Sausages With Potatoes and Onions

This starts out as a braise then continues with a sauté.  Start the sausages, potatoes, and onions in a big pan with a cup of water or stock.  Add a sprig of thyme and rosemary, cook with a cover  until the potatoes are close to done.  Remove the cover until the water has boiled off then add a little olive oil and continue until the food browns a bit.

Mmm… Rocking the Classics

Carrots, potatoes, celery, and nice chunks of beef.  The beef simmered for hours, uncovered, in some beef stock and white wine with the usual herbs – this had bay leaves, oregano, and thyme.  About 20 minutes or so before serving the veggies went in.  Put the lid on and tweak the flame a little higher.  Last thing I poured off the liquid into another pan and quickly thickened the gravy with corn starch.  It would have worked with everything still in the pot but it was a small one and I didn’t want to break up the veggies.  The rolls were leftovers from this batch, they froze well and weren’t hurt a bit by reheating them in a foil package.

Christmas Eve Dinner: NOT Orange Herb Butter Turkey

Continuing the recipes for the Christmas Eve Menu.

How do you cope with cooking a big meal for a group?  I try to get as much done ahead of time as possible.  The desserts are done, the stuffing is in the baking dish, the cranberry sauce is done, and the giblets are simmering on the stove for the gravy.  The turkey is washed and ready to prep.  Normally I’d have it all prepped and ready to pop in the oven, but since I”m using an orange butter I can’t do it until about 30 minutes ahead.  Citrus begins to breakdown the meat and would leave it rubbery if I applied it tonight.

Tomorrow will be making the crostini, mashed potatoes, green beans and gravy while the turkey cooks.

Orange butter you say?  Yup.  I started with a citrus turkey recipe and then, didn’t like it, so I made it my own.

So I did not like this recipe at all.  The butter did not blend well with the citrus.  I’ll do it my usual way next time:  Olive oil and orange juice on the skin, oranges and herb packet in the bird cavity.  

Orange Herb Butter

  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 3 clementine oranges, remove seeds
  • 1 tbsp orange juice
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 green onions
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 cloves of garlic

Add all ingredients in the blender (yes, orange with peels on, I call that easy zest) and blend until completely smooth.

To prepare the turkey:

Remove giblets, etc.  Wash and dry the turkey.  Run your hands under the skin, gently lifting it away from the turkey.  I can usually even pull it away from the legs and thighs, just depends on the bird.  Take half the orange butter and run between the turkey and the skin.  Then spread the remainder on the outside of the bird, covering the skin completely.  Stuff the bird with 3-4 clementines, cut in half.  As you put them into the cavity, give them a squeeze so the juice gets into the cavity.  As the bird cooks, the oranges will continue to steam and keep the bird moist.

Roast as you like.  I’ll be using a bag.  You can also do a technique that works well with a citrus butter – preheat oven to 450 degrees, cook the bird for 30 minutes, then reduce oven temp to 350 degrees and cook until it reaches at least 165 degrees, it should reach 175 to 180 while it rests before carving.

I’ll probably not use the drippings for gravy, well see what its flavor is like, I’m just afraid it will be too sweet.  But I will be using the simmered giblet broth for the gravy.  It works great.  I also used some to flavor the stuffing.

Meatball soup

I pretty much backed into this recipe.  While at a grocer with a fancy deli meat counter I noticed some ground meat with an Italian sounding name and picked the package up to read the ingredients.  Pork, beef, parmesan, tomato paste, garlic powder, onion powder and a few more.

Ah, here it is:  Salsiccia, appears to be your standard fresh Italian sausage.  No smoke, not cured,  just the basic stuff.  Anyway, without any further additions I rolled the mixture into small meatballs and started them cooking in a bit of olive oil.  I browned them all then set them aside on a paper towel.

I was wondering how to use them and had a vague idea about meatball soup.  Teh Google soon found many such recipes.  Right at the top of the list was this one from the Pioneer Woman.  I enjoy reading her recipes and she takes very many nice pictures so I clicked on her link and read it to get an idea about how to proceed.  I ignored her meatball directions (all the while wishing I had held off on cooking mine) and went straight to the rest of the soup.  I was pleased to see that all the ingredients she listed I had.  I followed in her footsteps with just a wee addition here and there.

Her bundle of herbs called for parsley, black peppercorns, and bay leaves.  To my bundle I also added sprigs of thyme and rosemary.  Not bundled with the rest – a good handful of chopped fresh basil that went in towards the end.   Our veggie list is identical, I added some ditalini pasta-short, small diameter tubes.

One final difference–I grated asiago on the top instead of parmesan.

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Mmm…lottsa garlic bread

I bought several heads of elephant garlic at the farmer’s market, thinking it would be fun to make some bread with a ton of it chopped up and included in the recipe.  I did a quick on line search and ended up looking at a bread machine recipe that looked like fun.  I took “liberties” with the recipe-mostly with the amount of garlic, but also not using a bread machine.  It did have some herb ideas that I liked.

Here goes my recipe list from memory:

4 cups flour

1-3/8 cups water

1 T yeast

3 T sugar

1 cup chopped garlic

3 or 4 T chopped fresh chives

1 T dried basil

1 T garlic powder

3 T lard

1-1/2 t salt

1 t fresh ground black pepper

I let the stand mixer work it for ten minutes or more, then gave it an hour to rise in a bowl.  I took the dough and divided it in two on a floured board and nudged it into two baguette type loaves, placed those on the tray and covered them with plastic for another rise.  Now into a 375 oven till they are nice and brown. Ta Da!

This turned out most excellent sandwich bread, soft crumb, chewy crust.  The best I’ve made in a good while.  Yay!

Awesome Sauce [repost]

I’ve made some tomato sauces this summer that qualify for the label.  I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this one before, and teased the recipe.  It is pretty straightforward to make.  Juice a bunch of tomatoes and start them boiling on the stove top.  Now start adding stuff:  The one I’m making today has a head of garlic in it, roughly minced.  I brought in some fresh herbs from the patio garden, a good wad of basil, several sprigs of rosemary, and the same for thyme.  We started some oregano but it died out early and we make do with store bought dried.  There are two grated carrots in there, and a minced onion.  A few ribs of celery diced finely.  Salt and fresh ground back pepper, a few tablespoons of olive oil.  I bet I’m forgetting something, but this will get you very close.

All that’s left to do is simmer the sauce down until it is thick enough to suit you.  Today I started with about six quarts of juice.  I’m not there yet, but I expect to jar one quart, or less.  This stuff makes great pizza sauce.  On pasta it is, well, awesome.

[Edit:]   Made three pints.

Farmer’s Market

Saturday is farmer’s market day in the small town a bit east of the even smaller town we drive by to get there.  It isn’t a large market though when there are crowds there as this morning it does take on a festive air.  I took my pocket camera along to take pics and nearly forgot until we were leaving.  I did a quick stroll back down the middle and snapped off a few.

I stopped for a bit and talked to the woman who had the pottery stand.  All her pots and bowls looked really great, whimsical and very well done.  She gave me her card when I told her that I would probably blog about the market visit, and asked that I link to her web page.  My pleasure, Ma’am.  Stop in and give Karen’s work a look-I love it.  There are links on her site to her Facebook page,  some gallery pics of her work, and a link to her etsy store.

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Tomato mascot update

Yay!  Some flowers on the container cherry tomato plant.

All of the container plantings are doing pretty well so far, with the exception of the two sweet basil plants that took a beating in a hail storm a while back.

The two containers in the front are the “Tam”  variety jalapenos-they are supposed to be without heat.  I love the flavor of jalapenos and can abide some heat but Mrs J is seriously averse to the first hint of burning lips and I hope that these will provide the flavor and still be acceptable to her.  Just beyond the peppers are the two sweet basils that are bruised and battered.  I’ve pinched off most of the affected leaves.  Next is the tomato, and beyond it are some oregano, thyme, rosemary, two kinds of parsley, and to the side are some chives with purple blooms.

The landscaping around the new concrete is finished-for the most part,  I’m sure I’ll be dragging rocks up from the creek for a while yet.  We’ve plugged in several different kinds of ground cover that haven’t really taken off yet but we hope they will take hold and soften the stones a little bit.

Mrs J just got finished with the shaded spot under the cedar tree in the back, there.  Hostas and New Guinea impatiens in that one.

Here’s a turtle for you: