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December 31, 2010

Turkey Tomatillo Tamales

Again, pictures from my phone. I'll never ever do it again, I promise...

Tamales! I've always wanted to make them and when Heavy Table posted this recipe last year, I knew that someday I'd have to do this myself...I've eaten La Loma's tamales and they're wonderful so it's been bookmarked forever and I finally made them yesterday with the leftover turkey from this post.

To be fair, this recipe is unusually vague and so I had to consult my Rick Bayliss cookbook, Mexico One Plate At A Time, for some pointers. If you don't own it, check it out. Every recipe I've tried from here has been a hit!

Also, the recipe says it makes 30 tamales and it made about 50 for us and I'm pretty sure we overfilled them since a few were leaking out the top...

The nice thing about tamales is that they're actually really easy to make and pretty adaptable. Every family, I'm told, has a different recipe and everyone thinks theirs is the best so have fun, experiment and make your own.

Also, get a friend to help you because the assembly is a lot more fun when you have a friend. Shellville, my trusty cooking cohort and author of The Road to Shellville helped me. I love her for it! (and many other reasons, of course...)

One other thing - if you like sauce on the side or on top afterwards, DOUBLE THE SAUCE RECIPE! I really wish I would've because I could have had some on the side or saved for enchiladas...

Turkey Tomatillo Tamales
Yield: 50 tamales
Approximately 3 lbs of  turkey left over from this recipe, shredded
(You can also just cook your own chicken or even use a rotisserie...)

2 ½ lbs tomatillos, skin removed and quartered
8 jalapeno peppers, stems removed, cut into chunks
1 medium white onion
4 cloves garlic
Chicken bouillon to taste - (This instruction left me wondering if they meant just the boullion cube or in liquid form or what...I chose to throw in a cube and then added enough water so that my total sauce was 40 oz.)
Boil the tomatillos, jalapeno peppers, onion, and garlic in water until cooked, about 5 mn. 
Discard the water and process the sauce ingredients in a blender with the chicken bouillon.

Add 12 oz of the sauce to the shredded chicken; set the remainder aside for use in the following dough preparation.

Tamale Dough
1 ½ lbs dried corn husks for tamales, picked clean of stringy fibers
4- 5 cups chicken broth, to reach desired consistency
1.5 tsps baking powder
28 oz green sauce (from recipe above)
1 lb lard or crisco (we had crisco although I'm sure lard would make a much better flavor)

1. Soak the corn husks in hot water for 10-20 minutes, wash them and allow them to drain.

2.Mix the masa and baking powder together - add broth, green sauce and lard or crisco until the mixture resembles that of cake batter.

3. Into each tamale wrapper, spread 1/4 cup of the masa dough and on top of that, place 1-2 Tbsp of meat mixture and wrap with the corn husk, folding the bottom up or tying with a strip of wrapper. More detailed instructions can be found here.

4. After all tamales are assembled, place them upright (closed end down) in a 20-qt tamalera(tamale steamer) or a really large pot. I ended up using my Ball Canning Bath with the steamer handles flipped under and the top lined with leftover corn husks. Pour about a cup of water into the pot and Steam for two hours; making sure to check that the water doesn't evaporate. Keep a small pot with simmering water next to the steamer so that you can refill it if needed (I needed to twice).

5. After they're done steaming, let them sit at least 15 minutes and then warm up if you're eating them immediately. Otherwise, they can be refrigerated and re-steamed (or microwaved) within 3 days or frozen and saved for up to 3 months. 

Chile-Rubbed Roast Turkey aka Turkey Heaven!

I'm going to apologize in advance for the shoddy photos - I used my phone thinking it would be the same. It's obviously not.

I discovered this recipe when I was searching for a brine recipe for Thanksgiving and just knew that I had to bookmark it and save it for later. I don't know about you, but although I love holiday food, I really start craving SPICE right after Christmas. Too much starch and ham and sausage and meatballs and....well, you get the picture.

I got a little impulsive around Thanksgiving and bought 3 turkeys! They were such a great price and I had room in my freezer at the time...so I had that going for me. I adapted the recipe only slightly because I had forgotten my list when I got to the store and so bought guajillo peppers instead of the pasilla. They're close enough I guess, or maybe this is even better because I'm absent minded....either way, you should totally make this. It's SO SO good - and although I used all the leftovers to make a mad amount of tamales, (recipe to come), they could also be used to make some killer enchiladas! In fact, I froze the rest of the gravy to use as a base for enchiladas that I'll probably make with chicken next week - I'll let you know how that goes.

p.s. My husband had THIRDS of this - he was pretty leery at first, but everyone loved it, even picky little baby Moo who NEVER eats dinner unless we have pizza...

Chile-Rubbed Roast Turkey

6 guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
30 cloves garlic (5 finely chopped) - (yes, this seems like way too much, but it mellows and is lovely, I promise)
1/3 cup orange juice - I used fresh squeezed from about 2 naval oranges
3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. honey 
1 tbsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 tbsp. whole black peppercorns
1  12 lb. turkey
1 large onion, quartered
1 orange, quartered
1/2 cup red wine
2 tbsp. butter
4 cups turkey or chicken broth - I used low sodium Pacific Natural - it's my favorite to buy when I don't have any of my own in the freezer.
1 1/2 tbsp. cornstarch mixed with 3 tbsp. water
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
2 tbsp. finely chopped cilantro

1. In a 10" cast-iron skillet over high heat, toast chiles, turning once, until fragrant, about 30 - 60 seconds per side. Transfer to a small bowl and cover with 1 cup boiling water; let soak until soft, 20 minutes. 

2. Transfer chiles and their liquid to a blender along with 25 cloves garlic, orange juice, oil, honey, 1 tbsp. salt, and peppercorns and purée until smooth, about 2 minutes. Set chile rub aside. 

3. Heat oven to 475° and place rack in bottom third of oven. Season inside of turkey with salt. Stuff the turkey with the oranges and onions and then pour the rub all over the turkey. 

Transfer the turkey breast side up to a roasting pan.  Roast for 30 minutes; lower heat to 325° and cook for 30 minutes more. Remove turkey from oven and, using kitchen towels to protect your hands, flip turkey breast side down. Roast, basting every 45 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into a thigh but not touching the bone registers 165°, about 3 hours total for a 12 lb turkey - mine was about 10.5 lbs and so only took 2.5 hours. Lower oven to 150°. Transfer turkey, breast side up, to a baking sheet; return to oven to keep warm. Remove turkey from oven 15 minutes before serving.

3. Meanwhile, add wine to roasting pan and heat over high heat. Scrape up any brown bits; cook, stirring, until mixture has reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Set a sieve over a bowl; strain liquid and discard solids. Put liquid into freezer and leave for 30 minutes. Skim and discard fat; set liquid aside. Melt butter in a 12" skillet over medium heat. Add remaining 5 cloves of minced garlic; cook until soft, about 2 minutes. Add broth and reserved liquid; turn up heat to medium high and boil to reduce by half, about 15 minutes. Whisk in cornstarch mixture; bring back to a boil and cook for 2 minutes; strain through a sieve into a 1-qt. saucepan. Stir in nutmeg and cilantro and season gravy with salt and pepper. Carve turkey and serve with the gravy.

December 28, 2010

Cran-Neño Jam!

I put out a feeler on my facebook a week or so ago about what my family would like better for a gift, a salted caramel pear butter or a cranberry jalapeno jam. While most of my friends voted for the butter, the family weighed in with a vote that was almost unanimous towards the jam.

So today I made it! And it's delicious!

A complex layer of flavors that hits your palate when you try it - the heat from the jalapeno, the sweet from the sugar, the tart from the lime and cranberry. Again, something that pairs wonderfully with cream cheese and crackers...seriously, do I can anything that DOESN'T pair well with cream cheese and crackers? Thank you Amy for introducing me...life hasn't been the same since.

This is a really simple, straightforward project and I encourage you to try it. I made 13 pints as well as having another 2 that I just stuck in the fridge for Christmas Day.

6 cups water
6 cups sugar
3 lb bag of cranberries
6 jalapenos
2 limes, zested and juiced


Chop 1/2 of the cranberries and all of the jalapenos (you can deseed or remove the pith first if you don't want it too spicy) in your food processor. I pulsed mine maybe 12-15 times.

Bring water and sugar to a boil in a large stockpot. Cook until sugar dissolves and then boil hard for 5 minutes. 

Add all the cranberries, jalapenos and the zest of the lime

Bring back to a boil and cook hard for 15 minutes or longer, making sure that the cranberries pop and release their juices.

Take off the heat and stir in the lime juice. Fill pint or jelly jars 1/4" from top, release bubbles, and process for 15 mn. Let sit for a minimum of 24 hours before opening.

p.s. I'm finally publishing this now, after Christmas - a couple notes - I accidentally let this boil over after I had added the fruit and the peppers and all my seeds (a source of most of the heat) rose over or stuck to the sides of the pan. The batch that I stuck in my fridge had most of the seeds and so was really spicy and wonderful, but all the ones that I canned were really tame. However, the flavor was still really good. I served it at two different parties and it was  hit both times, so have fun with it and enjoy! Even mistakes turn out wonderful sometimes...

December 4, 2010

Beer Cheese Soup - Round 2! The American Version...

My sister sent me an email a while ago asking for a good beer cheese soup recipe and I knew I had posted one previously and liked it but don't remember it being amazing or anything...(that one is here).

There was a recipe in the ATK magazine recently that inspired me to try again and so I did. It was good but lacked the beer taste and zip of the other soup, however, this one was MUCH creamier and less gritty which I attribute to a bit o' American.

My sister hates american cheese, but M - if you're reading this - just try it! It doesn't taste like yucky american cheese, you just use 3x more extra sharp cheddar and it balances out perfectly - no gritty oily soup!

I'm just going to plug my lodge dutch oven here for a sec...Lodge EC6D33 Color Enamel Cast-Iron 6-Quart Dutch Oven, Caribbean Blue
It's sort of really awesome and I make so many things in it. Perfect for soup and I can finally make rice perfectly!!! I got it as a present from my husband a couple years ago and it was the best thing he's ever given me. He loves technology and so usually gets me gadgets but that particular year I specifically requested this and he obliged. Mine is blue, like above, because someday when I can afford to remodel my kitchen, it will be filled with blue things. My friend just bought one too and I don't know if she loves it yet, but I think she will :)

AMERICAN! Beer Cheese Soup

4 Tbsp butter
1 yellow onion, chopped fine - about 1 cup
2 carrots, finely diced
1 large celery stalk, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup flour
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 - 12 oz bottle beer (I actually used miller lite this time since it was all we had - I think the lack of beer taste definitely had something to do with it. ATK recommended Miller High Life! which I thought was funny, but my husband reminded me that it's the "champagne of beers", so hey...who am I to judge.)
12 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
4 oz american cheese, frozen for 15 mn and then shredded
2 tsp cornstarch
Salt and Pepper to taste
POPCORN!!! for garnish (Mmmmmmmm)

1. Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots and celery and cook until lightly browned, 8 -10 mn. Add the garlic and cook another minute.
2. Stir in the flour and cook until golden, about a minute.
3. Slowly whisk in the broth, beer and milk. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low and simmer gently (do not boil) until the carrots are very soft, about 20 mn.
4. Meanwhile, toss the cheeses together in a large bowl. Sprinkle with the cornstarch and toss until well combined.
5. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until completely smooth (safest done off the stove)
6. Return soup to the stove and simmer over medium low heat.
7. Whisk in the cheese a handful at a time, until smooth.
8. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve garnished with popcorn (lots of it!)


December 3, 2010

Crockpot White Beans with Kielbasa and Spinach

I ate Cassoulet once at this cafe in Stockholm and it was so delicious that it's haunted me for years. I don't know what it was...the soft white beans, the sausage (I love sausages!), the spinach that wasn't gross (I didn't care for it much before this)...who knows. At the time, I really didn't know what else was in it. For reference, here's a recipe, including a link to make your own duck confit. Seriously.

When I saw that recipe in my Fine Cooking magazine I thought about it for a second and realized there is NO WAY I could ever make that within our grocery budget and with 4 kids constantly interrupting me. Not going to happen. Cooking is like therapy to me, but there's a fine line between good therapy and overpaying someone to stress you out.

So Cassoulet goes on the back burner along with Classic Beef Wellington and Croquembouche and a few other recipes I have stashed away for when my kids have all grown and moved out of the house.

For this recipe, I just sort of used the inspiration of Cassoulet and did it with what I had on hand and it was delicious. Pair it with a baguette to soak up the juices and it's the perfect dinner for a cold evening. Oh, and I totally made it in the crock pot because I wanted to try making beans in the crock pot, so it was even that much simpler and dried beans make it even cheaper so I had the extra money to buy the GOOD baguette and a bottle of Cabernet to go along with it. Mmmmmm....comfort food at it's best.

Crockpot White Beans with Kielbasa and Spinach

8 oz dried white cannelini beans, picked through and soaked overnight
1 small yellow onion, diced small
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp fresh thyme
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary (I was out this time so used 1 tsp dried)

2-3 cups low-sodium chicken broth (or make your own!), enough to cover beans by 1"
1 large Kielbasa ring or smoked sausage - I think it's about 1 lb, (how do you call this out on a recipe? I have no idea)

8 oz spinach (or, if you buy it in bags, I think they come in 6 oz bags?) - chopped
olive oil - a little for sweating the onion/garlic, a little for a final drizzle


  1. Heat olive oil in small pan over medium heat - add onion and cook, 3-4 minutes or until translucent. Add garlic and cook another minute or two. De-glaze pan with a little of the broth and transfer to a crock-pot set on high.
  2. Add white beans, remaining broth, thyme, rosemary and black pepper. Cover and cook on high, 4 hours. (or, if you make this when you go to work, cook on low and then finish with the steps below)
  3. After 4 hours, add the kielbasa - cook another hour to allow flavors to meld and kielbasa to plump up. I cut mine in large chunks because it was too large for my crockpot, but you could also leave it whole or slice up.
  4. Right before serving, add spinach and stir around until it's wilted - it should only take a couple minutes. Drizzle with a Tbsp of high -quality olive oil and serve in bowls with fresh shaved parmesan on top.