Thursday, November 20, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Brine your bird!

The smells of Thanksgiving are coming to kitchens all around.

This year I have already cooked two birds in my two Thanksgiving intensive classes that were taught at the Inn at Essex.
I myself am honored to be attending a large feast, here in Vermont. I will bring a 3 1/2 pound Ginger Apple Pie and Pumpkin Bread Pudding with warm Bourbon Sauce. Yum!

Please email me if you have any Thanksgiving culinary questions at .

Now let's get serious. Brine your turkey! It will be flavorful, moist, and tender. Plus keep in mind that it will cook a bit faster. No excuses unless you are deep frying, brine your bird!

I have offered my Maple Brine recipe and a wonderful Port Cranberry Sauce that works great as a Thanksgiving side or to serve with all sorts of desserts.

Be well, have good thoughts and keep in touch!

Maple Turkey Brine

1 12-18 pound turkey
2 quarts chicken stock
1 large bag of Ice
1 gallon water
1 pound kosher salt
2 tablespoons whole cloves
1 pound maple syrup
1 bunch fresh thyme
2 tablespoons allspice berries

1.Line very large (about 16-quart) bowl with two 30-gallon plastic bags, one inside the other. Rinse turkey inside and out. Place turkey in plastic-lined bowl or bucket.
2.Combine salt and hot water until it dissolves.
3.Add maple syrup, broth, herbs and spices to mixture. Once thoroughly mixed, add ice.
4.Pour cold brine over turkey in plastic bags. Brine must be cold. Gather tops of bags together, eliminating air space above brine; seal bags. Refrigerate turkey in brine 18 to 20 hours. You may also place your brining turkey in a the bag in a large cooler covered with ice and place it outside or in your garage.
5. When ready to roast remove turkey from brine and pat dry, then place in your roasting pan on a rack. You are now ready to roast your bird!!! Have fun.

Port Cranberry Sauce

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15 - 18 minutes
Chill time: 1 hour
Makes: 8 – 10 servings

1 12 ounce package of fresh cranberries
½ to ¾ cup sugar
1 orange zested
1 cup port
¼ teaspoon cardamom or cloves
½ teaspoon sea salt

1. Assemble and cook:
-Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and place over a medium flame.
-Bring to a low boil.
-Cook until the cranberries pop and the mixture becomes syrupy, about 15 minutes.
2. Chill and serve:
-Place mixture in a serving dish and refrigerate until cool, about 1 hour.
-Serve either chilled or at room temperature.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Forbidden Black Rice

Forbidden rice is a short-grained, heirloom rice. Legend tells us that this ancient grain was once eaten exclusively by the Emperors because of its nutritiousness and rarity. Today, this medium-size Chinese black rice can be enjoyed everyday and is prized for its delicious nutty taste, soft texture, and beautiful rich deep purple color. High in nutritional and medicinal value, Forbidden Rice is rich in iron and considered a blood tonifier. Unlike other black rice from Asia, it is not glutinous or rough and cooks in only 30 minutes to produce a superior flavor, texture, and color.
It is purple when raw and dark purple when cooked.

Forbidden rice has recently appeared on the shelves of health food stores in the western United States along with other heirloom rices such as Bhutanese red rice and wild rice, particularly in California; desire for non-genetically modified foods has also contributed to demand for this rice. It is popular with vegetarians and vegans because it has a favorable nutrition profile being high in fiber and mineral content. Like most rice, it supplies several important amino acids; additionally, the deep color of black forbidden rice suggests the presence of phytonutrients.

When cooked, forbidden rice has the smell of freshly-popped popcorn and turns the water that it is boiling in a brilliant purple color. It has a deep, nutty taste.

Forbidden Black Rice

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 medium onion, small diced
1 red pepper, diced
1/2 cup diced leeks
2 garlic cloves
sea salt
black pepper
1 cup forbidden black rice
1 3/4 cup chicken stock
4 ounces spinach leaves

1. Heat a small sauce pot over medium heat. Add oil and when hot add the onions, red pepper, and leeks. Sauté for 2 minutes then add garlic. Continue to cook for two minutes then stir in the rice.
2. Add the stock and bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer and cook covered for 30 minutes. Just before serving fold spinach into hot rice. Season with sea salt and fresh ground pepper.

* For added richness add 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter before serving.