Nov 26, 2007

Brussels Sprouts : How To Choose

Good quality Brussels sprouts should be bright green, without yellowing or discoloration, and have a firm texture.

The butt end may be slightly discolored, but should not be dark.

Brussels sprouts should be sweet and mild in flavor when cooked. Bitterness varies among cultivars and is associated with high concentrations of specific glucosinolates (sinigrin and progoitrin). Bitterness can also be induced by storage conditions.

Brussels Sprouts: Preparing and Cooking

Thoroughly soak in cold water and drain before using. Remove any discoloured or damaged outer leaves and trim stem ends. Scoring lightly with an "X" will promote even cooking.

They may be steamed, boiled, microwaved or stir-fried. Don't cook too long - it's important to stop the cooking process before you can detect a sulphurous smell.

You can also cream them, serve with melted butter and splash of lemon juice, or enhance with almonds, buttered bread crumbs or a cheese sauce.

Combining Brussels sprouts with chestnuts alongside turkey is a holiday favorite in England.

Brussels sprouts can also be included in vegetable soups, stir-frys and, grated raw, in salads.

Nov 24, 2007

Leftover Turkey Chili

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 seeded red bell pepper, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
1 28-oz. can tomatoes, broken up
1 can red kidney beans
4-5 cups cooked turkey, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
juice of one lime
1 cup Monterey jack cheese, shredded

In a large saucepan or skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Saute onion, garlic, celery, peppers and seasonings over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes.

Add tomatoes and simmer gently for 20 minutes.

Add the kidney beans and simmer for 5 more minutes.

Stir in cooked turkey and cook until heated through.

Before serving, add lime juice and fresh cilantro and stir gently.

Serve in bowls and top with shredded Monterey jack cheese.

Serves 4

Nov 18, 2007

Green Bean Salad with Pecans, Fennel, and Goat Cheese

1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
½ teaspoon salt, plus more for the water
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 pounds green beans, trimmed
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced into half-moons (1¼ to 1½ cups)

3/4 cup peacans, toasted and coarsely chopped

1 4-ounce log fresh goat cheese, crumbled

In a small food processor mix together the mustard, vinegar, salt, pepper and oil . Gradually Process until well combined; set aside.

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the green beans and cook until just tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain, run under cold water to cool, and set aside until you're ready to assemble the salad.

In a large bowl, combine the green beans, fennel, and pecans. Add the goat cheese and vinaigrette just before serving. Toss well and serve at room temperature or chilled.

Yield: Makes 8 to 10 servings

Nov 12, 2007

Turkey Talk - Types of Turkeys in the Marketplace

Here is an explanation of the USDA terms on the package label of the turkey you will purchase.

Frozen Turkeys
Turkeys chilled below 0° F must be labeled “Frozen”. Freezing poultry has its problems; muscle cell walls actually break down, causing a loss of juices and a dryer turkey.

Fresh Turkeys
The term "fresh" may ONLY be placed on raw poultry that has never been below 26 °F.. According to the National turkey Federation, turkey doesn't freeze at 32 degrees F. but at a temperature closer to 26 degrees F.

This poultry label rule addresses a truth-in-labeling issue, not food safety, because most pathogenic bacteria do not multiply or multiply very slowly at normal refrigerator temperatures. The USDA concluded that the term "fresh" should not be used on the labeling of raw poultry products that have been chilled to the point they are hard to the touch.

Hard-chilled or Deep-chilled Turkeys
Poultry held at 0 °F or below must be labeled "frozen" or "previously frozen." No specific labeling is required on poultry between 0 and 26 °F.

Basted or Self-Basting Turkeys
This technique is used to increase flavor, juiciness and weight in poultry (as well as other meats). These meats are also known as 'Enhanced' - Enhanced meats are injected, or vacuum treated, to increase weight by approximately 15%. These processes add a water and chemical solutions of approved food additives into and on the meat.

Natural Turkeys
A minimally processed product containing no artificial ingredient or added color. These are essentially birds that are not ‘basted’ or ‘self-basting.’ The term makes no reference to the way the turkey was raised.

Kosher Turkeys
These turkey are grain-fed with no antibiotics and are allowed to roam freely. Kosher turkeys are processed and inspected under rabbinical supervision. This includes soaking in salt brine, which adds a distinctive, savory character. Much like basted or self basting, the process adds a solution to the meat and increases weight.

Hen or Tom Turkeys
The sex designation of "hen" (female) or "tom" (male) turkey is optional on the label, and is an indication of size. Toms are larger but both toms and hens should be equally tender.

Free Range Turkeys
This labeling / marketing term has nothing to do with quality or taste. To add the words “Free Range” to the label, a grower must open part of their turkey house to a common yard for a matter of minutes per day. While only a few birds venture out, they all can be labeled as Free Range.

Most producers avoid this because of the negative effects of increased stress, disease, insects, and temperature on the entire flock. While 'Free Range' poultry can be of excellent quality, I have found the majority of their marketing techniques to be deceptive - usually the point it better profits, not better poultry.

Organic Turkeys
This labeling and marketing term has nothing to do with quality, taste, tenderness or juiciness.

These labeling laws are concerned with items such as feed certification, genetic engineering, and the use of ionizing radiation. While organic farming is clearly a positive revolution in our mechanized world, it is not a determination of quality, though the majority of consumers confuse it as such.

Note: All high-quality American Turkeys are free of added hormones and antibiotics. The use of hormones is not allowed in any poultry, and both feed and poultry tissue is tested by inspectors to assure there are no chemical residues.

Young Turkey
Turkeys of either sex that are less than 8 months of age according to present regulations are considered "young" turkeys. Most turkeys reach market maturity at 4-5 months of age.

How Large Is Your Turkey?

Here is a rough guide for turkey weight for how many guests.

This scale works for fresh or frozen.

A 8-11 pound bird will serve 6-8

A 12-15 pound bird will serve 9-12

A 15-18 pound bird will serve 13-16

An 18-22 pound bird will serve 17-22