Friday, November 26, 2010

Classic herbed roasted turkey

So yesterday I had my first "European" Thanksgiving in a long time and, let me tell you, it was a blast. I had never hosted a dinner party for sixteen people before. It was hard but it was fun and everyone was so helpful we didn't have any big problems. Well, except the fact that I forgot to serve my chestnut soup I had worked so hard to make... guess I'll be eating a lot of it in the next few days. 
Other than that we all gathered around the dinner table and we ate, and ate, and ate
As I watched my guests chowing down turkey, mashed potatoes, roasted cauliflower, stuffing and whatever else they could get their hands on, I realized that this year I have many things to be thankful for. There's the old friends I can now see on a regular basis without having to cross an ocean. There's the new friends that welcomed me into their lives. There has been a few wonderful trips —Madrid, Barcelona and the Amalfi Coast come to mind— and the plan to take a few great ones in the near future. There's the fact that this year I didn't break my knee while cooking Thanksgiving dinner. I mean, I want to take that one as a good omen. There's snow coming this way and there's ski trips and snowmen and hot mulled wine and all the wonderful wintery things I've missed so much in the past nine years. 

So yes, I have a lot to be thankful for and only a few things that I seriously need to change in my life. But I'm content. And calm. Which, if you know me well, you'll know it doesn't happen very often. 

  • Adapted from Cooking Light

  • 1  (12-pound) fresh or frozen turkey, thawed
  • 4  thyme sprigs
  • 4  sage leaves
  • 4  garlic cloves
  • 1  medium onion, quartered
  • 4 tablespoons  butter, softened
  • 1 1/2  teaspoons  kosher salt
  • 3/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 1  cup  chicken broth

Preheat oven to 500°.
To prepare the turkey, remove giblets and neck from turkey; reserve for gravy. Trim excess fat. Stuff body cavity with 4 thyme sprigs, sage leaves, garlic, and medium onion. Tie legs together with kitchen string.
Starting at neck cavity, loosen skin from breast and drumsticks by inserting fingers, gently pushing between skin and meat. Combine butter, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper. Rub butter mixture under loosened skin over breast and drumsticks. Lift wing tips up and over back; tuck under turkey. Pour 1 cup water in bottom of a roasting pan. Place roasting rack in pan. Arrange turkey, breast side up, on roasting rack. Bake at 500° for 30 minutes.
Reduce oven temperature to 350° (do not remove turkey from oven).
Bake turkey at 350° for 1 1/2 hours or until a thermometer inserted into meaty part of thigh registers 165°. (Shield turkey with foil if it browns too quickly.) Remove turkey from the oven; let stand 20 minutes. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Stuffed round zucchini

Growing up I was taught never to throw away any food. Leftovers were sacred, even when we had so many of them that we had to eat the same thing over and over again. I have to say, though, that there are some ways to make leftovers interesting —sometimes even more interesting that the original dish. Take fried risotto, for example. I like it even more than risotto itself. Same goes with my mom's meatballs —I definitely like them much more than her boiled dinner, which I actually don't care much for.

Last week I cooked like a maniac, mostly to gear up for cooking Thanksgiving dinner this week. I had to make room in the fridge because our little Swiss fridge here is so tiny I'll have to pick up the turkey on the same day I'm cooking it because there's no way in hell I'll be able to stick in the fridge. And of course I ended up with lots of leftovers, which I had to use ASAP because, you guessed it, I needed the tupperware and I needed the fridge to be as empty as possible. So I came up with this recipe... I figured that by combining great ingredients the result would be great too. And I was right.


For 3:
3 round zucchini
1 cup leftover saffron risotto (or one cup cooked rice)
3 hot Italian sausage links
1 onion, chopped
1 cup tomato sauce (I used the leftover from my ossobuco recipe)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup broth

Cut the top of each round zucchini off, then scoop out the pulp with a spoon. Mince it, mix it with the chopped onion. Crumble sausage and saute it with onion and zucchini mixture, stirring to crumble. When the sausage is browned, add rice, sauce and cheese, stirring well to mix.

Fill each zucchini with sausage mixture and place in a baking dish. Pour broth into the baking dish (so the zucchini won't stick to the bottom of the dish) and bake in a preheated oven at 350 F for about 25 minutes.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The 2010 Thanksgiving challenge... cooking the meal in a small European kitchen (without breaking any of my bones)

So yes, this year Thanksgiving is going to be a bit of a challenge. A double challenge, actually. First of all, I have to cook the whole meal by myself —which I know from experience can be extremely tricky. Also, I'd like to cook my Thanksgiving dinner without breaking a knee, which I managed to do last year. Thank God I broke it towards the end of the cooking process, so all there was left to do was making the gravy. So when I slipped and fell and broke my left knee my first words were "Who the hell is going to make the gravy now?" So despite the fact that my knee had swollen to double its size, despite the pain, and despite the fact that my mom wanted to take me to the ER, I braved it. They sat me down in the kitchen with ice on my knee, my leg up in the air and a vodka martini in my hand to ease the pain. From there I barked orders to the rest of the party, which won me the nickname "kitchen nazi". 

Dinner was fabulous, by the way, and I truly enjoyed it even with my broken knee. 

But this year, I'll try to make my Thanksgiving dinner a little less eventful. I've invited about 12 people. If they all show up it will be my biggest Thanksgiving so far, so I have a lot of planning to do, especially because this tiny kitchen was not meant for big gathering. But, well, who cares? I hope I can pull it off. 
So here's the official menu I've decided to make. Brace yourselves. 

Homemade pate'
Creamy mushrooms phyllo triangles
Clams Casino

Roasted chestnut soup

Roasted turkey with truffle gravy
Cranberry sauce
Stuffing with sausage, fennel and apples

Mashed potatoes with goat cheese and chives
Sauteed carrots with sage
Roasted cauliflower with fresh herbs

Apple pie

Just writing it down is scary. The thought of actually cooking it... well, it's scary. And exhilarating. We'll see what happens...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Ossobuco with risotto Milanese

This is embarrassing. I hail from Milano, the mother land of ossobuco, and I had never eaten it before Tuesday night. When I used to work at Bice Ristorante in Naples, Florida, there were customers who would happily dish out more than $40 to eat an ossobuco with risotto. I used to think they were crazy. Turns out, I was wrong. I was the crazy one. Because, my friends, ossobuco with risotto is an amazing dish, one that I now want to prepare over and over again to make up for all the ones I haven't eaten before.

See, the thing is that for the longest time I dreaded eating meat cooked in tomato sauce. It has something to do with a childhood trauma of having to finish a particular meat and tomato dish I didn't like in preschool. It happened in 1984, but for many years afterwards I just couldn't bring myself to eat any type of meat that had touched a tomato. So no meatsauce. No meatballs. And no ossobuco.

And while I got over the meatsauce and meatballs phobia during my teenage years, the ossobuco remained a pariah in my book —mostly because I had this absurd idea that the shanks would be incredibly expensive. Well, the other day I bought four for less than 8 Euros, so I guess I was wrong on that too. What can I say? You live, you learn. Anyhow, not only were they cheap, they are also incredibly easy to prepare —and outstanding once they are served over freshly made risotto with saffron. You can find my risotto recipe here. Buon appetito!


For 4 people:
4 veal ossobucos
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 glass white wine
1 can chopped tomatoes
Salt and pepper
2 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons minced parsley
2 tablespoons grated lemon rind

Pierce the sides of the ossobucos with a knife, so they don't curl up when they cook. Dredge them in white flour.

Heat up oil and butter in a large casserole. Add onion and sautee until translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove onion form pan, but leave the butter and oil mixture in the casserole. Add the meat and sautee on both sides until browned.

Pour wine over meat, add reserved onion, season with salt and pepper, add tomatoes and cook, covered but leaving the lid slightly open, on very low heat for about one hour and a half.

MInce parsley and garlic together, stir in grated lemon rind.

When the meat is ready sprinkle with parsley mixture and serve over polenta or risotto Milanese.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Veal roast with mushrooms and potatoes

The other day I was thinking about things that I'm thankful for and things that make me happy about my new (or not-so-new-anymore) life here in Switzerland. The list is very long and, knowing me, you can guess that a lot of the things that make me happy have something to do with food and wine. But there's one in particular that makes me incredibly happy, which is cooking for a crowd. After years of cooking for two or, once in a blue moon, four, I now find myself cooking for eight or ten on a fairly regular basis —and I love it. I just love seeing a bunch of people scarfing down the food I've prepared, smiling and telling me that it's really good. And when it's a recipe I've never done before, like in this case, I like it even more. I'm a bit of a show off I guess, but I like to see the look on their faces when I tell them I had never made the recipe before and that I'm glad it turned out to be a keeper.
Which is what this roast is. Definitely a keeper.


For 4:
2 pounds veal roast
2 tablespoons butter
a few rosemary sprigs
1 pound wild mushrooms, washed
2 garlic cloves, sliced
a glass of dry white wine
2 cups beef broth
4 potatoes, cubed

Using a sharp knife pierce the roast on both sides and insert a slice of garlic in each cut. Tie the rosemary sprigs to the meat, season with salt and pepper to taste.

Melt butter in an oven safe casserole. Add meat and cook on high heat until browned on every side. Add potatoes to the casserole, pour the wine and one cup of broth over the roast and cook for 20 minutes in a 350F oven.

Add mushrooms and broth (if needed) and cook in the oven for another 30 minutes.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Crepes with zucchini

I'm far from being a vegetarian. Every once in a while, when I'm really bored, I entertain myself by imagining my life as one. First I imagine living without eating poultry, which would be by far the easiest to give up. Then I try to focus on a life without fish, which would also be pretty easy to five up. Then it's steak's turn. Fine. I can live without steak and burgers and meatballs. And then I stop, because there are two things that I could never, ever give up: pork tenderloin and steak tartare. End of story.

Regardless, I do enjoy vegetarian meals here and there. I actually eat at least one vegetarian meal a day, or more if my best friend —who's a vegetarian— happens to be over for the weekend, like this past Halloween weekend. We had a little dinner party in costume on Sunday night and I thought crepes would be a great idea mostly because
a) everyone loves crepes
b) you can make the whole dish ahead of time, put it in the fridge and then stick it in the oven when your guests arrive, so you are not stuck in the kitchen while everyone else is having fun. And, boy, did we have fun...

Makes 8:

For the crepes:
5 oz. all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk
2 eggs
1/2 ounce melted butter

For the filling:
10 ounces zucchini, cubed
1 small onion, sliced
10 ounces whipped cream cheese
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

To make the batter mix flour, milk and eggs in a large bowl until smooth. Add melted butter, stir and let rest, covered, for half an hour.

Heat up a little butter in a large skilled. Add onion and zucchini, season with salt and pepper and sautee until crisp tender. Remove from heat, add cream cheese and half the Parmesan and mix well.

To make crepes heat a little butter in a small skillet. Pour a ladle of batter in the hot pan, swirl to cover the bottom of the skillet and cook for about a minute. Flip and cook the other side for about 30 seconds. Fill each crepe with filling, roll them up and place in a baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and cook for about 20 minutes in a 350 F oven. Serve immediately.


Related Posts with Thumbnails