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Essentials for Carving the Bird
By Michelle Boyle

November 25, 2015
As I prepare for a Thanksgiving feast, the carving of the turkey is the pièce de la résistance. Be sure to have plenty of room for the turkey to cool off at least 20 to 30 minutes before carving. Take the bird out of the cooking pan; I usually use pot holders to carefully place the turkey on a serving plate. I then put the pan with the drippings right on the stovetop to start the gravy.

If the bird is stuffed, be sure to remove all of the stuffing right away. For a moist texture, I cook a small amount of the stuffing in the bird and mix it with stuffing that is made in the oven.

A sharp large knife is essential to get a clean cut to present the meat in an attractive manner. Taste is important, but a neat presentation makes everything taste a little better. I like to wear an apron when carving.

Place the bird on a large cutting board. Remove the thermometer, cheesecloth, string and spears.

You’ll want to first remove the legs. Gently pull a leg away from the body to look for the joint. The knife should slip easily between the joints to separate the leg. If not, keep searching for the slight separation of the joints, and pull the leg gently away to get a better view of the cartilage. Cut the leg away from the body. I usually serve the leg whole because it is a treat for two of our guests. The wings can be removed in the same manner, or you can leave them on.

I like to separate the skin from around the breast, but the skin can be left in place when you start to slice the breast. Start from the outside edge of the bird. Slice diagonally, cutting the meat thin against the grain. I keep slicing thin pieces of meat down to the bone. Neatly place the pieces of the meat on a large serving platter as you slice them. I’ll start a second plate while serving the first plate, so the cut meat can be served warm.

When all the turkey meat is removed, place the carcass directly in a large pot of boiling water, and turn the heat down to a simmer. Simmer uncovered throughout the evening with a couple of bay leaves. Much of the leftovers can end up in the stock to make a delicious soup for the next few days. I even put leftover lettuce in the stock. Also, don’t forget to add seasoning.

Off goes the apron and enjoy. Be sure to give thanks for family, good company, good food and everything else.


Gluten Free Quinoa Stuffing
Serves 8-10

Ingredients

3.5 cups vegetable broth
½ tsp sea salt
1.5 cups uncooked quinoa
1 T ghee or olive oil
3 cups thinly sliced leek (about ¾ pound)
¾ cup chopped celery
¼ cup diced carrot
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 T mix of thyme, sage or rosemary
4 garlic cloves, minced
¾ cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
½ cup chopped walnuts, toasted

Directions
Bring broth and ¼ teaspoon salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add quinoa. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Let stand 5 minutes; fluff with fork.

Melt ghee in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add leeks, carrot, celery, remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, pepper, and herbs; cook 10 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; cook 1 minute. Stir in cooked quinoa, cranberries, and walnuts; cook until thoroughly heated.

Recipe from Blum Kitchen


Seven Colorful Ways to Welcome Holiday Guests

There are many color schemes that can be used to rejuvenate your home for the Thanksgiving holidays. Interior Designer Liane Rigano of Decor and You suggests seven ways of bringing the richness of fall colors indoors:

1. Red-browns have a warm, rosy glow. The reddish tone of fabric in a tablecloth or cloth napkins can complement the dark-wood finish of tables and chairs. Texture and luster is important; daylight brings out the contrast of the richness of red, especially against cream or white, bringing life to the room.

2. A splash of dark yellow, deep gold, pale cream or gold in pillows or throws used in the living room can create a sense of depth and comfort.

3. Forest green is a welcoming color that evokes the beauty of the forest. Green dishware or green plants, such as overflowing fern used as a centerpiece, add a warm woodland touch, and is especially complementary with rich-brown furniture.

4. A touch of marigold can add color, but is not too bold. Consider mixing and matching cloth napkins to introduce this lively color to your holiday table. Marigold slender candles can also add a touch of color.  

5. Bring the last of autumn indoors to create a natural display with a blazing-red maple tree branch, or a branch lined with red berries. Surround it with textured green and orange gourds.

6. A varied collection of different-colored wine bottles and vases will not only lighten the mood, but also add interesting shapes and color variations.

7. Use plenty of pumpkin-orange as an accent in throws and pillows, as well as table cloths and cloth napkins. It adds a warm welcome, especially when paired with white, cream and warm browns.

We hope these suggestions will help add color and warmth to your holiday table. Liane Rigano, who is available for consultation, offers insight to colors and much more. We look forward to Liane's upcoming winter-seasonal recommendations that will appear on allaboutarmonk.com. You can reach Liane at (914) 273-2870 or lrigano@decorandyou.com.

Turkey Preparation for Thanksgiving

Cooking a turkey at home for a Thanksgiving feast takes some preparation and patience for a long and slow cook. Still, there is nothing like the taste, texture and freshness of a home-cooked organic turkey. The turkey can be picked up from DeCicco's Family Market or ordered in advance from Mrs. Green's Market in Mt. Kisco. You should allow between three-quarters and one pound per serving.

One of the most important factors in cooking a turkey for Thanksgiving is to begin early. Be sure the turkey is completely thawed before preparing. There are three safe ways to thaw a turkey: in the refrigerator, in cold water or in a microwave. See the USDA link for "The Big Thaw" instructions.

Cooking times may vary, but the general rule of thumb is 25 minutes of cooking time per pound for birds under 12 pounds, or 20 minutes per pound for larger birds. Use a food thermometer to insure that all parts of the turkey, including the stuffing, reach a minimum internal temperature of 165ºF.

Scrub the inside and outside of the turkey with warm water and one tablespoon of dissolved baking soda. Dry the turkey and rub the cavity with salt.

Brush the entire outside of the turkey with refined coconut oil. Fill the neck cavity with stuffing and draw the neck skin to the back of the turkey and fasten with a flat skewer. Fold the wing tips up toward the back and tie the wings in place across the back. Fill the cavity loosely with stuffing, allowing room for expansion. Close the opening by inserting three skewers across the opening and lacing the skewers together with a cord. Wrap the cord around the end of each leg, tying securely to the tailpiece, so the legs are close to the body. A variety of seasonings can be applied before cooking or when half done. Fully cover the turkey with cheesecloth soaked in non-GMO organic canola oil. Tuck the cheese cloth under the turkey to keep all the parts covered and moist.  

Place the turkey breast-side up on a greased flat wire rack in a shallow roasting pan, between 2 and 2-1/2 inches deep. Preheat the oven to 400ºF and reduce the temperature to 325ºF, as the turkey is placed in the oven. Roast the turkey and baste several times with the drippings from the pan.

Let the turkey stand for 20 minutes before removing the stuffing from the cavity, the string, skewers, and finally, carving the meat.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention offers instructions for thawing, preparing and stuffing a turkey for a safe holiday dinner. A turkey must be kept at a safe temperature. "While frozen, a turkey is safe indefinitely; as soon as it begins to thaw, bacteria that may have been present before freezing can begin to grow again, if it is in the "danger zone.”

Bacteria present on raw poultry can contaminate your hands, utensils, and work surfaces as you prepare the turkey. If these areas are not cleaned thoroughly before working with other foods, bacteria from the raw poultry can then be transferred to other foods. After working with raw poultry, always wash your hands, utensils, and work surfaces before they touch other foods."

For optimal safety, the CDC suggests cooking "the stuffing outside the turkey in a casserole dish.” However, if you place stuffing inside the turkey, do so just before cooking, and use a food thermometer. Make sure the center of the stuffing reaches a safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F. Bacteria can survive in stuffing that has not reached 165°F, possibly resulting in foodborne illness. More info can be found here. 

Have some special tips on preparing a turkey that you would like to share? Leave them in our comments.

PUMPKIN SOUP

2 lbs. Pumpkin puree
1 tspn. Canola oil
¼ stick Butter, unsalted
1 medium Onion, diced
1 ½ qts.Water
½ tspn. Ground Cinnamon
1 fresh thyme sprigs
¼ tspn. Brown Sugar
1 pinch ground cloves
salt & pepper

• Sautee onion in oil over medium heat for 5 minutes.

• Add water, pumpkin and seasonings. (except for salt & pepper).

• Remove thyme sprigs and puree with hand blender until smooth.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

*Serve with a dollop of Cream Frâiche.

Recipe courtesy La Mer Gourment Seafood 


Gemelli with Pumpkin Cream Sauce
Serves 4

1 pound Gemelli pasta
2 Tablespoons butter, unsalted
½ onion, small diced
1 (15oz) can pumpkin puree
1 cup heavy cream, room temperature
½ cup Parmigiana Reggiano, freshly grated
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper, to taste

1) Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a few pinches of salt, cook the pasta until al dente and drain well
2) In a medium pot over medium heat, melt the butter and sauté the onions for approx. 2 minutes until lightly caramelized
3) Whisk in the pumpkin puree and heavy cream and bring to a simmer
4) Add in the pasta, cheese and fresh herbs, season with the nutmeg, salt and pepper
5) Top with additional freshly grated Parmigiana Reggiano and serve

Recipe from Chef Fragala. For more information visit www.yourculinaryexp.com

Whipped Sweet Potatoes

Simple, fresh, and healthy side-dishes fill up our table on Thanksgiving day. Chef Amy of Blum Kitchen gives us a healthy, dairy-free version of a Thanksgiving favorite that's as easy as it is crowd-pleasing: Whipped Baked Sweet Potatoes.  

She chose healthy fats like coconut oil as an alternative to butter, and used coconut milk to give the sweet potatoes a creamy, thick consistency.  Warm autumn spices and a touch of maple syrup add a rich flavor the whole family will love!

Ingredients
4-6  large organic sweet potatoes, washed, peeled, and cut into 2 “ chunks
½ C coconut milk
1T   coconut oil
½ t  ground ginger
½ t  ground nutmeg
½ t  ground cinnamon
2T   maple syrup
½ t  sea salt
Directions

Place prepared sweet potatoes in a large stock covered with water. Bring to a boil and cook until tender, about 20 minutes.

Grease a 2qt. casserole dish with coconut oil and set aside.

Pre-heat oven to 350°F.

Drain sweet potatoes and place in a large bowl. Add the rest of your ingredients and with a potato masher or a hand mixer mash well until smooth. Place sweet potato mixture into prepared dish and bake for 30 minutes.

Enjoy!  Looking for more recipes this holiday season?  Join Chef Amy's Gluten Free Holiday Baking Class on December 3rd!

With gratitude,
The Blum Center Family

Bourbon Butterscotch Poached Peaches

This Bourbon Butterscotch Poached Peaches recipe is from Moderne Barn's Executive Chef Ethan Kostbar. This recipe is one of his favorites to make with the peaches him and his family collect at the local farmer’s market.

Serves 10-12

Ingredients
6 Peaches (peeled, split, pitted)
1 C Bourbon
¼ lb. Butter, melted
1 C Dark brown sugar
1 C Heavy cream
Pinch of Salt
1ea Vanilla Beans
10 Cloves

Directions
1. Place everything in a pot over medium heat for one minute
2. Bring to a boil, stir, and strain
3. Place peaches in liquid and put on a low simmer 3-5 minutes cover
4. Cook until the peaches are tender
5. Serve warm over a bowl of vanilla or ginger ice cream

LaMer Seafood's Marinated Figs Wrapped in Prosciutto

1 basket of fresh figs
½ lb. Prosciutto, sliced thin
½ lb. goat cheese, room temperature
¾ c. Balsamic condimente

1. Cut Figs into quarters from point to point
2. Marinate in Balsamic condiment for 3 hours.
3. Remove figs from marinade, place in a colander and allow the excess marinade to drip off.
4. Lay out the prosciutto slices vertically and cut each in ½ crosswise.
5. Place a small piece of goat cheese in the center of the cut side of the Fig.
6. Roll the Prosciutto around the Fig and goat cheese and insert a 6” skewer where the Prosciutto overlaps.
7. Arrange on a platter on a bed of green Kale and an Orange. Crown off center for your guests to place their used skewers.

La Mer Gourmet Seafood


BUTTERNUT SQUASH PUREE

½ c. Canola oil
½ small Carrot, peeled and diced
1 Large Onions, diced
3 lbs. (1) lg. Butternut Squash. Peeled and diced coarse
½ lbs. Sweet potatoes, peeled and shredded
1 gal Tap Water
2 tsp. Honey
1 pinch ground Cinnamon
1 pinch ground Nutmeg
Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

1. In an 8 qt. Sauce Pot, Sautee onion in oil over medium heat until wilted, about 4 minutes.

2. Add butternut squash and sauté until soft, over medium heat, about 5 minutes.

3. Add water and shredded sweet potato and boil for 1 hour on medium heat.

4. Reduce heat to a low simmer and allow to cook for another 30 minutes.

5. Add cinnamon, nutmeg.

6. Using electric whisk (hand blender), puree everything until smooth.
Add salt and pepper to taste.

*Serve hot w/ a dollop of Cream Frâiche*

Recipe courtesy of La Mer Gourmet Seafood