Sunday, November 25, 2012

The gods have given us an elephant....

Or at least it seems that way, time to use those turkey leftovers.  Turkey pot pie is in the offing, but right now it's turkey soup day.  I'm taking the pickings from the turkey carcass and using them in the soup along with some of my favorite soup vegetables --

Turkey Soup

3 leeks, white and tender green tops, cut into rounds, washed well to remove all grit
4 large carrots, diced
1 large fennel bulb, diced(you can use the green tops too if you like)
1/3 cup fresh parsley, minced
2 TBSP olive oil
1 TBSP dried parsley
1 TBSP dried Italian Seasonings
2 tsp. celery seed (NOT salt)
2 tsp. salt
fresh ground black pepper
8 cups turkey broth or chicken broth
8 cups water
turkey meat picked off the bones and any other leftover turkey you wish to add
1/2 lb. egg noodles

Prepare the leeks, carrots, fennel and parsley. 
In a heavy bottomed soup pot (at least 1 1/2 gallons) heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the leeks and stir.  Add the dried herbs, salt and celery salt, stir.  Add the carrots and fennel and cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring twice during that time, to 'sweat' the vegetables.  Add the turkey broth, water and turkey meat, bring to a simmer. 

Meanwhile start pasta water boiling to cook the egg noodles. Add noodles to boiling water and remove noodles when cooked and add to pot once the vegetables in the soup pot are tender.  Remove from heat and enjoy in bowls with a slice of crusty french or sourdough bread.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Cappellacci de Zucca -Bring on the Butternut Squash

This time of year when butternut squash is so available, my favorite way to enjoy them is as stuffing for cappellacci.  These little pillows of pasta filled with sweet butternut squash puree are delicious in some sage butter with a sprinkling of romano cheese.  The recipes I've seen call for amaretti cookies but I don't keep any in the house (they wouldn't last long anyway before I ate them all).  In place of these little cookies I put some ground almonds and a bit of honey. 

Cappellacci de Zucca

For the filling:
1 butternut squash, peeled, diced (1 - 1/2 inch)
2 TBSP olive oil

1/8 tsp ground nutmeg (fresh is best)
1/4 tsp. salt
1 TBSP honey
4 TBSP finely ground almonds (more if you like)

In a bowl, toss the butternut squash pieces with the olive oil.  Place in a single layer in a baking dish or on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil.  Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake the squash for 45 minutes in a 350F oven.  When done, remove the squash and place in a seive over a bowl to drain.  When cooled, mash/puree the squash.

Add remaining ingredients and set the filling aside or refridgerate if you are not making the pasta that day.

Note: wonton dough squares can be used instead of making the pasta, if you prefer.

For the pasta:
2 cups semolina flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
4 whole eggs
1 tsp. olive oil
warm water (3-4 TBSP)

Combine the flours, place the mixture on a bread board and mound the flour making a well in the center (like a volcano crater).  Beat the eggs, olive oil and 2 TBSP water in a bowl and pour gently into the volano crater.  Carefully mix the ingredients with a fork, taking flour from the sides of the crater and mixing into the eggs.  Mix the flour completely into the eggs to form a shaggy mass of dough.  Knead the dough as best you can until it is somewhat soft and pliable (this is a very stiff dough) Add more water as you need it to make the kneading easier.  When done cover the dough with an upside down bowl and allow it to rest for 1 hour. 

To assemble the cappellacci:
Using a pasta machine or rolling pin, roll out one sheet of dough(cover remaining dough with the bowl to prevent it from drying out) and cut into 4" squares. Place scraps of dough under the bowl that contains the remainder of the dough, incorporate the scraps into the remaining dough as you use it to roll more pasta sheets. 

Place about 1 rounded teaspoon of filling in one corner of the 4" square. On either side of the teaspoon of filling, run a wet finger dipped in water along 2 dough edges.  Fold the 4" square along the diagonal to make a triangle that covers the filling completely.  Seal the edges with your finger and then a fork.  Take the two corners of the triangle and attach them together to form a little cap (much like a tortellini). 

Place the completed cappellacci on a well floured tea towel that lines a cookie sheet. Continue with remaining dough, until the cookie sheet is full.  Put the cookie sheet of cappellacci in the freezer for 1 hour or more to freeze complete.  Once frozen, remove from cookie sheet and place in a sealed plastic baggie for later use.

To cook the cappellacci:
A simple sauce of melted butter and leaves of sage
grated romano cheese
6-8 cappellacci per person

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  When boiling, add frozen cappellacci (about 6-8 per person) to the water.  Boil for a few minutes until the cappellacci come to the water surface and they appear cooked (try one to be sure).  Place them on a heated plate.  Top with a sauce of melted butter and sage, sprinkle with romano cheese and enjoy.

If you run out of filling before you run out of pasta dough, make noodles with the rest, dry them and use them in soups or if you have enough, keep the noodle long, cook and serve with your favorite tomato sauce.  If you run out of pasta dough and have filling left, make a custard by adding a egg and some milk and baking in a bain marie in the oven or just eat the filling as is -it's pretty tasty.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

San Francisco Sourdough - Large holes! Success!

This morning before the turkey went into the oven, I baked a San Francisco Sourdough bread from a recipe by Dave Snyder on .  It worked!  It has big holes in it and is very tasty, not too sour.  Michael says it's not as sour as the Boudin bakery, but then again my starter is not 150 years old either.

Here is a picture of the bread's crumb - nice and holey!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Pies

In addition to working on my San Francisco Sourdough bread recipe today, I baked two pies - Sweet Potato Pie from a recipe on and a pecan pie from Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen cookbook.  The sweet potato pie is deep dish and what would fit in two 9 inch pans is in one 10 inch deep dish pie plate (yum!). 

The pecan pie is in the oven now but it is before baking -

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!  Enjoy the holiday, celebrate with friends and family and most of all have gratitude and give thanks for what we have all year long.

Cranberry Orange Sauce for Turkey Day

For the past several years I've been making cranberry sauce.  It is so easy and so much tastier than what you buy in the can.  In the past years I have added minced clementine rinds to the sauce.  This year I thought I would go for even bigger orange flavor in the sauce and a few more spices besides the  cinnamon I had been adding.  Here's this year's recipe--

Cranberry Orange Sauce

1 Navel Orange
12-16 oz. cranberries, rinsed and drained
1 cup sugar

1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground allspice
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
dash ground nutmeg or fresh ground nutmeg
pinch of salt

Into a sauce pot, zest 1 navel orange.  Juice the orange and reserve the juice in a measuring cup.  Add enough water in the measuring cup to make 1 cup of liquid.  Add the liquid to the pot along with remaining ingredients.  Bring to a boil.  Stir constantly to avoid burning.  Cook until the berries are all bursting and the mixture is a jam-like consistency.  Pour into a serving bowl to cool.  Once cooled, refridgerate until Turkey Day.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Stuffed Delicata Squash

We received two delicata squashes from Eatwell Farm this past week, so it was time to make some stuffed squash for dinner.  Here's my recipe:

2 delicata squashes, cut in half lengthwise and deseeded
2 TBSP olive oil
1/2 lb. ground beef or bulk pork sausage
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 TBSP dried parsley
6 leaves fresh sage, chopped small
1/4 tsp. salt
black pepper
3 TBSP. grated romano cheese

1 slice bread, torn or diced into crumbs
1 egg, beaten
1/4 lb. shredded monterey jack cheese

Preheat oven to 350F
In a saute pan, heat the olive oil.  Brown the meat.  Add onions and celery and cook for 15 minutes or so until vegetables are softened.  Add parsley, sage, salt and pepper and stir to combine.  Remove from heat.  Place bread crumbs in a mixing bowl and add the cooked meat/onion/celery mixture.  Add the romano cheese and stir well.  Allow the mixture to cool until it is easily handled.  Add the egg and mix well. Place the squashes in a baking dish or cookie sheet that has been lined with aluminum foil.  Stuff each squash half with the meat mixture, top with shredded cheese.  Bake for 1 hour in 350F oven.  Enjoy.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Getting Ready for the Turkey! Stuffing Bread

Each year I make one loaf of stuffing bread for the bird and another one for leftover turkey sandwiches.  The bread makes turkey stuffing easier to put together as all the necessary herbs and spices are already in the bread - all you need to do is cut the bread into croutons, dry them and then add some sauteed onions and bulk Italian sausage(cooked) to them along with perhaps a little cheese and a couple of eggs, adjust the seasonings to your taste - et voila turkey stuffing or dressing if you are cooking it outside the bird.  To cook the dressing in the oven without the bird, grease a oven-proof casserole dish, put in the stuffing mix and add a bit of chicken broth(no more than a cup) to keep it moist as it cooks in the oven. Allow to cook in a 350F oven for 30 minutes to an hour or so. 

Here's the recipe

Stuffing Bread - makes one small loaf (4 x 8 inch pan)

Wet Ingredients-
1 cup warm water
2 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. molasses
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast

Dry Ingredients-
2 cups  flour
1/2 cup uncooked oatmeal (not instant)
1/2 cup corn meal
2 TBSP dry parsley
1 TBSP dried onion flakes (I use 1/4 cup minced regular ol' onion)
1 tsp. dried rosemary
1 tsp. dried sage (I use 1 TBSP fresh sage)
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 clove fresh garlic, pressed or minced fine
1/2 to 1 1/2 tsp. salt to your taste

Combine wet ingredients and set aside.  Combine dry ingredients.  Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix to form dough.  Knead briefly (5 minutes or so) to combine the ingredients and work up some gluten in the flour.  Add flour, only if you need it to keep the dough from sticking to your bread board.  Grease an 8x4 inch loaf pan.  Shape the dough into a loaf and place in the pan. 

Allow the dough to rise just so it reaches the top on the pan, about an hour. (I heat a cup of water in the microwave for 2 minutes, once the microwave oven is off, place the bread and the loaf pan in a plastic bag, twist tie shut and place the whole thing in the steamy microwave to proof.) 

When the bread if proofed, heat oven to 350F. Bake in a 350F oven for 50-60 minutes.  Remove from pan to a wire rack and allow to cool.  If using the bread for stuffing allow the bread to age for a day, then cut into croutons - dry them at the lowest setting of your oven until crisped.  Cool and make your stuffing.  If making sandwiches, slice the bread, top with your favorite turkey sandwich fillings and enjoy!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Romanesco, Cauliflower and/or Broccoli Gratin

A week ago, I tried a gratin recipe from an online source and was unimpressed by it.  What was missing was the lovely bechamel sauce that binds it all and makes the flavors work together.  So here is my version, perhaps not as calorie light, but I believe, more flavorful.

4 cups of romanesco, cauliflower, broccoli (or a mix thereof)

2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 onion cut thinly into half moons
2 TBSP olive oil

1 1/2 cups milk or cream (your choice)
2 TBSP butter
2 TBSP flour
dash of nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
fresh ground black pepper to taste.

1/2 cup toasted bread crumbs
2-4 TBSP romano or parmesan cheese

Oil or grease a 9x9 ovenproof casserole dish.  Preheat oven to 350F.

Parboil or partially steam the vegetable(romanesco, cauliflower and/or broccoli).  You can cook it in a cup of water in a covered baking dish in the microwave for 5 minutes on high until you can pierce it with a fork, but do not overcook.

While the vegetable is steaming, heat the olive oil over medium high heat in a saute pan large enough to hold all the vegetables.  Add the onion to the pan and stir for 2 minutes, add the garlic to the pan and cook until the garlic begins to turn brown and the onions are tender, do not blacken the garlic, you just want a carmel color on its edges.  Add the steamed veggies to the pan and toss with the garlic, onions and oil.  Place the vegetable mixture in a greased 9x9 casserole. 

Make a bechamel sauce in a 1 quart sauce pan, by melting the butter over medium low to low heat.  Once the butter is melted, add the flour and stir for 3 minutes over the heat.  Gradually add the 1 1/2 cups milk to the pan, stirring constantly to avoid lumps in the sauce.  Add nutmeg, salt, and pepper.  Bring to just under a boil, stirring constantly until the sauce is thickened. 

Pour the bechamel over the vegetables in the casserole. Top with bread crumbs and cheese.  You can dot the top of the casserole with bits of butter if you desire.  Cook for 30 minutes in the oven until the cheese is melted and the top is browned. Enjoy!

Apple Cake

This is one of my favorite desserts and I post it here for those who requested the recipe:

4 tart apples (pippin variety works well), peeled cored and cut into 1 inch cubes

1 1/2 TBSP  granulated sugar
2 tsp.            cinnamon

3 cups          all purpose flour
1 TBSP        baking powder
1/2 tsp.         salt

4 large eggs, beaten
1 cup            vegetable oil
2 cups          granulated sugar
1/2 cup        orange juice
1 tsp.           vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F (if using a glass pan reduce heat to 325F).  Grease and flour or line with parchment paper the bottom of a 9x13 pan or a 9 inch tube pan.

Mix the apples with the 1 1/2 TBSP sugar and cinnamon and set aside.

Mix the flour, baking powder and salt together well in a separate bowl and set aside.

Beat the eggs in a stand mixer on medium high speed (KitchenAide setting 6 or comparable speed) for 4-6 minutes until light and fluffy.  Add the vegetable oil and sugar and mix an additional 4-6 minutes.

Add the flour mixture 1 cup at a time, alternating with 1/2 of the orange juice, beating just to combine after each addition, ending with the orange juice and 1 tsp. vanilla extract. 

Pour 1/3 of the batter in the prepared cake pan and top with 1/3 apples.  Add a second third of batter and the second third of apples.  Add the last third of batter and top with the last of the apples.

Bake for 60-70 minutes or unetil the top is a rich borwn adn the cake feels firm to the touch. 

Allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack.  If using a tube pan, once cooled, remove the cake from the pan and put on a plate, top side down.  Serve plain or dusted with confectioner's sugar. Slice and enjoy!

What's in the Eatwell Box for Thanksgiving?

The upcoming box for Thanksgiving has the following:

Sweet Potatoes
Butternut Squash
Cauliflower or Romanesco

What to do with all this bounty?  I'm thinking of recreating a salad I had at the Hog Island Oyster Company restaurant at the Ferry building in San Francisco.  It was an arugula salad with fine shreds of fennel and pickled watermelon diakon in it along with diced golden beets.  It would be really tasty especially with some pomegranate juice dressing I made a couple of weeks ago.  The sweet potatoes and butternut squash are destined for sweet potato pecan pie and a combo of sweet potato and butternut squash pie replacing the well-known pumpkin Thanksgiving pie.  Cauliflower and broccoli will make a flavorful gratin to accompany 'the bird'.  Later in the week, once turkey leftovers have been converted to turkey pot pie and turkey soup, a nice green lettuce salad will be appreciated.  Spinach may make it into a loaf of spinach and olive bread to accompany the soup or salad.  Leeks will be welcome in the turkey soup along with celery and carrots I already have in the fridge.  Rosemary will go into stuffing bread inside 'the bird' with any extra stuffing becoming a dressing cooked outside the lovely turkey.  Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday - designed specifically for enjoying good food and our families while being grateful for all we have.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Homemade Pickled Ginger

We just made up a bunch of sweet pickled ginger(amazuke).

It's an easy recipe -
8 oz. of ginger, peeled and sliced thin, 1 cup rice vinegar, 1/3 cup sugar, 1 1/2 tsp. salt.  

 Toss the peeled sliced ginger with the salt, meanwhile heat the pickle jar in some water to avoid cracking it when you pour in the hot vinegar/sugar mixture. In a small pot, place the rice vinegar and sugar, stir to dissolve the sugar and bring to a boil. Remove the warmed jar from its water bath, add about 1/2 inch of boiled vinegar to the jar and pack in the sliced ginger. Cover with remaining hot vinegar mixture. Allow to cool before covering and refrigerating - ready in about 1 week.