I know I haven’t been around in a long, long time and I do owe you all an explanation, but for now, there’s something more important I need to touch on. I will be back..and definitely back soon with the end of the BBFL story, but at this moment, I need to talk about a wonderful, amazing lady.
If you’re a regular reader of my blog, when I’ve put up Daring Bakers or Daring Cooks challenge posts, you’ve probably seen me talk about my friend, Lis, on occasion- the co-founder of The Daring Kitchen, – the girl I jokingly referred to as wifeypoo.
Lis passed away, suddenly, on November 12th. She was taken from us way, way, way too soon, and I just know she’s really pissed off.
I’m so heartbroken.
Today, via a tribute page set up by Kelly from Sass and Veracity, current and former Daring Kitchen members/friends are paying tribute to Lis with blog posts and/or instagrams, facebook and tweets in her honor. We were asked to choose anything from the many Daring Kitchen challenges to bake or cook in her honor. Some are baking pretzels, the ‘first’ Daring Bakers challenge, which was just her and Ivonne wanting to bake something they never baked before and post it on their blogs simultaneously. This became a monthly thing, and soon more and more bloggers joined in. Voila – The Daring Bakers was born.
I wish I could bake something, but I can’t at this time, so I just linked back to the first Daring Bakers challenge I participated in, in 2008..and the first ever Daring Cooks challenge back in 2009.
Lis, along with Ivonne, were pioneers in getting food bloggers together to cook or bake a challenging treat once a month – creating a community where we could share our culinary successes and failures – supporting each other and having fun throughout the process. This led to others starting food blogger cooking and baking groups..but Daring Bakers, prior to the addition of Daring Cooks, and finally The Daring Kitchen as a whole, was and will always be the first.
When I joined The Daring Bakers in 2008, Lis took me under her wing and made me feel so welcome. We became fast friends..and when I was going through a difficult time in my life, she was there….even sending me aromatherapy to soothe and relax me. This is the kind of person she was, unselfish, kind and caring. She was also one of the funniest people I’ve ever known…always bringing me to tears of laughter during one of our several hours long phone conversations. I’m also going to miss her mega long emails keeping me up to date on what was going on in her life. They always made me smile. Even when things were not going well, she had a way of putting a funny spin on them to lessen the bulk of it all. Her glass was always half-full.
I’ve been reading through her emails the past few days, and the tears came a’ callin’ when I realized I’d never be typing lamiacuc and waiting for the rest of her email to come up underneath so I didn’t have to type it all in when replying to her…ever again.
The first ever Daring Cooks challenge..Ricotta gnocchi, although mine were more like Gnudi.
If you didn’t know Lis, you can get a taste of her amazing wit and humor at her food blog, La Mia Cucina. She stopped posting about 3 years ago, but that never stopped me from begging her to start again….especially for posts like THIS ONE. I was literally crying every time I read it.
I was just reading her post from the Daring Bakers cheesecake challenge, April ’09. She wanted to make a cheesecake using the flavors of her favorite ice cream…Haagen Dazs Caramel Cone. Bittersweet fits of laughter when I read this -
HEY YOU PEOPLE THAT LIVE IN MY NECK OF THE WOODS.. DON’T YOU DARE! GO BUY THIS ICE CREAM. IF I GO TO BUY IT AND IT’S SOLD OUT I WILL HUNT! YOU! DOWN! AND! BEAT! YOU! ABOUT! THE! HEAD! AND! SHOULDERS! WITH! MY! HUSBAND’S! DIRTY! TUBE! SOCKS!
On the other hand, his cotton, reinforced toe socks were not to be used as weapons.
“…when the day comes that I stop breathing.. I’d like to be buried, completely submerged, in Caramel Cone ice cream.”
If only, Lis..if only.
Having said all that, The Daring Kitchen was Lis’s baby and it made so many people happy. If she had a last wish, keeping it alive would be it.
Sleep well, wifeypoo…and rest assured, The Daring Kitchen will continue on exactly how you’d want it to. We will see to that. xoxoxo.
Tags: eggs, En Croute, Ham, Julia Child, Michel Richard, Peppers, Puff Pastry, Spinach, Torte Milanese, Tourte Milanese
Remember when I told you about the computer crash of 2010, where I lost almost everything, mainly tons of photos of some of the best goodies I’ve ever made, most of them pretty labor intensive? You see, I was on this roll from September 2010 to January 2011 – a fancy shmancy crazy roll. Once or twice a week I was creating showstopping sweet and savory dishes like they were going out of style, and as luck would have it, getting some good clicks of them.
It was an amazing food blog run. I had about 7 posts lined up. The posts weren’t written, but the photos were ready – tucked in and snug as a bug in a rug in my photo program, waiting until I was ready to write and post. Then..the crash.
Tags: Ballotine, Chicken Ballotine, Chicken Galantine, Deboning chicken, Jacques Pepin, Red Rice Stuffing, Stuffing
Before I say one word about this challenge, a warning. Vegetarians and vegans (In my best Melissa McCarthy impersonation) LOOK AWAY! LOOK AWAY!
Make No Bones About It!
Thanks to Renee from Don’t Make Me Call My Flying Monkeys (Awesome blog name). They’re not dead – just boneless. Created by Gary Larson
Tags: Ancho Peppers, apples, Brining Turkey, Butter Pecan, Hurricane Sandy, Recipe, Stuffed Turkey Breast, Stuffing, Thanksgiving, Turkey, Whole Boneless Turkey Breast
Damn, I thought Thanksgiving was the 29th because Thanksgiving is usually the last Thursday in November. Oh, boy, this is the trick of the trick of treat for real…the ultimate “Ha ha…you better get your ass in gear, Lisa!” moment. I think Hurricane Sandy left me a little off-kilter, but I’ll get to that later.
You see, for this month’s Daring Cook’s challenge, which is all about brining meat and/or vegetables, then roasting, which I’m late to as usual, I decided to brine a whole turkey breast, then layer it with more flavors – like a a compound butter rub, THEN stuff, roll, and tie it…for a lovely Thanksgiving treat for those who don’t want to roast a whole turkey.
Audax of Audax Artifax was our November 2012 Daring Cooks’ host. Audax has brought us into the world of brining and roasting, where we brined meat and vegetables and roasted them afterwards for a delicious meal!
I didn’t have a bowl or bag big enough to fit the turkey and brine, see left, so I ended up using a huge pot..right.
Well, well, well..this is dinner Friday night, the 16th.. and in less than one week..we will have turkey again..a whole 20 lb turkey. Because of this turkey breast, I would love to just roast some chickens and be done with it.
“Why did you buy such small turkeys?” OK, no one in my family is that dumb.
There’s no way I can break tradition here, so more turkey it is. Yippee.
I love to brine meat, from chicken to pork chops and I most always brine Thanksgiving turkeys. The well-seasoned juicy factor from brining is simply amazing and I can’t think of another method that can give you meat this juicy, unless Thomas Keller is in your kitchen. (Ha ha! I just read the Thomas Keller/Juicy Meat blurb again and realized how it sounds!)
This turkey breast is so loaded with flavor, I don’t know how I can match it and I wish I could make it again for Thanksgiving. First you’ve got the salty maple, brown sugar brine with bay leaves, garlic and peppercorns seasoning it to perfection. Then you have an ancho pepper-scallion-garlic butter rub beneath and on top of the skin. The stuffing is the crème de la crème..with apples, buttered and toasted pecans, and of course..the usual sauté of onions, herbs and whatever else you want to add to your ‘custom’ mirepoix. It’s not always celery, carrots and onions IF you don’t want it to be. No rules!
Oh, what are ancho peppers? Dried poblano peppers and they taste like spicy raisins, but impart such a lovely, slightly spicy/smoky undertone to dishes. You can find them in plastic packages in many supermarkets.
I nixed celery. I almost always nix celery in stuffing, or just add a small amount. I like celery raw and crisp, but I don’t flip over it cooked. I don’t think it adds much to dishes flavor wise when cooked, except chicken soup..and that’s only because I’m superstitious and believe it’s part of the secret penicillin that makes you feel better.
Tied up and roasted, this turkey breast is a picnic on the palate (did I really just type that? Boy, I’m worse off than I thought) and as juicy as a warm peach right off the tree (Did I really type that too?)..so all you really need is a side of mashed potatoes and a vegetable..but of course you can add as many sides as you want (I cannot have Thanksgiving without candied sweet potatoes). There will be extra stuffing, but use any stuffing you like for this roast…I’m just giving you the recipe for mine because it’s perfect for this rolled turkey breast, even though I saturated it with chicken stock so the breast would be easier to roll.
By the way…I know I say this a lot, but I’m going to say it again and I can’t say it enough. This is the best stuffed turkey breast I’ve ever had in my life. You know when something tastes so good that no matter how full you are, you keep eating it? This is one of those.
Who says ugly can’t be delicious? I’ve had ‘beautiful’ that tastes like pond scum, or how I imagine pond scum would taste.
OK…a GASP moment. Once again, this turkey breast is so juicy due to the brining, it doesn’t need gravy, the holy grail of Thanksgiving. BUT, you could make a pan gravy out of the drippings with some butter, flour, white wine and/or stock, because I’m sure at least one person might protest.
3 quarts water
1 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup kosher salt
2 turkish bay leaves
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
2 garlic cloves, sliced
One 3 to 3 1/2 lb whole, boneless turkey breast with skin, butterflied, if necessary, and pounded to about 1/2-inch to 1-inch thickness.
If you can’t find a whole, rolled,boneless turkey breast with skin in your meat section, buy a whole turkey and have the butcher cut it off for you (which is what I did..using the rest of the turkey for roasted legs and stock)..or do it yourself if you feel comfortable.
1. Bring all the ingredients, except the turkey breast, to a boil in a pot on the stove..until sugar is dissolved. Let cool completely, then refrigerate until cold.
2. Pour brine into a pot or gallon bag and add turkey breast. Let brine in the refrigerator 4 to 6 hours…no more than 8!
4. Remove turkey breast from brine and rinse well under cold, running water. Pat completely dry and continue with recipe.
Ancho-Scallion Butter Rub
Adapted from Food and Wine
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 ancho peppers, stemmed and seeded
6 scallions, chopped
2 garlic cloves
Kosher salt and pepper
1. In a small skillet, toast the ancho chiles until they just start to blister, about 4 minutes. Place the chiles to a small bowl and pour boiling water on top of them to cover. Let stand for 15 minutes. Drain and pat dry.
2. In a food processor, combine the chiles, butter, garlic and the chopped scallions and purée until smooth. Season well with salt and pepper. Carefully loosen the turkey breast skin and rub half of the ancho-scallion butter over the breast meat. I decided not to loosen the turkey skin since I didn’t want to risk tearing it. You need the skin to cover as much as the breast as possible when rolling it, so I rubbed some on the pounded breast meat before spreading the stuffing on top. Let sit until ready to stuff, roll and tie.
Butter Pecan – Apple Stuffing
6 tablespoons of butter, divided 4 and 2.
A few leaves of fresh sage, julienned and chopped
leaves off of 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
1/4 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 leek, cleaned well and chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
4 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 to 1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
5 cups day old bread of your choice (I used ciabatta, crusts removed), hand torn or cut into 2-inch cubes. If not day old, oven-dry at 200F for about an hour or two, after tearing or cutting into cubes.
1. Stir together chopped pecans and 1/4 cup melted butter. Spread in an even layer on a parchment lined sheet pan. Bake at 350° for 15 – 20 minutes, stirring them round once half way through. until pecans are toasted (you’ll be able to smell them). Remove from oven, and let cool.
2. Place bread cubes or pieces in a large bowl. Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a large sauté pan and add the onions, leeks and garlic. Saute until soft. Pour on top of bread. Melt two tablespoons of butter in the same pan and sauté the apples until lightly browned. Add the herbs and sauté for another two minutes. Scrape it all into bowl with the bread, onions, leeks and garlic. Stir in buttered pecans.
3. Stir together chicken broth or stock and cream. Warm in a pot on the stove,. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then pour over stuffing mixture in bowl. IMPORTANT – the juices from the turkey will moisten the stuffing, so if you like a really moist stuffing, add all the chicken broth-cream mixture like I did, which makes the turkey breast easier to roll. If not, add liquid until it’s the consistency you prefer, and use less in the turkey.
4. Let cool completely before stuffing turkey breast ( I refrigerate it for 1 hour after it cools to room temperature)..or, you can bake this stuffing on its own. Spoon into a lightly buttered baking dish, cover with buttered foil, and bake in a 350 F preheated oven for about 35 minutes, then remove foil and bake for 10-15 minutes more to brown the top. Since you will have leftover stuffing, you’ll need to do this anyway.
1. Make sure the two breasts attached to the skin are pounded flat enough that they come together. I recommend you have someone really strong or your butcher do this because I had a hell of a time and never got them pounded together or as flat as I wanted, not to mention, my arm still hurts.
2. Skin side down, rub the meat with half the ancho-scallion butter, then spread about two to three cups of stuffing all over the meat…pushing it to about 1-inch from the ends of the pounded meat. Make sure you don’t spread it to the skin, since it will ooze out when you roll it. Some will ooze out anyway..but don’t worry about it.
3. From the long end..start to roll the breast, pulling the skin so it covers as you roll. It won’t cover completely, but that’s ok. Once rolled as much as you can roll it without losing half your stuffing…using cotton twine, tie the roast at 1 to 2-inch intervals. There are various methods of doing this…like THIS and THIS, but since my stuffing was oozing and the skin wasn’t covering completely, I just made simple double knot ties 2-inches apart, using about 6 pieces of long twine. To make it more secure, I also tied it vertically by taking an extra long piece of twine and weaving it through the horizontal ties on both sides….tying both ends of the twine together, tightly, on one end. Preheat oven to 400F.
3. Place rolled turkey breast on a lightly oiled rack in a roasting pan or on a baking sheet covered with foil. Rub the tied roast..all over..top and bottom, lifting as you go along, with the remaining ancho – scallion butter.
4. Place on the middle rack of your oven, and roast for 20 minutes, or until it starts to brown. Reduce the temperature to 350F and roast for another 35 to 40 minutes or until an instant read thermometer registers 155 degrees F in the middle. If not stuffing the breast…roast until it registers 145 degrees F.
5. Let rolled breast sit for 20 minutes before slicing..then slice into about 1/2 to 1-inch slices and arrange on a platter. Enjoy!
Now to Hurricane Sandy, originally dubbed ‘Frankenstorm’. By now you know the devastation it caused throughout the Northeast. We were lucky, since we’re up on the Palisades, so the water couldn’t touch us, but it was scary. Branches and god knows what else were slamming against the side of my house hard and fast. There were even points where I could feel the whole house shake, like it was going to be lifted off its foundation. I kept waiting for a tree to come through the roof, but thankfully, none did.
We were also lucky that we didn’t lose power for good. We had sporadic power losses, but by midnight, our power stayed on for good. The other side of my town lost power for almost two weeks.
However…the devastation around me and down the shore was of a magnitude I still can’t believe and it’s heartbreaking. Two friends did have trees smash down on their roofs and the sides of their houses, and in the weeks since the hurricane, I’m still hearing of friends whose houses were destroyed or battered to the point of being unlivable, especially old friends who live on the Jersey Shore.
Speaking of the Jersey Shore..my heart is broken. Seaside Heights, the place where my Bad Boy First Love Story began and spanned, and the place of so many wonderful memories, is gone as I knew it. Yes they will rebuild, but to those of us who grew up spending summers at the shore..it will never be the same. Most of Seaside was built before I was even born..including the over 100 year old carousel on the Casino Pier, which is gone forever.
At the top of this page in the right sidebar..I’ve provided a link to donate money to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy via the Red Cross. Here are some other places you can donate to..
Donations will be needed for a long, long time, so I urge you to give what you can. Any amount of money will help.
Speaking of the Jersey Shore...several people read my last draft of the last part of Bad Boy First Love and all agreed everything was squished together in short spurts to try to end it. ”Needs more details” was the general consensus. SO, I’m adding more details and there’s a good possibility the ‘end’ will come in two parts, so part 18 may not be the very last (Oy Ve, right?) I will have part 18 up early next week at the latest. Thanks so much for your patience and understanding.
Finally, thank to Audax for a great Daring Cooks challenge (Sorry it’s 4 days late!). To see what my fellow Daring Bakers brined and roasted, click on the links to their blogs, HERE. To see the recipes and read about the method of brining meats and vegetables, along with charts. click HERE.