early thanksgiving with family

We just returned from a nice, long vacation at home in Washington State visiting family and friends. While we were there, my family had an early Thanksgiving dinner, since we weren’t able to be in town for the real Thanksgiving. The whole family had not been together for a Thanksgiving dinner in a number of years, so it was a great time!

As usual with my dad’s side of the family we always do a semi-potluck style. Everyone brings something to add (side dish, wine, desert, etc.), but the Turkey is always done by my dad and I usually prepare a couple side dishes.

My parents have a pellet grill/smoker that they prepare the turkey in every year after brining in a bourbon brine overnight and injecting with a flavoring liquid. It is smoked for several hours and then the heat is cranked up to finish the cooking. The result is a super moist, flavorfully delicious turkey!

thanksgiving turkey

dad and turkey

For my part I made my Apple-Pear sauce, roasted vegetables and broiled asparagus and broccoli with lemon and gruyere cheese. I also baked some whole wheat rolls for mopping up the delicious juices on the plate!

apple-pear sauce

roasted vegetables

broiled asparagus and broccoli

whole wheat rolls

The apple-pear sauce is cooked with 6-7 pears (of your choice) and about 10 apples (of your choice), a splash of water to help moisten, honey, cinnamon and fresh ground nutmeg. Bring the apples, pears, water and honey to a boil and leave to cook until all the fruit has broken down. Add the cinnamon and fresh ground nutmeg to finish and voila!

The roasted vegetables were prepared with dutch baby yellow potatoes, butternut squash, leeks, red and white pearl onions, turnips, parsnips, carrots, sage, rosemary, thyme, and chives. Just mix with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast at about 400 degrees until deliciously roasty!

The broiled asparagus and broccoli is super easy! Chop up the vegetables and spread on an oiled sheet pan and season liberally with salt and pepper. Squeeze the juice of one lemon over the vegetables and put under the broiler. You will know it is done when the edges of the broccoli and asparagus get brown. Immediately after removing from the oven shave liberally with gruyere cheese and mix to melt and distribute. That’s it!

Finally, for the rolls, I just mixed up a batch of the yeasted bread dough from the Tassajara Bread Book and divided it up into small balls, cut a cross in the top and basted with an egg-milk wash and baked. Super simple!

I hope you all have a happy, food filled Thanksgiving!

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favorite herbs part 2 – cilantro…it doesn’t taste like soap!

Well, it has been a while since I’ve done a post, but my flu became bronchitis and I’m finally better and up to blogging again!!

As you may remember from the first installment of “Favorite Herbs,” number 3 was sage.  As we continue the countdown to number 1, the next stop is….cilantro!

If you are familiar with Latin American or Southeast Asian cuisine, you will undoubtably be familiar with cilantro (often referred to as coriander in Europe).  Cilantro adds a lovely “citrus-like” note that pairs well with Latin American and Southeast Asian cuisines as they often employ citrus in their recipes, most notably limes.

Now, there does seem to be somewhat of a “controversy” about cilantro.  Apparently some people do not like it.  I–of course–cannot understand this as the smell of it makes me salivate.  However, there does seem to be some scientific reason behind why some people detest cilantro and think it tastes like soap.  Apparently, there are fat molecules in cilantro that are related to molecules found in soap leading some people to experience a soapy taste.  There is a great article on the New York Times website discussing in depth the dislike that many have for cilantro.

In the end, I do feel bad a little bit for those that don’t like cilantro.  Perhaps because I love it so much.  But, that just means more cilantro for me!

Coming up next….#1  What will it be?  You’ll just have to keep guessing!

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roast chicken tacos with guacamole

I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted, but I’ve been down with the flu the last few days.  I’m finally starting to feel a bit better and thought I should sit down and get to some posting.

So, in my last post I mentioned that we used the leftover chicken from the roast chicken that I made last Saturday to make American-style chicken tacos.  I promised I would cover that in another post–so here it goes!!

After eating the yummy roast chicken we had a breast and the two leg-thigh sections leftover.  I took the chilled chicken and shredded it by hand into bite-sized pieces.

pulled chicken

In a fry pan I sweated some onion with olive oil and then added the chicken with a mexican blend of spices.  Of course the chicken is already cooked, so this was more about heating up the cooked chicken without overcooking it and adding additional flavors to the party.

sautéed onion

prepared chicken

I also made a guacamole to go with the tacos.  Now, the version we make is almost like a cross between guacamole and pico de gallo because the ratio of pico de gallo ingredients is higher than normally found in guacamole.  It is delicious and we often prefer it to just pico de gallo, or guacamole alone.  It is super easy to make.  You dice tomatoes, onions, and jalapeno and mix them together with salt and lime juice.  The ratios and amounts of the onion and jalapeno will depend upon your tolerance and liking of either one.  I happen to love onion and love spicy food, so I use an almost equal amount of onion to tomato and about 4 good sized jalapenos (not de-seeded because I like the heat, but you can de-seed if you prefer).  I also like a good amount of lime juice, so I used about 1 1/2 limes.

tomato and onion


After the diced ingredients are mixed with salt and lime juice, taste the mixture to make sure it is to your liking, then add chopped cilantro and diced avocado.  The number of avocados to use will vary depending on how big they are, and how much avocado you want.  This time I used about 4 large avocados.  Mix to combine, and voila!


diced avocado

all mixed

Now that the chicken is done and the guacamole is ready, heat your corn shells (we used store bought hard shell tacos since we were making American-style tacos) in the oven for about 4 minutes, add your chicken, some of the guacamole, a little shredded cheese, and your favorite hot sauce (Tapatio is king in our house).  That’s it! An easy, second meal form leftover roast chicken.

American-style chicken tacos


Guacamole on FoodistaGuacamole

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roast chicken

So, last Saturday I had a lovely organic, free-range chicken from Trader Joe’s in my refrigerator clucking to be paid attention to.  I could have cut it up, seared the pieces and made a lovely Coq au Riesling (the Alsace region’s answer to Coq au Vin).  Or, I could have dredged it and fried it for the perennially un-healthy fried chicken.  Instead, I opted for another classic.

Roast chicken and vegetables!

I pulled out my All-Clad Ultimate Chicken Roaster that I got at Williams-Sonoma last year and set about giving some pre-roast love to the bird.  I separated the skin from the meat on the breast and thighs and massaged salt and pepper and a mixture of olive oil, rosemary, thyme, sage, and minced garlic on the meat.  I also spread some of the herb/olive mixture on the outside of the skin along with salt and pepper.

In the roasting pan I added diced butternut squash, potatoes, onion, and leeks.  I seasoned the vegetables with the same herbs as the chicken and added a small amount of chicken stock to the pan.

What I like about this roasting pan is that it has a detachable arm that suspends the chicken over the pan with a liquid reservoir that ends up inside the chicken.  I filled the reservoir with some stock and then trussed the chicken onto the arm.

Then the bird and vegetables were popped in the oven to roast.  With the chicken suspended above the vegetables, the skin gets crispy all around and the chicken juices drip down onto the vegetables, so they get infused with delicious “chickeny” flavor.

roast chicken

roasted vegetables

We had a lot of left over chicken, so the next night we turned it into tacos…but that’s another post!!

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strawberry sage jam

Tonight my creative juices were flowing after trying a blueberry mint jam inspired by Blue Chair Fruit Company’s new cookbook.  I had some strawberries in my refrigerator and started looking through the rest of the contents of my fridge looking for something to pair with them. Having spotted some sage, and remembering my first post in my “favorite herbs” series, I thought…”hmm…I wonder if that will work?”  Only one way to find out!

strawberry sage jam

I set off whipping up a batch of strawberry jam with my usual recipe.  Once the jam was cooked I steeped some fresh sage leaves in the jam for a about 2 minutes.  I did not want an overwhelming sage presence, just a lovely “sagey” note in the background.

Needless to say, I loved it!  The earthy sage paired beautifully with the sweet strawberries.  I can’t wait to use it for a fabulous PB&J sandwich.

If you try out this combination drop me a line and let me know!  Or, if you have any suggestions for new jam combinations pass it along and I’ll give it a whirl.

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