Turkey Gravy & Mom’s Stuffing

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Yep, here we go again with some more stuffing. And I got one more coming for you before T-Day.  But today you get a bonus with your stuffing: some gravy.

This stuffing is mom’s traditional Thanksgiving stuffing- we have had it every Thanksgiving I can remember.  Mom always makes two versionS: dry stuffing and wet stuffing.  You see, our family is firmly divided between stuffing texture.  We have some who prefer stuffing to be pretty “wet” or “moist” (such appetizing words right there), and we have others who want it dry as the dessert and crunchy.

I am an intermediary, as I like both types.  So in my role as a diplomat, I always help myself to both kinds.  However, I tend to lean a little more toward the wet side.  <- What a wonderful sentence there.

My new favorite take on Mom’s stuffing is to make my own turkey stock, using Alton Brown’s method.  So, today we are going to talk about getting all up in our turkey bird’s business and use his giblets and other body parts to make us a good turkey stock.

Wetness, giblets, and turkey parts. Yum.  This post if filled with such delicious ways of discussing food.

TURKEY STOCK
Slightly Adapted from Alton Brown

INGREDIENTS

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 turkey neck (and backbone if available)
1 set of giblets
1 red onion, quartered
1 medium carrot, quartered (optional)
2-3 celery stalk tops
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups water
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

DIRECTIONS

Heat canola oil in a stockpot over medium heat until shimmering. Add neck (and backbone if available) and sauté 5-6 minutes, until browned. Add giblets, onion, carrot, celery, and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened, 4-5 minutes. Add water, bay leaf, and black peppercorns.

Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Uncover, reduce heat to low. Let simmer for 1-1 ½ hours until stock has reduced.

Strain stock and discard solids. Reserve giblets if desired.

For Stuffing: Use this turkey stock instead of normal chicken stock to make your stuffing.  My mom’s recipe can be found here.  And it is delcious

For Gravy: Use in place of normal stock.  Here is Alton Brown’s recipe.

Traditional Pork Banh Mi

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I love fall for many reasons.  Cooler weather, lots of fun holidays, and the opportunity to wear my favorite sweaters & scarves.  But most importantly: the television.

Sure, there are some good summer hit shows and my favorite year-long reality shows, but I love fall when there are so many new shows to try out.  I haven’t gotten an opportunity to watch all the shows I wanted, so this weekend Hulu and I are going to get real close and personal.  Tell me- what should I be watching?

If you tell me what to watch, I will tell you what we should be eating as we watch TV (because let’s be honest, lots of us eat diner in front of the TV, right?).  I love a good sandwich, and I especially love any form of banh mi.  Banh mi is the main sandwich of Vietnamese cuisine, and they usually have lots and lots of good stuff stuffed into them.

I have made a sweet potato vegetarian banh mi before, but I really wanted to try a more traditional pork version.  The original recipe involved cooking pork belly, but I just ain’t got time for that so in came pulled pork to save the day. (If you are looking for an amazing crock pot pulled pork recipe, feel free to check out my recipe for carnitas.  I would just advice to leave out the dried spices but do everything else the same).

I may have to whip up one of these babies and watch some good TV soon.

TRADITIONAL PORK BANH MI
Adapted from White on Rice Couple

INGREDIENTS

For the Pork:
2 1/2 cups pulled pork
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon soy sauce
Salt, to taste

For the Banh Mi:
French bread, sliced into rolls
Liver pate, thinly sliced
Mayonnaise
Pickled carrot and daikon
Cucumber, thinly sliced
Jalapenos, thinly sliced

DIRECTIONS

For the Pork:

In a saucepan, combine sugar, water, fish sauce, and soy sauce.  Bring to a boil.  Stir in pulled pork and cook until warmed through and most of the liquid is gone.  Keep warm

For the Banh Mi:

Wrap French bread in foil.  Warm in oven.  Cut slit in bread.  Spread mayonnaise on bread.  Top with liver pate, pork, pickled carrot and daikon, cucumber, and jalapenos.

Makes 5-8 sandwiches.

Buffalo Cauliflower Couscous Salad

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Quinoa, we need to talk.

It’s not you, it’s me.  I really need to focus on me right now.  We’ll still be friends, right?

Well, I think quinoa is okay, right?  They can go rebound with a jar of marinara sauce.

As you are reading this, I am probably sitting in car, making the long trek back home to reality.  Boo.  Since I wrote out a summer to-do list a few weeks ago, I can now cross a few off my list.  I celebrated Half-Christmas with some friends (what- you enjoy waiting 12 months to celebrate holidays?), I have been reading like a madwoman (I literally have 8 books sitting on my desk waiting to be read), I have worn a few more dresses, and now I am returning back from a semi-spontaneous road trip (at least spontaneous for me).  I also have taken to liberal parenthesis use but that wasn’t on my list.

My final summer check off is making quinoa.  I have made it twice, and both times were much more successful than my first attempt.  Now, this recipe has no quinoa in it.  I just don’t know if I like quinoa that much.  First, although it tastes better, I am not 100% I am cooking it completely correctly since I have never eaten it before.  Second, it’s just blah- I haven’t tasted the nutttiness or chewiness I heard so much about.

So basically, I need someone to make me an amazing quinoa dish.  Feeding it to me spoonful by spoonful is completely optional.

Until then, I will be sticking with grains I know how to cook and know I love.  This couscous salad takes all the classic buffalo wing toppings and puts it in a nice combined dish.  Now, I eat semi-vegetarian (AKA am too lazy and/or cheap to get meat most of the time), so I make buffalo cauliflower instead of chicken.  And it was wonderful.  But for people who actually have meat on hand, chicken would work wonderfully here.

If anyone makes this dish with quinoa, please send me pictures, so I can methodically compare how your quinoa looks to how mine looked.

Quinoa, you’re too good for me.  I really like you as a person, I am just not in that place in my life yet.

(For the record, this is hard on me too).

BUFFALO CAULIFLOWER COUSCOUS SALAD
From Cinnamon Freud

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 cup dried couscous
1 1/2 cup vegetable/chicken broth
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 ounces blue cheese
3 tablespoons buffalo sauce (to taste)
1-2 tablespoons butter
1 small head cauliflower, cut into florets
Salt and pepper
1 small red onion, sliced
4 carrot, julienned
2-3 avocados, sliced

DIRECTIONS

Bring vegetable/chicken stock to a boil in a small saucepan.  Add couscous.  Cover and remove from heat.  Let sit for 5-7 minutes, until broth is absorbed.  Fluff with a fork.  Set aside.

In a small saucepan, whisk together 1/4 cup flour and a 1/4 cup milk.  Cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes.  Whisk in remaining milk.  Bring to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened.  Remove from heat and stir in blue cheese, until melted.  Keep warm.

Heat a large skillet over high heat.  Melt butter and add cauliflower (in batched if needed).  Cook until browned on the outside and tender, 3-5 minutes.  Stir in buffalo sauce, red onion, and carrots.  Cook for 2-3 minutes.  Stir in couscous.  Transfer to a plates.  Top salad with blue cheese sauce and avocados.

Serves 4.

Veggie Flatbread

 
 

What is the difference between a flatbread and a pizza?  Besides an extra $3 at most restaurants for a fancier name, I am not really sure.  In my mind, pizzas usually have a sauce base and cheese while flatbreads are often dressed in oil and vinaigrettes and don’t require cheese.  So I define this dinner as a flatbread.  Call it whatever you want- it will be delicious under any name.

This dish is inspired by a sandwich I tried in Lubbock within my first few days of moving.  After unpacking boxes, assembling furniture, and waiting on movers for two days, my parents and I were in need of a filling lunch that would be quick.  I ate the most amazing vegetarian sandwich at a deli nearby my apartment.  It was so delicious that we ate there again the next day. My parents left, I finally finished unpacking and started adjusting to my new life, but I could not stop thinking about that sandwich.

Since I am a poor student that is often too tried to change out of my PJs and get off my couch, I decided to replicate this dish at home.  I was a little skeptical that my version would not taste as good either due to my cooking ability or the fact that I was really hungry when I first ate the sandwich (and stressed, stressed eating is always a tricky memory).  But my worries were for nothing- this flatbread turned out DELICIOUS.  So delicious that I have eaten it many times, which is huge for me since I tend not to remake the same dinner often. Adding some chicken would be a great addition for those who need their meat.

It’s a vegetarian, filling, and unique flatbread.  Don’t wait- go make it now.

VEGGIE FLATBREAD
 
INGREDIENTS
For the Crust:
1 package active yeast
1/2 cup water, at 110°F
1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
 
For the Flatbread:
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 portobello mushrooms
Salt and pepper
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
2 carrots, chopped
3 ounces pimento stuffed green olives, sliced
Pinch of madran curry powder, to taste
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced
Olive oil, for brushing
DIRECTIONS
 
For the Crust:

Preheat oven to 475°F.


In in small bowl, dissolve yeast in water with granulated sugar.  Let sit about 10 minutes, until foamy.  In a large bowl, combine flour and salt.  Pour dissolved yeast over flour.  Stir together with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms.

On a lightly floured surface, knead dough for about 10 minutes.  Let sit in a warm place and rise for at least 45 minutes to 1 hour.

For the Flatbread:

Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add olive oil and mushrooms.  Season with salt and pepper and cook until tender, 5-6 minutes.  Add red onions and cook an additional 3-4 minutes.  Remove from pan and set aside.

Add carrots and olives to pan. Season with madran curry power and salt. Cook for 4-5 minutes and add sugar and white wine vinegar.  Cook for 3-4 minutes, until most of the vinegar has evaporated.  Add mushrooms and red onion to pan.  Toss and set aside.  Keep warm.

Prepare pizza stone or baking sheet.  Roll out dough to desired thickness.  Brush with olive oil and season with a pinch of salt.  Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the dough is golden brown.  Top baked dough with mushroom, onion, carrot, and olive topping.  Top with cucumber slices.  Cut into slices and devour.

Serves 2-3.

Red Meat Trout with Lentils

I often eat vegetarian meals, mostly out of frugality and laziness (and a fear of germs and dislike of washing my hands).  I still love a good piece of meat every now and then, and I am an avid seafood lover.  However, fish is not something I crave often.  Yet one day last week I wanted fish and I wanted it right then.
I used to be quite an expert fisherman (at least in my 10 year old mind I was).  We kept a list of the types of fish we caught at our beach house, and of course, my sister and I got a little competitive.  One fish that always eluded my fishing line was sand trout.  Whenever we would fish, it always seemed that my sister would catch a sand trout but never me (she never caught any speckled trout though, ha!).  And thus ended my fishing career almost as soon as it began.  And ever since, I have always enjoyed eating trout as my fish of choice.
This recipe comes from the incomparable Ina Garten.  I used red meat trout in this dish, partly out of curiously and partly because it was cheap since it was on the discounted seafood shelf.  Feel free to use any type of fish you like, but I recommend red meat trout for people who enjoy a firmer fish. The same goes for the lentils: substitute with any grain you love.  This meal creates a light but filling dinner, perfect for those still trying to keep up with any new years resolutions.
And who else is excited for the new Barefoot Contessa episodes every weekend?  Although I am missing the Hamptons.
RED MEAT TROUT WITH LENTILS
Adapted from Ina Garten
INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup dried lentils*
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1 leek, thinly sliced
2 celery stalks, sliced
2 carrots, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar.
2 4-6 ounce red meat trout fillets*
Olive oil, for brushing
Lemon pepper
Salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a saucepan combine wheat berries and chicken stock.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 10-15 minutes (do not let all the chicken stock be absorbed yet).

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add 1/2 tablespoon olive oil and leek.  Cook until tender, about 5-6 minutes.  Add remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil if needed and the celery and carrots. Cook for 4-5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.  Add wheat berries and remaining chicken stock.  Bring to a boil.  Stir in thyme and tomato paste.  Cook until liquid is absorbed.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Keep warm.

Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Place fish fillets skin side down.  Brush with olive oil.  Season with lemon pepper and salt.  Bake for 13-17 minutes (depending of the thickness of your fillets).  Serve fish on top of wheat berries.

Serves 2.

*Feel free to substitute your favorite grain (like rice, wheat berries, couscous, pasta) and your favorite fish (rainbow trout, salmon, tilapia).

Chicken Pot Späetzle

I love chicken pot pie, but sometimes I just don’t feel like messing with the oven, pie crust, and all the work a pot pie entails.  And I often have problems with my chicken pot pie recipe getting thick enough (I hope Ina Garten doesn’t put a hit out on me now…).  So this is a quick and dirty pot pie replication with a little of chicken and dumplings mixed in.

Instead of crust, I made some homemade späetzle, which is mix of doughier egg noodle or a smaller dumpling.  Basically, it’s hearty, stick to your bones, warm deliciousness.  Throw in browned chicken, and the traditional pot pie vegetables.  Then mix it all together with a thick chicken pot pie gravy (that is the perfect thickness).  Or here is a great idea that I have also tested out: use your leftover turkey from Thanksgiving instead of chicken.  It will taste especially great if you are tired of turkey sandwiches.

I love this dish, but I may still have to make myself a pie crust every now and then to be able to make it through life.  Maybe I will eat this for dinner and apple pie for dessert- problem solved.

CHICKEN POT SPÄTZLE
From Cinnamon Freud
INGREDIENTS

For the Spätzle:
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

For the Chicken and Gravy:
1 tablespoon butter, divided
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
8 ounces chicken, chopped
Salt and pepper
2 carrots, chopped
2/3 cup frozen peans
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup chicken stock, divided
Fresh parsley, chopped

DIRECTIONS

For the Spätzle:
Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil.

In a bowl, whisk egg, milk, flour, white pepper, salt, and black pepper together. To make the späetzle use a cheese grater or strainer. Place or hold strainer/grater over boiling water. Pour batter into strainer/grated and press with the back of the spoon to force through. Allow batter to drop into boiling water in small pieces. Let cook for 2-3 minutes, until they float to the top. Remove with a slotted spoon. Repeat with remaining batter.  Set aside.

For the Chicken and Gravy:
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Melt 1/2 tablespoon of butter and add onion.  Season with salt and pepper and sauté for 5-6 minutes, until light browned.  Add remaining 1/2 tablespoon butter and chicken.  Brown until no longer pink, about 5-6 minutes.  Stir in carrots and peas and cook for 3-5 minutes.  Set aside and keep warm.
In a small sauce pan, whisk together flour and 2 tablespoons of chicken stock to form a paste.  Cook over medium heat for 2 minutes.  Whisk in remaining chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 4-6 minutes, until thickened.  Stir in chicken mixture and spätzle
Serves 2.