Sunday, October 25, 2009

Apple of my Pie

Nom, nom. It's apple season. Two weeks ago I bought my first bag of MacIntosh apples and I nearly died from how good that first bite was. Those of you who think I was over reacting must not remember that apples begin to convert their starches to sugars once picked so, even if you can get apples in April, they're not nearly as good. For this reason, I only eat apples in season. I also had a similar experience when my awesome cousin, Jenn, took me to an orchard where I bought a half peck (yes, as in "Peter Piper...") of more Mac's. While they are my favourie out-of-hand eating apple, they suck in pies (but are great in apple sauce) because they fall apart too easily. For this recipe, choose hearty apples such as Northern Spy, Golden Delicious, and Granny Smiths. Enjoy!

Apple Pie

Ingredient List
pie shells (2)
apples* (1.5 kg, ~ 6-8 medium/large)
unsalted butter (3 tbsp)
granulated sugar
ground cinnamon
table salt
lemon juice
honey (optinal)
coarse sugar (optional)

Peel, core, and slice 1.5 kg apples. Rinse each set of slices briefly in a solution of water and lemon juice to prevent browning while peeling the rest of the apples.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Melt 3 tbsp unsalted butter in a very large skillet or pot over high heat.

Add the apples and stir to coat. Reduce the head to medium, cover and cook until the apples have softened slightly, stirring often (~ 5-7 minutes).

Stir in ¾ cup granulated sugar, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, ⅛ tsp table salt, and 2 tsp lemon juice.

Increase the heat to high and cook the apples until the juices thicken (~ 3 minutes).

Spread the apples in a single layer on a baking sheet and let them cool to room temperature.

Pour the apple mixture into the bottom pie crust. Cover with a vented top crust (vent can be made with a knife or a small cookie cutter), sealing the edges with pressure from fingers or a fork.

Optional: Mix 1 tbsp honey with 1 tbsp water. Brush over top crust. Sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Bake in lower half of the oven for 30-40 minutes, until the filling begins to bubble.

Let cool completely for 3-4 hours before serving. If desired, reheat in a 350°F oven for 15 minutes.

Makes 8 servings.

*A combination of baking apples is best; Courtland, Golden Delicious, Rome Beauty, Newtown/Pippin, Mutsu/Crispin, Northern Spy, Spygold, and Ida Red.

The top crust can be substituted with a streusel or crisp topping, instead.

Nutrition (per serving)
Calories 233
Total fat 6 g
Saturated fat 3 g
Cholesterol 11 mg
Sodium 93 mg
Carbohydrate 48 g
Dietary fibre 5 g
Sugars 39 g
Protein 1 g
Vitamin A 5 %DV
Vitamin C 15 %DV
Calcium 2 %DV
Iron 2 %D

Original Source: Joy of Cooking

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Don't be such a turkey!

Thanksgiving has come and gone and I made yet another fabulous bird. It's taken several years to develop a fool-proof turkey method but I've done it. If you follow the below steps, you will never have to worry about how your turkey will turn out ever again.

One thing though - You need a probe thermometer. It's the only way to truly tell when your bird is done. They're dirt cheap, especially if you buy the one from PC (doesn't come with a magnet on the back but you can add one).

Oh, and the brining of the turkey is a must. Not only does it give you a moist, succulent bird, but it changes the cooking properties of the meat and reduces the overall cooking time.


Ingredient List

whole young turkey (~ 14 lbs)

vegetable oil

table salt

brown sugar

Hardware List

large bucket or cooler (~ 4 gallon)

probe thermometer

electric knife (optional)

rack or root vegetables

aluminum foil

Thawing Directions

If the turkey needs to be thawed from frozen, place it in a pan, still in its packaging, in the bottom of the refrigerator for 3-5 days.

If the turkey is still frozen the day before cooking, completely submerse it in a bucket full of COLD water for 6-8 hours, changing the water every 3 hours.

Brining Directions

Place the thawed turkey in a bucket or cooler and determine how much water is required to completely submerse it (~3 gallons).

For every gallon of liquid (16 cups), combine ½ cup table salt and ⅓ cup brown sugar in a medium saucepan. Add 2 cups water for each gallon required and heat until everything is completely dissolved. Let the mixture cool to room temperature.

Pour the mixture into the bucket along with the remaining 14 cups water per gallon. Remove the turkey from its packaging and remove any giblets. Gently add the turkey to the bucket, breast side down. If necessary, place a heavy object on top to keep the turkey completely submersed.

Let the turkey soak for 8-10 hours, in the refrigerator. If the turkey is not completely submerged, flip it over half way through the brining process. Return the turkey to the empty bucket and store it in the refrigerator until ready for cooking.

Cooking Directions

Thoroughly rinse the turkey, inside and out, to remove any salt deposits on the skin. Pat the turkey dry with paper towels.

Line the bottom of the roasting pan with a rack or with root vegetables. Place the turkey in the roasting pan and let it sit enough to remove any remaining surface moisture (~ ½-1 hour).

Preheat the oven to 500°F.

Tuck the turkey’s wings behind its back and tie its legs together with twine or tuck them through the tail fat.

Insert the probe thermometer into the deepest part of the breast meat. Mold an aluminum foil triangle to the breast area of the turkey and remove for later use. Brush the entire turkey with a small amount of vegetable oil.

Roast the turkey for 30 minutes to brown the skin.

Return the aluminum foil triangle to the breast area of the turkey and drop the oven temperature to 350°F.

Cook the turkey until the probe thermometer reaches a temperature of 165°F (~1½-2 hours). Check a second location in the breast meat to verify temperature.

Remove the turkey from the oven and let it sit, covered with aluminum foil, for 15 minutes.

Carving Directions

Using an electric knife (preferably), cut the thighs to the joint, break the joint manually, and then continue to cut through to sever the leg. Cut the thigh from the drumstick.

Cut into the breast meat at the wing and follow in and up to the ribs. Slice the breast meat off in thin slabs.


If the turkey is done too early, tent with foil and let it sit in a 200°F oven until ready.

Sample timeline for a 6:00 PM dinner:

2:30 PM Place turkey in roasting pan at room temperature.

3:10 PM Turn on oven. Prep turkey.

3:30 PM Broil turkey at 500°F for 30 min.

4:00 PM Roast turkey at 350°F until done.

Nutrition (per 1 cup)

Calories 238

Total fat 7 g

Saturated fat 2.3 g

Cholesterol 106 mg

Sodium 98 mg

Carbohydrate 0 g

Dietary fibre 0 g

Sugars 0 g

Protein 41 g

Vitamin A 0 %DV

Vitamin C 0 %DV

Calcium 4 %DV

Iron 14 %DV

Original Source: Me! Compiled from a dozen cooking shows and books.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

One pot dinner, fast

I'm still struggling to finish my thesis, so I'm very appreciative when I find a dinner recipe that doesn't take long to prep or make or have many dishes. I've had this recipe, which I pulled from an issue of Kraft's What's Cooking magazine, in my "to try" folder for over three years now. I can't believe I didn't try it sooner. It makes four servings, which means Gabriel and I both have lunch for the next day. It's perfect

P. S. - I'm trying out a new recipe format. Hope you like it.

Cheesy Chicken Noodle Skillet

Ingredient List
egg noodles (3 cups)
chicken breasts (450 g, approx. 3)
broccoli heads (2 cups, approx. 2)
chicken broth (1/2 cup)
cream cheese spread (1/2 cup)
mayonnaise (1/4 cup)
cheddar cheese (1 cup, shredded)

Fill largest stock pot with salted water and bring to a boil. Cut 450 g chicken breasts into bite-size pieces. Remove florets from 2 heads broccoli and cut to same size as chicken. Shred 1 cup cheddar cheese.

Add 3 cups egg noodles and chicken to boiling water. Cook for 6 minutes, until chicken is cooked through and the noodles are tender. Add broccoli and cook for another 2 minutes.

Drain the noodle mixture and return it to the pot.

Stir in ½ cup chicken broth, ½ cup cream cheese spread, and ¼ cup mayonnaise. Simmer over medium-low heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly, until cream cheese spread is melted and sauce is well blended.

Add cheddar cheese. Stir until cheese is completely melted.

Makes 4 servings, 1¼ cups each.

Substitute 2 cups of any frozen vegetable on hand, and/or light or flavoured cream cheese.

Nutrition (per serving)
Calories 525
Total fat 28 g
Saturated fat 13 g
Cholesterol 155 mg
Sodium 550 mg
Carbohydrate 28 g
Dietary fibre 3 g
Sugars 3 g
Protein 39 g
Vitamin A 25 %DV
Vitamin C 45 %DV
Calcium 25 %DV
Iron 10 %DV

Original source: Kraft Canada - Cheesy Chicken Noodle Skillet