Saturday, December 22, 2018

Turkey/Chicken Enchiladas with Mole Sauce

This red, white and green dish is perfect for the Christmas season.  I must admit I had not planned it that way. Turns out I had a lot of leftover turkey and it was pretty dry. First I made a big batch of turkey soup, then what?  I thought of two of my favorite recipes Butternut Squash Enchiladas and Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breast with Red Chile Mole. Dinner was underway. Easy dinner for me because I had some mole sauce in the freezer.

NOTE: While a great way to use leftover turkey, this recipe would work equally well or better with chicken.

MAKE THE MOLE  (adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone; I adjusted ingredients based on availibility)

In a dry skillet toast:

1 1/2 t coriander seeds [I use 1 1/2 t ground coriander]
1 1/4 t anise seeds
1 1/4 t cumin
1 1/4 t dried Mexican oregano*

Remove to a plate as soon as herbs smell fragarant.  In a 2 quart saucepan heat:

2 1/2 T vegetable oil [I use 1 T olive oil]


1 small onion, finely diced [I use 2-3 T of finely diced sweet onion]
1 t minced garlic [Madison adds garlic with the spices]

Cook stirring frequently for about 3 - 4 minutes until the onion is wilted and slightly browned, then add the ground spices and cook for one minute more.  Remove from the heat, let the pan cool for a minute, then stir in:

1/3 c ground mild [I use medium] red chili

Mix, then gradually add 1 1/2 c water.  Return to the stove and bring to a boil, stirring slowly but constantly so that the chili doesn't burn.  It will thicken as it cooks; add an additional 1/4 c water to thin it out if necessary.

Add and stir until it is melted:

1 oz Mexican chocolate. such as Ibarra, coarsley chopped [I use 1 oz unsweetened chocolate plus 1/2 t ground cinnamon or 3 T baking cocoa plus 1/2 t ground cinnamon].

Simmer for 10 minutes then stir in: 

1 t sherry vinegar.

Mole recipe makes about 2 cups, If not all used, it can be frozen for future use.

MAKE THE ENCHILADAS  (Serves two, scale accordingly)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Then finely chop:

1/2 c (or more to go heavy on veggies or omit, extra step and not key to dish ) butternut squash (carrots would work too)

1/4 large sweet onion

6 oz cooked turkey (or chicken)

several sprigs of fresh cliantro*

Toss the squash cubes in olive oil and bake  for about 10 minutes until tender.  Reduce oven to 350 degrees F.

Assemble the enchiladas:

Microwave on high for 30 seconds, two at a time

4 corn tortillas

Place two tortillas on two ovenproof plates that have been lightly greased with olive oil. Spread mole sauce on each tortilla, then 1/4 of the cubed turkey, 1/4 of the chopped onion, and 1/4 of the cubed squash. Roll the tortillas, then turn them 180 degrees so that the seam where the edges of the tortilla meet is on the bottom

Top with more mole sauce and

1 1/2 - 2 oz. crumbled goat cheese, divided 4 ways.

Bake in 350 degree F oven for 12 minutes.

Remove from oven and top with

chopped cilantro

Optional garnishes include:

Avocado, silced thin, divided two ways, chopped cilantro

Arugula or other greens that are good warm.

* I keep chopped cilantro in the freezer.  The frozen cilantro sprinkled directly on the enchiladas (shown in photo) also works well.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Henry's Chocolate Chip Birthday Cake

When it comes to birthday cakes Henry has a mind of his own.  Well, exccept for his first birthday when he got the default Portland birthday cake, a chocolate cake with raspberry filling and chocolate ganache frosting from Ken's. For his second birthday, Henry requested one of Chris's apple pies, and for his third, Blueberry Cobbler.  His fourth birthday request (hard to believe that was 9 months ago!) was more complicated, he wanted a chocolate chip cake. Not one of the traditional family birthday cakes, hence no recipe. After looking at several recipes on line Alex chose one from Love and Duck Fat. If Henry continues with his current cake request pattern this cake will not be requested again.....but should it be at some much later date, the basics of the recipe, with some modifications, follow:

Make the cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Butter two 9-inch cake pans. Line pans with parchment paper and butter parchment paper.

Sift together into a medium bowl:

16.9 oz (4c + 2T) flour
2 t baking powder
1 1/2 t baking soda
1 t salt

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, place:

8 oz butter, cut in small chunks
14.1 oz (2 c) sugar

Cream at medium speed until light and fluffy then reduce to low speed and add incrementally:

2 t vanilla extract
4 eggs

When these ingredients are well beaten into the mix, slowly add

2 c buttermilk*

Then continuing on slow speed, gradually add the flour mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl while adding.  Mix just until the flour is completely blended.  Remove bowl from the mixer stand and fold in by hand:

1 1/2 - 2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips

Divide the batter between the two cake pans and gently tap pans to remove any air bubbles. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until a small skewer inserted in the cake comes out free of batter. Cake should be golden brown.

Cool in pan for 10-15 minutes then remove to a rack.Cool completely before frosting.

* In lieu of buttermilk, mix 2 T vinegar with enough milk to measure 2 c and let sit five minutes before using.

Make the frosting

In a medium mixing bowl, combine:

6 oz unsweetened chocolate
5 oz butter, cut in small chunks
1 1/2 t vanilla extract

In a heavy saucepan bring to a simmer

1 1/3 c heavy cream
7 oz (1 c) sugar

Reduce heat to low and stir, about 6 minutes until the sugar melts completely and the mixture slightly thickens.

Pour the hot sugar cream mixture on top of the chocolate-butter mixture. Cool to room temperature while stirring occasionally

Put the bowl with the cream -  chocolate mixture inside a larger bowl which has a layer of ice cubes on the bottom. Using a stand or upright mixer, beat the mixture until it is thick and glossy, scraping down to sides of the bowl frequently so that the mixture is fully mixed.

Frost the top of the lower layer then place the second layer on top. Frost the top and the sides of the cake.  Decorate the top as desired with chocolate chips.  Alex placed a circle of chocolate chips around the perimiter with birthday decorations in the center and served the cake on the same wooden plate that had held her and Dan's wedding cake.

Thanksgiving Turkey

As of Thanksgiving 2016, I could count on one hand the number of turkeys I had cooked, the last one in 2008 and the one before that a very long time ago.  I've done Almonds, Cranberry Ice, and Creamed Onions most every year, an occasional Pumpkin or Pecan Pie (Chris and Alex now do the pies!) but seldom a turkey.

When I was a small child and we had Thanksgiving dinner as the noon meal, I heard my Mom say she had to get up really early to "dress the turkey".  Helpful child that I was, I got up even earlier and somehow managed to get the turkey out of the refrigerator (no cryovac bags in thoses days - Mom had already spent hours removing all the pinfeathers), and carefully "dressed" it with Kleenex. Last year's (2016) attempt was only a little more successful.  I got a rather large turkey, about 18 pounds I think, and used a recipe, How to Cook a Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey I found in the Boston Globe.  Think the failure was not caused by the recipe but (1) cooking the turkey closer to 180 degrees at the inner thigh, as I do with roast chicken, and perhaps buying too big a bird.  Ihe gravy makers objected to the lemons, put per recipe in the water under the turkey.  Think fresh herbs were a waste, as they did not stick as well as dried herbes d' Provence. Herbs were the least of the problem though as the white meat was very dry. Lessons learned: Do not wash turkey. Turkey is done at 165 not 180.  Don't mess to much with the "gravy base".

Soon after this turkey disaster I saw a recipe in the New York Times, How to Roast a Turkey. I filed it forThanaksgiving 2017.  When I was debating what size turkey to get that year Chris responded, I don't care about the size just don't have it dry like last year.  This sent me to an on-line search as to what causes roast turkey to be dry.  I found many references to size.  Apparently the larger the turkey, the harder to cook well, especially without a wet brine.  Many sources suggest cooking two 10 or 12 pound turkeys rather than one 20 to  24 pound bird. I then returned to Melissa Clark's NYT recipe, again front page and center in the New York Times.  Interestingly her recipe is for a 10 to 12 pound turkey and she uses a dry brine. I basically used this technique, leaving out some things (lemon zest, lemon quarters, cider and wine so as not to impact the gravy) and doing my own herb blend.

Tuesday night before Thanksgiving:
Remove giblets from the cavity and neck.  Dry (but don't first wash) the turkey with paper towels. Then rub the turkey all over with

1/2 t kosher salt per pound of turkey (rub over and leave on turkey)

fresh thyme/rosemary/sage (I'd almost say optional if turkey is going to be served without skin)
8 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled

Put turkey with herbs and garlic  in a 2-gallon zip-lock bag. Seal, put in second plastic bag, and place on a rimmed baking sheet in the refrigerator. Turn bird over every 12 hours.

Thanksgiving morning:
Remove turkey from zip-lock bag and pat dry inside and out with paper towels. Return to the refrigerator, uncovered on the baking sheet, for at least 4 and up to 12 hours. This helps to crisp it. Again maybe not so important if not planning to eat skin.

Remove turkey from refrigerator one hour before cooking.

Heat oven to 450 degrees F. Fill a large roasting pan with 1/4 inch of water (1/4 inch! I used too much this time and gravy had to be reduced for a longer than usual time) add

1 onion peeled and quartered

Stuff the dry turkey cavity with

1 onion peeled and quartered and brush the skin (top and bottom) generously with

Olive oil

Tie legs together with twine.

Place turkey, breast side up, on a rack inside the roasting pan.  Roast for 30 minutes then cover the turkey with aluminum foil. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and continue roasting until as instant read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh reads 165 degrees F. About 1 1/2 to 2 hours more.  Transfer the turkey to a platter and let rest for 30 minutes before carving.

THERMOMETER Lesson learned: Have an accurate, calibrated thermometer.  Chris once pointed out to me that it is ironic that we pay more for the meat we are cooking (each time) than for the thermometer (one time).  The remote thermometer I used seemed to calibrate well in boiling water but must not have been positioned correctly as it read 165 degrees F after a little less than 2 hours total cooking. I took the foil off and checked with an instant read thermometer and the bird still had 10 degrees to go in spots and the Bell and Evans pop-up thermometer had not popped. After opening (and cooling) the oven for several temperature checks I ended up cooking the bird 30 minutes at 450 degrees F and 2 hours and 45 minutes at 350 degrees F (or less as oven cooled with each opening.  The built-in thermometer had not popped when I removed the turkey from the oven but did in the half hour while the turkey was resting.  I think next year if I get a 12 pound turkey, I will plan on 1/2 hour at 450 degrees F and 2 hours at 350 degrees F  My day was made with Chris messaged me he was safely home and then, when I thanked him for the pecan and apples pies he brought he replied, "Thanks for the turkey. You cooked it perfectly!"

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Avocado Toast

I love avocadoes!  When on a three week business trip to Indonesia many years ago, one of the lunch options was a whole avocado, cut in half with a little seafood salad in the pit hole. Ordered it every day.  Love avocado Tacos, Guacamole, and avovado slices in turkey/chicken sandwiches. When having lunch at Forge Baking Company recently, I ordered the pizza slice. No pizza, but if you want something light, the server suggested, order:
AVOCADO TOAST – Avocado topped with salt, pepper, and olive oil on choice of housemade bread .  
Missed this on the menu because it is actually a breakfast offering (thinking now of the avocadoes offered for breakfst during a trip to Costa Rica), but also available for lunch.  Yum! Why didn't I think of this? So delicious and easy to make.  

Recently, I had a box of fresh basil from Chris's indoor garden, a loaf of Dave's Killer Bread, which I had bought on reccomendations posted on our town "link", and of course, avocadoes, so I improvised accordingly. 

Serves 1, scale accordingly.

1 large slice of bread.

While bread is toasting, thinly slice lengthwise 
1/2 avocado

Arrange sliced avocado on toasted bread.
(Looked prettier at Forge.  Avocado was very thinly sliced and  arranged in aperfect line on the toast. Think they must have use a slightly firmer avocado.)

Top with

Olive oil, drizzled
Salt (this is a recipe where salt is important!)

Then sprinkle with (addition to Forge recipe)
Basil, coarsley chopped

Silce in half. Enjoy for breakfast and lunch!

Moogie's Plum Pudding

Last winter a friend of Mom's asked me for Mom's Plum Pudding recipe.  It took a fair amount of digging through her recipe books and folders but finally I came upon a "xeroxed" recipe - a vintage copy where the print gradually vanishes as if written with disapearing ink. Most all of it was still, though faint, readable. By then it was early spring and hardly the time to post a winter holiday recipe. I probably won't make this since  Christmas Pudding is not as popular at our house now that Chris has taken over making holiday desserts, but given this blog is mainly for family this recipe, a medieval dessert cooked in a microwave oven,  deserves to be included.

I'm pretty sure this recipe contains the most ingredients of any recipe on this blog.  It also makes a huge amount. As I recall, Mom made a few smaller puddings for gifts, served some pudding at Christmas and took some to a New Year's Eve gathering she and Dad attended for many years.  I'd definately consider halving or even quartering the recipe though a partial recipe would probably result in lots of leftover ingredients.

"Recipe for Plum Pudding makes 4, 4 cup large puddings."

In a large mixing bowl, combine:

"12 oz raisins - or 1/2 lb
8 oz currants - 2/3 box
3 oz lemon peel
8 oz fruitcake fruit
3 oz orange peel
1 c dried bread crumbs
1/2 c apple, grated (1)
1/2 c carrot grated (1)
1/2 c potato (1 small) [assume potato is grated]
3/4 c candied pineapple
1/4 c + 2 TBL butter or 4 oz ground suet (I use butter) (kidney suet)
1 c sliced almonds
4 c flour (sifted)
1 1/2 c sugar
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t ground cloves
1/2 t ground nutmeg
1 c brandy
2 c apple cider"

Cover and let sit in a cool place overnight. Next day add

1 c molasses
1 3/4 t soda

"and stir into batter. [Pour batter into? - illegeible, ink vanished! Should the containers be buttered/"greased"? I would butter] any of the following containers:

A 4 cup glass measure [ing cup] makes the traditional high shape. A Pyrex casserole or bowl with a glass in the center makes a ringed shape, or a glass bread pan makes a loaf shape.

Fit 2 layers of brown paper into the bottoms of the molds. Fill molds 2/3 full with the batter.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap to get the steamed effect.

Microwave 10 to 15 minutes until top is almost dry and a toothpick comes out clean. Timing depends on shape and volume of mold. For best results cook one at a time and turn as it bakes.

To Store: [Remove from molds. ]Wrap in brandy soaked cheesecloth then in plastic wrap. Store in a cold place or freeze.

To Serve: Reheat, without unwrapping, in microwave oven 2 - 3 minutes.

Unwrap pudding, place on plate.  Dim lights. Carefully pour warm brandy over the pudding and light.

Serve with brandied hard sauce."


1/4 c butter
1 c conf[ectioners] sugar
1 t boiling H20
2 TBL Brandy

Cream together butter and sugar, add boiling H20, salt, Brandy. Beat til smooth and fluffy.

Hard sauce recipe should be triple or 4 times the above to serve with pudding."

Monday, April 17, 2017

Cranberry Orange Brioche

© 2017 Edward C. Kern, Jr.
I decided in the absence of finding my old brioche recipe, I would check out recipes in my more recently acquired cookbooks. How to Cook Everything has an easy looking brioche recipe and The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, an intriguing recipe for Chocolate Chip Brioche Pretzels.

Using ideas from both, here is the recipe I used this Easter:

In a small bowl wisk together until the yeast has dissolved:

1/3 c milk
1 t instant yeast

(I tried using a fork first but found I really needed to use a whisk to dissolve the yeast).

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment [Smitten Kitchen uses paddle; my engineer son says paddle is not designed for dough --- see * below] place:

9.8 oz (2 1/4 c) flour
2 T sugar
1/2 t salt

Add the yeast mixture and:

2 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten

Mix at at low speed  until the dough comes together in a shaggy pile then turn to medium speed and beat for 10 minutes. [Then switch to the dough hook --- if you are using padddle and your mixer hasn't died] and knead  until a smooth dough forms, another 5 minutes.*
Then add:

8T (1 stick) butter, cut in small slices, at room temperature and continue mixing until a smooth dough forms.

Then add:

1 c dried cranberries
Zest of 1 organic orange

Continue mixing until cranberries and zest are well distributed in the dough.

Turn into a large, well buttered dish, cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place for 2-3 hours until doubled in bulk.  Turn onto a floured board and divide dough into thirds, Roll into three long cylindrical strips and braid. Flatten and shape the loaf then let it rise for about an hour.

Brush with a glaze made of:

1 egg
1 t water

Bake in a 400 degree over for about 1/2 hour. Check after 15-20 minutes,and if the brioche is getting too brown, cover the top with foil. When done the bottom of the brioche when tapped, should sound hollow.

Despite the disruptions in intended technique (see below), the brioche came out well and was shared with Alex and her family Easter morning.  It's the third generation (Henry despite all the chocolate eggs he had already eaten, enjoyed a big slice and part of a colored hard boiled egg before negotiating for another chocolate egg) restart of a tradition and the recipe will no doubt be tested and tweeked before next Easter

© 2017 Edward C. Kern, Jr.
* Full disclosure: The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook starts out using an electric mixer with a paddle attachment at slow speed until the dough becomes a "shaggy pile".  It then directs the speed be raised to medium and the mixture beaten for ten minutes --- "the long mixing time creates the soft, stretchy strands brioche is known for" (page 18).  It then directs a switch to the dough hook for the remainder of the recipe. This is the technique I had intended to use. However, my mixer lasted about two minutes into the long mixing time then crashed (fourth photo from top). Time to improvise. I kneaded by hand for a while though maybe not a full 8 additional minutes then tried not so successfully to knead in the butter by hand. I then switched to my food processor fitted with the dough blade.

Ms. Perelman notes: "Unfortunately I find this to be the rare bread dough that's radically easier to make with a stand mixer. Nevertheless, should you feel up for the challenge, you can vigorously "knead" the dough in a large bowl with a wooden spoon for a good 10 minutes before adding the butter. Yes this takes longer than your average bread dough, but that long kneading time is what yields the long stretchy strands essential to great brioche" (page 18).  Well good brioche this time --- great, I hope, after my mixer gets fixed.

Although in my hurried improvision, I used the dough blade, it turns out the metal blade may in fact be better for bread. This is in fact what Mark Bittman recommends in his recipe for Brioche (page 232) in  How to Cook Everything.  The difference is he adds the yeast with the dry ingredients, processes for 5 seconds. Adds cold butter and eggs and processes for 10 seconds, then with the machine running adds the liquid (in his case both milk and water). He then adjusts with water/flour to get the dough to the right consistnecy.  Using 4 c (18 ounces) of flour his recipe makes about twice the dough as the recipe above.

Reviewed 5/8/17

Looking for a Recipe --- Easter Brioche

The virtues of being a messy cook..... The main purpose of this blog is to organize family recipes, particularly those associated with a special occasion. Alex called a few days ago, surprised the recipe for the "brioche" I used to serve on Easter was not on my blog and asked if I could find it. We haven't had a family Easter morning in many years and it is too buttery a loaf for just Ed and me so I hadn't made the bread in a long time. Even so, I was pretty sure I could find this recipe. Among other things, I kept lists of favorite recipes at the start of each section in my old paper notebook. Oops, no "Brioche" under BREAD.
I thought it was in one of my New York Times cookbooks, but checking all three, I found two brioche recipes ("American" and "French") but both were spotless, no notes, no spilled ingredients and no lingering bookmark.  Very unusual for a recipe I had made so often.  Both recipes called for refrigerating the dough overnight and the "French" recipe called for placing the dough in a bowl, covering with lukewarm water, and letting rise until the ball floats in the water.  I don't remember either technique.

The brioche recipe in The Silver Palate Cookbook was also suspiciously clean, but if I had compared recipes I probably would have chosen it because it used less butter, eggs and sugar than the Times recipes.  None of the recipes suggest braiding the brioche, rather baking in muffin tins or brioche molds (with a top knot of dough), or in loaf pans. Then  I realized I had not checked  The Art of French Cooking. No brioche. In fact I was surprised to find the only entries under bread are "preparation of" (as in cutting off the crusts and making toasted bread cases), "crumbs", "croutes", and "rounds". Viva la Boulangerie!

Photos top to bottom 1994, 1995, 1996
There is always the possibility I used the Christmas Stollen recipe. This recipe is covered with ingredients and notes, for many years I've made this just using raisins (not candied fruit) and the Easter "Brioche" does contain raisins (something lacking in all of the above mentioned brioche recipes).  I checked all my paper recipe collections but am going to keep looking for the recipe with the tell-tale spills and notes (like add raisins, braid). Meanwhile Alex may find her own recipe and I'll add a new potentially traditional recipe to Cook's Cache.

Reviewed 5/8/17