Category Archives: Thanksgiving

Turkey Grape Salad

Turkey on the Road

Image by tomswift46 (No Groups with Comments) via Flickr

Even after sending everyone home with doggie bags, there’s still quite a bit of turkey leftover.  The carcass was turned into Turkey Rice soup, and the rest of the turkey was cut up and bagged.  With all the sides gone, it was time to do something different with the turkey and it occurred to me that a salad would be an easy and delicious way to use some of it up.  Served tonight with tomato bisque soup, the husband said it was “better than Panera’s.”

2 cups diced turkey
1 cup red seedless grapes
½ cup glazed walnut pieces
2/3 cup mayonnaise

Cut grapes in half.  Mix together all ingredients and pile onto fresh, soft rolls.

Like the chicken salad, you can vary this by using different nuts, or substituting dried cranberries or raisins, or even chopped up apples or pears for the seedless grapes.  You can add diced celery, curry powder or other seasonings.  This is a very versatile and forgiving salad!

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Making the “corn stuff”

Traffic sign alerting drivers for Amish Buggie...

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When the kids were little (and truth be told, even before we had kids) we loved taking an overnight trip into Pennsylvania Dutch country.  (Did you know that they are really of German origin, not Dutch…the Dutch being an Americanization of Deutsch.)  We’d hit every attraction and our favorite place to stay was the Red Caboose Motel…made up entirely of—you guessed it—cabooses.  The restaurant was a restored dining car that even was set up to rock and move like an actual train.

We had two favorite dining spots.  An all you can eat “Amish” buffet http://www.millerssmorgasbord.com/ and a farm restaurant whose name I can no longer recall, where dessert was always served first!

Naturally, with my obsession with cookbooks, I purchased several Amish and Mennonite cookbooks, with recipes notable for their heartiness and simplicity.  I’ve made many of the recipes over the years, and adapted them to our taste.  But one that is another family staple is corn pudding.  The Daughter would always ask for “the corn stuff”, yet another sweet side dish.

When I emailed the kids this year’s Thanksgiving menu, asking them if there was anything I omitted, she immediately emailed back “mom, make the corn stuff.”  I said you mean the corn pudding, and her reply was “It will always be corn stuff to me.”

CORN STUFF

4 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup milk

1 can (approx. 15 ounces) cream-style corn

1 can (approx. 15 ounces) whole kernel corn, or about 2 cups frozen thawed

3 eggs, separated

Heat oven to 350°.

Butter a 2 quart casserole and set aside.

First make a roux:  melt butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat; add flour, stirring until mixture is well blended but don’t let it brown.  Stir in milk slowly.

Add  sugar and salt. Cook, whisking constantly, until smooth and thickened.

Remove from heat and stir in both the cream-style and kernel corn.

Lightly beat egg yolks, and add to the corn mixture.

In a clean bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold egg whites into the corn mixture.

Transfer to buttered casserole. Bake (uncovered) for about 35 minutes.  You want it to be set, but not dry.

Roasting a Turkey is easy

Basting...

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I don’t understand why people freak at the idea of making a Turkey.  To my mind it’s one of the easiest things to make.

This time of year you see all kinds of exotic recipes for Thanksgiving Turkey.  Brined, Maple-rubbed, Deep-fried.  Exotically spiced.  But honestly…a good old-fashioned roast turkey is simple and delicious.

Let’s start with some basics.  One of the biggest problems I see new cooks making is forgetting to defrost their turkey.   Of course safest of all is to buy a fresh turkey.  But if you are starting from frozen, there are three safe ways to thaw food: in the refrigerator, in cold water, and in the microwave oven.   Allow approximately 24 hours for each 4 to 5 pounds in a refrigerator.  The USDA has complete instructions http://www.fsis.usda.gov/factsheets/turkey_basics_safe_thawing/index.asp.

Also, don’t forget to remove the giblets generally packaged inside the turkey, whether fresh or frozen.  Set aside for use in your stuffing or gravy, or toss.  But don’t leave them in the bird!!

Here’s my foolproof method.  (Note, I don’t stuff my bird, but instead make dressing as a side dish.)

Tools Needed: Roasting pan with rack, cheesecloth, meat thermometer, turkey baster

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

1 Turkey, rinsed inside and out, and patted dry

1 stick (8 TBS) butter

2 cups water

Garlic powder to taste

Place turkey, breast side up, on the rack in the roasting pan.  Sprinkle with garlic powder.

Melt butter in the two cups of water.  (I do this in the microwave, but stovetop is fine.)

Unwrap cheesecloth and soak in the buttery water.  Carefully cover turkey, making sure that the drumsticks are covered as well as the breast.   Pour any remaining liquid over the cheesecloth.

Place turkey in oven and immediately turn down to 325 – 350 degrees F.  Baste every 20 minutes until done.

  • For a 10-13 lb. turkey (weight with giblets): Bake in a 350° oven for 1 1/2-2 1/4 hr.
  • For a 14-23 lb. turkey (weight with giblets): Bake in a 325° oven for 2-3 hr.
  • For a 24-27 lb. turkey (weight with giblets): Bake in a 325° oven for 3-3 3/4 hr.
  • For a 28-30 lb turkey (weight with giblets): Bake in a 325° oven for 3 1/2-4 1/2 hr.

A whole turkey is safe when cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165 °F as measured with a food thermometer. Check the internal temperature in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast. For reasons of personal preference, consumers may choose to cook turkey to higher temperatures.

If your turkey has a “pop-up” temperature indicator, it is recommended that you also check the internal temperature of the turkey in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast with a food thermometer. The minimum internal temperature should reach 165 °F for safety.

Shockingly Sweet Tomatoes

two slices of toasted white bread

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I’ve always had a fascination with foods made from white bread.  Growing up, we rarely had white bread in the house, the folks instead preferring a hearty rye bread or pumpernickel.  I can recall things being dismissed as being “so white bread”…meaning boring or ordinary.  And yet, as I passed the Wonder Bread factory on the subway, the smell made my mouth water.

I found this recipe in Real American Food by Jane and Michael Stern (Alfred Knopf, 1986), and the simplicity and yes…the absurdity of it tickled me.  I’m not sure when I first made it, but it’s become a family favorite and a holiday staple ever since. I consider it a warm compote, and  I generally make a double batch.

Yield: Serves 6-8

1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, including juice (I use the San Marzano and crushed works as well as whole)

8 slices white bread

1 stick unsalted butter (8 TBS)

1 cup sugar

Toast the white bread on dark setting.

Place tomatoes in a large saucepan.

Tear toast into about 4 pieces per slice; add to tomatoes.

Add butter and sugar.

Simmer, uncovered, 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve warm.