Southwestern Turkey Burgers

Winter is back with a vengeance!  Mother nature does like to mess with us.  Offices were closed so I got a snow day.  It was lovely to watch the snow come down in the comfort of home.  It also allowed me to catch up with some projects I’m working on.  There is a possibility I might have to have hand surgery soon so all my knitting and crocheting projects need to get done.  Which might guarantee I won’t need surgery!  Fingers crossed.

We are also getting ready for our exchange student to come this weekend.  She has actually been here since August but they way they do it now is the student spends three months with a host family then moves on to another one.  So now it’s our turn. She is from Denmark and I’m looking forward to trying out recipes from there.  Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.  I am looking into the Danish rye breads to give that a go.

Before winter returned we had some fabulous warm weather which meant lighter meals.  I do miss salads.  I thought it would be fun to do turkey burgers, not realising how mushy the ground turkey can be to work with.  Very sticky!  But if you can get past that you can have a great meal.

Southwestern turkey burgers 1 2017

To make the burgers I mixed a pound of ground turkey meat with half a cup of freshly grated cheddar cheese, a few splashes of hot sauce, 1-2 tablespoons of chili powder, and a teaspoon of ground cumin.  Season with sea salt and pepper.  Mix and form into burgers.  Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Brown both sides.

Southwestern turkey burger 2 2017

Finish off in the oven at 350F/175C.  Finely chop scallions, peppers, garlic, and mushrooms.  Add them to the skillet with 1-2 cups of frozen corn.  Add 1-2 tablespoons of chili powder, a teaspoon of ground cumin, 1-2 tablespoons of lime juice, sea salt and pepper, finish with fresh cilantro.

Southwestern turkey burger 3 2017

As the burgers finish cooking top with pepper jack cheese to melt.  Serve over mixed lettuce greens and top with the veg mix.  We also cooked up some sweet potato fries.

Southwestern turkey burger 4 2017

An easy dinner to put together when you want loads of flavour on a busy night.

 

 

 

Turkey Day and Despite a Tough Year, Still Grateful

Thursday is the American holiday of Thanksgiving.  For those that follow me you know this is my favourite holiday.  With all the materialism built in with a lot of holidays I like we have one where is’t just family and good food.

It’s been a tough year for my family.  We have 12 round the table and we weren’t guaranteed we’d have 12 this time round.  Fortunately my sister’s neck is just about good as new and my dad’s life saving surgery went as well as it should have.  And we are fortunate my cousin in Kenya has made a near complete recovery from his car accident.  Thank goodness the two taxi drivers rushed him to hospital barely alive.  This was while others looted his car.  So you can imagine the amount of gray hair that made light of day in our family this year!

We’re very much looking forward to 2016, as you can imagine!

For this post I wanted to reshare a few of my recipes I’ve made over the years for Thanksgiving.  I figured I’d get them in before the holiday rather than after for once.  🙂

Sage pear turkey 5 2014

The Sage Pear Turkey fast became a favourite of mine.  Pear works so well with the sage and stuffing the skin with butter just makes it divine.

Cranberry Raisin Sauce 6 2014

Hopefully this year I won’t forget to serve the cranberry sauce!  I made this last year with port and it was really delicious.  I like to do variations each year for something new.  I’ve done it with orange, ginger, thyme.  Surprisingly cranberry is a good match for many different ingredients.

Stuffing balls 6 2013

Stuffing balls are a fun variation.  These are made with pork.  This year I’ll be separating these out to have sourdough stuffing then pork balls as some can’t have gluten.

I was going to share a blog post of pumpkin pie.  Looks like I haven’t done a post on that!  Guess what will be coming soon?

For those that celebrate this holiday I hope it is a safe and fun one.  And may you not have to travel too far!

Sage Pear Turkey

How did it get to Saturday already?  Where did this week go?  My husband is travelling for two weeks and I’ve had the kids this week.  It’s been a whirlwind of band practice, concerts, tennis practice, and herding the pets.  Plus the tax office is starting up with some things and suddenly it’s Saturday.  I hope next week goes by just as fast because then my husband will be home. 🙂

We had a lovely Thanksgiving but we delayed it a day because a snow storm blew through the night before the actual holiday.  We were lucky because we didn’t lose power but a lot of people did and they were stuck with all that food and no way to cook it.  Some got creative and fired up the old grill.

As usual we order our turkey from a local farm.  Usually we order it from Mayfair Farms a few towns over.  When we don’t it’s because I flaked and waited too long.  This year I didn’t, I ordered early and asked for a small turkey, about 12-13lbs.  Yes, that won’t be a problem, I am on the list!  Pat on the back and all.  Well, best laid plans and all that because the turkeys turned out to be even healthier and hungrier than planned.  Our turkey ended up being 17.56 lbs!  Holy moly.  So I quickly put out the word to my family members to bring containers.  Did any of them do that?  Absolutely not.  Sigh.

As I drove out into the woods to pick up our bird it started snowing and by the time I got to the farm it was really pretty.

Sage pear turkey 9 2014

Craig and Sarah, who own the farm, have been here for a few years now and have really made it into a growing concern which is wonderful.  And I was greeted by the “guard” dog who definitely had to check me out.

Sage pear turkey 8 2014

Each year I try to do the turkey a bit differently from the last to keep it fresh so I thought I would do a sage and pear roast turkey with butter.

Sage pear turkey 1 2014

I softened 1/2 cup of butter and worked in a handful of chopped fresh sage.

Sage pear turkey 2 2014

Luckily the turkey still fit into the roasting pan.  Not the lid though so I had to use tin foil to cover.  Murphy was really hoping I’d screw up somehow and the turkey would magically fly out of the pan and onto the floor.

Sage pear turkey 3 2014

I’ll admit I don’t like this next step of mucking about with raw poultry.  I stuffed most of the butter under the skin and what little was left rubbed into the outside of the skin.  Season with salt and pepper.  I used white pepper because we ran out of regular pepper.

Sage pear turkey 4 2014

In the basin of the pan add a peeled pear, chopped, half a red onion, a few cloves of garlic, a handful of sage, and a few teaspoons of fresh thyme.  Add 1/2 cup of dry sherry, and a couple of cups of water.  Cover with tin foil or a lid and begin roasting at 325F/160C.  If the turkey is less than 15lbs, cook it 15 minutes per pound, if more than than, then drop it to 12 minutes.  This is per the Fanny Farmer cookbook.  So our turkey was about 3 1/2 hours.  An hour and a half in I basted.  When there is an hour to an hour and a half left remove the cover.  Normally I wait to the last 45 minutes but because I added so much butter I knew this wouldn’t dry out.

Sage pear turkey 5 2014

Now I love turkey skin and let me tell you this was amazing.  Crispy and full of flavour!  And because I put in all the ingredients for the gravy at the beginning it is just about made.  I put it on the boil and add dissolved corn flour a bit at a time to get the thickness I want.  Stir constantly.  I usually add a bit of Gravy Master but not too much because I want the subtle flavours of the pear and sage to come through.

Sage pear turkey 6 2014

We did our usual roast veg and I made the stuffing balls I did last year.  I also made a fabulous cranberry port sauce.  That I forgot to serve. Honestly, all that effort.  All well I’ll serve it at Christmas.

Sage pear turkey 7 2014

Of course we had way too much food.  I always stress about making sure we have enough food though logically I know we’ll have leftovers taking over the fridge.  But it was wonderful to have family together for my favourite holiday.

Around the World for Turkey Madras

It’s official, we’ll have a white Christmas.  Unless warm weather comes our way but given that it will be a low of 0F/-18C tomorrow I think we’re safe.  We woke to everything white with about 8″ of snow.  It happened overnight so most people were off the roads which is the way it should be.  It’s amazing that no matter how cold it is cleaning up the snow will make you hot.  I know our kids will come home today all flushed from being outside.  I fear my son may be a bit disappointed as the snow is dry so not the best for snowball fights.

For my last meal of turkey leftovers I decided to go the Indian Cuisine route and to a bit of Madras.  It’s not exact to the recipe as I couldn’t find curry leaves and also used jalapenos instead of green chilies as that is what I had on hand.

I find it interesting as I connect to people globally what is available for ingredients and what I may take for granted.  I did try with the curry leaves but it was a fool’s errand.  There isn’t much demand for curry leaves in my little corner of the world though we are pretty lucky to get a lot of things.  But when I posted about our cheesecake there were some comments about wondering what graham crackers were.  Now I wonder if a cheesecake is made in Europe what the base is.  I know I need to special order a few things from England to get my fixes and when we move back there I’ll have to do the same for some American ingredients.  As much as I am a fan of buying local I am glad we are able to get a few things here and there.  Cheese and onion crisps for example. 🙂

The base recipe for my dish came from “Best Ever Curry Cookbook” and then I made it mine.

For this dish I used our cast iron wok.  It cooks quickly especially since the turkey was already cooked.

In the wok I heated up about 3T of vegetable oil and sauteed about half an onion and a couple of chopped cloves of garlic.

Turkey Madras 2 2013

I sliced up a jalapeno, removing the seeds, and added it to the mixture.  Then I grated fresh ginger over the onion and pepper.  I put in a couple of teaspoons.

Turkey Madras 3 2013 Turkey Madras 1 2013

I added about 1 1/2 cups of shredded turkey and stirred well.  Add 3T of tomato paste, a pinch of fresh ground fenugreek, 1/4 tsp of fresh ground fennel seeds, 1-2tsp of ground coriander, 2 tsp of chili powder, 1/4 tsp of ground tumeric, salt to taste, 1 1/2 cups of turkey stock (the recipe calls for water) then stir well.  I upped some of the seasoning to bring the flavours we like out.  Then add about 2T of lemon juice.

Turkey Madras 4 2013

I wasn’t make a lot of this as we were making naan to go with our mango chutney but I wanted to add a bit of colour to the dish and bump it up a little so I chopped up some yellow peppers and added it to the dish.

Turkey Madras 5 2013

Saute for a couple minutes then serve.  This dish takes about 10 minutes to cook so it’s a great dish for a weeknight when things are a bit crazy.

Turkey Madras 6 2013

The mango chutney went very well with this dish as it was a little sweet with a bit of heat.

Turkey, Leeks, and Lemon

The chances of a white Christmas are definitely increasing.  We’ve had a couple of snow showers that haven’t melted due to the freezing cold but this weekend is shaping up to be the first major storm of the season.  The kind where we need to make sure the snowblower fires up and we have enough fuel for it.  The major weather sites are just saying snow but the local weather sites are saying it could be 6-12″.   The kids will be thrilled!  They love snowball fights.  🙂  Fortunately it will be over the weekend so no worries about commutes.  We can stay off the roads.

Our turkey is about done now and it’s time to make some stock with the bones.  That will be on the list for today.  One of the dishes I created to use up the turkey was this dish that went over pasta.  It was a school night so it needed to be quick.  We are lucky enough to still have leeks in the garden, granted they are frozen but we can still use them.  This meal takes less than half an hour to throw together.

To prep slice and clean the leeks and drain.  Chop some fresh rosemary and garlic and squeeze the juice of a lemon.

Lemon Leek Turkey 1 2013

I then cut what I needed from the turkey into small pieces.  I also sliced some mushrooms.

Lemon Leek Turkey 2 2013

In a skillet I put a bit of olive oil and then a couple of tablespoons of butter to melt.  Add the garlic and rosemary with the heat on low and cook for several minutes to allow the flavours to infuse together.

Lemon Leek Turkey 3 2013

Start with about half the lemon juice and add that to the skillet.  Later add more lemon juice to taste.

Lemon Leek Turkey 4 2013

Add in the turkey, leeks, and mushrooms.  In the meantime cook up the pasta of your choice.  I chose cheese ravioli for this pairing.

Lemon Leek Turkey 5 2013

Once everything is cooked serve with grated cheese.

Lemon Leek Turkey 6 2013

It had a light flavour with the lemon and was delicious with pinot grigio.  I think this weekend we’ll be doing more stick to your ribs food with the storm and cold.  Comfort food will be key!

Turkey Stock

As it is for most people the holidays are a crazy time for our family.  I made this turkey stock a month ago and am only getting to post about it now!  With the exception of the veg broth I use in a lot of recipes we cook with homemade stock.  It’s less expensive, I know what goes into it, and the sodium level won’t rocket your blood pressure.  Reading labels can be so frustrating at times.  The amount of sodium in the processed foods is scary.  And I love salt!  This recipe works for turkey, chicken, duck, and even goose though I haven’t tried goose yet.  It’s on the list.  😉

You will want a large pot, especially if you are doing this with turkey.  We used our brew pot which holds a few gallons.  It was deep enough if I broke up the turkey a bit.  Cut off most of the meat.  Some meat is ok.

Turkey Stock 1 2013

Add an onion quartered and a large carrot which has been peeled and cut into large chunks.  These were our last carrots from the garden.  I also added a few crushed cloves of garlic.

Turkey Stock 2 2013

We had frozen some celery from our garden.  It worked out quite well for this application.  You want the green leaves of the celery for a tasty stock.  I don’t understand why the stores seem to insist on selling celery with the leaves chopped off.  There is so much flavour in the leaves!  It’s a main reason why we grow our own celery.

Turkey Stock 3 2013

Add sea salt and pepper to taste then fill the pot up with water.

Turkey Stock 4 2013

Bring to a boil then simmer for 2-3 hours.

When this is nearly done prep the jars by sterilizing them for 10 minutes in boiling water.  Then fill the jars with the stock.  I know a lot of people spend time skimming the stock and removing fat but given the amount of fat versus the stock amount this is a relatively low fat stock.  As is works very well for us and our recipes.

Turkey Stock 5 2013

While I am filling the jars I turn the heat on the water I used for the jars all the way down and toss in the rings and lids.  You don’t want to boil the lids.  Once the jars are filled I put the lids and rings on.  I tightened then put them back into the water and bring to a boil.  Once boiling I process for at least five minutes.

Turkey Stock 6 2013

Once that is done I remove and tighten any rings that are loose.  Then I let cool.  I swear to you I took pictures of the final product.  I can not find them anywhere!  I checked my camera and my phone.  Nada.  They will probably show up down the road.  🙂

Thanksgiving Turkey and Gravy

My favourite holiday is Thanksgiving.  There is nothing materialistic about this holiday.  We celebrate family by being thankful for what is important.  A healthy family, food on the table, and a roof over our heads.  Our wealth is not in the objects we collect but in the love we have for each other.  And one way I enjoy showing my love for my family is to cook for them.  My husband and I spent two days cooking and cleaning to get the list done.  We joke about two days of work for 1/2 hour of eating.  LOL But we enjoy the results.  Because there is so much food I won’t do it all in one post.  That would be very long post.  🙂

I love doing the turkey and gravy.  Now you always hear about the debate about using brine on the turkey or dry roasting it.  I don’t do either and I’ve never had a dry turkey.  It comes out moist and flavourful.

Heat the oven to 325 F.  The Fanny Farmer Cookbook recommends 15 minutes per pound if less than 16lbs and 12 minutes per pound if more than that.  Our turkey was just a smidge under 14lbs.  Also, I recently read that heirloom turkeys when done can still have pink tinged juices so you want the turkey to be 165 F when finished deep in the meat.  We got our turkey from a local farm two towns over so I was glad I read about this.

Once I put it in the roasting pan I drizzle it with olive oil.  Another tip with the turkey, don’t wash it, just put it in the pan.  Washing it will spray germs.

I liberally apply salt and pepper to the skin.

Whatever is added now is the base for the gravy so it is important to use the best ingredients.  I grabbed some rosemary and lemon thyme from the garden and put the sprigs into the pan.

I chop up some garlic and onions and toss these in.  Next I add a few cups of water and about 3/4 cup of white balsamic vinegar.  It has a lemony taste that I was going for.  Cover and pop into the oven.

To add another layer of flavour to the gravy I simmer the heart, liver, and neck in water while the turkey is cooking.

I keep the turkey covered for most of the cooking time so it steams with all the flavours.  For the last 20 minutes or so I uncover it to brown a bit.  Now as my daughter and I are the only ones that really like the skin my main objective is to keep the turkey moist rather than crisp the entire skin.  There are times I get it really crisp and sometimes it is like this time round not so crisp.  I set the turkey aside covered to rest while I make the gravy.

I remove the sprigs of herbs and add the water from the neck, heart, and liver to the gravy.  I set aside the neck to add to the stock I’ll make.  The dogs get the heart and liver.  🙂  Bring the gravy to a boil and add either flour mixed in water or corn starch mixed in water to thicken.  Add a bit at a time until you get the consistency needed.  I also add a bit of gravy master for flavour and colour.  Season as needed.

It’s important to boil as it thickens so you don’t have a flour taste.  I stir regularly to keep it all the same consistency.

It was wonderful having my parents, my aunt, and my sister and her family around the table with our family.  As some are vegetarian we have a lot of turkey left over!  Time to get creative.