Wednesday, November 26, 2008
How does it work? To brine a piece of meat, you basically soak your raw meat in a solution of salt and other liquids for a time before cooking. In the case of a turkey, you would want to allow 6-8 hours depending on the size of your bird. Something as small as a shrimp would only need to brine for about 30 minutes. This isn't an exact science here, so don't even worry about messing it up. Though I can tell you that while your bird is soaking, some pretty scientific principles are at work...and in your favor (flavor?). Basically, the salty solution is actually altering the structure of the cells in the meat, thus opening them up to the flavors of the brine and tenderizing each and every bite! Why oh why did I skip this step for so many years?!!
Here are some recipes that you just might want to give a try this Thanksgiving. If nothing else, fill a large pot or a cooler with water, and throw in a cup of kosher salt for each gallon of liquid. Stir things up a bit and drop in your turkey for awhile. You won't be disappointed.
Watch here as Chef Bobby Flay walks you through the brining process.
Click here for a brine with a bit of a citrus twist, or try this sweet and spicy brine from Alton Brown.
Happy Turkey Day!
Monday, November 24, 2008
1 jar of roasted red peppers (about one cup sliced)
1/2 cup feta cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
4 slices of white bread
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Simply drain the peppers, and them slice them into thick pieces. In a bowl, combine the peppers with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Lightly season with salt and pepper. Arrange the peppers on a serving tray and surround with the feta cheese crumbles.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Slice the crusts off of your white bread, and then cut each slice in half down the middle. Feel free to keep the crusts on if you like, I was simply trying to hide the fact that I had used regular ol' wonder bread. I think it worked! Now brush each piece with olive oil, and sprinkle with garlic powder, salt and pepper. Arrange the slices on a cookie sheet, and heat for 8-10 minutes or until slightly brown. Serve with the peppers and cheese for a wonderful and quick appetizer.
If you really wanted to make something special, garnish the dish with capers and fresh basil.
Friday, November 14, 2008
2 large zucchinis
2 tablespoons of good olive oil
1/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts
1/4 cup of shaved Parmesan cheese
Start by shaving the zucchini into long strips using either a mandolin, or a vegetable peeler. You will only be able to use about half of the zucchini because once you get to the seeded interior of the vegetable, you will not want to use the strips. Save the leftover interior of the zucchini and use it in a stir-fry, or ratatouille later in the week. Set the strips aside.
In a small frying pan over medium heat, lightly toast the chopped mac nuts to enhance their flavor. This will take 4 to 5 minutes. Watch the nuts carefully, because they burn quit easily. Pine nuts are also a very delicious option if you don't like mac nuts.
To assemble the salad, simply toss the zucchini strips with the olive oil, and season to taste. I like to use my hands! Plate the salad into individual serving dishes, and top with the Parmesan cheese, and macadamia nuts.
Note: For best results, use the highest quality olive oil and Parmesan cheese that you can get your hands on. Since this ingredients are used sparingly, you want to make sure they stand out.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 10oz bag mini marshmallows
1 king size snickers bar cut into tiny pieces
1/3 cup chopped salted almonds,
3/4 cup Reeses pieces
Spray the inside of a large mixing bowl with vegetable cooking spray, and lightly spray a baking sheet. Set aside.
In a 3 quart or larger, heavy-bottomed pan, heat the oil and popcorn over medium-high heat. Cover the pan and shake gently. Cook until all the kernels have popped, about 3 minutes. Place the popcorn in the prepared bowl.
In a medium saucepan, heat the butter over low heat. Add the vanilla extract and marshmallows. Stir constantly until the marshmallows have melted and the mixture is smooth, about 5 minutes. Pour the melted marshmallow mixture over the popcorn. Using a spatula, sprayed with cooking spray, stir until the popcorn is coated. Spread the mixture over the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with the chopped nuts and assorted candy. Using a spatula, gently press the toppings into the popcorn. Allow the mixture to dry for 1 hour.
Divide into 2-inch pieces and store airtight in a plastic container.