Let's Dish With Linda Lou

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

Thanksgiving Dinner For Two

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I know it can be overwhelming when your hosting Thanksgiving at your house. How about when the kids are all grown up, living in other parts of town or even in an different state. The plan is to all get together for Christmas, but this year, they would host their Thanksgiving feasts in their own homes. So we decided, since we weren’t going be all together this Thanksgiving, we’d Skype each other and sends pictures of the dishes that we made. I took off a few days from work because I love to cook for Thanksgiving and the challenge for me was cooking this special meal for just Steve and me. What I came up with was wonderful. Before I start, I just want to say that this meal that I put together would be a perfect way to use your leftovers if in fact you have any. First I want to tell you that I presented this recipe in the roasting pan that the turkey is normally cooked in. It worked perfectly with all the components of the dish, with it’s high sides and all. The idea here was to have all my favorite flavors and sides, but make it in one pan instead of all kinds of dishes for just the two of us. Let me start at the beginning. The turkey and the brine.

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For the two of us I thought a 3 pound boneless turkey breast would be perfect. Now for the brine. In a large container I add 2 quarts of room warm water, 2 tablespoons of kosher salt, 1/2 a cup of dark brown sugar. Then I whisk this salt and sugar until it has completely dissolved into the water. Next 2 cups of cold apple juice, the zest of 2 oranges, the zest of 1 lemon, 2 bay leaves, 1 tablespoon of tri-color peppercorns. I stir this up and then refrigerate for about 1/2 an hour, to cool the brine down before adding in the turkey. Now I just submerge the turkey into the brine, put the lid on, and refrigerate for at least 24 hours. Now I did this around 8:00 am in the morning, the day before Thanksgiving.

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On Thanksgiving morning, I start with my home made cranberry sauce, or relish as I call it. I start with 1 package of fresh cranberries in a small pot. To that I add 1/4 cup of water. the zest of 1 orange, 2 tablespoons of the juice from the orange, 1 cinnamon stick, and 1 cup of packed dark brown sugar. Give everything a big stir and then bring the cranberries up to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Let all this simmer for around 45 minutes on low stirring occasionally. The cranberries will start to pop and the liquid will thicken. After the cranberries have thickened, like you see in the last picture, take the pot off the heat let rest and become room temperature before placing them in a container in the refrigerator.Next I start to work on my sweet potatoes, and my sausage, mushroom and butternut squash dressing.

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Now the turkey is still in it’s brine spa, and the cranberries are now in the frig. I’m starting on roasting off my butternut squash and sweet potatoes. All I did was to peel the veggies and dice them up. I put them on sheet pans in 1 layer so they caramelize nicely. I set the oven at 450 degrees and these should only take 30-40 minutes until they are fork tender. In a small bowl I put 2 tablespoons of Kosher salt, 1 tablespoon of black pepper, and 2 tablespoons of dark brown sugar. I mixed that up, drizzled all the veggies with olive oil, and sprinkled the seasoning over the veggies. Then I tossed them through with my hands so they were all covered with the seasoning and oil and made sure I spread them out again in 1 layer.

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Now when I first brought all my groceries home. I always prep whatever veggies I can so when I’m ready for them it’s one extra step that I don’t need to worry about. That’s what I have done here with my leeks like you see in these pictures. I just trimmed them up and rinsed them really well to get rid of any sand that my be trapped between the leaves and I packed them in a damp paper towel in a resealable plastic baggie. Next in a large saute pan, while my other veggies are roasting, I added 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the saute pan that I had on med high heat. I sliced up the leeks and add them to the hot pan. I sprinkled in a little Kosher salt, pepper, and 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes. When the leeks were just softened, I threw in a bag of thawed frozen artichokes. Now this is my Italian spin on the traditional green beans that are usually served as a side. I saute the artichokes with the leeks until they are nice and caramelized. When they are done, about 10 minutes or so, I set them in a bowl until I’m ready for them.

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Next, it’s time to brown the Italian sausage, using the same saute pan that I cooked the leeks in I start to brown of the sausage. I start them on med low until the sausage is cooked through. Then I turn the heat up to get a nice brown color on the sausage. I take the sausage out of the pan using a slotted spoon to drain most of the fat. I do leave 1 tablespoon of the sausage fat in the pan but I also add 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter. This will give extra flavor to the veggies. Leaving the heat on med high, I add in 1 large diced onion. Once the onion starts to soften, I sprinkle in a little Kosher salt and pepper. Then I add in 4 ribs of celery that I sliced, and 1 pint of sliced cremini mushrooms. I don’t salt this until the mushrooms have released all their liquid, this gives them a chance to brown nicely. Then I season this stage with a little Kosher salt and pepper. I also add in 1 tablespoon of dried thyme, and 1 tablespoon of dried sage to the veggies. I stirring the continuously. Now at this point I add in a splash of low sodium chicken broth to loosed all those bit stuck to the bottom of the pan from the veggies and the sausage that was cooked off in this pan. After the  chicken stock has evaporated, remove the veggies from the pan and put them in the bowl with the sausage. Now it’s time to pull out the butternut squash and sweet potatoes out of the oven and toast off our bread to add to the dressing.

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I have here in the first picture 1 loaf of Ciabatta bread that I just cubed and toasted off in the oven at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or so until the bread had the texture of crunchy croutons. To that I add 2 cups of store bought corn bread stuffing crumbs for some sweetness. Then in a large container I added the bread and the butternut squash to the sausage, celery and mushroom veggie mixture. I tossed them all through gently, not to break up my squash.. At this point the dressing is done with the exception of the liquid being added to it. Next for the flavorful broth that’s going to be added to the dressing.

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In a sauce pot on med heat I have 1-1/2 boxes of low sodium chicken broth, 1/2 a stick of unsalted butter, 2 tablespoons of dried sage, 1 tablespoon of dried thyme, 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt, and 1/2 a teaspoon of black pepper. I let this heat up until the butter and seasoning have all blended together and the broth is nice and hot. Now I don’t like my dressing to be too soggy, but I do want it to be completely absorbed through the dressing. What I do is to add the broth 1 ladle at a time, giving the dressing enough time to absorb all that it can without turning it into a big mess. Next for the sweet potatoes.

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In a large bowl I have the sweet potatoes that I’m going to mash with 1/2 a stick of room temperature butter, 1/2 a cup of packed dark brown sugar, a 1/4 cup of heavy cream, 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt, and 1 teaspoon of black pepper. With an electric mixer, I just mix all these ingredients together until smooth.With the exception of the topping for the sweet potatoes, all the sides are ready it’s time to take care of the turkey. The turkey has been in it’s brine for around 24 hours and it’s time to take her out. I take the turkey out of the container, drain everything out, and fill it up with fresh water to soak the turkey. I want to get any extra salt rinsed off of the turkey. Then I”m going to take the twine off that the turkey is wrapped in so I can dry it off completely. I’ve made a flavored butter that I’m going to rub under and on top of the skin.

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In a small bowl I have 1 stick of room temperature unsalted butter along with the zest each of 1 orange and lemon, 1 sprig of fresh rosemary, and 4 leaves of fresh sage. I chop the herbs up and add them into the butter with a sprinkling of Kosher salt, and black pepper. Mix that all together and then spread this flavored butter all under the skin and over the top of the turkey. With the oven set at 350 degrees, I roast the turkey off. Now after the turkey has been in for an hour, I takes it’s temperature to see how much longer this 3 pound breast needs to roast for. It turns out that it roasted for another 20 minutes, but you want to check it regularly, because every oven may be a little different. You want the internal temperature to be 165. Now because for my dish it’s going back into the oven, I’m going to take it out at around 155 degrees. I’m then going to let it rest for around 15 minutes on the counter before I remove the skin, and dice it up.

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The dripping from the bottom of the roasting pan, I made the gravy. On med high heat, I added 1/2 a stick of unsalted butter to the dripping, due to the fact that the size of the turkey didn’t produce a lot of fat. I then added 3 sage leaves, and 1/2 a cup of flour. Whisking that constantly, until the flour was cooked out, I slowly added in 1 box of low sodium chicken broth. Whisking and scraping up all the bits on the bottom of the pan, the sauce began to thicken. When it get to the thickness I like, which is usually once it comes to a boil. i turn the heat off and it’s ready. I ladled some of the gravy into the diced turkey to keep the turkey moist for the next stage of this dish.

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In the roasting pan, I removed the gravy and placed my leeks and artichoke mixture at the bottom, then layered the turkey that had been tossed with some of that delicious gravy in. Next came the sweet potatoes.

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Here I added the sweet potatoes with a brown sugar and pecan crumb topping. All I did was to add 1 cup of chopped pecans to 1/2 a cup of dark brown sugar, with a pinch of Kosher salt. Mixed all this together and sprinkled it all over the top of the mashed sweet potatoes. Moving on to the dressing, which goes on the top.

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So now what I have here is a complete Thanksgiving dinner but layered into one pan. I baked this in the oven for an hour at 375, covered. Then I removed the foil and baked for another 15 minutes until the top was golden brown and beautiful.2014-11-26 14.57.35

Now the dessert, are my pumpkin tartlet cakes filled with a delicious pumpkin cheesecake frosting.  I’ll tell you about this is my next post. You won’t believe how easy and delicious this one is. Earlier I mentioned that it was just going to be the two of us this holiday. I wanted the table to be elegant but simple. A white table runner, white plates, silver flatware, and just wine and water glasses for each of us. The centerpiece a cornucopia of the season’s harvest to give the table some highth with 3 mini pumpkins for some contrast. Finally a few candles to give the table a touch of light.

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Homemade Lasagna

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Do I dare to say that we all love lasagna? I’m going to say yes. My recipe utilizes using leftover tomato sauce. I don’t know about you, but whenever I make a pot of tomato sauce I always make too much. I’ve either put it in the frig, saying to myself, I’m going to make something with this sauce tomorrow. Then there are those times where I freeze the sauce and forget it’s in there because life gets busy. Not anymore. Yes, it does take some planning but, I don’t ever have to think about what I’m going to use the leftover tomato sauce for. Once I make the lasagna, I can potion it out or freeze the entire dish for when I’m ready for this decadent dish. If you decide to freeze your lasagna, let it cool completely then what I do is to wrap the lasagna tightly with plastic wrap and then with heavy duty foil and it will keep until your ready. I let the lasagna defrost overnight in the refrigerator. If it is not completely defrosted, take it out of the frig, unwrap the entire lasagna, and let it sit out for 1/2 an hour or so before putting into a 375 degree oven. I will show you my trick to stop the cheese from sticking to the foil when baking. When making lasagna, because there are so many components to the dish it can seem daunting. Just by eliminating on of these parts makes making this dish so much easier. In one of my earlier blogs, I’ve talked about different types of tomato based sauce that I’ve made. I happen to have a hearty meat filled tomato sauce, that has sweet Italian sausage and ground beef in it so that’s what I’m using here.

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I’m slowly bringing the sauce back up to temperature, and once that happens I will turn the heat off and put a lid on it and set it aside. One step done. For my nest ingredient for this lasagna I’m using Portobello mushrooms.

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In a large pan on med high heat with 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter I sauteed 3 large Portobello mushroom caps that I sliced. I added 1 tablespoon of dried thyme. I don’t salt them until they have turned a nice brown color and released their liquid. Then 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt and 1/2 a teaspoon of black pepper. This whole process happens pretty quickly As you can see they get that nice caramelized color to them. I place the cooked mushrooms in a bowl and set them aside for a minute. It’s time to move on to the next step.

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Moving forward in the first picture you’ll see that I have 1/4 cup of AP flour some fresh nutmeg and 1/2 a gallon of milk. In a large heavy bottom pot I start to melt 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter. On med heat to the melted butter I add the flour and  whisk constantly, until all the flour has cooked out. It becomes a light tan in color. I then slowly, still whisking add in 1 quart of whole milk,  I just judged 1/2 of the 1/2 gallon container of the milk. I then grated in 1 teaspoon of fresh nutmeg, 1 tablespoon of Kosher, salt and 1 teaspoon of black pepper. Still whisking the mixture until the mixture thicken and coated the back of a spoon, with a line holding in place from my finger, like you see in the picture above. This sauce is known as a Bechamel sauce. I immediately removed the pot from the heat and added in some cheese and some fresh chopped Italian parsley, dried it fine too. The cheeses I used for this are shredded mozzarella and Grana Padano, and I added a 1/4 cup each of those to the Bechamel sauce and stirred that through with a wooden spoon. Now this part of the lasagna is done. Next for the ricotta cheese component to my dish.

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In a large bowl I added one 15 ounce container of whole milk ricotta cheese, 1 tablespoon of fresh chopped Italian parsley, 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt, and 1/2 a teaspoon of black pepper. I mixed that all together and now this part is finished. Next onto the lasagna noodles.

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These are my favorite type of pasta for this dish. I like the flat thin pasta style for my lasagna. They are much lighter in texture then the traditional shaped ones and there is no pre-cooking needed. So you see I’ve eliminated two steps in making this dish.

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Now it’s time to assemble this beautiful dish. I want to let you know in the pictures above I’m using the same pasta picture just to give you an idea of where and when I placing the pasta layers into the dish. First a ladle of the delicious meat sauce to the bottom, to keep the pasta from sticking at the bottom. Then a layer of the pasta sheets and these sheets fit perfectly in the dish as you can see. Next a layer of that cheesy Bechamel sauce. On top of that I arrange the Portobello mushrooms so that there will be some in every bite. Another layer of pasta sheets, then some of the meat sauce. More pasta sheets then the ricotta mixture. A heavy handful of the Mozzarella cheese and Grana Padano cheese spread all over the top of the ricotta, Next more pasta sheets. Then a final layer of the meat sauce. Here I use up the rest of the Mozzarella  and grate another 1/4 cup of the Grana Padano cheese over that. I take 1/4 stick of unsalted butter that I’ve diced up really small and dot the top all over with butter. Now before I place this into a 375 degree oven, I need to cover it.

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The trick I was telling you about earlier is this, spray the dull side of the foil with non-stick cooking spray before covering the lasagna and the cheese won’t stick and come off when you remove the foil, cool right? I cook the lasagna for 45 minutes with the foil on then I remove the foil and bake until the top is golden brown, I’d say another 15 minutes or so. Just keep your eye on it you’ll know when it’s ready to come out. Be sure to let the lasagna rest for at least 20 minutes before slicing into it. This way it will hold its shape.

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Pork Tenderloin On A Bed Of Cannellini Beans

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This recipe is elegant and yet so easy to pull together for entertaining. The picture on the right is the very first time I made this recipe, and it was so delicious, I thought I’d test the recipe out on some guests. I blogged about this promising I would post the recipe once I tested it out, well here it is. I did however make one change and that was to use the pan drippings to make this wonderful sauce to drizzle over the top. Let’s get started.

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So I have 2 beautiful pork tenderloins and I’m going to make the marinate for them. First I start by mincing 5 cloves of garlic. Second I have a 3 inch piece of fresh ginger that I have peeled with a spoon and chopped into a small dice. Now with a large zip lock plastic bag I place the 2 pork tenderloins along with the minced garlic and chopped ginger. To that I add 1 cup of apricot jam, 1/4 cup of low sodium soy sauce, 1/2 a cup of olive oil, and 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes. No need to add any salt because of the soy sauce  is taking the place of the salt. Let all the air out of the plastic bag then massage the marinate all over the pork.

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Place the pork into the frig for a minimum of 2 hours, longer if possible is even better. Now to get started on the Cannellini beans. I love to use these beans with this dish because they have a real creamy feel to them and they absorb any flavors you pair with them. So the pan gravy that I’m making for this recipe, that’s drizzled over the pork will seep down onto the beans and just make them heavenly.

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To give the beans some great flavor, I’m using leeks. They have a mild onion flavor so they won’t overpower the beans but compliment them.  All I did was drain and rinse the Cannellini beans to get all the salt off them from being packed in the cans. When your using leeks you just want to cut the top and bottom off, like you see in the top pictures, and because they have so many layers to them, you want to rinse them really good. To get any sand or dirt that may be trapped in them. Once that’s done you just cut them in half lengthwise and slice them up. I’m also going to mince some garlic around 3 cloves, just for some more flavor.

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On med high heat with a tablespoon of olive oil in the pot I add in the leeks. Sprinkle some salt and pepper in the pot and give the leeks a stir. I wait a minute or two just until the leeks start to soften before I add in the garlic.

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Now that the leeks and garlic have softened, I add in 1 cup of low sodium chicken broth. I let that reduce and then turn down the heat to med low and add in the Cannellini beans. I add a little more salt and pepper, then I stir everything together, let them cook for another couple of minutes. That’s it, move them off the heat and put a lid on them so they stay warm while you saute your spinach and roast your pork tenderloin.

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In an  earlier blog I talked about “Everything Sides” and sauteed spinach was one of them. If you want that recipe, which is one I’m going to make with this dish, just take a minute to get that recipe.

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Garlic Sauteed Spinach with a Hint of Spice

Garlic Sauteed Spinach with a Hint of Spice

I’m preheating the oven to 450 degrees, and I’ve finished sauteing the spinach and have set that aside. It’s time to sear off the pork.

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In the first picture you can see that I have a saute pan on high heat and I have seared off one side of the pork. The second picture shows that I’ve seared off all the sides. Then I place the pan into the 450 degree oven for 10 minutes.

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Now this is what it looks like when it comes out of the oven after the 10 minutes, I take them out of the pan onto a dish that I cover tightly with foil, and let the pork rest for another 10 minutes. This gives me time to make the sauce that  I’m going to drizzle over the top of the tenderloins. You can see all those flavorful bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Well, that’s the good stuff that magically will turn into a yummy sauce. I place the pan over med high heat and add in 1-1/2 cups of low sodium chicken broth. With a wooden spoon I scrape all those brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Let that bubble for a minute, and in a small bowl I take 1 heaping tablespoon of corn starch with 2 tablespoons of the chicken broth, whisk that together and pour it right into the pan. Keep whisking until the sauce comes back up to a bubble. Turn the heat off, the sauce is done.

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To plate this dish, I lay out all the Cannellini beans on the bottom of a large serving platter. Then around one side I spoon on the sauteed spinach. I carve the pork into 1-1/2 inch thick slices and lay them on top of the beans. Finally I just drizzle that amazing sauce all over the top.

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There you have it. Pork Tenderloin, with an Apricot and Soy Glaze, over a bed of Cannellini Beans

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Herb Crusted Pork Loin

2013-10-16 19.01.27Preheat oven to 350 degrees. I start out by liberally salt and pepper both sides of the pork loin. I get a large sauté pan hot on the stove with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and set the pork in, top side down first. Let that side sear then turn over and do other side so you get some nice color then take the pork out of the pan and let cool.

Ingredients for rub:
1tablespoon of fresh rosemary
1tablespoon of fresh thyme
1teaspoon of dried sage
3cloves of garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
A pinch of kosher salt and cracked black pepper

Directions: Take these ingredients and pulse a few times in a food processor, slowly add the olive oil in until you get a wet paste consistency. Then rub this over both sides of the pork loin. Place the pork into a roasting pan with a rack and put into the oven for 1 1/4- 1 1/2 hours or until internal temperature is 155 degrees. Take out of the pan and let rest covered with foil for 15 minutes or so. After that, it’s ready to carve. In the mean time there are some good bits stuck to the bottom of the sauté pan to make a great pan sauce. I take some onion,shiitake mushrooms, garlic, fresh thyme, chicken broth, tablespoon of flour, tablespoon of butter, and a good red wine (I use a cab). After the onions, mushrooms have sautéed then I add the garlic and thyme. I add the four and cook that out for a minute. I then add a cup or so of the wine whisking and let that reduce by half. Whisking all this the entire time releases all the bits from the bottom of the pan and that’s just more flavor. Finally I add a cup of the chicken broth bring that to a boil and reduce to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes longer. The pan sauce comes off the heat and then whisk in the butter. The sauce is now ready to pour over your pork loin chops. This recipe is great for entertaining.

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