Monday, November 24, 2008

Festive Chutneys and Relishes

Perfect for an elegant meal and frequently served to enhance the flavor of an entree, chutneys and relishes are usually made from a delightful combination of salty, sweet, spicy and hot ingredients blended together to create an intense explosion of flavors.

Chutneys and relishes are a refreshing alternative to a standard cranberry sauce or heaven forbid, the jellied cranberry sauce variety in the shape of a can we all remember as a required Thanksgiving dinner accompaniment.

Chutneys can be made from an unlimited list of ingredients, but common ingredients for chutneys are garlic, brown sugar, onions, nuts, fruit, ginger and a variety of spices.

Relishes can be cooked or prepared from fresh ingredients and as chutneys, are usually served at room temperature or cold.

Preparing a Thanksgiving dinner requires a lot of prep, so it is helpful to prepare as much of the dinner as far ahead of time as possible. Chutneys and relishes can be made days ahead of the meal and refrigerated until ready to use.

Serve one or two of these recipes with your turkey this year and they’ll probably become your families new required Thanksgiving dinner accompaniments!

Cranberry Orange & Ginger Relish
Pear Chutney
Blueberry Chutney
Cranberry Sauce with Port
Apple, Raisin & Nut Chutney

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Two Perfect Turkeys

This Thanksgiving we are delighted to bring you two spectacular roasted turkey recipes that are sure to impress even the most sophisticated of turkey experts. The first is marinated in a honey brine solution over-night, which produces an unbelievable succulent bird that is juicy and flavorful all the way through.

The second is a wonderful maple glazed turkey. This turkey is marinated over-night in a marinade of maple, spices, lemon juice, shallots, garlic and thyme. The marinade imparts a tender moist turkey with unbelievable taste throughout.

Honey Brined Turkey Stuffed with Lemons & Thyme

  • 1- 20 pound turkey
  • 8 quarts water
  • 2 cups coarse salt
  • 1 cup honey
  • 2 bunches of fresh thyme
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 Tablespoons coarse ground black pepper
  • 2 lemons, halved
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 4-5 cups gf chicken broth for basting

For gravy:

  • 1 cup pan drippings
  • 5 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 5 Tablespoons gf flour
  • 4-5 cups gf chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • Salt and pepper

Rinse turkey and place in a large, heavy plastic bag. Place turkey in the bag in a large stockpot. In a large bowl, add water, salt and honey and mix until the salt dissolves. Add 1 bunch of thyme, garlic and pepper and blend. Pour the brine into the bag with the turkey. Gather the bag up tightly around the turkey and secure it so that the air is removed and the turkey is covered with the brine. Place the pot in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

Position a rack in the bottom third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Drain the turkey and discard the brine. Pat the turkey dry inside and out. Squeeze the juice from the lemons inside the cavity and place the lemon halves along with the remaining bunch of thyme inside the cavity. Tuck the wings under the back and tie the legs together with kitchen string. Place the turkey breast down on a rack in a large roasting pan. Rub the turkey all over with olive oil. Roast the turkey for 1 hour and baste with chicken broth. Continue to roast for 1-1/2 more hours then remove the turkey from the oven and turn turkey breast side up. Place back in the oven and continue roasting, basting with chicken broth every 30 minutes until done. Turkey is done when internal temperature reaches 170-180 degrees F. with an inserted meat thermometer. Remove from oven to a platter, tent with foil and let rest for 30 minutes.

For gravy:

Remove fat from turkey drippings with a baster. Heat drippings over medium heat. Place 1 cup chicken broth and 4 Tablespoons flour in a small container with a lid and shake vigorously until blended. Pour flour mixture into simmering drippings and stir until mixture begins to thicken. Add about 4 cups chicken stock and cream and continue to stir. For desired consistency, add more of the flour/chicken stock mixture to thicken, or more chicken stock to thin. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Roast Turkey with Maple Glaze
(serves 6)


  • 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 large shallots, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 6 large garlic cloves, sliced
  • 4 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 3 bay leaves
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • One 13 lb. free-range turkey
  • 3 medium onions, coarsely diced
  • 3 medium celery ribs, coarsely diced
  • 2 carrots, coarsely diced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Maple Butter:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 6 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 3 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • zest of 1 lemon, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Maple Glaze:
  • 6 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 2 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  • 1 Tablespoon gf flour
  • 2 cups gf chicken stock or turkey stock
  • Freshly ground black pepper & salt to taste

Rinse turkey and place in a large, heavy plastic bag. Place turkey in the bag in a large stockpot or a large bowl. In a medium bowl, combine the lemon juice, orange juice, canola oil, shallots, sliced onion, garlic, thyme, bay leaves, lemon zest and black pepper. Pour mixture into the bag with the turkey. Seal the bag, removing as much air as possible. Marinate in the refrigerator 24 hours, rotating occasionally.

Meanwhile, make the Maple Butter. Place the butter, maple syrup, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt and pepper in a food processor. Process until blended. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate. (Remove from the refrigerator at least 2 hours before turkey goes in the oven.)

In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the maple glaze; maple syrup, lemon juice, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Remove the turkey from the refrigerator at least 1 hour before cooking. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Position the oven rack near the bottom of the oven. Remove the turkey from the marinade (reserve the marinade) and wipe the turkey dry with paper towels. Using your fingers, carefully loosen the turkey skin over the breast and legs. Spoon half of the Maple Butter under the skin, patting gently to spread the butter evenly. Season the inside of the cavity with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stuff the cavity with half of the celery, onions, and carrots. Tie the legs together with kitchen string. Set the turkey breast side up, in a roasting pan. Rub the outside of the turkey with half of the Maple Butter. Invert, breast side down, and continue to rub with the remaining Maple Butter. Place the turkey in the oven, breast side down, for 30 minutes, basting twice. (The skin may appear dark in patches — this is OK and is just due to the maple syrup in the marinade and the caramelization of the butter.) Cover the turkey loosely with foil to prevent the skin from burning.

Strain the reserved marinade, reserving the shallots, onion and herbs in a separate bowl.

Lower the oven temperature to 350°F. Spread the remaining onions, celery and carrots around the turkey and continue to roast for 30 minutes. After the turkey has been in the oven for 1 hour, turn the turkey over, breast side up, and continue to roast, basting frequently for an additional hour or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thigh registers 180°F. During the last 30 minutes of cooking time, remove the foil. Add the reserved shallots, onions and herbs from the marinade to the roasting pan and baste the turkey twice with the Maple Glaze. Transfer the turkey to a carving board and tent with foil to keep warm.

While the turkey is resting, make the gravy. Set the roasting pan over 2 burners over high heat. Cook the vegetables, stirring, until golden brown. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat in the pan. Add the gf flour and whisk for 1 minute. Add the reserved marinade and the chicken stock and bring the mixture to a boil, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Simmer, whisking constantly, for 3 minutes. Strain the gravy into a saucepan and boil over high heat until the gravy is reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Adjust seasonings to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Carve the turkey. Serve the gravy alongside the turkey.

We hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Thanksgiving Dinner Game Plan

For many, the preparation and production of Thanksgiving dinner can be a stressful and frenzied operation. The meal is complicated by a menu that usually includes many side dishes, salads, gravy, condiments and servings of large portions that are a little more cumbersome to prepare than usual. Add to the equation, the dynamics of visiting relatives, a house full of people that require a bull horn to get them to sit at the table and the stress of trying to get the food to the table still at least warm….and, well, you get the picture.

And how about the gluten-free issue? At our house there is no gluten-free issue because we, and everyone who dines with us, always eat gluten-free.

This year we would like to share a Thanksgiving dinner game plan that will enable you to keep stress to a minimum, get everything to the table hot, and on time and even allow you a little time to freshen up before the feast begins. I prepared the following Thanksgiving dinner for twelve by myself and was able to take 30 minutes before serving the hors d’ oeuvres to relax. You may still need a bull horn to get your guests to the table, but at least the dinner will be on the table when they get there.

The key to an efficient game plan is to prep everything ahead of time and prioritize the order in which you prep and prepare the dishes. In this way, your kitchen will remain organized and you are less apt to forget garnishes, toppings and the special touches that will make your dinner extra special. As most of us know, the real test is the final hour before serving. This is when a lot of the actual cooking occurs and much of it needs to happen simultaneously. If you are well prepped, even the final countdown will be far less work and far less stressful.

Don’t feel obligated to do everything yourself. (This is advice I should really think about taking myself) Some of your guests would rather help in the kitchen than wander around looking at your family photos and talking to the other relatives. Give out jobs that won’t affect the outcome of a dish, such as peeling or mashing potatoes or ladling the soup into bowls. These jobs can be done by anyone and will free you for more complicated tasks.

Prepare Your Menu

(Order your turkey. We prefer organic natural free-range turkeys and order them from our butcher. They are more expensive but as your turkey will be the star of your meal, we feel it is well worth it. If you can’t get an organic free-range turkey, be sure the turkey you select has no added solutions or flavorings, as these may contain gluten.)

When selecting your menu items, remember to think about ‘make ahead’ recipes. These are recipes that will store well in the refrigerator or at room temperature. It is always nice to have a few things that can be done even the day before and set aside. The more you can do ahead, the better. Choose an appetizer that is simple to prepare and is a light compliment to the coming meal instead of several appetizers. Serve two or three bite-size appetizers per person. Appetizers should be an appetite stimulant, not something that will fill your guests up before dinner.

Once your menu has been selected, read through every recipe very carefully,. Make notes regarding the time it will take to prep and cook each dish. Make a shopping list from each recipe and shop for groceries a couple of days before the meal to make sure you have time to look for harder to find ingredients and to assure the freshness of the produce.

Prepare Your Game Plan

Go over your notes and put your plan together beginning with the turkey. The method of preparation and weight of the turkey will dictate the game plan for the entire meal. For our dinner, we prepared a Honey Brined Turkey, which required 24 hours of marinating time in a brine solution. Therefore, our game plan began the day before our dinner. Your game plan should be as specific as possible. And don’t forget to allow resting time for your turkey after it comes out of the oven!

Thanksgiving Dinner Game Plan

Salmon Roll-Ups
Spiced Pecans
Butternut Squash Soup
Pumpkin Muffins
Honey Brined Turkey Stuffed with Lemons & Thyme With Gravy
Mashed Potatoes w/Glazed Nuts
Asparagus with Parmesan & Procuitto
Cranberry Sauce with Port
Blueberry Chutney
Pecan Pear Torte with Cream Cheese Frosting

Game Plan

The day before:
  • Wash, dry the turkey and prepare the brine solution. Place the turkey in the brine and refrigerate for 24 hours.
  • Prepare the Spiced Pecans, cover and set aside.
  • Prepare the Cranberry Sauce with Port and Blueberry Chutney. Cool, cover and refrigerate.
  • Prepare the Glazed Nuts for the Mashed Potatoes. Cool, cover and set aside.
  • Fry proscuitto, cover and set aside.
  • Sugar and freeze cranberries for garnish for the torte.
  • Make the cream cheese frosting for the torte, cover and refrigerate.
  • Set the table.

The day of:
  • Step 1. 8am: Make the torte
  • Step 2. Poach the pears, drain and refrigerate
  • Step 3. Peel potatoes, cut into pieces and cover with cold water
  • Step 4. Prep the soup
  • Step 5. 1:00pm Remove turkey from brine solution, stuff with lemons and thyme and put in oven. Our turkey weighed 20 lbs. and took about 5 hours to roast, about 15 minutes per pound.
  • 1:30pm Roast turkey
  • Step 6. Blanch asparagus
  • Step 7. Make soup
  • Step 8. Assemble torte
  • Step 9. Prepare Salmon Roll-Ups, cover and refrigerate
  • Take a few minutes and relax!
  • 6pm Serve Salmon Roll-Ups and Spiced Pecans
  • Step 11. Prepare Pumpkin Muffin batter and bake
  • Step 12. Cook potatoes, drain and cover
  • Step 13. Reheat soup
  • Step 14. 6:30pm Remove turkey from oven and tent with foil. Turkey should register 170-180 degrees F with a meat thermometer.
  • Step 15. Make gravy
  • Step 16. Finish mashed potatoes
  • Step 17. Prepare Asparagus dish
  • Step 18. Carve turkey
  • 7pm Serve
Happy Thanksgiving