Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving

November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving 4Tiny New York Kitchen Wishes You And Your Family A Very Happy Thanksgiving!

Turkey Roasting Guide

November 26, 2013

 

Turkey Roasting GuideRoast turkey with sage

Every year I tell everyone not to overcook his or her turkey and to purchase a meat thermometer AND USE IT! The objective, of course, is to have moist and juicy breast meat with succulent thighs!  The turkey is the main attraction after all.

Start with a completely defrosted bird or better yet purchase an organic fresh turkey.  If your turkey is frozen, however, allow 24 hours in the fridge for every 5 pounds.  This is the safest way to defrost your turkey.

The turkeys of today tend to be young, moist and tender and take much less time to cook than tougher turkeys that I grew up on.  If a turkey is dry, then it has been cooked too long.  The breast meat is what tends to suffer the most.

A stuffed turkey may cook at the same rate as an unstuffed one, but be prepared to allow 30 to 50 minutes more.  Most turkeys take about the same time to roast in regular ovens, but a convection oven does a much better job of browning the turkey all over. 

When removing the turkey legs, if you find that the meat around the thigh joint is still too pink, then cut off the drumsticks from the thighs and put the thighs into a shallow pan, place in a 450 degree oven for 10 to 20 minutes until no longer pink.

Always use a meat thermometer to gauge doneness.  For a stuffed turkey, use the meat thermometer to check the temperature of the stuffing.  The center of the stuffing inside the turkey must reach a temperature of 165 degrees.  For an unstuffed turkey, place the meat thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh, taking care that it does not touch any bone.  Roast the turkey until the meat thermometer reaches 165 degrees.  Don’t forget to let the turkey rest for at least 30 minutes before carving to allow the juices to re-absorb into the flesh.  You do not want the moisture to drain out. 

This chart will help you determine approximately how long to roast a stuffed or unstuffed turkey. 

Roasting times are for a preheated 325 degrees oven:

Approximate Roasting Times For Stuffed Turkey

Turkey Weight: 6 to 8 Pounds           3 to 3 1/2 Hours

Turkey Weight: 8 to 12 Pounds          3 1/2 to 4 1/2 Hours

Turkey Weight: 12 to 16 Pounds        4 1/2 to 5 1/2 Hours

Turkey Weight: 16 to 20 Pounds        5 1/2 to 6 Hours

Turkey Weight: 20 to 24 Pounds        6 to 6 1/2 Hours

Approximate Roasting Times For Unstuffed Turkey

Turkey Weight: 6 to 8 Pounds           2 ½ to 3 Hours

Turkey Weight: 8 to 12 Pounds          3 to 4 Hours

Turkey Weight: 12 to 16 Pounds        4 to 5 Hours

Turkey Weight: 16 to 20 Pounds        5 to 5 1/2 Hours

Turkey Weight: 20 to 24 Pounds        5 1/2 to 6 Hours

 

Thanksgiving Emergency Strategies

November 25, 2013

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Emergency Strategies

Help, help, I have extra guests coming!  My gravy doesn’t look right!  What to do?  These are some holiday entertaining questions that I have been asked over the years. Whether this is the first time you’ve hosted Thanksgiving dinner or your 20th time there are always things that seem to come up that feel like emergencies.  From lumpy gravy to unexpected guests the pressure can just be too great at times.  Not to worry, these are some good strategies that have helped me cope and make everything run smoothly. 

Dear Victoria: “My turkey is still a bit frozen and my dinner is in a few hours.  What should I do?”

Put that bird into a large pot and run tepid water over it for at least an hour.  You can butterfly the turkey so that it cooks faster which should take about an hour and a half at 400 degrees.  You can then roast it or grill it.  In the future you may want to consider purchasing a fresh turkey and not a frozen one.

Dear Victoria:” I called everyone to the table and started carving the turkey to find that parts of it are still raw or undercooked. How embarrassing!  What should I do?”

This situation has happened to most of us at one time or another.  Don’t skip a beat and just carry on carving off any parts that are cooked, serve those and put the remaining pieces back in the pan, cover with foil, and cook until done.  Most likely the breast meat will be done.  Your guests can get a bit of turkey along with your delicious sides while waiting for the rest of the turkey to come out of the oven.  In the future you may want to consider carving the turkey first and then cooking it. 

Dear Victoria: “I always seem to overcook the turkey.  I just don’t know how I keep doing this.  Please help!”

For the immediate remedy I suggest you have LOTS of gravy on the table to pour over those dried out pieces of turkey.  In the future make sure to invest in a meat thermometer.  Insert the thermometer into your cooked turkey through the thickest part of the breast until it hits the breastbone.  Remove the turkey from the oven when it reads 160 degrees.  Let your turkey rest for about 30 minutes before carving. 

Dear Victoria: “I have a small kitchen and don’t have much room in my oven to cook everything. How am I going to get everything done?”

Tiny New York Kitchen knows this situation all too well! First of all there are plenty of things that you can get cooked in advance.  Check your menu and see what you can prepare before needing to place your turkey in the oven.  If you have an outdoor grill, then by all means grill your bird.  Hey, you can play it off as the “hip thing to do.”  Let your side dishes cook in the oven while your turkey is grilling out there in the fresh November air!

Dear Victoria: “I made stuffing and it is pretty soggy.  How can I make it un-soggy?”

This is a super easy one.  Scoop it out of the turkey and/or the baking dish and spread it out on a baking sheet.  Place it in the oven and bake it at 350 degrees until it is how you want it.  Scoop it back into the serving dish and serve.  No one will be the wiser. 

Dear Victoria: “Before I call my guests to the table the food starts to get cold.  How can I avoid this?”

Cover serving dishes with lids or foil to keep them warm.  If a dish actually gets really cold, that is supposed to be hot, then just put it back in the oven for a little bit.  Don’t be too concerned, however, as most Thanksgiving dishes are perfectly fine at room temperature. 

Dear Victoria: “My side dishes aren’t browned on top? They just don’t look that appetizing. What should I do?”

If a dish is fully cooked, but doesn’t have that delicious looking brown surface (Potatoes, Vegetables, Stuffing, etc.) then simply put them under a hot broiler at least 4 inches away from the heating element.  You may want to turn them as needed until browned on top.  MAKE SURE that you watch them carefully.  You really don’t want them to go from pasty to burned up!  Always put the food too far from the broiler rather than too close.  If you follow these instructions then you will get a nice browned crust on top of your dishes. 

Dear Victoria: “My gravy looks way too lumpy. I can’t serve lumpy gravy!  How do I fix it?”

Not to worry.  You will just need to put some hard work into it with a good whisk.  Whisk those lumps out.  It may take a bit of time, but it can be done.  If you have really stubborn lumps add just a bit of hot liquid to coax them out while you whisk. If you STILL can’t get them out take a medium weave strainer and set it over a bowl.  Pour the grave in and stir.  Smooth gravy will flow through the strainer and the lumps will stay behind.  For the future make sure you whisk the flour or cornstarch constantly while you are adding the broth or turkey juices to keep lumps from forming. 

Dear Victoria: “Help, my gravy is just way to thick.  It looks like brown jelly. How do I thin it out?”

This one is super easy.  Drizzle in a bit of hot broth or hot water while whisking and then heat up your gravy until it’s piping hot. 

Dear Victoria: “My gravy is too thin.  It looks watery. I’m horrified. Is there a good solution to this hot mess?”

This problem is just a bit trickier.  Brown 1 tablespoon for every cup of gravy by stirring it in a dry frying pan over a medium heat until it turns a nice deep golden brown.  Have your gravy in a wide pan on the stove over a medium high heat.  Whisk the browned flour into your gravy and cook.  Make sure to whisk constantly until your gravy thickens.  This should do the trick. 

Dear Victoria: “The top of my pumpkin pie is all cracked and looks horrible.  What happened?  How can I serve a cracked pumpkin pie?”

Your pumpkin pie was over baked which is why it is cracked on top.  Not a soul needs to know, however, if you dollop on whipped cream and carry it to the table like the prize pie it is!  Sometimes cooking is like acting.  If you flub a line you just carry on like that is how it is supposed to be. 

Dear Victoria: “My sister called and asked if she could bring extra guests. My goodness, what am I going to do?  Dinner is in an hour!”

I’ve certainly encountered this situation plenty throughout my dinner party throwing life.  I’ve always kept an open door policy because I figure that not everyone has a place to go on the holidays, which can be very sad and lonely.  The good news is that most of us make way too much food for Thanksgiving.  Having unexpected guests can impact a meal however.  First of all, forget any leftovers that you were counting on.  Make more mashed potatoes, rice or pasta.  These items take 30 minutes or less to make.  Slice the turkey thin.  Make a quick soup by combining chicken broth, pureed cooked vegetable(s), fresh herbs, salt and pepper. As soon as you get the call immediately put bowls of nuts and snacks out before dinner. 

Dear Victoria: “I have quite a large group coming for dinner and I don’t have enough room at the table.  What do I do?”

You can set up dinner buffet style or you can set up multiple tables as auxiliary eating areas.  Living room coffee tables and game and/or card tables work.  You can let everyone sit where they want or you can seat people by age or alphabetically or however you decide to seat people.  Thanksgiving is about spending time with friends and family.  People will have fun no matter where they are sitting.  Relax and enjoy yourself. 

 

Thanksgiving Menu Guide

November 22, 2013

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Menu Guide

In the spirit of getting organized here is a Thanksgiving Menu guide that can help you plan according.  Print this list out and add your own notes.  Remember that the key to a successful Thanksgiving dinner is organization. 

Soups & Starters

Italian Wedding Soup (Tiny Meatballs, Tortellini & Escarole)

Creamy Mushroom Soup (Rich Mushroom Broth With Sliced Mushrooms)

Sweet Potato Kale Soup (Sweet Potatoes, Corn & Peppers Simmered in Broth, Topped With Kale)

Butternut Squash Soup (Sweet Butternut Squash Simmered in a Light Vegetable Broth With Ginger & Mace)

Chicken Stock (Chicken Bones & Fresh Vegetables Simmered For Hours)

Wild Mushroom Strudel (Portabello, Shitake & Button Mushrooms Cooked With Garlic & Herbs Finished With a Mix of Goat, Mozzarella, Gruyere & Cream Cheese Wrapped In a Crispy Puff Pastry Shell

Bacon Wrapped Scallops (Sea Scallops Wrapped in Smoked Bacon)

Sides

Garlicky Greens (Steamed Kale & Chard Seasoned with Roasted Garlic)

Roasted Brussels Sprouts (Roasted Brings Out Their Natural Sweetness)

Green Beans With Almonds (Fresh Green Beans With Sliced Crisp Almonds With a Touch of Tarragon)

Creamed Spinach With Roasted Garlic (Spinach Seasoned With Nutmeg & Tossed With Cream & Garlic)

Roasted Corn Pudding (A Savory American Classic)

Roasted Butternut Squash With Dried Cranberries (Squash, Roasted With Onions & Herbs)

Cornbread Stuffing With Sausage & Spinach (Sausage In Rustic Stuffing)

Traditional New England Stuffing (Moist Bread Stuffing With Herbs & Spices)

Classic Mashed Potatoes (Velvety Smooth Made With Cream & Butter)

Maple Bourbon Sweet Potatoes (Mashed Sweet Potatoes Sweetened With a Bourbon Maple Syrup

Home-style Green Beans (Fresh Green Beans With Cherry Tomatoes)

Apple Fennel Slaw (Granny Smith Apples, Horseradish & Fennel)

Green Salad (Mixed Green Salad With Cider Dressing)

Sweet & Sour Cabbage (Red Cabbage Braised in Duck Fat)

Peas With Pearl Onions (3 Types of Peas With Pearl Onions)

Autumn Vegetable Ragout With Soft Polenta (Vegetables & Polenta)

Roasted Beets With Orange Vinaigrette (Warm Roasted Beets With Orange Dressing)

Celery Root Salad

Warm Spinach Salad With Goat Cheese & Apples

Sweet Potato & Banana Puree

Apple Bacon Cornbread Stuffing

Mashed Potatoes And Parsnips With Crisp Root Vegetable Strips

Roasted Cauliflower And Shallots With Chard & Dukkah

Brussels Sprouts and Wheat Berry Slaw With Smoked Paprika Dressing

Rich Turkey Gravy (Smooth With Deep Roasted Flavor)

Vegan Wild Mushroom Gravy (Deep, Robust Flavor From Wild Mushrooms and a Splash of White Wine)

Organic Cranberry Orange Relish (Organic Whole Berry Relish With Orange & a Touch of Cinnamon)

Brandied Cranberry Sauce With Pecans (Whole Cranberries Cooked With Pecans, Brandy & Sugar)

Main Attraction

Organic Whole Turkey (Brined or Un-brined)

Roast Turkey With Sage Butter

Cherry Glazed Turkey

Turkey Breast

Orange Pecan Cornish Hens

Vegetarian Eggplant Parmesan

Breads

Family Style Cornbread

Parker House Rolls

Boston Brown Bread

Parmesan Garlic Biscuits

Popovers

Desserts

Pumpkin Pie

Apple Pie

Blueberry Pie

Cherry Pie

Pecan Pie

Apple Crumb Pie

Carrot Cake

Pumpkin Cake

Maple Bread Pudding

Cranberry Pear Crisp

Black Mission Fig Tart

Assorted Cookies

Make Ahead Items

Many Thanksgiving dishes or parts of dishes can be made in advance which is a big help. After writing out your menu and shopping lists look to see what can be done ahead of time. 

Most soups can be made 1 or 2 days before serving.

Most appetizers (or parts of them) can be made 1 day before serving.

Roux for gravy can be made several hours before using.  Just mix butter and flour together, reheat and add stock and pan drippings when time to make gravy.

Vegetables can be chopped 1 or 2 days before using.

Grate cheese or spices 1 to 2 days before using.

Wash, dry, and wrap lettuce in paper towels, and store in a ziplock bag. Place in the refrigerator until ready to toss 1 day before serving. 

Most salad dressings can be made 1 to 2 days before serving.

Have turkey as prepped as possible (salted, spiced and rubbed with butter, in its pan) and ready to go in the oven.

Stuffing items such as onions, celery, mushrooms, etc can be cooked 1 day before combining with bread and stuffed into the turkey.

Bread for stuffing can be cut up the day ahead and stored in a paper bag. Dried out bread is the best for stuffing.

Desserts or parts of desserts can often be made 1 to 2 days ahead such as sauces, crusts, pie filings or toppings.

 

 

10 Steps For Staying Happy Through The Holiday Season

November 18, 2013

Vintage Christmas Lights

10 Steps For Staying Happy Through The Holiday Season

Thanksgiving is almost here which marks the beginning of the holiday season. With so many holiday pressures often times we forget what truly is important.  We are busy shopping, cooking and wondering how to deal with some unsettled family business.  Over the weekend I came down with a nasty flu, which is in full swing as I write this.  To be sick is no fun to say the least, but I do take it as a sign to slow down and reflect.  Here are some ideas for staying happy through the holiday season.  I hope that you take time to enjoy the holidays. 

Do Something Random For The Fun Of It

What have you always wanted to do, but came up with an excuse not to?  What made you happy as a kid?  Think about things you did, during the holidays, which were fun during the holidays and relieve them as a grown-up.  If you have children then introduce your fond activities to your kids. Go ice-skating, go to a hokey play, watch your favorite movie or read a favorite children’s book. 

Give Back

Doing something for others is a powerful thing.  Volunteer your time or donate money to a favorite cause or something that speaks to your heart is important.  It’s a good thing to do and trust me it will make you feel good. 

Take Care Of Yourself

It’s important to do things for yourself.  Schedule a mani-pedi or a massage.  Take a nap, take a day off and read in bed.  Do whatever it is that you need to do to recharge.

Commune With Nature

So often we forget to go outside and do something for nature.  Pick up garbage, feed the birds, start a compost pile, rake up leaves or whatever needs doing.  You will be doing something good for nature and by being outside you will feel better. 

Get Active

It may be chilly outside, but go out for a walk or run anyway.  We need the vitamin D and to get our blood pumping.  Ride your bike, go skiing or sledding.  If you can’t get outdoors then go to your local gym and take an exercise class.  It’s important to get those endorphins going. 

Try Cooking A New Recipe

Choose a recipe that peaks your interest and try making it.  If it’s a big success then perhaps you can duplicate it for a holiday dinner.  Even if you don’t make it for a holiday dinner you have it in your back pocket of recipes.  If it doesn’t turn out then oh well at least you tried it. 

Favorite Childhood Food

Everyone has a favorite childhood food.  Growing up in Lincoln, Nebraska my mother used to make something called Runzas.  Whenever I need a “childhood comfort shot” I will make Runzas (thank goodness my mother left me the recipe).  My husband grew up Italian in Castro Valley.  During the holidays his aunt would bring an Italian rum cake to the family gatherings.  My husband has been searching for this cake for over 40 years, but can’t seem to find it.  I’ve tried several times to duplicate it from his description.  The point here is, think about what your favorite foods were as a child.  Try and duplicate them and share them with the people that you love.  Trust me…food and memory are powerful things. 

Honor Your Ancestors

Holidays can be emotional.  We all have both happy and sad memories of people who have passed away.  One way to honor those who have passed away is to make their favorite foods. Another is to watch an ancestor’s favorite movie.  My father-in-law’s favorite movies was, “It’s A Wonderful Life.” After he passed away we would take the whole family and go to see, “It’s A Wonderful Life” at the local movie theater.  Not one of us walked out of the theater with dry eyes.  It was powerful, healing and an important holiday ritual.  Take some quiet time to reflect and to be grateful for those people who are gone and were important in your life. 

Forgive Friends & Family

Oftentimes living friends and family can be an emotional challenge.  Forgive them.  Lift the weight off of yourself and simply forgive them.  This doesn’t mean that you should get right back into dysfunction (set boundaries and limitations).  Deal with conflicts from your highest level of goodness and love. 

Make Amends & Forgive Yourself

We have all wronged people that we love. Examine your past emotions and motivations in situations that are nagging your heart.  Make amends; tell that person you are sorry. There is no need to go into “yeah but.”  Simply “I am sorry I did fill in the blank.” Forgive yourself as well.  Most of us are hard on ourselves, which creates stress whether we know it, or not.  We all make mistakes.  Forgive yourself.  At the end of the day, at the end of the holidays the happy memories will not come from presents or material things as much as from genuinely connecting and appreciating your family, friends and yourself. 

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 22, 2012

TINY NEW YORK KITCHEN Wishes Everyone A Wonderful Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving Give-Away

November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am thankful for all of you who visit Tiny New York Kitchen! Send me your before and after Thanksgiving food photos and I will post them. Selected winners will receive a package of Victoria’s Dry Rub as a Thanksgiving Holiday Thank You!

Send all before and after photos to [email protected]

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