Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Need Some Tested Thanksgiving Recipes?

This weekend we decided to have a little pre-Thanksgiving feast with our friends in SLO since there are a bunch of us that like to cook and we are all going all over California for the actual holiday. Much was made out of the Thanksgiving issues of Bon Appetit and Cooking light that I really liked and thought I would pass along in case anyone is looking for some great recipes to try:

Malt Beer Brined Turkey With Malt Glaze:

This was a deliciously juicy and had great flavor. Due to Dave's new interest in beer making, we decided to go for some beer inspired recipes. We cooked it in a "turkey roaster" (think giant crock pot) on 350 for about 4 1/2 hours. The only thing I changed is I used three of Dave's American Pale Ale beers from the keg to baste with instead of the water that the recipe called for.

Mixed Mushroom and Tarragon Gravy:

Great flavor. I kind of messed up the texture on this by using light sour cream instead of creme fraiche. Use the real deal. I also subbed Trader Joe's turkey broth for the home made turkey stock due to time.

Framboise Cranberry Sauce

Not too sweet and super easy! I'd make it again. I might add a tiny bit more orange zest next time. We made it the day before and I feel like the flavors melded together quite nicely. We could actually taste the raspberry from the framboise.

And Nat made a really nice vegetarian mushroom stuffing I thought I'd also share. The flavor was really nice:

3 boxes assorted mushrooms, sliced thin
1 stick butter
2 white onions, chopped
9 cloves garlic, minced
a good large splash of brandy- might have been like a 1/2 cup
2 boxes of corn bread stuffing mix
2 cups home made mushroom stock (or can sub veg stock)
1 bag collard "southern" greens from TJ's

To season- salt, pepper, thyme, oregano, cayenne, paprika to taste

Cook mushrooms and onions in a stick of butter, add brandy, cook until most of liquid is absorbed- about 15 minutes.

Cook greens in a pan for like 30 min with garlic, seasonings and some liquid- broth or water or both until well cooked.

Mix everything in a bowl, add more season if necessary, butter the pan well, and cook at 350 for an hour or until golden brown.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Spinach Salad with Avocado and Orange

I have a ton of Thanksgiving / wintery recipes to share, but somehow I can't get in the holiday mood to post them yet. I've been working on holiday campaigns at work since September, so I think in my mind we skipped December, and it is already February!

I made this salad recently (that I found via Bon Appetit archives of mine) and it was pleasantly simple and delicious. With all these ingredients in season right now, it makes a beautiful palette of colors and a nice side dish.

2 T finely chopped shallots
2 T seasoned rice vinegar
1 T vegetable oil
2 t peeled, minced ginger
1/2 t sesame oil

1 bag organic baby spinach
1 large ripe orange
1 large ripe avocado

salt and pepper to taste

In a bowl, whisk together first five ingredients until well combined. (This can be done up to two days in advance.)

In a serving bowl or plate, arrange spinach. Peel the orange with a knife so that none of the skin or white pith remains and cut into wedges. Cut the avocado into long wedges as well. Place both the orange and the avocado in the spinach and lightly toss with dressing. Season with a light sprinkling of fresh salt and pepper and serve within 2 hours.

I think this salad would also be just as nice (but less simple) with the addition of pomegranate seeds, walnuts or thin slices of red onion.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Birthday Cupcakes

There are exactly 51 days of the year when Garret and I are the same age. The remaining 305 days of the year, he likes to endearingly call me a cradle robber or his cougar. Thankfully, I still get carded at the grocery store, and he usually doesn't. Garret finally entered his "late twenties" this week so we celebrated with friends at his favorite beer bar where we had tacos, craft brews and these cupcakes I made. They aren't exactly the typical fluffy-cakey cupcake most are used to. I would say they are more of a hybrid between a brownie and a flourless chocolate flavor. Topped with a bourbon-vanilla bean-brown sugar frosting, they were pretty good.

Cupcake Ingredients (makes 24)
4 sticks butter
14 ounces, high quality chocolate (I used a combo of 80% cacao and a little milk chocolate)
2 cups white sugar
8 eggs
2 T flour

Cupcake Directions
In a sauce pan, heat butter to medium heat until it melts. Break the chocolate bars into pieces and slowly stir/melt the chocolate into the butter without scorching. Transfer to a bowl. Add sugar to the chocolate mix and stir with a wood spoon until combined. Let cool slightly.

Add eggs one at a time to the frosting while mixing on a medium speed. When combined, add flour. Transfer batter to cupcake pans.

Bake cupcakes at 350 degrees for twenty minutes. They might remain a little doughy at this point, but that is okay. Turn the oven off and let the cupcakes cool for ten minutes with the oven door open, (in the oven the cakes will puff up and then collapse upon cooling) then transfer to a wire rack until completely cool.

Frosting Ingredients
(makes a LOT- you could probably half this if you aren't a frosting person)
1, 80z package of cream cheese, room temperature
2 sticks of butter, room temperature
1/4 cup bourbon
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
vanilla beans from inside of vanilla pod- not completely necessary

Frosting Directions
Add cream cheese and butter to a bowl and mix on High for 5 minutes. Slowly add bourbon and brown sugar and keep mixing on high until well combined and fluffy. Add powdered sugar until frosting reaches desired stiffness. Add in vanilla beans for pretty specks, mostly.

Pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes in desired amounts. If you don't plan to eat these right away, store covered in refrigerator until you plan to enjoy. Right before serving, you may like to sprinkle with some large sugar crystals or chocolate powder.

Happy Birthday Garret!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Fig and Goat Cheese Appetizer

Fig season is just about coming to an end in San Luis Obispo, but I thought I would share this easy little recipe that is both sweet and tangy and full of that figgy goodness.

The twin has moved out to twelve fine acres of Edna Valley and with her sweet rental came a large mature fig tree with an abundant crop of ripe purple figs. So naturally, I stole quite a few of them this season. Garret and I have a tiny little fig tree on our porch that we once thought was barren, but this year it produced three whole figs! I think we are on to something.

6-10 figs, any color (anticipate about 1-1.5 figs per person)

*per fig half*
1/4 teaspoon creme fraiche
1/2 teaspoon chevre
a drizzle of honey or agave nectar
a dash of pepper

Clean figs under cool water. Pat dry and slice in half, removing stems. Top each half with a small dollop of creme fraiche followed by a coin of goat cheese. Place figs on a plate and carefully drizzle with honey or raw agave nectar and sprinkle with fresh cracked pepper.