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Monday, November 30, 2009

Triple Truffle Risotto

Risotto is one of life's ultimate comfort foods. (Thank you to the Chinese, who cultivated the rice, and the Italians, who perfected cooking it). Risotto can be served as a side dish, or as a main dish. Just depends upon what you put in it. Today, I decided to go over the top savory. Instead of plain old butter, I added Black Truffle Butter. Instead of adding Parmesan cheese, I added black truffle cheese. And, just prior to serving, spritzed on some white truffle oil. Served with browned sea scallops and roasted green and yellow zucchini squash.
If I had any wild mushrooms, or, any mushrooms at all, I would have caramelized them in a hot skillet with butter and olive oil, and added them to the Risotto. I had none. Used them to make a meal for friends with a new baby and 3 year old twins. They trumped us. No mushrooms. Read on.

Here goes:
Start with 2 Tbsp olive oil, 2 Tbsp butter, 1 and 1/2 cups Arborio rice, (it has lots of starch), 6-8 cups simmering chicken broth, (I used leftover turkey stock supplemented with chicken broth), 1/2 cup white wine, 2 big shallots, (or 4 small shallots, or 1 small onion), 2 Tbsp black truffle butter, 1/4 cup black truffle cheese  (It's not in the pic, as the package was ripped open and thrown away before I could yell "STOP!"), grated, and about 10 squirts white truffle oil.

Start by heating a large, deep skillet on medium heat. Add olive oil and butter.

When butter is melted, add the minced shallots.
Cook for about 3-5 minutes, until translucent.

Throw in the Arborio rice and stir.

Make sure to coat all rice grains with oil/butter. This will keep them from sticking together. Cook for about 3 minutes.

Add 1/2 cup white wine to pan. Yes, I actually did use a measuring cup! I was almost out of white wine, so did not want to go overboard.

Stir it up. Cook it until the wine is absorbed. The pan will produce lots of steam. Open the windows. Or turn on the stove fan, as the Fire Dept will be at your door, soon, wanting dinner.

See how there's no liquid on the sides of the skillet? Needs stock.

When the wine is absorbed and the rice is beginning to stick to the pan, begin adding the hot stock, 2 ladles at a time. Stir.

Make sure to scrape the bottom of the skillet. You don't want rice sticking to the skillet.

When the broth is absorbed, add another 2 ladle's broth to the pan. Stir. Repeat. Continue to cook until each addition of broth is absorbed. Stir. Keep adding broth and cooking and stirring, until rice is tender. Here at 6,000 ft altitude, that about 35 minutes. At sea level, probably less.

When the rice is tender and the broth absorbed, the Risotto should look like this. Creamy, tender, not sticky or glumpy. (I don't think that's a word).

Add 2 Tbls Black Truffle Butter (Whole Foods), 1/4 cup  grated Black Truffle Cheese ( Sam's), 1 Tbls butter, and spray about 10 sprays white truffle oil over the top.
Top with fresh snipped chives.

I was able to snap a pic only after the fam had filled their plates. Not much left, but it was fantastic!

Print this:

  1. 2 Tbsp olive oil, 2 Tbsp butter. Melt together.

  2. 2 big shallots, minced (saute in butter and EVOO)
  3. 1 and 1/2 cups Arborio rice (Saute in butter/oil, after shallot is translucent).
  4. 1/2 cup white wine (Add to shallot. Cook over Medium heat until liquid is absorbed).
  5. 6-8 cups simmering chicken broth (Add 2 ladles a  time)
  6. 2 Tbsp black truffle butter (Add when rice is cooked)
  7. 1/4 cup black truffle cheese (Add when rice is cooked)
  8. 10 squirts white truffle oil. (just before serving)


Friday, November 27, 2009

Tell Me About Your Thanksgiving Menu

It's the day after Thanksgiving. The dishes are washed, the kitchen is clean, and the leftovers are in the fridge. I'm thinking Cobb Salad for dinner. The only thing I'll have to do is put some greens on a platter, chop up a tomato and an avocado, boil an egg, and put some leftover turkey and bacon bits on top.
What I'm REALLY interested in, is, what was on your Thanksgiving menu, how did it turn out, and, do you have a particular recipe you want to share?
I think we can all learn from each other, so post in the "comments" section, please!
Here is my T-Day menu:

  • Roast brined turkey

  • Garlic Mashed potatoes

  • Turkey gravy with sage (This was exceptional)

  • Roasted Brussel Sprouts with shallots and bacon (oh my, are these good)

  • Roasted butternut squash with brown butter, sage, and brown sugar (Think I'll use the leftovers to make soup)

  • Haricots verts with garlic, shallots, bacon, and almonds

  • Yeasty Rolls (I bought them frozen)

  • Pumpkin Pie (I bought it at Sam's. Sorry Oranarch. I just can't make a pie for $5.00)

  • Triple berry pie (I did make this from scratch, including the crust. More on that adventure later), with french vanilla ice cream, drizzled with blueberry port. Very tasty.

  • Pumpkin Cheesecake (from Costco).

  • 2004 Jessup Merlot (Fabulous)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Flower Bargain

What you get for $30.00 at Sam's, and 30 minutes of your time: Spray roses, alstromeria, hypericum, and leather leaf fern.
For the buffet table...

and for the bathroom..

Monday, November 23, 2009

Make Ahead Turkey Gravy

Hey Folks! The last turkey I roasted had almost no drippings, making it tough to make gravy. So, I decided to try an experiment. I wondered if I could make gravy ahead of time, without any drippings, and still have it taste as if it was made from turkey drippings. It worked! The key to success here is using home made turkey stock. I don't think plain old chicken broth will impart the depth of flavor that the stock does.

Start by heating 1 quart turkey stock in a pot. Bring it to a simmer.

Melt 1 /2  stick of butter in a skillet over medium heat.

Add 2 big Tbls  All Purpose Flour to the butter.
Whisk it in, and cook for about 10-15 minutes, whisking constantly. What you're doing here is making a roux. You must cook it until the color changes from white to brown, or your gravy will taste like paste. Brown food tastes good.

Bring it to a boil. Keep whisking.

Now, when the roux is nice and golden brown, add 1 ladel hot stock to the skillet. Whisk it in. The mixture will get very thick. Add another two ladels of of the stock and bring to a boil. Continue to add stock until it is completely incorporated. If you add all the stock at once, you'll get lumps. Not delish.
See that color? That's what you want. Throw in a few sprigs of fresh thyme, a few turns of fresh cracked pepper, and continue to boil until gravy reaches desired consistency. Do not add salt.

O.K. Here's the super secret key: Kitchen Bouquet browning and seasoning. Add 1/2 tsp to the gravy. Whisk it in.

When gravy coats the back of a spoon, it's ready.
Now, fish out the thyme stem.

Taste! If it's too salty (it shouldn't be), or too thick, add some water.
Store in a covered container until Thanksgiving.
To reheat, put the gravy in a skillet. It will be very thick. Kind of gloppy, actually. Heat it up. It will thin out as it heats.
When your turkey is done, pour the drippings (if you have any) into a fat separator. (If you don't have drippings, just add a touch of broth or stock).

This is from Roasted Turkey #1. See the yellow layer at the top? That's the fat. you do not want that. Pour the little bit of fat that's sitting in the spout off. Add as much of the drippings as you need for consistency to the already hot gravy this will just add a bit more flavor.
If, by chance, the gravy is too thin, make a slurry with 2 tsps corn starch and a tablespoon or so of cold water.

Mix it up with a small fork until smooth.

Add it to BOILING gravy, one tsp at a time. If the gravy is not at a boil when you add it, it will lump. Whisk until thickened.
Serve with your delicious turkey.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


O.K., Oranarch, you've shamed me into making a pie for Thanksgiving. Problem is, no one in this house has an affinity for pumpkin. (I like it, but can't eat a whole pie by myself). Hal's preference is either lemon meringue or mixed berry. I'll research these tomorrow. Anyone out the have a good recipe for either of these?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Thanksgiving Countdown


Hey All!
Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Don't wait till the last minute to get your meal together.
If you have some time this weekend, and in the next few days, prep a little and relax on Thursday.
Let's talk Turkey:
It's Friday, less than 1 week before Thanksgiving.
  1. If you don't have one, (or two), buy the turkey (s). 
  2. Saturday: 11/21, put bird in the fridge to thaw  (if frozen).  Takes 5 seconds to put it in the fridge, and 3 days to thaw the bird.
  3. Write out your menu. List every dish you are going to make, and all of the ingredients required for each. For example, Appetizer(s), salad, turkey, dressing, potato, sweet potato, vegetable, gravy, dessert. 30 minutes.
  4. Friday: 10 minutes. Make a shopping list from the ingredient list above. Do not omit fresh herbs, (please, please, please, do not cheap out on fresh herbs. Buy them.They make all the difference in the flavor world),  Make sure to have Kosher salt, and fresh peppercorns.
  5. Saturday or Sunday: Bird still thawing. Make compound butter.(See "How to roast a turkey") Store covered in fridge.
  6. Sunday: Bird still thawing. Set the table. Wash the wine glasses that are dusty. Put them on the table. (15 minutes).
  7. Sunday or Monday:: If you are going to make turkey stock, get it started now. (See "Turkey Stock") . 20 minutes prep. See # 6, "turkey stock" post.   8 hours cook time. 8 hours cool time.
  8. Tuesday afternoon/evening:  Brine the turkey. 20 minutes prep.
  9. Wednesday morning: Rinse turkey. Dry off with paper towels or kitchen towels. Put naked bird back in the fridge until tomorrow. 5 minutes.
  10. F/S/S/M/T: Wash and chop 5 pounds carrots, 3 yellow onions, and 2 bunches celery,1 bunch fresh sage leaves, 1 bunch fresh thyme. Put them in LABELED ziploc bags, according to dish. Put all prepped ingredients together, according to dish. "Stuffing" ingredients should all be in one bag. Turkey ingredients should all be in one bag, or bowl, or whatever you can find that will keep the "families" together. I like gallon or 2 and 1/2 gallon  ziploc bags, but you can use whatever you want.  For example, if making stuffing, you'll need 1 cup minced celery, 1 cup minced onion, 4 leaves fresh sage, 2 cups turkey stock, 6 cups bread cubes, etc. Put them all together in a big bag.
  11. Making sweet potatoes, Butternut squash, or that really sweet casserole with yams and marshmallows? Bake them up this weekend, or Monday, or Tuesday, or Wednesday. 5 minute prep. 60-90 minute bake time. Wash, dry, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper . Bake @ 375 degrees for about an hour, until soft. Cool, peel, and chop. Store in a ziploc for final prep Thursday.
  12. Garlic mashed potatoes? Roast up the garlic between now and Wednesday. Freeze. Microwave 45 seconds prior to mashing potatoes. 5 minutes prep. 1 hour bake.
  13. (Mashed Potatoes)  Save about 1 cup potatoe water.  Combine 1 stick butter and 1/4 cup heavy cream, seasoned with salt and pepper in a cup or bowl.  Cover. Refrigerate. On Thursday, heat until butter is melted. Blend into mashed potatoes. Top with sliced scallions. You can make this a day ahead and heat it in the microwave or on top of a boiling pot of water. If you heat it in the microwave, and it's too dry, add some pasta water or cream, or half and half. Whisk it up. Perfect!
  14. Thursday: Veg: Roasted asparagus is tasty, easy, and inexpensive right now. Chop off the tough ends. Put the cut stems side down, in a vase of water when you buy it. Water no more than 2 inches above the end. On Thursday, dry off the spears, put them on a sheet pan, cover with extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast @ 425 degrees about 10 minutes, while the turkey is resting. Shave some fresh Parmesan cheese over the top prior to serving.
  15. Don't like asparagus? Try Haricotsverts. (ari co ver). French for itty bitty green beans. They come all trimmed and ready in a plastic pac (Sam's and Costco). Make these Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday, store in fridge, and finish off  on Thursday with shallots, garlic. and bacon. Boil for 5 - 10 minutes (depends upon altitude) in heavily salted water, until tender to bite. Shock in a pan of ice water.Store. Thursday, Into a dry skillet, toast some sliced almonds.Cook over medium heat until the almonds become fragrant. Melt 2 Tbls butter into same large skillet. Saute 1 large sliced shallot in butter. Add 1 clove minced garlic. Saute 30 seconds. Add hericotverts to the butter. Season with salt and pepper. Flip around with tongs until beans are hot and coated in butter, garlic, and almonds. Sprinkle with bacon bits.
  16. Pies: Buy them.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Turkey Stock

I promised in a prior post to show you how to make turkey stock. Home made turkey stock makes wonderful gravy, soups, and sauces. And, turkey is so darn cheap right now, you can't afford NOT to make it. Here goes.
Get yourself a large roaster. I absolutely love the All Clad.

You'll need 1 small turkey (about 12 pounds), 4 or 5 carrots, 1 bunch celery, 2 onions, 2 heads garlic, 1 bunch fresh thyme, 1 bunch fresh sage, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Thaw the turkey. If you buy a frozen turkey today and want to make stock today, defrost it in the microwave. Make sure to use the "defrost" setting, not use the "cook on full power" setting. Don't worry about tough turkey. We are not EATING this turkey. We're just using it for it's flavor. Is that morally wrong?

Quarter the onions. No need to peel them.

Wash and chop up the carrots and celery. Don't peel them.

Halve the garlic cloves. Put the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic in the roaster. Top with thyme and sage. Season with Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper.

Cut the turkey into pieces, reserving the breast for another use.
Place the turkey pieces on top of the vegetables.

Drizzle olive oil over the top, about 3 Tbls.
Season with Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper.
Pop it in a 425 degree oven for 2 hours.

The turkey should have dark brown skin.
Take it out of the oven.
Now, get out a big stock pot. Transfer all of the turkey and veg from the roaster to a stock pot. Fill it with water. Add 3 bay leaves. Put it on the stove.
Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.

Simmer away until the turkey meat falls off the bones. I went and watched a movie, then made some dinner, went to the cleaners...Overall, this stock simmered about 6 hours. It doesn't need to cook that long, but the longer it simmers, the more flavor the stock will have.

See the nekked bones? You know the stock is done.

Drain the liquid through a colander into another pot. Pick out the bones.

Now, mash down on the solids to get all the flavor out of them. (See what I meant about using them?)

Throw everything in the colander into the trash.
Put a lid on the stock and cool it off. Either put it in the fridge, or do what I do; put it outside when the temp is in the 30's. Just pray for no bear visits.

Once the stock is cool, and the fat has risen to the top and solidified, remove the fat with a spoon.
Store stock in quart size zip top bags. Freeze flat, if not using immediately.

Thaw and use to make fantastic turkey gravy.

Roast Turkey #2

I love Ree. The Pioneer Woman speaks to me. I must, however, painful as it is, state that in the Watz home  "Turkey Taste Test", Ree's turkey baking method came in second.
I roasted a brined turkey a few days ago. See "roast turkey #1. Fabulous, moist, and fast. 15 lb turkey done in 3 hours. No kidding.
I prepped turkey #2, which weighed 12 pounds, exactly like #1: Brined, dried, stuffed with onions, carrots, and celery. I used her slow cook, low temp method, though. Wrapped the bird in foil. Baked @ 275 degrees (F) for 2 hours, took off the foil. Basted with melted butter. Cranked up the heat to 375 degrees. Cooked for 1 more hour, browning the back. (I roasted it breast side down first). After the first hour @375, I flipped the turkey over to breast side up, as it was not browned at all. Cook for 1 more hour, until internal temp came up to 160 degrees. (Total cook time was 4 hours, kind of a long time for a 12 pound bird). I basted the bird with melted butter every 30 minutes. Perhaps opening the oven every 30 minutes lowered the oven temp enough to cause the prolonged cook time. This produced a wonderfully juicy turkey. My disappointment was with the skin. It just wasn't as dark brown and crispy as I like it. For Thanksgiving, I'll go ahead and wrap the bird in foil and bake @ 275 for 2 hours, then take off the foil and baste with butter. Crank up the heat to 425 degrees, bake for an hour, flip it over, baste, and cook until internal temp is 160 degrees. I have amended the "How to roast a turkey" post, and added some more pictures, if you want to take another peek.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Clam Chowder

I love soup. When it's cold and snowy outside, I just have to make it. My inspiration for making clam chowder came from these beautiful Manila clams I got at Costco for $3.29 / lb when they  opened up the fresh seafood counter. There were about 3 pounds in the bag. You can use canned clams if you like. Just make sure to rinse them a couple of times.

I then I began my recipe search. I do not like the gloppy, tasteless chowder with chewy clams that you get at  many restaurants, or from a can. I want lots of chunky potatoes, carrots, and celery and sweet, tender clams in a thick, savory, saucy base. I don't mind if it's not white.
As with all good soups, it starts with good stock. I am obsessed with stock. It makes everything better, except chocolate cake. But, I didn't have any fish stock on hand, nor did I have any clam juice. And there was no way I was going out in the snow to get any. But I did have some frozen leftover lobster shells from the last time we had lobster. And, I had several frozen Talapia fillets. So, I pulled out the big stock pot, and threw in the lobster shells, 1 rough chopped onion, 2 stalks celery, 2 carrots, a palmful of whole peppercorns, 1 frozen Talapia fillet, 1 head of garlic, cut in half,  a handful of parsley, and 4 bay leaves. Filled the pot with water, brought it to a simmer, then went and watched a movie while it simmered.
You could also use 1/2 clam juice and 1/2 chicken stock.

About 3 hours later, I came back to my soup. I continued to simmer the stock while I prepped the clams. If you have a nested pasta pot, the kind that the colander fits inside the solid pot, use that. It's easy to lift out the solids, leaving the stock in the pot.
Rinse clams thoroughly in a colander. Clams can be sandy.

Then soak them for about 15 minutes in a solution of salt, about 1/4 cup, and cornmeal, about 1/4 cup. It's supposed to draw out the sand. Rinse them off.

Then re-soak in a new batch of cold, salted and corn mealed (I don't think that's a word), water. Give it a good swish. (That's not my hand, really). Rinse again in cold water.

Let the clams hang out in clean, cold water while you prep the veg. You'll need 2 leeks, 1 onion, 2 big carrots, 4 stalks celery, including the leaves,(the inner stalks are tender, have less strings, and more leaves),1 red bell pepper, 8 red potatoes, and 2 green onions. Get out some all purpose flour, about 1/3 cup, a few sprigs of fresh thyme, a few sprigs of fresh parsley,  1/2 stick butter, and about 5 slices bacon.

When dealing with a bunch of veg to prep, I find it helpful to fill up your clean sink with cold water, then toss the veg right in.

Take them out and place them on a clean towel.

Start the prep.

Prep the leeks. Cut off the dark green parts, and slice off the bottoms.

Cut them in half.

Swish them around in a sink full of cold water . Get the sand out.

Dry them off, and slice up.

Peel the carrots, celery, red pepper, and potatoes. You don't have to completely peel the potatoes, just get off the ugly stuff. Using the Miracle Peeler, I peeled all this in less than 10 minutes. Chop everything into bite size pieces, except the onion. Mince that more finely.
See how everything is prepped and ready? That's "Misenplace", french for "everything in place". I like things that way. Everything in it's place.

OK. Veg ready. Let's fry up some bacon. Chop it up.

Put it in a Dutch oven over medium/high heat. Add 1 tsp butter to the pot to keep it from sticking.

When it's nice and crispy, take it out of the pot and drain it on a paper towel. Note: Keep all males out of the kitchen, as the bacon will disappear, and you'll have to fry up some more. Or, just fry up a few more slices and put them in the living room with a football game or Star Trek on the TV. Problem solved.

Now, add the onions, carrots, celery, and leeks to the same pot. And for the love of  Mike, do not clean out the pot! Season up the veg with Kosher salt and pepper.

Cook them over medium heat for about 15 minutes, adding peppers during last 5 minutes. You want them somewhat tender, but not brown.  Remove from pot and put in a bowl.
Now add 2 Tbls butter to empty pot. Melt it.

Add 1/3 cup flour to butter and whisk it in. Cook for about 3 minutes. You want to get out that "raw flour" taste without browning the roux.

My camera froze up here, so I'll have to describe the next few steps. After butter and flour have cooked for about 3 minutes, add 1/2 cup white wine, whisking vigorously. You just want enough wine to de-glaze the pot and get all the yummies stuck to the side into the soup.  The flour mixture will thicken almost into a solid like state. Now it's time to pour in about 8 cups of the fish stock that's been simmering all this time. Whisk until smooth. Return all veg to the pot.

Take some kitchen string and tie the parsley and thyme together. You could also wrap them up in cheesecloth and tie it closed, but who really keeps a good supply of cheesecloth on hand? By the way, this is called a "bouquet garni" in cooking french. Otherwise known as, "herbs tied up in string".

Throw the herb bundle in the pot. Add about 4 bay leaves and sir it around.

Cook the soup over medium/high heat until it comes to a boil. You won't know how thick the broth will be until it comes to a boil.

Reduce to simmer.Stir.  Let that hang out on simmer while you cook the clams.Put them in a big, deep skillet. Add enough fish stock to come up to about halfway. We're steaming here, not boiling.

Cover them up with a tight fitting lid, and turn the heat up to "high".

When the clams start to pop open, about 10 minutes, take the lid off. With tongs in hand, remove all open clams immediately, and put them in a bowl. Do not abandon the clams! Stand at the stove and remove each and every one as soon as they pop open. Overcooked clams are tough clams. Discard any that stay closed.
After clams are done and in a bowl, remove the meat from the shell. You can use a paring knife, but these clams were so tender, I just fished them out with my fingers. There is a muscle that stays attached to the shell. Don't try to get that out.

This really goes faster than you might think. Put all clam meat aside. Chop if pieces are large.
Let's get back to the soup. Stick a fork in a carrot, or, taste one. If it is tender, the soup is just about done.
Add about 1 cup heavy cream to soup.

Whisk it in.

Do not boil. If the soup isn't thick enough, as mine wasn't, make a "buerre mane". Pronounced, "Burr Manyay", french for  "butter and flour mixed into a paste".
Put 2 Tbls soft butter into a dish.

Add 2 Tbls flour. Mix it up with a fork.

Stir until it's a very smooth paste.

Add it to hot soup. Stir. If the consistency is thick enough, add the bacon and green onions to the pot.

Just prior to serving, taste the soup. Re-season as necessary. Fish out the herb bundle.

Now it's time to add the clams. Clams should never be cooked more than once. Just heat them through in the soup broth.
This soup is done! Serve with a nice Sourdough bread, toasted with butter.

Finish with some chopped fresh parsley.
If, by chance the soup is still not thick enough, take about 1/2 cup of the potatoes, and some broth, out of the pot. (Don't worry if you have some veg in there).  Buzz it up with an immersion blender, or in a blender. Add back to soup. If you keep adding Buerre mane, the soup will have a floury, pasty, flavor. Not delish.
Enjoy in front of the fire.


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About Me

Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States
I'm a home cook that can put some good tasting food on the table, most of the time. My family knows dinner is ready when the fire alarm goes off.