turkey

Stuffed Squash with Thanksgiving Leftovers

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Turkey leftovers? 

Sure, there's sandwiches, salad and so on. 

How about a one-pot meal-in-one you can get ready way ahead and pop it into the oven a few days after Thanksgiving? Something tidy, compact, with a profusion of appealing color? That includes so many food groups?

Like this Stuffed Acorn Squash.

Note: you can make the squash and filling ahead separately. These are good hot or at room temperature.

STUFFED ACORN SQUASH

  • 4 small acorn or carnival squash
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped yellow squash 
  • 1-1/2 cups finely chopped cooked turkey
  • 1 cup chopped fresh spinach
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries or raisins
  • 1/4 cup plain breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
  • 2 large eggs
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the squash about 1/4 to 1/3 of the way down and remove the cap (you can bake it and serve it for decoration). Scoop out the seeds (you can rinse them off and roast them separately to use as a snack). Wrap the squash in aluminum foil and bake for about 35-45 minutes or until tender. Set aside. Reduce the oven heat to 350 degrees. While the squash is roasting, heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and carrots and cook for 3-4 minutes, to soften them slightly. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the squash, turkey, spinach, cranberries, breadcrumbs, parsley, thyme and cayenne pepper (if used) and toss the ingredients to distribute them evenly. Mix in the eggs and salt and pepper to taste. Spoon equal amounts of the mixture into the baked squash hollows. Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Makes 4 servings

Stir-fried String Beans with Meat (Ants on a Tree)

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There's an old, ongoing joke about Jews and Chinese food. You know, the Jewish year is 5777 and the Chinese year is 4714; we love Chinese food so how did we get along without it for over a thousand years?

All kidding aside, there is a real connection among the Jews and Chinese going back -- in the United States at least -- to May 1903. 

In April of that year there was a terrible pogrom in Kishinev (now in Moldava) during Russian Easter. Several days of anti-semitic violence took its toll on the Jewish community: 49 dead, 500 injured and about 2,000 homeless. News of the violence reached the United States, where Jewish philanthropists raised money to help the victims.

But a Chinese businessman on New York's Lower East Side felt the outrage too.

His name was John Singleton, who understood the cruelty and sometimes barbarism inflicted upon minority groups. He and three fellow merchants Guy Main (Yee Kai Man), Dek Foon and Jue Chue arranged for a benefit performance at the Chinese Theater on Doyers Street on May 11, 1903.

The program consisted of a short play (performed in Chinese) -- all the Chinese actors donated their time. Then speakers. Guy Main and Rabbi Joseph Zeff (who spoke in Yiddish) talked about the common bond between the two people, noting the atrocities committed by Russians against both. Another speaker expressed Jewish gratitude to the Chinese and wished the United States to welcome them as Americans, a somewhat veiled protest against the Chinese Exclusion Act.

Finally? Dinner at Mon Lay Won, considered the "Chinese Delmonico's." A very special place. The famous Yiddish actress Bertha Kalisch attended, as well as many other prominent Jews. There is no record of the menu, but it was definitely NOT kosher. The restaurant, which usually served featured pork and shrimp, apparently tried to be sensitive to the Jewish dietary laws and didn't serve those items, but we know that among the dishes served were chicken, squab and reindeer.

The event raised about $280 for the Kishinev victims (that's about $7,300 in today's dollars).

Of course this is not the reason that Jews love Chinese food. But the gesture stands, the solidarity cannot be forgotten. And so, on this 114th anniversary of the event, I offer a tasty Chinese dish that's welcome for spring. If you can get Chinese long beans that's perfect, but I make the dish with common string beans. The authentic Chinese version calls for ground pork, but my recipe uses turkey. It's kosher.

Celebrate solidarity, unity, kinship, friendship, respect for all ethnic groups and minorities.

Stir Fried String Beans with Meat

  • 1/2 pound Chinese long beans, green string beans or haricots vertes
  • 3 scallions, shredded
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 ounces ground turkey or veal
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine or sherry
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 dried red chili peppers (or 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger

Wash and trim the beans. Shred the scallions by using a small sharp knife tip and cutting through from the root end through the greens. Cut away the root and set the scallions aside. Steam the beans for about 3 minutes or until barely tender. Drain under cold water and set aside. Preheat a wok or stirfry pan. Pour in the vegetable oil, let it get hot. Add the meat and stirfry for a minute or so, stirring constantly and breaking up the pieces, until the meat is no longer pink. Add the water, wine, soy sauce, sugar, peppers and sesame oil. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until the water has evaporated. Add the scallions and ginger and mix them in. Add the beans and stirfry for a bout a minute, mixing the ingredients to distribute them evenly. 

Makes 4 servings

Roasting a turkey half breast

Suppose you're not roasting a whole turkey for Thanksgiving?

For example, your family just likes white meat. Or dark.

A whole turkey does look festive. And is traditional.

Still, if you don't like one part or another, just cook the part you like.

Fortunately for me, my Thanksgiving gang likes every part of the turkey. But when it's just Ed and me, or when I have Eileen and Jeff over for dinner, it's breast-only.

So, if you'll be cooking turkey breast for Thanksgiving or some other time, here's one of my easy, go-to recipes.

 

Roasted Turkey Half Breast with Sweet White Wine

  • half turkey breast, about 4 pounds
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1-½ tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1-½ cups sweet white wine such as Riesling

 

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Rinse and dry the turkey breast and place it skin side up in a roasting pan. Brush the skin with the olive oil. Scatter the ginger, garlic and thyme over the breast. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to 325 degrees. Place the turkey in the oven. Roast for 30 minutes. Pour the wine over the turkey. Continue to roast for another 40-50 minutes, basting occasionally, or until a meat thermometer placed in the thickest part of the breast measures 160°F. Remove the turkey from the oven and let rest for about 15 minutes before carving. Serve with pan fluids.

Makes 6 servings.

 

The Birthday Dinner Dilemma

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It's my daughter Gillian's birthday today. A round numbered one. And she asked if, instead of going out to dinner at some fancy shmancy joint to celebrate, whether I would make a special dinner at home.

Of course!

With the fancy shmancy china and silverware and different size wine glasses for different wines for different courses.

Of course!

So, okay, I have the china and silverware and wine glasses. All I have to do there is make sure I have candles for the candlesticks, iron the napkins, fill the salt cellars, set the table and so on. Ed will take care of the wine.

It's all good.

BUT WHAT SHOULD I COOK?

Something new and glamorous? Fancy shmancy?

Or old favorites like Pearly Meatballs? Fried Chicken Wings? Sticky Spicy Chicken Wings? with pre-dinner cocktails.

Should I make a soup? Like Beet Soup with Orange and Mint (even the name sounds fancy doesn't it?).

For the main course I'm thinking maybe lamb. Everyone in the family eats that. But she really does like turkey. Unfortunately turkey is not the universal family favorite, so maybe no? Plus -- Gillian is our family carver, so could I really ask her to do all that slicing and deboning for her birthday dinner?

Another dilemma is that Gillian is not such a big dessert person. Or at least what people consider the usual kinds of dessert. This dessert thing would be easy if the birthday person was my son-in-law Greg. He likes chocolate cake.

Ed would always welcome chef Raymond Oliver's Normandy Ice Cream (coffee with Grand Marnier).

For me, birthday dessert is always apple pie

We are celebrating in a few weeks, so I have some time to finalize the menu plus make sure I buy those candles. 

If anyone has suggestions -- I am all ears.

In the meantime, should I also make some candy? Like chocolate dipped dried fruit?

Chocolate Dipped Dried Fruit

  • 2-1/2 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 1/2 ounce unsweetened chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter or coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons orange-flavored brandy or rum
  • 50 pieces (approximately) dried fruit such as crystallized ginger, apricot halves, candied orange peel (about 6 ounces)

Melt the semisweet chocolate, unsweetened chocolate and butter in the top part of a double boiler over barely simmering water. Let the ingredients melt, remove the top part of the pan from the heat, pour in the brandy and stir to make a smooth, uniform mixture. Dip each piece of fruit in the chocolate mixture, shake off the excess and place on waxed paper or parchment paper to dry.

Makes approximately 50 pieces

Turkey Burgers with Avocado Ketchup

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A long time ago I read that ketchup began in the far east as a kind of fish sauce and it was ages and ages later that some smartie decided to make it with tomatoes.

The rest, as they say, is history. When you say "ketchup," most people picture the thick, red, viscous condiment.

In my family we don't argue over what ketchup means. We don't even argue about what kind to buy, because even though I've cooked my own tomato ketchup from time to time, our brand is Heinz. 

But I do make other kinds of ketchup too. Plum ketchup, for example. They're sort of like smooth chutneys that go well with grilled chicken, beef, lamb and so on. 

So recently, now that it's outdoor grill season, I made avocado ketchup, which is the perfect condiment for turkey burgers. No cooking involved (except for the burgers).

Is it really just a simplified form of guacamole, pureed to a fare-thee-well?

Maybe. But I call it ketchup.

 

Turkey Burgers with Avocado Ketchup

 

  • 1 large, ripe avocado, peeled and pitted
  • 2 sun dried tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 2 medium scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 medium Serrano pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, optional
  • 8 slices toasted bread
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced

 

Cut the avocado into chunks and place the pieces in a food processor. Add the tomatoes, cumin, olive oil, lemon juice and some salt and pepper and process until thoroughly blended and uniform in color (mixture should have the consistency of ketchup). Set aside. Place the turkey, scallions, Serrano pepper, garlic and lemon juice in a bowl and mix to combine the ingredients evenly. Shape the mixture into 4 burger patties. Grill the burgers on an outdoor grill OR heat the vegetable oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Cook the burgers for about 2 minutes per side or until crispy and cooked through. Place 4 slices of toasted bread on each of four plates. Place tomato slices over the bread. Top with the burgers. Top with equal amounts of the avocado ketchup. Cover with remaining toast slices.

 

Makes 4 servings