Tag Archives: Southern

Thanksgiving Dinner: Dad’s Turkey Gravy

5 Dec

My Dad adapted this recipe from my Grandmother’s original recipe (created in November 1960!).  In addition to broth, he uses wine and flour to add depth and thickness to the gravy.  His adapted recipe is below.

Dad’s Turkey Gravy

Ingredients
Chicken broth or turkey stock
Flour
Marsala wine
Juices from bottom of turkey pan

Directions
1. Cook turkey according to instructions in Thanksgiving Dinner: Grandma’s Turkey.  Drain most of the liquid from the pan except for about 2 tbsp for each cup of gravy wanted.
2. Move the liquid wanted to a small saucepan and stir over medium-high heat.  Gradually, add an equal amount of flour.  Stir consistently.
3. After gravy is well-browned, add Marsala wine and some chicken broth or turkey stock to the pan until it is the right consistency.  (Note: If you run out of broth, you can use water as a substitute.)
4. When hot and of desired consistency, strain broth and keep hot until serving.

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Thanksgiving Dinner: Grandma’s Turkey

1 Dec

The recipe below is for my Grandmother’s Thanksgiving turkey recipe.  I love this recipe because it’s simple, but produces the juiciest turkey that isn’t over-seasoned.  My Grandmother wrote this recipe in November 1960 and it’s still a crowd pleaser today.

Grandma’s Thanksgiving Turkey

Ingredients
1 9-12 lb. turkey
Stuffing (see Thanksgiving Dinner: Mom’s Stuffing post for recipe)
Salt & pepper
Poultry Seasoning
2 sticks unsalted butter

Other Items Needed
Cheese Cloth
Baster

Directions
1. Follow directions for thawing bird if frozen and be sure to allow enough time for this.  Then clean bird thoroughly and remove any traces of lining from inside around the bones.
2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
3. Rub salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning along the inside cavities of the bird.
4. Stuff the bird according to directions on Thanksgiving Dinner: Mom’s Stuffing post.
5. Rub salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning along the outside of the bird.  Cover the breast of the turkey with cheese cloth (this will prevent the breast from burning or drying out).
6. Place turkey in a shallow pan.  It’s best to use not too deep of a pan as the turkey will brown better in a shallower one.
7. Melt 2 stick of butter and pour 3/4 of this over the turkey.  The remaining 1/4 you will use in your first basting of the turkey.
8.  Pop the turkey in the oven and set your timer for 20 minutes.  When it rings, open the oven and pour the remaining butter over the turkey.  Also, use your baster to take the juices from the bottom of the pan and cover the turkey.  Put the turkey back in the oven.
9. Set your timer for 20 minutes.  When it rings, open the oven and baste the turkey using the juices from the bottom of the pan.  Continue basting the turkey every 20 minutes until the meat thermometer has popped and the turkey is done.  This should take about 20 minutes per pound, or 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 hours for a 9-12 lb. turkey.  (Note: If you want the breast to be browner, remove the cheese cloth for the last 30-45 minutes of cooking.)
10. Remove turkey from oven and set on a carving board.  Cover with tinfoil and let sit 20 minutes before carving/serving.  Save the juices at the bottom of the pan as you will use these for the gravy (see Thanksgiving Dinner: Dad’s Turkey Gravy).

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Thanksgiving Dinner: Mom’s Stuffing

28 Nov

This recipe was passed down from my Great Grandmother on my Mom’s side.  I credit this recipe to my Mom because a few years ago, she made a key adaptation to a previously unchanged recipe that made it truly GREAT.  I was never a stuffing person growing up; I found it gummy, flavorless and, most of all, full of raisins (which I strongly dislike).  A few years back, my Mom switched out the raisins for craisins (dried cranberries) and I am now a huge fan of this dish.

Mom’s Stuffing
(For a 9-12 lb. turkey)

Ingredients
Pullman size loaf of bread (toasted – crusts removed) (Note: If you’re short on time, you can use one bread from of the Pepperidge Farm stuffing bags. No one will know the difference and this saves a ton of time.)
1/2 bag craisins (or 1-2 generous handfuls) (Note: if you prefer, substitute *plumped raisins for craisins)
1 large onion, chopped
4 large celery stalks, chopped
1/2 lb pork sausage (bulk-medium hot) (drained)
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
Poultry seasoning, to taste
Sage, to taste
Broth (strained)
1 egg, beaten
1 stick unsalted butter

Directions
*If you are using raisins, plump them before adding them to the mix.  To do this, pour boiling water over raisins until they are covered.  This should puff them right up.
1. Remove crusts from bread and toast lightly on both sides.  If you have stale or day old bread, it is better so buy this ingredient ahead of time if you can.
2. Chop onion and saute until golden brown in about 3 tbsp. of butter.  When onions are golden brown, add chopped celery and cook slightly.
3. In another skillet, break up the pork sausage and cook until almost done.  Start with a cold skillet and drain grease as it accumulated.  You don’t want to add the grease to the stuffing mix.
4. In a large bowl, break up the toasted bread into about six pieces per slice (you don’t want it too small as you don’t want mushy stuffing).  Pour the onion and celery mixture over this and then add the pork sausage, craisins (or raisins) and beaten egg.  Mix lightly.
5. Add small amount of broth to moisten (not too much as it will get juices from the turkey as it cooks).  Then add salt, pepper, poultry seasoning and sage, to taste.  Don’t forget the stuffing is going to cook inside your seasoned bird and will absorb many of the turkey’s flavors.  Go lighter rather than heavier on the seasoning and broth here.
6.  Stuff the neck of the bird and close it with a skewer.  Then flip the bird over and stuff the other side; cover with a thick slice of bread (you will discard this piece of bread, it is just to prevent the stuffing from burning or absorbing too much of the turkey baste).  Don’t overfill either opening as the stuffing will swell in baking.  If there is any extra stuffing, you can bake this separately at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes, until brown and warm.
7. Cook turkey according to directions on Thanksgiving Dinner: Grandma’s Turkey recipe.  When turkey is removed from oven, remove stuffing and put in a serving dish.  Serve immediately.

Here is a close up of the final product:

Thanksgiving Dinner: Creamy Mashed Potatoes

27 Nov

The following recipe is adapted from the November 2011 issue of Bon Appetit magazine.  If you want to try their recipe, you can find it here.  I kept BA’s directions, but changed the ingredients a bit: I flipped the ratio of russet to Yukon Gold potatoes as I find that Yukon Golds make creamier, more flavorful mashed potatoes.  I also used half & half instead of whole milk and heavy cream.  (This wasn’t by choice, but because we forgot to get whole milk and heavy cream at the grocery store – whoops!)  Half & half worked great though and I will continue using it when I make this recipe again.  The other thing I did was despite halving the amount of potatoes used, I kept the amount of liquid the same.  This resulted in the perfect consistency and also helped the potatoes stay creamy for leftovers for a few days.  The real secret to what makes these mashed potatoes the creamiest, fluffiest potatoes you’ve ever tried is a food mill.  I used an OXO Good Grips Food Mill to “mash” the potatoes.  It was more of an arm workout than I bargained for on Thanksgiving, but it was worth it!  Here is my adaptation of BA’s recipe below.

Creamy Mashed Potatoes
Adapted from Bon Appetit, November 2011 Issue 

Ingredients
2 lb. russet potatoes (2-3 large potatoes)
2 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes (about half a large bag or 12-15 potatoes)
3 tbsp. kosher salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
10 whole white peppercorns
1 sprig rosemary (or 1 tsp. dried rosemary, but use fresh if you can)
2-3 bay leaves (use fresh if you can)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
Salt & pepper, to taste

Directions
1. Fill a large pot halfway with cold water.  Peel the russet and Yukon gold potatoes and cut into 2″ pieces, adding to pot as they are cut.  Add cold water to cover by 1″ if needed.  Stir in kosher salt.
2. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and gently simmer until tender, about 15 minutes.
3. Drain potatoes and transfer to a baking sheet.  Spread potatoes and let dry for 10 minutes.
4. Once you have turned the heat on the potatoes to medium-low, in a separate small saucepan, heat half & half, peppercorns, rosemary and bay leaves over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  Do this until mixture is very hot but not boiling, which should take about 10 minutes.
5. Remove from heat and let mixture infuse for 20 minutes; then strain and set aside.  (According to BA, this will add herbal flavor without coloring the liquid.)
6.  Now that your potatoes have cooled and dried somewhat, pass the potatoes through the smallest disk of a food mill along with 1 stick of butter into a large bowl.  (My mom and I went back and forth about which disk we should use and while the small disk took a long time, the result was unbeatable.)
7. Once the potatoes have all passed through the food mill, stir in the hot half & half mixture.  Season generously to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Note: I prepared this dish three hours before the turkey was even ready to carve.  In order to keep it warm, I put the potatoes in a double boiler on the stove for two hours and then in our warming oven for the last hour.

Thanksgiving Dinner

26 Nov

Happy Thanksgiving!  I hope you all had a nice holiday surrounded by family, close friends and great food!

Since Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, I wanted to share with you my family’s recipes from our Thanksgiving feast on Thursday.  Over the course of the next week, I will post each of the recipes.

Grandma’s Turkey
Mom’s Stuffing
Dad’s Turkey Gravy
Creamy Mashed Potatoes
Green Beans with Miso & Almonds
Pear Bellinis (aka Christmas in a Cup)
Cranberry Ginger Fizz

To round out our meal, we serve Sister Shubert’s Parker House Style rolls, canned cranberry sauce and Libby’s pumpkin pie recipe using Whole Foods canned pumpkin.  I think we will use most of these recipes at Christmas they were all so good!

Banana Pudding Parfait

5 Nov

A few weeks ago, I purchased Whitney Miller’s new cookbook called Modern Hospitality: Simple Recipes with Southern Charm.  I can’t wait to try out so many recipes (fresh fruit and granola tarts, bacon stuffed brusselsprouts, jalapeno cornbread, the list goes on!)  One recipe that immediately caught my eye was Banana Mousse Trifles.  It looked so light and fresh; the perfect end to a meal of hamburgers cooked on the grill with sides of scalloped potatoes and cucumber & tomato salad.  Since we were entertaining and I don’t necessarily have the patience to make pudding from scratch like Whitney’s recipe called for so I improvised and used store-bought instant pudding.  No one could tell in the final taste test and the dessert was a smash success!  Here’s my adapted recipe below.  Enjoy!

Banana Pudding Parfait
Serves 8

Ingredients
2 packages instant pudding mix (one vanilla, one banana)
2% or skim milk (likely 4 cups for two packages of pudding mix, but follow the amounts on whatever instant mix you buy)
4 bananas (2 very ripe, 2 yellow)
1 box vanilla wafers
1 large orange

Directions
1. Cook pudding in stovetop according to package instructions.
2. After pudding has cooked, cool for 5 minutes then pour into a bowl and store in fridge for 3-4 hours prior to serving.  In order to prevent the “skin” from appearing on the top of the pudding, cover the bowl with a lid or saran wrap if you don’t have a lid that fits it.
3. Right before you want to serve the parfaits, crush around 30 vanilla wafers until they are in chunky pieces.  (I put them in a plastic bag and then used the back of a spoon to break them up.)  Set the crushed wafers aside and take the two very ripe bananas and mash them with a fork until they are broken into small, mushy pieces.  Add the juice of half an orange to this mixture to prevent browning/discoloration.  Set aside this mixture and slice the remaining two yellow bananas into bite size pieces.
4. In serving glasses, spoon two layers of each ingredient in to a glass in the following order: 1) 2 heaping spoonfuls of pudding, 2) small layer of mashed banana/orange juice mixture, 3) small layer of crushed vanilla wafers, 4) a few slices of banana.  Top each parfait with one slice of banana and one whole vanilla wafer.
5. Serve immediately.  This will hold up in the fridge for a few hours if you want to prepare it in advance and serve ice cold.

Brunch: Sweet Potato & Lardon Hash

20 Oct

There is nothing I love more than a hearty brunch on a fall day in New York.  However, what I DON’T love about brunch is the perpetually long wait one must endure and the need most New Yorkers have to get dressed up for this meal.  By making brunch at home, I can cut out both of my brunch complaints – eating in sweats and not passing out from starvation waiting for a table!  Last week, one of my favorite cooking blogs, A Cozy Kitchen, posted a recipe for Sweet Potato and Lardon Hash.  It looked so yummy that I had to give it a try.  You can find their recipe here and my recipe with adaptations below.  If you’ve never poached an egg before, I found a super helpful post on Smitten Kitchen on how to poach an egg.  Check it out here if you need a primer.  It worked perfectly on my first try.  Thanks SK!!

Sweet Potato and Lardon Hash

Serves 2

Ingredients
1/2 lb. slab bacon, sliced into 1/4-inch by 1/4-inch cubes
Olive oil (optional)
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 large sweet potato, sliced into 1/4-inch by 1/4-inch cubes
1/2 yellow onion, loosely chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, loosely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt & pepper, to taste
4 large eggs, poached

Directions
1. In a medium-size skillet, over medium-high heat, cook the slab bacon for 4-5 minutes, until thoroughly cooked.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the lardons and transfer to a paper towel to drain.  Set aside.
2. In the same skillet (don’t rinse it out – you want to use that bacon grease!), add the sweet potatoes, cumin and paprika.  Stirring regularly, cook on medium-high heat for about 15-20 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are cooked (aka soft when you bite into them).  Be sure to give the largest cubes of sweet potato a taste to be sure they’re thoroughly cooked.  During the cooking, if you notice the sweet potato starting to dry out, add a little bit of olive oil to the skillet.  Don’t be too concerned if the sweet potatoes get a little charred – mine did and they still tasted awesome.
3. Add the yellow onion and red bell pepper to the skillet and cook for 2-3 more minutes on medium-high heat.  Once soft, add the garlic to the skillet and cook until it becomes fragrant (1-2 minutes).  Add salt and pepper (to taste) here.  A note on the onion and pepper: don’t chop them too small or they will burn in the skillet.  You want the pieces of onion and pepper to be slightly smaller than the sweet potato and slab bacon.
4. Add the slab bacon back to the skillet and place over low heat to keep warm while you poach the eggs.  A note on poaching eggs: you can poach the eggs while you are cooking the sweet potato and keep them on a paper towel until right before you want to eat.  Then put the eggs in hot water (not boiling) to warm them up again and serve.
5. Divide hash mixture into two plates and top each serving with two poached eggs.