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Archive for December, 2011|Monthly archive page

Black Bean Soup

In Recipes, Soups on December 28, 2011 at 3:10 PM

Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated (please see note below).   Active involvement-1 hour, cooking time 2&1/2 hours; makes about 16 servings.

Black Bean Soup


•    2 lbs. dried black beans, rinsed and picked over
•    1 ham bone
•    6 bay leaves
•    2 & ½ qts. water
•    8 tbsps. extra virgin olive oil
•    4 cups of finely chopped onions, about 4 medium onions
•    2 cups finely chopped celery, about 3 stalks
•    1 cup finely chopped carrots, about 2 carrots
•    5 tbsps. minced garlic, about 1 whole head
•    3 tbsps. ground cumin
•    2 qts.  Unsalted Chicken Stock
•    6 jalapeno peppers including seeds, chopped fine
•    1 lb. Spanish Chorizos, sliced lengthwise and then at 90 degree angle, so that each slice is a ¼ inch thick half moon
•    1 cup rum


1.    Place beans, ham bone, bay leaves and water in a 5 qt. pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat, cover and simmer on a low boil, until beans are tender about 90 minutes. If too thick, add an additional cup or two of water and continue to simmer until beans are tender. Remove ham bone and bay leaves and discard.
2.    In the meantime, heat olive oil in 8-quart stock pot over medium-high heat until shimmering; add the onions, carrots and celery, cook for 6 minutes stirring until vegetables are soft.
3.    Add the garlic and cumin and continue cooking, stirring constantly for about 3 minutes.
4.    Add the beans and their liquid (after removing and discarding the ham bone and bay leaves), mix well.
5.    Add the chicken broth and jalapenos, raise the heat to medium-high and bring to boil, reduce the heat to low, simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
6.    Remove 3 cups of beans and 3 cups of liquid to a food processor, process until smooth then return to pot. Add the chorizos and rum bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes more.

Upon serving add a splash of Amontillado Sherry to each bowl and garnish with chopped fresh cilantro and sour cream.

NOTE: Please see The Gift of Christmas Ham that Kept on Giving for a discussion of how this recipe was adapted and developed

From a Cask of Amontillado

Dorothea’s Asparagus Tips

In Recipes, Vegetables on December 28, 2011 at 3:09 PM

Preparation time 10 minutes, cooking time 13 minutes, serves 6 to 8


2 lbs. asparagus, washed and trimmed
1/8 lb. unsalted butter cut into thin slices
½ cup Italian flavored breadcrumbs
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano


1.    Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
2.    Steam the asparagus for three minutes.
3.    Drain the asparagus and arrange them on a rimmed cookie sheet.
4.    Cover the asparagus with the butter slices, then sprinkle the breadcrumbs over them and lastly sprinkle the cheese on top of all.
5.    Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.

Baked Glazed Christmas Ham

In Pork, Recipes on December 28, 2011 at 3:08 PM

Active preparation 20 minutes, baking time 3 hours 15 minutes.


1 12 lb. smoked ham, bone in
Whole cloves
8 oz. orange juice
8 oz. light beer
½ cup honey
10 tbsp. dark brown sugar
1 tbsp. powdered hot mustard


1.    Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2.    Score the fat by making shallow slices 1 inch apart and repeating the process at a 90 degree angle, so that you wind up with 1 inch squares of exposed fat. If the fat is not sufficiently exposed, carefully slice off the skin back to the shank end along the top of the ham before scoring.
3.    Place, a clove securely into each square of fat.

Preparing the Ham

4.    Place the ham on a rack in a roasting pan; add two cups of water to the pan.
5.    Place the pan in the oven and bake for 2 hours at 325 degrees.
6.    In the meantime, prepare the glaze: heat 8 oz. of orange juice in a two quart pot.
7.    In a separate one quart pot empty a can beer and bring to a boil for 10 minutes. When done, add 8 oz. of the beer to the orange juice and stir well.
8.    Separately and slowly mix in the honey, brown sugar and powdered mustard.
9.    Remove from the heat until ready to baste the ham.
10.    After 2 hours of baking pour the glaze over the ham and baste every 15 minutes for another hour.
11.    Raise the temperature to 450 degrees and baste the ham one last time.

Ready for the Carving Knife

12.    When ham is ready, remove the rack and ham from the pan and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm; place the pan on the stove top and heat on high to thicken the liquid to be used as gravy for the ham.

Note: For use of leftovers, please see: The Gift of Christmas Ham that Kept on Giving and Black Bean Soup.

The Gift of Christmas Ham that Kept on Giving

In General Articles on December 28, 2011 at 3:07 PM

Christmas has come and gone, but the remains of the ham are still with us. Thanks to the kindness of our friend Rita, we found ourselves with a 12 pound Schaller & Weber bone–in smoked ham for Christmas.  Originally we had planned on a prime rib roast for Christmas dinner, but the receipt of the unexpected ham necessitated a new game plan. The Roasted Rosemary Potatoes would still work, but the ham, which would be baked with an orange-honey-brown sugar-mustard glaze called out for Dorothea’s Asparagus Tips as the green vegetable, rather than the originally planned Brussel Sprouts Roasted with Hazelnuts.

I was assigned ham duty and my wife took on responsibility for the asparagus and potatoes. The ham proved to be delicious and moist, unlike last year’s spiral cut ham, which became dried out as the interior was exposed to too much heat. Spiral cut hams are a great convenience, particularly for a buffet where each guest can cut off his or her own portion. But on balance, I think a whole uncut ham is superior in flavor and the carving is not all that difficult.

There were only six of us for Christmas dinner, so needless to say there were plenty of leftovers in the ham department. Big Mike always said, the best parts of a smoked ham are the leftovers and the ham bone. He loved frying up the ham for breakfast, which we did in his honor, on two mornings: fried ham and fried eggs the first day and then a ham and cheese omelet a few days later. Then the decision, what to do with the ham bone, which he usually employed in his favorite, Split Pea Soup. But a check of the pantry revealed a 2 pound bag of black beans, and a search of the refrigerator uncovered a package of Spanish Chorizos. With those ingredients readily available, it was not hard to envision a big batch of Black Bean Soup .

After a consulting Cook’s for the basics on Black Bean Soup, I deleted some ingredients, salt (I figured the ham had plenty of salt), baking soda and cornstarch and added some others, jalapenos, chorizos and rum. I also adapted the proportions of vegetables to my personal taste. Most importantly, I conducted a research of chicken stock at our local supermarket. To my amazement, the quantity of sodium in each brand available on the shelf varied from a low of 150 mg per 240 ml (1 cup) for Kitchen Basics Unsalted Chicken Stock to over 900 mg per 240 ml for the store brand private label. According to Please, Don’t Pass the Salt! Blog, Swanson’s Unsalted Chicken Stock contains 13%  lower sodium – 130 mg per cup, but Swanson’s was not available on the supermarket shelf that day.

So from the gift of Christmas ham, not only did we have a memorable Christmas dinner but managed to eke out about 6 quarts of soup, breakfast meat for two mornings and still have  a half pound of ham leftover for sandwiches. Thanks Rita!

Bourbon Sweet Potatoes

In Recipes, Thanksgiving, Vegetables on December 4, 2011 at 4:04 PM


3 lbs. sweet potatoes
1 cup light brown sugar
½ stick sweet butter
¼ cup orange juice
½ cup bourbon


1.    Par-boil sweet potatoes for 15 minutes until fork can gently pierce them, remove the skins when cooled and slice them into  1/2 inch  thick pieces.
2.    In a separate pot, mix together the sugar, butter, orange juice, and bourbon and simmer for 5 minutes.
3.    Place sliced sweet potatoes in a baking pan.
4.    Pour the mixture over them, cover with aluminum foil and bake in oven for 30 minutes at 350 degrees, remove foil and bake additional 15 minutes.

Please also see: The Turkey that Keeps Giving

Dorothea’s Italian Sausage and Mushroom Stuffing

In Recipes, Thanksgiving on December 4, 2011 at 4:02 PM

Preparation time: 1 hour with 2 people preparing the stuffing. Makes about 6 qts., which is enough for a 20 lb. turkey with several cups leftover.

2 14oz. bags of Herb Seasoned Stuffing
3 lbs. of Italian sausages, casings removed and discarded, meat crumbled up*
4 large onions, coarsely chopped – about 6 cups
2 lbs. Crimini mushrooms, sliced – about 10 cups**
¾ cup of chopped fresh sage
¼ cup chopped fresh thyme, stems removed and discarded
½ lb. (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 tbsps. Bell’s Poultry Seasoning
2 tbsps. ground black pepper
8 cups of boiled water


1.    In a large non-stick skillet, fry the crumbled sausage meat on medium heat until all of the pink color is gone.
2.    Empty stuffing bags into an 8 qt. bowl or pot.
3.    Add 5 cups of boiled water and mix well.
4.    Remove the cooked sausage meat with a slotted spoon, leaving the rendered fat behind in the skillet. Add the sausage meat to the stuffing and mix well.
5.    Melt 1 stick of the butter in the sausage fat and sauté the onions for about 5 minutes on medium low heat.
6.    Add the sage and thyme to the onions, stirring well and continue sautéing until onions are translucent. Transfer the onions to the stuffing and mix well.
7.    Melt the remaining stick of butter in the skillet, add the mushrooms and sauté on high for about 10 minutes until the mushrooms give off their liquid and it evaporates. Transfer the mushrooms to the stuffing and mix well.
8.    Add the remaining 3 cups of boiled water to the stuffing mixture, so that it is easily mixed.
9.    Add the Bell’s Seasoning and pepper and continue to mix well.
10.    Set the stuffing aside until ready to stuff the turkey.

Timesaving hints:
*If you can find it, buy loose sausage meat
**If you can find them, buy pre-sliced Baby Bella mushrooms

Please also see: The Turkey that Keeps Giving

Roast Stuffed Turkey

In Recipes, Thanksgiving on December 4, 2011 at 4:01 PM


20 pound Fresh Free Range Turkey
Dorothea’s Italian Sausage and Mushroom Stuffing
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4 cups of dry red wine


1.    Remove the turkey from the refrigerator and packaging about 2 hours before ready to cook.
2.    Remove the neck and gizzards from the turkey cavities.
3.    Rinse the inside and outside of the turkey and pat it dry.
4.    Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees and position the rack so that there will be a couple of inches above the turkey for the air to circulate.
5.    When the oven temperature reaches 450 degrees, stuff both turkey cavities with the stuffing, being careful to not pack it too tight so that the heat circulates inside the cavities. Secure the stuffing in the neck cavity with the skin flap, using two small skewers.
6.    Sprinkle the skin with salt and pepper.
7.    Place the stuffed turkey on a rack in a large roasting pan and place in the oven.
8.    Roast at 450 degrees for 20 minutes to seal in the juices.
9.    Reduce temperature to 350 degrees and set timer for 1 hour and 40 minutes.
10.    After the two hours in the oven, pour 2 cups of wine over the turkey and rotate the pan 180 degrees. Continue roasting for 1 hour, then pour 2 more cups of red wine over the turkey and reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. At this point the turkey will have been roasting for 3 hours and should be ready in about another 60 to 90 minutes. So set the timer for 30 minutes and then baste the turkey with the pan drippings every 30 minutes until ready to remove from the oven.
11.    The turkey is done when a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 175 degrees, probably 4 & ½ hours
12.    Remove the rack from the oven and place it and the turkey on a large platter, cover with aluminum foil and prepare the gravy.

For the Gravy:

1.    Make a broth from the neck and gizzards. Place them in a 3 qt. pot, add 4 large whole shallots, 1 tablespoon of whole peppercorns, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and cover with water. Bring to a boil and lower heat to a simmer. Cook until reduced to 2 cups. Strain and remove the liquid to a container and wash out the pot.
2.    When the turkey has been removed from the roasting pan, strain the drippings into a fat separator. Combine the de-fatted, strained drippings and the 2 cups of broth in the roasting pan. Place the pan across two burners on the stove and bring to a boil add 1cup of red wine and  whisk in 3/8 cup of Wondra flour. Stir and boil down to desired thickness.

Please also see: The Turkey that Keeps Giving

Turkey Soup

In Recipes, Soups, Thanksgiving on December 4, 2011 at 4:00 PM

Turkey Soup with Cheese Tortelloni


Reserved turkey carcass, skin, bones and meat scraps, as well as any stuffing and gravy that you don’t want to save for leftovers
2 large onions, peeled and quartered
3 stalks of celery, including leaves, cut into thirds
4 carrots, skin left on and cut into quarters


1.    Place all of the ingredients in a 16 qt. pot, cover with water and bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low and simmer covered for 1 hour.
2.    Remove cover and continue simmering for 2 more hours or until the meat falls of the bones.
3.    Strain the soup out and discard all of the solids.
4.    When cooled, place soup in refrigerator overnight.
5.    The next morning skim off and discard all of the gelatinous fat that has formed on the top.
6.    Heat the soup; add any cut up leftover turkey and gravy.
7.    Serve with separately cooked tortelloni, tortellini, ditalini, ditali, elbow macaroni or pastina, whatever is your choice, as well as grated Pecorino – Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Please also see: The Turkey that Keeps Giving

The Turkey That Keeps Giving

In General Articles, Recipes, Thanksgiving on December 4, 2011 at 3:59 PM

Here it is nine full days after Thanksgiving and we are still enjoying the gifts given up by our 21 pound Plainville Farms Thanksgiving turkey. The turkey dinner and its side dishes are but a memory.  The leftovers of hot turkey sandwiches smothered in gravy, accompanied by re-heated stuffing and the counterpoint of tart cranberry sauce, as well as cold turkey sandwiches on rye bread slathered with homemade Russian dressing disappeared days ago; and now the last of the Turkey Soup is gone as well. I have had my fill of Tom Turkey and if I don’t meet him again until next Thanksgiving, that will be just fine with me. But it is remarkable how many meals one can squeeze out of a single bird.

Our Thanksgiving feast this year started out with a gift of more than two dozen deliciously sweet and briny East Dennis Oysters™ compliments of John and Stephanie Lowell of the East Dennis Oyster Farm and our mutual friend Serge. I first became acquainted with these briny delights in Biloxi, Mississippi while on the payroll of Uncle Sam and stationed at Keesler AFB. Having had a long established relationship with another hard-shelled creature of the sea, Cherrystone clams, I never felt the need to meet their cousin. But clams were not readily available on the Gulf Coast, while oysters were in abundance, thus began a long-standing conflict; clams or oysters or both!

I am an able-bodied clam shucker, but never developed the skill of oyster shucking, so have always had to depend on the kindness of strangers. Our son-in-law, having grown up on the North Shore of Boston and on Martha’s Vineyard, is a skilled oyster shucker. He was assigned the task of prying these creatures from their shells, and as you can see from the picture, did a remarkable job in doing so.

Original East Dennis Oysters™

My wife, bravely tried her first raw oyster, but happily for the rest of us, demurred from having a second. As a result, our two daughters, son-in-law and I finished them off in a flash, washing them down with a well-chilled bottle of Crémant de Loire.

By the time we finished off the oysters, the main meal was ready. The Roast Turkey, having been filled with Dorothea’s Italian Sausage and Mushroom Stuffing, was waiting to be carved.

Ready and Waiting for the Carving Knife

I dutifully performed that task while my wife readied the delicious Bourbon Sweet Potatoes and the additional side dishes of Brussel Sprouts Roasted with Hazelnuts and Cranberry Sauce. The latter was prepared by following the recipe on the bag of fresh cranberries, as opposed to opening a can.

Fresh Cranberry Sauce

Sitting around our harvest table, with no gift-giving, or tinsel, or Christmas music to distract my thoughts, I reflected upon how fortunate I was to be surrounded by the love of our ever-growing family, which over the past 40 years has grown from two to seven.

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