This Little Turkey..

Photo: Daniel Dent

I was off my feet for at least 2 weeks due to some foot issues and I can say that it has handsomely made me rate my time on the line and the look into the possibilities that await a cook.  This Little Turkey needs to slow down…

We spent the weekend out in Bodega Bay at a friends vacation rental and even though I wasn’t supposed to stand on my feet I just had to cook.  Sometimes I think that cooking is the only ability that I have to connect with another human being.  It really does consume my thoughts.  So as usual Holiday fare included a turkey; which was actually a roulade  of one butterflied breast rolled with a de-boned thigh, seasoned with Dijon mustard, rosemary, thyme, Apple Butter salt and pepper.   YUM.  The dinner wasn’t complete without the usual suspects of stuffing, and other sides from sweet potatoes, sautéed Lacinato Kale, roasted potatoes, and a stuffing.  The recipe for the the Kale was simply the same recipe from this post of Slow Cooked Greens w/ Apples and Bacon from Dec 2009.

Thanksgiving came up at just the right time.  The Autumn weather changes ever so slightly as we make our move into the winter, gloves seem to appear, parkas are strategically placed as if strewn messily on the couch, the smell of parsnips and turkey in the air, cloves and other Fall/Winter spices permeate the kitchen, the atmosphere around us changes as light goes into hibernation.  Colors of orange, browns, muted colors…the sights and sounds of each season are quite distinct, and of course this would not be a food blog without the mention of the flavors that enliven ones senses during this holiday season.

For me, it’s the taste of turkey,  gravy, sweet potatoes, foods that are rich, hearty or that have the ability to soothe and comfort someones Winter cravings.  OH AND SAGE!! How did I forget.  I just love Sage.  It is soft, smells so sweet and earthy and is such a subtle yet meaty herb.

Today I have two recipes that I would like to share with you.  One is a delicious Smashed Sweet Potato side dish and another is an overwhelmingly delicious Root Vegetable soup made with an exciting flavorful Turkey stock.

Sweet Potato Smash with Browned Butter Pecans and Sage.

4 Medium Sized Sweet Potatoes  or 8 Cups of Sweet potatoes.
1/4 C. Of Sage
1 C. Pecans
1/2 C. Butter
3/4 C. Buttermilk
3/4 C. Brown Sugar
Salt
Pepper

Boil the Potatoes as you would regular potatoes for mashed potatoes.  Until they are fork tender.  Chiffonade your sage, but give it a bit of width (not too skinny). Roughly chop your Pecans.

When sweet potatoes are finished cooking, drain. In a separate pot or pan, turn heat to medium.  Add your butter and melt, then continue to add your sage and pecans till the smells bloom into the air.

Add your potatoes into a bowl and begin to mash w/ a potato masher (if tender enough even a fork will work it just takes a bit more effort).  Add heavy cream, 1/2 T Salt and Pepper, the Brown Sugar and the Pecan/butter/Sage mixture.  Incorporate all ingredients and set in a casserole. Be sure to not smooth out the top and just lightly make pockets for the next step.

Add about 1/2 C. of Heavy cream on the top allowing the cream to flow into the basins of mashed sweet potatoes.  Add a nice sprinkle of brown sugar.  Bake till top is golden.

Photo: Daniel Dent
AUTUMN VEGETABLE SOUP
For the Stock:
3 Fresh Bay Leaves
1 Onion
1 Carrot
Carcass of 1 Turkey.  (Here I used the uncooked  cavity f a 16 lb Turkey; including 2 wings, 1 neck and 1 bone from a de-boned thigh.)
Place ingredients into a stock pot. Cover with water.  Turn on to Boil.  Skim off what comes to the surface.  Turn off and set to a low simmer and cook for 3- 7 hours.
I like to cook my stock until the bones and completely collapsed and the gelatin in the joints become ultra soft and gooey. Doing so ensures that all the flavors within the meat and bones will be released.
After the allotted time allow stock to cool slightly and strain.  I like to use a bit of Cheesecloth as well as a strainer,  making sure that my stock is a clean liquid w/out the chunks.
For the Soup:
6 C. Stock
Photo: Daniel Dent
3/4 C. Celery Root
3/4. Parsnip
3/4 Carrots
1 C. Butternut Squash
1 C. Onion
1 Shallot
2 T. Chives
2 T. Sage
Olive Oil
Salt
Pepper
Cut all root vegetables into 1/2 inch dices.  Except for the carrot,  I like to roll cut my carrots into similar sized cuts. Roll Cutting means that as you cut your carrot you are “rolling” it about a 1/4 of the way around then cutting to ever so slightly to obtain each rustic cut. When this is done.
Add Olive Oil  a pan that has been heated to medium and begin to sweat onions.
Add all the root vegetables and toss till onions are thoroughly tossed through.  Add Stock (cover to about 1-2 inches of stock) and continue to cook from medium heat to simmer. 40 Minutes.  At the last-minute season with the Salt and pepper,  Add the Chives and Sage.  Serve.  Enjoy.

You can use also purée this soup to make it into a smooth soup, but I like my soups chunky but still really rich with the stock.  If you do purée just remember to add the herbs after you have your desired smoothness or consistency.

AND IF YOU ARE STILL Reading and wondering what happened to the rest of the turkey we roasted and made the other breast into roasted turkey for sandwiches.  Which I highly seasoned with Old Bay Seasoning, and Fresh Rosemary and loads of Cracked Black Pepper.

AND IF YOU ARE STILL reading this…please feel free to pass this blog along to your friends and family.  I would really love to get more responses as well as to know who my readers are.  Thank you ♥

Roll out the…

Spring has arrived! So with Spring showers come those May flowers.  I am hoping  blossoms will be plentiful in the garden.

This is a new recipe developed while feeling giddy about the youthfulness of  Spring.  This season somehow evokes a feeling of  fresh yet soft and creamy food.  But not too heavy. Which is why in this particular recipe  I went with milk instead of the heavy  cream to cook with.  This delightful dish is light and milky, satiny and succulent and when sliced, look not only appetizing but also attractive.

I made this for my client 2 weeks ago and this was one of his favorite dishes.  So I thought this would be great to include in my new post.  Hopefully I will include 1 thing per week that I make.

This dish is delicious and satisfying, it’s one of those one dish meals that has everything included in a small scolding hot ceramic dish.  The milk in this dish acts as a braising liquid with the sherry and the chicken stock.  The potatoes are cooked gratin style  and acts as a sponge, soaking up all the delicious goodness from the juicy chicken and aromatics.

Roulade of Chicken with Spinach Feta and Walnuts atop a Potato and Milk Gratin
( will serve 2-4)
 
 
2 Chicken Breasts butterflied and pounded to an even thickness 1/4 inch thickness
1 1/2 C. Roughly chopped Spinach
1/3    C. Course chopped walnuts (optional)
1 1/2 C. Sliced Red Potatoes or  Sliced larger Fingerlings
1/4   C. Diced Onions
1/4   C. Diced Leeks
1/4   C. Diced Celery
3      Sprigs of fresh Thyme
1      C. milk
1/4  C. Sherry (White wine can easily be substituted)
4     T.  of butter
1     C. Chicken Broth
Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
 
Begin with butterflying your chicken breast.
It might have to take you up to 2 times to butterfly one chicken breast depending on how thick they are.  Pound them into an even thickness (not too thin) about 1/4 inch thick and season the breast inside well with a bit of salt and pepper.
Roughly chop your spinach, crumble your feta, coarsely chop your walnuts.  Sprinkle all these items in a single layer on the cut and butterflied part of the chicken breasts.   Be sure to leave room at the end about 1 inch so that the filling does not fall out.
Get some kitchen twine and tie your bundle neatly. Then lightly season the outside of your bundle with some salt and pepper
 
In a 8×8 inch glass or ceramic baking dish (or a baking dish of your choice), lightly butter the bottom and sides.
 
Using a mandolin (if avail) begin to slice your potatoes to an 1/8 of an inch thickness.
Dice your leeks, celery and onions in small dices.
 
Heat your sauté pan and add a bit of olive oil.  Reserve 2 sprigs of  Thyme and.  Add your carrots, onions leeks and 1 thyme sprig.  Sweat till onions are slightly translucent.  Douse with Sherry and let come to a boil.
 
Combine the rest of the liquids – Milk, broth and add this to your sauté pan.  Season with salt and pepper.
 
In your baking dish add a layer of the liquid/mixture.  Reserve about 80 percent of it to cover the rest of your chicken.  Add a layer of the potatoes as you would a gratin season with a light sprinkling of salt a pepper.  Lay your chicken atop the potatoes and now add the rest of your cooking liquid.  If you have any left over potatoes just lay them around.  Lay your butter atop the chicken with a sprig of thyme on each breast and bake.
 
Bake covered at 375 for about 30 minutes.