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applesauce cake

adapted from Gale Gand's Applesauce Cake 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened to room temperature 2 cups brown sugar (dark or light), ...

Saturday, December 29, 2012

creamy turkey noodle soup with mushrooms and fresh dill

*note: this soup recipe has been adapted from smittenkitchen.com's chicken noodle soup recipe. thank you, Deb!

an ideal soup for a cold night, whether you're using up leftover turkey or not -- it's remarkably easy to make from scratch, using various cuts of turkey. on this particular occasion, I wanted to use up two previously roasted turkey drumsticks (and wings, but those don't really count for much) -- I knew that I'd want to add some white meat for balance, so I purchased a bone-in half turkey breast to add. it would truly be just as quick and simple to make without the leftovers, by purchasing two drumsticks and cooking them along with the breast. please make note: fresh parsley and dill are truly essential to the flavor of this soup. please do not leave out or substitute another herb for the parsley or dill, unless you're allergic to or despise either herb, of course! if that's the case, use whatever fresh herbs sound good to you -- tarragon would be quite good. fresh thyme or sage would be okay, but must be used sparingly -- only about 1/3 the amount, as they're quite strong in flavor. I don't recommend dried herbs in this soup -- its essential flavor is in the freshness of the herbs (especially the dill). even the cream is secondary -- you could substitute stock for the cream if you want a brothy-er soup. but please use fresh parsley and dill as recommended if at all possible. you'll understand why as soon as you taste it!

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1-1/2 medium white onions, diced
  • 1 8-ounce box mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4-5 pounds either leftover roasted or fresh turkey pieces (for example: 2 drumsticks, 2 wings, one bone-in half breast)
  • 2 quarts (64 ounces) chicken or turkey stock, plus water as needed
  • 1-2 stalks celery, cut into 2-3 large pieces
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut into 3-4 large pieces
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon or more freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 large stalks celery, cut into small dice
  • 2 medium-large carrots, peeled and cut into small dice
  • 6 ounces dry noodles (egg noodles, mini-farfalle and orichiette are all good choices -- something small, but substantial, with a shape that catches some of the broth)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley (flat Italian or curly), finely minced
  • 3 tablespoons fresh dill, finely minced
  • pinch of nutmeg, to taste
  • drops of hot sauce, to taste
  • more kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large French or Dutch oven (or other large heavy soup pot) over medium-high heat and saute the onion, browning thoroughly while cooking (to develop maximum flavor and color without burning). when onions are translucent and light golden brown, add the remaining tablespoon of butter, and then the sliced mushrooms. continue to saute until mushrooms are cooked through and onions are deep golden brown. scrape mushroom-onion mixture out into a clean bowl and set aside. return French oven to the heat, add the olive oil, allow to get hot, then add the raw turkey pieces, skin-side-down, and brown. for maximum flavor, brown only one layer of raw turkey pieces at a time (don't add more pieces on top, or they'll steam, not brown).  turn and brown on other side. if you're using only fresh raw turkey pieces, you'll have to brown in batches. any previously-roasted pieces of turkey are already browned, so this step isn't necessary for them -- just place them in the pot on top of the other pieces after the browning is done.

and speaking of "after the browning is done," pour the stock over all, then add cold water as needed to just cover them. add in the large chunks of celery and carrot, bay leaves, salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. lower heat to a simmer, skim any scum from the broth and cook for 1 hour (if you're using only previously-roasted pieces, cook for 30 minutes). while this is cooking, place the mushrooms & onions you previously set aside into a separate soup or stock pot, and add the heavy cream. heat over medium-low flame until boiling; lower heat to a simmer and allow cream to reduce for about 30 minutes, then turn off the heat, and add a bit of salt and pepper to taste. when the turkey pieces have cooked the appropriate amount of time, remove them to a plate for ~10 minutes to cool before handling. meanwhile, strain the broth and return it to the large French oven and bring to a simmer. add the diced celery and carrot to the broth and let cook for 5 minutes, then add the noodles to the broth mixture and cook (according to package directions) until they're al dente. while the veggies and noodles cook in the broth, remove skin and bone from the turkey and chop/shred into bite-sized pieces. when the noodles are cooked, add the cream, onion & mushroom mixture to the soup pot, then the shredded/chopped turkey, then the minced parsley and dill. quickly bring back up to a simmer, and add the nutmeg, hot sauce, salt & pepper to taste. at this point, the soup should be positively scrumptious. and good thing, because it's ready to serve! it will be even better on the second day after making.

Friday, December 14, 2012


for the seventh night of Hanukkah, I made shakshouka for dinner. okay, the truth is that I made it because I got a great deal on medium-hot New Mexican dried red chiles, and I couldn't wait for tomorrow's carne adovada to try them out. instead of using powdered dried red chile, I made a puree out of the dried chiles. most of the puree went in the fridge for another dish, but I saved 1/2 cup for the shakshouka. the chiles gave the sauce a gorgeous, deep, rich color & flavor. I made a couple more changes from the recipe I usually use -- instead of tomato paste, I used soaked, pureed sun-dried tomatoes to thicken the sauce up, and I added a few spoonfuls of an Italian green tomato relish I made earlier this year. I didn't have bell peppers on hand, so I used some finely chopped pickled jalapeno, which worked very well -- so well, I'll definitely do that again. finally: although shakshouka is usually served with bread (to which I have *no* objection!), I had some roasted potatoes and butternut squash to use up, so I mashed those together with milk, butter, salt & pepper (served that way, it was definitely a dairy meal, and very very delicious at that! but it would be just as good with bread, which is how I'll eat the leftovers). it probably took a total of 20-30 minutes to make, yet tasted like something I'd slaved over all day. shakshouka will be on the menu again soon!

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1-2 pickled jalapeno peppers, chopped OR 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup red chile puree (dry red chile pods, stems, veins & seeds removed, soaked in hot water for ~20 minutes, then pureed in a food processor, adding just enough of the soaking water to facilitate processing -- you want to end up with a nice, thick puree when done) OR 2 tablespoons powdered pure red chile (not cayenne; not chili powder -- you want pure red chili pods, powdered) plus 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 3 cups chopped ripe tomatoes OR 1-1/2 cans (16-20 ounces) diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomato puree (starting with dried tomatoes that are NOT packed in oil, process just as you did the chili pods) or 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • *optional: a few spoonfuls of green tomato relish, if you have it on hand
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • pinch of sugar, to taste
  • kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4-6 eggs
in a 2-3 quart dutch or french oven OR deep cast iron frying pan, heat the olive oil, then add the onion and saute over medium heat for several minutes, until it starts to brown. add the pepper and continue to cook for a couple of minutes, then lower heat a bit and add the garlic. cook for another minute, just to soften (but be careful not to burn the garlic!), then add the chili puree (or powdered chiles and paprika), tomatoes and sun-dried tomato puree (or tomato paste), bring to a simmer, and add the optional green tomato relish, ground cumin and parsley. simmer for a few minutes until sauce begins to thicken, then taste and season with a bit of sugar, salt and pepper to taste. crack the eggs directly over the simmering tomato sauce, spacing them evenly, then cover the pot and cook for 7-15 minutes longer, until eggs are done to your liking. serve with warm, crusty bread, or another over mashed potatoes or polenta.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


easy! also, possibly the best things I've ever baked.

cream cheese dough

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese or neufchatel, chilled, cubed
  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, chilled, cubed
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon cold water
place flour and salt in a food processor fitted with the "s" blade and pulse briefly to combine. scatter cream cheese and butter cubes over the top, then pulse 12-15 times, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. add egg yolk and cold water, then run food processor continuously until dough forms large curds. tip out onto a clean surface and knead briefly, then shape into disks (I like to make three different fillings, so I make three discs), wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours. the dough will keep three-four days in the refrigerator, and up to three months if frozen.


each of these filling recipes makes enough to fill the entire recipe of dough above -- if you want to make more than one filling, decrease the amount of ingredients in each filling accordingly.

filling 1: Israeli chocolate

  • 1.5 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • pinch kosher salt
pulse/process all ingredients in a food processor until chocolate is in fine crumbs.

filling 2: apricot-nut

  • 1 cup apricot jam
  • 1/4 cup dried apricots (use the soft sulphured variety), cut into bits
  • 1/2 cup toasted nuts (walnuts, pecans or almonds), finely chopped
  • pinch kosher salt
combine all ingredients.

filling 3: cherry

  • 1 cup dried sour cherries
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch kosher salt
place all ingredients in a small saucepan, bring to a simmer and cook for a few minutes, until fruit is hydrated and mixture is thickened. cool to room temperature (or chill in refrigerator) before using.

assembly & baking

  • powdered sugar to roll out dough
  • melted butter (it will take 4-6 tablespoons total to fill all the rugelach)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cold water
preheat oven to 350 degrees F. take a disc of dough out of the fridge (1/3 of the total dough, formed into a disk and chilled thoroughly). sprinkle large cutting board or clean countertop with powdered sugar, flip the disc of dough on it a couple of times to ensure it's evenly covered with the sugar, and roll out with a rolling pin into a circle, adding powdered sugar as needed to prevent sticking. once the dough is about 1/8-inch thick, spread the surface liberally with melted butter, than cover with your filling of choice. cut the circle into 4 wedges, then cut each wedge into 4 long, thin triangles. starting at the wide edge of each wedge, roll towards the center up to the point. as you roll the crescents, place each one, point down, on a buttered cookie sheet/jelly roll pan (covered with buttered parchment if you have it -- otherwise, plan to soak the pan to clean it). whisk the egg yolk, sugar and water together to make a glaze, and brush/dab this mixture evenly over all the exposed surfaces of each crescent. bake the rugelach for 20-28 minutes, until the cream cheese dough is medium-golden brown, puffed a bit and cooked all the way through. if you used parchment paper, pull the paper off the cookie sheet directly onto a rack to cool, then peel off the parchment. if you baked them directly on a buttered sheet/pan, remove them to a plate while still warm and flexible.

Monday, December 10, 2012

pasta with roasted butternut squash & brown butter

the combination of roasted butternut squash, brown butter, parmigiana and sage is simply heavenly. ravioli stuffed with sweet, rich winter squash is classic, but also a fair amount of work to make from scratch. I wanted those flavors in a dish that was easy to make; cooking bits of roasted squash in brown butter with freshly-cooked pasta did the trick. I tossed in some potatoes (Yukon Golds are ideal, but feel free to use a different variety, as long as you choose a firm, non-mealy potato -- russet potatoes won't work here), onion and carrots to roast alongside the squash, and their flavors contributed to the dish. of course, as long as you have plenty of roasted squash, you can skip the other veggies if you don't have them on hand. for those who doubt the wisdom of combining potatoes and pasta, they complement each other and meld to become the very definition of "comfort food."

  • 1 small butternut squash, cut in half, seeds removed
  • 2 small Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed
  • 2-3 carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 1 onion, cut into strips or slices
  • butter to grease roasting pan
  • 6 tablespoons cold butter
  • 4 tablespoons fresh sage leaves: 1 tablespoon whole, 3 tablespoons sliced into a fine chiffonade
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1/4 cup + grated parmigiana reggiano (or grana padano)
  • tiny pinch ground nutmeg
  • kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 pound dried pasta, cooked al dente
  • *1/2 package (4 ounces) cream cheese or neufchatel, optional
heat oven to 400 degrees F. arrange squash (cut side down), onions, potatoes and carrots in roasting pan, strew whole sage leaves and thyme sprigs over top and roast for 40-50 minutes, until all vegetables are tender. remove herbs and discard. cut carrots and potatoes into a small dice, remove skin from squash and chop into a larger dice. 

heat 6 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat until browned -- not too fast! you don't want the butter to burn. your goal is to cook the milk solids until the butter is deep golden brown with darker brown flecks. it should smell indescribably delicious. pour 4 tablespoons of the butter out into a bowl, and toss in the sliced fresh sage. return the pan with the remaining 2 tablespoons of brown butter to the burner, and toss in the carrots, potatoes and onions. saute for a few minutes to soften vegetables, then add the squash. toss around and smash the squash with the back of a wooden spoon until some of the water is cooked out, and the squash is creamy and soft. add the smallest pinch of nutmeg, and season to taste with salt and pepper. pour in the reserved brown butter with sage and the cooked pasta, and toss over medium heat until warmed through. add in the parmigiana, taste again for salt & pepper and voila, it's ready to serve!

*if you want to send this dish over the top (and why wouldn't you?), stir a few ounces of cream cheese or neufchatel in at the end. the creamy flavor goes perfectly with the squash, and your eyes will roll back into your head. really!