Thursday, November 23, 2006

Half Right

Himself cleverly managed to unlock the locked oven. YAY!!!! Tom T was in clean, convection oven cooking away and, I thought, smelled fab. Power of suggestion, folks, power of suggestion. Quick check showed me that both elements were broken? On Thanksgiving? Now all I need to run out of is the tank gas that powers the other oven. Keep your fingers crossed. It's a big bird and a hungry crowd.

This Thanksgiving I am thankful that I have two of which is still working.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Aggressive Vikings

I have two Viking ovens. I'm not bragging, the house just came this way. One is a gas stove and the other is an electric oven/convection oven. If you've never cooked your bird in a convection oven and you've got one, use it. Last night I set it to automatically clean. Didn't want the bird fat and my inept basting action to set the oven on fire. At some point, the internal oven fan stopped whirring and I turned the little light on to check out the clean oven. Oh how clean, how sparkly, but shit, I left the racks in but that didn't bother me last night. It does now, though cos I just read I was supposed to remove them. The reason I'm just now reading about the racks and the whole cleaning process is because, well, the sodding oven door WILL NOT FLIPPIN' OPEN. Nope, it's like someone superglued it. Oh vast internet, any clues will be appreciated. Thanksgiving fast approaches and I've got an 18 lb bird sitting here giving me the stink eye.

Thanksgiving Recipes (that are good)

I posted these recipes last year and they're so good I'm posting them again this year. They're so good that the turkey will become incidental (lies, lies, lies). Here at Chez Dotty, we don't eat canned vegetables with fried canned onions on top. We just can't. It's not allowed. It's a violation of some law I cast in stone when the kids were little. Frozen peas, they're okay. Canned peas. Not okay. The list goes on and frequently makes no sense. Anyway, back to the beans and soup sauce and canned fried onions. Believe me, we eat and enjoy them when we're guests at someone else's house so just in case I ever don't cook Thanksgiving dinner in the future, I'm up for the canned beans combo dish. But, if you're up for trying something outside your normal repertoire and if you like some flavor surprises, try one of these.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Maple Syrup and Chipotles

adapted from Bobby Flay, Bolo and Mesa Grill

This can be made a day or so ahead of time, put in a gratin dish, dot with butter and reheat at 350 'til hot. Yield 6 to 8 servings. Most people don't eat huge quantities, so you can stretch this to serve 12 if you have the traditional mashed potatoes with the Thanksgiving meal, as well.

5 lbs (about 10 medium or 5 large) sweet potatoes, scrubbed
1/3 to 1/2 cup maple syrup (the real thing)
3/8 cup creme fraiche (can't be dealing with french accent marks so forgive)
4 tsp puree from canned chipotles (some I mince a bit, too if you want it spicier hotter)
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Salt to taste

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place potatoes on large backing sheet and bake until soft, 35 to 40 minutes for medium potatoes, up to an hour for large.

Meanwhile, combine syrup, creme fraiche, chipotle puree, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl. Whisk until smooth.

When potatoes are tender, remove from oven, slice in half lengthwise. Scoop hot flesh into a potato ricer or food mill, puree into bowl with other ingredients. Stir with rubber spatula to combine. Potatoes should be light and fluffy. Taste for seasoning and if serving immediately, transfer to warm serving bowl.

Now onto the Brussel(s) sprouts. For ease of pronunciation, I'll say brussel sprouts. Some of us have brussel sprouts every Thanksgiving, and some people don't like to even be in the same house where a sprout has been cooked in the last week. We're the former. We like small, round, green things. So, here's a recipe for every person who has ever said, "I hate brussel sprouts." I assure you, if you don't like these, you're a philistine.

This is for four...we generally have to at least treble this recipe since even the brussel sprouts haters will eat it.

Brussel Sprouts Leaves cooked with Pancetta and Mirepoix

1 lb. brussel sprouts
2 tbsp. rendered duck fat or olive oil
Mirepoix (dice one small carrot (2 oz or so), 1/2 large stalk of celery (2 oz) and 1/2 yellow onion (3 oz or so)
2 oz. pancetta, thinly sliced, diced
1/3 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
freshly ground white pepper
white wine vinegar

Working with one sprout at a time, remove as many of the outer leaves of each sprout until you reach those firmly attached to the core. Trim the stem end, freeing more leaves and repeat until you reach the dense center. Slice the center thin.

Warm the olive oil or duck fat in a six-quart non-corroding saucepan. Add the mirepoix and pancetta and cook over medium heat for 6-8 minutes, without browning the vegetables, until they have softened. Add the water and the Brussel sprouts leaves, sprinkle with the salt and stir well to combine. Cover the pan and cook 15-20 minutes, stirring every so often until the leaves are tender. Season the leaves with freshly ground pepper, correct for salt and add a dash of vinegar. Serve while the color is still vivid...this is not a dish to make ahead of time. Do the prep earlier, but cook just before serving. It's a good thing to cook while the turkey is being sliced.

Mama Stamberg's Cranberry Sauce

So easy, so delicious, it easily trumps any other cranberry relish in my book. I was given this recipe by dear friends, George & Kathleen Malone, soon to be leaving Apalachicola, FL for Asheville, NC. People either love it or hate it. Dotty's family loves it.

2 cups raw cranberries
1 small onion (not tiny like a pickling onion, but not huge like a vidalia)
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup sour cream
2 tbsp white horseradish (prepared) I generally use double the amount the recipe calls for

Grind the onion and cranberries together in a food processor or blender.
Add the other ingredients and mix well. Put in a plastic container and freeze.
One hour before servicing, move to the refrigerator to soften. It always takes me longer. I take it out of the freezer at least four hours before dinner.

And now the history...Susan Stamberg, former co-host of NPR's "All Things Considered" used to recite this recipe on air every Thanksgiving, giving full credit to her mother. Turns out her mother copied it from an old Craig Claiborne column in the NY Times. Whoever claims it, few are neutral about this wonderfully shocking pink strongish relish. We love it. If you have young children who don't like horseradish, put a little aside for them without the horseradish. If we're coming to dinner, put lots more horseradish in it.


Tuesday, November 21, 2006


First light...9 hours out of Auckland and a few more to get home.

Channel Islands...half hour 'til touch down.

Turkey ordered (free range, organic, and over the top expensive).

Bed beckons. Postings to follow.