My grandfather and several of my great uncles had a fur store in N.Y. It was called Windsor Furs (to indicate, one can only guess, a regal presence previously unknown to 14th Street and 7th Avenue). Uncle Simon and Uncle Harry kept Windsor Furs well into their 90’s. And I would like to tell you all the funny, memorable stories I know about them and the shop. But the thing that springs to mind at this moment is their business card.
“Windsor Furs - Shop Here! Soon you will know the reason why.”
I’m grateful for many things at Thanksgiving– family, friends, health, light traffic on the 405…all the usual suspects. But as the person who hosts that gathering year after year, I am also grateful for this technique for a perfect dry-brine roast turkey that makes my old wet-brine birds seem spongy, bland and far too much work by comparison.
The method was developed by one of my favorite San Francisco chefs, Judy Rodgers. In her 2002 The Zuni Cafe Cookbook, Rodgers goes into great detail on why salting meats and poultry days ahead of the actual cooking promotes juiciness, texture and enhances flavor…flying in the face of what, until then, had been the conventional wisdom that the salting of meats should be done only at the last minute. Per her instruction, I tried it with dozens of dishes–from chickens to chops to pot roasts–and, in every instance, the technique worked beautifully. But it never occurred to me to use it on the all important Thanksgiving turkey until The Los Angeles Times’ Russ Parson, one of my favorite food writers, declared it the definitive way to beautify the bird. And, boy, was Russ right.
What is the difference between a sweet potato and a yam?
And here's the answer, according to the Library of Congress:
Although yams and sweet potatoes are both angiosperms (flowering plants), they are not related botanically. Yams are a monocot (a plant having one embryonic seed leaf) and from the Dioscoreaceae or Yam family. Sweet Potatoes, often called ‘yams’, are a dicot (a plant having two embryonic seed leaves) and are from the Convolvulacea or morning glory family.
Food Blogga Translation: Yams and sweet potatoes are different vegetables.
It turns out my local market has gotten it wrong too. What they have been labeling as yams are really red-skinned, orange-fleshed sweet potatoes. Apparently, sweet potatoes' skin and flesh ranges in colors, and they come in "hard" and "soft" varieties. It is the soft varieties, which become moist when cooked, that are typically labeled "yams" here in the United States.
What is it about the holidays that make everyone feel like baking? Is it the change in seasons that triggers a Pavlovian response to stock up on delicious dishes in order to endure the long winter ahead? Or is it simply that because of the temperature change people wear more clothing and can afford to eat a bit more of the foods they love without worrying about exposed midriffs or cellulite?
This past weekend, dreaming of Pumpkin Crème Pies from the “Tasty Kitchen” section of Ree Drummond’s Pioneer Woman website, I waded with the recipes through the throngs of humanity out shopping, for what I foolishly thought would be a quick trip to the store. What seemed a simple task at hand turned into a nearly day-long ordeal in which I wandered from store to store, leaving each one empty-handed and downtrodden. But motivated by a yearning for the old-fashioned whoopie pies I envisioned, my “food mood” quickly accelerated from a status of moderately hungry and cranky – to completely starving and angry. The problem: the recipe called for a few ingredients that for some reason proved challenging to find with the chief culprits being canned pumpkin (versus pumpkin pie filling), ground ginger and ground cloves.
Everything Ina Garten does is perfect.
1 fresh turkey (12 pounds)
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large bunch of fresh thyme
1 lemon, halved
3 Spanish onions
1 head garlic, halved crosswise
4 tablespoons butter (½ stick), melted
½ cup good olive oil
8 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
10 red new potatoes, halved
3 heads fennel, fronds removed, cut into wedges through the core
Preheat the oven to 350°F
Take the giblets out of the turkey and wash the turkey inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pinfeathers and pat the outside dry. Place the turkey in a large roasting pan. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the turkey cavity. Stuff the cavity with the thyme, lemon, one of the onions (quartered), and the garlic. Brush the outside of the turkey with the butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the turkey. Peel and slice the remaining onions, toss them with 1/4 cup olive oil, and scatter them around the turkey.
Roast the turkey for 1 hour. Toss the carrots, potatoes, and fennel with 1/4 cup olive oil and add to the roasting pan. Continue to roast for about 1 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between the leg and the thigh. Remove the turkey to a cutting board and cover with aluminum foil; let rest for 20 minutes.
Stir the vegetables and return the pan to the oven. Continue to cook the vegetables while the turkey rests. Slice the turkey and serve on a platter with the roasted vegetables.
From The Barefoot Contessa Fall 2007
When you grow up in Rhode Island, you just can't comprehend 90 degree temperatures in October. While San Diego enjoys nearly perfect 70 degree weather year round, its hottest days are often in October, when dry desert air blows westward and bakes us like cookies in a convection oven.
No, no, no. October should be pumpkins, apples, and 60 degree days with a crisp breeze and clear blue skies set against brilliant orange, yellow, and red trees.
I decided to take the weather into my own hands. I cranked up the AC to 61 degrees, turned on the oven, and made Pumpkin Spice Cookies. Once the smell of pumpkins hit my frigidly cold condo, it was instant New England here in SoCal.
That is, until I went to shoot the pics on my deck and searing hot, dry air hit me in the face (thankfully I was wearing a tank top under my fleece). When I finished, I came back inside my frosty air-conditioned room, lit a Macintosh Apple scented Yankee Candle, and enjoyed a cookie with a cup of Chai tea.
No matter what your weather is, I'd suggest baking a batch of these big, soft, cakey cookies. Each bite is laced with ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg and studded with cranberries, raisins, and pecans, which is exactly what October should taste like.
I have an image of my father wearing a blue and white canvas pin-stripe apron over his clothes that my mother gave him (with good reason), standing over the barbecue in our backyard alternately spraying charcoal fluid (with big effect) on the briquettes and a few moments later spraying, using his thumb as a spray cap, a large bottle of Canada Dry Soda Water filled (and refilled) with water from the hose onto the resulting flames from the barbecue that were threatening to ruin his perfect barbecued ribs. They were perfect which is sort of surprising since my father couldn’t really cook at all. Scrambled eggs and burnt bacon is about all I remember from his repertoire except for the night he exploded a can of baked beans since he’d decided it was okay to heat them in the can (unopened) which he’d placed in a large pot of boiling water and, I think, forgotten about them. Tip: don’t try that at home.
But his barbecued pork ribs were perfect. The secret was the sauce. The secret was that he marinated them religiously overnight (turning them constantly). The secret was that he cooked them perfectly albeit with a strange method that involved alternately kicking the fire up to high temperatures and then knocking it down. It was a method that I still remember and it was before we knew that charcoal fluid is truly bad for you so don’t try that at home either.
Though I was born and raised in Los Angeles, I have Texas DNA in my bones! And, though I love California Mexican Food, my heart sings when Bill and I have the opportunity to dine Authentic Tex-Mex somewhere deep in the heart of Texas! If I could, like Tex-Mex expert, Robb Walsh, I would wander the state checking out every small eatery in every town. So, on a recent trip to Houston, we – like homing pigeons - made our way to the oldest Mexican Restaurant in that town, Molina’s and to their Enchiladas de Tejas!
Californians love fresh healthy food; accordingly they top their cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese enchiladas with tomatoes, green onions, sour cream and shredded lettuce. Texans, on the other hand really do love dark n dirty! Chili ‘gravy’ tops their Kraft Velveeta or Land O’Lakes Extra Melt stuffed enchiladas! “Velveeta? Land O’Lakes? You ask, shocked? Yes, my dear. Processed cheese melts differently - more elegantly – and is the real ‘authentic’ cheese of choice (irony intended). Still shocked? Bless your heart!
Many Iranians will tell you that breakfast is their favorite meal of the day. No matter how early people have to get up—Iran is a nation of pre-dawn risers—taking time to enjoy the first meal of the day is considered essential.
The delight of a Persian breakfast lies in the variety of different flavors you can put together for each bite. Breakfast will always include toasted flatbread, salty feta, and creamy butter, washed down with small glasses of sweet black tea. There may be homemade jams from local fruit such as quinces, figs, blackberries, and sour cherries, as well as honey, fresh dates, tahini, and perhaps, if you are in luck, a slab of thick, wobbly whipped heavy cream or crème fraiche.
Walnuts and almonds, soaked in water overnight to make them easier to digest, are offered in little bowls alongside platters of fresh herbs and thin slices of tomato and cucumber for those who prefer a savory start to the day. Eggs are boiled, fried, or whisked into an omelette for those who want something more substantial. As ever in Iran, a bowl of seasonal fruit will always be nearby to end the meal.
I first tried this exotic guacamole a couple of years ago at my good friend Robert’s Christmas party. His mother was in town that year and helped prepare some most of the incredible food on the buffet table.
His mother Anita is the kindest woman and has had an extraordinary life -- a true treasure and absolute delight. We bonded at that party by sharing recipe secrets and continue to correspond to this day about favorite foods and cooking techniques. When I asked if she would tell me how to prepare her famous pomegranate guacamole, she graciously emailed me the instructions, explaining that it was a recipe from her mom´s hometown, Guanajuato.
I’ve taken the liberty to list some precise measurements, but in full disclosure, Anita sent the list of ingredients and just put “to taste” after each item (she wrote, “No real amounts, but you are an excellent cook and I am sure you can eyeball it perfectly”.)
by James Moore
The real secret to a great Margarita is choosing the best tequila, so save these for special occasions with just a few friends. Start this recipe the day before your party – it’s worth it. The longer the zest and juice mixture is allowed to steep, the more developed the citrus flavors in the finished margaritas - the full 24 hours is best,...Read more...
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I generally don’t care for Sangria, except for when I’m in Spain - it just seems to taste better there. Sangria makes a perfect summer drink when entertaining, because you can make large batches ahead of time.
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My house wine is sweat tea, but there are a couple concoctions I simply relish as much as tea. One is Mrs. Wilson’s Rosemary Lemonade and the other, a “James Farmer” – this Farmer’s version of an Arnold Palmer.
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A Walk in Chicago
by Lisa Dinsmore