The Determined Cook

A place where perfection lies in the tasty morsel that finds its way into your mouth.

My First,SUCCESSFUL, Roasted Turkey

Thanksgiving turkey has to be the centerpiece, so having the pressure of being a first-time Thanksgiving hostess, the added pressure of the turkey coming out perfect make me super nervous.  My neighborhood Ralphs was where I was able to be “guaranteed” a fresh turkey (I think that I asked the butcher to bet his life that I would have a fresh bird the day before Thanksgiving).  My Dad was nice enough to come over the night before and help me inject the bird with a great salt marinade.  I am obsessed with marinating, so why would I not marinate a 23 lb bird.  On Thursday morning, I was up at 3:00 a.m. because I had read that the turkey had to come up to room temperature to assure that it roasted well.  Then, I was up at 6:00 a.m. and the race was on – rub the turkey, stuff the turkey, make sure the wings are foiled, tent the turkey, have all basting tools ready, set the temperature, and start…oh yes, and put turkey in the oven!  Mr. Turkey absorbed all the marinade and herb rub and stuffing flavors, and was juicy, flavorful, and minimal of leftovers.  Here’s the recipe…enjoy.


Mediterranean Roasted Turkey (printable recipe)




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Thanksgiving

My husband and I hosted Thanksgiving this year – a late lunch for thirty of our family and closest friends.  We decided upon a potluck so that we could experience the many specialties that our guests are known for.  Brad and I made the turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, roasted striped bass and appetizers.    Both our families together create the United Nations and as a result, our dinner table was laden with a variety of dishes.  Since this was the first time we had hosted Thanksgiving Dinner, we were pretty nervous.  However, everything turned out well…we have a lot to be thankful for.  .

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Persimmon Pudding Cake – Not!

Photo from Wairere Online.

My colleague at work was kind enough to share the ripe persimmons from her tree.  Not liking the fruit itself, but loving persimmon bread and persimmon pudding, I decided to make a persimmon cake.  There is a nice recipe that I found at http://www.wairere.co.nz/poshnosh.mvc that sounded delicious.  Getting the pulp out of the persimmons was pretty easy.  I strained the fruit through fine-meshed strainer and what came out was a beautiful, orange-gold pulp.  Here’s the recipe.

Ingredients
2 cups of persimmon pulp
4 eggs
½ cup butter, melted
¾ cups milk
1 tsp vanilla
1½ cups flour
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon allspice
Method

 Preheat  oven to 400° F. In a large bowl, mix the persimmon pulp, eggs, butter, milk and vanilla.  In a separate bowl, mix the flour, sugar baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients a third at a time.  Bake in a buttered glass pan at 400°F until done (about 50 minutes).

However, after about 30 minutes of baking, I realized that I had forgotten to add the baking soda and the baking powder.  The cake rose in the oven, and when I inserted the knife into its center, it came out dry.  I let it cool for about a half hour and found the courage to cut into it.  It sliced up like a pie.  It did not sink, and it tasted pretty darn good!

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Roasted Chicken Breasts Marinated in a Green Tomato and Jalapeno Jam

Photo from the Closet Cooking Blog.
 

After scouring the produce section in various local markets, for the last few weeks, I finally found green tomatoes at my local Jon’s market.  So I grabbed a couple of pounds and the necessary ingredients to make Kevin Lynch’s (Closet Cooking) Green Tomato and Jalapeno Jam.  The hardest part for me was peeling the tomatoes, but the rest of the recipe (see below) was rather easy to follow.

I bathed two large, butterflied, chicken breasts in the tomato and jalapeno jam and marinated them for 24 hours.  Then I baked the chicken in a casserole dish at 350F for an hour.  The jam liquified and created a great sauce.  Served with buttered brussel sprouts, this made for a great week-night dinner.  Enjoy!

Green Tomato and Jalapeno Jam

(makes 3 cups of jam)
Printable Recipe

Ingredients:
4 jalapenos (sliced)
1/2 cup herbs such as mint and cilantro (chopped)
4 cloves garlic (chopped)
1 inch piece ginger (chopped)
1/2 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 pound green tomatoes (peeled and chopped)
3 cups sugar

Directions:
1. Puree the jalapenos, herbs, garlic, ginger vinegar and soy sauce in a food processor.
2. Place the mixture into a sauce pan and add the tomatoes and sugar.
3. Bring to a boil and simmer until it thickens, about 45 minutes.

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Grazing on Luxurious Tidbits – Lunch at Work

Although leftovers are my absolute favorite for lunch, there are times when the dinner was so good that there are no leftovers.  There are many a time when I have resorted to sitting at my desk for lunch, but in recent days, I have forced myself to get up and just take a break. This week, my lunch bag  (heavily labeled and stored in the deepest recesses of our office fridge) is laden with goodies like pate soaked in port wine, melba toats, slivers of havarti cheese, a red pepper, snap peas, carrots, hummus, pita bread, salami, dehydrated papaya, and blackberry juice. With these ingredients, I am able to create a lunch that carries me out of the office and onto a sprawling green meadow where butterflies flit about, daffodils bloom, birds sing, and there are no signs of work.

Yesterday, I dug into my lunch box and came up with the following lunch. I started out with carrots and snap peas dipped in a garlicky hummus, then was onto a second course of a grilled pita sandwich with salami and havarti.  For dessert, I feasted on dehydrated papaya.
Who says a work lunch has to be boring.

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Lunch From Around the World

Yesterday was Veterans’ Day, and I had the day off from school – what better reason than to host an intimate lunch with family. All guests were asked to bring a dish that was from a different country. I chose Spain and decided upon a couple of easy-to-make items. I started out with Elle’s Chevre dip ( http://www.ellesnewenglandkitchen.com/) which has now become a request at every party of mine. Adding to the appetizer menu, I tore a page out of Nuria’s blog (http://recipespicbypic.blogspot.com/) and deconstructed her Aphrodisiac salad into an appetizer. My contribution to the main course menu was a potato and spinach fritata loaded with good flavor from sundried tomatoes and Serrano ham.  Here are the recipes…enjoy!

Deconstructed Aphrodisiac Salad
Potato Discs

4 large russet potatoes
1/4 lb Serrano Ham
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Accompanying Salsa
1 avocado
1 large red onion
2 tomatoes on the vine
3 tbsp good olive oil
Juice of one lemon
Salt and Pepper to taste



Slice the potatoes into one inch discs and boil in salted water until medium tender.  Remove from boiling water and place on a greased baking dish. Sprinkle with good olive oil, salt and pepper.  Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes (turning them halfway).  Serve on a large platter, golden side up.  Place a generous piece of Serrano ham on each piece, then drizzle again with olive oil.  Serve with a mixture of tomatoes, red onion, avocado and mint that has marinated in olive oil and lemon juice.

Spinach and Potato Frittata
1 bag fresh baby spinach
1 large russet potato 
1 large yellow onion
5 strips of bacon

3 cloves of garlic

10 large eggs
2 tbsp sundried tomatoes
Chevre goat cheese

2 tbsp cream
Salt and pepper to taste

Peel and dice the potato and pop it into the microwave with a bit of water (covered) for 4 minutes.  In a oven-safe sautee pan, fry the bacon until medium-crisp.  To the renderings, add the onion and garlic and sautee until golden.  Next, add the cooked potatoes, stirring as they cook to ensure golden deliciousness on all sides. Add the spinach to the mix and cook until wilted (lower the fire if necessary) and then add the sundried tomatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  Once all ingredients have been combined on the sautee pan, spread them around to cover the pan and add dollops of goat cheese and turn the fire off.

In a separate bowl, beat the 10 eggs and incorporate the cream.  Season with pepper (no salt…makes the eggs runny and there is enough salt in the sauteed mixture).  Pour over sauteed ingredients and turn the stove on to medium, until eggs seem to set.  Finish the dish off by putting it in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes.

I served this with Harry and David’s red onion and pepper reslish.

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My Hubby’s Favorite Dish

Teriyaki chicken is my husband’s favorite dish.  He is perfectly happy with chicken breast marinated in a bottled teriyaki sauce, but when he tried this new concoction of mine, not only did he go for seconds, but there wasn’t a crumb left on his plate.

The sauce was based on the Honey Ginger Chicken Breast found on my new favorite blog For the Love of Cooking (http://fortheloveofcooking-recipes.blogspot.com).  I decided to cube my chicken breasts and so that it would go well with my side of sticky rice and steamed peas.  Matched with a dry champagne (we weren’t celebrating anything in particular, just that it was a Sunday), this dish hit the spot!

Chicken Marinade (enough for two large chicken breasts)
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp chili paste
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp crushed ginger
1 tsp crushed garlic
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 tbsp orange juice

Mix all the ingredients and heat in the microwave for 30 seconds.  Pour over chicken cubes, mix, seal and marinate for at least three hours.  Remove chicken cubes from the marinade and sautee in hot peanut oil until browned.  Add marinade with 4 tbsp of chicken broth.  Bring to a boil, lower the fire to a simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes.

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