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Turkey Tetrazzini

30 Nov

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Wow. Sigh…. Phew. Did anyone else have a whirlwind of a Thanksgiving? This year, it felt like Thanksgiving plain right snuck up on me. Also, coming down with the stomach flu the week of the biggest food holiday of the year was less than ideal. But despite the craziness of the holidays at work, and the flu, the worst part of the whole shooting match is that I didn’t do any Turkey Day Trials!

For any long-time readers, you know the joy I’ve had with practicing and perfecting my Thanksgiving foods for the big day. This year, I did do a Sweet Potato Turkey Roulade that stole the show on a random Friday a few weeks back, but that was about it.  By the day of Thanksgiving, even though my mom and I were splitting the cooking for the day, I had not pre-prepped anything leaving me a stressed hot mess on the day. My standard Bourbon Butternut Squash Soup curdled, my Bacon Wrapped Dates didn’t get wrapped, and I was still cooking things when my guests arrived (my personal pet peeve).

The turkey, however… was delicious.

I tried something new this year with my farm fresh turkey. Instead of brining (what a mess), and stuffing (that never works), or even brown-bagging the bird (my mother in-law swears by it!), I simply tented the turkey with foil for the first hour of cooking, then let the thing hang out at 350, uncovered, for the last 2 hours. The only seasonings were salt, butter, and white pepper, and I used a bit of chicken stock on the bottom of the roasting pan for some basting. My standard for resting is 45-minutes to an hour to create the perfect temperature for, well, handling, but also for carving. And I have to say, even without Turkey Day Trials, this year’s bird took the gravy.

Now, it’s back to the grind. My students were so excited to tell me that they saw the “big Tom” and the “leg kicking ladies” on the televised Macy’s Day Parade, and North Florida is back to its supernatural-for-this-time-of-year 80-degree weather. With Thanksgiving, back to the grind also translates to leftovers.

Like many, I am a huge fan of the extra-mayo, turkey and cranberry sandwiches. There’s nothing wrong with those buggers, but there is something better: it’s a standard, it’s a classic, it’s perfect for lunch at work, it’s the infamous Turkey Tetrazzini.

I’m not a huge casserole lover (simply because I like having a diversity of food during the week, and when there are only two mouths to feed, those mouths get a little tired of the same thing 5 days in a row). But when it’s Turkey Tez, it’s no holds barred. This is an easy casserole, and one that nixes the 1985 canned mushroom soup rendition. Also, with the switch from regular to whole wheat spaghetti, the added structure and nutty taste compliment the turkey perfectly. A word to the wise, though: make sure the casserole has cooled a bit before serving. Once when my mom served up a healthy-right-out-of-the-oven scoop to my dad, it cracked the plate!

This one is simple and satisfying.   If there is any turkey left in your house, give this recipe a try and savor the start to the next holiday season (omg, it’s here already!).

Enjoy!

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Turkey Tetrazzini
(makes 1, 9-inch square casserole)

  • Leftover turkey meat, shredded, and however much you’ve got! (I used the meat from 2 legs, and the rest of the breast meat, about roughly 4 cups)
  • ½ package of whole wheat spaghetti
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 5 stalks celery, sliced into half-moons
  • 2 pints cremini mushrooms, stems removed, sliced
  • 5 springs fresh thyme, leaves removed
  • 8 oz sour cream
  • 2 c chicken broth
  • 2 c shredded mixed cheese (I like the shredded Mexican blend)
  • 4 tbsp butter, plus 1 tsp for greasing
  • s&p

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9-in x 9-in baking dish with the tsp of butter.

In salted boiling water, boil the spaghetti noodles until they have just left the crunchy stage. They should still have some bite to them, and will continue to cook in the oven. Drain the pasta, and set aside in a large mixing bowl.

Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, heat the butter. Sauté the onion, celery, and mushrooms, season with a pinch of s&p, until they start to soften. Off the heat, stir in the thyme leaves and sour cream. Transfer the veg to the bowl with the pasta, and mix to combine. Pour in the chicken stock, mix, and then pour into the greased baking dish. Even out the mixture in the dish, and then evenly top with the cheese. *Note, you may want to put the baking dish on a sheet tray, just in case the mixture bubbles over a bit.

Bake until golden and bubbly, and bits of sticking-out pasta have become browned and crunchy (oh those are so good), about 30 minutes. Let cool a bit before serving (don’t crack a plate!), pour a buttery chardonnay to pair, and savor the season.

Enjoy!

Happy 2015

27 Jan

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Did anyone else have a whirlwind of a holiday season? Even now, mostly through January, I’m just now getting to writing. After Thanksgiving, Christmas was just a hop, skip, and jump away. After Christmas, Rob and I traveled up North visiting Boston, Maine, and Connecticut. Two weeks later, we took a road trip to visit my sister and friends in New Orleans. Celebrating Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the overall holiday/New Year season with family and friends was more than wonderful, it was truly a blessing.

But so was all the amazing food.

For a quick run-down, starting from the week of Christmas at my mom’s house for hor’derves, ending with this week’s vegan inspired meals, here are our holiday dishes in Cliffs Notes: Foodie Volumes form.

NOTE: It’s ok to drool. No one will judge.

  • Dungeness crab cocktails and Mom’s dip (yep, my absolute fave straight from the waters of our former backyard)
  • Beef Wellington (Rob’s fave, and he only gets it once a year. Poor guy.)
  • Pork Loin Chili
  • Oysters from off the Massachusetts coast
  • Oysters from off the Maine coast
  • Oysters from 2 different river beds in Maine
  • Maine Lobster (in the best way: a simple roll in a local fisherman’s pub. Also had great coffee.)
  • New England Shrimp
  • Oxtail Tortellini (yes, I will be recreating this)
  • Scottish Salmon (Chinooks, you’re still No.1, but this beast of a fish takes a close second)
  • Lamb Shoulder Risotto
  • Lamb Leg
  • Lamb Rib (Lamb. Rib. OMG.)
  • Oh, and all those lambs were in one dish. Well, it probably was just one lamb…
  • Maine Finnan Haddock with Absinthe Cream (Absinthe cream, people!!)
  • Goat Meat Chili
  • Duck Confit Poutine. The real deal.
  • Fermented apple, cider beer. Kinda like kombucha, only better.
  • Truffled Venison
  • Wild Boar Pappardelle
  • Wedding Cake Latte (pumps of vanilla and almond syrups)
  • Jenn’s Bacon and Spinach Wrapped Chicken
  • Lemongrass Hot Wings
  • Etouffee French Fries
  • And finally…. Duck Sausage with Spicy Mustard and Cranberry Sauce (in hotdog form, mind you)

After finally taking yet another step into the social media world, I did document many of these on Instagram, #eatingacrossAmerica and #42potatoes. Needless to say, it’s been fun. And filling. But mostly fun.

So now it’s back to the real world; Rob is back flying and I am back teaching, and in four days I’ve given myself 7 paper cuts. One of which is in that little soft spot between my fingers (now, if that’s not cause for a choice word or two, I don’t know what is). However, reality doesn’t mean the food adventures have to stop. Oh no, my friends, it’s only just beginning.

I am taking a new approach to the new year. Like many resolutions, the oh-you-made-a-new-years-promise-to-eat-better-and-detox-but-after-three-days-of-quinoa-torture-you’ll-give-in-to-the-hidden-frozen-candy-bar resolutions obviously don’t work so well. I’ve learned not to make resolutions that will end up in failure, making me feel defeated and diving into plate(s) of nachos. So this year, there are no resolutions, just more fantastic eating.

We have an overabundance of beets from our farm, so I’ve been trying to be creative with them (plus, almost every restaurant we visited in New England had some sort of beet salad on the menu, so I’m inspired). Beets are an incredibly versatile veg, and after putting in the initial efforts to prepare them, having them ready to use in the fridge lends to infinite possibilities.

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To prepare roasted beets: cut off all the greens (if you have beets with their green tops – they are edible and delicious, by the way), then wash and dry the skin. Place the beets 3-4 at a time in a foil, drizzle with olive oil, and wrap the foil loosely around the beets making a little package. Pour in about ¼ c of water, and leave a little opening at the top for steam to vent. Place in a 400 degree oven for an hour to an hour and a half; until a paring knife slides easily in the beets. Remove, let cool, and peel the skin off using a paring knife, or just your fingers. NOTE: you will get beet-red stained hands, but it will fade with a few washes.

At this point, they beets are ready for whatever beety plan you have for them. I choose to lightly marinate them with rice wine vinegar, salt, lots of black pepper, and dill, and keep them in a glass jar for making salads, hashes, or pureeing with white beans and garlic for a delightful and healthy crostini topping. They are great for breakfast, on sandwiches for lunch, chopped up finely as a relish on tacos, and fantastic paired with sweet, fatty fish.

In other parts of the country, beets tend to be the start of the spring season. Here in Northern Florida, they are a staple at the moment. So, whether you are able to use them now, or have to wait until April, hopefully some inspiration has sparked for a healthy new year. Enjoy!

 

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