Saturday, September 25, 2010

CORRECTION: Turkey Hash Pie

Well, mea my culpa.

Dear friend Anne pointed out to me, correctly, that when I first posted the Turkey Hash Pie recipe yesterday the last step was left out. (Perhaps I was remembering my McSorley's days a little too well.) In any event, the recipe has now been corrected to include the final step. My thanks to Anne, and my apologies to all.

See you next week!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Turkey Hash Pie

My first exposure to the simple pleasure of a good hash was the corned beef kind I used to get at McSorley's - New York's oldest and most glorious ale house - during my senior year of college. Served hot with pickled red cabbage and some good rye bread, it quickly became my favorite item on the menu. (That I spent so many lunch breaks at McSorley's explains a few things about my senior year, but that's a story for another time and place.)

From that humble first impression, hash took on a new respectability for me years later when I learned chicken hash was served at Truman Capote's famous "Black-and-White Ball" at the Plaza Hotel in 1966. That was it; hash was now the big-time.

This week's recipe uses ground turkey, but using leftover cooked chicken or turkey would save a bit of cooking time and would work nearly as well. The list of ingredients looks long, but that's both the nature of hash and part of its charm.

You'll also need a 9" pie crust. Buy one if you like, but an earlier post on this site gave a recipe for a very good (I think) reduced fat pie crust. You make the call. This recipe makes one 9" pie, about four servings.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. When the oven is ready, blind-bake the pie crust to completion, then set it aside. While the crust is baking, prepare the other ingredients, checking the crust periodically to keep it from burning. 
After the pie crust is finished, increase the oven temperature to 450 degrees. Toss four medium, cubed potatoes and ½ tablespoon of minced garlic with 2 Tbsp of olive oil to coat. Place the mixture on a baking sheet in a single layer, season with salt, and place in the oven for about 30 minutes till browned, turning occasionally for even browning. When the potatoes have finished browning, set them aside and lower the oven temperature to 350.
While the potatoes are baking, mix 1-1/2 pounds of ground turkey and ½ large grated onion, place in a large oiled skillet, add ¼ cup fat-free half-and-half and 1 tablespoon Worcestershire, and cook until the turkey is browned. When the turkey is done, set it aside.
Adding a little more oil to the same skillet, sautĂ© ½ red pepper, chopped; ½ green pepper, chopped; 4 ounces of sliced mushrooms; and ½ cup diced celery. Add ½ cup dried cranberries, a pinch of cayenne, ½ Tbsp salt, ½ Tbsp pepper, ½ tablespoon paprika, ½ teaspoon dried sage, and the cooked turkey and cook until warmed through, about 4 – 5 minutes.
Add ¾ cup low-fat chicken broth and 1 tablespoon of chopped, fresh parsley, and simmer for a few minutes.
Place the turkey mixture into the pie crust and top with the browned potatoes. Cover the edges of the crust with foil and bake at 350 degrees until heated through, about 10 minutes. Serve hot.

As always, for a cookbook-style, notebook-ready copy of this or any other recipe on the site, just drop me a line and I’ll get it right off to you.

See you next week! Till then, stay well, keep it about the food, and always remember to kiss the cook. ;-)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Order in the Court: A Non-Traditional Court Bouillon for Poaching Fish and Vegetables

Greetings, faithful readers. Before we get to this week's recipe, one I hope you'll find different and interesting, there's a bit of news to share. Kissing the Cook is now linked onto Facebook! Just sign on, look up Kissingthecook Recipes (or search for the e-mail address, and, if you like, send a friend request. I promise it will be accepted. :-)

And now for our regularly scheduled recipe.

A classic (a polite word for "old"), tasty, and healthy way to prepare fish or vegetables is to poach them in a court bouillon.  Fortunately for us all, this wonderful and simple cooking method is making a comeback.

Court bouillon is quick and easy to put together. (In fact, it's a French term for “quick broth.”) There’s a modest bit of cooking time involved, but the broth doesn’t require very much attention while this is going on. And poaching itself cooks the meat or vegetables in just a few minutes which, for most of us hurried souls, adds to the method’s appeal. Court bouillon ingredients can vary from cook to cook, but all follow a basic structure of acid, water, herbs, and usually some vegetables. The acid is typically something like dry white wine or a good quality vinegar.

Being from the part of New Jersey which the locals usually refer to without the “New,” I was inspired to create my own take on all of this that I call, “Hudson County Court” Bouillon. The recipe follows. You’ll see that one of the key elements here is that the dry white wine is replaced by a good quality beer. (This is Jersey, after all.) To offset the bitterness that sometimes comes from cooking down beer, I’ve also replaced the water with vegetable stock.

And although it's not the usual way to use court bouillon, it also seemed to me that after the poaching has infused it with the essence of the cooked fish or vegetables, the remaining liquid could be turned into a very nice gravy-type sauce that would tie the whole dish together. As described below, a few additional ingredients do the job.

So all rise: Hudson County Court Bouillon is now in session. Judge for yourself. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

To make enough to poach, and have sauce for, three or four servings of fish or vegetables, begin by combining the following in a pan:  8 ounces of beer; 1-1/2 cups vegetable stock; 1 teaspoon dried parsley; 1 medium onion, chopped, with about 2 tablespoons set aside for making the sauce later); 1 teaspoon salt; ½ teaspoon whole peppercorns, 1 bay leaf; 1 teaspoon dried thyme; 1 stalk celery, chopped; and 1 carrot, chopped. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer it uncovered for about 20 minutes. When it’s done simmering, strain the mixture (discarding the solids) and return the liquid to the pan.

Bring the liquid to a boil, add the fish or vegetables to be poached, and lower the heat to a simmer. Simmer until the fish or vegetables have finished cooking. How long this takes depends on what your’re cooking, of course, but it should generally be only a few minutes, so keep an eye on it. When the fish or vegetables have finished cooking, remove them from the liquid and set them aside while you make the sauce.

To make the sauce, add the butter substitute, flour, and the 2 tablespoons of chopped onion you set aside earlier to the liquid, adding the flour slowly and whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Add the honey, then continue to cook over low heat until the sauce is the desired thickness, continuing to whisk constantly.

You’re done! All that’s left is to top the fish or vegetables with the sauce and serve warm.

As always, for a notebook-ready cookbook-style copy of this recipe, or any other recipe from this site, just post a comment asking for it (or send me an e-mail) and I’ll get it right out to you.

See you next week! Till then, stay well, keep it about the food, and always remember to kiss the cook. ;-)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Fluffy (and Reduced Fat!) Blueberry Pancakes with Strawberry Syrup

Back in the 80's, a couple of decades before really becoming interested in cooking, one of the first foods I learned to make was pancakes. I improvised a reduced-fat version of a recipe I'd found in one of those privately-published cookbooks from someone's long-forgotten fundraiser. And for the next 20+ years, that recipe - tasting the whole time like one of the first foods I learned to make - was the one I used . The pancakes were ok, in a sorta-kinda way, but I wanted better flavor and a fluffier texture.

Fast-forward to the present time, and the significantly improved recipe which follows below. Two key elements to the improved version are the addition of a bit of nutmeg, a spice whose versatility I'm coming to appreciate more every day, and beaten egg whites in place of the egg-substitute eggs I'd always relied on. (When you make this, or anything else involving beaten egg whites, it's very important to use real egg whites from separated eggs, and not the egg whites you pour from a carton. The packaged kind may be great for reducing fat and cholesterol, but I've found they don't stiffen into peaks when beaten the way fresh egg whites do.)

Your fresh pancakes, of course, will deserve to be topped with something special, so we'll start by putting together a delicious - and easy-to-make - fresh strawberry syrup. This tasty topping is made even better by containing chunks of strawberry. (It doesn't look like the syrup at the pancake house, but that's the whole point of making your own in the first place!) Since it's best to have the syrup already on hand when the pancakes are done cooking, you can make a batch ahead of time. It stores well in the refrigerator, so there's no problem making it even a day or two before.

So let's get started! For the reasons mentioned, we'll do the syrup first. This recipe makes about a pint.
Begin by putting a glass plate or saucer in the freezer.  If you’ve never done that and don’t know why you would do something so strange, bear with me. Its purpose will be clear shortly.

Hull and quarter 1 pound of fresh strawberries.

Combine 1 cup of sugar and the juice of one lemon in a medium saucepan. Before turning on the heat, mix it well until the sugar and juice are combined and the mixture resembles an Italian lemon ice. Once they’re mixed, turn the heat on very low until the sugar is melted, stirring often.

Add the strawberries, ¼ teaspoon of ground nutmeg and one tablespoon of butter substitute to the saucepan and mix well till all the strawberries are coated with the melted sugar. Increase the heat to medium and cook until the strawberries are soft. When they’re done, remove the strawberries, draining any excess liquid back to the saucepan, and set them aside.
Continue to cook the liquid until it is reduced to about half. Then remove the saucepan from the heat and let it cool. (Since the liquid will be thin from being very hot, you can check the thickness it will have once it’s cooled by putting a few drops on that plate you placed in the freezer at the beginning. That’s a useful trick from the world of jam and jelly making.) Once the liquid has the thickness you want, add it to the strawberries, and either serve immediately or refrigerate for later use. (Waiting until the liquid cools before adding it to the strawberries is important; adding it hot will continue to cook the strawberries and make them mushy.)
Now that you’ve got some great syrup, let’s make those fluffy pancakes!
Combine 1-1/4 cups of skim milk, 2 tablespoons of melted butter substitute, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla in a bowl.
In a separate bowl, sift together 1-1/2 cups of all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon of baking powder, ¾ teaspoon of salt, 3 tablespoons of sugar, and ¼ teaspoon of ground nutmeg.
Combine these dry ingredients with the milk mixture and mix until a batter is formed.
In a bowl (you can save dishes by washing out and reusing the bowl you just combined the dry ingredients in), combine four egg whites and a pinch of salt and beat on high until stiff peaks form.
Fold the beaten egg whites in parts into the batter, working carefully to keep the fluffiness.
The batter is ready. Now let’s get on the fluffy blueberry pancake express!
Melt 1 teaspoon of butter substitute on the griddle, and pour out pancakes of about ¼ cup of batter each. Cook over medium heat until done on the bottom, then add some blueberries (fresh is best, but frozen ones work too) to the uncooked tops and turn the pancakes over, cooking until done. Repeat until all the batter is cooked. (To do the whole bowl of batter, you’ll need about 1 cup of blueberries. Note that there’s no need to dust them with flour before adding them to the pancakes.)
And there you have it!

For a cookbook-style, notebook-ready copy of these or any other recipes on this site, send me an e-mail and I'll get it right to you.

Thanks for visiting. Till next week, stay well, keep it about the food, and always remember to kiss the cook. ;-)

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Good Eatin'

Got a recipe for you today for a wonderful (and, to me, very special) potato salad that's as easy to make as it is delicious to eat. A bit of background first will give it a proper context.

I grew up eating food, not preparing it. As a cook, I'm very much a child of the Food Network era; Anne, Tyler, Rachel, Bobby and Mario, among others, remain my long-distance teachers. Still, my favorite cook of all was showing her fans the wonderful way good food could make someone feel before there was any such thing as food television, or even color television. Her following was small - 10 at its peak - but very devoted. Her name was Bessie, she was known as Mrs. M, and she was my grandmother. 

Grandma was not a fancy cook. She was meat-and-potatoes, but how good she made those meat-and-potatoes taste. How my grandfather, a limber, wiry man, stayed as thin as he did his whole life, remains a mystery to this day.

Most of her recipes are lost, probably forever, but three are known to still exist, including the one I consider the Holy Grail of the bunch: Grandma's Potato Salad.
This week being the anniversary of her passing in 1984, I can think of no more fitting tribute than giving this most special dish of hers to friends and fellow food lovers all over the world so they can enjoy it too.

Why is this potato salad so good? Having eaten it all my life I still can't put the answer into words. You'll see there are no unusual ingredients or techniques involved. But so good it is when it comes together, a particularly cherished side dish to so many special family dinners, when my uncle would call things like this "good eatin'." When we were really fortunate, we'd take a batch home, and us kids would get to have a bowl for lunch the next day. Not with lunch...for lunch.

The ingredients are simple, so you may be tempted to try to dress it up with other things, such as chopped eggs. I hope you will avoid doing so. If you do and one night have a dream in which you're being chased by a diminutive gray-haired but surprisingly energetic old woman, wielding a rolling pin and saying, "Get over here, ya bestid!" don't say you weren't warned. My advice is to save the eggs for someone else’s potato salad recipe.

So now here it is, for your "good eatin' " pleasure
To make about 1-1/2 quarts of this wonderful stuff, put 2 pounds of potatoes (about 6 medium) in a pot with the skins still on and cover with about an inch of water. Heat the water till it's boiling and cook the potatoes till they're done but still firm. (Regardless of whether your potatoes are medium, or small, or large, try to get all of them the same size so that it's easier to cook them all evenly.) For medium potatoes, I've found this takes about 12 minutes from when the boiling begins, but potatoes, like the people who enjoy them, are all different, so keep an eye on them. When the potatoes are done, drain them well, and let them rest in the pot for a few minutes until the soft crackling sound stops. After that, set them aside to cool.

While the potatoes are cooling, combine in a large bowl 2/3 cup sliced celery; 1/8 cup grated or finely chopped onion; 1-1/2 carrots, grated on the large holes; 1 tablespoon of spicy mustard (Gulden's or similar); 1/3 cup mayonnaise; 1/3 tsp salt; 1/3 tsp pepper, and ¼ cup salad oil.

Once the potatoes have cooled, peel them and cut them into chunks. Add them to the large bowl and mix well until everything is combined and coated. Refrigerate until you're ready to serve it, then sprinkle a bit of paprika and chopped parsley on top.

For a cookbook style, notebook-ready copy of this or any other recipe from this site, just drop me a line and I’ll get it right off to you.

Thanks for visiting! Till next week, stay well, keep it about the food, and always remember to kiss the cook. ;-)