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Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Sharing My Recipes, My Life, And The Food Tale Of Two Cities

Tulips

2016-01-15 14.27.24

My tulips are blooming but my Agapanthus are sleeping. I’d love for both of them to bloom at the same time. “It is what it is!”
The good news is that we are still laying more foundation for my outdoor entertainment area. I’ll be posting updates on that real soon.

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Maple Bourbon Brined Turkey

2015-11-30 14.22.38

2015-11-30 16.34.18

This is my traditional recipe for making a turkey. My maple bourbon brine is the start. Echoing those flavors, I finish, with a maple bourbon gravy. The brine process starts 24 hours before the bird goes into the oven. It’s a lot of steps, all of which are easy and necessary, to have the most flavorful and tender turkey you’ll ever eat. This recipe has quite of few steps, but all are fairly easy. It’s really all in the planning.

Before starting the whole brine process, the turkey must me completely thawed. My recipe is listed in 3 parts. Part 1 is the brine. Part 2 is the prep of the turkey for the oven. Part three is cooking the turkey and making the gravy.

Part 1:
Process For The Brine -12 pound Turkey
Equipment:1 large plastic container with tight fitting lid and 1 large stock pot
Prep Time: 40-45 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 24 hours plus 15 minutes

Cook Time: Bring the brine up to a boil then turn the heat off.
Place the brine into the refrigerator to chill completely.

Ingredients:
2 quarts water
2 orange peels
1 lemon peel
3 cloves of smashed garlic
1/4 cup of Kosher salt
1-1/2 cups of bourbon
1-1/2  12 ounce bottles of pure maple syrup
15 sprigs of thyme  (no need to strip leaves)
1 large sprig of Rosemary ( no need to strip leaves)
5 bay leaves (dried)
2 tablespoons of tricolor peppercorns
1-1/2 cups of organic apple juice
1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar

Directions:
Prep all the ingredients for the brine including measuring out the water. Place all the ingredients listed above in a large stock pot. Turn stove on med high heat and bring everything up to a boil and then immediately remove from the heat source. Let the brine cool down, then place it into the frig, uncovered to chill, for around 30-35 minutes  or until completely cool.

Remove turkey from its packaging and remove the neck and innards from the cavities of the bird. The only part I keep is the neck to make turkey stock from. I’ll tell you about that in a minute. Completely pat dry the turkey really well. Place the bird into the brine container and back into the frig until the brine liquid has cooled.

Once the brine is ready and completely cooled, take the turkey in the brine container out and pour the liquid over the bird. The bird should be completely submerged in the liquid. Place the lid on and refrigerate for 24 hours. A quick note: Take notice on what time you place the bird into the brine. This will give you an idea of when the bird will be going into the oven. Allow an extra 20 minutes for rinsing the brine off the bird and letting it soak in clean water for 15 minutes. This will remove any extra salt flavor still on the bird. Then once again you will need to dry the turkey completely before part 2.

Part 2:
Once the bird has come out of the brine and well dried, it’s time to make a compound butter ( flavored butter) for the turkey. I have softened room temperature butter in a bowl. I add to that grated garlic, lemon and orange zest, Kosher salt, and black pepper. I mix all those ingredients together. With my clean hands!, I lift up the skin on the breast area, and slather as much of the butter underneath the skin as possible. Reaching as far around with breaking or tearing the skin. Next, I fill both cavities of the bird with flavorings.

Part 2:
Prep Time: 15-20 minutes
Equipment: Roasting pan with rack
Cooking Time: about 2 hours 40 minutes
Ingredients:
1 stick of softened unsalted butter
zest of an orange
zest of a lemon
2 cloves of grated garlic
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
2 teaspoons plus 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
1 onion
1 head of garlic cut in half lengthwise
10 sprigs of thyme
4 sprigs of rosemary
1/4 cup  of Olive oil
2 quarts of unsalted chicken stock- generally 2 cups (enough to fill the bottom of the roasting pan with liquid, having the level of liquid about 1 inch high). 1 quart is used to make the turkey stock

Directions:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. In a bowl place the softened butter. Add the zest of both the lemon and orange. Grate both garlic cloves and add that along with Kosher salt and black pepper. Mix all the ingredients together.Moving on, I release the birds legs from their packaging position as you see in the pictures.

Next, the same lemon and orange used for their zest, cut in half. Place one half of each one into each of the cavities. Then the garlic bulb. Again, place one half in each cavity. To those I add the 1 onion, peel still on, that I’ve quartered in both cavities. Finally, divide the sprigs of herbs up and place them into both cavity.

Now I rub the compound butter underneath the skin, reaching as far as you can without breaking the skin. Next, I rub the olive oil all over the outside of the bird. Then I sprinkle the  Kosher salt, and black pepper all over the turkey. Finally, I add the 2 cups of broth to the bottom of the roasting pan.

Part 3:

Place the turkey into the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 350 degrees F. Every 30-45 minutes remove the turkey from the oven. Close the oven door to keep the heat in, and baste the turkey, using the juices from the bottom of the pan. About halfway through the cooking process, take the temperature of the turkey using a meat thermometer. Place the thermometer between the thigh and the breast meat for the best reading. This allows you to see how fast the bird is cooking and to gauge the time better. If you see the top is browning to quickly, place a foil tent over the turkey for the time remaining. Keeping in mind, that you still need to baste the turkey every 30-45 minutes or so. Once the turkey’s temperature reaches 165 degrees, about 2 hours 40 minutes, take the bird out of the oven.

Once the turkey is in the oven, this is what I’m doing on top of the stove.

I have the turkey neck place in the bottom of a large sauce pot. I cover the neck with 1 quart of unsalted chicken stock, 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper,  and 3 sprigs of thyme. Turn the heat up to med-high heat and bring this up to a boil. Reduce it to a simmer, cover, and cook, on med low heat,  for about 1/1/2 hours. Once finished,  I strain the liquid, using a sieve, over a bowl to catch this delicious stock. Now I have a container of turkey stock along with a container with my leftover unsalted chicken stock (remember I only used 2 cups for the bottom of the roasting pan) to make my gravy.

At this point, remove the bird from the pan. I like to tilt the bird slightly over the roasting pan, so that any juices that are in the cavities will fall to the bottom of the pan. Place the turkey on a large board and cover with foil until you ready to carve. Leave all the ingredients, in the cavities.

Directions For Gravy:
Ingredients:
3 tablespoons of bourbon
1/4 cup of pure maple syrup
12 sage leaves (reserve 4 leaves chopped for the finished gravy)
1-1/2 cups of turkey stock
1 cup of unsalted chicken stock
3/4 stick of unsalted butter
3/4 cup of flour
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Directions;
First, I throw in the 8 sage leaves while the juices are still really hot. I just let them steep in the juices for a couple of minutes, then I remove them. I use one of those gadgets that separates the fat from the juices that accumulated in the bottom of the roasting pan. I discard the fat and pour the juices into a bowl.

I return the empty roasting pan to the stove, on med high heat.  I add in 1/4 cup of the turkey stock I made. Scraping the bits off the bottom until they all release. I also add these juices with the pan juices in the bowl. Now my pan juices have no fat but the extra flavor from the bits that came off the bottom of the pan.

Now I’m working with a clean roasting pan again, and I have it set to medium heat. To the pan I add in the butter. Let the butter melt then add in the flour. Whisking continuously until all the raw flour has cooked out. Next, I add in the pan juices that I reserved in the bowl along with the bourbon, maple syrup, chicken stock, and the turkey stock. I turn the heat back up to med-high heat, still whisking, and let all those ingredients come up to a bubble and thicken. I also add in the reserved chopped sage leaves for color and flavor in the gravy.

 

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Birthday Cake- French Vanilla With A Cream Cheese Frosting

2016-01-09 16.28.58

It’s that time again when I need to make a cake for a special friend. His favorite color is blue, so there was really nothing else I could have done. I wasn’t going to make a blue cake, but blue frosting, well that’s a whole different story. I going, to be honest, baking doesn’t come easily to me. I really have to work at it. I do take help where I can get it. For this recipe, I used a box cake mix. Listen, there are some really good ones that are available. It saves a lot of time and the measuring out of different ingredients, so why not?

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I’m starting out this cake by using three boxes of cake mix. I chose French vanilla.

The first thing that you need to do is to prep your cake pans with butter, parchment paper to fit each cake pan, and flour. You want to butter the pans first, then lay down the parchment paper in each one. Butter the tops of each circle of parchment paper. Next, flour each pan. I sprinkle a little flour in the bottom of the pans then roll the flour around so the inside sides of the pan are floured. Shake off any excess flour into the sink and then the pans are ready.
Prep Time: 10-15 minutes
Oven Temperature: 350 degrees F.
Baking Time: 25-55 minutes ( times may vary depending on oven and different size cakes pans for this recipe)
Equipment; 5″, 7″, 9″ cake pans and parchment paper

Note: It’s important when baking that all the ingredients be room temperature. Using a toothpick or cake tester, after 25 minutes, check on the 5″ cake, then at 45 minutes, check on the 7″ cake. Then again at 55 minutes for the 9″. Remember these time may vary slightly.

Directions:
Follow the instructions on the back of the cake box, eggs, water, and vegetable oil. Here’s the part where I make it’s semi-homemade. I add 1/4 cup of ricotta cheese and a teaspoon of pure vanilla extract to the wet ingredients. Whisk all those ingredients together.  I do each box one at a time to ensure each batch has the correct consistency.  Using an electric hand mixer on low speed, I slowly add in the dry ingredients from the box to the wet ingredients. I have a large bowl set aside to pour the first box of finished batter in. Repeat this process 2 more times. All the batter should now be combined in the large bowl.

Ingredients For A Double Batch Of Frosting:
4 sticks of softened unsalted butter
2-8 ounce bars softened cream cheese
2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract
4 cups of powdered sugar
2 drops of blue food coloring ( more if you like the color to be darker or choose any color you like.)

Directions:
Place softened butter and cream cheese in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Cream those together for a minute until combined. Next, add in the vanilla. To that add in the powdered sugar slowly until all 4 cups have been added. Let all that combine before adding in the food coloring a drop at a time. Two drops total should be perfect for a pastel blue color.

 

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Rigatoni al Forno With ShitakeMushrooms, Radicchio, And Sweet Italian Sausage

2015-12-31 14.04.30

Maybe my grandmother wouldn’t have approved of me adding sausage to this traditional Italian dish. I could just hear her now saying, ” Linda, you’re supposed to use the pasta shells with the ridges, not Rigatoni, that’s why it’s called Conchiglie al Forno With Shitake Mushrooms and Radicchio”. I just like to put my own spin on a traditional dish, so you’ll see, that’s what I’m doing here. You can most certainly leave the sausage out of this recipe too.

Yields: 8 servings
Oven Temp: 500 degrees F.
Prep Time: 30-35 minutes ( this includes cooking all the components and the actual prep)
Bake Time:  roughly, 8-12 minutes
Equipment: large baking dish
Ingredients:
1-1/2 pounds of sweet Italian sausage, casing removed
2 pints of Shitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
1 stick of unsalted butter, 8 tablespoons, (plus 2 tablespoons to dot the top of the dish and some to grease the baking dish)
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1/4 cup diced yellow onion
2 tablespoons of minced garlic
2 heads, (2 cups) of finely sliced radicchio
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2-1/2 cups of heavy cream
1/2 cup of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
3/4 cup of shredded Fontina
1/4 cup of good quality crumbled Gorgonzola
4 teaspoons of Ricotta
8 sage leaves chopped finely (see note)
1-1/2 boxes of Rigatoni
Flat leaf Italian parsley for garnish

Directions:
To start, I want to dice and mince the onion and garlic and just set them aside. Next, I’m removing the casing from the sausages. In a large saute pan, on med heat,  I add olive oil, diced onion, and crushed red pepper flakes. Sauteing those for a couple of minutes, then adding in the sausage. Breaking the sausage up with the back of a wooden spoon, I let the sausage saute until fully cooked. This takes about 10-15 minutes. Then I remove the cooked sausage, using a slotted spoon to drain off any extra grease, and place the cooked sausage into a large bowl. I remove any grease, left in the pan, and add a couple of tablespoons of unsalted butter.

Next step is to saute the mushrooms. I have a pint each of Shitake and Cremini mushrooms (I could only get one pint of the Shitake mushrooms so I had to improvise). The Shitake mushrooms need to have the stems removed, and the Cremini need to be cleaned off with a damp paper towel, to remove any extra grit from them. I’m doing all this while the sausage is sauteing in the pan. This allows me to get right into the next step of sauteing the mushrooms.

I’ve already sliced the mushrooms before adding them, in the pan, to the melted butter. I stir them around, still on med heat, until they start to brown. At that point is when I add in the minced garlic. Once all the mushrooms have caramelized, are dark brown in color, and fully cooked, about 4-5 minutes I’m going to add them to the bowl with the cooked sausage. While the mushrooms are sauteing, I’m slicing the Radicchio and  grating the cheeses for the next component of this dish. To the sausage and mushrooms, I add in some fresh chopped sage leaves. Note: If you are not a fan of sage, don’t use dried, use fresh thyme leaves.

At this point, preheat oven to 500 degrees F.  I have another large bowl that I have two heads that I’ve sliced of radicchio. I also have a large pot of water on the stove boiling and ready. In the mean time,  I’m adding the ricotta, grated Fontina, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and crumbled Gorgonzola, and heavy cream to the bowl with the Radicchio. Before I mix all these ingredients together, I sprinkle in some Kosher salt and black pepper. Not too much salt because the some of the cheese can be salty already.

Moving forward, I add the bowl with the cooked sausage, mushrooms, and sage to the larger bowl that has the radicchio, heavy cream, and cheeses in it. I mix all the ingredients until everything is well combined.

Now, I’m ready to dump the pasta into the water. The reason I waited, is because, the pasta is only going to cook for 4 minutes in the water. I then can drain it off and add the Rigatoni to the bowl with all the other ingredients. Mixing carefully, not to break up the pasta, combining all this together.

I have a large casserole baking dish that I use for this recipe, and I’ve butter it well. Place the Rigatoni mixture into the baking dish making it as level as possible. Dot the top with butter and place into the oven for about 8-12 minutes. You want to keep an eye on this dish so, it gets bubbly, the top browns nicely, it doesn’t burn. Once out of the oven, garnish with fresh chopped flat leaf Italian parsley.

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