I wish you all a relaxing and peaceful Thanksgiving with a lot of good food and company.
This turkey recipe caters to the cook who doesn’t want the whole bird but only parts of it. If all you want is a breast and some thighs and legs, this recipe is for you. I am writing this post for people who don’t have the time for an elaborate dinner but still want to have a tasty feast with about four hours of prep and cooking time. It does require a little planning.
I came across this recipe last May when I wanted to make a traditional American feast for my German relatives who came to visit. Whole Foods whole turkeys were very expensive, but they had turkey parts on sale. I always either dry rub or brine turkey meat for tenderness and flavor. In this recipe from epicurious.com the turkey parts are brined overnight in a salt and spice mixture. Put the parts in a sturdy large resealable zip lock plastic bag and add the ingredients. Voila, the next day you dry the turkey parts and roast them for about one and a half to two hours. Now it is up to you to make the side dishes of your choice or have Aunt Mary bring her jelly salad .
Of course for me it is not turkey day until I have cranberry sauce, chestnut stuffing, and a lot of gravy.
My husband and I spent a weekend in our little cabin in the Sierra Nevada. I love to cook in my tiny kitchen so I decided to make him and his oldest friend an early Thanksgiving dinner because I am leaving for Germany on Sunday. On Thanksgiving I probably will be eating duck instead of turkey. I was pressed for time and used a bread mix for the stuffing and bought peeled and roasted chestnuts. By not having to roast and peel chestnuts my stuffing was easier to make.
Even though I often use prepackaged broth for my turkey gravy and stuffing I prefer to make my own. This can be done weeks ahead and frozen. In my humble opinion a homemade broth will make or break the gravy or stuffing. When I do a whole turkey I use the stomach and gizzard from the turkey for the gravy. This time I bought turkey wings. I always freeze all my leftover green veggies like the white leek ends, the tops of green onions, mushroom stems, and other greens to use in my stock. It’s great for any stock. I made the sauce while the turkey was cooking and added the pan juices later.
Of course you can check out my whole turkey recipe which I have been making for years. If you have time try my cranberry ketchup, it is great on leftover turkey sandwiches. Oh, and don’t forget to freeze some extra packages of cranberries so you can have a feast in May.
I wish you all a relaxing and peaceful Thanksgiving with a lot of good food and company.
These are your quintessential German meatballs, carefully simmered and served with a tangy white sauce with capers and lemon juice. The sauce is full of flavor, the texture is velvety smooth and the meatballs will melt in your mouth. It is a well-loved dish you will find all over Germany.
My recipe comes from my niece’s husband’s mother, Kerstin, who lives near Berlin and is an excellent cook. I admire her cooking style, simple yet expertly refined through her constant tasting and slowly adding spices. No recipe is needed. I once asked her son to describe her cooking and the answer was Hausmannskost (home cooking).
Kerstin cooked the meatballs when she and her husband visited me in Santa Cruz. I loved watching her slowly perfect the flavor. I tried to take notes, but more than once had to cross out and rewrite. The second and third time I cooked them for my German girlfriends, I got rave reviews—and not one morsel was left.
This dish is named for the Prussian city of Königsberg which is now Kalinigrad in Northern Poland. If you go on the web, you will find many variations for the recipe. Originally, the meatballs were made with veal and either herring or anchovies were added. This dish is traditionally served with boiled potatoes and cooked beets tossed in vinegar. To develop the flavors, cook the meatballs the day before. It is a humble dish and easy to make.
This soup is a treat for the cooler days. It makes for a light dinner or a first course for a dinner party. It appeals to the diner in you. In Paris it is a quintessential bistro staple.
Whenever I am in Paris I have to have French onion soup. It’s usually my first meal. I am jet-legged and just want a light, comforting, tasty, and very French meal. The restaurant has to be right around the corner from my lodging. I am so happy just to be in Paris after a long flight. If the sun is shining, I like sitting at a small table in an outdoor cafe enjoying my surroundings.
That was the case this last time when I visited Paris in late August. (Click here to read more about Paris.) Everything was just the way I like it, except the onion soup. It was horrible—the broth had no depth, it tasted like dishwater with vinegar added. This prompted me to try my hand at making my own onion soup. Why not? Years ago, I made Julia Child's recipe from her book Mastering The Art of French Cooking. Unfortunately, I have no memory of it. I do remember making my own broth by roasting beef bones. This time I choose to use organic beef broth from Trader’s Joe’s. The soup was excellent but I think it would be even better with homemade stock. For vegetarians, you can substitute vegetable stock. If you choose to make it this way, add some juniper berries and one star anise for additional flavor.
Whatever broth you use, make sure the onions are cooked slowly and caramelized. This is how you get the rich intense flavor, making this soup a savory delight. My main taster (my one and only) loved the soup. His only request was to add more cheese and maybe cut the toast into bite-sized pieces. I will give him more cheese, but the toast stays in one piece or cut in half.
Time has been flying by. We have had some beautiful fall weather here in Santa Cruz. The fires around us have been polluting the air making it hard to breath. My heart goes out to all the people that experienced pain and suffering.
I have been cooking simple meals like baked salmon with broccoli and my German green sauce. I made my quinoa salad and baked shrimp with feta for my monthly book club. I also baked my banana bread and I made my lentil salad for my girlfriend’s Open Studio. Cooking always improves my life.
Last year my girlfriend Deb and I attended the International Food Blogger Conference (IFBC) in Sacramento and had a wonderful time. We learned a lot and saw a lot. That's why we decided to attend agin this year. Sacramento is not just the capital of California but it calls itself the "farm-to- fork " capital of the world. California is the land of plenty-the largest agricultural producer in the country. There is a bounty of the juiciest fruit, freshest vegetables and many artisanal, farm-based products. You can find anything from fresh goat cheese to olive oil. This year a pre-conference excursion will go to the Cobram Estate & Olive Oil Commission of California.
Last year we went on an excursion to visit an endive farm and learned how endives are grown indoors. It takes a lot of skill and knowledge to do this successfully.
When I got home I sautéed endives with herbs and butter and they turned out delicious.
We also visited a pear farm where we had a delicious picnic lunch under a very old oak tree.
I made a french pear tart with my pears when I got home. Read about it on my blogpost and get the recipe here
A local friend of Deb took us to Estelle's patisserie in Sacramento where I was introduced to the Croixnut, a mixture of a doughnut and croissant. It was divine. I brought some home for my husband. He thought they were dangerous.
We enjoyed the Saturday evening dinner with our fellow bloggers.
The City of Sacramento and all of California was changed by the coming of the railroads. If you are interested visit the California State Railroad Museum. The museum features 21 restored locomotives and railroad cars, dating back from 1862. My girlfriend and I are taking Amtrak from San Jose to Sacramento. This will be my first train ride in California.
Near our conference center is State Capitol Park. Last year I spent some time at the Vietnam Memorial. This year I might take a walk to McKinley Park Rose Garden that is nearby.
It is time to pack my suitcase and get ready for this year's conference. I am looking forward to learning new things and meeting new people. For those of you who are not attending the conference and feel like baking I can recommend my German Apple Strudel Cake to welcome in October.
I can never get enough of different sauces and spreads. I like them thin or thick, and I like them as leftovers used with a salad, a sandwich, or a piece of meat or fish. For me, the right sauce makes the meal. When I visited the Burgundy in France (click here to read about my trip), I had the most incredibly thick eggplant sauce next to a piece of fish with the most delicate flavor I have ever tasted. The great chef had added some African spice, and I have no idea what it was. However, I remember tasting something similar in Morocco. Well, my sauces are nothing like that. They are straightforward, easy to make, delicious and can be used in many ways.
I got the idea for the romesco sauce from my blogger friend, Mary Ann, who writes the thebeachhousekitchen blog. She made her romesco sauce as an appetizer with cruditées. I have made this recipe many times and usually eat it as a sandwich spread or with a salad. It is a healthy substitute for richer foods like mayonnaise or butter. For the salmon, I used a recipe from myrecipe.com. This recipe uses canned tomatoes instead tomato paste and cumin as a spice rather than smoked paprika. I don't purée this sauce as much as Mary Ann’s sauce, leaving it coarser for the salmon. Both sauces are delicious.
The inspiration for the sorrel sauce came from the blog, Back Road Journal, and Bon Appetit. I added more sorrel because I have an endless supply of it in my tiny wild garden. Sorrel is a tart, slightly sour herb, oxalis, another common name for this herb means "sour". I think it has a distinct lemony flavor and I find its tartness refreshing. I prefer to purée the sauce in a mixer until smooth. I love the taste of this rich and tangy sauce. It compliments a piece of salmon and other fish. I could eat it on steamed veggies or a chicken breast. It would also taste great with shrimp, chicken or salmon skewers.
Here is a link to to Mary Ann’s romesco sauce and Karen’s sorrel sauce. Both sauces can be made a day ahead. I had leftovers and ate them for several days.
Read about my four-day trip to New York City on my Wanderlust blog. This trip was a spur-of-the-moment decision and I am so happy I went.
I thought it would be nice to combine these two posts together. Ruth Reichl is the cook behind my turnover recipe. I have admired her recipes and books for many years, as I still treasure my old Gourmet magazines for which she was the editor-in-chief. But she also lived in California in her twenties and thirties.
She wrote a touching story about leaving New York on the Fourth of July for her first experience teaching cooking in the Pacific Northwest for the June issue of Sunset magazine. Even though I never made turnovers before, I was smitten by the story and had to try them.
I didn't change anything in the recipe, and enjoyed every bite reminiscing about the years back when we were all young. The photo of Ruth Reichl and her husband in the magazine capture the spirit of the times.
There is nothing better than a ripe apricot—picked fresh from the tree and eaten right away. Dripping with juice, tasting intensely sweet with a tinge of acidity, eating an apricot is a truly sensual experience..
However, most of us will not experience this because today’s apricots are picked firm and then brought to the market. Most varieties grown today have little flavor, are usually pale, odorless and tart. If you want the old-fashioned apricots, look for Blenheims. This apricot got its name from the Duke of Marlborough’s garden at Blenheim Palace in England. Apricots were probably cultivated in China thousands of years ago. The Spaniards brought apricots to the New World and planted them in the mission gardens of California. If you are lucky, you can find Blenheims in the costal valleys of California
This year, I bought a crate (28 pounds) of apricots from one of the road stands in the central valley here in California. They were not Blenheims, but had been picked riper than the commercial kind. I don't know what kind of apricot I bought. They were okay, but I had bought a crate of apricots at the same farm stand the previous year and they were better. I put the apricots in a single layer in my cool downstairs bedroom and immersed myself into cooking them. Most of them became apricot jam. The jam turned out fabulously this year—smooth and velvety with a little crunch from the apricot kernels and texture from the skin. It was just the way we like it—sweet and tart at the same time. I would not omit the pits, as they really add a lot of flavor. For this years recipe, I used 10 pounds of apricots, 6 pounds of organic sugar, 16 cracked and roasted pits and 6 TBS of lemon juice. I was thinking about adding a vanilla bean or a cinnamon stick (or maybe some ginger), but in the end I did no such thing. I like my jam without any other flavors. The fruit itself is enough.
My husband likes my cobbler, and I baked two while I still had apricots. I like my cobbler because I use very little sugar, but it tastes delicious. I made the same cobbler for the 4th of July using peaches, blackberries and a few leftover blueberries.
I am very found of my German apricot cake with marzipan. It’s easy to make and a real treat for an afternoon tea. Or great for a picnic on a warm summer day.
My all-time favorite treat during apricot season are apricot dumplings. In Austria, they are considered a meal unto themselves. To make these, you need quark, a German soft cheese. Whole Foods and Shopper's Corner in Santa Cruz now carries quark.
While looking through back issues of my beloved Gourmet magazine from the month of June, I found a shrimp, jicama and apricot salad recipe. My husband loved this salad because it is crunchy, fresh and light. For me, the salad was a little bland, yet it was refreshing and elegant in its presentation. It is a perfect salad if you are counting your calories. I can imagine a salad like this being served decades ago in a fancy private club or hotel. Even though this is not my favorite salad, I decided to post it anyway.
Has it really been two months since I went to Germany in April? I went to visit my family and celebrate Easter with them. After celebrating a wonderful Easter holiday, I left my village and took the train to Lüneburg where my niece and her husband live. After Lüneburg, my niece and I spent a long weekend in Berlin. Read more about it on my Wanderlust blog.
Back in Santa Cruz, I have been cooking up a storm and entertaining four visitors from Germany. We all had a wonderful time. I love playing tour guide because I live in such a beautiful area with so many things to see and do. My niece, her husband, and her in-laws are like family to me. Their favorite meal was steak, which my husband barbecued with baked potatoes and salad. For their welcome meal, I made a turkey dinner. Yes, I served turkey in May and it was delicious. I didn't do the whole bird, just the breast and legs which I had bought at Whole Foods. I made the stuffing, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce from cranberries in my freezer. I will post my new turkey recipe at the appropriate time in November. It was a delicious meal and greatly appreciated by all. I made the turkey enchiladas from my blog with the leftovers.
After my visitors left, I bought a crate (about 28 pounds) of apricots and immersed myself in making jam, cobblers, apricot dumplings and an apricot cake. You can find all these recipes on my blog. I had planned to post a new apricot salad recipe, but it needs some work before I can do it. In the meantime, I cooked my fish in parchment paper and it was delicious. Instead of green beans, I used shaved zucchini and added some spring onions. It makes a perfect light summer dinner. For the fish, I used northern wild rockfish which was fresh and reasonably priced.
This is a German strawberry cake that is easy to make and brings out the fruity flavor of strawberries.
On my last trip to Germany I was invited to a birthday celebration of my mother's friend and neighbor, Helga. Our families have been friends as long as I can remember. As a child I used to visit them all the time, sitting in their kitchen and watching the women prepare food. I felt like part of their family. It was a peaceful household where I would go when when I wanted to be somewhere else. Helga was a good friend to my mother and visited her regularly and brought her food. My mom would always tell me on the phone that Helga had brought her some herring salad (one of my mom’s favorites), soup or whatever she’d cooked that day. I am so grateful for the kindness and caring she gave my mother. Helga’s husband, Willie, was my father’s friend and both of them farmed together. My father, a gentle and kind soul, mentored young Willie, who always liked to tease young girls like me. On warm summer nights, with the windows open, he and his friend would lull me to sleep by playing their violins, which made up for the teasing during the day.
Let’s get back to the birthday party and the afternoon coffee and cake. In rural Germany a birthday party usually starts around four in the afternoon with Kaffee and Kuchen (coffee and cake). Later in the evening, a hot meal is served. Sometimes, a savory hot meal is served for lunch and then followed by coffee and cake. For Helga’s birthday, all her friends had baked a fancy cake for her occasion. Of course I had to sample each of them and they were all delicious. I managed to get some of the recipes and hope to post them in the future when I have more time—and strawberries are not in season.
For this post, I chose a common German cake that can be bought in almost any German supermarket, already baked (like a piecrust in this country). I don't care much for the commercial variety, preferring to bake my own. These cakes are called Tortenboden or Obstkuchenboden (try to pronounce that!) which translated means “the bottom for a cake” like you would use for a strawberry shortcake. This cake has fluted edges and the bottom is indented to create an edge. I used a Chef Tell dessert pan by Nordic Ware. I often use it to make flan. Any cake pan will do, and it will taste just as good. Once you bake this shortcake, you can be creative and use any fresh fruit you want. I remember way back when my aunt made it with kiwis and it was delicious. In my recipe I decided to use vanilla pudding for the bottom. Creme anglaise would be fantastic but I wanted to keep it simple and easy to make. Personally, I think it is just as good with a layer of strawberry jam. My husband preferred the one with the custard. In Germany, the cake is covered with a glaze that you can buy. Here in the US, you can buy Dr. Oetker’s glaze for fresh fruit tarts at Cost Plus or Walmart. It comes in small individual packages. I made my own glaze by using some sweetened strawberry/rhubarb juice that I cooked and thickened with pectin. Even though the glaze is traditionally used, I think you can do without it. What makes this cake even tastier is a dollop of Schlag (whipped cream). I sprinkled a handful of slivered almonds over my cake and added some blueberries for color.
My German visitors enjoyed my baked shrimp with quinoa and peas. Its a great dish for warmer days.
Strawberries are in season right now. Here are some recipes from my blog. Click on the photo to see the recipe.
This was a wonderful trip and I appreciate how fortunate I am to be able to do this. It was a solo journey so I could spent time with my German family and friends. After an 10-hour uneventful flight (which is always good), I took the train to Göttingen and was picked up by my girlfriend. I was happy to see her and my family when we arrived at the village. There were many hugs and kisses. At that moment, I realized how much I miss them all, especially the children. They are growing up very fast. Despite the 9-hour time difference, I managed to stay up for awhile. The next day I went to Göttingen for the afternoon (click here to read about Göttingen). Whenever I visit Göttingen, I have to go to Crown and Lanz, an old-fashioned German cafe for some cake. Everyone was getting into celebrating Easter, even the town fountain.
Easter is a three-day holiday in Germany. Good Friday is a holiday and the Monday after Easter is also a holiday. My nephew, his wife and her twin sister invited the family for Easter Sunday brunch that lasted all day. Maren, my nephew’s wife’s twin sister baked this amazing Easter cake. It took her long time to produce this masterpiece, but it was worth the effort.
Both of the sisters had created a super delicious buffet with home-baked bread and many different vegetarian salads and dishes. They were doing this while watching their five children. Everybody had a great time and after the feast, we all went for a long walk to see the Easter fire before it was lit. This day alone was worth my trip. Thank you, Maren, and Jessica, for putting on this wonderful Easter brunch.
Easter Monday was quiet. My brother took us to a local restaurant for lunch or Mittagessen as we call it in Germany. We were served a nice meal. If you want to enjoy an authentic German meal and you happen to drive on the Autobahn A7 north, take the Nörten Hardenberg exit and eat at the Rodenberg restaurant. You will not regret it.
If you want a fancier dinner, stop at the old castle Hardenberg outside town. This is a beautiful spot to take a walk and watch people training their horses to jump. My dad and I used to come here when I was a child. Here you will find an elegant Relais & Châteaux hotel with two restaurants and a wellness spa. Or you can play golf nearby. This little town, Nörten Hardenberg, is three miles from my village and I enjoy coming here.
Wanting to contribute something to the Easter brunch, I made deviled eggs. They were simple but good. The eggs had been laid by my brother’s hens that week and they were extremely fresh and delicious with a dark yolk. No recipe was needed: I added some mayonnaise, mustard, a dash of curry powder, and pickled juice to the egg yolks. They were creamy and eaten right away. Once home, I made another batch that was not as creamy, but also very good.
Despite jet lag, I managed to have a small dinner party for three of my friends. I made a blueberry galette, stuffed mushrooms and my husband barbecued his rack of lamb. This meal helped me to get back into the groove, because I would have loved to have stayed longer in Germany.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. It means a lot to me and I would love to hear from you .
Comments in English and German are welcome!
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