Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Crispy Turkey Flautas – A Great Reason for Buying a Too Big Bird

Most normal people cook a bigger turkey than they need, so they can enjoy some leftovers. There’s nothing better than a fresh turkey sandwich, or three, but after a couple days, that bony carcass is that last thing you want to look at; and that’s where these crispy flautas come in.

As I joked about in the video, when it comes to leftovers, the “add cheese and fry” system is a proven crowd pleaser, but to hedge our bets, we’re also topping with guacamole, sour cream, and salsa. This creates something so different from the holiday meal that you might forget where the turkey actually came from. Depends on how much you’ve been drinking.

Regarding my comment about pre-grated cheese being coated with saw dust – many people on YouTube thought I was joking, but this really is true. That shredded stuff in the bag is coated in a fine cellulose dust, which prevents the pieces of cheese from clumping together. The good news is, grating cheese only takes a minute, and almost anyone can do it.

And if you don’t have old turkey to make these flautas with, eventually you will have some leftover chicken, which would obviously also work. Either way, I hope you give these delicious, crispy flautas a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 12 large turkey flautas:
24 small, white corn tortillas
1 egg white to seal flautas, optional
*1 pound cooked, shredded turkey
6 ounces shredded pepper Jack cheese, sharp cheddar, or a combo of the two (about 2 cups)
1/3 cup chopped green onions
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
*I’ll assume you’re going to use one of our turkey recipes, so your bird will be super moist, but if it isn’t, you can always add a 1/4 cup of chicken broth to the mixture to compensate.
- Garnish with shaved cabbage, guacamole, sour cream, salsa, and freshly chopped cilantro

Friday, November 20, 2015

Turkey & Rice Meatballs (Albondigas) – Perfect for Spanish Thanksgiving

Making delicious meatballs with fatty, flavorful beef is no great feat, but creating something as delectable using ground turkey is another story. As the old joke goes, it may be bland, but at least it’s dry. So, you’re going to need a very specialized strategy, and by “specialized strategy,” I mean some cold, leftover rice.

As these simmer in your sauce or soup, the grains of rice absorb moisture, swell up, and create a relatively tender, moist meatball. Above and beyond that, you’ll also want to look for ground turkey thigh meat (available at most of your higher-priced grocery chains).

By the way, like all meatball/meatloaf recipes, you can test your seasoning by cooking a small piece of the mixture before rolling your ball. Even though the meat hasn’t simmered in the sauce yet, at least you can see if it needs more salt. I’ll just fry up a little patty, and adjust if need be, and suggest you do the same.

I didn’t intend this recipe to be a Thanksgiving dinner alternative, but now that I think about it, these could actually work. Maybe you have a small group, or don’t like looking at a giant carcass on the table (hey, some people are weird like that), or your in-laws are Spanish, and you want to show them you can pronounce “albondigas.”  Whatever the occasion, I hope you give these a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for about 20-24 small meatballs:
1 pound ground turkey thigh meat
1 packed cup cooked white long grain rice
3 cloves crushed garlic 
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
1 large egg
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon olive oil

For the sauce (I didn’t measure these ingredients, so these are just guesses)
2 1/2 cups prepared tomato sauce
1 cup chicken broth, plus more as needed
1 teaspoon paprika
1/3 cup crème fraiche or heavy cream
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
2 tbsp chopped Italian parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Tuscan Bean Soup – Cheer Up!

Our grandparents called them the winter blues, but nowadays we know this condition as Seasonal Affective Disorder; a melancholy scientifically proven to be caused by shorter, darker days. 

Since fall and winter are full of those, we’re going to need some coping strategies, and this hearty Tuscan bean soup is one of the more effective. There’s just something about that combo of smooth, silky soup, and crunchy, crispy croutons that makes everything seem okay. 

Speaking of shorter days, this recipe is also a fantastic base for creating even more substantial weeknight meals. Things like sausage, peppers, and/or maybe a handful of greens, always works in this.

I tried a new method prepping our veggies; pureeing them instead of dicing. I thought this might save time, possibly extract more flavor, and quicken the cooking. Hey, two out of three aren’t bad! It was faster than dicing, and the soup only had to simmer for 15 minutes, but I didn’t think the flavor was quite as good as the classic diced veggies method.

Either way, this soup is delicious, and guaranteed to fog up your kitchen windows. Smiley face sold separately. I really hope you give this Tuscan bean soup a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 4 servings:
1 onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
3 cloves garlic
*As stated in the post, I prefer diced veggies to the ground ones I tried in the video, and if you do go for the traditional method and cut your vegetables in small cubes, you'll have to simmer you soup for about 30 minutes, or until they are sweet and very tender.
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
cayenne to taste
1/2 teaspoon chopped rosemary
1/2 teaspoon picked thyme leaves
2 (15-oz) cans white kidney beans aka cannellini beans
4 cups chicken broth
1/3 cup crème fraiche or heavy cream
1/2 lemon, juiced
- Garnish with fresh bread cubes fried golden in olive oil, tossed with Parmigiano Reggiano, and fresh Italian parsley.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Bacon Cheddar and Spinach Strata – We’re Rocking the Breakfast Casserole

For such a simple dish, I sure have a lot of additional info to cover regarding the construction of this beautiful bacon, cheddar, and spinach strata. First of which, is the somewhat unusual name. Whoever invented this recipe apparently thought it looked like layers of rock, known in geological circles as, “strata.”

I guess it sort of does, and probably would a lot more, if we used a deeper dish, and did more layers. Regardless, even with just one layer of filling in the middle, you’ll still be looking at a gorgeous casserole, which should thoroughly impress your brunch guests…bottomless Mimosas or no.

As I mentioned in the video, if you want something a little eggier, a little more quiche-like, just simply increase the amount of egg custard used. As long as your pan is deep enough, you could as much as double the eggs and cream in this.

Speaking of the cream, this is a very rich dish, so you may want to cut the cream with milk. In fact, many people use all milk for this, but I do enjoy the extra butterfat the cream provides. As usual, let your conscience be your guide.

Above and beyond that, this recipe just begs for personalization. I’m not sure what your favorite omelet ingredients are, but I do know they would work in this, and work really well. I hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 12 portions:
1 pound loaf of day old bread, cubed
12 large eggs
2 1/2 cups heavy cream, milk, or any combination thereof
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
pinch cayenne
pinch nutmeg
1 pound bacon, sliced and cooked crisp
1 pound fresh spinach, wilted, and squeezed dry (or enough thawed, drained frozen spinach to cover one layer)
12 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, divided (use 1/2 over the first layer of bread, 1/4 over the spinach, and the last 1/4 over the top layer of bread)
- Bake at 350 F. for 45 minutes or until set. Then broil for a minute or two to brown the top.