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turkey pho {subtitle: what the heck am I going to do with all this turkey?!}

November 29, 2011

turkey pho

This year was our first Thanksgiving in the new condo.

Recap of last year’s: We were looking for a more permanent place to live (i.e. starting the process of looking at what would inevitably be 86 places before deciding on a place to buy), were entertaining my sister, her husband and her two dogs in our tiny 1-bedroom apartment, all the while attempting to cook a turkey in an oven that operated at an almost 30 degree slant. Because we were splitting our day between families, we asked a friend who would be joining us for dinner 2.0 to put our bird in the oven and set the thermometer. He kindly did so and we were home in plenty of time to take the bird out. In fact, it started to feel like too much time. I checked the thermometer. Nope, still plenty to go. Until on the third check, I looked closer. Then closer. Then panicked. The thermometer was set in celsius and this bad boy needed to get out STAT. It wasn’t the juiciest of birds that year, but we had a great laugh over it–thankfully the gravy was delicious.

This year was a whole new ballgame. Great kitchen to cook in, plenty of room for the fam (and the dogs), a turkey thermometer set to Fahrenheit and a full day to do all the cooking needed for a gut-busting Thanksgiving dinner. The problem with gut-busting Thanksgivings though? With all the food that I made, only 1/4 of our turkey was consumed. That’s right people, with 8 people around a table, we only ate 25% of at 16lb turkey! That means A LOT of leftovers for me and Mr. KC. I’m pretty sure I’m 1/3 turkey at this point, but this bird needs to be eaten so I’m cracking out all sorts of turkey recipes and so far this has been one of my favorites.

The spices fool you into thinking it’s no longer Thanksgiving leftovers. The glass noodles are a personal favorite and it’s an easy and quick meal to pull together on a weeknight. Did I mention that it makes 2 really big bowls of soup–3 normal sized ones, which seemed the perfect size to avoid yet more leftovers.

The verdict? Lovely! So lovely that I would gladly make it all over again should I have leftovers from a rotisserie chicken. Two thumbs up!

turkey pho
recipe from food52 

ingredients for broth:

  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 4 whole star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 quart homemade turkey stock (or homemade or store-bought chicken stock)
  • 1 bunch green onions (green parts only), chopped
  • 1 3-inch chunk of ginger, sliced and smashed with side of knife
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar, or more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce, or more to taste
the rest:
  • 1 cup kale, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 pound leftover turkey breast, shredded
  • 1 bunch (approx. 2 oz.) rice noodles (or enough flat dried rice noodles to serve 2)–cooked according to package directions.
  • 1-2 tablespoon cilantro, chopped– for garnish (optional)
  • 1/2 lime, cut into wedges
  • Sriracha chili sauce to taste

directions

make the broth:

  1. Heat a cast-iron skillet or frying pan over medium heat. (KC note: I used my Staub cocotte for this and did both the toasting and the broth making in the same pot)
  2. Add the coriander seeds, cloves, star anise, and cinnamon stick and toast until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Immediately spoon out the spices into a bowl to avoid burning them and set aside.  (If using a dutch oven, be prepared to add liquid immediately to avoid the spices from becoming overly toasted)
  4. In a pot, add toasted spices to turkey broth, chopped green onions, fish sauce, ginger and brown sugar.
  5. Simmer for 20 minutes. Taste broth and add additional sugar or fish sauce if needed.
  6. Strain and discard solids.

finish the pho: 

  1. Add kale, turkey and cooked rice noodles. Allow to heat up for 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat.
  2. Ladle the broth into bowls. Divide the kale, shredded turkey and the noodles evenly into each bowl.
  3. Sprinkle on cilantro and add sriracha to taste (highly recommended for a little extra kick).
  4. Squeeze lime juice over the top of your bowl before eating.
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meatless monday: fried green tomato caprese

November 28, 2011

I’m ashamed to say that the last time I posted, green tomatoes were in abundance at our farmer’s markets. I’d like to say that the reason that I haven’t been posting is because I’ve been eating fried green tomato caprese non-stop for months. Instead the reason would sound a little more like “work, work, fix things around the condo, a little travel, work, work, other stuff”. I know, that story in and of itself almost makes up for a 2-month hiatus. You’re welcome.

So, maybe tomatoes aren’t exactly abundant any longer, but I love this recipe enough to share all the same. Seriously. Crunchy on the outside, perfectly soft on the inside with a nice little tang from the buttermilk. Combined with fresh mozzarella, this makes the perfect complement to a fresh green salad.

fried green tomato caprese
from Tyler Florence’s recipe on the Food Network

ingredients 

  • 1 cup stone-ground cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • Pinch cayenne
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 large unripe tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices, ends removed
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 ball of fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • Balsamic vinegar (optional), for serving
  • Lemon wedges, for serving

directions

  1. In a large bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, garlic powder, and cayenne together.
  2. Pour the buttermilk into a separate bowl and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Dip the tomatoes in the buttermilk and then dredge them in the cornmeal mixture, coating both sides well.
  4. Place a large cast iron skillet over medium heat and coat with the oil. When the oil is hot, pan-fry the tomatoes (in batches if necessary) until golden brown and crispy on both sides, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side.
  5. Carefully remove the tomatoes and drain on paper towels.
  6. Serve with sliced mozzarella and drizzled balsamic vinegar.

meatless monday: roasted corn with lime and manchego

August 22, 2011

While some might argue that the Chicago is not the Midwest, I would argue with that statement and take pride in my Midwestern stock. The proof is in my undying love for corn. Montauk, Silver Queen, Country Gentleman…love ’em all and this time of the year I’m happier than a pig in you-know-what. This weekend at the farmer’s market, I picked up 12 ears of corn. The guy helping me commented “Looks like someone’s having a party.” My response? “Nope, I’m just on a mission to eat so much corn, I’m sick of it for a good year.” He seemed to approve of the plan.

I’ve made this recipe twice in one week. The first time I made it, I literally RAN back into the kitchen to grab seconds. That’s how much I love it.  Bon Appetit is claiming lime the new salt. And while I’m not sure about that claim, I will say that this recipe makes me hungry for more just writing about it. Perhaps I should start a pool to see how many times I’ll make this for myself before the season comes to an end.

roasted corn with lime and manchego
slightly adapted from Bon Appetit August 2010 

ingredients:
 

  • 6 ears of sweet yellow corn, remove silk, but leave husks
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded, finely diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper or ground peperoncino (what I used)
  • 1 lime, (grate for lime zest first then cut into 4 wedges)
  • 1 cup finely grated Manchego cheese
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced chives or green onions (which is all I had lying around)
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest

directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450°. Roast unhusked corn on a baking sheet, turning occasionally, until heated through and crisp-tender, about 15 minutes.
  2. Let cool. Shuck corn and cut kernels from cobs. Discard cobs.
  3. Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat.
  4. Add corn kernels and sauté until heated through and light-golden in spots, 3-5 minutes.
  5. Add butter; stir until melted. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Transfer corn to a large wide bowl or deep platter; sprinkle jalapeño and crushed red pepper flakes (or other choice spicy spice) over.
  7. Squeeze lime wedges over; sprinkle with cheese, chives, and lime zest.

kc goes to whim

August 17, 2011

In Switzerland, I had view like this out of my window.  It wasn’t fair, but it’s true. And it’s hard to believe that now the most exciting thing about my view is looking out to see that my neighbor finally decided to put on pants. Again, not fair, but true.

With that said, for as easy as it is to romanticize about our amazing, carefree, glamorous life in Switzerland, I have to always remind myself that we chose to leave. We were ready to leave. As beautiful as Switzerland was, it never was home for us. We missed out friends, our family and the ability to go to the butcher to ask for a cut of meat without being reduced to pointing to various parts of my body and making animal noises to get my point across. But, oh the landscape–how we miss it. Last week, Mr. KC with a couple of friends, decided to try to recapture some of that landscape with a mid-week city escape to a farm dinner at Smolak Farms.

It’s a haul from Boston, don’t let that fool you. And as your GPS starts showing you curiously close to your destination, for a split second you wonder if perhaps the farm is in the middle of an office park. But miraculously, the area gets greener faster and before you know it, you’re pulling down an unpaved road and being guided into a parking lot which is really just a field with ropes around it, but you go with it because you should always trust a man with a flashlight.

Then, I get giddy because a dinner that involves a chalkboard is always a good sign.

And a dinner that involves tikki torches and a lovely outdoor tent only adds to that excitement.

Flowers in mason jars? It’s like this place reads my diary that doesn’t exist.

Adirondack chairs and campfires? Pinch me, please.

And then everyone sits down to dinner. Everything up until now has just been an amazing way of getting you excited for what you just know is going to a celebration of amazing produce, meats and food. We were fortunate enough to sit right next to the chef’s workstation where I marvel at how it seems almost effortless that they dish  out a gourmet meal to 150 people seated outside using nothing more than a roaster and a grill.

And as we stuff our faces with food and drink wine, the sun sets, the twinkly lights come on and even though the social atmosphere is like that of a wedding where you don’t know a lot of people, it’s fun. You realize what a lovely escape from the city it is and that even though you don’t know these people, you share a love for food and that seems like enough for this evening.

Dinner winds down around 10 and ends in an optional hayride around the farm. We chose to finish our wine fireside instead. You’ll notice that I didn’t take any pictures of the food save the one photo of the lovely shortcakes awaiting distribution. Here’s the thing. In the interest of keeping it honest, the food wasn’t out of this world. You want it to be AH-mazing, but it’s good. I was happy that the steaks erred on the rarer side as opposed to the “safe” way of going well-done. But there were varying degrees of rareness and my friend and I had to switch because hers was way too rare. The soup was corn consommé and while it seems to be popular in the gastronomic circles, it wasn’t wow-worthy. But these dinner aren’t just about the food. It’s everything coming together. And the truth of the matter is the food was good. I wouldn’t rave about it if it were served to me in a restaurant, but the fact that every single person who left, did so with a huge smile on their face and a look of utter satisfaction is enough for this gal to rave about it.

The Whim series is winding down for this year with only two dinners left, tonight and next Wednesday. Tickets can be purchased through GiltCity.

That's not the sun setting, that would be the lights of Boston glowing in the distance.

meatless monday for mikey (aka peanut butter chocolate pie)

August 15, 2011

I should start by saying that I don’t know the man who inspired this recipe nor his wife, Jennie who posted it. In fact, I’m ashamed to say I wasn’t even a regular at her blog before this weekend, when I logged into my Google Reader and started to wonder what kind of coincidence would result in so many people making the same pie. And then I saw Jennie’s post, I teared up. Then I saw the video made for her, and the tearing up became a full-grown weep. Food is already such an amazing way to bring people together that it seemed all too appropriate for that many people to show their support for this strong woman through a pie.

My heart goes out to Jennie and her daughters. And while the original request was for this to be done on Friday, I was (as always) late.  I won’t post the recipe here, because in my opinion the recipe shouldn’t be separated from its original post, but I will say that it’s a wonderful pie that I enjoyed with my husband while thinking about how lucky I am and being grateful for all that I have. I hope you do the same.

meatless monday: lemony broccolini and asparagus over polenta

August 8, 2011

Before launching into this recipe, I should preface this by saying that it is a recipe that was brought together when asparagus was fully in season–don’t worry, I hang my head in shame as I write how late I am in posting this, but I make this confession to you are a means of imparting that you shouldn’t feel married to the idea of using asparagus. It’s a spring vegetable, it’s time has passed and let’s be honest, there are so many other beautiful things at the market that you could use right now. The greens from beets would be lovely. I’ve seen some gorgeous green beans making an appearance that could also be fantastic. The point? Use your imagination. The vegetables listed here are not irreplaceable and it would be silly to pass up on some of the lovely green around town. The only thing I would adjust based on your vegetable selection is how long you blanch them. If you go with a leafy green, a super quick blanch should do just fine.

A word about the polenta. Whether or not you decide to make the veggie part of this dish is totally on you. I mean, I’m not sure why you would pass up on wholesome, lemony,  green goodness, but I’m not gonna judge. The polenta recipe however is such an easy recipe that yields such wonderful goodness that if you don’t make it, we can’t hang out. It’s from our trusted friends at America’s Test Kitchen where I’m pretty sure the testers are inspired by voodoo magic. It seems to be the only way they can make things come out so flawless.

lemony broccolini and asparagus over polenta

veggies and chickpeas from Marcus Samuelsson; polenta from America’s Test Kitchen

polenta 

7.5 cups water
1.5 tsp salt
pinch of baking soda (less than 1/8 tsp)
1.5 cups polenta, not the quick cooking variety (preferably Bob’s Red Mill or Alpina Savoie)
1 tbsp butter (optional)
Big handful of parmigiano (optional, but oh-so-recommended)

chickpeas

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14 oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup veggie broth
1/2 tsp dried basil
black pepper, to taste
zest of 1 lemon, freshly grated
juice of half a lemon
1 tsp cornstarch
1/4 cup water

asparagus and broccolini 

1 bunch asparagus (1lb), woody ends cut off and cut into 1-inch segments
1 bunch broccolini
zest of 1 lemon, freshly grated
juice of 1 1/2 lemons
salt, to taste

  1. Bring the water for polenta to a boil.
  2. Add salt and baking soda.
  3. Slowly add polenta while stirring.
  4. Bring polenta to a boil–make sure you keep stirring the entire time. This should only take a minute or so.
  5. Lower to a very low setting, bringing the polenta to a slow simmer. Cover for 5 minutes.
  6. Remove lid and stir once more. Recover and cook for 25 minutes. No additional sitting will be necessary.
  7. While the polenta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a non-stick skillet and saute the onion until it is browned, about 5 minutes.
  8. Add in the garlic and chickpeas, and cook for one minute.
  9. Add the lemon peel and juice.
  10.  In a separate bowl, mix the cornstarch with 1/4 cup water until dissolved.
  11. Add the broth, basil and black pepper and simmer for 5 minutes.
  12. Pour into the pan, stir to mix, and then simmer until thickened, 2-3 minutes.  Remove from heat and keep warm.
  13. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Once it boils, toss in the asparagus and broccolini.  Boil for 2-3 minutes.  Strain.
  14. Toss with lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt, to taste.
  15. Check on polenta, which should now be done. Add butter in to add an extra layer of creamy and stir in parmigiano. While these aren’t necessary, I definitely recommend it.
  16. Portion out the polenta into four bowls.
  17.  Top each with the chickpea mixture as well as the asparagus and broccolini mixture.

strawberry shortcake cake

August 3, 2011

Nothing says I’m sorry like a cake. I could give you any one of the following excuses for being a negligent blogger:

  • After what felt like an endless search for a new home, we found one, but our sub-par real estate agent made buying it like a second full-time job for us.
  • After moving into said place, the process of nesting meant more time for take-out than cooking.
  • I realized that since moving back to the States, the general pace of our life has quickened exponentially.

But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been cooking. I have. And I’ve even managed to remember to take pictures from time to time. I’m desperately trying to get back to a pace that allowed me to balance work, life, friends and hobbies, but the truth is that I’ve struggled immensely with it. Patience has never been my strongest virtue (see all previous kitchen mishaps that generally are rooted in my inability to wait for something) and I just want to fast forward to the point when the new home is fully decorated and my time is my own once again. Alas, I need to just slow down, enjoy the process and also remember to just take some time to enjoy the fleeting summer months. And while my posts may not be as regular as they once were, I have not abandoned this blog of  mine, I promise.

Now, confession time: would you believe me if I told you that I actually made this cake for mother’s day? Ohmy! That’s just how delinquent I am. But like, I said, nothing says I’m sorry like a cake and you can still find some strawberries here and there. But if you want to keep it really seasonal, substitute strawberries for some of those other amazing berries at your farmer’s market right now. I’m sure the results will be equally delicious. Also, instead of the icing, feel free to go with big globs of fresh whipped cream. Or even better, use both the icing AND the whipped cream. Now we’re talking.

strawberry shortcake cake

ingredients:

  • 1 box of moist yellow cake mix (I use Cherrybrook Kitchen Yellow Cake mix)
    • Eggs, oil, water (measurements will depend on what the directions of your cake mix call for)
  • 1 16 oz bag of frozen sliced strawberries in juice (I used whole strawberries and then sliced, but getting pre-sliced would make life much easier)
  • Confectioner’s sugar
  • Whole milk
  • 1-2 cartons of fresh strawberries (depends on how high you want to pile those strawberries)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract–go for quality here. I love Rancho Gordo’s vanilla.

directions

1.  Bake cake per box directions.
2.  In the meantime, defrost the frozen strawberries and put in a
bowl with its own juice.
3.  Wash and cut fresh strawberries in half length-wise.
4.  To make the icing, pour lots of confectioner’s sugar (I ended up using 2 cups–how much you use will entirely depend on how much icing you want) into a bowl and drizzle milk into it and add a few drops of vanilla extract.
5.  Whip icing with fork. It should be a thick consistency like that of fake maple syrup.
6.  When cake is done, allow to cool then carefully cut in half using a long bread knife so you now have a thin top and bottom half. You’ll notice I also cut off the edges. This had less to do with direction and more to do with the fact that I may have slightly burned the cake.
7.  Pour the strawberry juice on the bottom portion  of the cake (spongy side up) and let it seep for a few minutes.
8.  Arrange the defrosted strawberries on this bottom layer of the cake.

9.  Take the top piece (carefully!) and place it on top of the bottom layer.

10.  Arrange freshly sliced strawberries on top of the cake.

11.  Cut up any remaining strawberries in smaller pieces and fill in the spaces between the strawberry slices.
12.  Drizzle the icing over the whole cake with a fork. Be generous–no skimping here.
13.  Place cake in refrigerator and allow to cool and really soak in the juices and icing.
14.  Drizzle again with icing right before serving.

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