Tag Archives: Cooking/Baking with Alcohol

Goat Cheesecake with Blueberry-Gin Compote

Goat Cheesecake with Blueberry-Gin Compote

So I didn’t really plan or intend to take this much time off from blogging lately, but it sort of coincided with some nuttiness in my real job plus some incredibly loud construction going on across the street from my building. Like, metal pounding metal stakes into the ground. The sound is actually rather unnerving, and everything I tried to write just leeched out undertones of the inner rage I was feeling at the noise. Better to not subject anyone to that.

goat cheesecake with blueberry-gin compote

They seem to be taking a day off, so I’m writing out as many blog posts as I possibly can, while I can think clearly! Let’s talk goat cheese in a cheesecake. This is not a savory cheesecake at all, so the goat cheese isn’t terribly obvious in the flavor department. It’s more that it lends a background tanginess that cuts the sweetness of cheesecake, and mostly it provides creaminess to the texture.

Goat Cheesecake with Blueberry-Gin Compote

I was very much in love. Upon initially reading the recipe, I was a bit skeptical that the batter might not work properly. It just seemed like overkill to include sour cream, and ricotta, and goat cheese in addition to the cream cheese. But I was wrong, it works beautifully! This was among the creamiest and smoothest cheesecakes I’ve ever tasted, so I can’t complain about any perceived overabundance of batter ingredients.

Goat Cheesecake with Blueberry-Gin Compote

The blueberry sauce was really gorgeous, both to look at and to eat. You don’t taste the gin outright, but it does complement the sweet-tart nature of the blueberries, and the texture achieved here is divine. It’s really rich and smooth, but with those plump bursts of the whole blueberries added in. Cheesecake is always a labor of love and time, so I firmly believe it’s got to be completely worth it when you do make it. This one will not disappoint. Enjoy!

Goat Cheesecake with Blueberry-Gin Compote

Source: slightly adapted from Home: Recipes to Cook with Family and Friends by Bryan Voltaggio

Ingredients:

CRUST:
¼ cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 cup plus 1 tbs graham cracker crumbs
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
Pinch of kosher salt

FILLING:
12 oz. goat cheese, at room temperature
10 oz. ricotta cheese
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup plus 7 tbs granulated sugar
2 ½ tbs sour cream
4 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp kosher salt
2 ½ tbs all-purpose flour

COMPOTE:
8 oz. blueberries, divided
½ tsp orange zest
½ tbs honey
½ tsp gin
Pinch of kosher salt

Directions:
For the CRUST: preheat the oven to 375 F. In a medium bowl, stir together the melted butter, graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar and salt. Mix until the mixture resembles wet sand. Pour the crumbs into a 9” springform pan and use a flat-bottomed drinking glass or measuring cup to press the crumbs evenly on the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Bake 9-12 minutes, until browned. Remove from the oven and let cool. Lower the oven temperature to 300 F.
Meanwhile, make the FILLING: mix the goat cheese, ricotta, cream cheese, granulated sugar, and sour cream in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on low speed until fully blended, 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, waiting until each one is fully incorporated before adding the next one, followed by the yolks in the same fashion. Add the vanilla and salt. When they are incorporated, stop the mixer and add the flour. Mix on low speed until just blended.
Prepare the cheesecake for baking. Take two large strips of aluminum foil and lay them out on a flat surface so they overlap a bit. Tape them down the middle with sturdy packing tape or duct tape. Turn the foil over and tape the other side. You want no seam left flapping open. This is the only way I’ve found to ensure that no water seeps into your cheesecake. Set a tea kettle full of water over high heat and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat. Place the springform pan over the aluminum foil and tightly wrap the sides. Place the springform in a roasting pan. Carefully pour the filling into the crust, then add enough hot water to come halfway up the side of the pan. Bake for 60-75 minutes, until the sides are set and the center is jiggly but not liquidy. Shut off the oven and crack the door open. Let the cheesecake cool in the oven for 1 hour. This helps to prevent the dreaded cheesecake cracks. Remove the cake from the water bath and let cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate overnight before serving.
Right before you’re ready to serve, make the COMPOTE: put half of the fresh blueberries, the orange zest, honey, gin and salt in a small saucepot over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat down to low and cook about 3-5 minutes, or until the blueberries are completely tender and soft. Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth. Strain the puree through a fine-mesh sieve. Add the remaining blueberries and mix well. Cool slightly before serving.
Serve slices of the cheesecake with a nice dollop of compote.

Duck Confit Over Bulgur Wheat with Mango “Gin-Ger” Sauce

Duck Confit over Bulgur Wheat with Mango "Gin-Ger" Sauce

Yesterday I showed you an amazing DIY shortcut to making your own duck confit, and I figure it would be rather uncouth of me to not turn around and give you a recipe for utilizing said duck confit. So here I am.

This recipe… this is one of those where you sit down, take your first bite and then go, “Holy %$#! did that really come out of my kitchen?! Did I just MAKE this?” And then you realize that yes, yes you did just make this stellar, amazing meal that you’d happily fork over at least $35 to eat in a fancy restaurant. And honestly, it wasn’t even that difficult to pull off!

Duck Confit over Bulgur Wheat with Mango "Gin-Ger" Sauce

This meal is truly superlative and guaranteed to impress. This is what you make your significant other’s parents who think you aren’t good enough for their precious little snowflake. This is how you blow away your foodiest of foodie friends. This is how you seal the deal for a second date.

Duck Confit over Bulgur Wheat with Mango "Gin-Ger" Sauce

I seriously could not believe this came out of my kitchen. It is spectacular. The flavors are beautiful and cohesive, and the duck confit, that you made yourself, is such a star here. The slight gamey flavor of the bird plays beautifully with the sweet mango sauce and the nutty chew of the bulgur wheat. It’s just AMAZING.

Duck Confit over Bulgur Wheat with Mango "Gin-Ger" Sauce

Make it this weekend. Thank me later. The end.

{One Year Ago: Red Wine Beef and Swiss Chard Stew}

Source: slightly adapted from Harold Dieterle’s Kitchen Notebook by Harold Dieterle

Ingredients:
4 pieces of duck confit, leg and thigh attached
½ cup bulgur wheat
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 ¼ cups sherry vinegar
½ cup sugar
¼ cup gin
1 cup diced mango, half pureed until smooth
4 tbs unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2-3 tbs peeled, grated fresh ginger
½ cup chopped fresh celery
½ cup chopped roasted Brazil nuts
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbs minced shallot

Directions:
First, cook the bulgur wheat: put the wheat in a medium, heatproof bowl. Bring 1 cup of water to a boil, then pour it over the wheat. Add a pinch of salt and black pepper, stir, and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside for 20 minutes. Fluff the wheat with a fork and strain off any excess water. Allow it to cool to room temperature while you prepare the rest of the dish.
To make the mango sauce: cook 2 cups of vinegar and the sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat, whisking, until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Stir in the gin and mango puree. Simmer until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then fold in the diced mango, butter, and ginger.
Warm the duck legs if they have been chilled.
Add the celery, Brazil nuts, remaining ¼ cup vinegar, extra-virgin olive oil, and shallot to the bulgur wheat. Season to taste with salt and pepper and gently toss.
To serve, spoon the bulgur wheat onto 4 dinner plates. Lay 1 duck confit piece over the wheat, then finish with mango sauce to taste.

Eggnog Panettone Bread Pudding with Amaretto Sauce

Eggnog Panettone Bread Pudding with Amaretto Sauce

Merry Christmas Eve!!! I had every intention of being a good and proper little food blogger for today’s post – you know, writing it up and scheduling it yesterday evening. But Santa showed up early to our house yesterday, generously gifting us with busted pipes under the kitchen sink! I guess there’s no uncertainty about which list we were on this year.

Panettone for bread pudding

So the best laid plans went to smithereens, and today shall be spent blogging yesterday’s work and mopping up my kitchen floor – AGAIN. Ah, well, there are certainly worse things that could have happened in life; perhaps later, for a little perspective, I’ll watch It’s a Wonderful Life (or, the movie my dear husband alternately titles Let’s All Stuff on George Baily, Over and Over and Over – except, um, he doesn’t say “stuff”).

Eggnog Panettone Bread Pudding with Amaretto Sauce

This delicious bread pudding could cheer just about anyone up. It’s a festive Christmas-y bread pudding, with eggnog (though the haters could certainly sub in more milk and some heavy cream), and panettone, that almost-too-sweet-but-we-love-it-anyway Italian holiday bread that I never ate growing up. Because, you know – that whole not being Italian thing.

Eggnog Panettone Bread Pudding with Amaretto Sauce

But, I loved this bread pudding and found it the perfect balance of sweetness and spiky booziness. Matt took the leftovers to his coworkers and the report back was one of adoration. If you’re looking for a last-minute, easy dessert for tomorrow, I’ve got you covered. This will feed a decent number of people and they will love you for it.

Eggnog Panettone Bread Pudding with Amaretto Sauce

And with that, I am off until Sunday! May your holiday be happy, safe, and delicious! Love you guys!!

Eggnog Panettone Bread Pudding with Amaretto Sauce

{One Year Ago: Mexican Wedding Cookies}
{Two Years Ago: Arugula Pesto, Smoked Mozzarella and Tomato Pizza}

Source: adapted from Giada’s Family Dinners by Giada de Laurentiis

Ingredients:
BREAD PUDDING:
1 (1 lb.) loaf panettone bread that has gone a little dry or stale, cut into 1-inch or so cubes
8 large eggs
1 ½ cups whole milk
2 ½ cups eggnog
1 cup granulated sugar

SAUCE:
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup whole milk
3 tbs granulated sugar
¼ cup Amaretto liqueur
2 tsp cornstarch

Directions:
First make the bread pudding. Grease a 9×13” baking dish. Arrange the bread cubes, plus any dried fruit that fell out when you cut the bread, in the prepared dish.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, cream, milk, and sugar until well combined. Pour the custard over the bread cubes, and press the bread cubes gently to submerge. Let stand for 30 minutes, occasionally pressing the bread into the custard mixture.
Preheat your oven to 350 F. Bake the pudding until it puffs and is set in the center, about 45 minutes. Cool slightly.
Meanwhile, make the sauce. Bring the cream, milk, and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan over medium to medium-high heat, stirring frequently. In a small bowl, mix together the amaretto and cornstarch until smooth. Whisk it into the cream mixture. Simmer over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens, about 3-5 minutes.
After the bread pudding has cooled slightly, spoon it into serving bowls and drizzle the sauce over each serving. Enjoy!

Cornish Game Hens with Sausage Red Wine Sauce over Polenta #SundaySupper

Cornish Game Hens with Sausage Red Wine Sauce over Polenta

Welcome to Sunday Supper! Our theme this week is Libational Recipes, a fun one indeed. Who doesn’t love cooking with an alcoholic beverage of some sort? I certainly do.

So in choosing which recipe to feature today, I wanted to keep with the December-appropriate theme I’m doing all month long, so today I’m posting a dish appropriate for a small but elegant Christmas dinner gathering, or perhaps a small holiday dinner party. Game hens are so adorable, and I think it looks so lovely and fancy to give everyone their own little baby chicken on their plate.

Cornish Game Hens with Sausage Red Wine Sauce over Polenta

Then the adorable game hens swim in this velvety, luscious, rich red wine sauce with savory sausage and sweet red grapes for the whole sweet-salty yin-yang thing we all love. All atop a mound of creamy, cheesy polenta. It’s really a beautiful dish. One I hope you all enjoy!

Cornish Game Hens with Sausage Red Wine Sauce over Polenta

Source: slightly adapted from Tyler’s Ultimate by Tyler Florence

{One Year Ago: Red Velvet Chocolate Chip Muffins with a Cream Cheese Glaze}

Ingredients:

GAME HENS:
4 (1-1 ½ lb.) Cornish game hens
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
2 tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature

SAUCE:
Olive oil
½ lb. sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
2 tbs all-purpose flour
2 cups red wine
2 cups chicken stock
1 ½ cups halved red seedless grapes
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper

POLENTA:
5 cups chicken stock
1 ½ cups instant polenta
¼ cup heavy cream
1 ½ tbs unsalted butter
¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
Fresh flat-leaf parsley, to garnish (optional)

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 400 F. Grease a rimmed baking sheet and set aside. Season the outside and cavities of the game hens with salt and pepper. Using kitchen twine, tie the legs together, then tie the wings flat against the body. Dot the butter all over the game hens, then carefully transfer them to the prepared baking sheet. Roast about 45 minutes, until a meat thermometer inserted into the center of one breast registers 165 F.
Start the sauce as soon as you get the birds into the oven. Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil, then crumble in the sausage. Cook until no traces of pink remain. Dust the flour over the sausage and stir to combine. Add the wine and stir quickly to scrape up any browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Then stir in the chicken stock. Bring the mixture to a simmer, and keep it at a simmer for about 20 minutes, until the sauce is thick and velvety. Add in the grapes right before you’re ready to serve. If the grapes make the sauce too thin, boil it on high heat, stirring frequently, for a few minutes to thicken it up.
Make the polenta: bring the chicken stock to a boil in a large stockpot. Sprinkle in the polenta and whisk quickly to combine and make sure there are no lumps. It will thicken up in minutes. As soon as it thickens, turn the heat to low. Add in the cream, butter, cheese, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
To serve, cut the strings off the game hens. Mound a few spoonfuls of polenta onto 4 dinner plates. Rest a bird on top of each, then generously spoon the sauce over the birds. Garnish with parsley if desired.

Libations

Savory and Sweet Libational Dishes

Libational Desserts

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Sorghum Marshmallow Topped Sweet Potato Pie

Sorghum Marshmallow Topped Sweet Potato Pie 6251

Where I hail from, Thanksgiving tables see more of sweet potato pie than pumpkin pies, and the fact that I preferred pumpkin pie left me in something of a minority within my extended family. Preferred is actually a bit of an understatement; insisted might be more accurate? Since sweet potatoes are classified as vegetables – ugh, the horror – I typically refused to even try a bite of sweet potato pie. Never mind, of course, that pumpkin is also – horror of horrors – a vegetable.

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Somewhere in my mid-twenties I realized my stupidity, not to mention complete hypocrisy, and baked myself a sweet potato pie to try. I think it was July. No matter! The important thing is,  I took one bite and realized further how utterly moronic I’d been for so long, as sweet potato and pumpkin pies are extremely similar. They are about identical in texture and creaminess, with sweet potato pie being a slightly darker color, slightly less sweet, and having a little more intensity of flavor than pumpkin pie.

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I completely understand the appeal! Fortunately I now count myself among sweet potato pie’s legions of fans, and I knew I wanted to finally share one on my blog this Thanksgiving season. So then the question became, do I make the classic with just whipped cream, or something beyond that?

Sorghum Marshmallow Topped Sweet Potato Pie 6249

Then I got to thinking about that traditional side dish/dessert/I-don’t-know-what-the-heck-it-is,-even marshmallow-topped sweet potato dish; the one I’ve never liked or even understood, and frankly still don’t. But it got the idea of marshmallows on top stuck in my head, and I thought, yeah I could make marshmallows from scratch myself, and then I thought more about sweet potato pie being from the South and I remembered seeing a Lee Brothers recipe for sorghum marshmallows and at that point it was all over. I’m making sorghum marshmallows and topping a sweet potato pie with them!!! And of course blasting them with a blowtorch to toast them!

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Sorghum Marshmallow Topped Sweet Potato Pie 6269

And here it is. It’s truly one of the best pies I’ve ever tasted. There is such a vast difference between homemade and store-bought marshmallows they hardly resemble each other, and yes, of course homemade is far superior. They lack chemical stabilizers, so when you hit them with the high heat from the broiler or blowtorch, they run all over the pie’s surface. Embrace it. It’s a lovely thing. As is this whole pie! Enjoy!!

Sorghum Marshmallow Topped Sweet potato pie 6278

{Two Years Ago: Green Bean Casserole}

Source: marshmallows and pie adapted from First Prize Pies by Allison Kave

Ingredients:

MARSHMALLOWS:
1 tbs unflavored gelatin
2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup sorghum syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract

PIE:
Pie dough for 1 (9-inch) pie
1 lb. sweet potatoes
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
½ cup pure maple syrup
1 large egg
2 tbs all-purpose flour
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp salt
2 tbs bourbon
½ cup whole milk
½ cup heavy cream

Directions:
First, make the MARSHMALLOWS:
In the bowl of your stand mixer, add 2/3 cup lukewarm water, then sprinkle the gelatin over the water. Fit the stand mixer with the whisk attachment.
In a large, clean, heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, sorghum syrup and another 2/3 cup water. Cook the mixture over medium-high heat, stirring only at the beginning to dissolve the sugar, and boil it until a candy thermometer registers 250-260 F.
When the sugar is close to reaching this stage, turn on the stand mixer to low and let it incorporate the softened gelatin and water. Once the sugar mixture has reached the appropriate temperature, make sure the mixer is on low speed, then carefully pour the hot syrup in a steady stream into the gelatin while mixing. Try to avoid the sides of the bowl and aim for the space between the beater and the side. When all of the syrup has been poured in, gradually increase the speed to high (but gradually, to avoid being splashed) and continue to beat until the mixture is very thick and has tripled in volume, about 5 to 10 minutes. Visual cues work well here – it will look like marshmallow fluff when it’s ready.
Grease an 8×8” glass baking dish and pour in the marshmallow mixture. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, making sure the plastic wrap doesn’t touch the surface of the marshmallows. Let it set up, either at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Mine took around 8 hours to completely set up; if you can’t or don’t want to wait that long, you can spoon the marshmallow fluff into a pastry bag and pipe it onto the pie, then hit it with the blowtorch as directed.
Make the PIE: Preheat your oven to 425 F. Grease a 9” pie plate. On a lightly floured surface, using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough out to a circle 11-12 inches in diameter. Transfer the dough to the prepared pie plate. Tuck the overhang under and crimp the edges decoratively. Chill in the refrigerator while the oven fully preheats.
Place the pie plate on a rimmed baking sheet and line the bottom and sides with parchment paper. Fill with pie weights or dried beans. Blind bake until partially baked, about 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Keep the oven at 425 F. With the skin on, prick the sweet potatoes all over with a fork. Put them on a lightly greased oven-safe baking dish and roast about 45 minutes, until a paring knife can be inserted into the thickest part with no resistance. Allow the potatoes to cool, then split them in half and scoop the flesh out into the bowl of your food processor. Discard the skins.
To the food processor, add the brown sugar and maple syrup. Puree until smooth. Add the egg and puree again. With the processor running, add the flour, cinnamon, ginger and salt, followed by the bourbon, milk, and finally the cream. Process the cream until just combined as you do not want to whip it.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Pour the filling into the cooled crust. Bake in the center of the oven for 40-50 minutes, until the edges are set and the center is still a little wobbly, like Jello.
Allow the pie to come to room temperature before adding the marshmallows.
Run a sharp paring knife around the edges of the marshmallows and tip them out onto a clean work surface. Cut them into squares, about the size of store-bought large marshmallows. Use a large, sharp knife for this.
Grease your hands lightly with cooking spray, then transfer the squares to the top of the pie. Wash your hands thoroughly, then use a blowtorch to char and brown the tops of the marshmallows. They will start to melt and run onto the pie. This is not a bad thing. For best results, let the pie firm up in the refrigerator at least a couple hours and up to overnight. Oh, and you will have leftover marshmallows. This is not a bad thing.

Cider-Glazed Turkey with Lager Gravy

Cider-Glazed Turkey with Lager Gravy 5700

Happy Sunday!! I’m so excited for today’s post! As my regulars know, I’ve been (mostly) focusing the month of November on getting everyone ready for Thanksgiving with plenty of ideas for your big Turkey Day. Thus far, I’ve blogged some starters and sides; don’t worry, desserts are coming your way soon.

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But for today, I’m so thrilled to be bringing you a whole roast turkey, complete with luscious, rich gravy! After some drama (I was previously unaware of how difficult it is to locate a whole turkey in October, but word of advice – it is! Wait until November.), I ended up roasting this huge bird alongside this wonderful side dish for a lovely, beautiful Wednesday evening dinner. (See, this is how you keep hump day from being mundane, haha!)

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Lager Gravy for Thanksgiving Turkey 5712

So, let’s talk turkey, shall we? This particular bird is probably going in my Best Turkey I’ve Ever Tasted, Period file. I think it was the cheesecloth. The melted-butter-and-apple-cider-soaked cheesecloth that draped over the entire breast and legs of the turkey. With a few sage leaves thrown in for good measure. It seriously kept the bird SO moist. No hint whatsoever of the dreaded dry breast meat.

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Then there was the gravy. I have to confess, I’ve never really taken my time with Thanksgiving turkey gravy. Some pan drippings, flour, turkey or chicken stock, maybe a splash of cream and some herbs, and that’s pretty much it. But this gravy…. For this one, I took my time and gave it lots of special attention. I used the neck and the giblets, and let this thing simmer almost the entire time the turkey was roasting.

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Cider-glazed turkey with Lager gravy 5778

And, the rewards were great. This is one of the most flavorful gravies you will taste. Beautifully smooth and lush and silky. And now, this will sound like a strong statement, but: if you serve this turkey to your guests, they will still be talking about it when you see them again for Christmas. In fact, you might not want to host Christmas dinner, because I’m honestly not sure what you could make that could live up to the reputation you’re going to achieve when you serve this amazing turkey at Thanksgiving. Matt declared it the best turkey he’s ever tasted, and I’m betting at least one person in your family will as well. I hope you all will enjoy this one as much as we did.

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{One Year Ago: Pumpkin Cupcakes with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting}
{Two Years Ago: Pumpkin Pecan Cake with Bourbon Brown Sugar Glaze, Chocolate Meringue Pie}

Source: slightly adapted from Food and Wine Magazine, November 2011; recipe submitted by Michael Symon

Ingredients:

TURKEY:
1 (12-14 lb.) whole turkey, neck and giblets reserved
2 tbs kosher salt
1 unpeeled head of garlic, halved crosswise
1 jalapeno, halved
1 Granny Smith apple, quartered
12 sage leaves
1/3 cup cloudy organic apple cider
1 stick (8 tbs) unsalted butter

GRAVY:
2 tbs olive oil
Reserved turkey neck and giblets
Kosher salt and black pepper
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup cloudy, organic apple cider
1 (12 oz.) bottle of lager
1 fresh bay leaf

Directions:
For the TURKEY: season the turkey inside and out with the kosher salt. Set on a large plate and cover the whole thing with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Uncover the turkey and let it return to room temperature, about 20-30 minutes. Stuff the cavity with the garlic, jalapeno, apple and 6 of the sage leaves. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine. If the wings are flopping about, tie a large circle around the top of the turkey breast so they lay flat and tight against the breast.
Transfer the turkey to a large roasting pan. Preheat your oven to 350 F.
In a small saucepan, combine the cider with the butter and the remaining 6 sage leaves and cook over low heat until the butter has melted and the sage is fragrant, about 4 minutes. Dampen a 32-by-20-inch piece of cheesecloth* with water and squeeze dry. Immerse the cheesecloth in the apple cider-butter mixture until the liquid is absorbed. Drape the soaked cheesecloth over the turkey breast and legs.
*Please don’t get out your ruler for this step. Just make sure you have enough cheesecloth to cover the turkey breast and legs. It’s fine to use 2 sheets.
Roast the turkey for 30 minutes. Add 2 cups of water to the roasting pan and continue to roast for about 2 hours longer, rotating the pan a few times, until an instant-read meat thermometer inserted in the inner thigh reads 165 F. It may take more or less time than stated.
Meanwhile, make the GRAVY: in a large saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the turkey neck and giblets, except for the liver, and season with salt and pepper. Reserve the liver. Cook over moderate heat, turning a few times, until nicely browned, about 12 minutes. Remove the turkey parts to a plate and reserve.
Off the heat, stir the flour into the fat in the saucepan to make a paste. Gradually whisk in the cider until smooth, then whisk in the lager. Add 3 cups of water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking continuously until thickened. Return the browned turkey parts to the saucepan and add the bay leaf. Cover and cook over low heat, whisking occasionally, until the gravy is flavorful, about 1 ½ hours. Discard the turkey parts and the bay leaf.
When the turkey is done, remove from the oven and carefully peel away the cheesecloth and discard. Transfer the turkey to a rimmed cutting board and let rest for 30 minutes. Pour the pan juices into a glass measuring cup and skim off the fat. Add the pan juices to the gravy and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Season the reserved liver with salt and pepper, add to the gravy and simmer until pink in the center, about 5 minutes. Remove the liver and cut into small chunks.
In a blender, puree the liver with about 1 cup of the gravy. Whisk the liver puree into the gravy and season with salt and pepper to taste. Rewarm the gravy if necessary. Carve the turkey and serve with the gravy.

Pear Amaretto Loaf Cake

Pear Amaretto Loaf Cake 5405

The past several years in a row, Matt and I have done the apple picking thing. We’ve driven upstate, admired the changing leaves on our peaceful drive, then stopped for lunch in the area of the orchard. Then we’d descend on the orchard and fill up two giant bags with apples, various different kinds (Fuji, honeycrisp, gala…). And then, we would get home and of course make the inevitable discovery that we’d picked too many apples. Adding insult to injury is the fact that neither of us like applesauce.

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pretty pears 5374

pear amaretto loaf cake, before glazing 5383

This year, we decided to skip this venture. Something in me just wasn’t up for it this year; maybe it’s a sign we need to find a new orchard – the one we’ve visited has a cover band playing every year, and it’s the only time I’ve ever heard a Maroon 5 song in the same set as “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” And then there’s the whole apple cider doughnut situation-thing.

Pear Amaretto loaf cake 5415

Pear amaretto loaf cake 5429

And of course, it’s entirely possible that my readers may remember the plethora abundance of apple recipes I posted with my stash last year, and were perhaps hoping there would not be a repeat. There won’t. Throughout this whole apple explosion of the last two years, I realized I’ve neglected the lovely pear, apple’s oft-forgotten cousin, and thought I’d take a small step to remedy that. With cake. Because, what else? I mean, really. I do feel I should offer a small and sheepish apology for how many bowls you’ll use to make this cake, but I promise you, it’s well worth it. So moist and delicious. Enjoy!

Pear Amaretto Loaf cake 5434

Pear Amaretto loaf cake 5448

{One Year Ago: Apple Cheddar Quiche, French Apple Tart}

Source: adapted from Ottolenghi: The Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi

Ingredients:

CAKE:
2 large Bosc or Anjou pears, peeled, cored and chopped
5 tbs toasted walnuts, chopped
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tbs Amaretto liqueur
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
¾ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp kosher salt
6 ½ tsp slivered almonds
3 large eggs
¾ cup sunflower or canola oil
1 cup plus 2 ½ tbs granulated sugar

GLAZE:
¾ cup confectioners’ sugar
2-3 tbs Amaretto liqueur

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 325 F. Grease a standard loaf pan. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the pears, walnuts, lemon zest, and Amaretto. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Add the almonds to a mini food processor and pulse until finely ground; but be careful not to turn it into almond butter. Add the ground almonds to the flour mixture and whisk to combine.
Separate 2 of the eggs, reserving the whites in one bowl and transferring the yolks to another small to medium bowl. Add the third whole egg to the yolks and whisk to combine.
In yet another bowl, briskly whisk together the oil and sugar, then whisk in the egg yolk mixture. Make a well in the flour mixture and add the oil and sugar mixture. Whisk to combine, then gently fold in the pear mixture.
Whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form, then gently fold them into the cake batter. It’s okay if a few white streaks remain, you want to avoid overmixing as that will make the cake dry.
Pour the cake batter into your prepared pan. Bake 45-60 minutes, until a cake tester or skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool, then remove the cake from the pan.
Now make the glaze. Simply add the confectioners’ sugar and Amaretto to a bowl and whisk until smooth. Pour the glaze liberally over the cake. Slice and serve.

Louisiana-Style Shrimp and Andouille One Pot

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A random grocery store run to Fairway a couple weeks ago turned out to be a major score, when I found a rare-to-this-area item sitting nonchalantly on the shelves: Abita Pecan ale. Now, I can find Abita regular brew, but the company also puts out a pecan harvest ale, and that I could never before locate anywhere in NYC. Happy dance time!

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Before buying it here, I’d only had it one time in my life. That time was with Matt in New Orleans, where the beer itself is brewed, and their pecan ale is seriously the best beer I’ve tasted, ever. With sincere apologies to the Shiner.

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I figured it was perfect for this recipe, a simple one pot that can be thrown together for tons of Cajun flavors, and one that really requires a Louisiana beer. Obviously, using regular Abita (or another brand of Louisiana style beer) would be perfectly fine.

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This was a very lovely dish. Bold flavors, just saucy enough, just messy enough, and pairs so perfectly with that amazing pecan beer. I’m still excited over it. And yes, I’m rationing my stash, trying to make it last, since who knows if I’ll ever see it in NYC again… Anyways, I hope you enjoy this easy one-pot! Oh! Very important – puh-leeze don’t forget a hunk of bread to mop up the delicious holy trinity sauce.

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{One Year Ago: Hatch Chile Cheese Bread, Apple Pie Bagels, My Mom’s Apple Cake}

Source: adapted from Week in a Day by Rachael Ray

Ingredients:
Olive oil
½ lb. Andouille sausage, thinly sliced or chopped
3 tbs unsalted butter
1 bell pepper, any color, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 ribs of celery, chopped
2 thyme sprigs
2 fresh bay leaves
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp crushed red chile flakes
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 tbs sweet paprika
2 tbs flour
1 (12 oz.) bottle of beer (I used Abita, from Louisiana, which I highly recommend)
1 cup chicken or seafood stock
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
Louisiana-style hot sauce, to taste
1 ½ lbs. medium-to-large shrimp, peeled and deveined
Sliced scallions, for garnish
Crusty bread hunks, for mopping sauce

Directions:
In a Dutch oven or deep, large skillet, heat a drizzle of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook, stirring frequently, until browned and the fat rendered. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate.
Add the butter to the hot pan and swirl or stir to combine it with the sausage drippings. Add the bell pepper, onion, celery, thyme sprigs and bay leaves. Cook, stirring frequently, until completely softened and cooked. Add the garlic and chile flakes, and cook 1 minute more. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Now add the paprika and flour. Stir 1 minute to cook the pasty taste out of the flour. Stir in the beer and cook 2 minutes, stirring to scrape up browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Stir in the stock and Worcestershire, reduce the heat to low and simmer about 3 minutes to combine the flavors. Stir in hot sauce to taste. Add the reserved sausage back into the pot.
Lightly toss the shrimp with a little bit of kosher salt, then add it to the simmering pot. Cook over medium heat until the shrimp are opaque and firm to the touch, about 3-5 minutes.
Remove the thyme sprigs and bay leaves, and ladle into either deep bowls, or wide shallow bowls. Garnish with scallions and dig in!

Whiskey Buttermilk Pie

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I have one, major, not-so-fond memory of buttermilk as a child. I was vaguely (very vaguely) aware that it was used in baking things like biscuits and pancakes, but I never put much thought into exactly what buttermilk was. Until one fateful day, I was at my grandparents’ house. I opened the fridge looking for something, I don’t remember what, and there sat a carton of buttermilk. And so I pondered it… buttermilk… Buttermilk. Why hadn’t I had this before? It sounded just delicious. And since my parents had never stocked it nor offered it to us, I automatically assumed it must be fatty and rich and delicious, because why else would those health nuts deny me this beautifully-named dairy beverage?

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I helped myself to quite the tall glass. So excited was I, I took a pretty decent-sized gulp. And this is where the story gets extremely predictable, even more so than during the first paragraph. Oh the horror. The sourness, the bitterness, it was so unbelievably terrible! It wasn’t just thick, it was gloppy. And so sour and bitter!! Needless to say, I did not finish my glass, so my sincere apologies to Nina and Pawpaw for wasting that buttermilk.

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This little incident seared into my memory, so you can understand that I was always reluctant to try buttermilk pie. I mean, why would you ruin pie? Or so my thinking always went… Turns out, no – buttermilk does not ruin a pie. Au contrare, it actually makes it quite delicious. And the whiskey didn’t hurt anything. Of course. I’m now happily in love with buttermilk pie, though if I ever again express desire to drink buttermilk straight out, please just dial 9-1-1. Something is terribly wrong… Enjoy!

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{One Year Ago: Apple Streusel Bread}
{Two Years Ago: Huevos Rancheros, Apple Escarole Salad, Veal Ricotta Meatballs}

Source: slightly adapted from A Year of Pies by Ashley English

Ingredients:
½ recipe of this amazing pie dough
3 large eggs
1/3 cup plus ½ cup granulated sugar
2 tbs all-purpose flour
6 tbs unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup buttermilk, well-shaken
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1-2 tbs whiskey
½ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
Pinch of salt

Directions:
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and fit it into a regular 9” pie plate. Trim and fold the crust overhang as needed and decoratively crimp the pie edges. Or, flatten the pie on the edges of the pie plate and make pretty indentations with the tines of a fork. Refrigerate the pie shell while you make the filling.
Preheat your oven to 375 F.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs with the sugar and flour, making sure there are no lumps. Add the melted butter, buttermilk, vanilla, whiskey, nutmeg and salt. Whisk to combine.
Pour the filling into the prepared pie shell and place in the preheated oven. It’s best to set the pie plate on a rimmed baking sheet, just in case of spill-over, and it makes it easier to remove later.
Turn the oven down to 325 F and bake for 45-60 minutes, or until the edges are set and the center is still a tiny bit wobbly, but not liquidy.
Remove the pie from the oven and let it cool for at least 30 minutes before serving warm or at room temperature.
Store leftover pie in the fridge.

Piña Colada Blondies

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Our week of Blondies and Brownies has really gotten away from me, but I’m doing my darnedest to seize it back under my relative control. Which means that I’m really hoping to bring you one more brownies recipe this weekend. Meanwhile, we shall not fret, because we have Piña Colada Blondies. Oh yes.

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These so remind me of my and Matt’s weekend getaway to the Bahamas earlier this summer. It was so wonderful and so NEEDED!! We spent a few glorious days doing nothing on the beach, trying to avoid sunburn (I failed), reading for pleasure (did you know that Henry VIII beheaded two of his wives?), and swimming in that perfect turquoise water.

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I booked this trip for us with the aim of just relaxing on a nice beach, and wasn’t really thinking about the food part too much. Which is unusual for me, I admit. But, food people that we are, we still managed to find some good grub. Our favorite eating spot was this little hole-in-the-wall Italian place, which was run by actual Italians, and could we transport it to NYC’s Little Italy neighborhood, it would drastically improve the place.

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I think my other favorite part of the trip was the guy who roamed the beach selling fresh piña coladas in actual coconuts. He cracked the tops of the coconuts with his machete, then mixed the drink with fresh fruit and local Bahamian rum, added some ice and a cute straw, and off you went to sip it on the beach. Heaven!

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So these lovely little blondies will serve as a reminder of a fun, relaxing travel memory. Oh, and of course they are delicious, too. Enjoy!

{One Year Ago: Rosemary Pecorino Popcorn}

Source: adapted from Crunchy, Creamy, Sweet

Ingredients:
1 c brown sugar
1/4 c butter, melted, cooled
1 eggs, slightly beaten
2 tbs rum, divided
2 tbs pineapple juice, divided
1 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 c shredded coconut

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 350 F. Grease and flour a 8″ x 8″ pan. Set aside.
In a small microwave safe bowl, melt the butter and set aside to cool in room temperature.
In the meantime, in a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the butter and sugar. Add egg, 1 tbs rum, and 1 tbs pineapple juice. Whisk until all smooth.
Slowly add the dry ingredients. Whisk until all is well combined.
Fold in the coconut with a rubber spatula.
Combine the remaining tbs of rum and pineapple juice in a small bowl. Scrape the batter into prepared pan. Brush the top gently with the rum and pineapple juice. You’ll have some leftover; do not discard it.
Bake the blondies for 25-28 minutes. As soon as you remove them from the oven, brush the remaining rum and pineapple juice on the tops of the blondies while still very warm. Let cool completely, then cut into squares to serve.
Those bars are the best eaten the same day as baked. Store in air-tight container.