We've been out of town, but we've still been cooking and eating! We had a great Christmas visit to the homeland - Northern Maine - where we cooked a 10-lb turkey on Christmas Day. Along with that, we had mashed potatoes, boiled turnips, stuffing, green beans, cranberry sauce... the works.
We brought home at least four pounds of that turkey so we are still reaping the benefits - we made a "Turkey Surprise Soup" last night which consisted of anything we had in the cupboard along with shredded turkey. Sauteed onion, carrot, and garlic; deglazed with a little red wine and vinegar; added chicken stock and some leftover herbs (oregano and thyme) and seasonings (see below!); added one can of kidney beans, one can of yellow wax beans, one can of tomato sauce, one can of button mushrooms, some frozen green-and-red pepper strips, and the shredded turkey. Cooked that for about 1/2 hour and ate it hungrily - it even seemed to help clear up some lingering colds that we're trying to shake!
Seasonings... One of the BEST Christmas presents we received was a collection of spices from Penzey's! French sea salt, tellicherry peppercorns, mexican oregano, cumin, smoked paprika. Also, some blends - Lemon Pepper Seasoning, Fox Point seasoning (very chive-and-shalloty - had some with scrambled eggs this morning, really good!) and Old World Seasoning which is a blend of just about everything... Plenty of the Old World Seasoning went in our "Turkey Surprise Soup" and really made it savory and delicious...
Before we left for Maine we cooked a quarter-ham, knowing that we were doing turkey instead of our traditional ham for Christmas in Maine this year. Glazed, smokey, and tender, it was delicious with some mashed sweet potatoes: Just peel and cut two sweet potatoes into 2-inch chunks and throw them into some salted boiling water for 10-14 minutes (Although Alton Brown says you should steam sweet potatoes instead of boiling prior to mashing). Drain them and return to the hot pan to burn off some of the residual water. Season with salt, pepper and whatever else tickles your fancy... sautéed garlic or a bit of Penzey’s Cajun Seasoning. Add a few pats of butter - or margarine/promise/whatever - and a couple tbsp of milk, half-n-half or cream depending on your dietary needs. We used promise and 2% milk and a splash of half-n-half.
We sliced the ham and enjoyed it with the mashed sweet po's with some green beans - along with a big dollop of dijon mustard.
We also had our famous Pasta Puttanesca earlier last week - but with twist.. we added fresh baby spinach to our normal recipe. Added some green and a little crunch, it was pretty good!
We'll be back with one more post to wrap up the year - our 5 favorite Boston Chef blog posts from the first year (over 50 to choose from!) - tell us your faves in comments if you like. Thanks for coming... and Merry Christmas!