Sunday, November 30, 2008

Post-Ex on the Filet Mignon

For my birthday, I made a pan seared filet mignon with a Cabernet reduction sauce. It is a simple, yet messy meal to make. Messy in that the filets are cooked in melted butter and olive oil in a pan on top of the stove and the oil/butter mix tends to spatter. Anyhow, the steaks cooked for about 10 minutes total, then I removed them from the heat and loosely covered them with foil.

For the reduction, I simply deglazed the pan with 2/3 cup of Cabernet,
added some more butter and capers and reduced until the it was, well, sauce consistency. Our friend Amy, proprietor of Art of the Table, suggested that a bottle of Piccolo Cru from Paoletti Winery. Amy did not lead us astray and the wine perfectly complimented our meal.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Turkey Vindaloo

We had a lot of left over turkey following our Thanksgiving meal. The uncooked turkey breast was 8.4 lbs., so I had to find some creative ways to make use of the left over turkey. Our friends at Art of the Table provided a perfect way to make use of some of the turkey. Amy suggested that we try adding some turkey to Indian Vindaloo Simmering Sauce. The recipe was simple enough: Simmer sauce with 1 1/2 lbs cubed poultry for 10-15 minutes and serve over rice.

This simmering sauce had a wonderful aroma while heating, and I spooned the simmered sauce over cous cous. It was incredible easy to make and the sauce was spicy and inviting. I will definitely try more of the sauces made by Maya Kaimal.

Turkey Carcass Soup

Last night I sliced off most of the meat from the turkey breast I cooked for our Thanksgiving meal. I had the remains of the turkey, along with a lot of roasted skin that I wanted to put to good use. This morning I started to make "Turkey Carcass Soup" using the recipe below:

1 Remove all the usable turkey meat from the turkey carcass to save for making sandwiches later or for adding to the soup.

2 Break up the leftover bones of the carcass a bit, so they don't take up as much room in the pot. Put the leftover bones and skin into a large stock pot and cover with water by an inch. Add any drippings that weren't used to make gravy, and any giblets (except liver) that haven't been used already. Add a yellow onion that has been quartered, some chopped carrots, parsley, thyme, a bay leaf, celery tops, and some peppercorns.

3 Bring to a boil and immediately reduce heat to bring the stock to a bare simmer or just below a simmer. ( If you would like to have a clear stock, keep the stock below a simmer, as the more you simmer, the more cloudy the stock will be.) Skim off any foamy crud that may float to the surface of the stock.

4 Add salt and pepper, about 1 tsp of salt, 1/2 tsp of pepper. It sort of depends on how big your turkey is. You can always add salt to the soup later.

5 Cook for at least 4 hours, uncovered or partially uncovered (so the stock reduces), occassionally skimming off any foam that comes to the surface. To help maintain a steady, even heat, you can cook the stock in a 180-200°F oven.

6 Remove the bones and veggies and strain the stock, ideally through a very fine mesh strainer.

7 If making stock for future use in soup you may want to reduce the stock by cooking it longer, uncovered, at a bare simmer or just below a simmer, to make it more concentrated and easier to store.

Making the Turkey Soup

Prepare the turkey soup much as you would a chicken soup. With your stock already made, add chopped carrots, onions, and celery in equal parts. Add some parsley, a couple cloves of garlic. Add seasoning - poultry seasoning, sage, thyme, marjoram and/or a bouillion cube. Cook at a bare simmer until the vegetables are cooked through. (Or you can sauté the vegetables in a little fat rendered from the soup first, and add back to the soup right before serving.) You can add rice, noodles, or even leftover mashed potatoes (or not if you want the low carb version). Take some of the remaining turkey meat you reserved earlier, shred it into bite sized pieces and add to the soup. You may also want to add some chopped tomatoes, either fresh or canned. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sometimes a dash or two of Tabasco gives the soup a nice little kick.

Our Dutch oven is in the oven, simmering away at a warm 200F. Sometime just before noon, I will strain the stock and make the actual soup. I have to say that the house has a wonderful aroma of turkey right now!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Post-Ex of the Brined Turkey

I am happy to report that the brined turkey breast I prepared for our Thanksgiving meal was nothing short of fantastic. To say that it was just a turkey breast is a bit of a misnomer. What I inadvertently purchased was the entire chest of a turkey! Anyhow, the directions on the bag were pretty simple:

"Pre-heat an oven to 325F. Rub olive oil over the turkey. Roast, breast side up, until the internal temperature is 170F."
The instructions also listed a chart that showed approximate cooking times. For an 8-9 pound bre
ast, the chart showed cooking times of 2 1/2 - 3 1/4 hours. I put the turkey into my new oven at 3PM and I figured we would be eating around 7PM. How wrong I was. The turkey's internal temperature reached 170F in precisely 2 hours and 12 minutes. My new GE Profile stove certainly cooks things quickly and efficiently! We were able to adjust the cooking start times of the side dishes and dinner was served at approximately 5:30PM.

As for the turkey, I c
arved off a few slices for Deirdre and I to enjoy and enjoy it we did. The meat was tender and juicy, with just a hint of the spices and salt that were used to brine it. The gravy was made using the drippings (what little there were) from the turkey, Dee made the whipped potatoes, and while the turkey was resting I popped the biscuits into the oven. The side dishes and the biscuits were all done at the same time and served piping hot. Yep, it was a great meal.

And yes, Samson got a few snitches of turkey.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


To set the record straight, here at the Cafe we are non-traditional celebrants of Thanksgiving. By that I mean that I do not always cook a turkey for our Thanksgiving. Over the course of the past few years, I have made the following for our Thanksgiving meal:

- Chicken Curry with Apple Curried Cous Cous
- Peppery Flank Steak
- Tenderloin DeLuxe

However, this year turkey will be the main course of our feast. Since it will just be me and the spousal unit for dinner on Thursday, I decided against buying a whole turkey. Instead, I purchased what I thought was a whole turkey breast. Last weekend, we were at our favorite foodies store, Art of the Table, and the owner and proprietor, Amy suggested that we brine our turkey. By sheer coincidence, I was planning on brining the turkey, but Amy had a pre-made brine for us. The brine is made by a company called Golden Fig Epicurean Delights. How can I go wrong using something made by a company with such a cool name?

Back to the story. This afternoon, I prepared the brine. It was simple enough to do. All I had to do was boil some water, add the brine and some brown sugar. A few minutes later, I poured the brine over the turkey breast, which was patiently waiting in a large pot. I have placed the pot into our fridge in our basement where it will quietly sit until tomorrow afternoon when I will place it in the oven for a couple of hours.

This will be our Thanksgiving menu:

Brined Turkey with home made gravy
Whipped Red Skin Potatoes
Caesar Salad
Pie Apple

Full report to follow on how this meal turns out.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Tonight is the long awaited Chilipalooza. Below is the recipe I will be making tonight:

2 lbs ground beef
1 lb pork sausage
1 16oz can whole tomatoes
1 15oz can tomato sauce
16oz water or beer
8oz tomato juice
2 6oz cans tomato paste
1 onion, finely chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, minced (optional)
1 T crushed red pepper
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
2oz chili powder
1 bay leaf
cumin and more pepper to taste

In a large pot, crush the whole tomatoes. Stir in the tomato sauce, tomato juice, onion, crushed red pepper, ground pepper and water/beer. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and crumble in half of the meat, tomato paste and chili powder. Crumble in the remaining beef and simmer, uncovered, for an hour. Add cumin and pepper to taste. Simmer for 15 more minutes and serve.

Our neighbors are coming by at 5PM tonight for some oat pops and at around 6PM we will sample each chili recipe.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Some good eats

We are busy preparing for the holiday feast, our favorite time of the year, Thanksgiving. We did some prep work with our weekly visit to Art of the Table to pick up some goodies. This year, Paul is going to brine a turkey breast. We picked up a couple of different brines from Amy; one is a traditional brine with sage, rosemary and juniper berries; the other is a herby brine with coriander, lavender, tarragon and lemon peel. Doesn't that sound heavenly? They are made by Golden Fig Epicurean Delights. Of course, there will be a full report to follow and I imagine that it will be glowing.

We also took Amy's recommendation of a delicious 2005 pinot Balletto from Sonoma to accompany our turkey. I like white wine well enough but we were thinking crazy and decided on a red. Crazy. Crazy good.

Tonight, we are taking it culinarily easy with a couple of rib eyes on the grill. While resting, we put a bit of gorgonzola cheese on top to give the steak a zing.

Happy eats!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Real Simple Chicken Curry

I made the recipe below at the Cafe tonight. As the name implies, it was real simple to make. However, please see the Cook's Notes for my recommendations for improvement.

Real Simple Quick Chicken Curry

1 small onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons curry powder
1/2 cup tomato juice
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 large skinless, boneless chicken-breasts, cut into bite size pieces
1 teaspoon kosher salt (optional)

Accompaniments: 2 cups cooked rice; 1/2 cup salted, shelled peanuts; and 3 scallions, slivered.

In a large, deep skillet, cook the onion in the oil over medium heat, stirring, until golden brown, about 12 minutes. Add the curry powder and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Stir in the tomato juice and simmer for 2 minutes to blend the flavors. Add the chicken and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Add the salt. Serve half the chicken curry over rice. Top with the peanuts and scallions. Freeze the remaining chicken curry.

To Freeze: Spoon the chicken curry into a freezer container. Cover and freeze for up to 3 months.

To Reheat: Thaw in the refrigerator overnight or in the microwave. To serve Quick Chicken Curry as is, cover with plastic wrap and heat in the microwave for 7 to 9 minutes or until heated through, stirring once. Or spoon into an ovenproof baking dish. Cover with foil and place in a 325° F oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until heated through.

Yield: Makes 4 servings with leftovers

Cook's Notes: This was easy to make but it was not spicy enough for our taste. I will make this dish again, but next time I will add a a little more red wine, some crushed red pepper and increase the amount of "curry powder."

Technically, there is no such thing as curry powder. A tablespoon of curry is made by combining:

1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried coriander
1/2 teaspoon teaspoon dried ginger

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Post-Game of the Prime Rib

I am happy to report that last night's meal of Prime Rib us Jus was an unqualified success. Deirdre made a command decision that we should make a salad as our veggie instead of cooking some vegetable. We also made the following potato dish:

Redskin Potatoes (however many you think you need for the amount of people)
Minced Garlic (1 or 2 cloves or however much you wan to put in) (optional
Pepper to taste
Butter (just a Tablespoon or two)Milk and/or Chicken stock (enough to get the consistency you want)
Fresh Chopped Parsley to garnish (optional)

Half the redskin potatoes, put in a large pot, add cold water and salt (kind of like how you do when you cook pasta). Bring to boil. Cook until fork tender. Drain the potatoes. To the same pot add the butter, potatoes, garlic, pepper to taste, and a little bit of milk or chicken stock. For the mashing, you can either use a one of those mashing tools, a fork, or a beater. Mash until you get them to the consistency you like, keep adding liquid if needed. Add the parsley for a nice presentation.

This potato recipe was sent to us by our friend Ann Marie. The spuds were quite yummy. Thanks, Ann Marie!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Prime Rib au Jus

Tonight I will be making my first prime rib of the season.

We will be having our friends Mary, Deb, Margaret and Pat for dinner tonight. I am still thinking about the side dishes. I will serve some sort of potato dish and a veggie

Rib Roast “Prime Rib Style” au Jus
One 8-10 lb boneless or bone in (I prefer bone in)
½ cup kosher salt
½ cup freshly cracked pepper
2 medium onions, peeled and thickly sliced
2 large carrots, peeled and diced large
1 whole celery stalk, diced large
2 plum tomatoes, cored and diced large
10 garlic cloves, peeled
½ cup dry red wine
3 cups beef stock Cracked pepper and kosher salt to taste

1.Preheat the oven to 400F.
2.Combine the salt and pepper.
3. Dry the meat with paper towels, then rub all over with the salt and pepper, pressing gently to be sure the salt & pepper mix adheres to the roast. Place the meat on a sturdy rack in a roasting pan and arrange the onions, carrots, celery, tomatoes and garlic around it. Insert a remote reading thermometer into middle of the roast, then place the roast in the oven and cook until well browned, about 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 300F, stir the vegetables around, and roast until the meat is done to your liking. 120F is rare, 126F is medium-rare, 134F is medium, 150F is medium-well, and 160F is well done.I like to pull out the roast at 122F.
4.When the roast is done, remove it from the pan, cover it loosely with foil, and set aside to rest for 20 minutes or so.
5.Place the roasting pan, with the drippings, over high heat on the stove. Add the wine and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the brown crusty stuff in the bottom of the pan. Add the beef stock, bring back to a simmer, and reduce by about 1/3. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to your taste. Strain the au jus into a gravy boat and discard the vegetables. 6.Carve the beef into 1 inch slices and serve with the au jus.


At our recent Kitchen Warming Party, our neighbors decided that all of us needed to get together some night soon and enjoy some chili. I queried the neighbors and the best date was determined to be Sunday, 23 November. Yep, it is a school night, but we had no intention of the self titled Chilipalooza to turn into a night of beer drinking with some chili on the side. I am hoping to gain a few new chili recipes at the gathering. Updates to follow.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


It is a cold and rainy Sunday, which makes it a perfect day to make a pot of chili. I am going to try the recipe below:

- 2lbs ground beef or turkey - 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 16oz. can whole tomatoes - 1 T crushed red pepper
- 1 15oz. can tomato sauce - 1/2 t freshly ground pepper
- 16oz. beer or water - 2oz. chili powder
- 8oz. tomato juice - 1 bay leaf
- 2 6oz. cans tomato paste - 1 T cumin

In a large pot, crush the whole tomatoes, stir in the tomato sauce, tomato juice, onion, crushed red pepper, ground pepper and water/beer. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and crumble in half of the meat, then add the tomato paste, cumin and chili powder. Now crumble in the remaining meat and simmer uncovered for an hour. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

This is an easy recipe and the chili can be made as spicy as you like.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Cafe Update

We have had an enjoyable number of days in the Cafe. The kitchen is officially warmed from the Kitchen Warming Party and the chi is starting to flow beautifully.

I am at home this weekend, on vacation - or more aptly called 'stay' -cation, hanging at home enjoying some quiet time. I ran over to Sam's Club to pick up some staples and some meats were reduced for quick sale. To save $5-6 on meat is a treat and I don't often pass it up.

Yesterday, I made Stay in Bed Stew. It wasn't an ideal day for stew - in the 70s. It was delicious and at least I have some leftovers. ;) Today I planned a little better and have a flank steak marinating to grill tonight. Here is the recipe:

A Fantastic Flank Steak

1 1/2 T Dijon mustard
3 1/2 T red wine vinegar
1/2 t crumbled dried oregano
Salt & Pepper to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large clove of garlic, peeled and smashed
1 flank steak (1 1/4 - 1 1/2 lbs)

1. Prepare the marinade. In a large bowl, whisk together the mustard, vinegar, oregano, salt & pepper. Slowly drizzle the olive oil, whisking constantly until thickened; add the garlic. You can also make the marinade a day ahead and store, covered, in the refrigerator.
2. Add the flank steak to the marinade and turn to coat it well. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for about 8 ours, turning the steak once or twice. Remove from the marinade and pat dry.
3. Broil or grill the steak over high heat, 3 inches from the heat source. Cook for 6 minutes a side for medium rare. Remove to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Slice the steak thinly on the diagonal and arrange on a platter.