Monday, February 21, 2011

What's in the rotation

When my parents married, in the late 40's, my father asked my mother...or so the story goes....to not serve the same dish on the same night every week. His mother had her routine of a pasta day, a fish day, and so on. He found that boring. She also had nine kids and a neighborhood grocery store and deli to manage. Yet, my father yearned for more excitement in his life and didn't want to know what was for dinner until he sat down at the table. Fortunately, for my mother, my parents ate out a lot due to numerous business dinners. That was back in the day when spouses where expected to join their husbands for a mix of social and business gatherings. My memories of family meals revolve around the tried and true basics of roast chicken, meat loaf, baked ham and eggplant parmesan (my favorite.) My father went through a cooking phase and that is when meals got real interesting....a topic for another blog.

My rotation of recipes is very eclectic. So, I've decided to streamline my recipe collection and begin to pull out those that my kids will remember as my classics. One candidate is Braised Turkey Thighs with Prunes and Olives. When I can't find turkey thighs, I use chicken thighs which require a lot less cooking time.



Good for a weekend supper or a cold and snowy week night dinner when you're working from home. Needs to braise in the oven for a few hours. Serves four.

BRAISED TURKEY THIGHS WITH PRUNES AND OLIVES

4 bone-in, skin-on turkey thighs
Salt and pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minnced
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 bay leaves
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup pitted prunes, halved
1/2 cup pitted green olives, halved
1/4 cup capers
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
6 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Sprinkle turkey with salt and pepper.
Using a large, ovenproof saute pan, heat oil over medium-high. Place turkey pieces, skin down, in the pan. Cook until skin is crisp and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Turn turkey pieces and cook until other side is golden brown. Transfer to a plate. Remove and discard skin.


Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pan. Return pan to burner, add the onions and 1/2 teaspoon salt, cook over medium heat until soft and golden. Stir frequently. Add garlic and thyme. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in brown sugar and bay leaves, add the wine, increase heat to high. Scrape bottom of pan with wooden spoon until any browned bits dissolve into the liquid. Add the broth and turkey with accumulated juices. Return to boiling, cover and braise in oven for about 1 3/4 hours until turkey is tender. Turn turkey pieces over after about one hour.

Remove the pan from the oven and transfer turkey to plate. Cover and set aside. Remove bay leaves from the liquid, allow liquid to cool for about 10 minutes. Spoon off the fat from the surface. Bring pan to boil, over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid reduces and thickens, about 10 -15 minutes. Add prunes, olives, capers and vinegar and any accumulated juices from the turkey. Adjust seasoning. Add most of the parsley. Return turkey to the sauce, reduce heat to low, cover the pan and heat gently to rewarm the turkey, about 15 minutes. Transfer turkey to a serving platter, spoon sauce over turkey, sprinkle with remaining parsley and serve.

Monday, February 14, 2011

It is the thought that counts

Happy Valentines Day!
I had all the best intentions last week to get my baking done in time to send off care packages which would arrive in time for Valentines Day. With an unexpected business trip scheduled midweek I had to scramble to get packages out by end of week.
The packages were sent but arrived in less than perfect condition.

Here was the plan....



Make Chocolate Almond Hearts drizzled in chocolate. Not enough time? Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar.

CHOCOLATE ALMOND HEARTS

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons almond extract
1/2 cup cocoa
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teasponns salt

Cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add almond extract.

On low speed, add cocoa, flour and salt. Mix just until well blended. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate 2 -3 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Roll out dough about 1/4-inch thick onto a surface lightly dusted with cocoa. Using a heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut the dough into shapes. Place cookies onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet.



Bake 12 - 15 minutes or until firm

Remove cookie sheet from the oven and transfer to a wire cooling rake. Cool completely.

Serve plain, dipped or drizzled with chocolate or dust with confectioners' sugar. Store in an air tight container.

These cookies look cute, but don't mail well. Pack very securely if sending.

As a back up, I also included a batch of Madeleines, which do pack very well. To make these requires a madeleine pan.

MADELEINES


1 stick butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
2 eggs, separated
1 tablespoons Grand Marnier or other Orange Liqueur
2/3 cup cake flour
Pinch of Cream of Tarter

In a medium bowl, with a wire whisk, blend butter and confectioners' sugar until smooth. Add egg yolks and Grand Marnier. Mix until well blended. Gradually stir in flour. Set aside.

With an electric mixer, beat egg whites and cream of tarter until stiff.

Fold egg whites into the butter and sugar mixture. Fold until well blended.

Spray madeleine pan with nonstick baking spray. Fill molds 3/4 full with batter.

Bake 10 - 12 minutes or until edges begin to brown and center of cookie springs back to the touch.

Remove pan from the oven. Carefully unmold cookies and place on a wire cooling rack. Brush out mold. Cool mold completely before re-spraying and filling. Repeat until all batter is used.

Store cookies at room temperature in an airtight container.

Yield: 15 Madeleines







So that's what went off to the kids.....







what I made for ourselves....

FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE-PISTACHIO CAKE



recipe available from Boston Globe

Monday, February 7, 2011

Send some love - Valentine Care Packages



Roses are a lovely gift for Valentine's Day but I suspect your student would prefer something edible.


Working on some creative care package ideas now.....Check back....

Thursday, February 3, 2011

More on College Care packages

Some additional pointers...care package goodies are a wonderful way to make friends. Be sure to include the usual all time favorites. Chocolate chip cookies are a good thing to share and could even help your son or daughter discover new friends. Warning: There could be competition with what other parents are sending. Be sure your version is GREAT. The recipe on Hersey's Special Dark chocolate chips make deliciously moist cookies. Roommates, suite mates and down the hall mates have even requested I send these in the next box.