Saturday, December 21, 2013

Carrot salad

This recipe I am writing down from memory, having learned it from Paula Wolfert's book Couscous and other good foods from Morocco (I am also writing the author's name and the book's name from memory).

Peel one pound of carrots. Simmer them in just enough water to cover along with 1 clove of garlic or two, until the carrots are just cooked. Discard the liquid and garlic, or save for another use.

Mix together juice of one lemon, 1/8 t each of cinnamon, sugar, and cayenne; 1/2t each of ground cumin and sweet paprika, and salt as needed.

Cut the carrots into 1" thick rounds and pour over the lemon juice mixture. Let sit for 5--10 min. so the lemon juice can penetrate a bit. Now drizzle over with olive oil and sprinkle a bit of chopped fresh parsley.

This preparation is simple and the dish is light enough that a person could easily eat 1/3 lb of carrots in one sitting and still have room for a main course. I made an asparagus risotto to go with this and used the boiling water to supplement the garlic stock that I used for the risotto.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Russian Style Hearty Cabbage Soup

This recipe comes from "The Victory Garden Cookbook" by Marian Morash. It was given to me by Jean Lair Smith. It was one of her and Russell's favorite cookbooks. Here is the recipe/commentary verbatim. 

Here's a flavorful blend of cabbage, sauerkraut, short ribs, and vegetables.  This soup takes a while to cook, but it is well worth the time.  I prefer it served the same day, although it can be served 1-2 days later.  Be sure to have some good black bread on hand.

4 lb. short ribs
1 meaty shinbone (optional)
1 lb marrow bones
1 large onion
1 large turnip
2 carrots
2 cups beef broth
8 cups water
2 T. tomato paste
Herb bouquet:
   4 sprigs parsley
   4 sprigs dill
   3 cloves garlic
   1 t. thyme
   1 bay leaf
2 leeks (white portions only)
2 celery stalks with leaves
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 1/2 - 3 lb. green cabbage
1 lb. sauerkraut
3 T. oil
3 T. butter
1 cup finely chopped onions
1 cup finely chopped carrots
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
2 cups peeled, seeded, and chopped tomatoes
1/4 c. lemon juice
3 T. sugar
2 cups sour cream
1/2 cup chopped dill

Place the ribs, shinbone, and marrow bones in a baking pan. Halve the onion, turnip, and carrots, and add to the pan.  Brown in a preheated 500° oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, and place the meat, bones, and vegetables in a large stockpot. Remove the grease from the baking pan, pour broth into the pan, and cook over high heat until all the brown bits are incorporated into the broth. Add the broth to the stockpot along with the water, tomato paste, herb bouquet, leeks, celery, and 1 Tablespoon salt. Bring the broth to a boil, skim, and simmer, partially covered, for 2 hours.

Shred the cabbage into 1/4 inch slices. You will have approximately 14 cups. Rinse the sauerkraut in fresh water; squeeze dry. Melt the oil and butter in a large pan, and sauté the chopped onions, carrots, and celery until wilted, approximately 10 minutes. Add the sauerkraut and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the cabbage and cook over low heat until wilted, about 5 minutes. Add 1 cup of the liquid from the stockpot, partially cover pan, and braise for 30 minutes, checking occasionally to ensure the liquid has not evaporated, adding more if necessary; set aside.

When the stock is cooked, discard the vegetables, shinbone, and marrow bones, and degrease. (The shinbone meat is good for nibbling.) Then add the cabbage mixture along with the chopped tomatoes, lemon juice, and sugar. Simmer 30 minutes longer. Season to taste. Ladle into big bowls, top with spoonfuls of sour cream, and sprinkle with dill. (serves 6-8)

Notes: Jesse, I think this recipe is a 2 day project because if you want to degrease the stock properly, it really needs to be refrigerated. The congealed fat is so much easier to remove. 
Here are some other changes that I either chose or were forced to make: I substituted 3 lbs. of shank bones for all the bones/meat called for. The bones were meaty and needed a full 40 minutes to brown. (recipe calls for 20) Instead of deglazing the pan by heating broth into it, I poured a cup of boiling water into the pan and deglazed, then adjusted the amount of water accordingly. I left out the leek and also the fresh dill in the herb bouquet. I used only 1T. sugar and adjusted the lemon juice to 3T. I used a good quality sauerkraut: "Boarshead". I used only 1 T. each of oil and butter to sauté the onion, carrot, and celery. Finally I did not peel or seed the tomatoes. 
To serve, we put dijon mustard on the meat because that's the way my father used to like it.
Good luck. Bon Appétit!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Cornbread Dressing

Cornbread Dressing 

This recipe is adapted from the New Joy of Cooking's "Basic Corn Bread Stuffing". If your turkey is bigger than 12 lbs., or you're serving more than 8 people, you need to double it.

8 c. cornbread (or a mix of good white bread or whole grain bread - I do 10 c. cornbread cubes and 5 or so cups of other bread for a double recipe)
4 Tablespoons butter or olive oil (half and half for double recipe)
2 c. chopped onions
1 c. chopped celery
1 c. chopped mushrooms
1/2 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped 
1/2 green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c. parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon sage or preferably 1 Tablespoon fresh sage
1/2 t. thyme or 1/2 T. fresh 
3/4 t. salt
1/2 t. black pepper
1-2 cups chicken stock
1-2 eggs, well beaten

Heat the oil and butter in a large pot and add the chopped onion, mushrooms, celery, bell peppers, and garlic. Cook, stirring, until tender, about 15 minutes or more. Cut the heat to as low as possible. Stir in the parsley, sage, thyme, salt, and black pepper. Add the bread crumbs and toss until well combined. Stir in 1-2 cups broth, or until the stuffing is very moist. (I think I end up doing almost 4 cups for a double recipe, not sure.) Stir in the beaten eggs.  (3 is good for doubling)

Spoon the stuffing loosely into the bird. (Do not stuff the bird with hot dressing if you are not going to immediately cook the turkey!)

If you are baking the stuffing in a dish: 
Spread it in a layer 2-3 inches deep in a buttered baking dish. Ladle a little stock or gravy (or turkey juices if you're still baking the turkey) over the stuffing. Bake in a preheated 350° oven for 45 minutes to one hour or until lightly browned and crisp on top. 
Bon Appétit!

Thanksgiving Turkey

This is a combination of advice from Joy of Cooking, Martha Stewart, and what I remember Mama doing for so many years.

1.) Preheat the oven to 450°. 

2.) Rinse the turkey with cold water, removing the neck, liver, and gizzards. Dry with disposable cloth or paper towels. If you are stuffing it, do it now. Do NOT pack tightly or turkey will not cook properly. Loosely fill the neck end and secure with pins. Loosely fill the front end, overlap the legs together, and secure with kitchen twine. (Mama always sewed the turkey closed but Martha Stewart advises just to tie the legs together.) 

3.) Cut the neck into pieces; Put it in the bottom of the roasting pan along with 4-6 carrots, halved crosswise, 2 large onions, cut into 8 wedges, and 2 stalks celery, halved crosswise, and 2 cups water. Set a roasting rack over vegetables in pan. (if you have one - makes lifting the baked turkey out of the pan very easy)

4.) Rub the turkey very lightly with olive oil. Season generously with salt, pepper, and just a little thyme. (leaves, not ground)
Put it into the prepared roasting pan.

5). Put the pan in the preheated oven, tent loosely with foil, (don't press the foil down on any sides), close the oven, and immediately cut the temperature to 350° or 325 ° for larger birds. (15 lbs. or more). 

6.) Roast for 1 hour, then baste every 30 minutes with pan liquids, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh (avoiding bone) registers 125°. For turkeys weighing over 6 lbs, allow 15-20 minutes per pound. For turkeys weighing over 16 lbs., allow 13 to 15 minutes per pound.
NOTE: Add about 5 minutes to the pound if the bird you are cooking is stuffed. (says Joy of Cooking)
Mama always tested for doneness by pricking the skin of the thigh where the joint is and got a spoon and collected the juices to see if they ran clear - a good sign of doneness.

You can take the foil off in the last hour or so, to ensure that your turkey browns nicely. You might have to put pieces of foil around the legs or wing tips at some point if they are browning too much.

Prep time to get the bird stuffed and oven ready: One hour or if it's 6 in the morning and you're sleepy, allow 2!
Happy Thanksgiving and Bon Appétit!