Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Ultimate Hot Brown Turkey Sandwich and a Thanksgiving Memoir


Thanksgiving began when my daughter arrived home on Monday. And my parents arrived Tuesday for their third Thanksgiving since the kids were six. And then my son arrived on Wednesday. Everything was beginning to feel good, exhaustingly good. Though all was still crazy in my heart for my family in Israel at least I had my family here to give thanks. And give thanks we did. Surrounded by family and friends, we were thankful for Mr. Turkey and President Abraham Lincoln who created this holiday. We gave thanks for getting to know our wonderful family in South Africa and we gave thanks for our health and our dogs. We gave thanks for being together and for being surrounded by such bounty. And we even shed a few tears throughout our “what we are thankful for” around the table memories.

It was a busy weekend and ended all too soon. Enjoy it with me if you will.

It began with someone who may
have stayed out to late.
And someone wishful laying in
front of the refrigerator.
And then we began to get to work.
The coals were started.

The turkey was brined and seasoned.
The house was ready.
The table was set.























Grandma was happy.
Grandpa was happy.
The candles were lit.




                                                              A thumbs up was given.

People smiled.

                                                                 More people smiled.             


                                                                Dessert was served.


                                                                                                          
                      
                                                                Good wine was drunk.
           
                                                       And Freddie got her turkey.

The Hot Brown is basically an open face roast turkey sandwich with a lot of Mornay cheese sauce spooned over and then broiled. It is then topped off with a couple of slices of crisp bacon and a slice of tomato. Since I had many leftovers to use I decided to create my version of the ultimate hot brown sandwich. My husband said it was the best lunch he ever had. There aren’t many things he is right about but this just may be it.

Instead of bread I decided to make stuffing patties. I chopped my stuffing up finely and since our family likes stuffing on the crispy side I added a bit more broth and heavy cream. What can I say except it was leftover, too. I then added a few tablespoons of flour to bind the patties. Then I coated them in parmesan cheese. I then fried them in maple pepper butter that was leftover from the sweet potatoes. Ummmm. I might just make these next year and forget the stuffing. They turned out crispy and chewy and looked like panfried burgers.

Next the cheese sauce. I started with the traditional butter and flour and then I added milk and pumpkin beer. Since I still had some gravy I stirred that in too. I also stirred in a bit of adobo sauce from the chipotle peppers I always have in my fridge to give it a good smoky taste and a little kick. And last but not a least a cup of sharp cheddar and 1/3 cup of freshly grated parmesan. Our turkey was smoked so I thought a smoky cheese sauce  would do the trick. I was not wrong.

From there it was a matter of taking the stuffing patty and topping it with turkey. I then spooned on the cheese sauce and garnished this creation with a touch of cranberry sauce (forget the tomato) and a few slices of crisp bacon. Yes, this was a good lunch. Yes, this was another memory maker. Yes, I’ll share it with everyone, if you all say you’ll come again.


The Ultimate Kentucky Hot Brown
(to serve 4)

4 stuffing patties
1 lb turkey leftovers or use good thick deli slices
Cheese Sauce
8 slices of crisply cooked bacon
Leftover cranberry sauce or fresh sliced tomatoes

Stuffing Patties
4 c of leftover stuffing
1c of broth or as needed (You can even use some heavy cream)
2T flour
½ c parmesan cheese
2 T butter (I used maple pepper butter that was leftover)

Chop stuffing finely. Add broth if needed to dampen stuffing. Add 2T of flour to bind or more if needed. Shape into 4 patties and roll in freshly grated parmesan cheese. Fry in butter or oil. Let them get good and crispy. They will look like a hamburger patty. Remove from skillet and keep warm.

Cheese Sauce
2 T Flour
2T Butter
1 c beer (I used pumpkin)
2c milk
1c Cheddar Cheese
1/3c Parmesan cheese
Leftover gravy if you have it
1 T of chipotle adobo sauce if you prefer

Melt butter. Whisk in flour. It will get all lumpy. Cook for about a minute to take away the floury taste. Now gradually stir in the beer and let it cook for a minute. Add the rest of the milk whisking as you go. Do not let it get to thick. Stir in your cheese whisking as you go to make it smooth and creamy. If it is to thick add more liquid and now is the time to stir in your leftover gravy if you have it. You can also add the chipotle sauce if you like it. Keep warm.

Now you are ready to assemble. Take your warm stuffing patties and top with warmed 1/4 lb of turkey. Add lots of cheese sauce. Garnish with cranberry sauce and bacon.

Our Menu:

Crudites with Onion dip
Bacon Caramel Corn
Artichoke Dip
Roasted Salted Nuts

Smoked Turkey

Mashed Potatoes
Sweet Potatoes with Maple Pepper Butter
Cranberries with Orange and Chipotle
Frozen Cranberries
Roasted Brussell Sprout Salad with Pomegranate Seeds and Pecans
Corn Bread Wild Mushroom Stuffing

Maple Pecan Pie

Apple Pie
Pumpkin Butterscotch Pie



More Thanksgiving Recipes:

Maple Glazed Walnut Scones
Pumpkin Chipotle Soup
Truffled Scalloped Potatoes
Fresh Cranberry and Apple Salad
Frozen Cranberry Salad
Tamale Stuffing
Magic Pumpkin Butter Bars
Pecan Shortbread Nut Bars



Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Gazebo Icebox Chocolate Toffee Cookies and a Turkey!




Gazebo Icebox Chocolate Toffee Cookies

A long, long time ago in the school cafeteria, lunches were served on plates. Glass plates with green bands around the edges if my memory serves me right. And though I don’t recall many great lunches being served it certainly was a whole lot more appetizing than food plopped on orange plastic divided trays. At least that was how the lunches were served when my kids were in school. I used to make A and Z’s lunch every day because they refused to eat cafeteria food. Can’t say I blamed them.
                                                                     
But one thing I do remember liking in my cafeteria days was dessert. Yes, I know. Who doesn’t like dessert? Now I didn’t like all the desserts. But I did like the cookies. They were icebox cookies. My mother tended to make chocolate chip cookies so icebox cookies were different and good. And as I got older I haven’t forgotten those cookies.

About 10 years ago, (don’t ask me how I remember this stuff) we stayed at a cute bed and breakfast in Salida, Colorado where they served confectioner’s sugar dipped chocolate icebox cookies. Now they weren’t what I had in elementary school but they made me remember and I haven’t forgotten them since. Luckily for me they gave out the recipe and I’ve been making them ever since. They are great to have for the holidays because you can keep a roll in your freezer. When you need fresh cookies it is just a matter of taking them out, letting them thaw until they are sliceable and then popping them into the oven. Presto! Fresh, warm cookies. You can bake them for the shorter time if you like them a bit soft but the longer time gives them a crisper bite.




Oh my goodness! Just couldn’t help but interrupt. George was going crazy barking. Well, look what was in my front yard. He/she has been around all summer but I hadn’t seen her for awhile. Doesn’t she know Thanksgiving is coming? Earlier in the season I thought he was a she but now I am beginning to think she may be turning into a he. She/he has really become quite majestic and is especially fun to see in my front yard. Took a few quick photos before she scampered away. Sorry, they weren't the best but turkeys move quicker than you think. These moments always take my breath away. I mean a turkey in the city? Oh, damn, I wish I lived in the country.

 So that was probably the highlight of my day. And that is alright with me. I think I’ll go have a cookie. To celebrate the glory of nature.



Gazebo Chocolate Icebox Cookies with Toffee

1 c butter
½ c sugar
½ c brown sugar
2 eggs
1 ½ t vanilla
2 oz unsweetened chocolate melted
3 c flour
½ t baking soda
1 t salt
1 c crushed Heath bars or English toffee (Right now you can find crushed toffee bits in the baking section next to the chocolate chips)
Confectioners Sugar

Combine  softened butter and sugars in mixer until blended. Add eggs, vanilla and cooled melted chocolate. Add dry ingredients. (I always mix them together in a mixing cup so that the soda and salt are well distributed in the flour.) Stir in toffee bits. Press into 2 logs and wrap in waxed paper or plastic wrap. Store in freezer. When ready to bake let the logs thaw until you can slice them. Cut into ¼” slices and put on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Coat with confectioners sugar while warm.



Enjoy and offer one to a turkey if you have a chance.

Bring your favorite chocolate dessert to Roxana’s home baking #chocolateparty and win amazing prizes from Imperial Sugar®Gold Medal Flour®Safest Choice™ Pasteurized Eggs and KitchenAid®

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Firehouse #10 Hot Chili and Being Thankful



Firehouse #10 Chili

 The election is over. It is time to concentrate on being thankful. I am thankful there are no more phone calls, political ads, signs and other rhetoric. I am thankful I live in a country where I am allowed to vote. I just wish I felt a bit more hopeful about where this country is going and what people really want. I am a bit confused but that is nothing new. Okay. No political rant here; though that would be easy for me to do. Today I am reminding myself that I am supposed to be thankful.


I am thankful for the bowl of chili I had last night. Really. From one Abbe to another Abbie – let me say thank you. It was  lovingly handmade by Abbie – seriously. Her name was on the label. She made it as part of  The Women's Bean Project project; a great organization that helps women who have experienced chronic unemployment, poverty or difficult life situations. They make jewelry too, but I was the recipient of this Firehouse #10 Hot Chili Mix. Simply packaged and easily made I was happy to find it in my pantry. Actually, it wasn’t hard to find as my pantry is quickly being cleaned out which is a good thing to do before I load up for Thanksgiving.

I am thankful I can buy food to fill my pantry.  Check this out. What you will see is a photo essay about global food disparity. It is quite interesting to see what one buys around the globe. And they are all smiling. Really, I have had many challenges in my life and though I don’t always know how or when they will be solved I am grateful for what I have today. In South Africa, people would literally stand in traffic and beg. At all times of the day. Night time, daytime, it didn’t matter. In cold and rainy weather, in the dark of night, I’d see women in their bare feet begging while their young children sat in the median between the lanes of traffic.

I remind myself that I have a lot to be thankful for. The candidate that I wanted to see change America did not win. But I remind myself that America is still a great place. So be thankful today. Go buy some soup  at your local grocery or order some. It would make great gifts. Support the Women’s Bean project. It is a worthy cause. It provides jobs for women. It teaches them skills that we all could use. It gives them hope and pride. And it allows them to feed their children.



Firehouse #10 Hot Chili

#1  Go buy the dried bean mix from your local grocery.
#2  Follow instructions on package.
#3  I used 1 lb of Italian sausage because that is what I had. I added a couple of chipotle peppers chopped and 2T more of chili powder and 1T cumin.
#4 I used a bottle of beer instead of water and 1 can of Mexican  hot tomato sauce.

The The Women's Bean Project makes many other gift items. Try one of them today. Remember to be thankful.  

Firehouse Chili

 And P.S. It's time to make all the forecasters find a new job. Maybe       they'll get lucky.