Monthly Archives: December 2017

Turkey Leftovers … “Cream” of Turkey Rice Soup and Pot Pie

I had tucked away some turkey leftovers (turkey gravy, diced breast meat and roasted carcass) at Thanksgiving and decided to finally clear them out of my freezer.

The cream of turkey rice soup came about because I inadvertently let my turkey stock boil (company came, I THOUGHT I had turned off the heat and covered the pot to let it cool). An attempt to clarify the approximately two liters of stock by adding a single beaten egg white, boiling and straining through cheese cloth … did NOT work.

Before and After “Clarifying” Stock

I added some leftover mushroom gravy made with the turkey stock, to a large saucepan, about 4 cups of stock, 1/4 cups of raw long grain rice and a few veggies. No actual cream or potatoes were used.

Not, pretty but delicious.

Turkey Pot Pie with a lard pastry crust

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Buttermilk Duo (Biscuits and Honey Bread) and Pot Roast Leftovers

I was tempted by a liter of half price buttermilk (even if the best before date was a few days later) and made a couple of new recipes I had found on FB and the internet.

Buttermilk Biscuits – tasty enough but a bit too much butter for my taste and a fussy technique with results that didn’t make me want to repeat the recipe.

Buttermilk Honey Bread – a 2 loaf bread recipe found on the Spruce web site. No eggs were used in the bread itself, but I used one for a glaze. Instead of using all the dough to make two loaves, I reduced the amount so that I only used 500 gms of dough for each loaf and divided the rest (~640 gms) among four hoagies

Grilled cheese sandwich

Pot roast hoagie with mushroom gravy and Brie cheese – a Philly cheese steak inspired sandwich using leftovers from my Christmas dinner. All it was missing was some french fries and a pint of cold beer. Prior planning would have helped.

As you can tell … I LIKE Brie … a lot.

Wrapped in foil and baked in a hot (400 deg F) oven for about 10-15 minutes until the pot roast has warmed through and the cheese is melted. Messy as the mushroom gravy seeps out, but SO delicious.

A Comfort Meal for Christmas … Pot Roast

Cooking for one is a challenge during the holidays. You want something special but an elaborate spread is time consuming and can be expensive. The roast below was economical and the long braising time turned a tough piece of beef into a tender and tasty main course.

The outside roast I cooked was small (1.2 kg) so the cooking time was shorter than in the recipe that inspired it. And, while it was braising, there was plenty of time to make the side dishes. I added some new, Christmas-inspired, treats to the meal to make it special.

Purchased Egg nog with a shot of brandy and a grating of fresh nutmeg

Pot Roast, mushroom gravy over mashed potatoes, pot veggies and salad

Mincemeat No-Churn Ice Cream and Mincemeat Kolach

The mincemeat ice cream was a simple variation of the cranberry sauce one I made a while ago. To save time, I’ve posted the recipe below.

Mincemeat No-Churn Ice Cream – makes 3 1/2 – 4 cups

3/4 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup mincemeat, plus another tbsp or 2 for marbling
1 tbsp brandy

In a large cold bowl, whip the cream until stiff peaks form.

In a medium sized bowl, combine the sweetened condensed milk, brandy and the mincemeat.

Add a scoop or two of the whipped cream to the bowl with the sweetened condensed milk and fold in to lighten the mixture. Fold in the rest of the whipped cream as gently as possible.

Scoop half of the ice cream mixture into a freezer safe container. Place several dollops of mincemeat over the ice cream. Scoop the rest of the ice cream mixture into the container. Place a few more dollops of mincemeat over the top. With a butter knife gently marble the mincemeat into the ice cream. Put the lid on the container and place into freezer for a minimum of 8 hrs or overnight.

Cranberry Sauce Variation: Replace the mincemeat in the recipe above with home made or jarred cranberry sauce. Use whatever alcohol you prefer … Cointreau or Grand Marnier bring out the orange notes in the cranberry sauce recipe I used.

Cooking the pot roast – The roast is seasoned with salt and pepper and seared before continuing with the rest of the braise.

The pot roast was tender after 3 hrs but it could have been cooked for another half hour if desired.

Mushroom gravy made with sauteed white mushrooms and strained braising liquid.

Holiday Cookies … Romanian Kolache/Hungarian Papucs and Hamantaschen

I vaguely remember my mom serving these walnut filled cookies, called “kolache”, for special occasions … but I don’t think she had made them in the last 20 years of her life. As a result, I have no idea what recipe she used. I was going to use the same dough I use to make rugelach (butter/cream cheese based) for the kolache, until I remembered that that’s a very tender dough, and worried that I would have problems sealing them. So I tried a dough recipe that I found on line for the triangular cookies served for Purim, called “hamantaschen” or “Haman’s ears”.

Jam (especially plum or apricot), poppy seed or walnut are probably the most popular fillings for kolache, hamantaschen or papucs. Since mincemeat is widely available at this time of year, and since I had bought a jar to make no churn ice cream with, that’s what I used for some of my cookies.

Mincemeat Kolache Platter

Baked and ready to have icing sugar sifted over the top … if you really want to

Kolache Recipe:

The cookie dough was rolled 1/8th inch thick, cut into 2 inch by 2 inch squares, filled with a half teaspoon of the filling of choice, sealed and baked in an oven preheated to 350 deg F for 16-18 minutes.

And, since I was making the hamantaschen dough, I made some hamantaschen too. I got better at shaping as I went along. The poppy seed filling is the same one used for my cozonac in an earlier post.

Poppy seed Hamantaschen

 

Chicken and Veggies in Black Bean Sauce

This is one of the easiest and fastest stir fry Chinese dishes I know how to make. For some reason I often make the beef version and then overcook the beef resulting in a chewy dish. You won’t have that problem with chicken. I used some of the trimmings from preparing chicken cutlets and made Panko breaded and baked chicken fingers from the rest.

ETA: I just realized that I’ve posted a version of this recipe, with slight variations, three times (once every year) and always with chicken. I guess I’m getting old and forgetful. Or I just love the dish so much that I want to encourage people to give it a try. Pick your explanation.

The recipe below is a basic one which may be adjusted to the amounts of meat and vegetables (use your favourites)  you have or prefer. I didn’t have any peppers so I left them out.

Chicken and Broccoli in Black Bean Sauce

Chicken and Veggies in Black Bean Sauce – serves 2-3

1 tbsp vegetable oil
~1/2 pound (200 gm) boneless and skinless chicken breast or thighs
1 tbsp black bean sauce, with or without garlic
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp mirin or sake (substitute with about 1 tsp of sugar if you don’t have either)
1/4-1/2 cup water
1/2 medium onion, sliced in thin strips or substitute with 2-3 stalks of green onion, cut 1/4 inch long on the diagonal
1 thumb’s length (~1 inch) fresh ginger, peeled and julienned
1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped, if black bean sauce doesn’t have any (optional)
1-2 peppers (red, green or yellow)
1-2 stalks broccoli, florettes and stems
salt and ground black pepper, if needed

Other optional protein choices – pork (tenderloin), shrimp or tofu

Thickener for sauce:

1 tbsp cornstarch, 1/4 cup cold water

Combine cornstarch and water in a small bowl and set aside.

Preparing the vegetables:

Cut the broccoli florettes off the stems, about 1 1/2 inches in length and break up into manageable pieces. Peel stems and cut into planks of about the same length and 1/4-1/2 inch thickness.

Core and seed peppers and slice into same thickness as the broccoli stems

Peel onion, if using, and cut into 1/4 inch thick slices

Preparing the chicken meat:

Slice chicken into strips 1/4-1/2 inch thick and about 1 1/2 inches long, as with the veggies.

Cooking the dish:

Heat the vegetable oil in a saute pan or wok over medium high heat, add the sliced chicken and cook just until no longer pink. Transfer meat to a bowl and reserve. In the same saute pan, add the sliced onions, ginger and garlic and saute until the onions are no longer translucent.

Add the broccoli and 1/4 cup of water, cover with a lid and let steam for 1 1/2-2 minutes until the broccoli is a bright green but still crunchy. Add the pepper strips and toss through, cooking for another minutes or so.

Return the cooked chicken to the pan, along with the black bean paste, mirin, oyster and soy sauce and stir together.

Stir the cornstarch/water mixture until it’s smooth and pour into the middle of the saute pan. Watch carefully as it bubbles and thickens. Stir the sauce so that it coats the vegetables and meat. If needed add the remaining 1/4 cup of water, or more.

Taste the meat and vegetables adding salt and pepper, if needed. You may also add an additional dash or so of soy sauce.

Serve the chicken and veggies over rice noodles or noodles.

Rough Puff Pastry and Cranberry Brie Appetizers

Have you ever seen those dramatic rounds of brie cheese, topped with cranberry sauce or pepper jelly, wrapped in puff pastry, and baked? The gooey cheese is spooned out with crispy crackers or wedges of fruit like tart apples or sweet crunchy pears.

For a single person that’s a LOT of cheese though, so I bought a small round of double creme brie and used my home made cranberry sauce to make appetizer-sized bites with the same ingredients. And, since I didn’t have any puff pastry, I went on line and found a recipe for something called a “rough” puff pastry. I made a few changes.

I didn’t want to cut open a lemon or lime for the half a teaspoon of juice the recipe called for … and, it was optional. So I left it out. Salted butter, bought by mistake, replaced the sweet butter and salt called for.

Half of the puff pastry was rolled out, cut into 2 1/2 inch squares, and used to line mini muffin tins. The rest was wrapped and frozen away for another day.

Playing with Rough Puff Pastry

  

NOTE: I had enough puff pastry from half the batch to make a dozen appetizers, but I decided to play with the rest of the dough and made some mini puff pastry ‘croissants’ and a single pastry horn from a strip of pastry wrapped around a cannoli tube. I should have put some jam or a chunk of chocolate into the croissant before rolling.

 

 

Cranberry Brie Bites

Cranberry Brie Bites – makes 8 appetizers

~ 250 gm puff pastry
small round of double creme Brie cheese
cranberry sauce (purchased or homemade)

Preheat oven to 400 deg F.

Roll out the puff pastry about 1/8-1/4 inch thick and cut into 2 1/2 inch squares. Line a tray of mini muffins with the pastry squares, pressing the pastry gently down into the tins.

Cube the cheese into 1/2 inch cubes. (NOTE TO SELF: Cut the chunks of cheese bigger next time. And trim off the rind for presentation.)

Place a small dollop (1/2 tsp) of cranberry sauce in the center of each puff pastry square. Top with a cube of the brie.

 

Bake about 18-20 minutes or until puff pastry corners are toasted lightly brown.

Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

The Humble Baked Potato … Gets Dressed Up

The classic baked potato with sour cream and butter. Delicious. But it can be so much more.

Like twice baked potato skins. Which I’m going to make too. In the meantime, here are some other toppings for that baked potato.

Broccoli and Cheddar Baked Potato – A simple bechamel (white sauce) becomes a mornay sauce when you stir cheese into it. Sharp/old cheddar cheese adds a nice punch but you can use whatever kind you prefer. Microwave some broccoli florettes just until tender, chop them up coarsely and then stir them into your cheese sauce.

The result … like having a bowl of cream of broccoli and potato  soup but with a lot more substance. Makes a tasty side dish to a pork chop or a piece of roasted chicken.

Dress up a pan of baked potatoes with various toppings for game day.

Chili Baked Potato – chili con carne, sour cream, shredded cheddar or monterey jack cheese, green onion

I was going to make and post each of the toppings below but I got distracted by other things so I’m sending this out into the LJ/blogging world. I may make and post pictures at some point … but I’m not making any promises.

Other Baked Potato Toppings

1. Pulled Pork – bbq sauce, shredded pulled pork, coleslaw, sauteed mushrooms, caramelized onions
2. Breakfast Sausage and Gravy – pork sausage gravy
3. Tex-Mex – spiced meat (ground beef or turkey) mixture, salsa, queso fresco (or paneer cheese)

Romanian Cozonac, Hungarian Kalacs/Beigli or Ukrainian Babka

Whether you call it cozonac, kalacs/beigli, or babka, this sweet bread filled with ground nuts (usually walnuts), poppy seeds, raisins or even rahat/lokum (a gummy middle eastern candy known in the west as ‘Turkish delight’) is served at Easter and Christmas in many eastern European countries. I can’t remember my mom ever making this though, knowing her difficulties with yeast based baking, it’s unlikely. However, I HAVE eaten it at Romanian and Hungarian church and community center bake sales.

Poppy seed isn’t a filling I’ve used often so I thought I’d give it a try for a change of pace. I bought a fresh, one pound bag at the grocery store, even though I’ve got a couple pounds, at least, in the freezer downstairs. I’m not quite sure how long it’s been there. Several years at least, I think, so I didn’t want to take a chance that the poppy seeds were stale.

I followed the shaping instructions on one of the web sites I researched which said to fold in the ends of the roll but I wasn’t happy with the ‘knobs’. Next time, I’ll risk the filling oozing out and leave them open.

The end piece … dough is nice and fluffy, or as they say in Romanian, pufos.

Cozonac cu Mac (Cozonac Filled with Poppy Seed) – 1.14 kg (2 1/2 lb) of dough, makes 2 11 by 14 inch rolls

For the Filling

200 gm ground poppy seeds
100 gm of sugar
150 ml of milk
1 tsp butter
1 pkt vanilla sugar
1 tbsp of lemon zest (reduce to 1 tsp)

For the Dough

4-5 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup milk, warmed to 80 deg F
2 tsp active dry yeast
3 eggs, 1 egg divided
2 tbsp butter, softened
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp freshly grated lemon zest (optional)
1 tsp salt

NOTE (12/10/2017): used ~2 tsp grated lemon zest, increased butter to 4 tbsp, used close to 5 cups of flour

Making the Filling

Mix the ground poppy seeds, milk, butter and sugar and bring to the boil over medium heat. Cook until a creamy composition is obtained, about 5 min, while stirring constantly. Add vanilla and lemon peel and leave to cool.

Making the Dough

In a large bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cup of flour, warm milk, sugar, and yeast. Cover the mixture and place it in a warm place for 25-30 minutes, until bubbly.

Separate ONE of the eggs, placing the white in a separate bowl and setting it aside. (White is whisked until frothy and used later to brush the bread before it goes into the oven.)

Once the flour and yeast mixture is nice and bubbly, mix in the 2 eggs and one egg yolk.

Add 2 1/2 cups of flour, the soft butter, vanilla, lemon zest and salt. Mix until the dough starts to come together. Then, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it until it is smooth and elastic, 8-10 minutes, adding only as much of the remaining 1 cup of flour as is necessary to keep it from sticking to your hands.

(Alternately, you can mix the dough in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook for 2-3 minutes, until it is smooth and elastic, adding flour as necessary to keep it from sticking to the sides of the bowl.)

Place the dough into a clean, well greased bowl and cover it with a damp tea towel. Let the dough rise in a warm, draft free place until it has roughly tripled in bulk, about 1 1/2-2 hours.

Once the dough has risen, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it a few times. Divide the dough in half.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured working surface and roll out into a rectangle about 11 inches by 14 inches. Spread with half the poppy seed filling to 1/2 an inch from the edge.

Roll the dough and place onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat with the second portion of dough and filling.

Cover with a lightly oiled sheet of food wrap or a damp towel and let rise until doubled.

Preheat the oven to 375 deg F.

Beat the reserved egg white and brush over each of the two loaves. Bake for 45-50 minutes until set and the top is golden brown. Check after 15-20 minutes and if the top seems to be browning too quickly, cover with a large sheet of aluminum foil and continue baking. Rotate the baking sheet half way through the bake.

Let cool completely before cutting.

Leek Duo … from the Sublime to the Ridiculous

The first time I ever tasted leeks was in soup made from a packet of “Knorr Cream of Leek”. It was creamy and subtly flavoured and became my ‘standard’ of a leek soup. This soup surpasses that in flavour, nutrition and, time wise, it’s not bad either.

Cream of Leek and Potato Soup

I didn’t use any thickeners (cream, cornstarch or flour) to make this soup, other than the two diced potatoes. Although I was tempted to use bacon fat to sautee the 1/2 cup of diced onions, one clove of minced garlic and one large sliced leek, I decided to use 2 tbsp unsalted butter, 1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp white pepper to highlight the subtle flavours of the leeks. I wish I had had some home made chicken stock, but I didn’t, so I used a tablespoon of low sodium “Better than Bouillon” to 4 cups of water, which isn’t bad at all. The thickness of the soup was perfect for me, but if you find that as your soup cools, it gets too thick, you can thin it out with some extra chicken stock, or even just some water, in a pinch. Check for seasoning before serving, in that case.

I often make pizza dough from scratch but, having a package or two of flatbreads or flour tortillas, in the freezer, is convenient for quick, last minute meals.

Shiso Pesto, Roasted Leek and Paneer Flatbread Pizza

I ran across some tasty pizza topping ideas using leeks in my recent web search and adapted them to what I had on hand so the leeks sauteed in white wine and cream became leftover roasted leeks with a base of shiso pesto, from the freezer. And, instead of goat cheese, I crumbled some home made paneer cheese, also from the freezer, over the leeks. A sprinkle of green onion for a fresh touch was added, about half way through the baking process and, before serving, grated Parmesan cheese was sprinkled over the top.