February 6, 2014

Chicken and Wild Rice Reisling Soup With Kale Salad

Let me start by saying that I think this is my all-time favorite soup in the whole history of soup.  Wait, there is that corn chowder from MESA Grill I had once.... and there is that Lobster Bisque from the Grand Rapids Chop House....well,  this is the best soup that I make. This recipe came from a friend, who prepared it for my family upon our return home from vacation.  They turned the heat up in the house and decorated the dining room like a tropical paradise.  And, a pot of soup was  ready and warm, with crusty bread and a nice salad.  What a way to come home from a sunny Florida beach  to a frigid Michigan winter. I have since made this recipe my own, using the ingredients the way I like and omitting a few, like flour as a thickener.  I don't like to thicken soups with flour.  I like CREAM.
  • 3 TBSP butter
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup shallots, minced
  • 1 leek, cleaned and trimmed.  Use half of the  greens and all of whites, finely sliced
  • 2 celery stalks,  thinly sliced
  • 1 cup Riesling wine ( you can use Sherry or other  white wine)
  • 3 carrots, quartered and sliced
  • 2 quarts chicken broth ( I used the boxed stock)
  • 2 tsp. tarragon
  • 3/4 cup wild rice (you can also use the pre-cooked package of Uncle Ben's and add it just at the end of cooking)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • White chicken breast meat from a roasted chicken
  1. Heat butter in soup pot. 
  2. Add garlic, shallots,celery and leeks
  3. Cook until softened about 5 min.
  4. Add wine and reduce liquid  to half, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add carrots, stirring.
  6. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil.
  7. Cook about 10 minutes.
  8. Add tarragon, cream and rice.
  9. Cook until carrots are tender, but still a bit firm
  10. Add chicken.
  11. Salt and pepper to taste.
 Serve Soup with a Delicious Crunchy Kale Salad

This is my new favorite: A Kale Salad.  I had one  at my church potluck late summer and fell in love.  It was perfect timing because I had a ton of kale growing in my backyard garden for its beauty, not because I wanted to eat it. Our neighborhood garden also had a few varieties planted and was being harvested. You can play with the ingredients a bit but I am listing the ones that I think are THE BEST to add.  My pastor's wife is the one who brought the salad to the dinner and she MASSAGES the kale leaves with coconut oil before tossing the salad.  It makes a difference.  Also, this salad is great on day number 2 and 3!  The kale leaves hold up to the dressing and does not become soggy.  Just lightly dress it if you are storing it. NOTE: If you store it, the coconut oil solidifies, so you must bring it  close to room temperature to liquify it.  You may also add a touch of warm water to the salad before tossing it.  

The Ingredients  
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/3 cup sugar or 1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon minced dry onion
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon poppyseeds 
Optional: I add 1/4cup raw coconut oil
Large bunch of kale (curley)
2 green onions, slivered
1/2 lb. radishes, thinly sliced
2-3 stalks of celery, thinly sliced
2-3 carrots,  thinly sliced
1/4 cup of red cabbage, chopped
1 cup of quartered raw Brussels sprouts
Dried cherries or cranberries.  
Fresh blueberries.
Chopped crunchy toasted sweet nuts (cashews or almonds) 
A sprinkle of white cheese, your choice. I like swiss for this salad

  1. Rip kale into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Massage with 1 Tablespoon of coconut oil.(see note above)
  3. Add salad ingredients and toss with desired amount of dressing.

November 26, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013 Menu Revisited

Roasted Brined Turkey
Baked Sweet Potato Casserole
Homemade Cranberry Sauce
Mashed Potatoes
Corn Casserole

The Turkey 
Must begin process 3-4 days before roasting
A meat thermometer would be helpful.

As you read the instructions it might seem a bit overwhelming with lots of steps.  It’s not difficult at all and the best reason to do it this way>>>> you don’t have to  worry about the turkey while it is cooking.  It really is the best turkey I have made or tasted.  I learned everything from Alton Brown.  Here is a link to a video 

1 (14 to 16 pound) frozen young  turkey
For the brine:
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 gallon vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons allspice berries
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped candied ginger
  • 1 gallon heavily iced water. 
  • A large bucket or cooler to fit the turkey in
For the aromatics:
  • 1 red apple, sliced
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 sprigs rosemary
  • 6 leaves sage
  • Canola oil
Directions  2 to 3 days before roasting: 
Begin thawing the turkey in the refrigerator or in a cooler kept at 38 degrees F. This will probably take 2- 3 days
 For the brine:
  1. Combine the vegetable stock, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice berries, and candied ginger in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. 
  2. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil
  3. Then remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate.
The night before you'd like to eat:
  • Combine the brine, water and ice in the 5-gallon bucket.
  •  Place the thawed turkey (with innards removed) breast side down in brine. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area for 8 to 16 hours, turning the bird once half way through brining.

  For Roasting: A meat thermometer would be very helpful

1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Remove the bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard the brine.
2. Place the bird on roasting rack inside a half sheet pan and pat dry with paper towels.
3.  Aromatics: Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and 1 cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes.
4.  Add steeped aromatics to the turkey's cavity along with the rosemary and sage. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin liberally with canola oil
Roast the turkey on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes.
5.  Insert a probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Set the thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees F.
6. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting.
7. Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil or a large mixing bowl for 15 minutes before carving. 

Gravy (you can make this while your turkey is “resting”)
1.      Keep the drippings from your turkey
2.     Pour everything, including aromatics, into a sauce pan. 
3.      Bring to a boil. 
4.      Combine ½ cup flour and just enough water to make a runny paste. 
5.     Reduce heat and slowly add flour mixture, whisking to combine.  You may not need all of the flour mixture.  Use to a desired consistency. 
6.      Drain through a sieve. 
7.      You may also add about ¼ cup heavy cream
8.      Salt and pepper to taste. 

Sweet Potato Casserole
(Based on Ruth’s Chris recipe)

  • 1 ½  cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1 ½  cup chopped pecans
  • 1  cup butter -- melted  
Sweet Potato Mixture

  • 6 cups mashed BAKED sweet potatoes
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 ½  cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup  butter
1.  Combine brown sugar, flour, nuts and butter in mixing bowl. Set aside.
2.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
3.  Combine sweet potatoes, sugar, salt, vanilla, eggs and butter in a mixing bowl in the order listed. 
Mix thoroughly.
4.  Pour mixture into buttered baking dish.
5.  Sprinkle the surface of the sweet potato mixture evenly with the crust mixture.
6.  Bake for 30 minutes. Allow to set at least 30 minutes before serving.
7.  This can be easily doubled

Homemade Cranberry Sauce
  • 2 cups cranberries
  • Juice and chopped zest of 1 orange
  • 1/4 cup Port
  • 1/2 cup sugar, or more if needed
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1teaspoon cornstarch
  1. In a small saucepan combine cranberries, orange juice and zest, port, sugar and cinnamon. 
  2. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmering and cook until cranberries are tender, stirring occasionally. 
  3. In a small cup make a slurry with cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water. 
  4. Whisk cornstarch mixture into cranberry sauce and cook, whisking, until sauce thickens. 
  5. Taste and add more sugar, if necessary. 
Note:   I like small amounts of cooked fruit, so I pulse this in a blender or food processor before serving.  

Mashed Potatoes

  • 4 pounds golden potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives  

  1. Put the potatoes into a large pot, add the bay leaf, 2 tablespoons salt, and cover with cold water. 
  2. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
  3. Drain them well and remove the bay leaf. 
  4. Meanwhile, heat the cream and 3 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan. 
  5. Mix the potatoes with hand beater or stand mixer to desired consistency. 
  6. Add remaining butter to help with beating. 
  7. Add the hot cream and season with salt and pepper.
  8. Top with chives.
Note:  I spoon the potatoes in a casserole dish, top with cold butter pats and place them in  the oven.  It keeps them warm and also forms a light “crust” on the top.  Garnish with chives just before serving. 

Corn Casserole


  •  1 can whole kernel yellow corn, undrained 
  •  1 can cream style yellow corn
  •  1 (8 oz.) carton sour cream
  •  2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 box Jiffy corn muffin mix 
  • 1 stick butter, melted
Mix all together and pour into large, lightly oiled casserole dish. Bake at 350°F for 55 to 60 minutes.
I double and triple. 

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