Saturday, November 27, 2010

Sasha's Kitchen: Maple Glazed Thanksgiving Turkey with Oranges, Paired with Wagner Vineyards Riesling

Hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving. This year, my family came in from Rochester for Thanksgiving and Brad and I hosted, which meant quite a bit of holiday cooking. It was such a nice meal, and everything turned out great, just the way I had hoped. There is so much to be thankful for - my family, my wonderful husband, our health and all the things we have. Sometimes it is so easy to just think about the things we want and don't have more often, but there has to be a balance between the two. At any rate, this year, we made quite a few recipes for Thanksgiving - some new recipes and some old favorites. I look forward to sharing them here over the next week or so.

For the turkey, I decided to do an orange-maple flavored turkey, which seemed perfect for the season. Of course, and not surprisingly, they key to an amazing turkey, the centerpiece of Thanksgiving, is the quality of the bird you start with. Our turkey was a free-range, organic turkey from Plainville Farms, which might just be the best turkey I have ever had. When cooked properly, it is succulent, juicy and just perfect. You can order these delicious, organic turkeys from Fresh Direct.

We paired the Turkey with Wagner Vineyards' semi dry Riesling, a light, refreshing citrus infused wine, that was more citrus than sweet and an excellent table wine. We also noticed hints of pear and peach.

Sasha's Orange-Maple Roast Turkey
1 12-14 lb organic turkey
sea salt and pepper
two oranges
1 onion
fresh thyme
fresh oregano
1 stalk of celery
bay leaf
fresh tarragon
6 T of butter
1 cup of orange juice
1/3 cup of Vermont maple syrup
1 T of fresh grated ginger

2/3 cup Riesling (I used Wagner Vineyards' Semi Dry Riesling, which I received in a generous shipment several months ago with several bottles of their other wonderful wines)
3 cups of turkey stock
3 T flour
1 T canola oil
1 T butter

Heat the oven to 425 and wash the turkey inside and out with cold water. Pat dry with paper towels and empty the body cavity. Keep the various turkey parts from the body cavity, and put in a pot to make the turkey stock. Add three cups of water, a stalk of celery, a dice onion, a couple carrots and some herbs to the stock solution (tarragon, thyme, a bay leaf and oregano). Bring the pot to a boil and allow to simmer for about two hours on low until you can strain the vegetables and turkey parts and keep the stock.

In the meantime, fill the cavity of the turkey with the two oranges, chopped celery, quartered onion, and fresh bay leaf, thyme, oregano and tarragon. This should be bulging out of the turkey cavity. Generously season the bird with sea salt (which is much healthier than regular salt) and pepper. Rub the turkey with paprika as well, to season. Set the bird in a roasting pan. Cover with a double layer of cheesecloth. Melt two tablespoons of butter and combine with 1/3 of a cup of orange juice. If you prefer, you can based with canola oil instead, but I recommend butter. Use the butter/orange juice solution to baste the turkey with a baster.  You can add a bit of water to the bottom of the roasting pan after you baste the turkey. Roast for 30 minutes. Then, take the turkey out and rebaste with another 2 T of melted butter combined with 1/3 cup of orange juice.  Lower the heat to 350, and loosely cover with a piece of aluminum foil. Roast for thirty minutes more and rebaste. Continue roasting at 350 for approximately three hours, basing periodically (about twice) during the interim. The turkey should be done after about three hours, when a mean thermometer registers 170 degrees in the breast and 180 degrees in the leg.

Heat 1 T of grated ginger in a pot with the maple syrup over medium heat until combined.  Glaze the turkey with this solution using a pastry brush, and allow to sit for about 20 minutes until you carve the turkey.

To make the gravy, combine the flour with a tablespoon of canola oil. Add to the three cups of turkey stock that you prepared and heat for about five minutes over medium heat. Add the Riesling and cook until reduced by half, and longer until the gravy thickens. Season with a bit of pepper.

Carve the turkey using an electric knife, and serve with the gravy and plenty of delicious side dishes (recipes soon!). Yum!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sasha's Kitchen: Pretty in Pink Chocolate Cupcakes

Over the weekend, I wanted to make some cupcakes that were girlish and carefree and . . . very, very pink. I made these basic, but delicious chocolate cupcakes with a bright pink frosting, using gel based food coloring to get the vibrant color (since I discovered gel food colorings, their use has totally replaced the conventional grocery store four color box that I had used since I was a kid). I used some pink icing to make flowers and hearts on the surface of the cupcakes after piping the frosting professionally using a frosting bag. I would have fashioned the flowers and hearts out of fondant, like I have sometimes in the past, but I was out of fondant at the moment. I wanted to make something that could be readily eaten without picking off the fondant, as I am not crazy about the taste of fondant. With respect to the gel food colors, New York Cake is the best place to buy them, as well as just about anything else you could ever want for baking.

Chocolate Cupcakes With Pink Buttercream (makes 10-12 cupcakes)
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup buttermilk

For the Frosting
1 stick of butter, room temperature
3 cups of confectioner's sugar
4 oz cream lowfat cream cheese
1/2 tsp vanilla
several drops of fuchsia gel based food coloring

You don't need a stand mixer for the cupcakes, but I advise using one for the frosting. For the cupcakes, combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl and set aside. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the sugar, oil, vanilla and egg. Slowly add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the sugar/egg mixture, alternating and stirring until combined completely. Fill your silicon cupcake molds 3/4 full. Bake in an oven preheated to 350 for 25 minutes, using a toothpick to check for when the cupcakes are done.

To make the frosting, beat the butter and sugar for several minutes on high in a stand mixer until it forms a frosting - you really can't beat too long or too high, as it just acquires a nicer, smother texture. Beat in the food coloring, vanilla and cream cheese. Pipe on the cupcakes using a frosting bag.
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