Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Day - the turkey

Turkey is not a carb. It's a protein. But, I've been asked "how do you fix your turkey?" So, allow me for one day to divert from carbohydrates to an American roast turkey dinner.

We start with one 20-pound turkey. I'm sorry, maybe you wanted something less, but when you consider how incredibly cheap turkey is, how can you consider anything less than 20  pounds? You can use the leftovers in so many (wonderful) ways, and I promise that I'll share some recipes with you next week. And turkey meat freezes beautifully.

What you will need
20 pound turkey
roasting pan WITH lid
roasting pan rack

You will need a covered roasting pan to make this work. Don't do the foil disposable pan. Don't do the open pan. You MUST have a roasting pan with a cover.

Remove the wrapping, the plastic leg ties, the neck and whatever other goodies might be hiding in a bag inside. Rinse your turkey well and then pat dry.

Place the turkey upside-down in the pan on the roasting rack. Most recipes say "breast up". I always roast "breast down" so that the juices trickle down to keep the breast meat moist.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Place the upside-down turkey (uncovered at this point) in the oven and roast for 30 minutes. This will destroy any bacteria lingering on the outside of the turkey.

After 30 minutes, place the lid on the turkey and lower the temperature to 275 degrees F. Roast for 4 hours.

At this point, your turkey will be done--moist, succulent, tender, and most of all--SAFE!

Allow it to sit for at least 30 minutes, and then carve and serve. Or, do as I do--cook your turkey one day before you plan to serve it. Allowing it to rest even more than 30 minutes makes carving super easy, and you can reserve the drippings, refrigerate overnight, and skim the fat from the top to make a healthier gravy.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Countdown to Thanksgiving -- the pumpkin pie

I have a confession to make. I've been holding onto this secret for far too long. It has to do with honesty. I've not actually lied, but I've not told the entire truth either. Isn't withholding information the same as a lie?

Sigh. OK, I'm going to lay it out here for my family and friends. For years I have been serving you tofu in the guise of pumpkin pie. There, I've said it!

I feel better already.

So why use tofu in a pumpkin pie? Years ago when my younger daughter was vegan (no animal products of any kind) I was desperate to find ways to prepare our traditional foods without the use of eggs or dairy products. I discovered this recipe and found that not only did it not taste of tofu, it was also easier to prepare. Traditional pumpkin pie recipes call for eggs--under cook the filling and you have pumpkin goop; overcook and you have pumpkin rubber.

This recipe is fool-proof:

Tofu Pumpkin Pie
1 can (16 oz.) pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1 pkg (10-12 oz.) soft tofu, processed in blender until smooth (DON'T USE LOW-FAT TOFU)
1 9-inch unbaked pie shell

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Cream the pumpkin and sugar. Add salt, spices, and tofu and mix thoroughly. Pour mixture into pie shell and bake for 15 minutes. Lower heat to 350 degrees F. and bake for another 40 minutes.

Chill and serve.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Countdown to Thanksgiving - the salad: Asparagus/Wild Rice Salad

noun - 1) the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs, etc.; 2) a long-established or inherited way of thinking or acting.

Tradition. I know that every year on Thanksgiving we will eat turkey and stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberries, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie. I know that I can depend on my sisters-inlaw to make fruit salad with marshmallows, a green salad, and a macaroni salad with sweet relish. That's our tradition.

And, my family knows that I'm always looking for something out of the ordinary for our family potlucks. That's also a part of our tradition.

Here's a very different salad from the Washington Asparagus Growers Commission:

Northwest Asparagus Wild Rice Salad
2 cups wild rice (uncooked)
3 cups fresh asparagus (sliced thinly, diagonally)
1 cup smoked salmon (slice in small chunks)
1 cup fresh cranberries
1 cup red bell pepper, sliced

Cook wild rice according to package directions. Rinse in cold water. Combine asparagus, salmon, cranberries, red bell pepper, and cooled cooked wild rice. Mix well. Combine dressing ingredients. Toss dressing with salad.

1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
1/2 tsp. salt

Countdown to Thanksgiving - the salad: Green Bean Salad

Today's recipe is a very simple one, but one that has been in our family for many years.

The holidays have always meant family get-together and get-together always means potluck. Believe me, that is the only way--when you assemble all of the aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters, nieces, nephews, cousins, and grandkids we are a BIG group!

My mother-inlaw always brought the green bean salad:

Grandma Eleanore's Green Bean Salad
1 can green beans
1 can wax beans
1 can kidney beans
1 can garbanzo beans
1 green pepper, cut into strips
1 medium onion, cut into rings

Drain vegetables and mix. Make dressing and pour over vegetables. Allow to marinate overnight.

2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup cooking oil
1 tsp. salt
pepper to taste

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Countdown to Thanksgiving - the appetizer: Cheese Torta

A few weeks ago my daughter told me about a savory cheesecake she had sampled at Corina Bakery (best bakery in Tacoma!). It was creamy, tangy, and layered with pesto, sun dried tomatoes, and kalamata olives.

Most people would think to themselves "Hmmm, I need to go there and try it." But I'm not "most people". Any time I hear of a wonderful meal at a restaurant (see my posts regarding Olive Garden), or see an amazing slice of bliss in a bakery, I take it on as a personal challenge.

Carb Diva Mediterranean Cheese Torta
2 8-oz packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup basil pesto
1/2 cup oil-packed sun dried tomatoes, drained
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/4 cup kalamata olives, finely minced

Line a 2 cup container (preferably plastic) with two layers of cheesecloth. Set aside.

Beat the cream cheese with an electric mixer until very smooth and creamy. Spoon 1/4 of the cream cheese into the bottom of the prepared container.

Spoon the pesto evenly over the cheese. Add a second layer of cheese.

Place the sun-dried tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, and garlic in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Spread the tomato layer over the cream cheese.

Follow with a third layer of cream cheese, then the minced olives, and finally the last 1/4 of the cream cheese.

Fold up the edges of the cheesecloth to cover the top of the cream cheese. Press gently to compact. Cover airtight and chill until firm, at least one hour and up to one day.

To serve, fold back the cheesecloth, invert the container onto a serving plate and remove the container and cheesecloth.

Serve with crackers or crostini.


Friday, November 4, 2011

One potato, two potato.... (or another Carb Diva "surf and turf")

I love breakfast--in fact, I'm happy to have "breakfast for dinner" But pancakes, waffles or cinnamon rolls are not really my thing. My number one love is potatoes--creamy and whipped, fluffy and baked, or crispy fried.

Today I had three potatoes in my pantry--one russet and two yams. And a large sweet onion.

What to do?

My thoughts turned to hash. But what protein could/should I pare with a mix of potatoes that are somewhat sweet/somewhat earthy? Ham or bacon are obvious. But I don't do obvious.

...And then I noticed the smoked salmon tidbits in the seafood section of my local grocer. They're not beautiful fillets--but who needs beautiful fillets when you're making hash? Little bits are just fine. And smoked salmon with dense russets, sweet yams, and creamy sauteed onions sound like a perfect match to me.

Carb Diva Smoked Salmon Hash
1 large russet potato
2 medium-sized yams
1 large sweet onion, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 pound smoked salmon
1 tsp.dill weed

Using a small paring knife, pierce the russet potato in several places. Microwave for 3 minutes. When cool enough to handle, remove the peel and dice the potato.

Pare the yams and dice (about 1/2 inch).

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the diced onion and cook until softened and just beginning to turn golden. Add the pared/diced russet potato and the yams. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until golden.

Mince the smoked salmon and add to the potato/onion hash. Continue to cook and stir until the salmon is heated through.

Sprinkle with dill weed and serve.