Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Leftover Turkey Sandwiches au Jus

Turkey Sandwiches au Jus are my favorite way to devour leftover turkey from Thanksgiving. They require almost no prep time, and leave with the most succulent lunch or dinner.

Just take your leftover meat and cover it with leftover drippings. If you don't have leftover drippings, chicken broth will do in a pinch. (If using broth, I like to add 1/2 tsp. of butter for a little extra richness.) Add a bay leaf and several peppercorns. Simmer for about 10 minutes, until the flavor of the seasonings has permeated the liquid, and the turkey is warmed through.

While that's working its magic, prepare the bread. I like this best on a crusty baguette, but dinner rolls will work if you have some you need to use up. Slice open the bread, layer with fontina or provolone cheese, and broil until cheese is melted and bubbly.

When the bread and turkey are ready to rock, assemble the sandwiches (being sure not to include the peppercorns and/or bay leaf, obviously), and ladle the drippings/broth/jus into ramekins or mugs or whatever vessel is handy. Dip, devour, repeat.

Hope your Thanksgiving is full of loved ones and yummy food to eat (and eat and eat and eat)!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hello lovelies! Happy Thanksgiving week!

Can you believe how gorgeous those pears are? My brother and his sweet wife surprised us by sending them for our Thanksgiving table, and I cannot wait to dig into them once they're fully ripened. When I saw the package on my doorstep I just about died of excitement -- I've always wanted some Harry & David pears!

I don't have a menu to share this week. We're eating a lot of freezer meals and clearing out fridge space leading up to the main event this weekend. Tomorrow I'll share my favorite way to use up leftover turkey, so be sure to check back for that.

What are you eating this week? Anything fun on your Thanksgiving mane this year? Leave a comment! (Pretty please!)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Thanksgiving Sides, Starters & Desserts Recipe Round-Up

"Marie Callendar's" Cornbread

Great for the table or as a base for your favorite cornbread stuffing

Happy Rice

A simple side to accompany your Thanksgiving turkey. For a more festive flavor, add 1/4 tsp. of dried rubbed sage, or swap the thyme for poultry seasoning.

Family-Friendly Cheese Board

Fun ideas for putting together a cheese board that will please even the pickiest of guests. Put this out while dinner is cooking and everyone will stay happy until the main event.

Roasted Carrot Soup with Cumin & Thyme

Perfect for a first course or as an appetizer when portioned in small glasses as "shooters". Silky and savory!

Delicious Dill Dip

My mom's classic dip is the best pre-meal snack -- she still brings it to every holiday party. It tastes best on black olives stuck onto your fingertips. I know from experience.

Easy Ham & Cheese Puff Pastry

Cut this into small squares and stick a toothpick in each one. Makes a great appetizer, and you never have to tell how easy it was. That can be just between us.

DIY Pumpkin Puree

For the ambitious, make this up this week and stash it in the freezer until you're ready to make your pumpkin pies. I should warn you, though, once you swap this for the canned stuff, you might never want to go back.

Aunt Sonja's Cherry Squares

A delicious alternative to pie, and one of my absolute favorites! (Can be made in advance and frozen, if desired.)

Grandma Ople's Apple Pie

Not your average apple pie -- it's better!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Weekly Menu 11/18 - 11/24

I hate to see this weekend go. If we had our way, we'd spend every weekend at Powell's bookstore and then home by the fire reading books and playing games together.
Here's our menu for the week:

This Week's Menu

Monday: Shredded Beef Tacos, Sauteed Zucchini

Tuesday: Asian Cabbage Salad, Potstickers

Wednesday: Orange Chicken, Fried Rice

Thursday:  Broiled Tilapia with Lemon Artichoke Pesto, Steamed Broccoli

Friday: {probably out}

Saturday: Butternut Squash Ravioli with Brown Butter and Sage

Sunday: Chicken Gnocchi Soup

Friday, November 15, 2013

Simple Pretzel Bread Bowls

I've been slow to climb on the pretzel bread bandwagon. I'm not sure why. Sometimes I confuse myself. But anyway, now that I've made these awesome pretzel bread bowls, I don't think I can go back to my old life where pretzel bread wasn't part of my world. I mean, I could, I just don't want to.

I was concerned that these might be dense throughout, like a soft pretzel is, but they're dense only through the crust, and then they're light and fluffy, the way a bread bowl should be. They are truly fantastic. They hold up nicely, too, against the tide of minestrone or cream of broccoli or creamy tomato soup -- any kind of soup you can throw at it, really.

And my favorite thing about them is that they're really quite simple to make. I recognize that my idea of simple is maybe not the same as everybody else's, but I made these while battling the worst cold I've ever had and I didn't regret it. The dough is easy to work with, and the final result is just stunning. Made me feel like a super star, and who doesn't like that feeling?

Simple Pretzel Bread Bowls
adapted from A Beautiful Mess and Food Network Magazine

3 Tbsp. butter
2 c. hot water
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 1/4  tsp. active dry yeast
6 c. bread flour (all purpose would probably be fine, but bread flour is better)
2 tsp. kosher salt

8-10 cups water
1/3 cup baking soda

egg wash (1 egg beaten together with 1 tsp. water)
coarse sea salt

In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the butter, hot water and brown sugar. Stir to combine and melt the butter. Sprinkle the yeast over the top of the mixture and let sit for 5-6 minutes, at which point it should be nice and foamy.

With the dough hook attachment, stir in three cups of the flour and the kosher salt. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the remaining three cups of flour. Mix until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and forms a ball (should take a few minutes). Continue kneading until dough becomes smooth and elastic (about 4-5 minutes more). Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and form into a ball. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and allow to rise for one hour, or until doubled.

After an hour, punch the dough down and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into eight pieces and roll into small balls. Place on a greased baking sheet, cover and allow to rest for 20 minutes. If you don't want to make all 8 at once, you can freeze half of them for later use.

In a large pot, heat 8-10 cups of water until just boiling. Stir in 1/3 cup baking soda. Keep at a low boil and place each dough ball into the water. Cook for 45 seconds, flipping in the middle. Remove and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Once you've boiled each ball, brush with egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Cut a small X on the top of each dough ball with a sharp paring knife.

Bake at 400°F for 15-18 minutes, until very brown on the outside. Allow to cool.

When ready to serve, use a sharp knife to cut a round out of the bread, making a lid in the process (kind of like when you carve a pumpkin). Scoop out as much of the inner bread as desired to make space for soup.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Weekly Menu 11/11 - 11/17

I love fall in the Pacific Northwest! It's different than what I grew up with, but lovely all the same. We've been taking in the crisp, foggy fall air and kicking up leaves. What are you eating this week?
Here's our menu:

This Week's Menu

Monday: Turkey au Jus Sandwiches

Tuesday: Roasted Cauliflower Soup

Wednesday: Chicken Soft Tacos

Thursday: Asian Cabbage Salad, Potstickers

Friday: Roasted Veggie & Bacon Omelets

Saturday: Macaroni & Cheese

Sunday: Pot Roast, Roasted Butternut Squash

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Million Dollar Chicken

It's that time of year.
That time of year when the mind turns to roasted poultry with golden, crispy, crackling skin. Glistening with rendered drippings, and tantalizing the tastebuds with its distinctive perfume. Nothing in the world smells like roast chicken.

Oh wait, did you think I meant turkey?
Whatever would give you that idea?


This recipe is from The Standard in New York City, where I have never eaten, but when I saw this recipe I knew I had to try it.

It all starts with bread: Two thick slices of sourdough. You place them on the bottom of a cast-iron skillet and roast a chicken on top of them. The chicken renders its fat, and the bread soaks it up greedily. Then you glaze the chicken with the most delicious creme fraiche glaze, which leaves it golden and tangy and amazing. This, too, wanders its way down into the bread, making it more scrumptious still --  the tang of the sourdough meeting with the tang of the creme fraiche... I don't know how to put into words. The scent wafting from the oven alone...

You'll remove the chicken when it's roasted to perfection, and gaze down at what you think is soggy bread. But then you'll flip the slices over and find them crisped, possibly burned -- certainly blackened. Anxiously, you will think that you've done something wrong, that they are too dark for consumption on the one side and too soggy to be much good on the other, but you will slice them and serve them alongside the chicken all the same. (Because I said so.)

One bite will convince you. (I need not try, really.) Something about the bite of the char on the bread and the almost-buttery, brothy chicken drippings, and the aforementioned tang (did I mention the tang?) brings it all together. Oh yeah, and then there's the succulent, moist, redolent chicken.

Life. Changing.

Why are you still reading this? Get thee hence to the meat market and get thee a chicken!

Million Dollar Chicken

3 1/2 pound whole chicken
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 to 4 garlic cloves, lightly smashed
1 lemon
1 bay leaf
5 sprigs fresh thyme
olive oil/butter
2 slices sourdough bread, cut 3/4-inch thick (day old bread is perfect!)

for the glaze
1 c. creme fraiche
the zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp. shallots, grated on a fine grater or zester
1 tsp. Aleppo pepper  (Even if you don't like spicy food, don't skimp on the Aleppo. I get mine at Penzey's Spices)

additional lemon slices
coarse sea salt, such as Maldon

The day before you plan to cook the chicken, season it well inside and out with salt and pepper. Stuff the cavity of the chicken with the garlic, 1 of the lemons, the bay leaf and thyme. Refrigerate.

(Tie the legs together with kitchen twine if you are so inclined, but I never do.)

On the day/night you plan to cook the bird, take the chicken out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before you plan to roast it to allow it to come up to room temp (this will assist in even cooking). Preheat the oven to 425ยบ F.

In a large cast-iron pan, lightly oiled with olive oil, put the slices of bread in the center of the pan and then place the chicken on top of the bread. Drizzle with olive oil or brush with butter, and season with a sprinkling of salt and pepper.

Place the pan in the preheated oven and roast for 40 to 50 minutes, basting it every 12 to 15 minutes with the fat and drippings that render from the bird (or additional oil/butter, if the drippings are all soaked up by the bread).

While the chicken roasts, assemble the glaze: simply whisk together all the ingredients and set aside.

When the chicken is nearly done (the juices running pink and/or the legs are beginning to wiggle a bit in their sockets), take a pastry brush and generously slather on the creme fraiche glaze. Continue to roast for another 5 minutes or so -- the glaze will begin to caramelize. Brush on another layer of glaze and let this caramelize.

At this point the chicken should be cooked through and nicely golden brown. (Be sure to test it with a meat thermometer to be sure.) The sourdough underneath the chicken will be nicely browned and crisped on the side in contact with the pan, and moist and juicy on the side in contact with the chicken. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before carving. Cut the sourdough into 2 to 4 pieces and serve alongside the chicken. Garnish with lemon wedges and sprinkle with sea salt.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Weekly Menu 11/4 - 11/10

We're coming out of our post-Halloween candy comas and looking forward to a quieter week. Here's what we're cooking up:

This Week's Menu

Monday: Spinach Salad with Bacon, No-Knead Crusty Bread

Tuesday: Broiled Tilapia or Mahi Mahi with Lemon Artichoke Pesto

Wednesday: Mushroom Risotto

Thursday: Beef with Broccoli

Friday: Savory Cornmeal Waffles, Fried Eggs

Saturday: Noodles with Butter and Parmesan, Roasted Shrimp

Sunday: Turkey Breast en Cocotte, Roasted Asparagus, Rolls

What's on YOUR menu? Leave a comment!