What’s a Salty Fig?

Salty Fig is a great new website and friendship we are pleased to introduce you to. Salty Fig’s mission is: “Less Time Looking More Time Cooking”; with a mission statement aligned so perfectly with ours (Recipe Rookies into Recipe Rockstars) we couldn’t help but partner up.  Salty Fig is a great place to  collect, organize and share recipes, food photos and create recipe eBooks while connecting with food friends.  And now in the 2.0 version of their website you can collect our videos along with your recipes.  Checkout their new site!

Salty-Fig-Home-Page

Here’s an excerpt of the fun interview we did with Suzanne Florek  Salty Fig’s foundersuzanne floreck

Suzanne: What is your favorite food memory?

Terri:  My favorite food memory is the one food memory that inspired my life-long passion for baking.  I was 6, attending an afternoon party with my mom at her friend, Lana’s house.  Lana made creampuffs that looked like swans, and she was kind enough to let me dust them with powdered sugar.  I had never seen anything so beautiful before in my life.  It was the first time I ever experienced the idea that food could be artful and delicious.

Mia:  A favorite food memory is a freezing cold January morning while I was living in Italy.  We were making sausages and my friend Itala roasted freshly cut pork chops in her fireplace grill with just a little olive oil, salt and pepper.  Eating pork chops and drinking wine at 8 a.m.! My mouth waters every time I think back to that day. 

Suzanne:  If a great chef were to cook you a birthday dinner, what would the menu be?

Terri: Honestly, my idea for a birthday dinner involves a menu from Judy Rodgers’s Zuni Café.  I’d start with a burrata and persimmon salad, then move to a dozen oysters, then have a gnocchi course, then the roast chicken (of course!) and finish with a pavlova with blood orange sorbet. 

Mia:  My last big birthday we celebrated at Chez Panisse and serendipitously the dessert was a Pear and Huckleberry tart. I grew up in California so huckleberries are near and dear to me.  Best “birthday cake” I’ve ever had! 

Suzanne:  What is your most bizarre food experience?

Terri:  Eating a live shrimp.  About 10 years ago, I was at my local farmers market with my friends.  We met a vendor selling freshly caught wild shrimp.  The guy grabbed a shrimp from the tank, ripped off the head and legs and handed it to me, still alive.  He encouraged me to try it raw (and alive).   It tasted briny and shrimpy and I spent the next four days in a panic that I was going to manifest symptoms of a food borne illness. 

Mia:  Half a lamb’s head arrived on my plate.  It was one of those situations where I couldn’t refuse it, so I ate it.  I somehow managed to ignore the eye starring at me, but the jawbone and the teeth (you heard that right – teeth!!) were hard to get around. 

Suzanne: What is your favorite food moment in a …. Book/movie/TV Show/song about food?

Terri:  Oh my god – too many to mention.

Book(s):  I grew up reading the Little House book series.  I read them over and over again, and the chapters describing their food have stayed with me to this day.  I actually have an idea to write a paper on how I thought Laura Ingalls Wilder was one of the first food writers of our time.  A few of the moments that stand out for me:  how Laura described tasting lemonade for the very first time, making maple candy by cooling them in freshly scooped snow, simmering baked beans and making an “apple pie” from an unripe, green pumpkin.

Movie:  This isn’t really a fair question, because Mia and I have both taught
“Movie Night” classes where we screen a foodie movie, then make a dinner inspired by the food in the movie.   I’ll let Mia describe the movies she’s screened (because she did the BEST ONES!  J).  My favorite Movie Night was “Ratatouille.”  I served fresh popcorn drizzled with clarified butter and herbs de provence, thyme and Gruyere gougeres, roast chicken and ratatouille presented in the exact spiral pattern in the movie.  We’ve also done “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,”  “Moonstruck,” “Marie Antoinette,”  “Julie and Julia,” and OMG too many more to mention.

TV Show:  I’m a sci-fi fan.  One of the shows I watched religiously as a kid was Battlestar Galactica.  There is scene where the kids from the Galactica spaceship have waffles for the first time on Earth.

Song: “On top of spaghetti”

 Mia:  She took all the good ones!  Lol.  Here are a couple more that come to mind.  “Bella Martha” Mostly Martha the original version. During the opening credits we see Martina Gedeck putting on her apron and going about setting up her kitchen before dinner service.  There is something so authentic about this moment (meditational) that I identify with and love…something cooks all around the world are doing right now.

I just saw a fabulous film “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” a touching story about  Jiro Ono who is considered by many to be the world’s greatest sushi chef and his sons. Inspiring story of what it is like to live life as a cook and the photography is amazing and lyrical… you can almost see the sushi sigh. 

 

For something a little less esoteric – I love when Toto steals the hot dog from Professor Marvel in the Wizard of Oz and Aunt Em’s crullers look fantastic!

For the rest of the interview checkout: www.saltyfig.com

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Broiled Grapefruit

Drunken Grapefruit

What could be better than grapefruit broiled with rum and brown sugar!

When I was a little girl my favorite Sunday brunches always included Broiled Grapefruit — “drunken grapefruit.” Mom would section the grapefruit and sprinkle them with rum and sugar. Dad would pop them under the broiler and be in charge of making sure they didn’t burn. To my young mind broiled grapefruit was the height of culinary perfection – just the right blend of sweet. sour, bitter, and my first taste of illicit rum.

sugar and spice

Broiled grapefruit are still a big hit in our house.  My only changes from the original recipe are–I prefer the complexity of brown sugar (or honey) to granulated sugar. I also like adding a pinch of cayenne to intensify the sweetness and a pinch of salt to mellow out the bitterness. The secret is all in the broiling. The heat of the broiler brings out the juices and melds all the components into a über-grapefruity, extra-juicy, deliciousness!

Broiled Grapefruit

Yield: Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 large ruby red or pink grapefruit
  • 2 tablespoons rum (optional)
The secret is all in the broiling!

The secret is all in the broiling!

  • ¼ cup light or dark brown sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of cayenne

Directions:

Preheat the broiler and adjust your oven rack to about 4-inches from the broiler.

Cut grapefruit in half crosswise.  Cut a thin slice off the bottom of each half so they don’t wobble.

Use a paring knife to cut around each of the segments to release them from the membrane and pith.  It’s an extra step but really improves the eating experience. Sprinkle with rum.

In a small bowl, mix the sugar, salt and cayenne together.  Sprinkle the mixture over the grapefruit.

Broiled Grapefruit

I dare you not to lick the plate!

Place the grapefruit on a baking sheet and place under the broiler. Broil grapefruit until the sugar has melted, and grapefruit is bubbly and slightly brown, about 4 to 5 minutes.

Transfer broiled grapefruit to individual dishes and serve warm.

The Rules of Carving Club — Turkey Carving for Rock Stars

Welcome to Carving Club.

The First Rule of Carving Club is you do not carve at the table.

The Second Rule of Carving Club is– YOU DO NOT CARVE AT THE TABLE.

Carving the turkey is a big deal, so please be the Thanksgiving ROCK STAR you are and carve in the kitchen.  YOU DO NOT want to waste all that time brining, roasting and preparing that beautiful Thanksgiving turkey only to hack it into chunks.

The lovely scene depicted and  immortalized in Norman Rockwell’s Freedom from Want, has given you the wrong idea.  While it might seem like a great idea to carve at the dining room table in front of your admiring guests; for many reasons, it’s not. For one, it can be nerve-wracking — it’s a live performance with sharp knives in front of family and friends who will mock you at your every move.  For another, the mess — if you’re not the most scrupulously skilled surgeon, the juices may stain your tablecloth, your shirt and whomever is sitting nearest to you.   Lastly, from a culinary perspective, it’s the wrong way to slice turkey — slicing the meat while still on the bone forces you to cut with the grain of the meat rather than against it (and we all know that’s a culinary cardinal sin).  And if you look closely at the painting, the turkey is being presented and appreciated… not carved. 

You can still have that Norman Rockwell moment by bringing out your beautiful bird and presenting it to your guests — just do it before whisking it back to the kitchen to carve following the steps below.  Good luck – we know you’ll be great!

*Be sure to hit the blue links to see the helpful videos we’ve made to guide you through the recipe.  As always,  subscribe to our YouTube channel!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Basics of Turkey Gravy

The night before Thanksgiving is the best time to make the stock for your gravy.  The stock is your secret weapon for making fabulous gravy.  If you make the stock, you won’t have to resort to flavor-additives or thickening agents… just simple, homemade gravy.  If you don’t have time to make stock be sure to buy frozen freshly made stock that most grocery stores make available around Turkey day.

Make the gravy right after the turkey comes out of the oven.  In the time it takes for the bird to rest before it’s presented to the table, you can make the gravy and get everyone to the table.  Be organized and prepared — keep all of your gravy-making ingredients and equipment together in one place so it’s ready when you are.

*Be sure to hit the blue links to see the helpful videos we’ve made to guide you through the recipe.  As always, subscribe to our YouTube channel!

Turkey Gravy

Makes approximately 3 cups

Turkey Stock:

1 package turkey giblets (minus the liver)

1 turkey neck

1 turkey tail (the pope’s nose)

1 medium yellow onion, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

2 carrots, peeled and diced

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

3 cups water

Gravy:

1 tablespoon roasting pan fat

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

½ cup turkey drippings, skimmed of fat

To make the stock:  Rinse the giblets, neck and tail under cold running water and place in a medium-sized saucepan.  Add the onion, celery, carrots, bay leaf and peppercorns.  Pour enough water to cover the giblets and vegetables by 2-inches.

Bring the saucepan to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer, simmer over low heat for 30 minutes.  If any foam develops on the surface, carefully skim it off as stock simmers.

Turn the heat off and allow stock to cool until pot is cool enough to strain.  Strain stock through a fine mesh sieve into a clean container.  Discard the giblets and vegetables.  Cover stock and refrigerate until ready to use.

To make the gravy:   Immediately after you take the turkey out of the oven, move the turkey to a carving board to rest and pour all of the juices from the roasting pan into a fat separator.

Return roasting pan to the stove and place it over two burners.  On medium-low heat, add a tablespoon of the fat from the fat separator and butter to the pan and let the butter melt.  Add the flour and whisk the flour and butter together into a thick paste.  Keep whisking until the butter and flour mixture (roux) smells nutty, up to three minutes.

Quickly, but carefully pour the cold stock into the roasting pan, a little at a time, and whisk to blend the stock and roux together – do not worry too much if you have lumps at first.  Bring the heat up to medium-high and keep whisking until it begins to boil.  The gravy should thicken as it boils.  Turn off the heat and taste.  If the gravy needs salt, whisk in the turkey pan juices one tablespoon at a time.

Strain the gravy into a gravy boat and serve hot.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Bird is the Word — How to Cure and Roast Thanksgiving Turkey

Dear Martini exists to make cooking easier and more pleasurable for all.  If it’s your first time in the kitchen, we’re here to guide you through your recipes by offering simple cooking techniques whenever you need them.

Our mission couldn’t be more true than for the Thanksgiving Holiday.  If you’ve ever been gripped with fear over preparing the Thanksgiving Turkey, herein lies your salvation.  The turkey is cured for a couple of days before roasting — that is, it’s been rubbed with salt and left to sit in its own salty juices to season and tenderize.  The night before you roast, you’ll take it out of the salt juices and allow the bird to dry overnight in the fridge.  This process makes the skin tight and dry — which will reward you later with the tastiest, crispiest skin you’ve ever had!

This simple recipe, if followed to the letter, is a foolproof, confidence-booster.  Once you make this turkey for your friends and family, you will be requested to make the turkey for the next 100 years!

Please take note:  it’s a four-day process from curing to roasting, which does not include time for defrosting if the bird is purchased frozen.  Most frozen birds take 2-3 days to thaw in the fridge.  Make sure you factor the thawing time in with your preparations.  In our experience, a fresh bird is the better way to go — but only if your budget allows.

This four-day process can be broken down into three phases:

1)  Cleaning the Bird

2)  Curing the Bird

3) Roasting the Bird

*Be sure to hit the blue links to see the helpful videos we’ve made to guide you through the recipe.  As always,  subscribe to our YouTube channel!

Roast Turkey 

Serves 8 to 10

1 (14-16 pound) turkey, defrosted
1 cup kosher salt
2 lemons
8 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
4 sprigs rosemary or thyme
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Special Equipment:
Cotton kitchen twine
Large brining bag

***This is a four-day process.***

Monday:
Remove the turkey from its wrappings and rinse under cold running water.  Remove the giblets bag and set aside for making stock later.  Pat the turkey dry with paper towels.

Rub kosher salt all over the surface of the turkey.  Place the salt-rubbed turkey into a large brining bag.  Move the turkey onto a large tray or platter and refrigerate for the next three days.

Tuesday:
Turn the turkey over so the salt and juices redistribute.  Keep the turkey refrigerated.

Wednesday morning:
Flip the turkey back to right-side up so the salt and juices redistribute again.

Wednesday, early evening:
Remove the turkey from its brining bag.  Use as many clean, dry paper towels as you can manage to clean the turkey by wiping the surface clean of any salt or juices.

Use a fork to prick holes all over the surface of the lemons.  Stuff the lemons, garlic and herbs into the cavity of the turkey.  Tie the turkey’s legs together with cotton kitchen twine.

Place turkey breast-side up on top of a roasting rack that has been set into a roasting pan.  Place the turkey in the fridge and keep over night, uncovered.  This will allow the skin to dry out and tighten, which will produce a crispy skin when roasted.

Thanksgiving Day:
Move your oven rack to the lowest position without being too close to the heating element.  Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Remove the turkey from the fridge.  Keep the turkey on the counter for about an hour to bring it up to room temperature.   Take a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil and shape it to the top of the turkey, as if to cover the turkey breast and the roasting pan.  Remove the foil and set aside for later use.

When ready to roast, rub or brush the surface of the skin with canola oil and sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper.

Roast at 425°F for 30 minutes, or until the skin of the turkey is golden brown.  Rotate the turkey 180° and lower the oven temperature to 350° and continue roasting until the internal temperature of the bird registers 165°F.  Remember to insert the thermometer into the thickest place of the bird, either into the meatiest area of the breast (165°F) or into the thickest part of the thigh (170°).  A 14-16 pound turkey should take between 2-3 hours to roast.

Turkey Weight

Oven Temp

Internal Breast Temp

Internal Thigh Temp

Approx.

Cooking Time

10 – 13 lbs.

350°F

165°F

170°F

1 ½  to 2 ¼ hours

14 – 20 lbs.

325°F

165°F

170°F

2 to 3 hours

21 – 25 lbs.

325°F

165°F

170°F

3 to 3 ¾ hours

26 – 30 lbs.

325°F

165°F

170°F

3 ½ to 4 ½ hours

During roasting, if the bird is browning too quickly, use the aluminum foil shield to cover the bird.  Remove the foil during the last 20 minutes of roasting to crisp the skin.

Carefully remove the bird to a large carving board with a well and tent with foil.  Immediately begin making the turkey gravy, using the roasting pan.  Allow the bird to rest for 20 minutes before carving.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sautéed Greens

Everything but the kitchen sink . . . La Cucina literally translates as ”the kitchen” in Italian.  It is also used in the Marche region as the colloquial name for a dish of mixed sautéed greens that includes whatever you have on hand.  This sautéing method works well for a wide variety of hearty greens.  The dish works best if you use a combination of mild and bitter greens.  Mild varieties include: beet greens, chard, kale, cabbage, and spinach.  Bitter varieties include: chicory, dandelion, and mustard.

Dinosaur Kale, or Tuscan Kale grows in abundance locally here.  The lush, dark green, bumpy leaves are super-nutritious: a cup provides more than 100% of the daily value of vitamins K and A, and 88%of the DV for vitamin C. Like other members of the cruciferous family (cabbage, collards and Brussels sprouts), kale is a rich source of organosulfur compounds that have been linked to cancer prevention.  Lucky for us, it’s easy to grow in our climate and can be found everywhere — green grocers, farmers markets and supermarket stores.  We like to pair this dish with a side garlicky beans for a satisfying, comforting supper.

*Be sure to hit the blue links to see the helpful videos we’ve made to guide you through the recipe.  As always, check us out on Vimeo or subscribe to our YouTube channel!

La Cucina — Sautéed Greens

Serves 4

1-1/4 pounds mixed leafy greens (such as Dino Kale or chard), washed

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 cloves garlic, peeled, and finely minced

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste!)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Lemon wedges, for garnish

If the greens have thick hardy stems, remove the stems and slice the stems in ½-inch slices and the greens in 1-inch slices (place stems and greens in separate bowls.)

Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat and add the stems only. The stems will take the longest to cook, putting them in the pan first will ensure they are ready at the same time the leaves are.  Season with salt and pepper and cook covered for 5 minutes.  Add the leaves, as many as you can fit at a time, and turn them gently to wilt.  Continue adding greens and turning them over until you have added all the leaves.  Season leaves with salt and pepper and add the garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté for 3 minutes.  Add a couple of tablespoons of water, and cook covered for 10 minutes or until the liquid is gone and the greens are fully cooked.

Eat your leafy greens!

I say Stuffing… and you say Dressing

And so the perpetual battle rages on:  Stuffing vs. Dressing.  Which is it?  The customary side dish to the Thanksgiving Turkey really can be either; depending from where you hail.  Most folks from the Northern states call it stuffing.  The Southern states call it dressing.  And those in the Midwest and Western states pretty much just go along with what it was traditionally called down through the generations.  But regardless of where you’re from and whichever you call it, the traditional Turkey Sidekick is almost always a savory recipe prepared with seasoned bread croutons or cornbread and mixed with vegetables such as carrots, onions and celery.  Depending on where you are,  nuts, dried fruits and herbs also make an appearance.

So why call it stuffing or dressing?  Who still stuffs the turkey, anyway?   Is it called dressing if it’s not stuffed inside?  Why do we make a dressing and stuff it inside a turkey, which then becomes a stuffing for the turkey?  Can I make a stuffing without stuffing it into the bird?  Or would that be called dressing?  But didn’t you just ask if the dressing BECOMES the stuffing?   WHY IS THIS SO COMPLICATED? 

Relax, people.  Please.

We call it stuffing (but for those of you who want to think of it as dressing, be our guest) and bake it in a dish to serve with the turkey.  We do not serve anything that’s been stuffed inside a turkey.  Stuffing a turkey  with stuffing/dressing increases the turkey’s cooking time — which might lead to over-cooking the bird (have you ever choked on dry breast meat?) or undercooking the center.  Either way, over-cooked turkey or salmonella-laced stuffing/dressing are two avenues we’d rather avoid this holiday.

Try our cornbread stuffing.  Make the cornbread in a jiffy, using the famous blue and white box!  This heart-warming, food-coma-inducing stuffing recipe is a hands-down winner in our recipe box. The toasty fennel seeds add a spicy sweetness that the tart apple and dried cranberries pick up. Make sure to make extras – there are almost no leftovers from just one dish.

*Be sure to hit the blue links to see the helpful videos we’ve made to guide you through the recipe.  As always,  subscribe to our YouTube channel!

Apple, Fennel Seed and Cornbread Stuffing

Serves 6 to 8

1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 tablespoon unsalted butter for buttering casserole, + 2 tablespoons to saute
2 yellow onions, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 stalks celery, diced
1 large Granny Smith apple, diced
6 cups prepared cornbread, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 cup dried cranberries, optional
2 teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs, beaten
½ cup low-sodium chicken stock
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 8 small pieces for dotting the casserole

In a small skillet over medium-low heat, toast the fennel seeds until they are warm and fragrant, about three minutes.  Set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Butter the inside of a 13×9-inch gratin dish with 1 tablespoon butter and set aside.

In a large sauté pan, heat 3 tablespoons of butter and sauté the onions over medium heat until translucent, about 7 minutes.  Stir in the garlic, celery, apple and fennel seeds and cook an additional 5 minutes.  Remove pan from heat and set aside to cool.

Toss the vegetable mixture with the cornbread, parsley and cranberries in a large bowl.  Season stuffing with salt and pepper.  Taste and adjust seasoning to taste as necessary.  Stir in the eggs.  Add as much stock as needed to moisten the stuffing but not make it soggy (you may not need all of the stock).  Place stuffing in prepared gratin dish and dot with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter on the top.  Cover the casserole with foil and bake for 45 minutes or until warmed through.  Remove foil and continue baking an additional 5 to 10 minutes until top of stuffing is golden brown.

To Make Stuffing Ahead: Bake cornbread 2 days before Thanksgiving.  Assemble stuffing the day before in the baking dish, then wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 24 hours before baking. To bake, remove stuffing from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking.  Cover the casserole with foil and bake for 45 minutes or until warm through.  Remove foil and continue baking an additional 5 to 10 minutes until top of stuffing is golden brown.


Creative Additions:
Add one or more of the following

1 cup chopped chestnuts,

1 cup chopped pecans,

½ cup roasted garlic cloves,

2 tablespoons chopped sage,

½ pound mushrooms, sliced and sautéed,

½ pound cooked bulk Italian sausage, crumbled

2 tablespoons brandy

Happy Thanksgiving!