Friday, November 23, 2007

Smoked Turkey

Here's the recipe my husband used to smoke our first turkey:

1 cup kosher salt
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 quarts apple juice (or cider)
1 or 2 quarts water mixed with ice (Use enough to allow the turkey to be fully submerged in the brine)

Mix the brine well. Soak the turkey in the brine for at least 16 hours in a cooler.

Pull the bird out of the brine. Rinse off with water, and smoke it until it's 180F.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Good for what ails ya...

My good friend K.S. is recovering from some surgery this week. I'm a firm believer that one of the best things anyone can do to help some else is to feed them. So, I always default in cooking something. For K.S., i made a pork tenderloin made with one of the easiest and best rubs I know - the 4X4 Rub. I got the recipe from Karin, my friend and hairstylist, and it is simple and it works well. I keep a big container of it in my cupboard at the ready

4X4 Rub

Equal parts kosher salt, ground pepper, paprika and brown sugar

That's it. It's great on pork or chicken.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A pair of pies

It is a very gray day here today, and I thought it would be a good idea to use up the left over pot roast I made earlier in the week by making a beef pot pie (on the left). Since I was going through the effort of making pie crust from scratch, I thought I'd make an apple pie, too. (the one on the right) I bought some Northern Spy apples (my favorite pie apple) yesterday at the Ann Arbor Farmer's Market.

For the beef pie, I cut up the leftover beef, and I had a leftover baked potato from the other night that I cut up, too. I cut up a small onion, 3 carrots and 2 parsnips. I cooked it in some low sodium beef broth until the carrots were tender, and then I thickened it up a bit with some flour and water.

For the apple pie, I peeled and cored 4 apples and cut them into chunks. I added a couple tablespoons of flour, a couple tablespoons sugar, a tablespoon of cinnamon and a dash of mace. For my pie crust, I made it the same way I always make it - nothing earth shattering here.

Old Reliable Pie Crust

Double crust
2 c. flour
1/2 t. salt
2/3 c. Crisco, cut up into pats
Cold water - maybe about 1/2 cup

Mix the flour and salt and then add Crisco, and mix it up with a mix, smashing the blobs of Crisco into the flour until the blobs are pea sized with a fork. Add some of the water and mix it in with the fork, and keep adding water until you can get the flour to hold together well. Don't be afraid to add too much water, despite what my 8th grade home ec teacher said. If you don't add enough water, the crust will fall apart. I keep the Crisco in the fridge, which makes a flaky crust. Divide the crust into two hockey pucks. I roll out my crust right on my stone countertop, with lots of flour on the counter and sprinkled on top the puck to start.

As soon as you've rolled out the crust, fold it in half and bring your pie pan next to the folded side; pick it up quick and put it in the pie plate and unfold. Fill it, and roll out the top and put it on; I like to crimp it with a fork. Poke holes in the top and bake for an hour at 350F

Friday, November 09, 2007

Steak Au Poivre

Thanks to the Gastronomical3, I started to read "The Kitchen Diaries" by Nigel Slater. What an inspiring book! Then, my dear friends SC and LMcR both started NaNoWriMo, but since I have no desire to write fiction, I thought I'd try to write more about food. I love that Slater writes about the seasonality about food - what was going on in his life, what the weather was like, etc. when he cooked what he cooked. I am going to try to do the same.

So, I have been home from work the past 2 days - the kids' have parent teacher conferences, and I have vacation days left to use this year. As usual, I am trying to cram several months worth of "stay at home mom" type activities in 3 days. This means lots of cooking, cleaning and kid stuff.

I'm just recovering from this year's annual asthma attack, which usually happens to me in November, but I was spared last year. However, this year was a doozy, so all I have been wanting to eat is spicy soups. Last night, I felt like eating and since I had the time, we made a recipe my husband has been wanting to try, from Alton Brown's Good Eats. (I love you Alton Brown - you got my husband interested in cooking!).

Steak au Poivre
Recipe courtesy Alton Brown

4 tenderloin steaks, 6 to 8 ounces each and no more than 1 1/2 inches thick
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons whole peppercorns
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/3 cup Cognac, plus 1 teaspoon
1 cup heavy cream

Remove the steaks from the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour prior to cooking. Sprinkle all sides with salt. Coarsely crush the peppercorns with a mortar and pestle, the bottom of a cast iron skillet, or using a mallet and pie pan. Spread the peppercorns evenly onto a plate. Press the fillets, on both sides, into the pepper until it coats the surface. Set aside.

In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and olive oil. As soon as the butter and oil begin to turn golden and smoke, gently place the steaks in the pan. For medium-rare, cook for 4 minutes on each side. Once done, remove the steaks to a plate, tent with foil and set aside. Pour off the excess fat but do not wipe or scrape the pan clean.

Off of the heat, add 1/3 cup Cognac to the pan and carefully ignite the alcohol with a long match or firestick. Gently shake pan until the flames die. Return the pan to medium heat and add the cream. Bring the mixture to a boil and whisk until the sauce coats the back of a spoon, approximately 5 to 6 minutes. Add the teaspoon of Cognac and season, to taste, with salt. Add the steaks back to the pan, spoon the sauce over, and serve.

Alton's not kidding about taking this off the heat when you ignite it. All the neighbor kids were over when we did it, and the flames shot up to the ceiling. The kids were duly impressed. My daughter wouldn't eat this, because she is still dabbling in vegetarianism. (it's hard to be a vegetarian when you don't like vegetables!). I made it with half and half because that's all I had.

This truly was good eats - and fairly easy to make. Beef tenderloin was on sale at Busch's this week for $4.99/lb.