Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

All The Rest is Gravy

November 26, 2014

A good gravy goes hand in hand with a beautiful roasted turkey. We get rave reviews for this one, made with the pan juices, and a little help from some pantry items.

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Mushroom Gravy:

Pour the pan juices from the turkey in a bowl, scraping any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Strain them into a glass measuring cup, and add 1/2 cup of white wine, and enough stock to measure 6 cups in total.

Sauté 2 pounds of sliced mushrooms until they are golden brown and the juice has evaporated. It will take about 15-20 minutes. Mix in reserved garlic herb paste, and sprinkle with about 1/3 cup of flour. Toss to incorporate the flour, so lumps will not form when the liquid is added. Whisk in the broth/pan juices and bring to a boil. Continue whisking as it thickens. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and enjoy!

photo: Glasshouse Images

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Let’s Talk Turkey

November 25, 2014

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Let’s talk turkey. It’s time to dispel the myth that turkey is dry. Oh it can be. Buy a cheap frozen bird, stick it in a hot oven and cook it to buggery. That’s how you get a dry turkey.

But we all prefer a moist, juicy and flavorful bird at our house, so I’m here to tell you how to get it.
I’ve mentioned before that the quality of the actual turkey itself is important to the outcome. I get my free range turkey from DiPaola Turkey Farm, which I pick up at the Union Square Greenmarket the day before Thanksgiving. If you have an opportunity to get a fresh, free range turkey, it is well worth the extra money. If you have already started thawing a frozen bird, there is still hope.

On Thanksgiving day, take the turkey from the refrigerator, rinse it inside and out, and pat it dry. There is usually a little bag of giblets, liver etc. inside the turkey. Make sure you take that out!!( Not to be vulgar, but check both ends for goodie bags.) You don’t want to cook a turkey that is still icy, so allow a good 20 minutes or so for the turkey to sit before cooking.

Rub the turkey with garlic and herb butter, making sure to slide a good amount between the skin and the meat. * Reserve some herb butter for the gravy. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. If you are stuffing the bird, do it now, making sure that the stuffing mixture is moist enough, so that it doesn’t try to draw all juices from the turkey while it cooks. Tuck the wings under and tie the legs with cooking twine if necessary. I usually make a ball of aluminum foil and tuck it at the outside of the cavity to keep the stuffing in, and prevent it from overcooking where it is exposed.

Place the turkey on a rack in a roasting pan, and place a couple of stalks of celery, carrots and an onion, peeled and cut into large chunks. Add a little chicken or turkey stock to the pan, to get things started. Keeping the bottom of the pan moist throughout the cooking process not only gives you liquid for basting, but also creates delicious pan juices to make gravy with. ( We will talk about gravy tomorrow, so stay tuned!) We start the process with 1 cup of white wine, and 1 cup of broth in the pan.

Place the turkey in the oven and roast at 350 degrees. Roast for 1 hour, and then cover it  loosely with foil. Every hour or so, pour a little more broth and white wine over the turkey and continue to roast covered. Cook until a meat thermometer inserted into the thigh reads 165 degrees. If it is not golden brown, remove the foil for the last 30-60 minutes of cooking.

Once the turkey’s internal temperature is reached, take it out of the oven, remove the stuffing, cover it with foil and allow it to rest for about 20 minutes before carving.
Do not throw away the pan juices or vegetables yet…we will use them for the gravy!Spoiler alert: Buy 2 pounds of mushrooms.

Place the stuffing in an oven proof dish and pop it back into the oven to keep warm.

A free range turkey is leaner and will cook faster than a conventional, previously frozen turkey. Don’t wait for the red timer to pop up before starting to check the temperature. By then, it could be over cooked! Start taking the turkey’s temperature at the earlier side of the estimated cook time, and judge from there. A good indicator of doneness is that the legs and wings should start to move freely and easily when jiggled, and the juices should run clear when the bird is pricked. A fresh, unstuffed turkey will take about 12 minutes per pound to cook, and a defrosted turkey could take closer to 20 minutes per pound. Allow a little extra cook time if the turkey is stuffed.

A guideline for roasting times:

10-18 pound turkey will cook for 3 to 3 1/2 hours unstuffed, and about 3 3/4 to 4 1/2 hours stuffed.

18-22 pounds will take about 3 1/2 to 4 hours unstuffed and 4 1/2 to 5 hours stuffed.

22- 24 pounds will take about 4 to 4 1/2 hours unstuffed and about 5 to  5 1/2 hours stuffed.

Click here for our garlic and herb butter recipe, which can be make ahead. If you waited until the last minute to read this, you can use several cloves of finely minced raw garlic instead. It will mellow a bit as the turkey cooks.

Stay tuned for our gravy recipe. It’s worth waiting for!

photo: Glasshouse Images

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It’s a Wash

November 20, 2014

You know those pesky labels affixed to your fruit, that sometimes leave a little goo behind when removed? What if they had a more practical use than just providing info to the checkout clerk?

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Scott Amron has developed Fruit Wash labels, which dissolve into an organic fruit cleanser that helps remove wax, pesticides, bacteria and dirt. The labels would include all of the pertinent information regarding the fruit’s origin and PLU code, but be environmentally friendly, as well as hygienic.

The labels are not available yet, and the developer is currently seeking investors.

photo courtesy of Amron Experimental 

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Give it a Rest

November 18, 2014

It’s common practice to remove food straight from the oven, and slice and serve it while it is piping hot. If that food is meat or poultry, you are not doing your dish any favors.

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When you cut into the meat right away, the juices flow freely onto the cutting board. Once the meat has had time to rest, the juices redistribute into the meat, leaving it moister and more flavorful.

When you take the meat or poultry from the oven, cover it loosely with aluminum foil and let it rest for about 10-20 minutes. The foil should keep it warm, as the juices settle.

Be aware that the food will continue to cook slightly as it rests. For rare meat lovers, be sure to remove it from the oven a couple of minutes sooner than usual to allow for the extra resting time.

Try this next week with your Thanksgiving turkey and see how much of a difference it makes.

Stuffing should be taken out of the turkey right away, so if you are going to let it sit, be sure to remove it to a serving dish immediatly.

Enjoy!

photo: Glasshouse Images

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We Have a New Addition!

November 17, 2014

We believe that food, family and friendship go hand in hand. You know we love to make simple dishes with fresh, seasonal ingredients. We bet you didn’t know that we also make some pretty creative, artisanal foods as well.

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If you follow our Instagram, or Facebook page, you may have gotten a glimpse of  our picture perfect tarts, handmade ice-cream cones with freshly churned ice-cream, or mouthwatering cakes. You may have seen some of our “works in progress” and we hope from time to time you wished you could come over and join us for a meal.

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With the newest addition to our indigo jones “empire”, you can do the next best thing.

Introducing Indigo Jones Eats, our site devoted to foods that you can actually order and enjoy in your own home. Whether it is a special dessert to take to a friend,dinner to be prepared, small parties to be hosted or something for the school bake sale, we’re on it. We can provide specialty foods and bespoke catering for small groups, or cooking class evenings hosted in our own loft.

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We will be featuring seasonal foods available to order, and will update the site with photos of delicious foods to entice you.

Pop on over and say hello. We hope to be eating with you soon!

For the latest from both of our sites:

 

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Visit our sister site: indigo jones eats 

Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Boiling Potatoes

November 11, 2014

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Boiling potatoes is not exactly rocket science. You basically boil a potato in water, right?
Well, theoretically the answer is yes, but there are right and wrong ways to do everything.

Potatoes are a very dense vegetable, and the inside of the potato often cooks at a much slower rate than the outside. This can result in unevenly cooked, often mushy potatoes.

The solution:

It is best to put the potatoes into a pot of cold water, and then bring the whole thing to a boil. This way, the water and the potatoes heat up at the same rate, allowing them to cook more evenly.

While many people peel their potatoes before cooking, we prefer to scrub them with a brush and leave the skin on. It holds them together better, and the skins slip off easily once they are cooked, saving us the time and effort of peeling them first.

Cooking time varies based on the size of the potatoes. They are done when they are tender when poked with a fork, knife or metal skewer. This should take about 10-20 minutes.

Don’t forget to salt the water, and leave the lid off the pot to keep them firm.

Drain them well before mashing, slicing, dicing or just drizzling with butter and eating fresh from the pot!

photo: Glasshouse Images

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Thanksgiving Game Plan

November 10, 2014

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Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away, and to make it as stress free as possible, it’s time to start making a game plan.

If you are hosting, it’s important to be a well-oiled machine, with all parts coming together to create a massive feast in a relatively short period of time.

Here are a few tips to create a game plan that will guide you to a successful dinner:

Make a guest list. Encourage your guests to commit, and let you know if they are planning to bring someone along. Every year, without fail, someone calls at the very last minute asking if they can bring a friend or two. We always figure out how to squeeze in a few more, but frankly, it’s best and most polite for all involved to give a little notice. (Yeah, I went there.)

Plan a menu. If you are like me, you will be making lots of dishes over a 24 hour period, and need to juggle time and precious oven space to make that happen. If you are like most people who aren’t control freaks, you may be sharing the cooking with others, and want to make sure every item is covered, and no duplications show up. It’s not fun to have 5 store bought pies and no potatoes or cranberries. I like to print out all of my recipes and place them in a folder, along with my menu and grocery lists. I keep it from year to year, and add or subtract recipes as necessary. Since we have just done some home renovation, I had better start looking for my beloved folder, which I am sure is in a bin somewhere.

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Ask about food issues: Notice that I called them issues and not allergies. These days, everyone has them. This one is gluten free, that one is vegetarian. Someone avoids nuts, another avoids dairy. I have had dinners where there was not one single item that everyone at the table was willing to eat. With all of the side dishes on Thanksgiving, it’s very possible to have enough items for everyone to find a few things to feast on without having to make anything special. One year, I knew I had a vegan guest coming, and scooped out portions of every non-meat dish as I was making them and substituted margarine for butter, or made sure to use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock. It wasn’t a big deal to do this as I went along, and she was very, very grateful. Make sure that if you don’t do that, you are completely transparent about it. Don’t tell someone it’s ok if it really isn’t. As a guest, if you have a lot of food issues, offer to bring a dish that you can eat and enjoy. Be gracious and make enough to share with everyone.

Inventory your cookware, dishes and serving pieces. Do you have everything you need?Are the linens stained?  If not, now is the time to shop for those extras, or borrow them. Make sure you have a chair for every guest, if you are planning a sit down dinner. It’s rarely the worry of having enough food for those last minute guests that throws me into panic mode: it’s more about having enough dishes and a seat for them.

Make a grocery list. I like to divide mine into perishables, and non-perishables which can be bought in advance. Now is a great time to stock up on those non-perishable items and leave them in the pantry. Think about everything you need, even salt and pepper, so you don’t run out. The stores are a virtual zoo in the days leading up to the holiday, so the less time I spend in them the better.

Prepare: I am not much of a make ahead kind of cook. The idea of preparing a meal and freezing it, to me is akin to serving fancy TV dinners. Ok, I am exaggerating, but I prefer to get my cooking zen on and make everything with a day or so of the meal. Having said that, there are many things that freeze well, if you want to get a jump start. Homemade breads,rolls and pie crusts can be made ahead, and baked on Thanksgiving day, making them freshly baked, without the last minute fuss.  If you make cornbread for stuffing, that is also freezable. Non creamy soups also fare well in the freezer.

Now sit back, relax and repeat after me: “I go this!” You do, you really do!

photos: Glasshouse Images

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Healthy Preparation

November 6, 2014

There are lots of healthy foods out there and you can’t go wrong with fresh, seasonal produce.

But did you know that the way you prepare them may actually up the nutritional benefits of some of your favorite foods?
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We often cut our carrots, since looking like Bugs Bunny has never been our thing. Even those store bought baby carrots have been put through a machine to shave them down into smaller, more manageable bites. Studies have found that cutting carrots increases the surface size allowing some of the vital nutrients to seep out. Cooking them increases the bioavailability of the antioxident rich carotenoids. Wash and peel carrots and toss them whole into soups, stews or roast them in the oven, to get the most benefit from eating them.

Garlic crusher

Garlic contains a compound called allicin, which has antibiotic properties, and is thought to decrease blood pressure.Allicin does not naturally occur in the garlic bulb, but is produced when the garlic is crushed, or finely diced. Allicin is a bit flightily, and begins to degrade the moment it is created. Cooking helps that process along, and microwaving destroys it completely. For maximum health benefits, add a little finely diced raw garlic to cooked food, if the flavor is not too strong for your taste.

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Broccoli is a popular vegetable, and can be an effective cancer preventer. How you cook it however, determines just how much of those cancer fighters are present. Steaming is the only method that preserves or possibly increases those properties. Frying and boiling were found to be the worst. Find steamed broccoli a bit dull? Researchers also found that adding spicy foods upped the cancer fighting ante. Go ahead and steam it, and toss it in a spicy sauce!

Eating your vegetables, no matter how they are prepared is a win. Knowing how to get the most from them is a triumph!

photos: Glasshouse Images

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Unrecipe of the Week: Crispy Green Beans

November 5, 2014

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These oven roasted green beans with Parmesan cheese are almost as good as french fries, and way better for you!
They are simple to prepare, and work well as a side dish or an afternoon snack. Make up a big batch of these and crunch away!

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Crispy Parmesan Green Beans:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Rinse green beans and snip off ends. Toss them in a little olive oil, salt and a couple of tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese.

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Lay them on a parchment paper covered pan, and bake for about 10-15 minutes, until they are crispy. Shake the pan once or twice to ensure more even cooking.

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Enjoy!

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Preheating

November 4, 2014

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We always preheat the oven before we start cooking and we would never consider putting food into a cold frying pan, yet most of us overlook this step when roasting foods in the oven.

Once the oven is preheated, place the pan you will be using in it for a few minutes to heat. If you will be using fat, add the butter or oil at this point, allowing it to melt and coat the pan. When you add the meat, chicken or vegetables to the hot pan, they will sear, getting a nice caramelized edge as the food continues to cook.

photo: Glasshouse Images

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