Country Cook News – January 29, 2015

Hi Everyone!

JANUARY CONTEST QUESTION OF THE MONTH

Does an egg have more food value if its yolk is deeper gold color rather than light yellow?

Send your answer to books@porkchopsandapplesauce.net to win a signed copy of any one of my books. Here’s a link to my Books page to choose the books you can win (scroll down to see the complete selection).

Congratulations to Karen Samford of Frisco, Texas, who correctly answered December’s question. She chose Pork Chops & Applesauce as her prize because, “The essence of that book (Pork Chops) on your blog is the reason why I am a subscriber. I am a dreadful cook, but I have so many wonderful food memories thanks to my mom. She was one of nine girls and her mother was an amazing cook. So much love came out of that kitchen.”

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Eggs, Baked in Ramikin2

RECIPE OF THE MONTH

We traditionally have Baked Eggs for Sunday morning breakfast but during the winter, we sometimes have them for dinner. My recipe is hubby approved for breakfast, lunch or dinner, and it’s guaranteed to get you in and out of the kitchen in no time. I serve Baked Eggs with English Muffins and cottage cheese, fresh fruit, sliced tomatoes or baked beans.

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HUFFPOST TASTE

This article, Hard Boiled Eggs Don’t Stay Fresh As Long As You Think They Do, from the HuffPost Taste section, serves up a big plate of food-for-thought.  

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FAVORITE JANUARY RECIPES

According to Saveur Magazine, January food favorites are sweet and sour shrimp, garlicky Italian broccoli, along with sweet and simple desserts like Thomas Keller’s coconut cake and classic chocolate chip cookies. Be sure to check out their 2015 recipe suggestions. My only comment is yuuuuum!

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BLOG OF THE MONTH

Bells and whistles went off when I discovered Penny’s Food Blog. She says, “so many recipes, so little time” which we all know is true if you love cooking and baking. Because I learned that January cooks are looking for quick and easy, I’ve made the link go directly to Penny’s 30-minute meals category. The One Pot Mexican Rice Casserole and the Tortilla Soup look amazing. Penny also features Valentine’s Day Candy Heart Mini Cakes and Valentine Truffles that look like they’re a shoe-in for winning your Valentines’ heart. I’d like to encourage you to sign up for Penny’s Food Blog Newsletter, she has recipes to share dating back from March 2010.

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WINTER COMFORT

Split Pea Soup with Zabar’s Ham Hock is one of the ultimate winter comfort foods. I wouldn’t touch split pea soup when I was a kid, then I tasted it during a visit to my cousin’s house when I was 16. I’ve loved it ever since. Here’s a recipe for split pea soup from Zabar’s Tasting Bar in New York City.  Note to self: Make split pea soup next week.

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CALICO BAKED BEANS

Baked beans aren’t just for summer picnics. Here’s my mom’s recipe for Calico Beans that are made in the crock pot and they’re my favorite style of “baked” beans. They offer more variety than traditional baked beans and certainly more hardy with the addition of bacon and hamburger or sausage. In this same post you’ll see my recipe for Applesauce Cornbread, which also hits the spot on cold winter days.

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CB’S KITCHEN TIP

Boil eggs for 3 to 6 minutes for a very runny yolk, 7 to 9 minutes for a soft yolk and 11 to 13 minutes for a hard yolk.

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SWEETS FOR YOUR SWEETHEART

Valentine’s Day is only about two weeks away. Try making some Chocolate Cherry Pistachio Bark, it’s sure to set the stage for amore. It’s surprisingly simple to make, and a decedent treat for your love interest when made with white, dark or milk chocolate. ♥

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CB’s QUICKIE CLAM CHOWDER

Add 1/2 cup chopped, sautéed onions, 1 14-ounce can creamed corn and 1 or 2 8-ounce can(s) un-drained minced clams to 1 26-ounce can Cream of Potato Soup or New England Clam Chowder. Thin with a small amount of milk for desired consistency; garnish with chopped green onions, chopped cilantro or parsley, shredded cheddar cheese and/or bacon bits. Serve piping hot with oyster crackers. Yield: Approximately 4 servings

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HOW TO BREAK AN EGG

One of my most valued kitchen “bibles” is How to Break an Egg by the editors, contributors and readers of Fine Cooking Magazine. I receive numerous questions from my Country Cook News subscribers and this book makes me look like a kitchen wizard. I highly recommend it if you’re looking to ramp-up your kitchen skills in 2015. Find the hardcover at Amazon http://tinyurl.com/or9nkr4

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KITCHEN DAILY

When the first of the year rolls around, it seems everyone is on a new food program. Salad recipes I thought would be the most sought after come January, but it turns out, I was wrong. According to Kitchen Daily busy cooks are seeking recipes that are kid friendly such as savory Mini Chicken Pot Pies and Mini-Meatloaves, Pepperoni White Pizza Skillet and Buffalo Chicken Casserole.

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organic-eggs

ASK CYNTHIA A QUESTION

Charlene asked:  Do you think it’s worth the extra money to buy organic food, particularly when it comes to eggs?

My answer: I think buying organic is well worth the additional cost. Of the organic products I’ve used, I actually see and/or taste the most noticeable difference in broccoli and eggs. Organic broccoli doesn’t seem as bitter as some non-organic (that’s before and after it’s cooked). When it comes to eggs, I will drive as far as it takes to find certified organic eggs.

Organic eggs are better all-around, they taste better, yolks are darker (although, according to Wikipedia, darker yolks do not mean the egg has higher food value but to me darker yolks look healthier) and organic cook-up nicer. The best part about organic eggs is that they don’t produce a foul odor when boiled or get smelly while stored in the refrigerator. Odor-free eggs tell me there is a huge difference in the quality of a chicken’s diet and/or its living conditions, so I only buy certified organic eggs.

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If you enjoyed this blog, please share it with your friends. Thanks!

CB

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Baked Eggs

Baked EggsWe traditionally have Baked Eggs for Sunday morning breakfast but during the winter, we sometimes have them for dinner. My recipe is hubby approved for breakfast, lunch or dinner, and it’s guaranteed to get you in and out of the kitchen in no time. I serve Baked Eggs with English Muffins and cottage cheese, fresh fruit, sliced tomatoes or baked beans.

Baked Eggs

4 slices Canadian Bacon
4 slices Smoked Gouda, either round or cut into strips
4 fresh eggs
Salt & Pepper
Fresh basil
4 ramekins

Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously grease ramekins; layer into ramekin starting with 1 slice Canadian bacon, 1 slice cheese and 1 egg into each ramekin. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Cut strips of basil and lay over top. Bake for 20 minutes for soft yolks and 25 minutes for fully cooked. Serve with English muffins or toast and fruit.

Yield: 4 servings

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Perfect Boiled Eggs

boiled eggs

For perfect boiled eggs, boil for 3 to 6 minutes for a very runny yolk, 7 to 9 minutes for a soft yolk and 11 to 13 minutes for a hard yolk. 

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Ask Cynthia a Question – January 26, 2015

organic-eggsCharlene asked:  Do you think it’s worth the extra money to buy organic, particularly when it comes to eggs?

My answer: I think buying organic is well worth the addition cost. Of the organic products I’ve used, I actually see and/or taste the most noticeable difference in broccoli and eggs. Organic broccoli doesn’t seem as bitter as some non-organic (that’s before and after it’s cooked). When it comes to eggs, I will drive as far as it takes to find certified organic eggs.

Organic eggs are better all-around, they taste better, yolks are darker (although, according to Wikipedia, darker yolks do not mean the egg has higher food value but to me darker yolks look healthier) and organic cook-up nicer. The best part about organic eggs is that they don’t produce a foul odor when boiled or get smelly while stored in the refrigerator. Odor-free eggs tell me there is a huge difference in the quality of a chicken’s diet and/or its living conditions, so I only buy certified organic eggs.

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Chicken Teriyaki Drumettes

Teriyaki Chicken DrumettesTeriyaki Chicken Drumettes

3 pounds chicken drumettes, rinsed, and patted dry
1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
1/4 cup water
Garlic powder
1 1/2 tablespoons dried ginger
1-cup light soy sauce
Toasted sesame seeds
Green onions, chopped
King-sized napkins

Preheat oven to 350°.  Cover a large baking sheet, such as a jellyroll pan, with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Arrange chicken drumettes in one layer with skin side up. Sprinkle generously with garlic powder and set aside.

In a medium-size bowl with a pouring spout, combine ginger, soy sauce, sugar and water; stir until sugar dissolves.

Pour soy sauce mixture over chicken drumettes trying to coat chicken as much as possible.

Bake uncovered for 45 minutes. Turn drumettes and bake for another 45 minutes. Continue baking, and turn every 5 to 10 minutes until sauce reaches a molasses-like consistency. Total baking time should be approximately 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Remove drumettes to a warmed serving platter. Serve with extra sauce on the side; garnish with sesame seeds and chopped green onions just before serving. These drumettes are very messy but guests forgive the sticky mess with just one bite.

Yield:  Approximately 12 servings of 5 drumettes per serving.

Note: Save time by cooking Teriyaki Chicken Drumettes in a crock-pot.  Assemble as indicated above and simmer in crock-pot for approximately 4 to 5 hours on low setting. To thicken sauce, remove lid for last 1 to 2 hours of cooking time, or thicken sauce with a cornstarch and water mixture. Garnish with sesame seeds and green onions just before serving. Served with steamed rice this recipe is also popular in our house as a delicious entree.

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Aunt Joan’s Favorite Appetizer

Photo by A Taste of Home

Photo by A Taste of Home

Aunt Joan’s Favorite Appetizer

1-8 ounce block cream cheese
1/4 cup wasabi paste thinned with water to a frosting consistency
1/8 cup toasted sesame seeds or finely chopped green onions
1/8 cup soy sauce
Rice Crackers

Place cream cheese on a cutting board; split into two layers lengthwise (freeze cream cheese for about 1 hour to firm it for cutting). Spread wasabi over bottom half; replace top layer of cream cheese.

Press top and bottom into sesame seeds. Place on a shallow serving plate; pour soy sauce around cream cheese and sprinkle with remaining sesame seeds, if desired. Serve with rice crackers.

Yield: 8 servings

Recipe revised from A Taste of Home.

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Brining and Roasting a Turkey

turkey-with-garnishEveryone has their own theory on what works best for cooking the Thanksgiving bird, and I’ve tried most preparation methods. Frankly, I prefer to keep things simple and I’ve found that brining the turkey prior to roasting has put the most succulent and flavorful turkeys on our holiday table.

In our Recipe of the Month I’m sharing my brine recipe, and I’ll take you through the few easy steps brining requires. It’s really much simpler than it might seem and well worth the extra time spent to ensure a roasted turkey that tastes heavenly.

Brining and Roasting a Turkey

Basic Brine Recipe for a 10 to 12 pound turkey
1-cup coarse kosher salt
2-tablespoons molasses
1/4 cup brown sugar
1-gallon vegetable stock
1 1/2 tablespoons peppercorns
1 1/2 teaspoons whole allspice (much like peppercorns)
1-teaspoon fresh ginger, finely minced
3 lemons, quartered
1-gallon iced water

Combine salt, molasses, brown sugar, vegetable stock, peppercorns, allspice and ginger in a large stockpot; bring to a boil (pictured below).

Once the mixture comes to a boil, remove it from the heat, add the lemons and allow it to cool. Refrigerate mixture after it’s reached room temperature.

turkey-seasoning-in-stockpot

The night before turkey cooking day, combine the cooled brine mixture with the reserved 1-gallon iced water in a clean cooler, a 5-gallon bucket or a large plastic bag (as pictured below). If using the plastic bag method of brining, it’s best to put the plastic bag with all the liquid inside a sturdy vessel to give it support.

turkey giblets and seasoing in bag

Remove the giblets from the turkey and then place turkey in brine with the breast side down. Turkey needs to be weighted so it’s completely covered with brine. I’ve found using the plastic bag method works best for me. It eliminates the need to fuss with weighting down the turkey, which needs to be fully covered with brine throughout the entire brining process. Leave the turkey in a cool place to brine for 4 to 6 hours.

Remove the turkey from the brine and rinse it with fresh water. Discard the brine. Pat the turkey dry with paper towels. Now you’re ready to prepare the bird for the oven. Note: If it’s going to be a while before you start roasting the turkey, store it uncovered in a cool place.

Roasting the Turkey

Fill the turkey cavity with herbs, salt, pepper, miscellaneous vegetables (onion, carrots, and celery) and a couple lemons that need piercing with a fork. Place a bed of vegetables and herbs in the bottom of roasting pan or oven bag for the turkey to rest upon while cooking. The oven bag is my preferred roasting method mainly because it makes the cleanup more convenient and the turkey cooks faster (pictured below). Spray the turkey with cooking oil spray (I use canola or olive oil spray) or dot with butter or brush with melted butter. Rub/sprinkle the turkey with herbs, fine kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.

turkey prepared for roasting

Roast according to a standard cooking chart. I generally bake at 400° for 45 minutes to 1 hour and then reduce the temperature to 325° for the duration of the cooking time. I rely heavily on a meat thermometer for knowing when the turkey reaches an inside temperature of 180°. I prefer to cook it to 185°.  If using an oven bag put the meat thermometer through the bag’s top holes to test for doneness, and check temperature in a few different places. Allow the turkey to rest for 30 minutes before carving.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

roasted turkey on serving dish

Special Notes:

1)  Brine mixes are available at various outlets; however, I’ve never used one so I can’t comment on how they are compared to making brine from scratch.

2) Cooking a turkey in a roasting pan (without an Oven Bag) is a perfectly acceptable way to cook a turkey and millions of cooks do it that way. With practice, you can learn what works best for you…just remember to baste frequently.

3) The experts from America’s Test give tips on carving a turkey.

4) Here are some shortcuts from Kitchen Daily on making the best gravy.

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Ask Cynthia a Question – November 21, 2014

cooked-turkeySamantha asked:  What do you think is the best way to prepare/cook a turkey?

My answer: Brining has resulted in my most succulent turkeys.

Everyone has their theory on what works best for cooking the Thanksgiving bird, and throughout the years, I’ve tried my share of methods. Here’s an article, Take it easy, the Pilgrims didn’t Brine they’re Turkey, that I found amusing because it reflects some of what I’ve done and how I feel about the different processes.

I’ve brined turkeys that came from the freezer case and those that were fresh without noticing any difference in the final result. Frozen or fresh, I do think it’s best to buy a good quality bird, and I always check the “Sell By” date to make sure it’s as fresh as possible. The brand name I look for in the freezer section is “Honeysuckle White” but I’m not sure that brand is available nationwide.

Please refer to the Recipe of the Month for more details on brining a turkey, if that’s what you choose to do. I’ve found the few extra steps it takes to brine is well worth it to ensure a moist and flavorful turkey.

I generally roast the bird on a bed of vegetables and herbs. To the cavity, I add some of the vegetable/herb mixture along with cut-up lemons and roast it in a large roasting pan with a lid, which I remove about halfway through the roasting process. I’ve also had great success using the roasting bags; I don’t stuff the bird, the dressing is baked separately.

Sometimes it takes a while to get comfortable roasting a turkey, but my advice is to relax and enjoy creating a masterpiece.  Read a story about the year I roasted my first Thanksgiving turkey. Thanks for your question, Samantha, and Happy Thanksgiving!

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