Monday, November 24, 2008

Turkey 101

Dedicated to Gina, may your turkey wishes comes true.

For all those out there that can’t seem to get their turkey right, I am here to help. Follow my simple instructions, and you should be fine. But I am not guaranteeing anything. I mean maybe if I could come you help you and your Mr. Gobble, I could perhaps guarantee. My family and I make some pretty great turkey and with the help of some culinary school instruction, I believe to have a pretty good method for making a crispy skin, juicy bird. Read on, follow along and feel free to email any questions you have. And those who know how to cook a wonderful bird feel free to give any suggestions.

WHY I LOVE TO BRINE, but I won’t be mad if you don’t want to. Brining makes the turkey flavorful all the way through, not just its crispy skin. Brining not only ensures flavor but moistness; dryness being the most common ailment to Turkeys. Look at the bottom for brining instructions.

1. Preheat your oven to 450.
2. Take your turkey out of the fridge at least a ½ or an hour prior to putting the bird in the oven.
3. Stuff the bird with aromatic such as thyme, sage, onion, garlic, and lemon. I wouldn’t stuff the bird with stuffing, because as my teacher says “You are playing Russian Roulette with your health.”
4. Truss the turkey. Tuck back the wings. Make sure to secure the drumsticks. If you have no clue how to truss a turkey, click here. This is important to create a more uniform shape, hence more even cooking = BETTER BIRD
5. Turkey rub down: rub the bird with melted or softened butter and generously sprinkle salt and pepper all over the turkey.
6. Place the turkey on a roasting rack inside a shallow roasting pan. If your pan is too deep it will not cook evenly and not brown. Make sure a majority of the turkey is above the sides of the pan. Elevation is key. It should not touch the bottom of the pan.
7. Place the turkey in a 450F oven for 20 minutes. Then turn the temperature down to 350F. Now just some simple math. The turkey should cook at 350 for 16-18 minutes per pound. So just know the weight of your bird and multiply that number by 17. There you go, an approximate cooking time.
8. To tell if it is done, do not trust anything that pops up out of your turkey. Take its temperature, 165 is done. If it is 160, don’t worry, you can still take it out, because of carry over cooking when it rests.
9. Rest the bird. It should rest for half the cooking time for up to an hour. No one ever rest the turkey enough. While it is resting make your pan gravy, heat up all the rest of the turkey accoutrements in the oven. If you do, it will turn out so much better and more moist. Cover with foil when it rests.

So it is not cooking: turn the oven to convection instead of bake
Not Brown: turn the oven back up to 450 for another 20 minutes.
Too Brown: turn down the oven temperature a little and place aluminum foil over the bird.

1 cup sugar
2 cups kosher salt
2 ½ gallons water
2 bay leaves, torn into pieces
1 bunch fresh thyme
1 head garlic, cloves separated and peeled
5 whole allspice berries, crushed
4 juniper berries, smashed

Clean the turkey by removing giblet bag, any extra fat and any pin feathers. Rinse well under cold tap water.
Combine the sugar, salt and 3-4 quarts of water in a large bag. Stir until sugar and salt dissolve, and then add the remainder of the brine ingredients except for the remaining 1 ½ gallons water.

Double-bag two heavy-duty, unscented trash bags, (not made of recycled materials), then put them in an ice chest that is large enough to hold the turkey. Place the turkey in the doubled bags, pour in the brine, then the remaining 1 ½ gallons water – there should be enough liquid to completely submerge the bird. Press out all the air in the bags, and then tightly close each bag separately. Keep the turkey cold with bags of ice, which will also help keep it submerged in the brine. Brine for 12-24 hours.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Crispy Beer Battered Shrimp Fritters with Ale Gastrique and a Fall Slaw

I entered a contest at my school, which wanted us to incorporate Allagash Black beer into a recipe. Unfortunately I wasn’t selected, but I think this recipe is still delicious. Feel free to use any stout like beer. And if you want other recipes that include beer check out their website: I also want to thank my cousin David, for helping me develop the recipe.

Crispy Beer Battered Shrimp Fritters with Allagash Black Gastrique and a Fall Slaw
This delicious yet sophisticated appetizer is sure to please anyone. The tarragon vinaigrette slaw highlights this season crop of winter roots: carrots, celery root, fennel and cabbage. The ale gastrique is a balance between rich, sweet, sour. And you can use the rest of the beer in your batter.

1 cup flour
1 egg beaten
1 ½ cup Allagash Black Ale
1 cup chopped scallions
Canola oil 2 quarts
18 16-20 count Gulf Prawns (or rock shrimp), de-shelled –deveined and cut in half width wise
Salt to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste

2 tablespoons shallots
2 tablespoon + 2 tsp. honey
2 cup Allagash Black Ale
2 tsp. vinegar
Salt to taste
1 tsp. canola oil

2 ½ cups shredded cabbage
1 ½ cup shredded carrot
1 ½ cup shredded celeriac or celery root
1 cup thinly sliced sweet red onion
1 ½ cup shaved fennel

1 tsp mayonnaise (homemade or store bought)
5 tsp vinegar
½ cup olive oil
2 tsp. finely chopped tarragon
Salt and pepper to taste

Shrimp Fritters:

1. Clean and Cut shrimp season with salt and cayenne to taste.
2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, egg, scallions and beer and whisk to combine. Let the batter rest ½ hour to an hour before using.
3. Fill a pot with canola oil, at least 5 inches up the pot. Heat over medium high heat.
4. When oil reaches 360, batter shrimp, by placing each piece in the batter and then place in the hot oil, deep fry, about 2 minutes.
5. Place on paper towel to absorb excess oil and sprinkle salt while hot.
6. Cut in half for presentation.


1. Use a mandoline to shred all ingredients.
2. Combine celery root, fennel, carrot, onion and cabbage in a bowl.
3. Toss with vinaigrette


1. In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, red wine vinegar and finely chopped tarragon. Add salt to taste.
2. Slowly whisk in olive oil to form an emulsion. Adjust seasoning and toss to coat slaw. If extra, reserve for another use.

Ale Gastrique:

1. Coat bottom of a small pot with oil. Heat oil.
2. Add diced shallots and sauté until slightly caramelized.
3. Add honey.
4. Add beer and reduce down until it makes a thick syrup
5. When the consistency is achieved, adjust seasoning with salt
6. Add the vinegar and take off the heat

Note: In order for the freshest fritters follow this order:
1. Heat oil and make batter
2. Start ale gastrique
3. Make slaw
4. Deep fry fritters
5. Finish ale gastrique
6. Plate

This is sure to impress , a sohpisticated way to use beer and a perfect appetizer for the holiday!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

El Beit: for the coffee-curian in all of us

coffee-curian: A person who loves and knows good coffee, somewhat elitist, addicted to bold flavors and caffeine. Thinks coffee beans are semi-precious amber jewels.

I am not a coffee-curian but I like good coffee, let's just say I know good coffee when I taste it. Blue Bottle is my favorite in San Francico but nothing has captivated my palette here in NYC. Recently, I found my Blue Bottle equivalent.
Here comes a new breed of coffee shop in Williamsburg where the coffee takes center stage. El Beit cares about one thing: amazing espresso and coffee without the unnecessary frills of syrups and concoctions (like at some coffee establishments located every 2 ½ blocks.)
The latte is strong, yet there is no bitter after taste, just smooth and bold.
Like Blue Bottle, they always make a design in the latte, a beautiful leaf that not only demonstrates the deep hue of espresso but the creamy foam on top.

They have a beautiful orange Marcazzo espresso machine, which provides the only color in contrast to the metal pipes and wood tables. It stands out as a sleek mean coffee machine. The "baristas" take time and care with each drink, something you rarely find at most coffee shops.
The only downside is the location; the ubber trend master hipster location can make it unbearable. But I am happy these hipsters can appreciate I good European espresso.

El Beit
158 Bedford Ave
(between 8th St & 9th St)
Brooklyn, NY 11211

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Cheesy Baked Penne with Crème Fraiche and Cauliflower

Cheesy Baked Penne with Crème fraiche and Cauliflower with a Wild Mushroom Salad

Pasta enveloped in a creamy sauce of aged Gruyere and Fontina (which melts up exceedingly well) and a kick of crème fraiche to make it extra creamy with a bit of acidity with seasonal cauliflower. I can’t claim this recipe to be mine. But you can get it by clicking here from Bon Appetit. Here are a few of my recommendations: I would roast the cauliflower to develop a full-bodied flavor instead of simply par boiled. Make sure to use Gruyere reserve, this mean the Gruyere has been aged which gives it a sharper and in my opinion better flavor to the dish.
I made homemade breadcrumbs, which is so easy and a great way to use up old bread. Simply dry it up in the oven and place in the food processor. (So much better than store bought.) But I won’t blame you for reaching for the can.

The wild mushroom salad with its earthy complexity makes a perfect complement to any ultra cheesy dish. I love to use a mixture of mushrooms: chanterelles, morels, shitakes and browns. I like to sauté them with a little white wine to boost the flavor factor. I let them cool and prepare the salad. I do a classic vinaigrette with shallots, Dijon mustard, olive oil and red wine vinegar. I toss with fresh lettuce from the farmer’s market and enjoy this sophisticated macaroni and cheese.