Thanksgiving Planning: Time to Order the Bird!

It’s the first week of November, and you know what that means… time to order your bird!

Time to Order the Bird |Dear Martini|What you need to know about ordering your turkey

The Thanksgiving Turkey is the centerpiece of any Thanksgiving Feast.  It’s the main course, the entrée… the piece de resistance… the real deal… the Big Kauhuna…  so don’t treat purchasing the turkey like it’s an afterthought!  Take a few extra minutes to decide on what kind of bird you want, then pick one out that’s the best you can afford.  Starting off with the right bird – you’re halfway there to a delicious Thanksgiving!

Picking Out a Bird:

Here are some questions to think about  that might help you choose the right bird.

1)   How many people are coming to dinner?   

The general serving rule is 1 pound of turkey per person.  This factors in for bones, too, so if you’ve got 12 people coming over, choose a bird that’s 14 – 16 pounds so you’ll get to enjoy some leftovers and second helpings.

2)   How are you cooking the turkey?

Are you doing a traditional roast turkey?  Deep-frying?   Split-roasting or  grilling?   For most cooking methods, it makes little difference between fresh and frozen.  A frozen bird, however, requires extra time for thawing.  So keep that in mind.

3)   Do your guests prefer white meat or dark meat?

Lucky you!  You get to be the provider of all things delicious and bountiful!  In some households (well, maybe just ours), the majority of folks prefer dark meat… which means there is never enough dark meat carved right off the turkey.  Consider buying a few extra turkey legs so there will be enough of the succulent dark meat to go around.  Conversely, if the household prefers white meat, buy an extra breast to make everyone happy!

4)   Fresh or frozen bird?

There is no shame in purchasing a frozen bird, as long as it’s from a good-quality producer.   Just keep in mind you will need time to thaw the bird.  It will take a 10-pound turkey 1 day to thaw if kept in a refrigerator at or below 40°F.  For every 5 pounds of frozen turkey, add another half day.   See the Turkey Thawing Chart for more information.

Turkey Thawing Times Dear Martini 

5) Natural? Organic?  Kosher? Help!!!

Regular — Plumped (or pumped!) with anything including: water, salt, chicken fat, broth, and or BUTTER.

Natural — Minimally processed and contains no artificial ingredients or colors.

Organic — Must follow strict USDA standards for organic production and processing including access to the outdoors, no antibiotics or growth hormones, and fed organic feed.

Kosher —  Slaughtered in accordance with strict kosher law (Jewish rabbinical dietary laws) then soaked in water and salted inside and out (great if you don’t want to bother with brining.) 

6)  What the heck is a Heritage Turkey?
Ah, the Heritage Turkey….  Remember back to the illustrations from your schoolbooks depicting people dressed up like Pilgrims and Indians enjoying a  Thanksgiving feast?  Think about how that turkey look in the picture:  smaller breast, larger wings, legs and thighs in equal proportion to the breast.   Now think about the commercial ads you see for Thanksgiving Turkey in your local newspapers, magazines and television ads.  Commercially-raised turkeys today have been bred to yield larger breasts, and smaller wings and legs.  They are raised to be grown quickly, then processed to be available in the frozen bird bin immediately after Halloween.

Heritage Turkeys, however, are farm-raised more naturally and slowly in the exact opposite way industrially raised birds are.  Heritage birds might actually be specific breeds with names like Bourbon Red or Standard Bronze and are more similar to wild turkeys.  According to chefs, the meat from Heritage turkeys is tastier, a little gamier, and healthier given the ways they are fed and raised.  They can also be more expensive to purchase, but since the bird is the star of the meal we allow ourselves to splurge a little more to get a better quality bird.

The Dear Martini Thanksgiving Playlist and Hotline

This week, we are announcing TWO essential tools to get your Thanksgiving Holiday off to a great start.

Dear Marini’s Homemade Thanksgiving Playlist

Our YouTube Channel is bursting with plenty of great videos that highlight every technique you need to know to cook your Thanksgiving dinner – from boiling potatoes, to making cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie… all the way to carving the roasted turkey!  Be sure you subscribe to our channel so you’ll get immediate updates when we add new videos!

 

Classic Pumpkin Pie

Classic Pumpkin Pie | www.dearmartini.wordpress.com

When they coined the phrase “easy as pie” they must have been referring to a classic pumpkin pie.   All you need are a couple of minutes and a few simple ingredients  — eggs, sugar, spices, pumpkin puree,  and a little cream are whisked into a quick custard and poured into a pre-made shell. Be sure to check out our post Perfect Pie Crust to learn the secrets to making the best pie crust (ever!)  and video tips on how to roll and crimp the dough.

Pumpkin Pie

Makes one 9-inch pie

We use grated freshly ginger in our pie because we love the depth it adds to the spicy flavors of the pie.  If you aren’t a big fan of ginger you can substitute a 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger or simply omit it.

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

¼ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup brown sugar, packed

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon ground cloves

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

½ teaspoon kosher salt

One (15-ounce) can Libby’s Pumpkin Puree

¾ cup heavy cream

1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell

1 recipe Whipped Cream

Preheat oven to 450°F.

In a large bowl with a whisk or in an electric mixer, combine eggs, sugars, spices and salt.  Mix in pumpkin and cream.   Mix until well incorporated.  Pour pumpkin mixture into pie shell.

Place pie pan on and baking sheet and place sheet on the middle rack of the oven.  Bake at 450°F for 10 minutes, reduce heat to 350°F and bake 30 to 40 minutes longer until top is firm  or a toothpick inserted in the center of the pie comes out clean.  Remove pie from oven and cool on rack. The pie will continue to set as it cools and deflate slightly.  Serve cool or at room temperature with a dollop of whipped cream.

Cook’s Notes:  We welcome you to make your own pumpkin puree from scratch, but we all know that the Thanksgiving feast is a kitchen marathon so we usually make an exception to our do-it-from-scratch mantra and use canned pumpkin.

Whipped Cream

Makes 2 cups

2 cups heavy whipping cream

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Place your bowl and whisk in the fridge 20 minutes before you are ready to whip the cream.  Whip the cream with vanilla extract and powdered sugar. Keep covered in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Perfect Pie Crust

We admit it, we’ve gone a little overboard in recent years in search of the perfect pie crust.

How to make a perfect pie crust | www.dearmartini.wordpress.com

We’ve experimented with the food processor, resorted to adding vodka instead of water to our dough, all in the quest for perfection.  We’ve come full circle back to a humble basic pie dough.

How to make a perfect pie crust | www.dearmartini.wordpress.com

The method relies on a hands-on approach to work the butter into the flour and hand patting and turning the dough to create layers without over working the dough.  The results are a tender-tasty-flaky crust — every time.  And, importantly to us — it’s a method that is as friendly to first time pie makers as those of us looking to return to a simpler method with consistent results.  No fancy gadgets required.  All you need is a bowl and a plastic scraper.  Easy cleanup (woohoo!)

Basic Pie Dough

Makes one 9-inch double-crust pie shell

Want an easy way to remember our recipe without having to look it up again?  3 + 2 + 1!  3 parts flour  2 parts butter 1 part ice water.

2 sticks (½ pound) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and frozen for 15 minutes

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

½  teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

½ cup ice water

Place the flour in a large mixing bowl, add the chilled butter and toss to coat the butter with flour.  Quickly rub the butter with the flour between your fingers to make flat pieces of butter. Take care not to overwork  the butter – you want to work each piece, but should still have pea-sized lumps of the butter in the flour.  Sprinkle in the salt and sugar and toss with your fingers to mix.  Add the water and using a plastic scraper and a quick a folding motion, mix the dough just until it begins to clump together.   The dough will look sandy and lumpy at this point and that’s okay.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface dusted with flour and gently pat out the dough into a flat disk about an 1-inch thick.  Fold the dough in on itself until the dough just begins to hold together and is no longer sandy on the edges.  Once the dough begins to come together, fold dough in half, turn it a quarter-turn and pat it out flat again to an inch thick.  Repeat this process 4 to 5 more times.  Butter will still be visible in the dough — it’s these pieces of butter that result in a flaky dough!  Divide the dough in half and flatten each piece into a disk one more time and wrap them in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to an hour before rolling out.

Dough Tips:

Always use cold ingredients — ice cold butter and ice water are your friends in pie dough making.

Don’t skimp on the refrigerator time required in the recipe before rolling out.  While the dough rests in the fridge the water is absorbed in the dough and the butter firms up.  A properly rested and chilled dough relaxes,  making it easier to roll out.

To make pie making easier, we usually make the dough the day before we plan to make pies to spread out the work.  Dough tightly wrapped in plastic wrap will last in the fridge up to 2 days (after that it becomes an unappealing gry color) or throw it in the freezer for up to 3 months.  Want to get a jump on the Thanksgiving feast madness?  Make pie dough this weekend and store in the freezer until ready to use.  Allow dough to thaw in the fridge before rolling.

Ready to Roll?

Rolling Tips

Less is more when it comes to the amount of flour used to roll out the dough.  You need just enough so the dough doesn’t stick to your board or your rolling pin.  Brush off excess flour with a pastry brush (or your hands)  before placing your dough in your pie pan.

How to make a perfect pie crust | www.dearmartini.wordpress.com

If dough becomes too soft and floppy to work with while you are rolling out (first time pie makers sometimes have this problem) put the dough on a baking sheet and return it to the fridge until it becomes firm enough to work with.  The butter in the dough needs to remain firm (not melted and completely incorporated into the dough) for flakiness.

Keep the dough moving!  After every couple rolls give the dough a quarter turn.  Every quarter turn is an opportunity to make sure the dough is not sticking to your work surface.  Dough stuck to the rolling pin?  Rub off the stuck dough with a little flour until it is clean and then add a light sprinkle of flour to the top of your dough.  Your dough is stuck to your work surface?  A long metal spatula is a pie rookie’s best friend.  Using short strokes run the spatula between the dough and the work surface until it releases.  Dust the work surface with flour and continue rolling.

How to make a perfect pie crust | www.dearmartini.wordpress.com

Scraps!

Hey, don’t throw away those leftover bits of dough.  Here’s a fun delicious Pastry Cookie you can make from the scraps!

Happy pie making!  Don’t forget if you like our videos please LIKE them on YouTube and/or SHARE them with your friends!

The Classic Caesar Salad

Classic Caesar Salad with Homemade Croutons. Dear Martini

All Hail Caesar salad!  Most people agree the Caesar salad was invented by Caesar Cardini in his Tijuana restaurant, opened during the 1920s to circumvent Prohibition laws.   The Hollywood in crowd appreciated Cardini’s flare for the dramatic.  Cardini himself would prepare the salad table side with a flourish.   The Caesar salad soon became a national and international hit!

Anchovies, or no anchovies?

How to Make Anchovy Paste for Caesar Salads or Pasta Sauces.  Dear MartiniThe great debate rages on:  anchovies or no anchovies?  Many cooks and food experts debate about whether or not to include anchovies in Caesar Salad. Some critics say the original Cardini recipe did not include anchovies, but instead used Worcheshire sauce, which also contains anchovies. However, others believe that the best Caesar salad include anchovies, and it’s just not a Caesar  without them!  We believe the secret is not to add too many anchovies.  The anchovies give the salad a nice subtle savory note and we promise, our recipe is not the least bit fishy.

Classic Caesar Salad in a Wooden Salad Bowl.  Dear Martini

How to Enjoy Caesar Salad

If you’re having a party, you can serve the salad on a large platter, or prepare and serve it out of a large wooden bowl, just like Caesar Cardini did in his restaurants. But if you want to try something fun, make it portable for a picnic by serving it in individual mason jars.   Enjoy the salad by itself, or add  chicken or salmon for extra protein.  Caesar salad is a great option for lunch or dinner or as Chef Terri prefers for brunch– preferably with a Blood Mary cocktail!

 

Classic Caesar Salad

Serves 6 to 8

3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

2 anchovy fillets, smashed

Pinch kosher salt

2 large egg yolks, coddled (see below)

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Dash Worcestershire sauce

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 large head Romaine lettuce, washed and spun dry

¾ cup grated or shaved Parmesan cheese

2 cups fresh croutons, recipe follows

Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

In a large salad bowl, add the smashed garlic cloves and anchovy fillets.  Using two forks, smash and rub the cloves and anchovies with a pinch of salt to create a paste.  Add the yolks one by one and whisk to combine with the garlic.  Add the lemon juice and Worcestershire, whisking to combine.  Slowly drizzle the olive oil while whisking constantly to create an emulsion.  Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Tear the romaine lettuce leaves into bite-sized chunks directly into the bowl with the dressing.  Toss together with Parmesan cheese and croutons.  Garnish with freshly cracked black pepper and serve immediately.

* to coddle the eggs, place the eggs in a small saucepan.  Cover with water and heat to just before simmering.  Use immediately.  Note:  Consuming raw or eggs may increase your risk of foodborne illness, especially if you have certain medical conditions.  Make sure your eggs are fresh and stored in the refrigerator.  Coddling the eggs will eliminate any bacteria that may be present on the surface of the shell, but will not completely render the egg yolk 100% safe.

IMG_0599

Baked Croutons

Makes approximately 2 cups

½ loaf country bread, such as ciabatta, pulgiese or batard, crusts trimmed and cut into ½-inch cubes

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons kosher salt

½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

In a large mixing bowl, toss the bread cubes together with the olive oil, salt and pepper.  Spread the bread cubes in one even layer on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.

Bake in the pre-heated oven until golden brown, about 9 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow the croutons to cool.

Classic Caesar Salad with Homemade Croutons and Shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano.  Dear Martini

How do YOU like to enjoy your Casear Salad?  Let us know on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/DearMartiniCooking

Panzanella Salad – Heirloom Tomato and Bread Salad

Ripe heirloom tomatoes make the best panzanella salad

Welcome to Tuscany!  Panzanella is a traditional Tuscan salad usually consisting mainly of stale bread and tomatoes.  We know it may seem strange to use stale bread, but this dish ingeniously takes advantage of rock-hard-day-old-bread, turning it into a tasty treat.  It’s also a great way to enjoy fresh vegetables – especially heirloom tomatoes which are abundant during the late summer months.

A variety of heirloom tomatoes and rustic loaf croutons make the best panzanella salad

For the bread, panzanella is made with a country-style loaf, like that found in Tuscany. Any rustic Italian loaf of bread from pugliese to ciabatta or even a French sweet baguette or batard (heresy!) will do as long as it’s at least one day old.   While the Tuscans claim it, you will find many variations of panzanella throughout central Italy with varying ingredients according to the region.   Every cook has her version of it. We prefer to toast the bread before letting it soak in the vinaigrette, giving the bread a little more flavor and texture.   If the last weeks of summer are still too hot to fire up the oven, consider leaving the bread out to dry in the sun for a couple of hours.  It’s a lovely entrée salad that requires no cooking!

Heirloom Tomato Basket

When choosing tomatoes, heirloom or otherwise, pick tomatoes that have vibrant color and are a bit soft.  Large, firm, heavy tomatoes tend to have lots of water in them and therefore lack intense tomato flavors.  Dry farmed or older, softer tomatoes tend to have less water and more flavor.

With the best of summer ingredients, hearty bread, and homemade vinaigrette,  panzanella is a delicious way to celebrate late-summer flavors!  Watch our short little video on how we made panzanella right on our front lawn… and while you’re at it, hit the hotlinks we’ve given you in the recipe below to watch our other cooking technique videos!

Panzanella – Heirloom Tomato and Bread Salad

Serves 6 to 8

Break out your best extra virgin olive oil to really make all of the simple flavors in this dish shine!

1 day-old rustic loaf , cut into 1-inch cubes

1 clove garlic, peeled and minced

1 small shallot, minced

4 tablespoons red wine vinegar

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 ripe heirloom tomatoes, sliced, diced and or cut into wedges

1/2 cup ripe cherry tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise

½ bunch basil leaves, torn into pieces

½ red onion, lyonnaise

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Make the croutons by arranging the bread cubes in a single layer on a sheet pan and lightly toast the bread in the preheated oven for 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven, sprinkle with a pinch of kosher salt and half a pinch of ground black pepper.  Set aside to cool.

In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the garlic, shallot, vinegar, olive oil and a pinch each of salt and pepper.  Screw the lid on tightly and shake vigorously to combine.  Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, toss the dressing together with the bread, tomatoes, basil and red onions.  Refrigerate the salad for 20 minutes for the flavors to develop.  Serve cold or at room temperature.

Want to get creative?  While not traditional, try adding any one (or all ) of these ingredients:

Panzanella Salad is a delicious idea for dinner when it's too darn hot to turn on the stove!

Strawberry Social – How to Enjoy the End of Strawberry Season

Everybody’s invited to the end-of-the-season strawberry social!  Strawberries are one of our favorite fruits, and they always taste better when they are in season and picked fresh ( May through the end of summer.)  

how_to_make_strawberry_soda

During the month of August when we are knee-deep in delicious berries, we add them to our morning cereal, smoothies, salads, and desserts.  And another delicious way to enjoy strawberries is the homemade strawberry soda.   Packed with delicious strawberries, it contains  minimal sugar and can be enjoyed without guilt.  Homemade strawberry soda is great for brunch or lovely as an apéritif.  Add vodka?  Better hurry!

Strawberry Soda

Serves 6

1 recipe simple syrup (recipe below)

4 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (optional)

1 ½ cups club soda or seltzer water

Puree the strawberries using a food processor or blender.  Strain into a glass measuring cup and set aside.

Fill 6 tall glasses halfway with ice cubes.  Equally divide the strawberry puree among the glasses.  Add a 2 tablespoons of  simple syrup to each glass.  Top with sparkling water and add 2 teaspoons of  lemon juice, to taste.  Gently stir and serve.

 

Simple Syrup

Simple syrup or sugar syrup is a combination of sugar and water that is cooked to a clear syrup.    Used for cocktails, poaching fruits, glazing and moistening cakes, and is the base for sorbet.

Makes 1-3/4 cups syrup

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup water

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine sugar and water.  Stir until the sugar dissolves and bring to a full boil.  Boil for 1 minute.   Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool completely before using.  Store syrup in the refrigerator in an airtight container until ready to use.

 Delicious homemade Strawberry Soda

Want more strawberry ideas?

Check out our previous blog post about strawberries for tips on how to choose the best berries, washing and storing, and a great recipe for roasting strawberries.

https://dearmartini.wordpress.com/2013/04/26/strawberries-rule-tips-for-choosing-and-preparing-the-better-berry/

bowl of strawberries 

Introducing Mariel!

We have  exciting news at Dear Martini HQ:  We are expanding our team!   Our newest member is Mariel Cruz and she joins us as our Social Media Assistant.  Welcome Mariel!  Look forward to meeting our other new team members in the coming months.

Introducing Mariel!

Introducing Mariel!

Hey everybody! I’m super excited to be working with Dear Martini! Working with Chef Terri and Chef Mia has been such a blast. I’ve already learned so much about cooking from Dear Martini. Strawberries are my favorite fruit, and Dear Martini has some great tips on picking out the best strawberries for desserts, or even just as a healthy snack. Did you know that the best tasting strawberries are dark red, plump and small (the smallest ones are the juiciest!) with dark green stems? Check out Dear Martini’s blog for more tips on strawberries. https://dearmartini.wordpress.com/2013/04/26/strawberries-rule-tips-for-choosing-and-preparing-the-better-berry/

My first strawberry fan!

My first strawberry fan!

I learned how to make this quick and easy dessert from watching Dear Martini’s videos on strawberries.

Before I watched Dear Martini’s strawberry videos, I had to the hardest time slicing strawberries, but now it’s super easy. Now, I can’t wait to try making strawberry shortcake!

For more tips and videos on how to make the best strawberry shortcake, be sure to check out Dear Martini’s YouTube page.

I’m super excited to be part of the Dear Martini team, and I can’t wait to learn more awesome cooking tips!

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

Cinco de Mayo Recipes

Recipes for Cinco de Mayo, fresh home-made guacamole, salsa recipe, perfect your knife skills by making guacamole and salsa

Whatcha makin’ for Cinco de Mayo this weekend?  We’re pretty sure your celebration plans include  kicking back with at least some beer, margaritas and chips!  Why not throw in some guacamole and salsa, too?  

We’ve got a really awesome portfolio of technique videos you can use.  Take a look here:  http://vimeopro.com/dearmartini/salsaandguacamole

Guacamole
Makes 3 cups
2 ripe avocadoes, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 small tomato, seeded and diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and small diced
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
2 green onions (scallions) thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1-2 pinches kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
a dash or two of your favorite hot sauce
In a medium-sized bowl, add the avocado, garlic, tomato, jalapeno, lime juice, scallions and cilantro.  With a large spoon or potato masher, mash the ingredients together until the mixture is smooth.  Taste, and season with salt, pepper and hot sauce.Refrigerate until ready to use by placing plastic wrap directly on top of the guacamole to prevent the top from turning brown.Serve cold with lots of chips!
Salsa
Makes 2 cups
2 tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 bell pepper, small diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and small diced
1 white onion, small diced
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
Juice of 1 lime
1-2 pinches kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
In a medium-sized bowl, combine all of the ingredients and stir until everything is mixed together.  Taste and adjust the seasonings, adding more salt, pepper and lime juice if needed.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.  Serve cold with lots of chips!
Turkey Chili
Serves 4-6
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound ground turkey
1 medium onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped fine
1 can black or pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes, or 3 tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 cup frozen yellow corn kernels
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 vegetable bouillon cube
1 cup water
Garnishes:
diced avocado
chopped cilantro
sliced scallions (green onions)
shredded cheese
sour cream
Heat a dutch oven or large saucepan over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Cook the ground turkey until the meat is brown and crumbly, about 5-7 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Saute the onion, bell pepper, jalapeno and garlic for 30 seconds, then place the lid on the dutch oven and lower the heat to medium to sweat the vegetables, about 7 minutes.  Remove the lid and add the beans, tomatoes and corn and saute for another minute.  Add the spices and saute until fragrant, about another 20 seconds.  Add the bouillon cube and water and stir to combine.  Cover and let the chili simmer for 40 minutes on low heat stirring occasionally.Evenly divide the chili among the serving bowls and garnish.  Serve hot.

Strawberries Rule!: Tips For Choosing and Preparing the Better Berry

Everything you need to know about strawberries for the best strawberry desserts

From choosing the perfect strawberry, to slicing, quartering, fanning and macerating. All the techniques you need to make the best of fresh strawberries.

“Strawberries Rule!”  say 94% of all American households… but some strawberries are better than other berries.

How to Choose the Perfect Strawberry:

Ripe delicious strawberries should be sweet and enticingly perfumed.  Unlike many fruits, strawberries do not continue to ripen after harvesting.  From the moment strawberries are picked you are running the race to eat them before their demise!

How to buy the perfect strawberry | www.dearmartini.wordpress.com

  • Choose bright-red strawberries with dark green caps
  • Plump but small. Large strawberries tend to taste watery.  Giant strawberries are usually a disappointment.
  • Strawberries with no smell are a bust.  Don’t buy them!
  • Buy organic — Most of us know by now that strawberries are on the “dirty dozen” list which is a list of fruits and veggies that have high residual pesticide rates.  We would love to say that we only purchase organic fruits and veggies, but that isn’t realistic for many (including us) on a tight budget.  With strawberries it really makes a difference so we spend our dollars wisely and buy organic.  For the freshest berries we head to  the Farmer’s market.

What to avoid when buying fresh berries

Once you get the berries home they are best eaten at room temperature…the same day.  If you can’t eat them the same day, then pop them unwashed, into a container in a single layer with a dry paper towel placed on the bottom and one on top.  Allow strawberries to come to room temperature before serving for best flavor.

Strawberries ARE Wash & Dry!

Strawberries should always be rinsed and dried just before cutting.  Ignore recipes that tell you that you should never wash strawberries…  you can’t wash away their flavor! Place berries in a colander and rinse under cold running water.  Spread them out to dry on paper towels with plenty of space between them to dry.  This can be done up to 3 hours before you plan to use them.
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Quarter ‘Em:

Slice ‘Em:

Fan ‘Em:

Macerate ‘Em:

One of the simplest  quick desserts is to macerate fresh strawberries — sprinkle the berries with a little sugar or honey to bring out their natural sweetness and set them aside for a couple of minutes to allow them to release their natural juices. (Watch the video to see the magic!)  Here are a couple additions to try if you want to get a little more creative:

  • A squeeze of lemon or orange juice
  • Teaspoon or two of balsamic vinegar
  • A drizzle of rose water or a couple of drops of violet essence
  • Splash of red wine or your favorite liqueur
  • A couple lemon verbena leaves, basil, or mint chiffonade

Just remember to add a tiny bit at a time and taste — you’re looking to enhance and add complexity NOT loose the natural flavor.

Strawberries Aren’t Just For Shortcakes Anymore…

While we never get tired of eating fresh berries picked warm from the garden we sometimes want a little something different.  One of our new favorite techniques to prepare strawberries is to roast them!  Roasting is easy and turns the strawberries into a wonderful jammy consistency.  It’s a great way to use strawberries when you have too many (they hold up in the fridge much better than fresh berries.)  Roasting also improves their flavor if the strawberries are less than perfect.  For one of our favorite go to recipes, check out Zoë François’ lovely blog: http://www.zoebakes.com The Best Fresh Strawberry Ice Cream – roasting is the secret.

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