Friday, November 27, 2009

Recipe: Best Leftover Turkey Soup EVER

I finally made Thanksgiving dinner - woo hoo!! So after my family graciously cleared the table and washed the dishes, I knew, staring at all of the deep-fried turkey remains that I just HAD to make some turkey soup.

My sister-in-law Laura unknowingly threw down the gauntlet when she arrived on Wednesday. "Last year you made the BEST turkey soup!" I'm a bit competitive and knew that this year, I had to make more and it absolutely HAD to be even better. It's a cook thing.

So, in my effort to keep things easy breezy, partially because I'm burnt out from cooking the big dinner and partially because I'm, well, lazy, I wanted to keep it really easy, with no measuring or real effort. Here's the recipe (feel free to ad lib as you like):

Christine's Absolutely Fabulous Leftover Turkey Soup

Start by taking your turkey carcass (ours had been deep-fried) and various bit and pieces and throw them into a stock pot (mine was 6 qt., but 8 or 10 would work great too). Cover the turkey parts with cold water and place on the stove. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for a few hours or however long you have-longer is better (mine simmered for 3 hours or so Thanksgiving night, then in the fridge, then back on the stove this morning for another 4 hours). When your liquid drops by an inch or two, add some more water and keep on going (I did this a few times). It helps to concentrate the flavor and give you plenty of broth.

Once the broth smells really rich and has a gorgeous golden tone, set a colander over a large bowl and strain the bones etc. out.

Place the pot back on the stove and toss in a tablespoon or two of butter. (This is where you can get creative). Add any leftover vegetables, without sauce, to the pot and saute until tender, about 5 minutes or so. I used green beans, cut into pieces, sliced raw carrots, a few diced shallots, and a sliced leek.

Pour broth back into the pot. My family eats Kluski noodles on every major holiday, so I took a huge handful of cooked noodles and threw those in the pot too. Add a teaspoon or two of crushed dried thyme and generously salt and pepper it (some fresh parsley would be nice too, but we were totally out). Pull turkey from the bones and toss in the pot as well. We also had leftover carved turkey, so I put some of that in too.

Allow the soup to simmer a half hour or so, or until everything is soft and soup-like. Keep the pot on the stove if you like or gobble it all up right away (see what I did right there? Gobble. Get it? Like a turkey. Tee hee)

Even though this soup seriously cooked all day, it required very little maintenance - more like just some alone time on the stove. We were home, so it wasn't a big deal. When we left to hit Frosty Friday downtown for a few hours, we turned the soup off. When we got back home, we turned it back on. See? Easy.

And that's it. Turkey Soup. The house will smell great and you'll get turkey part deux with a smidgen of the effort of the day before.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Introducing Gotta Break Some Eggs!

I have a super new web site/blog I've been working on:

Gotta Break Some Eggs is a blog focused on getting teens and tweens cooking on their own. There are simple recipes for the beginning cooks and cool videos to demo some of the recipes too!

If you're a parent, you'll want to take a look at the section we've got just for you with tips and tricks for working with young cooks. Here's a tip: Relax. You can see what I mean right here.

Want to show the kid in your life a simple way to make a smoothie? You can see a video demo right here.

Soon we'll also have awesome kitchen equipment on the site that you can even buy for the young cook in your life.
I'm just thrilled to get this started and can't wait to hear your feedback and questions. Be sure to post any questions you have on that section of the site and we'll get right back to you!

So, on your to-do list for today? Visit! And thanks!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Thanksgiving Planning: Giving Up Control of The Turkey (or Why you should Deep Fry your Turkey this year)

I'm gonna catch some heat for this, but I think that you should deep fry your turkey this Thanksgiving.

Now, I am a huge fan of walking into the house and having the aroma of a gently roasting (humongous) bird wafting through the air, but this year? It just isn't gonna happen.

Though I love the idea (and flavor) or a roasted bird, doing the deep fry offers certain advantages:

1. Your oven is free to make all of those fabulous, wonderful side dishes that are really the centerpiece of the event.

2. Whomever is in charge of the deep-frying, and yes, it's usually the guys, is out of the kitchen and out of your hair.

3. By allowing someone else to take control of the bird, you're letting And let's be honest here, everyone wants to help. To contribute.

You may be sacrificing the roasted bird, but it will still taste fantastic if done right (and who doesn't like to research and have a little bit of a challenge) and you can make gravy another way. Plus, you can still brine the heck out of that sucker if you want.

If I had a fancy oven at home (or two) and the space to roast, without a doubt, that's the way I'd go. But I don't. And I have one of those stupid flat, glass cooktops too, which is really different from cooking at The Kitchen Studio and my glorious 3 ovens and 10 burners of power.

Let's not forget, in all of the pressure of creating the right meal with the right menu and perfect timing is just a small part of the holiday. Sharing the work and being with folks you love, while simultaneously trying to not kill them, is the real joy, whether it sounds cliched or not.

As an extra added bonus, they have smaller 3-gallon containers of Peanut Oil at Sam's Club right now for less than $20. And you know that you know someone who has a turkey fryer but won't use it, so feel free to borrow or try to hit up Freecycle and see what you can find. It will be worth it in the end.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Holy Grail: Planning Thanksgiving Dinner

After all these years, it's finally happened. I'm making Thanksgiving dinner for the family. Woo hoo! Yippee!

Wait a minute...WHAT did I get myself into?

Last year, I blogged about never having the opportunity to make Thanksgiving dinner. As someone in the food biz, I view this holiday like the Superbowl of food, and I'm always sitting on the bench. You can read that post/whine-fest right here.

So this year, I finally decided that it was time to take the reins. My lovely sister-in-law Laura has hosted dinner the past several years for the whole crew. Laura has a beautiful home and the ability to schedule and plan like no one else I know. She's a natural for this and never seems to sweat even a little bit. But, Laura and family live a few states away and I was hoping to stay closer to home this year. My dad isn't in great health and my brother Todd and his super-duper prganant wife will not be making the trip, so the timing seems right. The fact that my brother-in-law Ed always wants to do a project in our house when he visits had nothing to do with this. I swear. Pinky-swear?

As for me, the house is a bit smaller so I'm a little crunched trying to figure out where to put everyone, because this isn't a balance it on your lap kind of meal.

Also, I tend to bite off more than I can chew task/menu-wise. I like to show that I really can cook, and try too much fabulousness, thus making dinner late and people grumpy.

My own family is not known for gourmet feasts, but more of a homestyle traditional PA-type dinner (gravy on everything), but my husband's family is more adventurous, though I did find out that I am required to serve corn. Okkkkkkkkay.

So, for the next 3-1/2 weeks, I will use this space to plan, recipe test, and sort out the details, culminating, of course, in fabulous photos of a wonderful, perfect meal.

The first dilemma is this: How do I plan a meal that pleases everyone and can be executed with ease? Planning will be paramount, and I know I'll have to keep myself under control. Right now I'm wrestling with all of the fabulous cooking magazines scattered about my living room with a million different versions of the same type of recipes.

I'm actually swooning over the latest issue of Fine Cooking, one of my very favorite cooking magazines, and the spread of sky-high gorgeous cake recipes provided by one of my favorite bakers, Rebecca Rather, the Pastry Queen, of Rather Sweet Shop down in Texas. This Hot Chocolate Cake with Homemade Marshmallows has me all a-twitter just thinking about it. My goodness, have you ever seen such gorgeousness????

So how do you do it?

How do you plan a successful, delicious meal while getting the house ready (time to move my "office" from the living room back to the spare room), making the table look great, and accepting the generous offers of food from family? You just know they will offer to bring something and it's important to say yes yes yes, while keeping things in-line with the meal you want to serve. Plus having other folks bring things? Makes dinner soooooo much easier. Am I right or am I right?

So how do YOU do it? How do you make a great meal and keep everyone happy? What's your trick? Your tip? Your surefire way to keep it all movin' along.

Tomorrow, my first tip. Gobble gobble. :)