Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving Aftermath - Three Tips for Dry Leftover Turkey

So it's been a few days since you carved up the big bird. When you reheat that once-juicy white meat, though, you're left with something dry as a bone, and quite likely to induce hiccups. Usually, most people just cover it over in gloppy, leftover gravy, or slather on another can of jellied cranberry so they can wolf down the once delicious turkey without ill effect. Your refrigerator is, by necessity, a cool, dry place. In this type of environment, your food is going to start to dry out in any container short of a vacuum bag (and even then, you'll still lose a little). After a few days, you'll probably still have more turkey than you know what to do with, and it's starting to look about as juicy and palatable as an ancient Egyptian head-of-state after a few thousand years in bandages. There is hope though- there are options to resurrect that near-mummified turkey in your fridge and return it to some semblance of it's former glory...

Friday, November 25, 2011

The "Morning After" Sandwich - Thanksgiving Leftovers

Thanksgiving leftovers are a staple of the American diet in late November- some families may have enough leftover turkey and trimmings to make several days worth of meals out of. "Heat it and Eat it" is always a good option- but two or three meals later, it gets boring, fast. Here I walk through a simple idea for a hearty leftover sandwich. This sandwich is a meal in itself, and is starchy enough to help soak up all that excess alcohol the next morning for those of you who indulged in a little too much wine on the big day...

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011 - Thinking about Wine Pairings

Thanksgiving dinner is the biggest meal of the year for your average foodie. I, however, am not cooking it. Actually, I rarely cook Thanksgiving dinner- usually we eat with relatives. I did not cook a thing- not even the pies  for dessert. I do usually get asked to carve the turkey- I don't claim to be great at it, but I usually do a passable job. I did, however, have the responsibility for choosing the wine. The problem is, aside from having some semblance of a palate, I am not very knowledgeable about wine, so I took a few best guesses...

Friday, November 18, 2011

Rigatoni with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe - Gianna's, Carlstadt, NJ

Gianna's is an interesting-looking Italian restaurant located in a fairly large business district in the shadow of Giant's Stadium. While another restaurant not far down the street was notoriously featured on Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares - Gianna's is about as removed from that kind of attention as you can manage. The food is classic Italian, and is made with all the attention to detail and quality of ingredients as you would expect. Their dining room is attractive, comfortable, and well maintained- when compared to the business/industrial area surrounding it, you'd think you stepped into an entirely different world.

This restaurant is located very close to my day job, and I really don't know why I never tried it before. My selection was a classic dish that's been a favorite of mine since my youth- Rigatoni with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe. The slight bitterness of the sauteed greens balances perfectly with the smoky notes from the grilled Italian Sausage, and a little grated parmesan ties the whole thing together. This dish represents all the things that are best about rustic Italian cooking- start with high quality, fresh ingredients, treat them in a simple way, and place them in simple combinations. This dish is made of three main components that have very little done to them- letting their quality and freshness speak for themselves - I wouldn't have it any other way. I also have to mention that their fresh bread is excellent- fresh, warm, crusty, and a perfect accompaniment for a plate of pasta.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Macaroni and Cheese Casserole- Old School Style

Few things say "comfort food" like the classic macaroni and cheese. I'm not talking about that weird, artificially colored stuff that comes out of those little cardboard boxes. I'm talking about old school style macaroni and cheese, baked in the oven in a casserole dish, with some nice crunchy stuff on top. This is my variation on the way my own mother used to make it- this version isn't really over-the-top gooey and cheesy as most- this version is more dry, and the real developed flavors come from that little bit of crunchy topping, and the bits around the edges that brown up and caramelize a bit. The same recipe can easily be adapted to produce something very creamy and cheesy, but there's something about  this proportion of cheese to macaroni that does it for me.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Marge Simpson, Food Blogger!

Food is a common topic for The Simpsons- with Homer's known addiction to donuts, and the old favorite "Chili Cook-Off" episode, it shouldn't come as a surprise to see food lampooned on the show. This time around, it's Marge and the kids getting involved in food culture- but it's less about the food than it is about poking fun at this whole sub-culture and cult of personality we've built around food-oriented television, and the celebrity chefs featured in them.

I'll let the preview clips from the episode "The Food Wife" - which will be airing on 11/13/2011 speak for themselves (below the jump). It's all in good fun- I'm sure you'll find them as entertaining as I do.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Pecan Pie with Chocolate Ganache Topping

Pecan pie is a classic southern dessert. A sweet, gelatinous filling studded with flavorful pecans- the ones at the top are nicely caramelized adding even more flavor- sweet and decadent, it is easy to see why it is many people's favorite. It is also remarkably simple to make- and like many other simple ideas, small variations can have a huge effect on the outcome. My favorite way to modify the simple pecan pie is to add a layer of rich, chocolate topping- a simple idea to enhance a simple dessert...

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

The fall season is pumpkin season. Pumpkin carving is always a fun family activity, and while most pumpkins used for carving are not great choices for turning into pumpkin pie, their seeds make a simple, tasty seasonal snack. The pumpkin seeds have a nutty flavor when roasted, that can hold up well to a wide variety of seasonings.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Linguini with "Pancetta" and Radicchio

So I mulled over what to do with that glorious package of fat-heavy pork trimmings I picked up at the grocery store this week for quite some time. While there was quite a bit of fat, there was also a fair amount of meat- in fact, it seemed to be about the same ratio of fat to meat as most bacon. I don't have a smoker set up, so I can't technically make real bacon, but I can make something more like Italian Pancetta- which is simply salt and spice cured pork belly that isn't smoked. I hesitate to call it actual Pancetta, since I'm not starting with pork belly, just fatty pieces from around the loin, I'm not rolling it up, and I'm only curing it for about a day rather than for a few weeks- so I'll call it "Pancetta" for lack of a better term. The idea I came up with is to use this semi-cured fatty pork in a pasta dish...