Leftovers Galore

December 2, 2009 at 1:59 am (Cook)

After the family meal, we came home and fixed (a Texan word) another, even bigger, Thanksgiving meal.  We roasted a twenty pound turkey just for the two of us.  That’s right.  Twenty pounds of plump poultry eatin.  And just so he wouldn’t be lonely in the oven, I also made dressing, rolls, mashed potatoes from instant, a salad, and cookies.  Keep in mind that the kitchen is still in renovation; that’s why I made cookies instead of a pie.  Make sense?

Twenty pounds may seem a bit excessive for two people, but we love the leftovers almost more than the original meal.  So here is our Leftover Diary.  I can only hope that we do the bird justice.

Leftover #1: Classic Leftover Thanksgiving Sandwich – This is the day-after sandwich – there is still dressing, gravy, cranberry available.  It is the sandwich, if you watched the show “Friends”, known as “The Moist Maker” because of the layer of gravy-soaked dressing in the middle; the theft of which induced Ross’s uncontrollable rage. But I digress.  Here it is from the bottom on a toasted slice of whole-grain white, with a spoonful of gravy, slices of turkey, sliced cranberry jelly, a layer of dressing, a ladle of gravy, and another slice of toast on top.  It is a sandwich only in the broadest interpretation of the word.  It is neither portable nor handheld.  Shown here on a paper plate because I was tired of washing dishes, but you will notice the fork and knife in the background.

Leftover #2: Sweet and Spicy Turkey on a Bun –  This gem of a sammy was born out of pure imagination.  It started with thick turkey slices over which I melted a slice of Muenster cheese.  I layered that on top of the bottom bun and a generous spread of cranberry jelly.  Then came some lettuce, purple cabbage, and sliced tomatoes.  I topped all of that with a spicy Texas barbecue sauce.  As a sandwich, it held it’s shape for about three bites, whereupon form gave way to flavor, and I resorted to eating it in pieces with my fingers.

Leftover #3:  Shredded Turkey over Rice with Green Beans (Recipe Included) –

This is perhaps the simplest of all leftovers so far.  Start by shredding up some of the turkey, and while you are at it, go ahead and clean the whole carcass, saving all bones for stock-to-come.  Hopefully you have some leftover gravy.  If you do, put a big ladle of that in a skillet with 1 cup of water and the turkey pieces.  If you do not have gravy, make some.  Use cream of chicken soup, a gravy mix, or make it from scratch with a good old fashioned roux.  Let simmer until hot, stirring occasionally.  While that is heating, make your favorite rice.  We opted for white tonight.  When the rice is done, spoon onto a plate and top with turkey mixture.

Easy Green Beans

Cook fresh or frozen green beans by steaming or boiling until tender as desired.  Drain off most of the water.  While still in hot pan, drizzle over 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp lemon juice (more or less to taste).  Top with a generous pinch of black pepper and Parmesan cheese.  You’ll never eat green beans any other way.

(And there’s still more to come.)

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My Discovery

March 23, 2009 at 2:29 am (Cook)

I just made a discovery that could possible change the rest of my life.

That discovery is this: HEB Brand Specialty Series Barbecue Sauce, Texas Edition tastes just like Rudy’s sauce, only better because it is thicker!  (Take a moment to read that again and let it sink in.)

In this photo, you can see the thickness, evident by the pooling and not running-ness of the sauce. (Can you believe I teach English? Me either.)  Notice also the big, black grinds of pepper and the glossy shine that will mirror the glaze in your eyes as you savor this pungent pool of heaven.

This is how I made my discovery:

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Biscotti

December 1, 2008 at 2:28 am (Cook) (, )

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Biscotti are quite possibly my favorite cookie to bake. If I’m cooking for myself, a simple chocolate chip or plain oatmeal cookie will suffice, but biscotti is the number one choice for socializing.
I nearly always bake some biscotti to tuck away into the Airstream before a trip. They can be packed up in tins, Tupperware, or even a Zip-Loc bag and still remain, for the most part, whole and intact.
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The absolute best thing about biscotti, though, is their versatility. Depending on your guests or your mood, biscotti will go with almost anything. They are the perfect dipping cookie. And, because of their subtle, elemental flavors, and subtle sweetness, they can go into just about anything. It is perfectly acceptable to dunk biscotti in coffee, tea, milk, and even wine. Yea, cookies that go with wine!! Even Oreos can’t make that claim.

For the unfamiliar, biscotti are a twice-baked, oblong-shaped cookie from Italy. Biscottio, means twice cooked, and comes from the custom of baking cookie dough in long slabs, cutting it into thick, long cookies, and baking them again. After the second bake, they lose any excess moisture, making them nice and crunchy, and sturdy enough to travel or be shipped. Biscotti are in the same cookie family as Mandelbrot, the traditional Jewish cookie made with oilgt. Mandelbrot is typically filled with walnuts or almonds and flavored with a bit of cinnamon. Biscotti will call for hazelnuts or almonds, and is crispier than mandelbrot due to its second baking.
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There are hundred of recipes for biscotti throughout Italy, but other than flavoring (biscotti can also be subtly-sweet or savory) they fall into two distinct categories: those made with butter and those made without butter or any shortening. The cookies made with butter have a more tender shortbread-like texture, while those without are drier, harder, and crunchier.
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Double Chocolate Biscotti
adapted from Biscotti by Lou Seibert Pappas, Chronicle Books, 1992

2/3 c sliced or slivered almonds
½ c butter
¾ c sugar
2 eggs
2 tbsp Amaretto, Kahlua, or double-strength coffee
2 c plus 2 tbsp flour
1/3 c unsweetened cocoa
1 ½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
2/3 c semi-sweet chocolate chips

Place nuts in a shallow pan and toast over medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until you start to smell them. Keep stirring to prevent any hotspots. Let cool.

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and liqueur or coffee. In a bowl combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Using a sturdy spoon, add the creamed sugar, and mix until thoroughly blended. Fold in nuts and chocolate chips.

Divide dough in half. On a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper, pat out dough into two logs about ½ inch high, 1 ½ inches wide, and 14 inches long, spacing them at least 2 inches apart. Bake in the middle of a preheated 325° oven for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven. Gently lifting the parchment paper, transfer the logs onto a cooling rack. Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes. Place on a cutting board. With a serrated knife, or even better, an electric knife, slice diagonally on a 45 degree angle about ½ inch thick. Place the slices upright back on the baking sheet and return to the oven for 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool on a rack. Store in a tightly covered container.
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P.S. While cutting the biscotti, you are likely to create a lot of crumbs. If you can resist the urge to lick them off the cutting board, save them in a Zip-Loc and store in the freezer. Use them to crumble on ice cream, top off some tiramisu, or sprinkle over oatmeal.

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Peanut Butter Paisley Brownies

October 13, 2008 at 7:32 pm (Cook) (, , , )

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Over the course of the summer, which I define as June 1 through about September, and sometimes October, it rained a total of two times. Two times and one short, barley wet the pavement, sprinkle.

And then today the skies opened up with a gulley washer. Full-on, all day rain. Rainy days, especially chilly rainy days, make me want to bake. However, with the state of my kitchen, my baking is hindered. I was also craving chocolate, but had very little in the house. After a thorough search, all I could find was some Hershey’s chocolate syrup.

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Undeterred, my mind already made up to bake, I had to find a way to satisfy my cravings. Digging through the Hershey’s website, I found a good starting place: Peanut Butter Paisley Brownies. Basically, they are marbled blondies with peanut butter and chocolate syrup. A good plan was in place, but I was still not certain; the recipe called for peanut butter chips. What to do? A quick jaunt to the convenience store depletes some of the cache of rainy day cooking, but I scored with 2 bags of regular M&Ms and 2 bags of peanut butter M&Ms, completely making up for the loss of points for venturing out.

They were easy to mix up, but I really thought the blondie/peanutty/brownie dough was far too sweet. Delaying a final decision until they had been baked, I kept going, folding in the M&Ms. I really thought I would just use one bag of each, but ended up dumping them all in.

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I prepared my pan by lining it with 2 perpendicular sheets of parchment paper sprayed with cooking spray. This way, I would be able to pull out the whole pan of brownies in one graceful lift. The brownies cut easily and evenly with a pizza cutter, once out of the pan.

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The sweetness was mediated by the chocolate syrup, and they turned out almost perfect. I might use just a tad less sugar next time. The ratio of granulated to brown sugar also made the brownies seem to dry out quickly, so next time I would probably reduce the amount of granulated sugar and use the recommended amount of brown sugar.

Recipe: adapted from Hersheys.com

Double Peanut Butter Paisley Brownies
½ c butter, softened
¼ c creamy peanut butter
1 c granulated sugar
1 c packed brown sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 c all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
2 snack size bags of peanut butter M&Ms
2 snack size bags of regular M&Ms
½ c Hershey’s Syrup

Heat oven to 350°F. Line a 13×9 inch pan with two criss-crossed sheets of parchment paper, then spray those with cooking spray.

Beat butter and peanut butter in a large bowl. Add sugar and brown sugar; beat well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Blend in vanilla.

Stir together flour, baking powder, and salt; mix into peanut butter mixture, blending well. Stir in all the M&Ms. Spread half of batter into pan; spoon syrup over top. Top with remaining batter, and swirl with a knife for a marbled effect.

Bake 35 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely in pan on wire rack; then remove from the pan whole using the paper edges to hold onto. Cut into squares.

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