Feeding Friendships – Festivals and Peanut Butter Maple Fudge

Feeding Friendships – Festivals and Peanut Butter Maple Fudge

Spring is the perfect time to feed your friendships; the weather is starting to cooperate and towns are waking up from the long, cold winter! Now that it is starting to warm up, festival season is kicking into gear, bringing with it a sense of community and friendship to cities and towns across the country. This week, Sarah Weber is back to share memories of her favorite town festival along with a recipe using a local commodity that is sure to score you some friendship points!

I grew up in Chardon, a small town 35 miles east of Cleveland. I don’t know if it’s a huge thing in places other than the Midwest, but spring is festival season around these parts. Smaller than a county fair, with the same terrifyingly-quickly-assembled rides and street food vendors, these festivals usually celebrate a main commodity of the community with several tents, parades, exhibits, and contests to show off that commodity’s products. Not only do these festivals foster a sense of community, they are a great place to feed friendships.

Chardon is host to the oldest maple festival in the country, and having attended since I was a small child living six houses down from the town square, I can tell you it’s big fun. It’s counted as a point of pride that so many maple trees thrive in the community, and every March brings “Tappin’ Sunday,” a ceremonial tapping of a sugar maple on the square with a golden tap. Ubiquitous sap buckets hang from trees all over for the better part of a month, and a small building on the square known as the Sugar Shack starts throwing large clouds of white steam on Sundays as they prepare to serve up super unique maple stirs.

Friendship

This is maple syrup heated to a magic temperature (about 250°), then poured into a little cardboard bowl. You’re handed what looks like a tongue depressor and told to stir. This is where I learned patience as a child and where many friendships blossomed. You stir the thick syrup until slowly it turns into creamy maple candy, which you scrape out and eat with your stir stick as your spoon.

Needless to say, maple is one of my favorite flavors. Maple icing on eclairs, maple barbeque sauce, maple beer (yup), maple cocktails, real maple syrup on waffles. These are some of my favorite little pleasures in life when it comes to my taste buds. One of these favorite indulgences? Maple fudge. With just four ingredients, you can make a great nutty, maple treat that disappears as if by magic from whatever gathering you bring it to. And what better way to feed your friendships than to offer gifts of delicious fudge?

To prep, line a dish or pan with foil, and spray the foil with cooking spray. I used an 8×8 pan here, and thickness of your finished fudge will depend entirely on pan size. One batch comfortably fills an 8×8 pan. If you want thinner pieces, size up.

Tip number two is to use crunchy peanut butter if you want nuts in your finished fudge. It’s actually a pretty genius move (if I do say so myself) because the peanuts are already cut to a small size, and aren’t dense enough to sink to the bottom of your batter/fudge/icing/whatever you’re peanut buttering. One of my favorite shortcuts.

Ingredients

Friendship

  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/8-1/4 cup maple syrup

Combine sugar and milk in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir occasionally until the mixture starts to boil. I used a thin rubber spatula so the sugar mixture wouldn’t stick when it came time for clean-up.

Once you’re boiling, stir constantly for 3 minutes.

FriendshipRemove your saucepan from the heat, turn off your burner, and add your peanut butter and maple syrup. Stir until the peanut butter is fully incorporated and you have a uniformly-colored creamy mixture. I didn’t measure my maple syrup — eyeballing it, I probably added close to ¼ cup in two good-sized pours straight from the bottle.

Friendship

Pour your fudge into your lined pan and pop it in the fridge. You can cut it into squares or slices in approximately 2 hours. I like squares about an inch all around as a bite-sized treat. Wrap individual pieces in wax paper and add to friendship baskets or tins. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

Friendship

Is your area also a festival town? Have you had friendships grow from these fun community gatherings? Have you ever had a maple stir? If you’re in the Northeast Ohio area April 23-26, make your way to Chardon and I might see you there!

Printer friendly recipe: Peanut Butter Maple Fudge

Custom Countertops from Start to Finish

Custom Countertops from Start to Finish

Last week we talked about some of the cool custom projects we have worked on with our customers, so I thought it would be a good time to fill you in on just how to do a custom countertop project of your own.

If you are in the market for a new custom countertop for any room of the house, we have a fairly simple process to get you from design to install.

Step 1: Choose Materials

Your first step is to pick out your materials. We have a nice rundown of your options here, which explains the pros and cons of the different wood species and grain styles and what jobs each type works best for. If you’re having difficulty making a final decision, let us know and we’ll send out some samples for you.

Step 2: Send in Specs

Once you have determined your materials, we need to see your layout and size requirements. You can send a simple sketch of your countertop needs to [email protected], detailing the dimensions and any cutouts. This can (should) be very basic; I don’t need your cabinet plans or blueprints from your contractor – just a simple sketch of the countertops. Because we can’t sit down together in-person, it’s important that I can see what you are visualizing; this occasionally manifests as a cell phone picture of a doodle on a napkin that is emailed to me while I am still on the phone with the customer, and that is perfectly okay! If you are unsure of the best layout for your space, send over what you have and we can talk it through. Sometimes we need to change things around a bit to accommodate extra-large sizes or unique shapes, and I review each project to make sure we are using the method that makes the most sense for design, installation, and budget. As you can see, we work with super simple hand-drawn sketches, professional images, and everything in between.

Custom Countertop

Step 3: Review Your Quote

We will price out your custom countertop project and send you a firm price quote. This can generally be done within about 24 hours, depending on how complicated your design is. Your quote will have a breakdown of the pricing if you have multiple pieces.

Step 4: Place Your Order

After reviewing your quote and finalizing all your details, we can get your order processed and sent over to the Boos factory for manufacturing. I will need the details for any and all appliances, sinks, etc. that will be installed in your tops; you can email me the make and model number of each item.

Step 5: Confirm Specs

At this point, I create a drawing to send over to the engineering team at Boos, who will do all their fancy engineering stuff and work up an approval sketch for you to sign off on. This is the most important step in getting you the perfect custom countertops, so review the details thoroughly and have your contractor (if you are using one) verify all the specifications. If there are any issues, you just need to let me know and I will have them corrected. When everything looks perfect, sign your sketch and send it back to me. With your signed sketch on file, your order is put into the production queue at Boos and manufacturing can begin.

Custom Countertop

Step 6: Patience and Excitement

And now you just need to wait. Custom countertops average about four weeks for production, so make sure you order far enough in advance. Nobody wants a kitchen without countertops! Once your countertops arrive, inspect them thoroughly and then allow them to acclimate for at least 72 hours in the room in which they will be installed. Installation is fairly straightforward and is often done by the homeowner without the aid of a contractor. Just make sure you follow these instructions properly. If at any point in this process you have questions, just let us know! We are here to help!

Custom Countertop

Healthy Oils for a Healthy You!

Healthy Oils for a Healthy You!

Is one of your New Year’s Resolutions to get healthier? Instead of starting off with a huge overhaul of your lifestyle, take baby steps and slowly integrate more healthful choices in ways that won’t affect how much you enjoy your food.

One of the easiest ways to clean up your act is by switching to more healthy oils in your cooking and baking.

These changes can be virtually unnoticeable, but can have a positive impact on your health. This chart provides a simple guide to choosing the most practical and healthy oils for different uses, helping you make better choices based on your common cooking needs. Think about what types of dishes you make most often and invest in a high quality healthy oil for each of your most common needs. If you feel like getting fancy and adding in a few more, go for it!Healthy Oils

Some things to keep in mind when choosing healthy oils:

  • For salads, choose an unrefined version of pumpkin seed, safflower, flax, walnut, or hemp oil. Be sure to shop for shelf-stable or refrigerated oils.
  • Monounsaturated fats are good! These types of oils will stay liquid at room temperature and turn cloudy in the refrigerator. These are good options to use instead of margarine and shortening for baking purposes. Olive oil is high in monounsaturated fats and is a surprisingly delicious alternative for baked goods.
  • Polyunsaturated fats are also good and stay liquid even in the refrigerator.
  • Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and should generally be avoided.
  • Coconut oil is a great replacement for butter or other oils in dishes with strong flavors, like curries. It can also be used in baking, but keep in mind that it will impart a bit of coconut flavor to your goodies (not a problem in my book!)
  • Store all of your non-refrigerated oils in dark containers or in a cool, dark cabinet. If you like to keep your most common oils out by the stove for convenience, invest in some small ceramic bottles and only keep out what you can reasonably go through in a couple weeks. Keep them away from direct heat.
  • Don’t buy in bulk if you aren’t going to use it. While it might be tempting to bring home that very reasonably priced jug of oil from the warehouse store, if it’s going to go bad before you can use it up, you’re better off buying a smaller amount of high quality oil that you can enjoy to the very last drop.

This may seem like an overwhelming amount of information to keep straight, but you can switch to more healthy oils without a whole lot of effort. Don’t freak yourself out about using the healthiest oil every time. Some things just taste better with butter! But if you’re cutting back on butter in general, you can afford to splurge for the good stuff when you do use it. Since I mostly use coconut or olive oil for my cooking purposes, I don’t feel bad about using really high quality organic butter when I make eggs (I realize how snooty this sounds, but I promise you the difference in flavor and quality is worth it).

I only keep a few oils stocked all the time and I find my supply perfectly capable of handling just about anything. Here’s my list:

  • Virgin Coconut Oil – I use this for light sautéing when I make anything spicy or bold, like Indian and Thai dishes. Coconut oil is a great accompaniment to tropical dishes as well and I find it’s delicious for just about any type of white fish. I use it in place of vegetable oil for baking. Coconut oil makes a great lip moisturizer, too!
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil – I use olive oil for most of my daily cooking. I don’t buy the fanciest, most expensive available (but feel free to buy that for me), but since I use it for dressings and drizzles, I do like to keep a nice bottle around. There is nothing quite like dipping freshly baked bread in a nice, bold olive oil! Throw a little sea salt and rosemary in there and I’m set for life!
  • Avocado Oil and/or Peanut Oil: Because of their high smoke points, these both make great options for stir fry, searing meat, and other high temperature cooking.
  • Flax Oil – I keep this around for salad dressings. Flax oil has a nice nutty flavor and lots of health benefits.  I only buy this from the refrigerated section, as it doesn’t have a very long shelf life and you just never know how long it has been sitting out at the store, or if it was kept in a hot truck or warehouse. When flax oil goes bad, you will know. Trust me.
  • Safflower Oil – This is relatively flavorless and works great in dressings with a separate star ingredient. Safflower is my go-to when I do sweet dressings like raspberry vinaigrette. Sometimes olive and flax are just too overpowering.

See? Incorporating healthy oils into your life isn’t so hard! What’s your favorite way to use healthy oils?

Food Superstitions – Just in Time for Halloween!

Food Superstitions – Just in Time for Halloween!

With Halloween celebrations in full swing, we’ve been thinking about the creepy and supernatural (and candy; mostly about candy). Ghosts and goblins don’t really fit into our narrative around here, though, so we thought we’d talk about food!

This is a great time of year to freak yourself out by reading into food superstitions!

We’re all aware of some of the common food superstitions like throwing salt over your left shoulder (you know – to blind the devil), or using garlic to ward off vampires, but I’ve come across a few that I had never heard before, and now I’m a little worried!

Have you ever just handed a friend a knife while cooking together? I bet you’re no longer on speaking terms, right? Same with hot peppers! It’s no wonder I don’t have any friends left…and here I thought it was my personality. So if you want to keep your relationships intact, make sure you set the pepper or the knife on the table and let your friend pick it up on their own. Gifting knives is also a no-no, which is why a coin is often included when a knife is given; the recipient offers the coin to the giver as “payment” so as to avoid any friendship ruining.

Food Superstitions

Don’t hand this to anyone!

I’m not terribly concerned about my past knife and pepper indiscretions, but were you aware that cutting long noodles could shorten your life? I spent a solid year cutting up my son’s Chow Mein from our favorite Chinese restaurant so he wouldn’t make as big of a mess. I don’t know if that puts my life at risk or his, but we will now be a strictly long-noodled household.

And there is NO TELLING how many terrible storms at sea I have caused by not crushing up my eggshells before tossing them!

Food Superstitions

How much are these bubbles worth?

Or the untold riches I could have amassed by simply using a spoon to catch and eat the bubbles in my coffee. I drink coffee every day! Thankfully I have never taken bananas onto a ship, so I’m not responsible for any terrible fishing days (probably worth noting that the only ship I’ve been on is a cruise ship, so fishing wasn’t exactly a priority).

Have you broken the rules of any of these food superstitions? Will you be tempting the fates this Halloween by breaking them on purpose? I think I’m going to stay home, turn off the lights, and eat some super garlicky pasta just in case the vampires come for me.

Do you know of any food superstitions besides these? We would love to hear from you!

BBQ Tips for Memorial Day

BBQ Tips for Memorial Day

BBQ season is officially here! Kick off summer this Memorial Day weekend with some awesome BBQ to share with family and friends. Master griller Chef J is back to share some important BBQ tips to make sure your weekend is as delicious as possible! Take it away, Chef J.

In my town, summer can fill people with dread. Temperatures will soon be in the mid-200s, leading to cranky, sweaty, dehydrated Phoenicians. On the other hand — there is a pool party every weekend, you can wear flip-flops anywhere, and BBQ. Sweet, smoky BBQ! This time of year is great for both those who have been eating salad all spring in anticipation of wearing a bathing suit, and those who just want an excuse to drink beer and eat meat.

We have already covered ribs and brisket in previous blogs. There are plenty of recipes floating around the internet and many more that have yet to be created, but let’s start with the basics.

Here are a few tips that can help novices confidently host their own backyard BBQ, and maybe even give the most hickory-seasoned pro an idea or two.

Meat

The best advice for any cook, especially a budding backyard gourmand, is “don’t mess it up!” That might sound a little too simplistic, but the truth is that most ingredients are pretty good on their own. The best thing you can do to a quality piece of meat is sprinkle a little salt and pepper on it and not burn it. Fancy spice rubs and secret family recipes are fantastic, but the star is the meat. If you have a good butcher shop in your town (and you probably do) talk to the experts about what they have. Fortunately there is a growing trend toward local, natural ingredients — this is good if you like to tell your friends about how socially-conscious you are, but it’s even better if you enjoy eating really delicious food. You might be surprised by what you find in a real butcher shop. At my local shop I can get locally raised, all natural meat for the same price or less than the junk available at the supermarket.

Fire

There is really no debate BBQbetween gas or charcoal. Gas is efficient, cleaner burning, and faster. But charcoal is at least a million times better. If you want a clean, efficient, fast hamburger then you probably should eat a turkey sandwich. Smoke tastes good! Take the time to start a real fire. Hopefully you have access to a BBQ supply store that can help you pick out a charcoal or wood that add some authentic flavor to your food, otherwise there’s always the internet. Again, just like with all other ingredients, go for a more natural option. It’s not that hard to start a fire; you don’t have to buy briquets that are pre-soaked with lighter fluid. Take an old #10 can (like a giant coffee can), cut the top and bottom off with a can opener, place it on your grill, wad up an old grocery bag or some paper, put it in and light it on fire. Pile your charcoal or wood on top of that and in about 10-15 minutes you’ll have white-hot coals. There are a number of gadgets and products available to help you start your fire but try to avoid lighter fluid — it leaves behind a bad taste. If you are going to be BBQing something for a long time, like ribs or brisket, go with a milder wood like apple or pecan. If you want to add some smokey flavor to something that will only be cooking for a little while, like steak or burgers, try something bolder like mesquite or hickory.

Tools

Other than meat, fire, and something to contain it all, you will need a few other gadgets. Two good thermometers are important, especially if you are cooking things that require a slower and lower method — you want one to test the temp of the grill and one to test the meat. You will also want a pair of long-handled tongs; that giant fork that comes with all BBQ sets is not recommended since it will puncture the meat and cause it to lose juices. Get a heavy duty grill brush to keep things clean. Oh, and that coffee can method I told you about; there are fire starter cans that come with handles that are pretty handy to have around.

Patience

Grilling can be done relatively quickly, but real BBQ takes time. Beer and company help pass the time. If you are making ribs then be prepared for your day being spent at or around the pit. But patience is also required for even the smallest cut of meat. Letting your steak or burger rest for a few minutes after cooking and before eating or cutting will allow the meat to reabsorb the juices that are flowing around inside of it. If you cut a steak open right off of the grill it will lose all of it’s moisture — leaving you with a tough, dry dinner. Let your steaks rest for at least 5 minutes and let your brisket hang out for 20-30 before carving; keep them in a warm place, but not so hot that they over-cook.

The best part of any BBQ is the whole gang getting together, so don’t stress too much. Wanting to get everything right is one thing, but remember that a backyard cookout is about having fun with the people you care about! Ask mom to make her famous potato salad, put the beer on ice, skim the pool, and have a wonderful Memorial Day!

Leftover Turkey – What To Do With All That Goodness

Leftover Turkey – What To Do With All That Goodness

Now that you know how to roast and carve your turkey, you can start thinking about what to do with all those delicious leftovers!

Chef J shares a couple of his favorite recipes for leftover turkey so you don’t get bored by day three!

It’s the same every year: we’re afraid that there won’t be enough food so we buy the biggest turkey we can find. Then we spend the next week trying to figure out how to get rid of leftover turkey! The turkey sandwich is a classic for a reason, but you might have a hard time selling it by Monday. I like to give mine a twist with a heaping shmear of strawberry cream cheese and sun-dried tomatoes. But there are a few other tricks that can help you utilize the rest of your Thanksgiving feast; one of my favorite, easy ways to use leftover turkey is the quesadilla. I know, it’s not a big stretch from a sandwich, but a little melted cheese goes a long way. And you might get a few odd looks, but try some leftover turkey on your waffles Sunday morning, swimming in maple syrup.

Apple Turkey Quesadillacheese crisp

  • 1 large flour tortilla
  • ½ cup shredded Swiss cheese (or similar mild cheese)
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • ¼ of a green apple, thinly sliced
  • 4 oz shredded or sliced leftover turkey

Place the tortilla on a hot griddle and evenly sprinkle on the cheese and rosemary. Layer the apples, then the turkey, over half of the tortilla. When the cheese has melted enough to stick to the tortilla fold it in half. Grill for about a minute and a half on each side until the tortilla is golden brown and the cheese is melty. Slice it up and enjoy! It’s also very good with a dab of sour cream and even a little bit of leftover cranberry sauce!

Another simple staple of mine is teriyaki. It’s easy and healthy but has a comfort food feel that should please both the refined palettes of the culinary snobs as well as the picky eaters at your table. The sauce is quick to make, it will keep in the fridge for at least a week or can be frozen for the long term. Drizzle it over some reheated leftover turkey, with some rice, maybe a little sliced scallion, and break out the chopsticks! You can play with this recipe quite a bit- make it sweeter, spicier, garlicky-er, you can add a little wasabi or even a bit of chipotle. It also makes a nice glaze for meats and veggies on the grill!

Teriyaki Sauce

  • 1 ½ cups water
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 2 tsp fresh, grated ginger
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp chile flakes
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • ½ tsp white pepper (or about ¼ tsp of black pepper)
  • 2 TBS honey
  • 2 tsp cornstarch mixed with 2 tsp water

Mix all of the ingredients together except for the cornstarch slurry. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 10 minutes. Mix in the slurry and simmer for another 4-5 minutes to thicken up a bit. Serve over leftover turkey with rice.

 

What do you do with leftover turkey?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Printer friendly recipes: Leftover Turkey Recipes

 

Turkey Carving Tips from a Pro

Turkey Carving Tips from a Pro

chef jSo, you read last week’s blog and are all prepped to make a delicious Thanksgiving turkey, right? Now you just need to know how to get that bird from roasting pan to table! Chef J is back with some turkey carving tips to teach you how to do it the right way.

That lovely carving set you got as a wedding gift (you know, the one with the two-prong fork and thin knife), is pretty useless for turkey carving and will do more harm than good here. Sorry about that… You should have a very sharp carving or chef’s knife for this, along with a pair of tongs, and some good old fashioned fingers. Some vinyl food service gloves will help keep things clean and prevent your hands from getting too hot.

Turkey Carving:

  • Position your beautiful birdy on a carving board so that the ends of the drumsticks are pointing toward you, breast-side up.
  • Pull the leg up and out to expose the joint. Using the tip of your knife, cut through the joint and socket. Gently pull the drumstick away from the body while “following” with your knife; the leg should cleanly separate from the body with you doing minimal cutting. You know what a drumstick looks like! Now do that again on the other side. You can serve these whole to two lucky guests or slice them up to share the love. To carve the leg, simply hold the small end upright with the fat end on your board. Slice straight down through the meat and rotate, leaving behind the bone and connective tissue.
  • To get at the white meat, rotate the turkey, or your board, so that the wings and breasts are pointed toward you and the (now missing) legs are facing away. There is a ridge bone running down the center of the breast; start about half an inch to the side of center, slicing parallel to the ridge. Cut gently, letting the rib cage guide your knife as you slice all the way through toward your cutting board while pulling the meat away in one large piece. Repeat for the other side. You will have two breast pieces and a relatively clean rib cage (don’t worry if there is a bit of meat left behind). Now you can slice the breast meat against the grain into ¼ to ½ inch pieces.
  • Flip the turkey over, breast side down, and position it so that the leg-end is facing you. Pull the wings away from the body to expose the joint. Cut through the joint and socket just like you did with the leg.
  • Starting just below where the wing was, slice toward you, separating the thigh from the body. You will have a large piece, about half the size of the breast, with one bone running through the center. Place the thigh skin-side-down on your cutting board. Using the tip of your knife, cut parallel to the bone, separating it from the meat. You should be able to gently tear the bone out with your fingers without losing any meat. Flip it over so that it is skin-side up and cut against the grain (perpendicular to where the bone was) into ¼ to ½ inch slices.

You now have a fairly clean carcass. The remaining meat can be removed by hand, picking the good stuff out from in between the bones and hard to reach places. This makes great leftovers! To get all the goodness out of your turkey, use the carcass to make some delicious turkey stock.

Turkey carving doesn’t sound so bad, does it?

It seems we all have a turkey carving horror story – follow these steps and this year it won’t be about you!

Don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to receive updates of new posts. Next week Chef J will be sharing some ideas for all that leftover turkey!

Thanksgiving Turkey – Tips for a Delicious and Juicy Turkey

Thanksgiving Turkey – Tips for a Delicious and Juicy Turkey

Thanksgiving is almost here! Are you as excited as we are? This week, Chef J shares a delicious and easy recipe to get that Thanksgiving turkey on the table. Check back next week for Chef J’s tips on carving your bird.

Turkey is my favorite poultry (as well as one of my favorite things to call bad drivers while I’m on the road…) so I take Thanksgiving dinner very seriously. Cooking a turkey and then carving that turkey can be very intimidating, especially if you have friends and relatives coming over that you would like to impress! Fear not!

With a few simple tricks you will end up with a delicious Thanksgiving turkey that your guests will just gobble up.

They will be stuffing themselves with your perfect poultry (Thanksgiving is also a great holiday for terrible puns, you jive turkeys!).

The most common problem people face on their plates is a dry bird- this doesn’t have to happen to you! For a moist turkey the key is time: take as much of it as you need. If you follow these steps, by the time you are ready to carve your Thanksgiving turkey you will have nothing to worry about. Brining the bird the day before will help it retain moisture, a little butter under the skin will add flavor and richness, and (most importantly) letting it rest before carving your turkey will keep all of the juices where they should be.

Brined Thanksgiving Turkey

As far as flavor goes, you can use whatever herbs and spices you like, but here is my favorite recipe:

juicy-turkey

Brine:

  • 1 gallon of water
  • 4 cups kosher salt
  • 2 cups honey
  • ¼ cup peppercorns
  • 1 small bunch fresh rosemary
  • 1 small bunch fresh thyme
  • 1 small bunch fresh sage
  • 1 TBS whole cloves
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 1 gallon cold water
  • Ice

Bring the first gallon of water to a boil. Add the remaining ingredients (except the cold water and ice!), lower the heat and let the mixture simmer for a few minutes until everything has dissolved.
Combine the hot brine with the cold water in a separate container; add ice until the mixture is cold.
Place your turkey into a container large enough to hold it and the brine, but small enough to fit in your refrigerator, positioned so that the drumsticks and cavity opening are facing upward.
Pour the brine over and into the bird, cover tightly, and refrigerate for 24 hours.
When your bird has been sufficiently brined, remove it from the liquid. Give it a quick rinse and pat it completely dry. Let it sit at room temperature while preparing the rub and heating your oven.

turkey sq 1

Rub:

  • 4 oz unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tsp dried sage
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1 TBS orange zest
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced

Combine all ingredients.Gently rub the mixture evenly under the skin of the entire turkey.Heat your oven to 325.
Place the bird on a rack in a large roasting pan. Cover completely and tightly with heavy duty foil, tent it so that it is not touching the turkey.
If you have a thermometer that can stay in the turkey while in the oven this is the time to use it! Roast until it reaches an internal temperature of 160 in the thigh. You can estimate about 10 minutes of cooking time per pound, but this is really just a guess. The only accurate way to cook poultry is by temperature.
Pull it out of the oven and turn the heat up to 375. When your oven is ready remove the foil from the turkey (but save it for later!) and place the bird back in until an internal temperature of 170 is reached and the skin has browned up a bit.
If you like your turkey really brown you can help it out by brushing it with a bit of honey and finishing it with your oven on the convection setting.
Remove from the heat, cover with foil and let it sit for 30-60 minutes before carving.

Check back next week for the basics on carving your Thanksgiving turkey.

Printer friendly recipe: Brined Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe

Kitchen Fitness: Use it or Lose it!

Kitchen Fitness: Use it or Lose it!

Having grown up in a gourmet kitchen store, I have a fabulous collection of kitchen essentials. Unfortunately, I have a mass of non-essentials, too! I need to focus on my kitchen fitness!! Honestly, who really needs six whisks of the same style?

The new year brought a new home with a smaller kitchen and, let me tell you, this kitchenware collector did not adjust well! For a solid month we lived with pans literally stacked on the floor, utensils pouring out of boxes, and a butcher block table so overloaded with stuff I couldn’t even use it! After stubbing my toe on a cast iron skillet for the 27th time, I’d had enough. I painstakingly went through every piece of cookware, bakeware, gadgetry, and appliance and whittled my way down to a manageably fit kitchen.

A few of the more ridiculous things I ousted:

  • Five whisks (kept four!)
  • Three 8” fry pans. THREE!!
  • Two nasty 12” skillets
  • Two garlic presses
  • A brand new ravioli rolling pin (why??)
  • Two identical carrot ribboning tools (why I even had one is beyond me)

A few things I can’t live without:

  • Counter-space-hogging espresso machine
  • Super quality cookware and knives
  • Silicone spatulas (colorful AND functional!)
  • My KitchenAid mixer
  • Quality cutting boards
  • Cake pans (endless uses!)
  • Cheese graters (yes, plural – don’t judge.)

And a few things I WON’T live without:

  • Vita-Mix blender – Don’t use this enough to justify the hefty price tag, but it’s magic!
  • All 22 of my wonderful German knives (seven are steak knives – it’s not that excessive!) –I use about four of them regularly, but they’re all in one block, so getting rid of some won’t save me any space!
  • My 23-year-old gigantic Scanpan “witch’s cauldron.” I have used it exactly two times, but it’s the bee’s knees and holds 9.5 quarts of stew AND 23 years worth of family memories.
  • Absurd (someone said that!) amounts of cookware. After getting rid of about a dozen pans, I still have a full pot rack (excellent addition to a small kitchen, by the way) and then some.

Clearly I have a hard time letting go of things I might possibly-some-day-in-the-distant-future use (looking at you, pasta machine). Getting rid of some of my unnecessities, however, made me appreciate the value behind the pieces I kept. I can do just as much with a simple set of tongs, spatulas, and bamboo spoons as I could with the multiple boxes of utensils I chucked (donated, don’t worry).

before & after

Moral of this story is that investing in quality multi-tasking pieces not only makes sense financially, but will improve your kitchen fitness. Plus you end up with space to keep the occasional frivolous purchase (*cough* individual instant popsicle makers).

You know that feeling when you clean out your closet and it’s like you have a whole new wardrobe with room for new boots? It’s like that. So next time you throw a spatula in frustration because its fat rubber handle won’t fit into your utensil crock, do yourself a favor and get your kitchen fit!

What are your must-haves for the kitchen?