Thanksgiving Super Stuffing! Also A Turkey Day Myth Dispelled

Much of this article was previously posted on Nov 22, 2010
Since most of you SOBs probably didn’t read it the first time, I’m posting a revision, now with photos!

Thanksgiving is coming up soon.

It is quite possibly the best freakin’ food-related holiday in existence.

I’m quite happy to celebrate this blessed day of thanks, and I encourage all to do their very best to stuff the hell out of themselves and each other with turkey and stuffing and cranberries and potatoes and gravy (aka turkey syrup) and pie without exploding or causing any serious coronary events, all while managing to stay pleasantly in a food/booze coma/buzz, thus unknowingly saving us all from years of potential family conflicts and Hatfield/McCoy-style feuds. I think, at the very least, it’s your patriotic duty to try.

That said, I must now enter the rant portion of this post, which involves the widely spread rumor of the tasty, but innocent giant roasted bird that we love so much – The Turkey.

A Turkey Day Myth Dispelled:

There is this crazy little amino acid called L-tryptophan (a precursor to serotonin) that, taken by itself, can have sedative effect. So much so, that it is sometimes prescribed as a sleep aid.

It just so happens that turkey contains a large quantity of L-tryptophan compared to other meats, and because of this, people everywhere started putting 2 and 2 together and came up with 5, claiming that everyone falls into a food coma after eating Thanksgiving dinner ‘because of the tryptophan in the turkey’.

The truth is that L-tryptophan does not have this sedative effect on people when it is ingested with protein, which turkey is also loaded with, so that pretty much restores all of our faith in arithmetic now, right?

IT’S FOUR!

TWO AND TWO MAKE FOUR, PEOPLE!

Doing the math, it’s not rocket science to anyone who’s ever been in a sugar coma.

Eating a large amount of calories, especially carbohydrates (and booze), is the culprit.

That’s right. We all stuffed ourselves into a sweet, sweet, sleeperriffic food coma. Over-eating is the culprit, but Thanksgiving only happens once a year, so let’s just enjoy the ride!

… which brings me to the real purpose of this post:

A Thanksgiving Super Stuffing:

I’ve posted my coma-licious Thanksgiving Super Sage Stuffing on my recipes page and am happy to share it with all of you:

Click for a larger version or go HERE to download a printable PDF.

Happy Turkey Day, Everyone!



The White House Beer Recipes!

vcb - white house beer recipes

Straight from the White House Blog

It’s THE WHITE HOUSE BEER RECIPES!

Start Brewing, America!

White House Honey Porter

Ingredients

  • 2 (3.3 lb) cans light unhopped malt extract
  • 3/4 lb Munich Malt (cracked)
  • 1 lb crystal 20 malt (cracked)
  • 6 oz black malt (cracked)
  • 3 oz chocolate malt (cracked)
  • 1 lb White House Honey
  • 10 HBUs bittering hops
  • 1/2 oz Hallertaur Aroma hops
  • 1 pkg Nottingham dry yeast
  • 3/4 cup corn sugar for bottling

Directions

  1. In a 6 qt pot, add grains to 2.25 qts of 168˚ water. Mix well to bring temp down to 155˚. Steep on stovetop at 155˚ for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, bring 2 gallons of water to 165˚ in a 12 qt pot. Place strainer over, then pour and spoon all the grains and liquid in. Rinse with 2 gallons of 165˚ water. Let liquid drain through. Discard the grains and bring the liquid to a boil. Set aside.
  2. Add the 2 cans of malt extract and honey into the pot. Stir well.
  3. Boil for an hour. Add half of the bittering hops at the 15 minute mark, the other half at 30 minute mark, then the aroma hops at the 60 minute mark.
  4. Set aside and let stand for 15 minutes.
  5. Place 2 gallons of chilled water into the primary fermenter and add the hot wort into it. Top with more water to total 5 gallons if necessary. Place into an ice bath to cool down to 70-80˚.
  6. Activate dry yeast in 1 cup of sterilized water at 75-90˚ for fifteen minutes. Pitch yeast into the fermenter. Fill airlock halfway with water. Ferment at room temp (64-68˚) for 3-4 days.
  7. Siphon over to a secondary glass fermenter for another 4-7 days.
  8. To bottle, make a priming syrup on the stove with 1 cup sterile water and 3/4 cup priming sugar, bring to a boil for five minutes. Pour the mixture into an empty bottling bucket. Siphon the beer from the fermenter over it. Distribute priming sugar evenly. Siphon into bottles and cap. Let sit for 1-2 weeks at 75˚.

White House Honey Ale

Ingredients

  • 2 (3.3 lb) cans light malt extract
  • 1 lb light dried malt extract
  • 12 oz crushed amber crystal malt
  • 8 oz Bisquit Malt
  • 1 lb White House Honey
  • 1 1/2 oz Kent Goldings Hop Pellets
  • 1 1/2 oz Fuggles Hop pellets
  • 2 tsp gypsum
  • 1 pkg Windsor dry ale yeast
  • 3/4 cup corn sugar for priming

Directions

  1. In an 12 qt pot, steep the grains in a hop bag in 1 1/2 gallons of sterile water at 155 degrees for half an hour. Remove the grains.
  2. Add the 2 cans of the malt extract and the dried extract and bring to a boil.
  3. For the first flavoring, add the 1 1/2 oz Kent Goldings and 2 tsp of gypsum. Boil for 45 minutes.
  4. For the second flavoring, add the 1/2 oz Fuggles hop pellets at the last minute of the boil.
  5. Add the honey and boil for 5 more minutes.
  6. Add 2 gallons chilled sterile water into the primary fermenter and add the hot wort into it. Top with more water to total 5 gallons. There is no need to strain.
  7. Pitch yeast when wort temperature is between 70-80˚. Fill airlock halfway with water.
  8. Ferment at 68-72˚ for about seven days.
  9. Rack to a secondary fermenter after five days and ferment for 14 more days.
  10. To bottle, dissolve the corn sugar into 2 pints of boiling water for 15 minutes. Pour the mixture into an empty bottling bucket. Siphon the beer from the fermenter over it. Distribute priming sugar evenly. Siphon into bottles and cap. Let sit for 2 to 3 weeks at 75˚.



Vanilla Ice Cream Day – Jefferson Made A Mean French Vanilla!

Today is Vanilla Ice Cream Day.
 
Though we may never know the exact day when ice cream was invented, many believe that today is the day, in 1904, that one of several vendors at the St. Louis World Fair was the first person to put ice cream onto a cone.

I’ll let other people fight over when the cone was invented, who put ice cream in it first, and whether they were able to finish eating it before it all melted in this super hot July weather. 
Instead, I’m gonna give you :

Thomas Jefferson’s Vanilla Ice Cream recipe:

You can also find this recipe at the Library of Congress website.
Just click on the image above to see the original.

As you are likely to not have an 18th century Ice Cream Maker lying around, It’s quite OK if you want to ignore Thomas’ instructions and use the instructions that came with your ice cream maker.  You’ll notice that there’s quite a few egg yolks in this recipe, so by today’s standards, it might be closer to a frozen custard, but certainly it is a French Vanilla.
It’s all ice cream to me! Enjoy!


Ingredients
2 bottles of good cream (I think he means 2 quarts)
6 yolks of eggs.
1/2 lb sugar. (about 1 cup)

Directions
Mix the yolks & sugar.
Put the cream on a fire in a casser-
ole, first putting in a stick of Vanilla.
When near boiling take it off &
pour it gently into the mixture
of eggs & sugar.
Stir it well.
Put it on the fire again stirring
it thoroughly with a spoon to
prevent it’s sticking to the casse-
role.
When near boiling take it off and
strain it thro a towel.
Put it in the Sabottiere (a sabottiere – aka sorbetière – is the inner canister of an ice cream maker, usually metal).
Then set it in ice an hour before
it is to be served, put into the
ice a handful of salt.
Put ice all around the Sabottiere.
 i.e. a layer of ice, a layer of salt
for three layers.
Put salt on the cover lid of the
Sabotiere & cover the whole with
ice.
Leave it still half a quarter of an hour.
Then turn the Sabottiere in the ice 10 minutes.
Open it to loosen with a spatula
the ice from the inner sides of
the Sabotiere.
Shut it & replace it in the ice.
Open it from time to time to de-
tach the ice from the sides.
When well taken (prise) stir it
well with the spatula.
Put it in moulds, justling it
well down on the knee.
Then put the mould into the
same bucket of ice.
Leave it there to the moment
of serving it.
To withdraw it, immerse the
mould in warm water,
turning it well till it
will come out & turn it
into a plate.



BBQ Brownies – It's a Thing.

THE SCENARIO:
It’s grilling season (yes, I know it’s March. Crazy, right?), and you have just grilled a ton of tasty animals on your charcoal grill. The coals are still plenty hot, and it seems like a huge waste to just let those coals burn out,
but you’re out of meat, and frankly, you’ve just eaten enough cow today to consider the species endangered.

So…
What do you do with a grill full of hot coals after you’re done grilling?

BBQ BROWNIES!
THAT’S WHAT!
[insert photo from the next time I make bbq brownies]
Now, before you get confused, we’re not slathering any red sauce on these bad boys. That would just be weird. Also, we’re not slow-smoking these brownies in hickory at 225 degrees for 12 hours. That would most likely leave you with a pan full of chocolate flavored charcoal anyway (which I’d find a way to use in my next rack of spare ribs).
We’re just baking brownies in an oven that happens to be outdoors and powered by hot coals.
It’s just cooler to call them BBQ Brownies,
because when you say it, people reply “huh?”.
 
MAKING BBQ BROWNIES:

This one isn’t rocket science, but you do need to pay close attention to your baking.

Read the entire recipe first. Once you get the idea, you’ll see it isn’t very complicated.
While your barbecue grill is still hot…

TURN YOUR GRILL INTO AN OVEN:
Grab an extra heavy duty baking sheet or 2 (stack them if you have more than one sheet).
The baking sheets provide a little bit of protection from burning.
Remove your grilling rack and move your hot coals to one side of your grill.
Replace the grilling rack and place the baking sheet/sheets on top of the rack over the non-coal side of the grill.
As many barbecue grills are different, you may want to do your own tinkering to get the best setup.
Your goal is to get even, indirect heat for most of your baking time, so however you achieve that is up to you.
If you can get your grill temp down to about 350-375 degrees F with the lid on, you’ll have much better results.
If your grill is hotter than that, you’ll need to keep a closer eye on your brownies.

MAKE SOME BROWNIE BATTER:
Grab your favorite box of brownie mix
(or make your own brownie mix),
prepare it as directed, then doctor-up your mix by adding things like
chocolate chips, marshmallows, nuts, bacon, caramels, pretzels,
potato chips,
foie gras, lobster macaroni, kobe beef,
(you should know which ingredients I’m kidding about by now)
or whatever else you like to put in your brownies.
then pour the brownie batter into a pan. I use a 13×9 inch pan,
but you can use whatever pan you like.

BAKE THEM BROWNIES!:

Place the brownie pan on top of the baking sheets and close the lid.
Rotate the pan after 10 minutes to make sure the brownies bake evenly.
Most likely, your brownies will be ready in about 20-25 minutes, but you should
check on your brownies every 5 minutes after the first 10 until they are baked to your likeness.
Then let them cool for at least 15-30 minutes before cutting them, or they will fall apart.
If you like your brownies chewy, you’ll want to pull them out a little bit before you think they are done.
If you smell your brownies starting to burn, remove them immediately and let them cool.
A little bit of char on BBQ Brownies is OK. You can always cut off the bottoms if they get too charred.

BBQ Brownies take a bit of practice, but they are totally worth the effort once you figure out the best way to make them on your grill.

May your own BBQ Brownie efforts go forth with minimal char.



Happy Home Made Soup Day! – Make Chicken Soup!

It’s Home Made Soup Day! – Make Chicken Soup

WARNING: If you have no cooking skills at all, please get some before trying to follow this recipe.
I highly recommend watching several months worth of cooking shows on television. Reality shows don’t count.
If you do have cooking skills, please READ THE WHOLE THING before trying to use this recipe. Otherwise, you may be running around the kitchen grabbing the extra bowls and strainers and stuff* that you’re gonna need.

Take 2 split chicken breasts and about 8-10 wings and brown them in a big-ass* stockpot (8qt or larger) with a bit of vegetable oil on med-high heat for a few minutes, then shuffle the pieces around until you get some good browning on the pieces of chicken. You don’t need to brown them completely – you’re not cooking them all the way (two words: MAILLARD REACTION).
Remove the chicken from the pot temporarily so you can add 2 quartered medium yellow onions, 2 or 3 stalks of celery, roughly chopped, 2 or 3 roughly chopped carrots (or several peeled baby carrots) and several smashed cloves of garlic. Add chicken back into the pot and then fill the pot with clean cold water until everything is covered. Add about 2-3 tablespoons of salt, several cracks of pepper, some rubbed sage, and any other spices you like (red pepper, etc.).You can also float a bay leaf in there, but just remember to “fish it out”* later.

Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer for 1 hour.
While it’s simmering, if you see any foamy-gray-soup-junk-residue* floating at the top of your soup pot, you can skim it off with a spoon and discard (or you can just strain it later).
Remove chicken breasts from pot (leave the wings and everything else in there) and let the pot of soup simmer* for another 2 hours.

When the chicken breasts are cool enough to handle, remove meat from the bones and chop or tear into bite size pieces. Store chicken pieces in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
When the 2 hours of additional simmering is done, turn off the heat.

Get a big heat-proof bowl (glass or metal) and a colander/strainer. and with a slotted spoon or set of tongs, remove all the remaining pieces of chicken and vegetables from the pot. Get as much out as you can. Get some bowls or storage containers (with lids) and separate the chicken from the vegetables the best you can. If you can separate any meat from the wing bones, go ahead, otherwise, you can discard (or eat) the wings. They’ve done their job. If you’re not serving your soup right away, put lids on those containers of meat and/or vegetables and put them in the fridge.

Get another large pot or container (or you might need two if your remaining pots aren’t big enough) and ladle/pour the stock through a strainer lined with cheesecloth (or a clean lint-free cotton towel) to filter the stock from any sediment or debris that was left in the pot of soup you just made.

If you like, you can recombine the soup with pieces of the vegetables and chicken, or keep them separate to add to the soup when you choose to serve it. When the soup has cooled a bit, you can store the soup in reusable microwaveable plastic containers in the fridge.

Most of the connective tissue from the wings of the chicken pieces should have melted into gelatin, which makes this soup incredibly awesome, but may look weird when you pull the soup out of the fridge the next day.
If the fridge-a-tated* soup jiggles, don’t worry. This is the sign of a really good stock. Use it as-is, for adding flavor to rice or other dishes, or as a base for any number of soup recipes.

Questions? Ask someone else. I’m just a cook. 🙂
Bon Appetit!

*a technical term