recipe. Which was pretty funny cuz I didn't know what to call it. And she didn't know what I was talking about. All I could remember was something about oranges and nuts and it was brown.  About a week later I got a note in the mail from her with the recipe I was craving....

Unbaked Fruit Cake

1 box of graham cracker crumbs
1 quart pecans (chopped, whole, whatever you want)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
"enough fresh orange juice to moisten good"
Raisins (I added about 7 oz)

Combine all the ingredients, adding the orange juice a small amount at a time. You want the orange juice to bind everything together. But...if you add too much, no worries just add more graham cracker crumbs. It's not an exact science.

She went on to explain that you could add anything you wanted to. I've seen other recipes that called for all sorts of candied fruit. If you like it...add it (I'm not a candied fruit fan). I've also seen recipes that required you to melt marshmallows. But that defeats the name of the recipe in my book, that requires some kind of cooking, right?

Anyways....smash it all into a pan (I used 2 very small bread pans) and chill.

It's sticky and a little gooey and ooooh so good. Just a little will do ya.

And the best part is.....it has no resemblance to "the" fruit cake, what so ever.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Puff Pastry Poultry

That could be just about any kind of poultry inside that baby, couldn't it? Is it chicken? Is it turkey?

Does it really matter? It's good so who cares, right?

I mean...this time of year everyone will soon be trying to decide what to do with the leftover turkey (besides turkey sandwiches for the next 5 days...with stuffing and cranberry sauce smeared all over a fat slice of sour dough bread)...well, in my book any recipe that calls for cooked chicken is fair game for leftover turkey.

I found this recipe inside the box of Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry several years ago and I haven't made it since. My kids loved it...I thought it was good. So what was my problem? My favorite grocery store only carries puff pastry during the holidays. They think it's a seasonal item. huh??


Anyways...for some odd, blame-it-on-the-cosmos reason, I remembered to pick up some puff pastry at the store the other day. Only the recipe wasn't inside the box anymore. Thank God for the internet cuz Pepperidge Farm has a website and I found their Herbed Chicken in Pastry recipe.

Then I remembered something about the original recipe that didn't thrill me. (lights are one and someone might be home....taking a nap perhaps?) The single slab of chicken breast. It was thick....and a real pain in the ass to get all wrapped in the pastry. And I'm not real fond of pre-seasoned cheese spreads.

So I started altering things......juuuuuuust a teeny tiny bit, but it was enough to make it that much better. And I wanted more the next day except the girls ate it all.

5 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into chunks
1 sheet of pastry puff, thawed
Pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter
8 oz whipped cream cheese
1/2 tsp garlic salt (or to taste)
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning (or to taste)
1/2 tsp dried parsley (or to taste)
1 egg
1 TB water

Preheat your oven to 400' F.

Season the chicken with pepper and saute the meat in a hot skillet with the butter, melted. Once it's cooked through, just set it aside. If you're using leftover meat, you can saute it a bit if you'd like, or just cut it into chunks and move on.

While that is going, mix together your cream cheese, garlic salt, Italian seasoning and parsley

Lookie at all those flavors. I was so tempted to just stick my finger in there and each it!

On a floured surface, carefully unfold your pastry sheet and roll it out until it is a 14" square.

It's amazing the stuff I can find in that one "special" drawer that you know we all have in the kitchen. Besides my measuring tape, I think I have a small hammer, fire crackers, exacto knife, a handle to something...a long flexible tube? hmm that might go to my food saver that I keep forgetting that I have. The only reason I have a garage is because my scroll saw won't fit in that drawer.

Aaaaaand....lets move along folks...Cut the pastry sheet into 4 - 7" squares

Now...spread about 2 tablespoons of the cheese mixture in the center of each square. Divide the chicken or turkey evenly amongst the squares. Then pull each corner to the center and pinch 'em so they seal.

Looking at this....ya know what I'm thinkin? (probably the same thing you are)...hmmm...what else can I put in there! With turkey? add some stuffing!!! Chicken? add some capers and lemon juice or sauteed mushrooms and onions. Ham? How 'bout some cheese and pineapple....oooh....add some Pineapple Casserole.

Ok...enough!!! Somebody sssssstop me!!!

Now place them on a baking sheet, seam side down. Beat the egg and water together and brush each pastry with the egg mixture

Toss 'em in the oven for about 25 minutes, until the pastries are that nice golden brown.

Cool for about 10 minutes (leave them on the baking sheet while cooling) and serve.

One of my favorite changes to this recipe is cutting the chicken up. It allowed the cheese to ooze in between all the chunks and really distribute the flavor.

Now I'm just going to have to stock up on the pastry sheets before they disappear from my grocery store ....again. After the holidays, they probably won't be seen until Easter.

And having said all that, I hope this gives you at least one more "leftover" turkey recipe idea.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Pumpkin Molasses Mousse Roll

I know there were a gazillion pumpkin recipes floating around in October. Hmm...I don't remember seeing a Pumpkin Pie. Not that there weren't any out there....I just didn't see 'em. Or maybe I did and I just don't remember. That doesn't mean that if it was your pumpkin pie that I saw that it was immemorable....it's just means that my memory really sucks.

And this recipe will prove it.

Big time. sometimes I am such a dork

ok...I found a recipe for Pumpkin Mousse Roll last year around this time. It had seen something briefly while watching Paula Deen. But it wasn't of her cooking...she was showing off some restaurant or bakery and they didn't give the recipe.

Don't you just hate that? All those awesome places these food stars go to and tell us about all the great food...and they don't share the recipe. Whats that all about?! (btw...my Auntie E., well...she sent me a cookbook that has a bunch of restaurant recipes in it....hee hee.)

Anyways...where was I? oooh....Pumpkin Mousse Roll. Ok, so I saw this incredible looking way yummy dessert on tv. No recipe, right? So I searched the internet. And I found a recipe. I have no idea where. I swear if I did, I'd give them kudos big time.

Soo....the recipe was a big hit with friends and family alike.

But me being me...well, I just have to tweak and play and see what will happen if I add and subtract and re-do...will it be better? will it be a complete flop? (will anyone be brave enough to be honest?)

I omitted nutmeg and added cloves to the original recipe. Then I added molasses to the mousse. What I really wanted to add was maple syrup. But I had a brain fart (have you seen that commercial about brain farts? It's hysterical!!!) and molasses got stuck in my brain and thats what went in.

So you have proof....my memory sucks.

Good lord, what am I doing? This is going to be a long post as it is and here I am just chatting away.

Pumpkin roll part of the recipe ingredients
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup pumpkin
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3/4 cup a.p. flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt

Molasses mousse filling ingredients:
8 oz cream cheese - softened
4 tablespoons butter - softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 TB molasses (or maple syrup)

See that pan that the pumpkin roll ingredients are in? In case you didn't know (cuz I didn't until about a year ago) that is called a jelly-roll pan. And it's 10 x 15 inches. You need to prep the pan. Spray the pan with non-cook cooking spray or use some shortening. Then get a sheet of parchment paper and line the pan with it.

This will prevent the parchment paper from sliding around and will make it easy to remove the pumpkin roll "sheet" from the pan.

In a large bowl, combine your eggs and sugar. Beat well. Then add the pumpkin and lemon juice (make sure the seeds don't make it in) and mix together until blended. Combine your dry ingredients (oh man do they smell good) and add them to your pumpkin mixture. Spread the batter into your parchment paper lined jelly-roll pan

Make sure you spread the mixture evenly in your pan, spreading it all the way to the edges. It will be thin...but you don't want to see the bottom of the pan through the batter.

Bake in a 350' oven for 15 minutes. Remove and let cool for another 15 minutes

While it's cooling, you need to prepare a cotton kitchen towel. Not terry clothe. Cotton. Liberally sprinkle powdered sugar on your towel in an area that is about the size of the pumpkin roll sheet. I didn't have a cotton towel...like those tea towels? This was the best I could do. It wasn't as thick as the terry clothe towels...but it had me concerned so I really laid on the powdered sugar. I did not want my pumpkin roll sheet to stick to it. Cuz.....after it's done cooling, you're going to gently flip the pumpkin roll sheet over (just take it by the parchment paper turn it over)...and peel off the paper.

Don't worry too much about the edges. We'll take care of them later. Let the "sheet" cool another 10 minutes and then from the short side (the 10 inch side) of the sheet, you're going to roll the cake up in the towel

While that is doing whatever it does while it's all rolled up, we're going to make that molasses mousse.

Beat together the cream cheese and butter (with cream cheese in it, you know it's gonna be good). Stir in the powdered sugar and the vanilla and blend until smooth.

Ok...this is the fork in the road....are you gonna leave it as is? Cuz you can. It's wonderful just like this. This is how I made it before.

Or......are you gonna take the molasses plunge? Oh come on....lets experiment. See what happens.

Pour in the molasses and beat until smooth

See? It wasn't that hard. And check out this rich caramelly color.

I don't know about you but this stuff is speaking to me.

Now it's time to see what the pumpkin roll sheet is up to. Unroll it....

Oh crud...it cracked. hmmm....well....that's ok. Well just hide it inside. Shhh...don't tell anyone. That end will be the first to roll.....(que evil, sinister laugh) muuuaaaaaahahahahaaa

Evenly spread your mousse...whether you chickened out and used just the cream cheese filling or went all out and used molasses (or did you show me up and use what I really wanted to use....maple syrup?). Spread that filling all over the sheet.....all the way to the edges. And carefully roll it up...(cracked side first of course)

Wrap it in plastic and let it chill in the fridge for an hour or more.

When you're ready to serve it....slice off the ugly ends (pop 'em in your mouth to make sure it's as good as I've promised)

Doesn't that edge look so much prettier? Use a clean serrated knife (clean in between cuts) to get a nice even cut. Btw....while in the fridge, the roll soaked up most of the powdered sugar that was left on there from the towel. To make it all pretty, sprinkle some more powdered sugar over the top before serving.

And you guessed it...this is going to be one of the desserts that is served for Thanksgiving this year. But first, this roll is going to be covered with wax paper, plastic wrap, then stuck into a ziplock bag and plopped in the freezer until the big day.

But you don't honestly think I didn't taste it before I hid it away, do you? (rolls her eyes)...what kind of a sugar hound foodie would I be if I did that? You wanna know what I think? Hmm....ok, I love...absolutely love the addition of cloves in the pumpkin roll sheet. It gave it a kind of gingerbread-ish flavor to it. And the molasses? It's not as "pretty" as the plain cream cheese mousse but it has a nice, mild flavor. It begins to pop at the end and then quickly fades before you realize what you tasted. No one else has tasted it yet....so I don't know what the true verdict is.

I had considered adding another tablespoon of the molasses for more flavor, but I think it would've made the mousse too thin and then I'd have to add more powdered sugar...and then I'd probably add too much of that and I'd go back and forth and then crud...the cream cheese flavor would be gone and I'd have to mix in another block of that and next thing you know...I'd have enough to frost a cake.

Hmmm....might not be a bad idea after all.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Chicken Divan - An Old Favorite

I have loved this dish for as long as I can remember.

 I wonder...how much Chicken Divan influenced my life? Why would I think that? It was the first meal I had ever cooked for my then new boyfriend and now husband.

Yep, I invited Sir Sportsalot to my house to watch.......what? can you take a guess? A Lakers vs. Celtic game. Back when Magic Johnson played. Back when the Lakers were on top of the world : Magic Johnson, Kurt Rambis, James Worthy, Byran Scott, A. C. Green, Michael Cooper and the true legend, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. It was an awesome game with Magic Johnson making in incredible 1/2 court shot to win the game at the buzzer.

And of course, followed by a homemade dinner cooked and served by a 110 lb. blonde with goo-goo eyes and heart flutters.

The poor guy didn't have a chance.

My grandmother passed the recipe down to me. She had moved to Alabama and I had to make one of those long distance calls, that cost me an arm and a leg, to get the recipe. This was waaaaaaay before the days when the phone companies started offering unlimited nationwide calling.

I still have the original paper I used to jot down the recipe as she tried to explain to me what to do and how.

Ya...that paper has been around the kitchen for many many years and has the battle scars to prove it. I think I keep it now just for the sentimental value. It reminds me of the good ole days. I don't have the heart to replace it.....it's been through too much. It deserves respect amongst the other recipes. After all, it is a veteran.

(side  note....I just saw the 7-day weather report and I'm a little irritated that it's going to be 80 on Thanksgiving Day. greeeeeeeeeaaat. Nothing like having the oven on all day long, while the turkey cooks and the A/C is on.)


Nana (the name I call my grandmother on my mom's side) says we need the following:

1 - cooked chicken (you probably won't use it all) I happened to have some leftover chicken in the fridge that I used
2 bunches of broccoli
6 oz cheddar cheese, shredded (or more if you're anything like me)

now I have 2 recipes for the sauce. One is from scratch and one is a "quickie"

From Scratch Sauce Recipe:
2 cups chicken stock (thicken with flour or corn starch...about 2 tablespoons)
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp curry powder (or more to taste...I always use more)
garlic to taste

combine and simmer slowly until flavors blend

Quickie Sauce Recipe (this is the one I usually end up using):
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 can of mayo
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp curry powder
garlic to taste

Steam your broccoli

Funny how cats know the sound of a can opening


Combine your sauce ingredients and simmer until just blended.

Just make sure you don't let it get too hot or the sauce will break.....errrr.....separate. The mayo will cause that to happen (been there, done that....a few irritating times.)

Then get out your casserole dish. (oh wait...preheat your oven to 350'). Spray the casserole dish with non-sticking spray or whatever you like to use. Oil...shortening....whatever. Line the bottom with your steamed broccoli....

FYI...I normally use a 13x9 casserole dish but this night only my oldest daughter and I were going to be eating so I had cut the recipe in half and used an 8x8 dish.

Shred your chicken and place it over the broccoli.

Next I poured the sauce over the chicken and broccoli and covered that with a whooooole bunch of cheddar cheese. As far as I'm concerned, the more the merrier

Bake for about 30 minutes. Basically you just need it to heat through, get bubble and for the cheese to get all melty and yummy.

Ya, it's rich. If you don't want it that rich, cut the mayo in half and use sour cream or plain yoghurt for the other half. Or just use your favorite curry sauce. Me? My daughter? ya, we like it rich.

So what is it about this recipe that just makes me go mmmmmm? I love curry...but the combo of broccoli (probably my favorite veggie) and curry sauce and cheese.....ooooooh lordy have mercy on me!! This is some good stuff. Ultimate comfort food in my book.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Southwestern Stuffed Potatoes

The other day I called one of my closest friends to see if she wanted to go to Vallarta with me. (thats the name of my favorite Mexican market). Little did I know that she had never been!! Well...did we have fun! I've been there a gazillion times but this time was the most fun ever. I got to see it from the perspective of a newbie. She was in awe. We walked every isle and stopped and looked and saw and explored. It was a blast.

And both of us bought things that we've never bought before. Like this:

Salvadoran Chorizo....Aren't those babies beautiful?! Oh man and if you could smell them! The spices....UN  FRIGGIN REAL!!! Ya, next time I go...I buying lots more of them.

So, now what do I do with them? I searched the web. And hardly found anything. I looked on Food Network....natta! They didn't have anything on there with Salvadoran Chorizo. Hmmm.....think think think.

Well, I did find this cool little video of Aida (from Food Network) making Mexican Potato Skins. Looking back at the video, what she calls Mexican chorizo isn't. I think it was Salvadoran Chorizo and she didnt know it? Hmmm. Interesting. 

But her version wasn't really enough. I mean, it was potatoes, chorizo and cheese. 

The End.

Well heck...lets boost those babies up a notch or 2.


I took a couple of potatoes, a tomato, avocado, onion, sour cream, cheese, cilantro and the star of the show....Salvadoran chorizo.

BTW....Salvadoran chorizo is very different from Spanish chorizo (which I have yet to find) and Mexican chorizo. Mexican chorizo crumbles into a fine... mush, when it's taken out of the skin. From what I understand, Spanish chorizo is hard....like salami or something (well, maybe not that hard, but I think it's like Portuguese sausage). Salvadoran chorizo crumbles more like....ground beef when it's taken out of the casing. And so far...I like it best. Someday when I find Spanish chorizo, I might change my mind...but until then, my verdict stands.

Sorry...I went a ramblin'.

This is a super easy recipe....scrub those potatoes. And don't forget to take a fork and prick them all over the place. Otherwise you will have an exploding potato in your oven....potato parts everywhere and the most horrid smell ever!! (been there, done that.). Drizzle some oil over the potatoes and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake in a 425 oven until done. The time frame will depend on the size of the potatoes. I used small potatoes cuz I wanted them to be appetizer size. So they cooked for about 30 minutes. Just grab a hot-pad and gently squeeze a potato to see if it's tender. If it is....then it's done.

Remove from the oven and slice in half... lengthwise

Be careful cuz those babies are hot. And you want to do this while they are still warm. Makes it easier to scoop. Yep...it's time to scoop. Get out your hot-pad, and place a paper towel on it. Because if your hot pads are anything like mine...they're kinda grundgie. Sure I wash them....but still. Who knows where they've been while I'm away. And those potatoes are gonna be touching that hot pad.

Anyways...get out a spoon and carefully scoop the potato out, leaving about 1/4" around the edges. Don't go too deep or the skin will tear.

You're left with a bunch of empty shells

Now the fun begins. Remove the chorizo from the casings

Dice up that onion and throw it into the pan...

Brown it all up until everything is well cooked and divide it between all your tater skins and sprinkle some cheese on top

Put them back into the oven for about 5 - 8 minutes to warm em up and melt the cheese

And decorate.....

All I did was mash the avocado and put a dollop of the avocado and sour cream over the meat / cheese and then sprinkled some diced tomatoes and chopped cilantro on top. Serve with a bowl of salsa verde or your favorite salsa and dig in.

You know what's fun about a dish like this? It's versatility. You can do anything. You can even make a breakfast version....use sausage or bacon with scrambled eggs. Or do an Italian version with Italian sausage, olives, mozzarella cheese or a Greek version with lamb and goat cheese and tzatziki.

 Oh ya....the possibilities are endless.