Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Aaannnnd yet another re-post for turkey time. Enjoy.


This is a re-post from last year at Canadian Thanksgiving (back when I was called The Urban Eater). This recipe won a contest on 12 tomatoes for best turkey recipe. They were kind enough to award me a gift certificate from Willimas Sonoma, which I took to Palm Springs in May and acquired the cookbook Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi (whom was kindly brought to my attention by my pal Kirsteen in Toronto). It's one of my favorite cookbooks to read through. I hope you enjoy this turkey recipe as much as I have over the years. It helps a great day with family become more memorable. :)

Here's a picture of the tree across the street from our house. It's fall again and we had a great summer even though it took forever to start. Winter gets cold here and can sometimes be absolutely no fun, but we like it here. But before it starts, we get to see the amazing colors of the fall season.

Monday is Thanksgiving here in Canada. We celebrate giving thanks for what we have and do it at the end (or supposed to be the end) of the harvest season. Unfortunately this year, this isn't the case as some of the farmers (those who were lucky enough to even have a crop) are still out in the fields working like Japanese beavers. This wasn't the best season for them in a lot of areas, but I'm sure they will all rebound next year.

I cook a turkey 3 times a year: Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. We like to eat turkey on special occasions and I use the leftovers in quite a few different dishes afterwards. Sandwiches, stir-frys, whatever will compliment the turkey as it takes on the flavours surrounding it. Turkey also has some nice health benefits to it (http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=125). It's lower in fat than most other meats and puts you to sleep after you eat it.

When I cook it, I like my turkey moist and flavourful. You can usually achieve this by cooking it a lower temperature. I also add some water in the pan to keep the air in the oven humid. Some might call this cheating, but when we are eating my moist and juicy turkey, they are eating their dry and bland turkey. I win.

Most times I brine my turkey, but not this time. This helps a great deal if you do it properly. This link is a good source of information (http://www.the-perfect-turkey.com/how-to-brine-a-turkey.html) as it talks about how to prepare it a number of different ways. Brining helps make the proteins in the meat mesh together which helps hold in the juices and the flavor. I like what it does, but it takes a while and also a lot of space in the fridge.

Preparing the turkey is as important as the cooking process in my mind. I don't stuff the bird with traditional stuffing like my mother did. I like the bird to have a somewhat open airway through it's cavity. This way the bird cooks a whole lot faster and you won't be risking your life by accidentally eating stuffing which isn't cooked enough. The way I'm about to show you adds a lot of flavour to the bird through the ingredients in the cavity and under the skin.


Mrs. Urban Eater went out and bought a 13.5 lb (6.12 kgs) bird the other day for me to wrestle with. A nice size bird for the three of us. After thawing it in the fridge for 4 days, it was ready to be prepared. I drained the liquid from inside which accumulates from the thawing process and patted it down with paper towel, inside the cavity and on the skin. After checking the skin for pin feathers, it was ready to go. Now would be a good time to take off your rings and watch if you are wearing them.

Ingredients

1 Turkey
1 Tbls unsalted butter. You can use regular butter if it's all you have on hand
2 Sprigs thyme
1 Sprig rosemary
1 Sprig oregano
1 Handful parsley, stalks and all
4 Large basil leaves
1 Lemon
4 Cloves garlic
1/2 Onion
Sea salt
Fresh ground pepper
EVOO
1 Cup water

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
2. Place turkey on a cutting board or baking sheet.
3. Place butter in a bowl along with thyme leaves from 1 sprig and mix together.



4. Put your hand under the skin to separate the skin from the breast meat. You can try to get the skin away from the leg meat as well if you want.
5. Grab some butter on your fingertips and start rubbing it all over the breast meat under the skin and onto the leg if you can get to it.
6. Place the basil leaves flat on the breast meat under the skin. This will add flavour and make it look like a perfect little Martha Stewart turkey.
7. Wash the lemon and punch a few holes in the skin with a sharp knife or fork.
8. Put the lemon, the herbs, garlic, salt, pepper and the onion in the cavity and truss the legs with the skin or use butchers twine. Even if you don't truss the legs, it will still work well as this will aid in better airflow through the cavity.
9. Add water to the bottom of the pan. If you are using a baking sheet, put the water in a ramekin or a small oven-proof cup.
10. Rub a little EVOO on the skin and put it in the oven.

Other ways to add flavour are to take a couple of carrots and celery stalks and place them under the turkey to use as a rack. This helps with the flavour of the turkey and the gravy, if you are making it. Personally, I don't eat gravy. I use cranberry sauce or a little butter instead.

Turn the heat down after 1 hour to 300 F. Do not open the door. If you are using a convection oven, turn down the heat after 45 minutes. This gives the bird a good head start and helps keep the heat up after you open the door to put it in the oven. Cook until the thigh and breast meat reaches a temperature of 165 F. It still keeps cooking after you take it out of the oven, so the temperature will still rise a little. Place the turkey on a cutting board and tent it with a sheet of tinfoil for 20 to 30 minutes. Carve and serve.


If you are thinking the butter is going to add unwanted fat to the turkey, don't worry about it. It's only a tablespoon and besides, live a little. It's alright to let yourself go a tiny bit on special occasions. Remember, moderation. Your body needs some fat. Just watch how much and what kind of fat you eat.

For side dishes to the turkey, I made mashed red potatoes with a small sweet potato mixed in with it. They were steamed instead of boiled as I didn't want to boil away many of the nutrients which this process can do. I added a little milk and butter which I heated up to lukewarm before I mixed it in with the potatoes. This is an easy way to ensure the potatoes stay creamy. If you add milk when it's cold to hot spuds, it can make them starchy and goopy instead of smooth and creamy. Add sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. I grate in 1/2 a fresh nutmeg, along with adding a little chopped parsley. You don't have to do this, but nutmeg is one of those things which is a good secret to have when it comes to making mashed potatoes. It's a nice subtle background flavour. And if you want to go even farther on the flavour train, roasted garlic is another way to make your mashed potatoes rock.

We also had corn from the mother-in-laws garden which we cut off the cob and froze earlier this month. Added to this were peas and chopped carrots from her garden as well.



Little O's Menu

This last week we introduced red seedless grapes and strawberries to her. She is taking to these very well and liked a little mild cheddar with her grapes. Cheese is a good way to fatten her up as we have been told to do, so I have been adding some Parmesan to her chopped and mashed carrots too. I also fed her a couple small chunks of salmon which were left over from our meal the night before. She ate it without spitting it out like last time. I hope she continues to like the fish as she will be seeing a lot more of it.

She is still getting her fair share of peaches, carrots, green beans and blueberries. I can't see this stopping anytime soon.

This coming week we will be feeding her some of the turkey. I'm thinking this will be fine with her, but like anything else we will have to wait and see.

Today's quote:

"Food is not about impressing people. It's about making them feel comfortable."

- Ina Garten, Author of 'The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook' and many others.


Until next time, good eating everyone.

Mark

Friday, November 4, 2011

Turkey Burgers

I am re-posting a couple of my turkey recipes for American Thanksgiving this week. Enjoy. :)


Good bloggers will always say "Never apologize for or on your blog." Well, I'm apologizing now as I have been absent from here as of late, again. Why am I apologizing for this?  Because I love to write, talk and think about food and lately it's only been the two latter ones. I'd like to think the people who read this are passionate about food and are reading to get better ideas or are just starting to learn more about what eating right and how good... no, great food can change your life. It did for me and I hope I can do the same for you.

There are a lot of people out there who eat a lot of turkey. Turkey bacon, turkey chili, turkey burgers, etc. They all look fine to me except for the bacon. It's loaded with sodium and I won't go near it. But all the other turkey applications, bring 'em on.

I've never taken the time to give turkey burgers the chance, so why not now? It's as good a time as any with US Thanksgiving coming up and the Canadian equivalent just passed. I'll have to admit I've seen many recipes for these over the years, but have just not had any interest in attempting to make them. I cleared it with Bonnie and started to write out different combinations of what I thought would work. Here are the final results. And by the way, I believe pictures are a smart way to get your point(s) across to someone when you are trying to teach them how you came to the conclusion you did when it comes to cooking (which is why I always add them to my blog), but unfortunately both cameras ran out of juice at the same tiime, so no pics on this one. Sorry.

Ingredients

- 1 kg ground turkey
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp cayenne
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- the zest of one lemon
- small handful of parsley, finely chopped
- sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
- EVOO, 2 tsp for the mixture and a little more for the pan
- red hot chili pepper jack cheese (optional)
- Multigrain buns, cut in half

Directions

1) Combine all ingredients in a bowl (except the cheese and buns, of course). Hold off on the salt until you have the patties in the pan. Add the salt too early and you will dry out an already dry meat. Use your bare hands to combine it all together and don't over mix.
2) Grab some of the mix and place it in the palm of your hand, approximately 4 oz. Roll it around in your hand until it is round. Flatten it between your hands to form a patty. Place on a plate and continue with the rest of the mixture.
3) Heat a frying pan or large skillet over medium-high heat and pour a little EVOO in. When the pan is hot enough, place the patties in and turn the heat down to medium. This will ensure the patties get a nice crust on the outside. If it's not hot enough, your patties will look like they were steamed, not pan fried.
4) Cook the patties for about 4 minutes on the first side, flip them over and then 1-2 minutes on the second side. Take out of the pan and place on a plate. Lay a piece of red hot chili pepper jack cheese (or whatever cheese you like (assuming you want cheese that is...) over top and serve.
Yield: Makes 6 patties

These turned out to be a keeper in our family menu plan. I actually impressed myself on how good they tasted, especially for a first-time effort. Even if you're not a fan of ground turkey, you should at least try these. I did. It's a healthy meat to dine on, and as you can see in the recipe above, it's a good idea to add fat so they don't dry out. Turkey is a low-carb meat with high protein value and is loaded with tryptophan, selenium and vitamin D. Not a bad way to get some good food into your diet. If you want to cut down on breads, as we are, eat these burgers without the buns. This way you fill up more on meat rather than big, fat, puffy bread.

If you don't like cheese on your turkey burgers (or any burger for that matter), then don't use it. I used the red hot chili pepper jack cheese from Bothwell and was pleasantly surprised. It added a nice bite to the burgers but didn't take over the whole turkey experience. Besides the cheese, there is a little cayenne in here, but it doesn't add much for heat, just a little flavor. Even if you add more cayenne to the recipe, you're still ahead of the game. You can burn calories as you eat if there is some heat in the food. No kidding.

The cranberries in this recipe add a nice texture to the burgers and also a range of extraordinary health benefits. Along with a little vitamin C and manganese, they are full of antioxidants and help protect against urinary tract infections. It's never a bad idea to add these to salads, burgers or even just to eat them as a snack.

Little O's Menu

Our little schnitzel is going through another growth spurt. Perfect timing as Bonnie has loaded up the fridge, again, with so much food I'm having problems just trying to keep up. O even tried the turkey burgers and liked them. She did pick out the cranberries due to the texture though. I wasn't sure how she would react to them as she loves raisins, but I guess it's a different story when those little things are alone rather than hiding out in a big hunk of meat. She's also a big fan of Bonnie's Zucchini Chocolate Chip Bread, as am I. We had a piece yesterday after we ate a cup or so of pistachios. Like I said, growth spurt...

Quote Of The Day:

"Thanksgiving is an emotional holiday. People travel thousands of miles to be with people they only see once a year. And then discover once a year is way too often."

~ Johnny Carson (1925-2005) American television host and comedian, host of The Tonight Show for 30 years.


Until next time, good eating everyone.

Mark

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Stuffed Turkey Breast Instead Of A Stuffed Turkey For Thanksgiving

Another re-post for Thanksgiving.


A couple of weeks ago it was Canadian Thanksgiving. We always cook up a turkey and all the fixin's on every holiday and Thanksgiving is no exception. That's changing as we are trying to keep it somewhat healthy. Now, I may have mentioned this before, but I love turkey. I love the fact it's low in fat, easy to cook and it takes on other flavors very well. But, every time I cook a turkey, no matter how small it is, there is so much left over. I love eating turkey as much as the next guy, but I can only take so much. We usually freeze some afterwards so we can eat more at a later date, but I would rather just downsize altogether. This time around, we went with a turkey roast. This is just a breast of turkey rolled up and put into a netting. Easy to cook, easy to serve.

I thought about which herbs and spices would pair up and go together with turkey. I wanted to have the turkey take on the flavors in the stuffing so we could still taste the meat without overpowering it. It's also nice to have a little smoky flavor in there too. After 2 days of pondering about what the hell I was going to do, I thought I would be a lot better off if I kept it simple. Here's what I came up with.

Ingredients

- 1 1.5-2 kg boneless turkey breast, taken out of it's netting and unraveled
- 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp cayenne
- 1 handful of parsley, finely chopped
- juice of 1 lemon. You could also use the zest if you like.
- a bunch of sage leaves
- EVOO
- sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
- 1.5 cups of hot water

Directions

1) Preheat the oven to 400F. Pat the turkey dry all over with paper towel. Place on a cutting board and cut it open, like a book, or you could call it butterflying. Season with the dried herbs, lemon juice and the salt and pepper and rub them in.


2) Sprinkle the garlic over the bird and then the parsley.


3) Roll the turkey up and tie it with twine. Tie it tight enough so the stuffing doesn't fall out. When finished tying, take the sage and dip it the EVOO. Brush it all over the turkey. This will add a nice background flavor and help it brown.



4) Use the sage leaves to brush the rack in a roasting pan and place the turkey breast on top of it and place it on the oven. Pour the hot water into the pan. This will help keep the turkey nice and moist. Some call it cheating. I call it juicy.




After placing it in the oven, turn the heat down to 350F. Start it out with the breast up. After 30 minutes turn it over and leave it until done. You want the temperature to read 165 F when it's time to take it out. It will rise to 170F as it keeps cooking after you take it out. 



5) Tent it with aluminum foil and let stand for 15 minutes. Slice thinly and serve.
Yield: 4 servings


Usually we serve the turkey with mashed or smashed potatoes, peas and carrots, all that stuff. This year I made my Cauliflower Gratin to go along side of the bird. Since there's only two (well, three sometimes...) of us eating, it worked out well and the cauliflower brightened up the dish, literally. 


Turkey  has many health benefits. It is one of the high-protein foods which help your insulin levels stay at at the levels they need to be after you finish eating. It's high in tryptophan, protein and selenium among other vitamins and minerals and is low in carbs. It's also low in fat and I sometimes add fat to it (EVOO or butter) to keep it from drying out and to add more flavor. Plus, eating foods with lemon in it is never a bad thing. Aside from the obvious health benefits, they add a nice citrus-y flavor and brighten up any dish they are involved in.

Little O's Menu

We have read that if you try to feed your toddler a certain food and they don't like it or won't eat it for some reason, the 3rd time's a charm. We have been trying this with all the foods we have been eating. We get better results when we all eat together, but it's still a challenge. She eats all kinds of fruit ,vegetables and everything else at daycare, but with us it's different. She gets quite finicky about her food intake, but mostly she eats big quantities of what's in front of her. Other times it's pick, pick, pick. I tried to feed her carrot sticks today, which she eats lots of at daycare, but no way was she having nay part of that. I will keep trying this, along with cucumber sticks and red pepper strips. Eventually she will break down and do the right thing. It may take two or three years, but I'm a patient guy.

Quote Of the Day:

"We recommend no one eat more than two tons of turkey - that's what it would take to poison someone."

~ Elizabeth Whalen - Not sure who she is, but she has a point.


Until next time, good eating everyone

Mark


Thursday, October 13, 2011

S'mores: Not The Regular Way, My Moms Way

When I was growing up, my mother would make us treats on Friday or Saturday nights. One was French bread with Cheez Whiz and bits of ham put under the broiler, the other was s'mores, these s'mores. They both came with a cup of hot chocolate and a hockey game, movie or boxing match, which was usually Muhammad Ali and/or one of the other bigger names. She wasn't Julia Child or anything close, but it was still good and we always looked forward to it.

I went on a school field trip in grade seven with the rest of my class, and the first night we had a campfire. "Let's make some s'mores!" my teacher bellowed. I thought "How the hell are we gonna pull that off?!??!?" He brought out some Graham Crackers, some Aero Bars and some marshmallows. WTF?? All the other kids were looking at me like I had a sudden growth pop out of my face or something. I said "Those aren't s'mores..." They all looked at me and said collectively "Yes they are! What's wrong with you?" Ok, now I was so unspeakably lost, I couldn't think straight. I thought s'mores were s'mores, and you are probably saying the same thing right now. I just called my mom and asked her where she figured this out and she said her mom used to do it. So there, old family recipe. Haha...

This isn't too healthy, nor will I try to pawn it off as such. This is something we used to enjoy on cold nights where you didn't really want to be outside. Take it for what's its worth, a little treat you can't eat like a vegetable (which should be all of the time, by the way), but eat it only once in awhile, which makes them more enjoyable and your conscience won't keep you up at night.

I have made these for many non-believers and turned them into believers. So, before you write these babies off, give them a chance and try them. No one I have ever made these for has uttered any profane or foul words towards the negative side. All comments have been positive and most have made them themselves.

Ingredients

- marshmallows
- cheddar cheese
- Ritz Crackers

Directions

1) Turn the oven to broil. Place as many Ritz crackers on a baking sheet as you like.
2) Slice the cheese so you have as many pieces as crackers
3) Cut the marshmallows in half to equal the amount of crackers
4) Place the cheese on the crackers followed by the marshmallows




5) Place under the broiler and broil until desired color of the marshmallow is achieved
6) Pig out, man.
Yield: Depends on how hungry the cook is. :)


Ten minutes and you have yourself a little snack. You can't eat healthy all of the time. Besides, a little treat once in a while is a good thing. Moderation...

I tried these with organic white cheddar, and it didn't taste near as good. I've also tried other crackers and come to the same conclusion: stick with the stuff that works. It may not be the best choice for your health, but who cares if you only eat them once every five or six months. Live a little.

Little O's Menu

Our little Tomato is still stuck on her pasta kick. We have been giving her tri-colored gemelli (spinach, beet and tomato) made by Prairie Harvest. It's organic and she loves it, so I'm not going to be the one to say "Sorry, can't eat anymore more of this." We cook it, throw in a little EVOO to lubricate it so it won't stick together and feed it to her. When it cools down, we put it in the fridge until next time. It's extremely quick to prepare after that. Just throw in some fresh ground pepper, some Parmesan or the cheese of choice that day, and away we go. She will eat about five to seven ounces every time she sits down.


Quote Of The Day:

"Nothing would be tiresome then eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity"

~ Voltaire (1694-1778) Pen name for Francois-Marie Arouet, French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher

See?? Someone else agrees with me too. And he's a lot older than me.


Until next time, good eating everyone.

Mark

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Scalloped Potatoes With Celeriac And Sweet Potatoes

One of my favorite memories of my childhood dinners are my mothers scalloped potatoes. Actually, just about anybody's scalloped potatoes were good with me, but she did them just right every time. Nowadays, I rarely eat potatoes at all, even though I love them so much. Thanksgiving is a fun time to cook and I usually make my favorite roasted garlic mashed potatoes. It's almost like eating chocolate. Such a treat. Gotta love it!

A few weeks back, I told Bonnie I wanted to start switching sweet potatoes in for regular potatoes more often now and she agreed. While we were in the grocery store last week, she reminded me about this and how I was talking about doing something with celeriac, or you may know it as celery root. So, we picked up some celeriac along with some sweet potatoes and here is what I came up with: (By the way, I still used a couple of red skinned potatoes as I couldn't do scalloped potatoes without a couple of the old regular spuds being involved.)

Ingredients

- 4 small sweet potatoes, skinned and cut into 1/8" slices


- 1 celery root, skinned (meaning so it's white and none of the brown left), cut in half and sliced into 1/8" slices. Then put it all in a bowl and fill with water as it tends to turn brown from oxidization.
- 5 red potatoes, cleaned, cut in half and sliced into 1/8" slices. I leave the skin on but you don't have to.
- 1/2 a red onion, sliced into 1/8" slices
- 1 small log of goat cheese
- 2 cups shredded white organic old cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup shredded orange old cheddar cheese. I just wanted that orange color. You don't need this if you want to avoid it.
- 1/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock
- EVOO
- sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

Directions

1) Preheat your oven to 375F. Pour a little EVOO into a casserole dish (mine was 22.5 cm X 33cm) and grease it up all over the inside so the vegetables won't stick.
2) Arrange your layers as follows:
- 1st layer - sweet potatoes, onions, 1/4 of the white cheddar, salt and pepper.


- 2nd layer - celeriac, onion, goat cheese, 1/4 of the white cheddar, salt and pepper.
- 3rd layer - red potatoes, salt and pepper.


3) Pour the stock around the edge of the pan so it will sit on the bottom and not go over top of the potatoes. You could also pour it in the pan before you start layering. This will help steam all of the vegetables.
4) Cover the dish with aluminum foil and place in the oven for 45 minutes.
5) After the 45 minutes is up, pull the dish out of the oven and remove the foil. Spread the rest of the white cheddar and the yellow cheddar over top and put it back in for another 15 minutes to brown. Take out of the oven and let sit for 4 or 5 minutes to set before serving.
Yield: Serves 6 big portions


This dish is far better for you than regular old scalloped potatoes. Using less potatoes will help you keep your belt size down among a few other little benefits. The sweet potatoes are loaded with beta-carotene, which is helped absorbed into your body by adding a little fat to the dish you eat them with. They are also great sources of vitamins A, C and dietary fiber as well. You can't go wrong eating these guys, and you should make a habit of it. The celeriac also has some serious health benefits to it as well. It's high in fiber, potassium, magnesium and Vitamin B6. Not only does it have a nice, sweet flavor, it can also help decrease the glycemic load of the potatoes. Celeriac is also used in traditional Chinese medicine to help lower blood pressure. It isn't the best looking vegetable, but it's definitely one of the healthier ones to eat.

If you use vegetable stock (to help steam the vegetables while in the oven) in this dish, you could serve this as a Meatless Monday, Wheatless Wednesday, or even as a Thanksgiving side dish. There's a lot of flavor in here and you won't feel guilty after eating it. For an extra hit of flavor, spread a little maple syrup around the plate before placing the potatoes over top. It adds another flavor element and sweet potatoes goes very well with it. You can't go wrong.

Little O's Menu

The appetite on this kid is going through the roof. She's still a picky eater, but there are ways we can get her to eat the things she has turned her nose up at previously. For example, she thought a piece of sweet potato was a piece of cheddar cheese, like she gets at daycare. She didn't like them the first time she ate them, but this time I served the scalloped potatoes (from the above recipe) with a little bit of maple syrup underneath, and there you go. She loves the syrup and ended up eating 5 or 6 good sized pieces, which made us very happy. If she can start eating these again (like she did when she first started eating regular food all mashed up), it would make us ecstatic. She eats a lot of berries, bananas and apples, which is great, but if she can start eating the brightly colored vegetables again, her diet will help her mind grow as much as her little body. It would also give me more to write about here. Yay!


Quote Of The Day:


"Meat is an inefficient way to eat. An acre of land can yield 20,000 pounds of potatoes, but that same acre would only graze enough cows to get 165 pounds of meat."

~ Alexandra Paul - American actress

Do you think she's a vegetarian, or does she just make a good point?? If she said sweet potatoes, then I would be more inclined to agree. :-)

And another one...

"The important thing is to see how we do - the end result."


Al Davis (July 4, 1929 – October 8, 2011)

Al Davis, owner of the NFL's Oakland Raiders, died yesterday. He definitely wasn't the worlds easiest guy to get along with and he had some serious quirks, but he is one of the main reasons the NFL is as successful a league as it is today and he knew a lot about the game of football in America. He was probably one of the youngest head coaches in any league anywhere in the world when football was an old boys club. He led quite the life and did it for a long time.... 82 years to be exact. Thanks for helping make the NFL what it is today Al.


Until the next time, good eating everyone.

Mark

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Good Read About How To Stay Heathy

I subscribe to Gwyneth Paltrows Newsletter GOOP. I don't read them all as sometimes it is about women's beauty stuff (which I try not to indulge in...), but due to her status as a celebrity, she gets to interview some very interesting people about subjects which are dear to me, like health and wellness, food and all things concerning it.

This time around she conversate's with Dr. Nicholas Perricone, a dermatologist and an Adjunct Professor of Medicine at Michigan State University's College of Human Medicine. He gives advice on what to do to make your skin look and fell its best and how to look good inside and out. It isn't rocket science, it's just common sense, really. This is how I try to live, for the most part, on a regular basis (aside from a few beers, a little wine and bad food once in a while), and it's also how we try to feed our little girl, Olivia. If I can see her grow up as healthy as she can be, I will be a happy man and proud that I can tell people I put in my best effort to feed my daughter the best food she could have eaten. I hope I can help you all to do the same.


Read this GOOP newsletter and I hope you can understand this isn't a quack talking about trying to sell some crazy stuff online. It's all about using what Mother Nature has in her pharmacy for us.



Yesterday we lost one of the greatest single minds of his (and our) generation(s). Steve Jobs did great things as one of the main idea guys behind Apple. He was the driving force behind everything Apple, Mac, iPad, iPod and everything in between. He also taught us something very important: Never let anyone tell you that you can't change the world, how it works and how it works for you. I am very sad about his passing because he was one of my hero's in a lot of ways, especially how he handled his rock-star status and kept his life private, including the cancer which eventually ended his life. His name, his business and his vision will live on and I will still follow them. RIP Steve, you will be missed by many.


iSad.

Quote Of The Day:

"The problem is I'm older now, I'm 40 years old now, and this stuff doesn't change the world, it really doesn't."

~ Steve Jobs 

He always was a humble guy.


Until next time, good eating everyone.

Mark

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Do-over Of My Turkey Recipe For Canadian Thanksgiving

This is a re-post from last year at Canadian Thanksgiving (back when I was called The Urban Eater). This recipe won a contest on 12 tomatoes for best turkey recipe. They were kind enough to award me a gift certificate from Willimas Sonoma, which I took to Palm Springs in May and acquired the cookbook Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi (whom was kindly brought to my attention by my pal Kirsteen in Toronto). It's one of my favorite cookbooks to read through. I hope you enjoy this turkey recipe as much as I have over the years. It helps a great day with family become more memorable. :)

Here's a picture of the tree across the street from our house. It's fall again and we had a great summer even though it took forever to start. Winter gets cold here and can sometimes be absolutely no fun, but we like it here. But before it starts, we get to see the amazing colors of the fall season.


Monday is Thanksgiving here in Canada. We celebrate giving thanks for what we have and do it at the end (or supposed to be the end) of the harvest season. Unfortunately this year, this isn't the case as some of the farmers (those who were lucky enough to even have a crop) are still out in the fields working like Japanese beavers. This wasn't the best season for them in a lot of areas, but I'm sure they will all rebound next year.

I cook a turkey 3 times a year: Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. We like to eat turkey on special occasions and I use the leftovers in quite a few different dishes afterwards. Sandwiches, stir-frys, whatever will compliment the turkey as it takes on the flavours surrounding it. Turkey also has some nice health benefits to it (http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=125). It's lower in fat than most other meats and puts you to sleep after you eat it.

When I cook it, I like my turkey moist and flavourful. You can usually achieve this by cooking it a lower temperature. I also add some water in the pan to keep the air in the oven humid. Some might call this cheating, but when we are eating my moist and juicy turkey, they are eating their dry and bland turkey. I win.

Most times I brine my turkey, but not this time. This helps a great deal if you do it properly. This link is a good source of information (http://www.the-perfect-turkey.com/how-to-brine-a-turkey.html) as it talks about how to prepare it a number of different ways. Brining helps make the proteins in the meat mesh together which helps hold in the juices and the flavor. I like what it does, but it takes a while and also a lot of space in the fridge.

Preparing the turkey is as important as the cooking process in my mind. I don't stuff the bird with traditional stuffing like my mother did. I like the bird to have a somewhat open airway through it's cavity. This way the bird cooks a whole lot faster and you won't be risking your life by accidentally eating stuffing which isn't cooked enough. The way I'm about to show you adds a lot of flavour to the bird through the ingredients in the cavity and under the skin.


Mrs. Urban Eater went out and bought a 13.5 lb (6.12 kgs) bird the other day for me to wrestle with. A nice size bird for the three of us. After thawing it in the fridge for 4 days, it was ready to be prepared. I drained the liquid from inside which accumulates from the thawing process and patted it down with paper towel, inside the cavity and on the skin. After checking the skin for pin feathers, it was ready to go. Now would be a good time to take off your rings and watch if you are wearing them.

Ingredients

1 Turkey
1 Tbls unsalted butter. You can use regular butter if it's all you have on hand
2 Sprigs thyme
1 Sprig rosemary
1 Sprig oregano
1 Handful parsley, stalks and all
4 Large basil leaves
1 Lemon
4 Cloves garlic
1/2 Onion
Sea salt
Fresh ground pepper
EVOO
1 Cup water

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
2. Place turkey on a cutting board or baking sheet.
3. Place butter in a bowl along with thyme leaves from 1 sprig and mix together.



4. Put your hand under the skin to separate the skin from the breast meat. You can try to get the skin away from the leg meat as well if you want.
5. Grab some butter on your fingertips and start rubbing it all over the breast meat under the skin and onto the leg if you can get to it.
6. Place the basil leaves flat on the breast meat under the skin. This will add flavour and make it look like a perfect little Martha Stewart turkey.
7. Wash the lemon and punch a few holes in the skin with a sharp knife or fork.
8. Put the lemon, the herbs, garlic, salt, pepper and the onion in the cavity and truss the legs with the skin or use butchers twine. Even if you don't truss the legs, it will still work well as this will aid in better airflow through the cavity.
9. Add water to the bottom of the pan. If you are using a baking sheet, put the water in a ramekin or a small oven-proof cup.
10. Rub a little EVOO on the skin and put it in the oven.

Other ways to add flavour are to take a couple of carrots and celery stalks and place them under the turkey to use as a rack. This helps with the flavour of the turkey and the gravy, if you are making it. Personally, I don't eat gravy. I use cranberry sauce or a little butter instead.

Turn the heat down after 1 hour to 300 F. Do not open the door. If you are using a convection oven, turn down the heat after 45 minutes. This gives the bird a good head start and helps keep the heat up after you open the door to put it in the oven. Cook until the thigh and breast meat reaches a temperature of 165 F. It still keeps cooking after you take it out of the oven, so the temperature will still rise a little. Place the turkey on a cutting board and tent it with a sheet of tinfoil for 20 to 30 minutes. Carve and serve.


If you are thinking the butter is going to add unwanted fat to the turkey, don't worry about it. It's only a tablespoon and besides, live a little. It's alright to let yourself go a tiny bit on special occasions. Remember, moderation. Your body needs some fat. Just watch how much and what kind of fat you eat.

For side dishes to the turkey, I made mashed red potatoes with a small sweet potato mixed in with it. They were steamed instead of boiled as I didn't want to boil away many of the nutrients which this process can do. I added a little milk and butter which I heated up to lukewarm before I mixed it in with the potatoes. This is an easy way to ensure the potatoes stay creamy. If you add milk when it's cold to hot spuds, it can make them starchy and goopy instead of smooth and creamy. Add sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. I grate in 1/2 a fresh nutmeg, along with adding a little chopped parsley. You don't have to do this, but nutmeg is one of those things which is a good secret to have when it comes to making mashed potatoes. It's a nice subtle background flavour. And if you want to go even farther on the flavour train, roasted garlic is another way to make your mashed potatoes rock.

We also had corn from the mother-in-laws garden which we cut off the cob and froze earlier this month. Added to this were peas and chopped carrots from her garden as well.



Little O's Menu

This last week we introduced red seedless grapes and strawberries to her. She is taking to these very well and liked a little mild cheddar with her grapes. Cheese is a good way to fatten her up as we have been told to do, so I have been adding some Parmesan to her chopped and mashed carrots too. I also fed her a couple small chunks of salmon which were left over from our meal the night before. She ate it without spitting it out like last time. I hope she continues to like the fish as she will be seeing a lot more of it.

She is still getting her fair share of peaches, carrots, green beans and blueberries. I can't see this stopping anytime soon.

This coming week we will be feeding her some of the turkey. I'm thinking this will be fine with her, but like anything else we will have to wait and see.

Today's quote:

"Food is not about impressing people. It's about making them feel comfortable."

- Ina Garten, Author of 'The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook' and many others.


Until next time, good eating everyone.

Mark