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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Thanksgiving is Coming!

My most beautiful turkey ever. OK, it looks like this every year. Tastes even better than it looks.
Yep, right around the corner now. Starting to think about that big holiday menu? Not me! I'm going to visit family so I'm not responsible for the bird, etc. this year. That's not to say I don't have recipes for you. Here are links to Thanksgiving posts from years past to give you some ideas:

Thanksgiving 2010: a mix of recipes pulled from various places.
Turkey Brining: how I've done it though I don't always bring mine because the drippings become too salty for gravy.
Turkey Cooking: how to roast that bird.
Icebox Cake: a rather non-tradtional Thanksgiving dessert originally from Fine Cooking.
Masa Cornbread Stuffing: Delicious Southwest-inspired stuffing. Really dressing since you don't stuff the bird with it.
Buttermilk Rolls: impress your guests with homemade rolls.
Apple Sausage Stuffing: two Thanksgiving classics, apples and turkey.

The Turkey Carcass:  Stop! Do not throw out that carcass. Make stock.
Turkey and Corn Chowder: place to use both stock and turkey meat
Turkey and Wild Rice Soup: turkey and wild rice, two American natives.
Turkey Curry: from my other blog, School of Eating Good.

Hope your Thanksgiving meal is filled with many delicious dishes and good company!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Trader Joe's Nut Oil Sale

Nut oils are one of the secret weapons of the great cook. Like high quality extra virgin olive oil, they pack a big punch of flavor in a little package. They make sensational vinaigrettes. They are delicious drizzled on cooked vegetables, grains, or fish. They are delicate so you don't cook with them. You use them to impart a rich nutty flavor. Unfortunately, they are usually quite expensive.

This month, Trader Joe's has a trio of nut oils - hazelnut, walnut, pistachio - on sale for $14.99. I know that sounds expensive but that's a huge bargain. Three 8.45 oz. cans for $15! Jump at this sale. Get to Trader Joe's and snap it up.

Here's the Trader Joe's page on the oils:

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Elderflower Cocktail

It's about 0 degrees here and I'm posting summer cocktails. What can I say? We're not intimidated by some cold here in Colorado.  I had tried this cocktail at a party over the summer, and I wanted to give it a try, weather be damned. Traditionally, it's made with St-Germain liqueur. That's some expensive hooch. It's a French liqueur infused with elderflowers, giving it a delicate floral bouquet. I wasn't up to forking over $35 for a bottle, so I settled for the elderflower syrup from IKEA. Significantly cheaper. The Swedes love this stuff. They use it to make an elderflower lemonade (so my Swedish friend Anette tells me). It's much sweeter than the liqueur and it contains no alcohol. Still made for a delicious cocktail, one quite light on alcohol. I've dubbed it the Hummingbird Moth Cocktail. The hummingbird moth, a large moth common in Boulder gardens, is often mistaken for a hummingbird.

The Hummingbird Moth Cocktail
(makes 1)

a few pieces of ice
1 oz. elderflower syrup  (available at IKEA)
2 oz. prosecco or sparkling white wine
2 oz. club soda

Combine everything in a wine glass. Sip and dream of summer breezes. 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Mussels in Mustard Dill Sauce

At this point, I realized I hadn't taken a picture but I had already eaten a bunch of them.  Let me tell you, it took some restraint to stop and take a picture!

Mussels are my favorite "cheap" seafood. I love all seafood: raw oysters on the half shell, lobster, shrimp, all manner of crab. What do all these delicious things have in common? All pricey! Mussels are not cheap like pinto beans, but compared to the rest, they are an outright bargain. They are so adaptable too. So many sauces work on the flavorful but not fishy tasting mussel. I went to a Belgian restaurant in Montreal a couple of summers ago and they had pages of variations.

If you have a Costco near you, you can get a great price on mussels during their Seafood sales. They have lots of other great things, like giant scallops, crabs, shrimp, and clams at a good price, but they are still hardly cheap. The mussels are the cheapest of them all.

Mussels in Mustard Dill Sauce
(serves 2)

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Lamb Shanks Vindaloo

I mentioned this dish to two friends and they both went "Oooohh!" It was certainly delicious. The secret is using a pressure cooker. Lamb shanks take a very long time to cook. They are filled with connective tissue, which is what makes them so rich and delicious. Alas, connective tissue takes quite some time to break down. The pressure cooker to the rescue! Something that would take hours in the oven is done in about an hour. Score one for technology.

Vindaloo is supposed to be hot. Really hot. At ½ teaspoon cayenne, it's mildly spicy. Feel free to increase the cayenne up to 1 ½ teaspoons, if you can handle it.

Lamb Shanks Vindaloo
(serves 4-6)