Tuesday, November 29, 2011

root vegetable and turkey stew

i, along with thousands of other folks, have an abundence of leftovers in my fridge. i love the thanksgiving holiday, leftovers, and all of the wonderful memories that come with both. here's a rundown on what we made for thanksgiving- it will help you envision our leftovers. for the turkey i made a paste with fresh herbs, chilis, lemon zest, and olive oil and slathered it, ever so carefully, between the skin and the meat of the turkey. as the bird roasts, the flavors meld into the flesh, and make for one fantastic bird. i made stuffing, or what i think of as more of a savory bread pudding. it was laced with pork belly and kale. jeremy made his favorite and fantastic green bean casserole (from scratch), and addie and i made an apple pie with honeycrisp apples from bayfield wisconsin. it was the best darn apple pie addie and i have made! it was topped with a cinnamon and sugar dusted pie dough cut out of a bison. bison are her new favorite wild beasts. otherwise there is no association, as far as i know, between apple pie and bison.

so imagine the possibilities, armed with all of those leftovers, as to what transpired in my kitchen. the pork belly and kale bread pudding ended up in scrambled eggs for an amazing breakfast. i made a quick turkey salad with some of the leftover turkey- tossed with toasted walnuts, diced apples, blue cheese, and a bit of buttermilk and mayo just to hold it together, it was great on grilled bread with greens. then there was this root vegetable and turkey stew. sweet potatoes, parsnips, carrots, baby potatoes, brussel sprouts, turkey, and a smokey-herby broth. this dish was the showstopper of all the dishes created with leftovers. here's how it went down....

1 mediium sweet potato, peeled and diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 large-ish parsnip, peeled and diced
12 tiny fingerling potatoes, halved
1 small onion, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
a handful of brussel sprouts, trimmed and halved
3 cupped of leftover turkey, diced
1 sprig of rosemary, de-stemmed and minced
1 Tbl dried sweet basil
1 tsp dried tyme
1 tsp dried sage
turkey or chicken stock
smoked sea salt, to taste
cracked black pepper, to taste

in a large, heavy-bottomed stock pot saute the onion and celery in olive oil, butter, or a dollop of bacon fat which is what went into our stew. add the garlic, the root vegetables, brussel sprouts, and herbs and sute a few minutes more. add the turkey and the stock. season to taste with smoked sea salt and cracked pepper. reduce the heat to a low simmer.

in a seperate pan, make a roux. i used about 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tabelspoons of all- purpose flour. melt the butter in the pan, stir in the flour, and cook, stirring constantly, until the roux is golden in color. add this as a thickener to the stew. i added it gradually by the tablespoon full, until it was all nicely distributed throughout the stew.

allow the stew to simmer on low until the root vegetables are tender. serve with freshly baked buttermilk biscuits!! belly- up!!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

pumpkin pie

there are the most peculiar looking birds gathering in large numbers outside of the house today. they have sort of a parakeet looking head, and the body of a dove. they are a greyish- brown color, and i think i spied some hints of red on the tops of some of their heads. anyway, these birds seem to be pilaging. scouting the terain for nibbles of sustanance to get them through their migration. these birds are reminders of the season at hand, and although i've seen snow accumulation on more than one occasion this week, it is autumn. i have an autumn bounty of pumpkins and squash, so it only seems fitting to include them into my cooking this week, and i've had pumpkin pie on the brain for quite some time. i want to share my favorite pumpkin pie recipe, so here's how it goes.

the recipe i use is from the pie and pastry bible, by rose levy beranbaum. i was introduced to this book about a decade ago, and still use it religiously to this day. it is a great reference book, and if you have trouble with pastry dough, this book will help you out! you can use any pie dough recipe you want. i used a basic pie dough recipe, substituting cornmeal for a portion of the flour. i started by roasting a small pumpkin and a small buttercup squash. you'll need 2 cups of pumpkin pulp for the pie, and this was just the right amount, with a few bites of roasted goodness to spare. roasting your own pumpkins or squash just makes your pie that much greater. obviously canned pumpkin puree is the fall back, and makes a fine substitue. the spices are simple- just ginger and cinnamon. i used a half of a vanilla bean for the vanilla extract, with great results.

the filling:
1 3/4 cups unsweetened pumpkin puree
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup whole milk
2/3 cup cream
OR substitute 1 1/3 cups half and half for the milk and the cream
3 large eggs
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract, or half of a vanilla bean

in a small heavy saucepan, stir together the pumpkin, brown sugar, spices, and salt. over medium heat, bring the mixture to a sputtering simmer, stirring constantly. reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 to 5 minutes, or until thick and shiny.
scrape the mixture into a food processor and process for 1 minute. with the motor on, add the milk and cream, processing until incorporated. scrape the sides of the work bowl. add the eggs, one at a time, processing just to incorporate, about 5 seconds after each addition; add the vanilla along with the last egg.
pour the mixture into the pie shell and bake the pie for about 45-60 minutes or just until a knife inserted between the sides and the center comes out almost clean. the filling will have puffed and the surface dulled, except for the center. if the crust seems to be darkening too much, protect the edges with foil.
place the baked pie on a rack to cool.

we enjoyed our pie while still warm, with a dollop of honey greek yogurt on top! belly up!