Hi, folks! Sorry I wasn’t able to post on Friday, I was a little busy getting ready for my husband’s birthday dinner on Saturday. We had a small gathering, just my sister and her family, but it was nice to cook for “a lot of people” again! We has a frozen turkey from last Christmas, which would be more than enough for six people, so all I needed were a few easy side dishes and a dessert.

This is the first time I made a Thanksgiving dinner in July, and I gotta say I really enjoy cooking holiday meals! Even though the day was hot and running the oven and stove made it even hotter, the wonderful aromas that filled the kitchen made up for the heat of the afternoon sun. I already had dessert waiting in the fridge, the turkey was roasting nicely in the oven, green beans done, cranberries done, sweet potato casserole prepped and ready for the oven, and the stuffing is super fast to make (I really do love the box mixes.) The one thing left to make is the most time consuming and, next to the turkey, the most essential: giblet gravy.

The recipe is from an old issue of Cook’s Illustrated magazine, first introduced to me by my Uncle Jimmy, who also loves to cook. It is my favorite gravy recipe and requires a lot of hands-on time–probably more than any other dish you’ll prepare for a Thanksgiving spread–but it is worth every step.

I love this magazine for the wonderful illustrations just as much as the recipes, product reviews and readers’ tips.

Since the giblets sink to the bottom, using a mini-cauldron (or bowl) and ladel is better than pouring from a gravy boat.

Giblet Pan Gravy – from Cook’s Illustrated magazine
makes about 2 quarts

1 tablespoon oil
reserved turkey neck, heart and gizzard (and liver, if you like)
1 onion, unpeeled and chopped medium
6 cups canned low-sodium chicken broth
3 cups water
2 sprigs fresh thyme
8 parsley stems
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
salt and pepper

1. Heat oi in large saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add turkey neck, heart and gizzard (and liver, if you’re using) and cook until browned, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add onion and cook until softened, 3 minutes. Reduce heat to low; cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until juices are released, about 20 minutes. Add broth, water, and herbs. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, skimming any scum that rises to the surface, about 30 minutes. Strain broth (you should have about 8 cups–I ended up with 6!) reserving heart and gizzard (you can use the neck for soup or pick off the meat and use in stuffing.) When cooled, finely chop heart, gizzard, and liver and set aside.

2. Heat butter in large saucepan over medium-low heat. When foam subsides whisk in flour. Cook, stirring occasionally, until nutty brown and fragrant, 10 minutes. Gradually and vigorously whisk in broth and wine. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened and flavorful, about 30 minutes. Set aside until turkey is done.

3. While turkey is resting on carving board, spoon out and discard as much fat as possible from roasting pan, then strain drippings into saucepan with gravy, pressing on solids in strainer to extract as much liquid as possible. Stir in reserved giblets, and simmer until heated through. Add salt and pepper to taste, serve with turkey.

This recipe is also my contribution to Cookbook Sundays, sponsored by Couscous & Consciousness.

CookbookSundays

Here’s some pictures from our Birthday Thanksgiving in July dinner:

What are some of your favorite holiday meals to enjoy any time of year? Pumpkin pie? Colored eggs? Pepernoten? Ozoni?

Land and sea vegetable soup

This month’s Recipe Redux sponsored by The Professional Palate features the little underdogs of the sea: tiny fishes such as sardines and smelts, as well as sea vegetables, including kelp and seaweed. Initially I made a version of turkey bean burgers on a bed of  rice noodles and wakame, but I wasn’t completely satisfied with how it turned out. It was tasty, but I decided to scrap the whole project and start from scratch. This morning. :)

Here’s one of my favorite soup recipes that I’d normally make as soon as I got back from my evening exercise class. It takes about 30 minutes, and you can let it simmer while you jump in the shower (and your husband watches the stove,) so it’ll be ready when you are. It’s packed with land and sea vegetables, so you get the best of both worlds here. Sea veggies are a good source of minerals including iron, iodine and calcium, and even protein. They’re low in fat and calories, can be eaten dried (nori sprinkled on steamed rice or popcorn,) cooked (with braised vegetables, stews) and in desserts (where agar agar is used as a thickener to make jellys and yokan, a sweet bean dessert.) Check out this website for more information on sea vegetable varieties.

Turkey and Vegetable Seaweed Soup

1 teaspoon oil
1/4 lb. ground turkey
1/4 chopped onion
32 oz. chicken broth
1/4 cup dried wakame, nori, or any seaweed, cut into bite-sized pieces (not the nori used for sushi!)
1 small carrot, chopped
1 cup chopped kale leaves and stems
1 stem celery, chopped
1/2 cup cooked rice or barley
1 tablespoon white miso paste
1 cup hot water

In a medium sized pot, cook turkey in oil until browned, breaking up chunks with wooden spoon. Add onion, sautee 1 minute. Add broth, bring to simmer. Add everything except rice (or barley) and miso paste. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes on low heat.

Add cooked rice or barley, stir and simmer for 2 minutes more. Remove from heat. Mix miso paste in 1 cup hot water, add to soup and stir well. Serve immediately.

Want to ‘sea’ what other reduxers have been making with the ocean’s bounty? Click on the link below:
http://professionalpalate.squarespace.com/blog/the-recipe-redux-little-fish-cakes.html



Two comfort foods in one: grilled cheese and mashed (cauliflower and) potatoes

This afternoon my husband seemed to have a minor case of the blues. My way of cheering him up is usually with a nice shoulder rub (not like rubbing a pork shoulder with spices, but actually massaging his shoulders!) or with some kind of comfort food. The fridge was mostly filled with veggies, but we still had some turkey, cheese, and even some purple cauliflower I was going to use for some cauliflower-potato mash. So, sandwich night, it is!

My grilled cheese sandwiches usually have the same thing: cheese, turkey, mushrooms, and slices of fresh apple. Today I added some bacon (another meat source in the fridge!) and piled it with some cauliflower-potato mash topped with more cheese. It’s an easy-prep meal that is filling, comforting, and still has a serving of healthy greens. The apple slices cut through the salty savory flavors of the turkey and bacon. The mushrooms and cheese add more flavor and melty goodness, and the cauliflower mash is light but still creamy enough to give this open-faced sandwich a special “comfort food” quality that’s perfect for a last-minute midweek dinner. Enjoy!

 
Open-Faced Grilled Cheese Sammies for Two
These sandwiches will fill you up, but the cauliflower mash won’t fill you out!

2 slices bacon, excess fat trimmed and cut in half crosswise
4-6 white or crimini mushrooms, sliced
8 slices deli turkey
unsalted butter
4 slices bread
cheese (such as Gouda, Jarlsgerg or Chevre) enough for each piece of bread plus extra for topping
1 apple, quartered, then sliced into 5-6 thin pieces
2 cups cauliflower mashed potatoes (1 cup cooked potato and 3 cups cooked cauliflower mashed with 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 cup nonfat yogurt, and 1 tablespoon tahini (optional))
mixed salad greens

directions:
Heat a large frying pan over medium heat, add bacon and cook for 2 minutes, moving around the pan to distribute the fat. Flip over bacon, move to the side. Add sliced mushrooms, sautee for 2 minutes.

Put 2 slices of turkey together and add to pan, do the same with remaining slices, pushing mushrooms around to make room. Heat for 1 minute. Flip over turkey slices, pile on 1/4 of mushrooms and 1 slice of bacon on each 2 pieces of  turkey, heat for 1 minute more. Carefully transfer turkey slices with mushrooms and bacon onto plate, set aside.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in pan. Add 4 slices of bread, top with cheese slices. After about a minute, add turkey slices with mushrooms and bacon to each slice of bread. Heat for 1-2 minutes more or until the underside of bread is browned. Transfer to a plate, set aside.

In the same frying pan, melt 1 teaspoon of butter. Spoon 1/2 cup of cauliflower mash or mashed potatoes into pan, forming a mound (this will not hold together, but don’t worry.) Heat 1 1/2 minutes, carefully flip over, don’t worry if it spreads out a little. Top with a thin slice of cheese (or dab some goat cheese like I did for mine) and heat for another minute. Add one scoop of cauliflower mash to each bread slice topped with turkey & toppings. Serve on a bed of salad greens.

Do not adjust your screen, these patties are really purple!

Burgers in any flavor, shape or size is a laid-back kind of food that is as versatile as can be. Some revel in piling their patties high with veggies, bacon, cheeses, pickles and chili, others prefer a modest meal of a savory patty sandwiched between a soft split bun with lettuce and tomato. Any way you make it, burgers are always there to please.

My favorite burger to make involves an Asian sauce called nampla, also known as patis, or fish sauce. It is an incredibly strong fish-smelling sauce that should NOT be used on its own but together with lemon or lime and ginger to brighten up the heavy saltiness. I started making veggie burgers the other night (which actually turned into turkey bean burgers,) and wanted to have that same flavor as my Asian Style Burgers. I thought adding carrots would have have been too sweet, not what I wanted to balance the fish sauce. Since my other burger recipe  was originally accompanied with a cole slaw, I decided to use that chunk of cabbage that was sitting in the fridge for the last ten days. And what made it more fun was that it was purple!

After mixing all the ingredients together I came out with a beautiful purple-colored patty (reminded me of Spongebob’s ‘pretty patties’…kelp fries, anyone?) I fried it up, served it on a salad and this turkey bean burger was just as yummy as the other version, just more fun to look at. In this recipe, feel free to omit the turkey to make it more of a veggie burger, the flavors will still be delicious!

Purple Turkey Bean Burgers
Spice it up with 1/2 teaspoon chili pepper flakes or 1 finely chopped serrano chile. 

1 1/2 cups cooked beans (black, pinto, black-eyed beans)
1 celery rib, finely chopped
1 slice sprouted wheat bread or any kind of bread, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped lemongrass (white parts only, discard tough green parts)
1 3-inch piece fresh ginger, grated
1 tablespoon fish sauce (unsure option: use 2 teaspoons first then test-fry a patty. Add more if not enough flavor.)
1 cup purple cabbage, shredded
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 – 2/3 cup raw ground turkey
1/3 cup cooked quinoa or brown rice

In a large bowl, mash beans with a potato masher until few whole pieces remain. Add celery, bread, lemongrass, ginger, nampla and purple cabbage, stirring well to combine. Set aside.

In a large frying pan heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, sautee 1 minute. Add garlic and sautee 1 minute more or until fragrant. Remove from heat, stir in quinoa or brown rice. Add everything to bean mixture, along with raw ground turkey and mix well.

In the same frying pan, heat 1 teaspoon oil over medium heat. Form mixture into patties and add to hot pan. Cook for 3 – 4 minutes on each side. Serve on a mixed green salad with tomato and avocado.

Purple patties?? What’ll they think of next, green eggs and ham?!

This recipe has been submitted to Fantastic Frugal Fridayso come on over and check out the other great eats!

Mini Turkey Bean Burgers - skip the buns and eat it salad-style. Sammy looks on wistfully.

Whenever we’d get together with friends for a barbecue or potluck, I’d usually bring one of my favorite easy-to-make dishes: turkey burgers. For those who may have had bad experiences in the past, I would like to reassure you that delicious turkey burgers do exist, and, with the right seasoning, anything is possible!

Basic Turkey Burger Mix

1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
1/3 cup diced onions, sauteed with 1 or 2 garlic cloves (omit for Turkey Bean Burgers)
1 piece of bread, cut into small cubes
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon olive oil or ghee
Add-in seasoning (below)

Directions: In a bowl, add sauteed onions, garlic, bread cubes, and salt, if using. Toss with fork to distribute evenly. Add the oil or ghee, toss with fork to mix well. Crumble raw turkey into bread & onion mixture and add in one of the seasoning options below. Mix gently until combined. Refrigerate for 2 hours before cooking.

Asian Style Turkey Burgers (most unique) – Omit salt from basic turkey recipe. Add 1 tablespoon nampla (fish sauce); 1″ piece ginger, peeled and grated; 1 stalk lemongrass, white part chopped finely (discard the green part or save to make tea); 1 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes . You can serve this with a cole slaw tossed with nampla, fresh lime juice and cilantro.

Indian Spice Turkey Burgers  – 1 tablespoon Indian seasoning mix such as Garam Masala or your own special blend. I like to use  “Chef Johnny’s Korma Powder” from the cookbook, Eat, Taste, Heal. It’s a fragrant blend of cumin, coriander, cloves, cinnamon, fennel, fenugreek, mustard, cardamom, poppy seeds, ginger and tumeric.

Italian Seasoning Turkey Burgers – 2 teaspoons basil, 1 teaspoon oregano, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes or 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning. Add 1/3 cup finely diced or shredded Parmesan cheese.

Bean & Turkey Burgers (my favorite) – 1 cup cooked & drained beans (I use a black & pinto mix), 1/4 cup finely chopped celery, 1/4 cup finely chopped & sauteed onion, 1 teaspoon chili seasoning, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Mash everything with a potato masher or mix in a food processor or blender just until beans are smashed and mixture is still chunky (if you over-blend, it’ll turn into a refried bean paste consistency. Still tasty, but the texture will be very different.)