Tuesday, December 27, 2011

And All the Trimmings

Although I had guests to dinner for both Christmas and Boxing Day, the turkey event was on Boxing Day. I had ordered a free-range bronze turkey of almost 4 kilos and dry-brined it for three days before cooking. Since I discovered this technique several years ago, it's my go-to method of roasting poultry. The result was the best turkey I've ever eaten—moist, well-seasoned meat with lots of flavour.

But this blog is about a couple of the trimmings, specifically the gravy and the cranberry sauce. I stumbled upon Jamie Oliver's recipe for Get-Ahead Gravy and thought "that's a good idea"—less palaver before serving and knowing there is enough. I didn't have bacon and forgot about finishing with cranberry sauce, but even then, it was terrific. When making turkey gravy just before serving, it never gets to cook long enough and it doesn't get the extra vegetable flavour that this gravy gets. The recipe makes lots and there are leftovers that I'm going to freeze in small containers for those times I want a bit of gravy with the mashed potatoes.

The cranberry sauce was another hit. I made it last year too but made no notes about it. I paid special attention this year and I now declare my search for the perfect cranberry sauce at an end. This is lovely stuff, not too sweet, with a fairly pronounced citrus component, which I really like. In fact, it's actually a cranberry cumberland sauce.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Golden Beet Salad

My Turkish greengrocer often has some surprising vegetables, and last week he was carrying something I had heard of but never seen locally—yellow beets. They look yellowy brown and indescript on the outside, but cut them open and they reveal gorgeous golden yellow flesh. The taste of the beets is, I think, less earthy and more subtle than the normal red variety.

I used a few of them to make beet soup, which was very tasty, but the yellow color faded and turned somewhat brownish. Maybe I cooked it too long.

The raw beet salad, however, was vibrant, fresh, and golden. It's super easy to make and could even turn beet haters into beet lovers.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Squash Stuffed with Couscous and Feta

Fall and winter bring lovely little squashes into the market. Most popular are orange-skinned ones with orange flesh, but there are green ones with yellow flesh too. I love them both, and in the past week have used them both. Their small size makes them perfect as a meal for two, especially when stuffed.  And when stuffed whole, there is a definite wow factor when they are brought to the table.

You can stuff them with anything—rice, bulgar, bread, vegetables, a bit of cheese. My choice this week was a couscous pilaf, flavoured with mushrooms and sage, with some feta cheese. It's a keeper.