Tag Archives: Cooking At Home

Has It Really Been 3 Months Since My Last Post?

Geez, I guess so.  It has been a wild and crazy ride here in My Kitchen In The Middle Of The Desert, I gotta tell you!

Here’s a quick-hit overview of what’s been going on and then I promise to back again soon.

Eggs, Fresh From The Hens

While we were visiting with our dear friends in CHI-CHI-CHI-Chino Valley, once again Missus DF made sure that we went home with some of her uber  fresh eggs that her ‘girls’ had produced.

These are such beautiful organic eggs, not only on the outside, but look  at the shell on the inside too! And the yolks are such a deep golden, well, egg color… very much unlike the commercial eggs that we get at the megamart. The girls are some of the best fed chickens that I have ever met. My girlfriend orders this special feed for them and then they get the odd goodie from the kitchen, which they go crazy for.

Our favorite way to eat these gems from Northern Arizona is just as a simple scramble made with butter for the pan (sshhh, please don’t tell my husband, he claims to HATE butter, but loves the way that I prepare his eggs), a pinch of salt and some chives. Serve it all up on a warm plate with Rye toast (lightly toasted and dry please), cold smoked salmon and some tomatoes, oh and loads of freshly cracked black pepper on DH’s plate and then for myself, Trader Joe’s whole wheat Italian bread (Tuscan Pane), butter, yes more butter and a dollop of my homemade Meyer Lemon Marmalade

HEAVEN ON A PLATE!

 

Hope You Had A Happy Thanksgiving

Some years back, I would watch FoodNetwork every holiday season to get ideas for our family’s table.  I saw Ted Allen make a De-constructed Turkey and wow, the bells and whistles went off in my head.  I’ve struggled with whole birds for many, many years.  Dry white meat, under cooked dark meat, crummey gravy… Do I really need to go on?  You know!  This is how I make a whole turkey.deconstructed turkey

Deconstructed Turkey and Gravy

• 10-12 lbs. Whole, fresh, natural Turkey (read the labeling, make sure it does NOT say enhanced with sodium soultion)

Butcher the bird yourself (or purchase it in parts), leaving breast whole and reserve the carcass for homemade stock, much better!

Brine: (I do this part the day before I’m going to serve the turkey)

• ½ C Kosher Salt

• 1/3 C Brown Sugar

• 1 Onion, sliced

• 1 Carrot, sliced

• Peel (no white pith) from 2 Oranges

• Whole head of garlic, cut in half horizontally

• 1 tsp each, dried Thyme, Rosemary, Rubbed Sage

• 3-4 large Bay leaves

In my 12qt. stock pot, I add the salt and sugar, dissolve in 2 cups of hot tap water; add remaining ingredients, along with 3 quarts of Ice Water, stir well. Add the turkey parts (make sure that the water covers all parts of the bird), cover and refrigerate for 8 hours. Pour off all of the brine, leaving turkey parts in stock pot. Cover and put back into the `fridge until ready to roast.

Roast:

Pat turkey parts dry with paper towels, arrange on the half sheet pan, fitted with a cooling rack. Try to give as much space between pieces. Schmear with soft butter; sprinkle with S&P. Pour about 1 cup of turkey broth or stock in the bottom of the pan.

Roast at 425⁰ for 30 minutes, until just starting to brown; lower the temp to 400⁰ and cook for another 30-45 minutes, until the breast reaches 165⁰ and the thighs are 175⁰.

Tent with tin foil until ready to serve.

Make the gravy by pouring all of the juices left on the bottom of the pan into a cup.

In a saucepan melt 4 tbsp of butter; add 4 tbsp of flour whisking for a few minutes. Slowly stream in 2 cups of the broth/juices and bring to a boil to thicken. For richer gravy, use some dry white wine and milk with the broth/juices.

Happy Thanksgiving

I Didn’t Quite Get This One Right

When I take my mother to lunch at her favorite Taquería, she orders the pork chili verde, ever time! I figured I needed to make some for her at home.

I emailed to my chef-friend Joey for guidance; she recommended that I follow any Rick Bayless recipe. I did several internet searches and the easiest recipe I found was from Rick Bayless.  Thanks Joey!

ingredients for chili verde

I actually morphed a few different recipes into my own using a jarred salsa verde made with tomatillo. If I made my own from scratch, it would have cost me a whole lot more and I just wanted to experiment with this idea first.

The rest of the cast of characters were a small onion, oregano, coriander, ground clove, lots of minced garlic and S&P to season the Pork Butt, about a pound and finally homemade vegetable broth.

I browned the pork chunks, set those aside and then sautéed the onion. Next, in went the spices and the meat was returned to the pot with the salsa and broth.

pork chili verde

The pot was left to simmer most of the day, until the pork was fork tender.

Meh, it was pretty salty, but I think that was because of the jarred sauce.

After conferring again with Joey, she concluded that I try it next time with canned salsa verde rather than the jarred stuff.  Now we know, we’ll try it again mom.

Let’s Try This Again

I’ve tried to replicate the cake pop that I had a few months back in Scottsdale, but…

This time I had a Rum Cake in the freezer, why not give it another shot. I had a package of vanilla flavored Candy Melts and more sprinkles.

DH loved these, me, not so much. WAY  too sweet for me.

Oh well.

Turkey Day Is Coming, Are You Ready?

In my X number of years in the kitchen, believe it or not, I have never brined anything. Well, let me say that I did once, unfortunately I brined a turkey that already had 8% salt solution enhancement, ACK!  It was a Thanksgiving of side dishes only that year, so I never tried it again, until now.

All of the turkeys or parts thereof, that I have prepared I’ve just chucked into the oven and said a pray, oh please kitchen gods, let my meal be good this once? Recently, I have been buying Jenny-O turkey breast tenderloins that are already flavored. It took me till now to look at more than the calorie count. MAN!

So back to the basics.

I searched the `Net, looking for a brine recipe that I,

a) had all/most of the ingredients for, and

b) sounded tasty

I settled on my own twist of a Bon Appétit recipe, with a few changes due to the lack of certain items.

I left out the Allspice, Juniper berries and fennel seeds, didn’t have `em; I used dried thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, 4 smashed garlic cloves and a palm-full of whole black pepper corns. In addition, rather than using fennel bulbs, I added the peel (with no pith) from a fresh orange, subbed the white sugar for brown and boy howdy! Let me tell ya’ friends and neighbors, that solution smelled mighty fine!

I had a fresh bone-in half turkey breast weighing a little more than 2 pounds. I gave that puppy a good wash and dunked him into my largest dutch oven containing the brine, covered it and stashed the lot into the ice box.

After reviewing the procedure yet again, I started to second guess myself, how long is ‘leave overnight’? 8 hours, 10 hours, 12 hours? When I Goggled that, the consensus was 8 hours.  I pulled my turkey from its bath, gave it a rinse, patted it dry, discarded the now used brine solution, wiped out the pot and put the birdie back in and covered it back up… Into the chillbox until morning.

In the am, after my usual cuppa Joe, I preheated the oven and prepared the turkey for roasting.

homemade polutry seasoning

I brushed it all over with melted butter and put together my own poultry seasoning in my mortar and pestle. Dried parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme… hey, isn’t that a song? … and savory.

Not having a rack small enough for such a meager amout of protein, I placed three ribs of celery in my quarter sheet pan and the bird atop those. Finally some Sea Salt and freshly cracked black pepper and into the oven with him!

Oh My GAWD!

Juicy, moist, savory, just gosh darn delicious if I do say so myself.

This was lunch as well as dinner for the two of us, well and lunch again the next day all for less than $5

Turkey isn’t just for the holidays or big family events. This can be an economical meal anyday.

Man, That Was Some Trip!

this is going to take all day!

I’d say I had some laundry to do! No really, we did laundry along the way on our month long adventure, this is just what we had when we finally rolled back home.

Mostly, I’m just itchin’ to get in the kitchen and cook something tasty. On the bottom of the deep freeze I found this huge steak and I remembered a dish that my SIL made for us once and it was so good.

steak pizzaiola

Steak Pizzaiola

I don’t have a written recipe for this, it’s a simple steak in a beautiful tomato, garlic and anchovy, yes I said anchovy, sauce. I am not a fan of little fish on my pizza, but in a sauce, YUM!

I used a 28 ounce can of San Marzano whole tomatoes that I crushed by hand in a bowl. Next, in a large skillet, heat olive oil til it smokes; brown the steak and set that aside. Sauté a small onion and as much sliced garlic as you like (we like a lot, I think I used 5 or 6 cloves). Add 4 or 5 anchovy fillets to the pan, adding more oil if needed, and the fish will MELT, really! Add the crushed tomatoes, along with about a teaspoon of dried oregano; give a good stir and add back the steak. Bring to a simmer and cover; cook for about 30 minutes (this was a pretty thick cut of meat), or until the steak is cooked to your tables preference.

I’ve seen other recipes that add wine, peppers and mushrooms. If that’s something that you think that your family would enjoy, by all means make this dish your own.

steak pizzaiola and pasta

 ENJOY!  We did

BACON, BACON, BACON, BACON!

Love it! Can’t get enough of it! GIMME!

Not so long ago, our two nephews came to visit during their Spring Break. Jack, the younger of the boys, asked me when we picked them up at the airport, “so Aunt Doni, I hear you’re a good cook. Is that true?” Well, Jack, this one’s for you.

The first morning’s menu was BACON! I made two trays of that glorious meat and it was gone in a flash. I had been thinking that we’d make sandwiches with the leftovers, yeah right!

A few days ago, I was on the phone with the boys Mom and she said that she got a great compliment on her bacon from Jack, “Mom that was Aunt-Doni-worthy bacon.”

 

 

SURPRISE! Brownies

We have been so good that I felt that DH and I needed a treat. I try harder than is humanly possible to keep temptation out of the house. Sometimes though, it’s okay to give in to your desires. Sugar is the downfall for both of us.

With Monsoon season in full swing, sometimes we get trapped in the house because of flash floods; yesterday was one of those days and I was getting bored.

brownies

SURPRISE!

I can not resist a good, fudgy, chew, chocolate-y, brownie.

Since moving here to the continental United States, I make brownies using Hershey’s Best Brownie recipe. My sister had given me a Hershey’s Cookbook a long time ago; I only just started to use it, but with my own twist. I add a packette of Starbuck’s® Via Ready Brew Italian Roast coffee into the batter. This intensifies the chocolate flavor, such a difference.

My husband likes his plain with icing on top; I like all different kinds of goodies in or on mine.

brownies with peanut butter cups in the middle, suprise!

What I did this time was took mini dark chocolate peanut butter cups and pushed them into the four corners of the pan to bake into the bar.  SUPRISE!

one brownie has chocolate chips and the other nuts

Then down the middle of the pan, I made one row of dark chocolate chips and another of crushed nuts, leaving two rows just plain. So we wound up with 4 different flavored brownies in one batch.  SUPRISE!

DH looks at the pan when it came out of the oven and was cooling on the counter and says “is that’s all you made?”  (Try the recipe for the Creamy Brownie Frosting, it is good)

THEY’RE GONE ALREADY!!

ALOHA!

I Gotta Write This One Down

I came back from an afternoon of vegetable shopping at the green grocer and was starting to put my haul away when it struck me. The ingredients that I had would make some ‘Whole Foods worthy’ assorted cold salads for later in the week.

Three different salads, all restaurant qualty stuff!

At the top of the photo is the lentil salad, which was simple, simple, simple. I bought more of Trader Joe’s steamed lentils to toss in to the deep freeze, but why do that? I added:

Diced- celery, sweet white onions, sweet red bell peppers

Minced- flat leaf Italian parsley and garlic

Dried spice – basil and oregano

S&P

House made white balsamic with fresh garlic vinaigrette

All of the above was to taste, just chop and toss into the bowl, give it a mix up and refrigerate overnight.

To the right of that is a take on what I saw on one of my fav TV programs, America’s Test Kitchen. Curried Chicken Waldorf Salad (shhhhh don’t tell DH he claims to not like this). I had some poached boneless-skinless chicken thigh meat (the same way they did in the hyperlink from ATK) in the `ridge, HMMM, just expand on that. I added some curry powder from the spice aisle to a small amount of `mayo to bloom the flavor. Next into the mixing bowl was:

Diced – apples, celery, sweet white onions and tart dried cherries

S&P

Finally some crushed slivered blanched almonds. Into the `fridge with this one as well.

Lastly, the Tuna Salad. To a can of tuna packed in water (drained), I added:

Diced – celery and sweet white onions

Chopped – pitted black olives

Dried spices – garlic powder, cayenne pepper and chives

Minced – flat leaf Italian parsley

Some dill pickle relish and `mayo (not too much, DH claims to hate mayo as well, so long as he doesn’t see me making it, he’s okay). Oh and S&P to taste. Stash this into a container and it’s time for a chill down.

These three gorgeous concoctions where served atop a bed of mixed baby greens with some chopped: English Cucumbers, Sugar Plum tomatoes, Sweet white Onions, Sweet Red Bell Peppers-dressed in the same vinaigrette as the lentils (I always have a mason jar of it in the `fridge). I portioned them out with a 1 ½ Tablespoon disher (small ice cream scooper). That is restaurant quality stuff… I make good food!

ALOHA!