Monday, 31 December 2012

Leftover Turkey Dinner Crepes

When I have leftover turkey dinner I am always trying to come up with new creative ways to enjoy it. I do not want to eat the same meal re-heated for days so I try make soup, turkey pot pie, stew or these crepes which contain whatever I have on hand in them. If you have some vegetables or mashed potatoes you can easily include them.  I chop up my turkey into small dice and re-heat with some onions and mushrooms and create a new gravy. You can then layer some stuffing, potatoes or vegetables, wrap and serve warm with a drizzle of cranberry or a topping of gravy. A fresh new dinner with leftover ingredients.

You will need:

  • 1 1/2 cups left over turkey- chopped into small cubes
  • 1 cup leftover stuffing- chopped into small pieces
  • 3 mushrooms - chopped fine
  • 1/2 onion - chopped fine
  • 1 leaf fresh sage - sliced fine
  • 2 cloves garlic - chopped fine
  • 1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
  • salt/pepper
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • cranberry sauce to top

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp butter - melted
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp fresh chives- chopped
  • butter/olive oil for frying crepes

Step 1: prepare your crepe batter in a bowl. Whisk eggs, milk, melted butter and flour. Set aside.

Step 2: chop up turkey, mushrooms, onions, sage and garlic. This recipe makes enough for 4-5 crepes or two people. 

Step 3: in one pan re-heat some stuffing with a few tbsp of olive oil. I like to chop the stuffing so there is even pieces to add to the crepes. In another pan saute your onions in a few tbsp olive oil until  softened and starting to brown. 

Step 4: add your turkey, chopped sage, garlic, poultry seasoning and mushrooms and continue to cook for 4-5 minutes until everything is cooked. Add salt and pepper to taste. 

Step 5: sprinkle 1 heaped tbsp of flour over meat and stir to combine. Add chicken broth and cook 2-3 more minutes until you have a bit of gravy coating the mix. Set aside along with stuffing. You will need to briefly re-heat both just before filling crepes.

Step 6: in a crepe pan or non stick fry pan add a tsp of butter or oil. Add a scoop of batter to the hot pan and immediately swirl the batter so it creates a larger thin crepe. Sprinkle a few chives on the crepe. When you see the edges start to brown and the surface of the crepe looks like it has dried flip with a spatula or just use your fingers. Cook another minute or two until they just start to brown slightly. Do this until you have created all your crepes. You can stack on top of each other until they are all cooked. Re-heat stuffing and turkey and gravy until hot.

Step 7: add a scoop of turkey and gravy, a bit of stuffing and roll. There is actually a good amount of gravy so the filling will be hot and moist.

Roll 3-4 per person and add some cranberry to the top or add a bit more gravy.

Enjoy your turkey burrito!

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Chili Chicken Appetizers

These are the perfect little bite to serve as an appetizer. I prepared them and used toothpicks as skewers. It makes the perfect one bite size. They have just a hint of spice with the fairly mild red fat chili I have used and they can be grilled and then kept warm in the oven. 

You will need:
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1 onion- grated fine to make a pulp
  • 3 cloves garlic -crushed/or chopped fine
  • 1 medium heat chili- you could use a jalapeno if you can't get a milder red
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp lemon pepper (this is a spice blend sold in grocery stores)
  • 1 tsp dry Italian seasonings
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper while grilling.
  • 1 lemon squeezed on while grilling 

Step 1: grate your onion and chop/or crush your garlic. You can have the onion so it has a bit of texture or sometimes I just use the fine grater and make it almost like a wet pulp. This is good because   you get the flavour from the onion but, not the texture.

Step 2: chop your chili very fine. (I have to look up what kind of chilies these are, my grocery store lists them as chili red???) I like them because I add them to lots of things and they are not overpowering....they are a nice everyday chili.

Step 3: slice your chicken into small thin strips. It is amazing how many you can get from two normal sized chicken breasts.

Step 4: add all the rest of the ingredients except the salt and pepper and lemon juice which I add only when grilling. You can leave it in the fridge for at least 2 hours. Then thread on toothpicks and quickly grill on a sheet of foil so you don't loose any through the grates. You could also use one of those grilling machines inside or even a grill pan.

serve with fresh lemon. They are a yummy little bite great served with cocktails! (for all those cocktail parties I have!!!......which is never.)

Friday, 28 December 2012

Roast Turkey

A roast turkey  is not complicated to prepare well. I will say that like many people I was intimidated to prepare one for years. There are many ways to get a moist juicy bird and this is just one. I have brined my turkey before and that method turns out exceptionally well however, this way is faster and also creates a moist tender turkey. I think the best advice I would give anyone attempting to make a large meal for a crowd is to prepare as much of it as possible days before and then you will have a much less stressful time on the big day. I prepare the stuffing, cranberry sauce and gravy at least a week in advance and freeze it. I prepare all my vegetables the day before and have them soaking in water. I also get my turkey prepared the day before and then let it air dry in the fridge. Try it once and you will never want to feel the pressure and stress of getting everything done on the day you are serving. Relax, have a glass of cheer and be a part of your party.

You will need:

  • a turkey (mine was 11 lbs) free range/organic fresh is so worth the investment.
  • garlic herb butter (I make this in advance and keeps for ages in fridge or freezer)
  • salt/pepper
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 parsnip
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 2 onions (leave skin on to make gravy darker (I personally hate the look of a white turkey gravy)
  • 2 heads of garlic (separated into individual cloves)
  • fresh herbs (thyme, sage, parsley, rosemary)
  • 2 clementines
  • 1 lemon
  • olive oil
  • chicken stock
  • giblets, neck, heart etc..inside most turkeys (you don't have to eat these but they will make your gravy better if you roast in the pan)

Step 1: get a medley of vegetables and seasonings to put in the bottom of your roasting pan. You are not looking to eat these vegetables but to provide a base for the turkey and to provide pan flavour for an excellent gravy.

Step 2: wash your turkey under cold water. Clean inside and out. Dry with paper towels. I do not put stuffing inside the bird but, I will add generous amounts of salt and pepper, lemons, clementines, fresh herbs and garlic cloves. There should be room for air to get into the cavity while baking but, the seasonings will impart nice flavour.

Step 3: I prepare a garlic and herb butter and then allow it to come to room temperature before placing  pats of it under the skin of the bird. You can carefully slide your hands under the skin to separate it from the meat. Then take your butter and generously place it under the skin. This will baste and keep the meat moist while baking. I also place a couple of sprigs of rosemary on the skin at the mouth of the cavity to keep the skin in place when baking. It can slide back if you do not.

Step 4: If you are doing this the day before then place in the fridge at this point. You can leave it uncovered overnight.

Step 5: remove your turkey from the fridge and let sit on counter for at least 30 before placing in the oven. At this point I slather lots more garlic herb butter over the outside of the bird. Pour some olive oil over the skin as well to have it all coated.

Step 6: sprinkle the entire bird generously with salt and pepper.  Lots of salt on the skin will make a nice crispy skin.

Step 7: place slices of pancetta over the turkey. This is an Italian un-smoked bacon. It will impart moisture and baste the turkey and it will protect the breast from drying out. Add 2 cups of chicken broth to the bottom of the pan. This will also keep the environment moist and provide more liquid for gravy after.

Heat oven to 500 degrees F. Once heated place turkey on the lower part of the oven and close door. Immediately turn down oven to 375 degrees F and cook for approx 30 minutes per kg, plus you can add an extra 20-30 minutes on the end - this bird was 11lbs which is just under 5kg and took 3 hours and when done you can confirm its cooked by testing the temp should be 170 degrees F and if you poke the bird near the leg the liquid should come out clear. I also lift up the bird and allow juices from the inside to run back into the pan. They should be relatively clear. 

Here is the part most people find hard. Once your turkey is done you can place on a platter and cover it with foil and towels. You can leave it alone for 2 hours. Some people even suggest that the best turkeys are left to rest for as long as you have cooked it. This will give you time to prepare all your other vegetables, and gravy plus wash the dishes before dinner! I left mine for 2 hours and it was still hot plus you are just going to top with loads of piping hot gravy .

I have prepared a sausage stuffing, maple glazed carrots and parsnips, roasted potatoes, bacon and brussel sprouts and homemade cranberry sauce. I love the Jamie Oliver idea of making the gravy a week before and then just adding it to your pan drippings so there is lots of gravy for everyone.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Whole Wheat Yogurt Pancakes

These are light and fluffy and made with whole wheat flour and yogurt. You can add fruit or nuts to make them even better. Nothing says the weekend like a special breakfast. I whisk the dry and wet ingredients in separate bowls then when we are ready to make them just mix and cook. Bacon makes it even better smothered in maple syrup and served with a steamy mug of coffee and we are talking a perfect way to start the weekend.

You will need:

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup vanilla sugar or regular white sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter- melted 25 seconds in microwave (more for cooking the pancakes)
  • 1 cup milk (any kind)
  • 1/2 cup yogurt (mine is vanilla)
  • 1 tsp orange or lemon zest
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste or extract (use real never artificial extract)
  • fruit or your choice of chopped pecans

Step 1: in one bowl add all the dry ingredients and in another add all the wet. When you are ready to make your pancakes mix together.

Step 2: add the wet to the dry ingredients and whisk until combined. If you find it is too thick you can thin out batter with a bit more milk or orange juice.

Step 3: chop up any fruit you wish to add to the pancakes or place on top.

Step 4: heat a large pan or griddle to medium heat. Place some butter in pan and swirl to coat. Place a spoon of batter to make a pancake. Mine are a large tbsp size.  Place desire fruit or nuts on top of batter (not too much!) When Bubbles form on surface and they start to brown around the edges. Flip to cook on other side.

serve with additional fruit and maple syrup and bacon! You could also add more yogurt and some honey on top.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Walnut Lemon Meringue Cookies -Schtange od Oraha

Schtange od Oraha - which translates to sticks of walnuts in Croatian were my very favourite cookies when I was a little kid. They look like logs with snow on them.

My best friend Kim's mom made these along with my other favourite Almond Crescent Cookies every Christmas and I couldn't wait to eat them.  Auntie or Teta Mitcica (Teta Meet Seet Sa) as everyone called her was/is an amazing cook and baker. These cookies are a simple walnut and egg white cookie with a lemon meringue hard icing on top. There are very few ingredients and they create a chewy, nutty cookie with a hard icing. Auntie said that she always made these after she finished her other cookies because you turn off the oven and then put the cookies in and let them stay in from 3-8 hours to dry out slowly just like a meringue. Her cookies were much prettier than mine but, they taste like childhood!

You will need:

  • 250 grams walnuts -ground in food processor = 1 cup and 2 1/2 tbsps
  • 250 grams sugar = 1 cup and 2 1/2 tbsps
  • 2 egg whites
  • zest of lemon
  • juice of half a lemon
  • icing sugar to roll out
heat oven to 350 degrees F. 

Step 1: weigh the sugar and walnuts. If you do not have a scale then look at the container your walnuts come in (mine was 300 grams) so you can roughly determine it or you can measure approximately 1 cup plus 2 1/2 tbsp once ground.

Step 2: grind walnuts until they are a fine powder. Do not over grind or the oils will come out of the nuts and start to become a walnut butter. Tip: store all your nuts in the freezer to retain their freshness as long as possible. Nuts are full of oils and can become rancid quite quickly.

Step 3: zest the lemon into the sugar. Squeeze half the lemon through a sieve to catch any pulp or seeds.

Step 4: in another bowl whip the egg whites with a hand mixer for 2 minutes. Slowly pour the sugar and zest into whites with mixer running. Whip on high for another minute, then add lemon juice and continue whipping on high for another 4 minutes. 

Step 5: divide the meringue evenly into two bowls. Stir the nuts into one half.

Step 6: sprinkle a generous amount of icing sugar (also called confectioners sugar or powdered sugar) on the counter. You are using the icing sugar instead of flour to form your dough. This is a very sticky and wet, loose dough. You make sure there is enough sugar to pat down and form a log that should be the length and width of a finger. You will use lots of sugar to avoid sticking.

Step 7: cover a cookie sheet with a sheet of parchment paper. Carefully with a large knife slice into fingers and using another knife slide off the knife with the help of another knife. I find it easiest to chop a slice and tip the knife to move to the cookie sheet and then I use the other knife to slice off the  dough from the knife (like cutting off the cookie from the knife) I also wash and dry the knife after each slice because it will have some sticky dough left on it. Once I have placed all my sticks on the sheet I then used a small off-set spatula to carefully spread the icing on each cookie. I think in future I will put the meringue in a Ziploc bag and slice off a corner and just pipe on a small amount and then smooth with a spatula. 

*Kim told me that her mother puts the icing on top and then slices but, I find this way more difficult and not as clean as putting on the icing after they are sliced.

Once you are ready to bake the oven should be set to 350 degrees F. Turn OFF the oven, wait 5 minutes then place cookies on the middle rack and leave them in the turned off oven for 3-8 hours to dry out as the oven cools. I did it for 8 hours and found they are hard and I prefer them to be in the oven for approx 3 hours so they stay more chewy like a pavlova type of meringue. They are sweet, nutty and lemony and to me they look like snow on logs.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Avgolemono Soup

This is a Greek lemon chicken soup. My father in law came for Christmas and he picked up some bug from "those kids in the airplane" and since he is from Northern Greece I thought I would make him this chicken soup to help cure him.  I have made this quicker than the traditional version because I have used a store bought roasted chicken and also store bought broth.  Typically there is no addition of the garlic or herbs however, I think it adds flavour and makes the soup look nicer. You can of course omit them if you prefer.

You will need:

  • 1 litre chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2- 1 cup cooked rice or orzo pasta
  • 3-4 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded chicken
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme - chopped
  • 1 small sage leaf- chopped fine
  • 1 clove garlic -chopped fine
  • 6 baby spinach leaves- chopped fine 
  • salt/pepper to taste

Step 1: gather all ingredients. Shred chicken and set aside. Prepare rice or I make this soup when I have some leftover rice from the night before. You can also cook a small amount of orzo pasta which is shaped like rice. If you are cooking orzo just put it in the broth to cook it. Crack eggs, zest and squeeze lemon, chop garlic, herbs and spinach.

Step 2: in a medium pot add broth, water and chicken. Add chopped thyme, sage and garlic. If you are using orzo then add 1/3 cup uncooked at this stage. Cook for 10 minutes on medium heat.

Step 3: Just before serving bring broth up to a boil then turn off heat. In a small bowl whisk eggs with a fork for 10-15 seconds. Add lemon and whisk again to incorporate.

Step 4: remove 1 cup of broth from pot and slowly whisk in the hot broth to the eggs and lemon. Once all of the broth has been tempered into the eggs. Add mix to the chicken and broth and stir to combine. Do not do this when boiling or the eggs will curdle. 

Step 5: add shredded spinach or some parsley for colour and salt and pepper to taste.

Lemon and chicken soup to cure what ails ya!!