I have a library of hundreds of cookbooks and food magazines from thirty years of cooking, entertaining and catering. Some hold a fonder place in my heart than others. The Silver Palate and Frog Commissary cookbooks are in their second copy after falling apart from years of constant use. Another book that holds a special place for me is Betty Rosbottom’s Cooking School Cookbook. My copy is dog-eared and stained from years of constant use. Her creative recipes were a constant source of inspiration for daily meals, entertaining and in developing my own menus in my fledgling years as a caterer. As someone who doesn’t normally make fancy cakes, I was even inspired to make her chocolate ribbon cake and chocolate apricot pecan torte, both featured on the cover of Bon Appetit. One of the recipes in the Cooking School Cookbook I have been making for years ironically isn’t hers but another cooking teacher, Shirley Rubenstein. It’s a tangy sweet cranberry chutney that is a part of our Thanksgiving and Christmas table. Chutney, simply put, is a condiment, a mixture of chopped fruit, vinegar, spices and sugar cooked into a chunky spread. This chutney is delicious with turkey dinner and the leftover turkey sandwich your enjoy the next day. It’s also a good accompaniment to soft cheeses and crackers. Perfect as a hostess gift, it will keep for several weeks, refrigerated in an air tight container.
Shirley’s Cranberry Chutney
1 c water
1 c sugar
2 cups fresh cranberries
2 T cider vinegar
1/2 c golden raisins
1/4 c slivered almonds
1 T light brown sugar
1/4 t ground ginger
1/2 t finely chopped garlic
Combine the water and sugar in a heavy 3 quart saucepan over medium high heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar and then bring to a boil without stirring.
Add all the remaining ingredients. Boil very slowly, stirring occasionally, until fairly thick, 5 minutes or longer.
Allow the chutney to cool, then cover and refrigerate. Chutney keeps well in the refrigerator, for several weeks.
In anticipation of “superstorm” Sandy several weeks ago it was time to consolidate the freezers so that only one would be needed to hook up to the generator. That’s when we discovered an abundance of ground turkey that I wrapped in individual packages. The generator kept the turkey and everything else in the freezer nice and cold for the four days we were without power but it was about time to use the turkey up.
A broken foot has put me in a cast and off my feet for now so Joe has ably taken over the cooking. When he asked for suggestions on how to use it, I immediately thought of turkey meatloaf. I was craving a little comfort food at that time. Not that I knew of a good recipe but I remembered another delicious meatloaf than included ground beef, pork and chopped prunes he made back in January at his mother’s request. My goal was to find a recipe that specifically called for ground turkey. A short search on Epicurious brought me to a recipe from Gourmet magazine from January 2003. Positive reviews from 92% of four hundred and seventy five reviewers couldn’t be wrong, obviously a recipe worth trying.
Ground turkey and a generous amount of vegetables combine to make this a flavorful meatloaf. The only time consuming part of the recipe is chopping the vegetables. Make sure you give yourself a little time in your preparation for the cooked vegetables to cool before adding in the ground turkey. We substituted Japanese-style panko bread crumbs for the white bread. Panko are flakes, not crumbs and they lend a light airiness to the mix. Cremini mushrooms also known as “baby bellas” add an extra depth of meaty flavor, texture and moistness to the meatloaf. Feel free to substitute other varieties of mushrooms. Instead of cooking it in a loaf pan, Joe formed the meatloaf in a long oval and baked it in a small roasting pan. The meatloaf reached the desired end temperature in less time than originally stated in the recipe. An instant read thermometer is key here. The top, painted with some ketchup and the flecks of orange from the carrot make this more colorful than your average meatloaf. We have enjoyed this meatloaf twice now in the past two weeks.
1 1/2 c finely chopped onion
1 T minced garlic
1 t olive oil
1 medium carrot, cut into 1/8-inch dice
3/4lb cremini mushrooms, trimmed and very finely chopped in a food processor (feel free to experiment with other varieties)
1 t Kosher salt
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 t Worcestershire sauce
1/3 c finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/4 c plus 1T ketchup
1 c Panko bread crumbs
1/3 c 1% milk
1 whole large egg, lightly beaten
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
1 1/4 lb ground turkey
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Cook onion and garlic in oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until onion is softened, about 2 minutes.
Add carrot and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid mushrooms give off is evaporated and they are very tender, 10 to 15 minutes.
Stir in Worcestershire sauce, parsley, and 3 tablespoons ketchup, then transfer vegetables to a large bowl and cool.
Stir together panko crumbs and milk in a small bowl and let stand 5 minutes. Stir in egg and egg white, then add to vegetables.
Add turkey and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to vegetable mixture and mix well with your hands. (Mixture will be very moist.)
Form into a 9- by 5-inch oval loaf and place in a lightly greased roasting pan and brush meatloaf evenly with remaining 2 tablespoons ketchup. Bake in middle of oven until thermometer inserted into meatloaf registers 170°F, 50 to 55 minutes.
Nothing makes a house smell more warm and inviting than the aromas that fill the kitchen when fresh bread is baking. Even more so when that bread is redolent of the sweet and spicy fragrance of cinnamon. This recipe from Fine Cooking for cinnamon raisin swirl bread tastes as good as it smells. A tender lightly spiced dough is studded with raisins and filled with a swirl of cinnamon sugar. I made this bread on a Tuesday evening to share with my Wednesday morning Bible study friends. We were having brunch, as we often do, to commemorate the start of a new study and a new year. A Facebook post of the sliced bread on a Tuesday night received seventeen positive comments by the next morning.
Homemade bread like this merits some homemade butter. I have been making it since my catering days, both plain and fruit butters to accompany mini muffins and quick breads. It’s very easy to do, all you need is some heavy cream and a food processor. Pour the cream in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Turn on the processor and let it go to work. In about 4-5 minutes the liquid (which is buttermilk) will separate from the milk solids and you will have butter. The yield will be about one half the amount of cream used, so one cup of cream will result in a half cup of butter. For the best results be sure to use cream that is not ultra pasteurized or has fillers. The butter can be embellished with a little salt or a little jam to make a fruit butter. Be patient and wait until the bread cools before slicing. Any leftovers, if you have any, would make wonderful French toast or bread pudding.
Cinnamon Swirl Raisin Bread
Makes 2 loaves
For the bread
2 cups dark raisins
light-flavored oil to grease the bowl (such as canola or grape seed)
4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour plus more for dusting (King Arthur is my choice)
2 1/4t instantyeast
2 t fine sea salt
3/4c water at room temperature
1/2 cup whole milk
1 large egg
5T unsalted butter, softened, 3T for the bread, 2T to brush the finished loaves, plus more to grease the pans
For the Cinnamon sugar swirl
2T unsalted butter
Plump up the raisins. Put them in a large measuring cup or bowl and add enough hot water to cover them. Allow to sit for five minutes and then drain them.
In the large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, the sugar and cinnamon, the yeast, and salt. Mix until well combined. Add the milk, egg, 3 tablespoons of the butter, and 3/4 cup room temperature water. Mix until well combined, until the dough comes together. Change over to the dough hook and continue to mix until the dough is smooth and slightly sticky. Add the raisins to the dough and gently knead in by hand.
For the first rise: Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface, roll it into a ball. Clean the bowl you were just using, lightly oil it, and put the dough in the oiled bowl. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature until the dough looks slightly puffy, about 30 minutes.
For the second rise: On a well-floured surface, use your hands to flatten and spread the dough out until it’s about 3/4 inch thick. Fold the dough in half from top to bottom, then in half again from left to right. Return the dough to the bowl, cover, and let sit until it has risen slightly, about 30 minutes more.
For the third rise: Lightly grease two 8″ x 4″ loaf pans with butter. In a small bowl, combine the remaining 4T each of cinnamon and sugar; set aside. Melt 2T butter in a small saucepan or a microwave; set aside.
On a lightly floured surface, divide the dough in half and use a rolling pin to shape each half into an 8 1/2 x 16 inch rectangle that is 1/4 inch thick. Use a pastry brush to spread the melted butter on the dough. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture evenly over both rectangles.
Starting from the short side, gently roll each rectangle into an 8-1/2-inch-long cylinder. Put the cylinders in the pans, seam side down. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let rest at room temperature about 60-90 minutes. The dough will spring back when lightly poked.
Bake: Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F. Bake the loaves, rotating and swapping the positions of the pans halfway through baking, until dark brown and hollow-sounding when thumped on top and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the loaves registers about 190°F, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer the loaves in their pans to a rack.
Melt the remaining butter and use it to brush the tops of the loaves. When cool enough to handle, tip the loaves out onto the rack to finish cooling. Try and wait before slicing into the bread!
Bread will stay fresh in an airtight container for five days, if you can make it last that long.
Our Sunday dinners are often inspired by the recipes in Thomas Keller’s cookbook, Ad Hoc at Home. Ad Hoc is Keller’s casual dining restaurant with menus inspired by the family-style meals that feed his staff. It is a coffee table sized book full of recipes featuring Keller’s home-style recipes and beautiful food photography. However, this is one book not to leave on your table to collect dust. Our family has enjoyed his recipes from this book for short ribs, beef stroganoff and roasted chicken with root vegetables to name a few. Unlike most cookbooks where I pick and choose recipes, this is one that I have read cover to cover. The recipes are well suited for the enterprising home cook and filled with tips and techniques for success from master chef Keller.
Crispy braised chicken thighs with olives, lemon and fennel is an easy satisfying dish. In this recipe, flavorful bone-in chicken thighs are first browned then braised along with olives, fennel, onion, lemon zest and red pepper flakes. Keller avoids the usual rubbery chicken skin that can occur with braises by briefly broiling the skin at the end of the cooking time. So you have a winning combination of tender succulent meat and crispy skin. The combination of delicate sweet fennel, salty olives and refreshing lemon take this recipe in a definite Mediterranean direction. The only ingredient you may have difficulty in finding are the Ascolane olives. I actually prefer the juicy briny Ceringolas and have no problem finding them at the Wegmans olive bar. I made one and a half times the recipe to allow for leftovers and take home meals.
Crispy Braised Chicken Thighs with Olives, Lemon, and Fennel
3 fennel bulbs
12 chicken thighs
1 cup coarsely chopped onion
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1/4 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
1 cup Ascolane or other large green olives, such as Cerignola
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 fresh or 2 dried bay leaves
4 strips lemon zest – removed with a vegetable peeler
8 thyme sprigs
1 cup lower sodium chicken stock
About 1/3 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
Cut off fennel stalks. Trim bottom of bulbs and peel back the layers until you reach the core; reserve the core for another use. Discard any bruised layers, and cut the fennel into 2-by-1/2-inch batons. You need 3 cups fennel for this recipe; reserve any remaining fennel for another use.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Set a cooling rack on a baking sheet.
Season chicken thighs on both sides with salt. Heat some canola oil in a large ovenproof saute pan or roasting pan that will hold all the thighs in one layer over medium-high heat. Add thighs skin-side down and brown on the skin side, about 4 minutes. Turn thighs over and cook for about 1 minute to sear the meat. Transfer to the cooling rack.
Reduce heat to medium-low, add onion to the pan, and cook for 1 1/2 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Cook, stirring often, until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in fennel, turn heat up to medium, and cook, stirring often, until fennel is crisp-tender, about 10 minutes.
Pour in wine and simmer for about 2 minutes to burn off alcohol. Stir in olives, red pepper flakes, bay leaves, lemon zest, and thyme, then pour in chicken stock. Increase heat, bring liquid to a simmer, and cook until fennel is tender, about 1 minute.
Taste the stock and season with salt as needed. Return chicken to the pan skin-side-up, in a single layer. When the liquid returns to a simmer, transfer to the oven and cook for about 20 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.
Turn on the broiler, and put the pan under the broiler for a minute or two to crisp and brown the skin. Remove from oven, and transfer to a serving platter. Garnish with parsley leaves.