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Archive for October, 2008

Several months ago, I smoked a turkey and froze the leftovers. Tonight, I used the last ration from my freezer in this innovative take on Turkey Tetrazzini by Tyler Florence.  No heavy cream or cheese here. Just an incredibly savory and lightly creamy sauce with tender mushrooms, sweet peas, fresh herbs and a sprinkle of Cabot extra sharp cheddar on top.

One pound of white button mushrooms is sauteed in garlic, shallots, fresh parsley, bay leaves, thyme, lemon zest and olive oil. Then, they are tossed in a roux of chicken stock, milk, butter and flour.  I added about four cups of diced, smoked turkey, two cups of peas, and mixed with one package of egg noodles.

The cheddar and bread crumbs meld to create a crispy deliciousness on top of this casserole of pure comfort.

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Craving Pumpkin

What is it about the colder temperatures, falling leaves, and musty autum smell that sparks a craving for all things pumpkin? Every year the change of seasons elicits childhood memories, wrapped in the golden hues of autumn, that include finger-licking-good treats fresh out of mom’s oven: warm pumpkin bread, cream cheese frosted pumpkin cookies, pumpkin cinnamon coffee cake, and, of course, classic pumpkin pie.

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These decadent chocolate chocolate chip cookies are rich and chewy. And the semi-sweet chips make them not too sweet but just enough!  I used Ghiradelli chips and cocoa powder — wonderful stuff.

Double Chocolate Cookies

1 cup butter, softened

1 1/2 cups white sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

2/3 cup cocoa powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 bag semisweet chocolate chips

(1) Preheat the oven to 350.

(2) Blend the butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla until light and fluffy.

(3) Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Gradually stir into the butter mixture until well blended. Mix in the chocolate chips.

(4) Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes.

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With the weather turning cooler and the leaves beginning to turn in New York City, this autumn menu is perfect for a Friday night dinner party.

The chicken breasts were marinated in fresh herbs and white wine for several hours before being pan-roasted and finished in the oven with Dijon mustard on top. The creamy, Dijon-tarragon sauce is a light and flavorful complement to the marinade. (Recipe)

On the side: a salad of bosc pear, toasted walnuts, crumbled gorgonzola cheese and a cider-lemon vinagrette. Also, oven-roasted baby yukon gold potatoes tossed with olive oil, sea salt and chopped rosemary.

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Chewy on the outside and fresh, crisp and crunchy on the inside. Fresh spring rolls are a light and refreshing appetizer packed with flavor.

Turns out, they’re pretty easy to make at home! Preparing the rolls’ numerous elements is the hardest part; wrapping and rolling is all the fun.

These shrimp spring rolls included cilantro, seeded cucumber, carrots, green onion, mint leaves, cellophane noodles, and chopped peanuts.  You could also swap in basil for the mint or add lettuce or spinach to the mix. Some people like fresh bean sprouts in there as well. It’s up to you.

Start the assembly process by soaking a sheet of rice paper in a bowl of water until it gets limp.  Then pull it out and lay it on a damp cloth. Starting with the mint leaves or lettuce, top the wrapper with all the ingredients. Then, roll it up tight like you would a burrito.

I recommend two dipping sauces to dunk your rolls into: a spicy peanut sauce and a sweet garlic chili sauce. Both can be prepared in advance, and leftovers can be kept and used as a marinade or condiment.

Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup rice vinegar

2 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon each of minced garlic and ginger

1 tablespoon hoisin sauce

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 cup crushed peanuts

1 tablespoon peanut butter

*Bring all of the above ingredients to simmer over low heat, whisking to combine the peanut butter. Let it cool before serving.

Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce

4 tablespoons fish sauce

1/4 cup water

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon garlic chili sauce, or to taste

*Combine at least one hour before serving.

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Nha Trang, on New York’s lower east side, may not stand-out among the myriad Asian shopfronts and restaurants off Canal Street. But inside this lower level Vietnamese eatery, you will find an extensive menu of delicious, traditional Vietnamese fare at bargain prices.

The pan-fried salt and pepper shrimp come atop a bed of salad, dressed with cilantro and a garlic vinegar sauce. The crispy squid is tossed lightly in garlic sauce and piled high. The tender beef cubes are marinated with Vietnamese spices and served with onions and tomatoes. And the chili-lemongrass chicken has a tangy kick. I highly recommend all of them.

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Kyoto Cookies

I know them as “Kyoto cookies”: individually wrapped crunchy waffle cookies filled with a vanilla cream. They have the crispness and “egginess” of a Chinese fortune cookie but are not as dry or tasteless.    Since I first discovered them at a gift shop in Tokyo several years ago, I’ve been unable to verify their real Japanese name or significance as part of Japanese culture. Regardless, they are a special delight — and beautifully packaged — when they can be found! (Thanks to my dad for discovering this box in NYC.)

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