• Holiday Leftover Hash: Something Good For Black Friday

    hashhash4We thought about doing a Thanksgiving turkey recipe for the blog, but truth be told, we aren’t big turkey people. We will be making J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s Sous Vide “Turchetta” (turkey breast made like Porchetta) and a beef roast for the Thanksgivukkah holiday. But we will give you an awesome, and easy, recipe to use up those Thanksgiving leftovers- hash. We suggest you forgo the shopping and serve hash for Black Friday Brunch.

    hash5hash6hash7We like turkey or ham sandwiches just fine, but when you can take the leftover turkey/pork/beef, potatoes and veggies, add some seasoning and crisp them up in some bacon fat…well now you are onto something. And that is the beauty of hash. A good hash elevates your leftovers into an entirely new dish, and since most of the ingredients are cooked, it doesn’t take that long or require many pot and pans. Nice. And if you just “happen” to top off the hash with a fried egg or a zippy horseradish sauce…well then you really will have something to be thankful for.

    hash8hash9The key with making hash is to use what you already have and balance flavors and textures. Think about a mix of savory, sweet, vegetal and spicy flavors and soft, creamy and crispy textures (the browning will crisp up the dish). Pretty much any leftover you have may be worth adding, so be creative. And pre-cooked food is better in hash, as you don’t have to worry about even cooking of various raw ingredients. The only “fresh” ingredients we use are bacon, (to get its fat) onions and minced garlic we soften in the grease before adding the other ingredients. We top the hash with either a fried egg or a quick horseradish sauce (prepared horseradish, sour cream, mayonnaise, a touch of mustard, salt/pepper) but steak sauce or simple ketchup are just fine as well.

    hash10hash12hash14For this hash we used leftover beef, roasted butternut squash and boiled Yukon Gold potatoes seasoned with a bit of thyme, cumin and chili powder. It was great. But if we had leftover turkey, sweet potatoes, mashers or even creamed spinach or roasted brussels sprouts, we could use them (most stuffings will also work). Hard to go wrong here, as long as you liked the dish on Thursday, it probably work in hash on Friday….except for the cranberry sauce, best to keep that out of the hash.

    hash15hash13So we wish you a Happy Thanksgiving! We hope you cook your turkey in pieces (trust us!), have a few fun cocktails and enjoy time with family and friends. We also hope you stay home on Friday, maybe build a fire, and cook this hash for brunch. Enjoy the day…the “holidaze” are coming.

    hash2

    Holiday Leftover Hash:

    Notes Before You Start:

    • The best way to make hash is to mostly use cooked leftovers. Raw ingredients have different cooking times and can mess up your hash. We suggest just a few softened aromatics and then whatever leftovers you have.
    • Cooking in a cast iron pan or steel skillet will get you the best browning and a crispy, delicious hash.

    What You Get: An easy, delicious and warm dish using up those Thanksgiving leftovers.

    What You Need: No special equipment required.

    How Long? About 25-30 minutes. A few minutes of chopping, otherwise this is as easy as it gets. Anytime dish.

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  • Mixology Monday LXXIX Cocktail: Silver And Green

    silver4It’s Mixology Monday time again. It seems like it just happened, but since we hosted, our mixology “workload” was a bit higher than normal. But just as we thought of slacking, we saw the new theme “resin” from Booze Nerds and just couldn’t resist. Here is the lowdown:

    mxmologoWe thought hard about a theme that would work well for this time of year, and after contemplating the food, booze, and decor we like for the holidays, we settled on “Resin.” From savory rosemary in a stuffing, to a delicious juniper-y gin in a martini, to a fragrant fir ornament or garnish, our friends the evergreens have a lot to offer… The challenge: come up with an ingenious creation using the resin-y ingredient of your choice. Zirbenz, retsina, hoppy IPA, pine-nut puree, even? Sure! Spirit, garnish, aroma, all are fair game.  Whatever resin means to you, we want to hear it.

    silver7silver8Hmm…well the first “resin-y” ingredient we thought of was…well, a herb we don’t grow here at the farm. Ahem. But the next thought was to use a herb we do grow here at the farm, rosemary. Not only was it the first ingredient mentioned in the announcement post, but we grow it here for cooking and as an ornamental. We got plenty o’ rosemary.

    silverAnd, of course, we went to gin. Not just because of the juniper connection, but because we like gin and it works well with pine-y flavors like rosemary. So the next trick was to find a resinous modifier or liqueur. We looked at the bar and we immediately picked out our bottle of Kummel.

    silver1So what is Kummel? It is a sweet Northern European liqueur flavored with caraway, cumin and fennel. Sweet, savory and spicy, Kummel is a challenging ingredient, with both flavors of rye bread and holiday spice cookie. Strange stuff, but fun to play with. And Kummel seems resin-y, and certainly would play well with the gin and rosemary. So now all we needed was a recipe.

    silver2Happily, we noticed the Silver Bullet cocktail in the Savoy Cocktail Book and decided to riff on that. A simple combination of 2 parts gin to 1 part Kummel and 1 part lemon juice, the Silver Bullet is a good drink on its own (basically a play on a White Lady). Juniper, citrus and spice, with a sweet caraway undertone, the cocktail is weird, but tasty. But when we muddled some rosemary, rubbed a bit on the edge of the glass and used some as a garnish, it brought pine, juniper and citrus to the fore, making the Kummel’s spice more of an undertone. An excellent, albeit very funky, sip. We call this new cocktail Silver and Green.

    silver3silver5And while we like the flavor, we will admit to enjoying to look of this drink even more. In the right light, it does glow silver and the green rosemary almost sparkles on its own. Nice. So thanks to the crew at Booze Nerds for another excellent MxMo theme and to Fred Yarm at Cocktail Virgin Slut for keeping the party rollin. Happy Thanksgiving!

    silver6Silver And Green:

    Ingredients:

    • 1 1/2 oz. dry gin
    • 3/4 oz. Kummel
    • 3/4 oz. fresh lemon juice
    • Fresh rosemary

    Assemble:

    1. Place a few pieces of rosemary in a cocktail shaker with the other ingredients. Lightly muddle. Add ice and shake until well-chilled.
    2. Rub a sprig of rosemary lightly and then run it along the edge of a cocktail glass or coupe. Strain the cocktail into the glass and garnish with the rosemary sprig. Serve.
  • A Few Tips On Cooking For Thanksgiving

    Rule #1: Think happy thoughts...

    Rule #1: Think happy thoughts…and be grateful.

    We are not much on “how-to” or “5 keys to the best Thanksgiving x…” posts here at the farm, but with the holidays coming (including the once in a lifetime bonus holiday of “Thanksgivvukah”) we figured we should share some thoughts on how to make the most of your Thanksgiving cooking. Here is our take on the important stuff:

    Before the holiday:

    • Don’t worry about the specific dishes and recipes you are going to cook until you have a guest count. Some recipes work with small crowds, some with big crowds. Cook dishes that make sense for the size of the group you have (and your budget).
    • Once you have the guest count, decide what you want to cook and what oven and stove top space you have. Make sure you can cook the dishes you want with the appliances and tools you have. Then when guests ask “what can I bring?” you will have a good idea of what else you need, based on the resources you have.
    • Remember that your grill can be a useful tool if you are out of stovetop burners or ovens.
    satay7

    Remember your grill is an extra oven or burner.

    • When a guest asks “what can I bring?”, be very specific and ask for something you know the guest can bring and/or make. At first, you may come off a bit fussy or demanding, but when a guest brings the perfect dish, pie, bottle of wine, etc. that fits with the meal, they will feel great- and so will you and the rest of your guests. Everyone likes to be a hero. Don’t be afraid to ask guests to bring what will be best with the meal.
    • Desserts are often best made day ahead or earlier in the day to save you time and space. Most pies are better at room temperature anyway. Cakes need to cool before frosting. All of this is best done ahead of time.
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    Make desserts ahead of time to save kitchen space….and sanity.

    What to cook on Thanksgiving?

    • Thanksgiving is about giving thanks for all we have (and regardless of the craziness of everyday life, most of us have a lot to be grateful for). The meal is not about Norman Rockwell paintings or Martha Stewart magazine spreads. Thanksgiving should be about serving your best dishes to the people you love. Beauty is only skin deep, makes sure the food tastes good!
    • With that in mind, there is nothing wrong with serving something other than turkey. If you make great beef, chicken, pork (or even vegetarian) dishes for a crowd, then serve them. Serve them with pride. How about a small turkey and something else? There will always be the high-maintenance jerk  someone who will talk about “grandma’s this” or “traditional” that. They can cook next year…but usually they won’t. Forget ’em (but with a smile, of course) and serve what you know tastes good. Tasty food wins over everything. Always.

    But what if I want to serve turkey?

    If you plan to serve turkey and actually want it to taste good and be moist, here are a few pointers that will make a big difference:

    • Deep-fried turkeys are great, but proceed with caution. Let’s face it, most of us drink a lot bit during the holidays. Booze, fire and hot oil are a very bad combination (particularly if you have kids running around). If you want a deep-fried turkey, hire a pro to do it. There are plenty of people who can do it for you. Seriously. DIY is great, but with hot oil? C’mon….
    • Your turkey will be better if you salt / brine it. You can use a water-based wet brine, or simply salt the turkey with what is called a “dry brine”. Either way, the pre-salting makes for moister, more flavorful meat (trust us, the chemistry is sound, even if it seems counterintuitive). There are plenty of good recipes for brined turkeys, but here is a good guide to the pros and cons of dry or wet brining your turkey.
    • One of the only drawbacks to brined turkeys is that you can’t use the drippings for gravy, as they will be too salty. We suggest you make a gravy using commercial chicken stock (usually it is your best option, that may sound heretical, but it is often true) or ask your butcher for turkey stock (they may have some) or extra turkey parts (like the backbone) for stock.
    • The best way to cook poultry is to do it in pieces. White meat is done at a lower internal temperature than dark meat and there is no magical way to change that. The easiest way to get perfect white and dark meat is cook the breasts and legs separately and then present them together (even Julia Child said this was the way to go). If you present the turkey well, no one will even notice. Actually, your guests will notice…that you served the best turkey they ever had.
    ChickenIng4

    Cook poultry in pieces. It works.

    • If you are cooking the turkey in pieces, you need to track internal temperature for best results. You need a quick read (cheap, like $10), or even better, a digital thermometer (over $50) to know the internal temperature of your meat. No excuses. And those “pop-up” thermometers in the turkey simply don’t work…unless you like to eat bone-dry turkey.
    • Rethink everything you know about the desired internal temperature of poultry. The “safe” 160-165 F degree internal temperature we hear about for poultry is based on the idea that you will eat the turkey at the very moment it comes out of the oven. Who does that? Nobody. At 165 F all bacteria are dead immediately. But turkey white meat starts to dry out above 150 F. This seems like an insurmountable problem, but if you cook the turkey breast to 145-150 F and let it rest for 20 minutes, the heat will increase to 160 while the turkey rests and the bacteria will be killed by longer exposure to temperature. You get a safe, but moist, turkey breast. (The government actually knows this, but figures we are all too stupid to understand this nuance). If you want more detail and a good recipe, see here and for the chemistry, see here.
    • Dark meat is very hard to overcook. Shoot for an internal temperature of at least 180 degrees. If you go a bit over, it’s no big deal. There is so much connective tissue in the dark meat that it will stay moist at higher temperatures. We suggest you simply cook the dark meat to the desired temperature while the white meat rests. Easy.
    • Don’t cook stuffing in the turkey. Just don’t. If you want to worry about food safety, cooking stuffing inside the bird is the biggest risk you will have.
    • You can deep-fry, roast or smoke your turkey at many different cooking temperatures. Many methods / recipes work, assuming you target the right internal temperature of your meat. Some cooking methods will yield more attractive, crisper skin than others. You can always crisp the skin of your turkey with a quick blast in a high-temperature (500 F) oven. If you crisp the skin for less than 5-10 minutes, it will have minimal impact on internal temperature but give you a golden brown skin.
    chix2

    Crisp the skin for a few minutes in a hot oven.

    Kitchen tips:

    • You are (most likely) not a chef, don’t try to act or look like one. Chefs do all that flashy and speedy chopping because they are used to prepping for hundreds of guests. For them, speed matters (and is a bit of a macho thing). For you, it is best to avoid slicing your fingers off. Even if you have 30 guests, the amount of prep you have to do is probably manageable. Take your time chopping and slicing. Even if you go slowly it will only cost you an extra 5-10 minutes. Take your time, keep your fingers intact and avoid a trip to the ER.
    • Plan on the right time and method for thawing your meat. If you have a fresh turkey or roast, that is great. But many of us will have frozen meat. Big frozen turkeys take a lot of time to thaw, and if you do it in the fridge (and you should), it will take days. Here is a guideThere is no better way to screw up your cooking for Thanksgiving than to forget to thaw the turkey or roast. Make sure you have a plan to thaw your bird.

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  • Weekly Cocktail #60: The Stone 75

    The Stone 75 Cocktail.

    The Stone 75 Cocktail.

    Ah, cocktails. Just when you think you’ve had enough….they pull you back in. And in this case, “had enough” meant that we recently hosted Mixology Monday and had seen our fill of cocktails and photos. We were a bit tired. Time for some tea, maybe a sip of wine, new kegs on tap (an IPA and a crisp golden ale), and perhaps some hard cider to celebrate the season. Cider? Hmm….

    stoneAnd this is what happens once you start mixing drinks and catch the bug. We got a few different bottles of hard cider to play with and suddenly the gears started grinding turning and we were mixing away. This time the inspiration came from a bit of internet research into different styles of cider. While looking at dry vs. sweet cider we saw a recipe for the Stone Fence, one of America’s oldest cocktails and perhaps our original highball.

    stone1stone2The Stone Fence is the simple combination of a big glass of hard cider and a shot of rum, applejack or whiskey. This drink is literally hundreds of years old and the variety of hard liquor simply reflects what was available at any time or different regions. Applejack in New Jersey or rum in Massachusetts, gave way (somewhat) to whiskey, but all still work. At some point, most people added ice to the mix and we get this “proto-highball”. A good sip, particularly if feeling a bit lazy. But as you may have guessed, the big issue is that this is a strong drink. We will forgo the “fell face-first into a Stone Fence” jokes…but you get the idea.

    stone7We decided to play with the basic recipe and craft something with a bit less booze (but just a bit) and a slightly more elegant presentation. We also had some old-school sugar to play with (a piloncillo of Mexican sugar that would be similar to colonial-era sugar) and decided to include it in the cocktail. As for inspiration, we looked to two of our favorite sparklers, the citrusy French 75 and the bitters-heavy Seelbach.

    stone3After some very pleasant experimentation, we came up with the Stone 75. The Stone 75 combines muddled lemon peel and sugar with lemon juice, Cointreau, Jamaican rum, applejack, tiki bitters (Angostura also work) and dry hard cider. Served in a coupé or flute and topped with a lemon twist, this is a very pretty cocktail.

    stone4stone6 Continue reading