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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Best Brined Turkey

We Americans were inundated with Thanksgiving advice on brineing a Turkey. Wet? Dry? And a million different ways to brine the bird.  I've been brining Turkey's, Pork Loins, fresh Ham's, Shrimp for a few years. And I just found out a Prime Rib Roast! I have to admit, last years Turkey was not so hot, so I did allot of research this year, and found my mistake.  I didn't do two things: 1. I didn't wash the brine off the bird when I pulled it out. 2. I didn't let the bird dry. In addition, there evidently is a controversy regarding how long should the bird brine.  I found everything from three days to no more than 10-12 hours...even less.  I went with the argument that any more than 10-12 hours the fibers in the meat break down. (There's some science behind it.) But I did find some science in the drying of a brined bird. Dry a brined bird in the fridge for 8-10 hours....uncovered. (Removing any food that could be contaminated.) Science says that a process called pellicle occurs.  The bottom line result of that is a crisper skin. OK....I'm game, lets go!  This Turkey came out perfect! Moist, with a crispy skin. And the flavor was wonderful.  The picture of it was when I moved the turkey from the oven to my giant gas grill to make room for all the other dishes being made.

Brined Roasted Turkey


7 quarts of water
1 quart of apple cider
3/4 cup kosher salt
1 large onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
3 ribs of celery, diced
1 head of garlic, cut in half diagonally
1/2 bunch of fresh cut rosemary
1/2 bunch of fresh sage
6 bay leaves
1 14-20 pound turkey

Herb Crust

1 bunch of finely chopped rosemary
1 bunch of finely chopped sage
3 sticks of butter

To Brine the Turkey:

Combine all the ingredients for the brine in a large container. Add the turkey, (all the innards removed) and let it brine in the fridge. I put mine in two white plastic bags with brine, and then in a large pot.  I turned my turkey after 5 hours. Brine for a total of 12 hours.

Prepare the Turkey

Pre-Heat oven to 450.  Remove the turkey from the brine the night before cooking and pat dry with paper towels. Combine the Herb Crust mixture in a small bowl, and season with S&P to taste.  Work the mixture under the skin of the bird and all over the top too.  Tie up the legs and wings to keep it moist during cooking.

Cooking the Turkey

Put two cups of chicken stock and 1 cup of apple cider in the bottom of the roasting pan.  Roast the turkey in the preheated oven till its the skin gets really brown.  About 40 minutes.  Lower the heat to 350 degrees for the remainder  of the cooking time. Baste the turkey every 30 minutes or so with the drippings and add more stock if needed.  Cook about 17 minutes per pound.  Tent the top breast of the turkey when it gets to the color you want, and keep it from burning.  Make your favorite gravy from the pan drippings.  Mine is Giblet Gravy!

Stuffing/Dressing:  Your on your own on this one.  I like a sausage type dressing or oyster dressing!


Monday, October 8, 2012

Fried Green Tomatoes

Mom being from the South, we always had fried green and red tomatoes.  Naturally, I've had them in many different restaurants from high dollar to country dives over the years. This recipe is asked for by friends and family alike.  I think you'l like em!

Green tomatoes:  The greener the better. When I find them I store in the vegetable crisper to keep them from turning red till I'm ready to fry.  I thick sliced 2 medium tomatoes and 2 of us ate them, so 1 tomato per person.

1 Cup of flour

1/2 cup of you favorite Cajun spices

3 eggs

1 Cup Buttermilk

2 cups Panko  bread crumbs

2-3 slices of thin Prosciutto 

Sour Cream

Salt N Pepper

1 Cup of white Crisco; you can add some bacon grease to it or just use bacon grease.

Directions: Wash and cut the tops and bottoms off a little of the tomatoes and slice thick, 1/2" each.

Add your Cajun spices, a 1/2 Tsp of cracked pepper to the flour in a wide flat bowl and mix. (Usually Cajin spice had enough salt in it.)  The tomatoes need the spice; and can handle it well.  It complements the flavor of the tomato.

In another wide flat bowl, add the buttermilk, and crack the eggs in.  Mix very well, no eggy strings. If need be, add a dash of water to thin and you might just want to mix with a emulsion mixer.  

In the last wide flat bottom bowl pour in the Panko Crumbs.  

Use a large iron skillet over med high heat, and add the Crisco, and or bacon grease.  In another small skillet, dab some EVOO and add the Prosciutto.  Just crisp it up and remove for later.

Flour a slice of tomato, shake off the excess,, then dip in the egg mixture, then cover with the panko, and shake off excess.  Then gently drop in the hot pan. (I use a pair of tongs and a fork to do this.)  Then repeat for each slice.  Don't over fill the pan.  Fry for 2 min and check the bottoms.  When their a nice golden brown, flip them.When the tomatoes are done, set them on some paper towels to drain off the grease.

While the tomatoes are cooking, chop up the prosciutto into bits.
Serving: Top each tomato with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkle some prosciutto bits on top. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Couple of Summer Drinkies

Miss Mikki is a great bartender and her drinks are legendary.  But I like to concoct a few of my own every once in a while too.  Here's a couple that I made that were excellent with the 108 degree summer weather:

California Collins:

8 Fresh Lemon Verbena leaves (I grow it in my herb garden.)

2 oz of Gin (I'm a Gin connoisseur and have no less than 10 different ones on hand, but I used Beefeaters London Dry for this one.)

2 oz of Apple Juice

1 oz of Seagrams Club Soda Water

In a collins glass, muddle the verbena leaves with a tiny bit of ice in the bottom.  Top up with crushed ice, gin and apple juice. Stir well, then stir in the Club Soda.  Ahhhhh! Surpassingly refreshing!

Porch Crawler:

I laughed when I saw the name of this one....a deja vu? Oui? Pas? This one is savory spicy!

2 oz of chilled Seagrams Club Soda

1 oz of Lemon juice

1 oz of simple syrup

1 Serrano Chile halved and seeded

5 cherries seeded and chopped

3 mint leaves plus a couple for garnish (I have a ton of frekin mint.)

2 oz of white rum

In a cocktail shaker muddle the chile, mint and cherries.  Add crushed ice, rum, lemon juice, and simple syrup.  Shake well and drain into a ice filled collins glass.  Stir in the soda and garnish with mint and a cherry.  Trust worth it!

Brined Broiled Shrimp? Yeah Baby!

Everybody love's shrimp, and lord knows how many ways we've cooked em over the years. My favorites: Maryland steamed, grilled, boiled.  But I saw one way of cooking them that made me say I HAVE to try this......Brined and Broiled?.....who would have thunk that?  It's how the LoosyAnna shrimpers cook em.  I was totally surprised how succulent they were.  I made a big batch the other day for shrimp cocktails, and shrimp Po-Boy's.  I don't get many compliments about my cookin from Miss Mikki, but she said the shrimp  and Po-Boys were the best shrimp she ever ate, and she lived in Pascagoula MissSippi for a while. YIKES! I have a guy that brings the shrimp direct from the gulf, never frozen.  I did hear that if you can't get fresh, then buy them frozen, never from the fish case at the store....stinky.

1 pound of shell-on raw shrimp
1 Tablespoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Old Bay Seasoning (I didn't use my Slap Yo Momma Cajun Spice on this one.)

For the Brine:

1/4 cup of Kosher salt
1/4 cup of water
2 cups of ice

Clean the Shrimp! Take your time folks; have a big glass of cold white wine and savor life.  I have a shrimp cleaner thingy, but if you don't, run a small knife tip down their  backs starting from right in front under the shell. Open and pull out the do-doo string under gentle cold running water.  Leave the shells on.

Place the shrimp in the bowl of brine and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes. (Stir the brine up as you add the shrimp.)  Remove from brine and dry them well. (I use a kitchen towel.) Put em in a big mixing bowl and add the EVOO and sprinkle Old Bay on em. Mix em up well.  Let em sit, and start your broiler on high. Cover a cookie sheet pan with aluminum foil and put in the broiler to heat up well.  Take out of oven and place your shrimp on.  Spread em out evenly and put back in the broiler for 2 MINUETS! Yes 2 minuets!  Pull out the pan, turn the shrimps over with tongs and then broil for 1 MORE MINUET!  Yep, one minute!  Pull from broiler and put shrimp on a cold sheet pan for Shrimp Cocktail.  (I put one in the fridge.) Or, eat em hot with more Old Bay; melted butter with LoosyAnna hot sauce n Worcestershire sauce. For the Po-Boy I made my own fresh remoulade sauce and a special garlic butter for the toasted Po-Boy bread. Grated Iceberg lettuce, and succulent fresh backyard tomatoes. Mmm Mmmm Good!  Put on some good Zydeco music and as usual, wash it down with some more of that cold crisp white wine. Yee Haaa!  Then take a lil nappy.

Summery Lemony-Basil Orzotto

Gordon Ramsey has totally intimidated my Mushroom Risotto to a big ugly blob, and I love risotto.  I came across this recipe from Cooking Channel's Kelsey.  It's easy, pretty quick and, we love it with the fresh aromas of summer.  I've made it several times now without failure.  It's a great summery side starch instead of potatoes and goes with any main course.  It goes like this:

2 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 cup of diced onions
1 1/2 cups of Orzotto or Orzo(Kroger has it.  The kinda tiny ones.)
1/2 cup of white wine
3 cups of chicken broth
1/2 cup of frozen petite peas
1/3 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chiffonade fresh basil
1 teaspoon of lemon zest
1/4 cup of heavy cream
Juice of 1 lemon
Kosher Salt and freshly ground pepper

In a heavy bottomed medium saucepan, heat the oil over med-high heat.  Add onions and sauté until fragrant and translucent.  Add the orzo and toast for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add wine and cook until absorbed, but not dry, keep it moist.

Gradually add in the chicken stock, stirring frequently.  Bring to a simmer, lower heat and cover.  Cook for 8-10 minuets until the liquid is is almost absorbed and orzo is tender.  Remove from the heat and stir in peas, Parmesan, basil, lemon zest, heavy cream and lemon juice.  Season with salt n pepper to fast and VOILA!  

I've been experimenting with the addition of toasted pine nuts and marinated artichokes with great success.  And in fact I'm thinking of the addition mushrooms.  In short, all the types of risotto that I CAN'T make.  As always, I love a glass of crisp white wine.  Just found a really good one that's inexpensive: A-Z's Pino Gris.  

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Jimmy's Brandied Cream Shrimp n Blackened Filet Mignon

This is a really quick, simple and easy fancy evening supper.  Great for a first date home evening dinner or for vintage couples.  It's very rich with savory flavors.  The shrimp dish alone is filling enough but if your real hungry add a petite blackened filet mignon.  Dust a room temperature filet with blackening spices 30 min before cooking. Then get a iron skillet smokin hot with a couple dashes of canola or grape seed oil and sear em up.  Med Rare for me.  I center the filet and then pour the brandied shrimp over top.  Good cold brut champagne helps to explode all the savory flavors; or even a crispy cold white like Vouvoray Sec.

Brandied Cream Shrimp

8 large fresh shrimp peeled and deveined
1 clove of garlic finely sliced 
1/2 large shallot finely diced
4 nice sun dried tomatoes sliced in ribbons
1 pinch of crushed red pepper or to taste. My pinch is a little heavy.
1/2 cup of brandy
1 cup of heavy whipping cream
1/2 Tbls olive oil
4 basil leaves sliced in ribbons
Crusty bread for dipping

I use a 10"Stainless saute pan for this one.  Saute garlic shallots, tomatoes, shrimp and red pepper in the olive oil until the garlic browns a little.  Pour in the brandy stir up, then add the cream and basil.  Reduce to a fairly heavy consistency, not too much.  Season with finishing salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste.  Voila!  Simple! Fast!  Easy! 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Faidley's World Famous Crab Cakes (For my little Sister)

Growing up in Maryland, the Blue Crab Capitol of the World, I've had many a Crab Cake.  I've had them all along the Atlantic and Pacific coastline cities and towns.  I have many recipes in my collection but this is the one I always gravitate too on special occasions.  Faidley's is in the Baltimore's Inner Harbour's Lexington Market, and have been making them since 1866. Yes, I like H&M's too.  I made this batch over the 2010 Holidays.  I wanted a small salad to go along of arugula with a lemony citrus dressing.  The dressing matched the flavors of the Crab Cake so well, that I decided to just serve the Cake on top.  WOW is all I can say!  It really worked so well!  The all elusive encompassing taste flavors of Sweet, Sour, Bitter and Salty were achieved in this dish.  I've included the Lemony Dressing recipe.  My lady, Miss Mikki is an amazing cook and likes to experiment with recipes too.  She whipped up a Tarter Sauce that was way too good. I included that recipe too.  In the picture, it was New Years Eve, and of course some Champagne, but during supper, I opened a cold Vovray that went beautifully.  Bon Appetite!    

1 lb large lump crabmeat, picked over
1 cup crushed saltines
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 egg
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
1 dash Tabasco sauce
vegetable oil (for frying) (optional)
clarified butter (optional) or olive oil, for sauteing (optional)  I use a combo of the butter and canola oil.
  1. Spread the crab meat out in a flat pan (cookie sheet) and sprinkle the crushed saltines over the top.
  2. In a small bowl, mix mayonnaise, egg, mustard, Worcestershire and tobasco.
  3. Pour the mayonnaise over the crab meat and gently toss or fold the ingredients together, taking care not to break up the lumps of crab meat.
  4. Let the mixture sit for at least 2-3 minutes to set before forming the cakes.
  5. Form the cakes by hand or with an ice cream scoop into 8 mounds about 3″ in diameter and 3/4″ thick.Do NOT pack the mixture too firmly.
  6. The cakes should be as loose as possible, yet still hold their shape.
  7. Place the cakes on a tray or platter lined with wax paper, cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before cooking.
  8. To sauté: Heat a small amount of clarified butter or olive oil, or a combination, in a skillet and sauté the cakes, turning several times, until golden brown, about 8 minute total cooking time.
  9. Remove with a slotted utensil to a paper towel to drain.
  10.  Serve at once over some chopped arugula, sprinkled well with the dressing.  Tartar sauce on the side.    
Next time I make them I'm going to try a recipe from when Lucy, my sister, was sailing in the Virgin Islands on a private yacht.  The cook used some Ritz crackers, some corn kernels, red bell peppers and some red pepper flakes along with the mayo.....sounds good.  I'll let you know!

Meyer Lemon and Garlic Dressing (Currandooley Dressing)

Tangy and refreshing, this dressing can be used to dress any combination of mixed greens. It can also be made with juice from regular lemons, and the results were just as delicious, if a bit more tart.
3 cloves garlic
1 tbsp. coarse salt
1⁄2 cup mild extra-virgin olive oil (use really good evoo!  I use Nicolas Alazizar from France)
Black pepper  ( I use only fresh ground Tellicherry Pepper) 
1⁄2 cup Meyer lemon juice  (I find Meyers lemons at Fresh Market..and I grow them too; fab!)

1. Finely chop the garlic on your wooden board.  Sprinkle the salt on top.  Take your knife and mash the garlic into the salt.  Leave some small chunks of garlic. In a small bowl, gradually drizzle in olive oil while mixing vigorously with a fork. Add a generous sprinkling of pepper and continue to mix.
2. Whisk in lemon juice to make a smooth dressing. Strain dressing through a fine sieve, discard solids, and adjust the seasonings. Store in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.
3.  I said the heck with some of the above and used my hand held emulsifier  and didn't strain.  I put the dressing in a Good Seasons cruet.  Perfect! 
Mikki's Amazing Tarter Sauce:
1/2 cup of that Kraft Olive Oil Mayo
2 Tablespoons of finely chopped Brooklyn Pickles (very briny, I saw them on a piece from FoodTV.  I found them at Williams Sonoma or get online.  Their worth it if you love pickles.)
1 Tablespoon of capers
1 Tablespoon of Champagne Vinegar
1 Tablespoon of course mustard
Kosher Salt to taste
1 Tablespoon of tarragon 
3 very thinly sliced green onions
1/2 cup of parsley
Put all of the above in a small food processor and blend.  Chill in the fridge with the Crab Cakes.