At Carr Valley Cheese, Flavors Combine in New Ways
Sid Cook, owner of the Carr Valley Cheese Co. in Wisconsin, has become well-known for his inventive artisanal cheeses, including Cocoa Cardona, which combines goat cheese, cocoa and black pepper. When considering new flavors, he said, "I think about what cultures are going to taste like, and where flavors are going to go."
Philadelphia Chefs Look to the Farm
Farm-to-table menus were a growing theme among Philadelphia's chefs and restaurateurs this year, and a slew of new eateries, bars and food trucks have "farm" or "garden" in their names, writes critic Craig LaBan. Print the article and keep it handy when you are looking for a new, interesting spot to eat.
To Brine or Not to Brine?
This Thanksgiving, whether you are roasting or smoking your turkey, don't forget the most important step: brining. I have experimented with almost every technique there is to roast the perfect, moist turkey, but the old-fashioned method of brining is my hands-down favorite. Although you have to plan in advance, this technique is an easy process that yields the most flavorful, juicy turkey you have ever eaten.
So, what is brining? It's a scientific process, just like baking. Soaking a turkey in saltwater before roasting causes the muscle fibers to swell and retain moisture, which results in tender meat. The salt solution unwinds meat proteins to form a hollow tube, allowing the brine solution to travel into the protein, carrying the flavors of the herbs and other ingredients. The solution becomes trapped inside -- creating a delicious, juicy turkey that is hard to resist.
You can brine your turkey in a large stainless steel stockpot in your refrigerator or another container that fits in a closed cooler. If using a cooler, add ice periodically to keep the brine at 40°F or just below. The base of a brine should be 1 cup kosher salt and ½ cup brown sugar per gallon of water. With this ratio, you should brine your turkey for one hour per pound of meat.
You can create your own brine flavor by adding a variety of dried herbs, crushed garlic cloves or any of your favorite aromatics. Some of the water can easily be substituted with orange juice or apple cider, as in the recipe here. You can also replace some of the brown sugar with other sweeteners, such as maple syrup or sugar.
Never brine the turkey in a garbage bag or bucket that isn't intended for food use. Don't brine a self-basting or kosher turkey—the meat could get mushy. If you want to make gravy from the drippings, be sure to taste before adding salt. Bon appétit!
Cider-Brined Turkey with Star Anise and Cinnamon
2 quarts plus 1 cup apple cider
1 cup kosher salt plus more
1 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
16 whole black peppercorns
8 whole star anise pods plus more for garnish
6 garlic cloves, smashed
6 scallions, white parts only, trimmed, split lengthwise
6 1/4”-thick slices unpeeled ginger
5 dried shitake mushrooms
2 3”-4” cinnamon sticks plus more for garnish
2 sprigs cilantro
1 12–14-lb. turkey
Freshly ground black pepper
2 Granny Smith apples, cut into sixths
Melted unsalted butter or vegetable oil (for basting)
1.Bring 2 quarts cider, 1 cup salt, and the next 10 ingredients to a boil in a very large (16-qt.) pot, stirring to dissolve salt and sugar. Let cool to room temperature. Stir in 1 1/2 gallons cold water. Add turkey to brine and press down to submerge. Cover; refrigerate overnight.
2.Remove turkey from brine and pat dry with paper towels; discard brine. Season lightly inside and out with salt and pepper. Place turkey, breast side up, on a rack set in a large heavy roasting pan and tie legs together with kitchen twine. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.
3.Preheat oven to 375°. Combine the remaining 1 cup of cider and 3 cups water in roasting pan. Scatter apples around. Brush turkey with butter. Flip breast side down.
4.Roast turkey, breast side down, basting occasionally, for 1 hour. Using paper towels, flip turkey. Roast, basting occasionally, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 165°, 1–1 1/2 hours longer. Transfer turkey to a platter. Let rest for at least 20 minutes before carving.
5.Meanwhile, strain the juices from the roasting pan into a saucepan, reserving apples. Simmer over medium heat until juices have thickened, about 10 minutes. Serve the cider jus alongside the turkey and apples and garnish with extra star anise pods and cinnamon sticks. *Recipe by Anita Lo. Bon Appetit, November 2011
Kids' Menu Choices
As you know, childhood obesity is a growing problem in the U.S. With many families dining out on a regular basis, helping your child make healthy choices is essential. Cooking Light Magazine reviewed 7 popular chain restaurants throughout the country. Click on the link to get the inside scoop on what your little one should order to keep calories, fat, and sodium in check.
Green grows the bounty, even in winter
When you think of community supported agriculture programs, it's only natural to think about warm, summer days. But winter CSAs are growing in popularity because of colorful and tasty crops such as watermelon radish, thanks to simple technology such as greenhouses and climate-controlled storage space. Because cold temperatures concentrate the sweetness of vegetables such as spinach and carrots, winter CSA shares provide members with some of the most flavorful produce at a very welcome moment.