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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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French Vanilla Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting

2016-01-09 16.28.58

It’s time to make a birthday cake for a special friend. His favorite color is blue, so there was really nothing else I could have done. I decided to make a French Vanilla Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting.

Honestly, baking doesn’t come easily to me, I really have to work at it. I do take help where I can. For this recipe, I used a box cake mix. Listen, there are some really good ones available. It saves a lot of time, you don’t need to measure out all the ingredients, so why not?

I am going to be adding a secret ingredient to my cake that will make it extra moist and delicious. I’ll tell you about that in a minute. Let’s get started.

I’m starting out by using three boxes of Duncan Hines French Vanilla cake mix.

Offset Spatula

French Vanilla Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting

Prep Time: 10 to 15 minutes
Baking Time: 25 to 55 minutes (times may vary depending on oven and the different size cakes pans used for this recipe)
Equipment: 5″, 7″, and 9″ cake pans, parchment paper, Stand Mixer, hand-held electric mixer, 3 medium-sized mixing bowls, 1 large mixing bowl, 3 cake cooling racks, piping bag with a star tip

Note: It’s important when baking that all the ingredients be at room temperature.

Ingredients:
3 boxes of Duncan Hines French Vanilla Cake Mix, 16.5-ounce box
9 large eggs, room temperature
3 cups of water, divided into thirds
1 cup of vegetable oil, divided into thirds
3/4 cup of ricotta cheese, divided into thirds
3 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract
1 stick of unsalted butter, room temperature, (for greasing pans)
3/4 cup of all-purpose flour (for pans)

Ingredients For Frosting, Double Batch:
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’d like the color to be darker or you may want to choose a different color).

Directions:
The first thing that you need to do is to prep all three of the cake pans with butter, parchment paper to fit the bottom 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. Sprinkle a little flour into the bottom of the pans then roll the flour around so the bottom and sides of the pan are floured. Shake off any excess flour into the sink and then the pans are ready.

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F.
Using a hand mixer, on low speed, slowly add in the dry ingredients from the box to the wet ingredients, scraping down the side of the bowl to ensure to incorporate the flour, until just combined. Do not overmix. Transfer the completed batter to another large mixing bowl. Repeat this process 2 more times. All the completed batter should now be combined in the large bowl.

Place the 3 cake pans into the oven and bake for the following times.
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″ cake. Remember these time may vary slightly.

Transfer the three cakes to cooling racks and allow to cool for 30 minutes. Then use a knife to loosen the cake around the edges of the pan. Place the cooling rack on top of the pan then invert the whole pan rack included upside down. Lift the cake pan slowly to allow the cake to fall free from the pan. Repeat this process for each cake. Let the cakes cool on the racks completely before frosting.

Directions For Cream Cheese Frosting:
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment add the softened butter and cream cheese. Cream those together for just a minute until combined. Next, add the vanilla extract, mix until combined. Next, slowly add the powdered sugar until all 4 cups have been added. Mix until completely combined. Finally, add the food coloring one drop at a time. Two drops total should be perfect for a pastel blue.

In an earlier post, I talk about a bakery supply company called D & G Occasions. This is where I purchased the white roses for this cake. You can visit  D & G Occasions by clicking the link at the bottom of this post.

Using an offset spatula, starting with the top and working downwards and around the outside of each particular cake. Once the cake is totally frosted, fill a large pitcher with super hot water. Dip the offset spatula in the water, shake off the excess water. Run the spatula around the top and rim of the bottom two cakes as well as the outside of each cake. This will smooth out any imperfections on the frosting. If needed, add more frosting to the needed areas. Again, smoothing it out by using the offset spatula that’s been dipped into the hot water.

After each layer of the cake has been frosted, using a piping bag fitted with a star tip, make stars around the second and third layer. On the top layer make a border of your choosing. Place the candied roses around each layer of the cake. There it is my French Vanilla Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting.

When you’re ready to decorate, let your imagination run wild.

 

D & G Occasions

 

 

 

 

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