Sunday, October 2, 2011


No matter how many people you invite, when you make a whole turkey, there will be leftovers.

This is precisely what happened. I had a big tupperware container stuffed with turkey. Never being one for sandwiches, and with a roommate who had made the mistake of going vegan (insert eye roll here), I was forced to be creative.

Luckily, I only had to look to Gourmet (may got rest its soul) for the answers. This "pilaf" is an excellent, excellent lunch or one-dish dinner, but the flavors are totally unexpected. Taking a cue from North Africa and the Mideast, we've got Israeli couscous, cinnamon, allspice, and currants. The yogurt and the proteins (both turkey and chickpeas) balance out the sweet fairly well, but I remember adding lots of salt to this dish.

I'm currently wondering how this might go with chicken or without any meat at all--there seems to be something about the turkey here that just works, though. If I try it, I'll be sure to let you know.

Spiced Couscous and Turkey Pilaf
From Gourmet, November 2008

  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups pearl (Israeli) couscous (10 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 2/3 cups water
  • 1 (19-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup currants
  • 1 1/2 cups (1-inch) pieces cooked turkey
  • 1/3 cup packed mint leaves, chopped

  • Accompaniment: plain yogurt

Cook onion in oil in a 4-quart heavy pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 10 minutes. Add couscous and spices and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add water, chickpeas, currants, and 1 teaspoon salt and simmer, covered, until couscous is just tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in turkey and let stand, covered, until heated through, about 5 minutes. Stir in mint.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Rumble.

I made a whole turkey.

When you've mastered roasting a chicken, and the only place to go is up, turkey is a natural next step. Granted, this is before Thanksgiving, so no one's thinking turkey...yet. Once you read this recipe, you'll be planning ahead.

This was also part of the West Side Story inspired meal I served up to my American Musical Theater class (see below). I can't say enough good things about this turkey. Even for a turkey virgin, it managed to stay moist and cook through in a decent amount of time. It was also super, super flavorful and that gravy was worth every last calorie. I don't know what my family is planning, but this is the only thing I want on our Thanksgiving table this year.

Adobo Turkey with Red-Chile Gravy
from Gourmet, November 2010

For adobo
  • 4 dried guajillo chiles (2 ounces), wiped clean
  • 3 dried ancho chiles (1 1/2 ounces), wiped clean
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 (1/2-inch) piece cinnamon stick, smashed
  • 2 whole allspice
  • 1 clove
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons thyme leaves
  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

For turkey and gravy:
  • 1 (12-to 14-pound) turkey, neck and giblets (excluding liver) reserved for turkey stock
  • 2 cups water, divided
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • About 4 cups classic turkey stock , divided
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • Melted unsalted butter if necessary

  • Equipment: kitchen string; a 17-by 14-inch flameproof roasting pan with a flat rack; a 2-quart measuring cup or a fat separator

Make adobo:
Slit chiles lengthwise, then stem and seed. Heat a large heavy skillet (not nonstick) over medium heat until hot, then toast chiles in batches, opening them flat, turning and pressing with tongs, until more pliable and slightly changed in color, about 30 seconds per batch.

Transfer to a bowl and cover chiles with boiling-hot water, then soak until softened, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, toast spices in a small heavy skillet over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 3 minutes.

Drain chiles, discarding liquid, and purée in a blender with spices, garlic, herbs, vinegar, water, oil, and 2 teaspoon salt until very smooth, about 1 minute. Set aside 1/2 cup adobo for gravy.

Marinate turkey:
Rinse turkey inside and out and pat dry. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons salt evenly in turkey cavities and all over skin, then rub remaining
adobo (a scant 3/4 cup) all over turkey, including cavities. Fold neck skin under body, then tuck wing tips under breast and tie drumsticks together with string. Transfer to rack in roasting pan and marinate, covered with plastic wrap and chilled, at least 8 hours and up to 24.

Roast turkey:
Let turkey stand, covered, at room temperature 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in lower third.

Add 1 cup water to pan and roast turkey 1 hour.

Brush turkey with oil and add remaining cup water, then tent loosely with foil and rotate pan. Roast (if bottom of pan becomes dry, add 1/2 cup more water) until an instant-read thermometer inserted into fleshy part of each thigh (test both; close to but not touching bone) registers 170°F, 1 3/4 to 2 3/4 hours more (total roasting time: 2 3/4 to 3 3/4 hours).

Carefully tilt turkey so juices from inside large cavity run into pan. Transfer turkey to a platter and let stand, uncovered, 30 minutes (temperature of thigh meat will rise to 175 to 180°F).

Make gravy while turkey stands:
Straddle roasting pan across 2 burners, then add 1 cup turkey stock and boil over high heat, stirring and scraping up brown bits, 2 minutes. Strain pan juices through a fine-mesh sieve into 2-quart measure and skim off fat (or use a fat separator), reserving fat. Add enough turkey stock to liquid to bring total to 5 cups.

Whisk together flour, 6 tablespoon reserved fat (if there is less, add melted butter), and reserved 1/2 cup adobo in a heavy medium saucepan, then cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, 3 minutes (mixture will be thick). Add pan juices and stock in a fast stream, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Bring to a boil, whisking, then simmer, whisking occasionally, until thickened, 10 to 15 minutes. Season with salt.

Serve turkey with gravy.

Monday, September 12, 2011

When you're a jet.

Continuing with the series of posts from musical theater listening quiz parties, we have the Poblano potatoes au gratin. This recipe was for "West Side Story", where I hosted a Puerto Rican inspired (or at the very least, Mexican) Thanksgiving. I couldn't imagine a more symbolic holiday for immigrants, and the fact that Gourmet (may it rest in peace) already planned it made that much easier to pull off.

We'll get to the rest of the menu eventually, but these potatoes were off the chain. I know that I put too many potatoes in and used some milk to make up for this, but they still managed to turn out. Friends who are "bad at cooking": Take note.

I had a gas stove in the apartment on Diamond street, so roasting the poblano peppers was easy. I know that there were pepper-ashes all over the stove for at least a week, but it was fun and fairly easy to do. When I discover a method to use with my electric oven, I'll be sure to pass it along.

This recipe was also another reason I love my mandoline slicer. Few things make me happier than a thinly-sliced vegetable. Invest in one as soon as humanly possible.

Finally, roasting the peppers, using the mandoline, and building the gratin are great technique builders. The recipe is fairly easy, but the dish looks and tastes impressive.

Poblano Potatoes Au Gratin
Serves 8

From Gourmet: In Mexican cuisine, rajas refers to thin strips of roasted chiles. Although they commonly spice up everything from stews to tamales, rajas are best when adding a kick to creamy dishes. Here, forest-green poblanos lend a mild, almost fruity heat to a potato gratin
  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh poblano chiles (about 5)
  • 1 pound onions, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch strips
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3 pounds large Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup whole milk

Roast chiles and make rajas:
Roast chiles on their sides on racks of gas burners on high, turning with tongs, until skins are blackened all over, about 10 minutes. Immediately transfer to a bowl and let stand, covered tightly, 10 minutes.

When chiles are cool enough to handle, peel or rub off skin. Slit chiles lengthwise, then stem, seed, and devein. Cut lengthwise into thin strips.

Cook onions with 1 teaspoon salt in oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 8 minutes. Stir in chiles and remove rajas from heat. Reserve 1/2 cup rajas for topping.

Make gratin:
Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle. Generously butter a 3-quart shallow baking dish.

Peel potatoes, then cut crosswise into 1/16-inch-thick slices with slicer. Transfer to a small heavy pot. Add cream, milk, and 1 teaspoon salt and bring just to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally (liquid will thicken). Stir in rajas, then pour mixture evenly into baking dish. Sprinkle reserved 1/2 cup rajas on top.

Bake until potatoes are tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Monday, August 22, 2011

A person can develop a cold.

I'm back to blogging because the rest of my life is work. I need to remember that I used to have hobbies and things I liked to do for fun.

In my second-to-last semester of college I took a class called American Musical Theater. Those of you who know me know I love a good showtune. In order to study for listening quizzes and make friends, I decided to host listening quiz parties. The class would be invited over to listen to the soundtrack of the week and eat a themed meal. Oh yes, you read right: A themed meal.

So, "Oklahoma!": Tequila Sunrises (Oh, What A Beautiful Morning...), BBQ Popcorn (...corn is as high as an elephant's eye), Grilled Corn and Avocado Salad with a Chipotle Ceasar (the farmer), a hearty beef chili (the cowman), and a Pear-Butterscotch pie ("why did you take the trouble to bake my favorite pie?").

And then..."Guys and Dolls". Adelaide develops a cold due to not being married, so I made a chicken soup. She also is a Hot Box Chick, and loves him a "bushel and a peck"...Yeah, I got into it. The rest of the menu included spiked lemonade, cuban sandwiches, and a New York Cheesecake. Those of you who know "Guys and Dolls" will get the references.

But literally, this soup is the best Chicken Noodle I've ever made or had. I also totally made it up as I went along.

Adelaide's Lament Chicken Noodle

A Whole Chicken, 5 to 8 lbs
1 Lemon, cut into quarters
1/2 cup white wine
1 Large Onion, diced
Carrots, about 6, diced
Celery, about 6 stalks, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 bay leaves
1 t rosemary
1 t thyme
Salt and pepper, to taste
Chicken Stock, 10-16 cups
1 lb wide egg noodles

1. Roast the chicken. My preferred method is to lather the chicken with a few tablespoons of butter, salt, and pepper and place the lemon in the cavity of the bird. Add whatever herbs you have handy inside, too. A little dried rosemary and thyme go a long way here, too. I roast my chicken in a dutch oven I bought at a thrift store ages ago--I recommend the same. You'll make the soup in the same pot. Your chicken will probably roast for 2 or so hours.
2. Remove the chicken from the dutch oven and place the dutch oven, with all the drippings, on the stove top. I'll fully admit that this isn't a healthy recipe. Pour in the wine and let the "gravy" reduce. This sauce is the base of the soup that makes it so flavorful.
3. Add the vegetables and garlic. Let them cook down for a few minutes, until the onions are translucent and the carrots and celery start to soften. Meanwhile, chop the chicken into bite-size pieces.
4. Add herbs, salt and pepper. Start slow, you can add later.
5. Add the chicken stock. I'm pretty sure I used homemade for this one, and it's worth it. Needs more salt, but so delightfully delicious (and free!).
6. Bring the stock to a boil. Add the egg noodles and cook according to directions. Add the chicken when the noodles are about done--it only needs to re-heat.

Remember, soup is an art. You add what you want; taste and change as you go. This is a more classic chicken noodle, but I can imagine roasting the chicken with Five Spice powder or chili-garlic sauce, spiking the sauce with saki and adding lots of miso to the broth. I've been dying to find ways to use more rice noodles, too.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Birthday Cupcakes.

Today's post, loosely related to birthdays, is dedicated to the fabulous Alexandra Whitney, who celebrated a birthday this week AND is the reason this blog exists. You should check out her blog for a photo of the cupcakes I talk about below.

I have always had the best jobs in the world. How often does one get assigned "make cupcakes"? The correct answer is twice--and I'm not even including the number of times I've been asked to make muffins.

On this occassion we were celebrating two birthdays. I find that when I make birthday anything for anyone I always appreciate specifics. Jordan, for example, requested peanut butter and chocolate. It was easy for me to go above and beyond with a chocolate drizzle and some crunchy peanuts (see top image). My friends, those were some bangin' cupcakes.

The other cupcakes were a lackluster vanilla with chocolate ganache. I hadn't yet discovered my favorite vanilla cupcake recipe, which I will now share with you.

I have been making these vanilla cupcakes all the ever-lovin' time. They are my go-to, my signature simple dessert. They tow the line between light and airy and rich and dense, living in some kind of perfect cupcake utopia. I often use this recipe for mini-cupcakes, and if I make the larger version, they almost always get some kind of filling (jam, pastry cream, etc). I suspect most of you have a favorite frosting, but the Magnolia Bakery Vanilla Buttercream is to die for (thank God for Martha Stewart).

I still haven't found the perfect chocolate cupcake recipe. Any suggestions?

Magnolia Bakery Vanilla Cupcakes
Makes about 2 dozen

  • 1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners; set aside. In a small bowl, combine flours; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth and creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add dry ingredients in 3 parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla, and scraping down sides of bowl in between each addition; beat until ingredients are incorporated but do not overbeat.

  2. Divide batter evenly among liners, filling about three-quarters full. Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes.

  3. Transfer to a wire rack to cool in tins for 15 minutes. Remove cupcakes from tins, and cool completely on rack. Once cupcakes have cooled, use a small offset spatula to frost tops of each cupcake. Serve at room temperature.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


I know, I'm being cruel.

This is a summer salad. It's from the June 2009 issue of Gourmet. I probably made it for the first time sometime around June of this past year. It has, however, been a mainstay in my limited salad repertoire.

It made it's most notable appearance at a dinner party themed around the musical "Oklahoma". This dish, coupled with a bowl of hearty beef chili, made up the main course called "The Farmer and Cowman", named for the second act opener. More on that meal later.

Even though it snowed today, I don't hesitate posting this salad. Is it optimism? Is spring really coming? No. I just know avocados are available in supermarkets, this dressing is great, and one could easily replace the corn. Grilled pineapple, roasted red peppers and tomatoes would all be viable options.

Also, I don't have a grill. I have a grill pan. I use it all the time; it was a great investment (and only $16 or so, if I remember correctly!). You'll be shocked how grilling the avocado elevates their buttery texture and creaminess.

Romaine, Grilled Avocado and Smoky Corn Salad with Chipotle Caesar Dressing
Serves 4-6
Gourmet, June 2009

1/4 cup grated parmesan
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced canned chipotle chiles in adobo
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 ears of corn, shucked
2 firm-ripe 6-to 8-ounces avocados, halved and pitted but not peeled
1 head romaine (1 pound), tough outer leaves discarded and head quartered lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1-inch strips

Put parmesan in a medium bowl and add olive oil in a slow stream, whisking. Whisk in lime juice, garlic, chipotles, and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.

Rub vegetable oil on corn and cut sides of avocados, then season with 1/8 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Grill avocados, cut sides down, and corn, turning corn occasionally, until golden-brown, 3 to 4 minutes.

Peel avocados and thinly slice. Cut corn kernels from cobs.

Toss romaine with dressing and serve topped with avocado and corn.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Seriously, spring.

I'm wearing a wool scarf today. It is not okay.

Granted, I'm almost done with a cotton version of the same over-sized, kerchief-style cowl I've been sporting all winter. I was anticipated warmer weather. I was anticipating a change in the grocery store's produce.

Alas, it is the same sad, wilted collection week and after week. Not to say I haven't been buying up citrus and all manner of root vegetables, but I need a little more green in my life. The unfortunate thing is that what green there is available at the ironically titled "Fresh Grocer" is not only desperate looking, it's also ridiculously overpriced.

I kid you not when I say $5 for a bunch of asparagus. It's probably imported from South America or something. My locavore heart breaks every time.

But since it's almost April, I have faith we'll see reasonably priced, locally grown asparagus soon (aside: can I grow asparagus in my apartment? Or outside it? Who wants to tackle this one?). And when we do, you'll be ready.

I love how the way the vegetable is cut colors the entire dish. If you've eaten dinner at our house in spring time, you're more than likely to be served asparagus that's simply been thrown under the broiler for ten or so minutes with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. But even that (delicious at is. And believe me, it is) gets old. This is asparagus, only MORE FUN! It's on pizza, for Christ's sake (and mean that)!

Shaved Asparagus Pizza

from Smitten Kitchen, of course

Makes 1 thin crust 12-inch pizza

Pizza dough: we always use this one from Mario Batali with white wine and honey
1/2 pound asparagus
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 pound mozzarella, shredded or cut into small cubes
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
Several grinds black pepper
1 scallion, thinly sliced

Sprinkle of red pepper flakes, squeeze of lemon, optional

Preheat your oven to the hottest temperature it goes, or about 500 in most cases. If you use a pizza stone, have it in there.

Prepare asparagus: No need to snap off ends; they can be your “handles” as you peel the asparagus. Holding a single asparagus spear by its tough end, lay it flat on a cutting board and using a vegetable peeler (a Y shaped peeler works best here, ours is from Ikea), create long shavings of asparagus by drawing the peeler from the base to the top of the stalk. Repeat with remaining stalks and don’t fret some pieces are unevenly thick (such as the end of the stalk, which might be too thin to peel); the mixed textures give a great character to the pizza. Discard tough ends. Toss peelings with olive oil, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes (if using) in a bowl and be sure to try one — I bet you can hardly believe how good raw asparagus can taste.

Assemble and bake pizza: Roll or stretch out your pizza dough to a 12-inch round. Either transfer to a floured or cornmeal-dusted pizza peel (if using a pizza stone in the oven) or to a floured or cornmeal-dusted tray to bake it on. Sprinkle pizza dough with Parmesan, then mozzarella. Pile asparagus on top. Bake pizza for 10 to 15 minutes, or until edges are browned, the cheese is bubbly and the asparagus might be lightly charred. Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle with scallions and squeeze with lemon juice, then slice and eat.