Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Google is about to make Apple Pie

I remember Microsoft's bailout of Apple: Back in the early 1990s, I was working as a technical sales liason for a vertical integrator and part of my job was to keep up with the general trends in the industry. I spent more than a little time in meetings with clients who had one or two Apple users that needed to be integrated into their network. They never went well, and usually ended with a sulking graphics or marketing guy who didn't want to play with the rest of the gang walking out of the meeting. Over the years I found this scenario to be a pretty accurate synopsis of Apple's corporate attitude as well.  The reason they needed the bailout - from Jobs' archenemy Gates, no less - was that Apple was picking fights with Microsoft, IBM, Novell and SCO , and so were racking up huge legal bills while generally being ignored because no one paid much attention to Apple in the enterprise, it was irrelevant in business applications. Added to that was the first inkling that Jobs was not the boy wonder he claimed to be: after a slew of technological and marketing disasters based on nothing but buy-hype, Apple was on the verge of bankruptcy. Microsoft did indeed bail them out, and regardless of the millions of fanboys screaming to drown out the facts, nothing will change that history. Why did Gates save Apple? Maybe he was hoping that Jobs would see that there was room for everyone at the table. Maybe he worried about the future (and sanity) of his one-time friend. One thing was clear: Apple wasn't interfering with business enterprise applications, so perhaps he thought "no harm, no foul". Jobs, on the other hand, revealed himself as a truly psychopathic villain in the ensuing years, not a techological genius but a very adept liar and thief. Now Apple has an army of cult-followers, who are reminiscent of Tea Party members - armed with the latest sound-bytes and false accolades that they're "the best and the smartest" - but in reality they are just having their frightened egos stroked while being stolen blind. That's not to say that having an army of mindless followers is a bad thing... wait, yes, that's exactly what I'm saying: Apple has shot itself in the foot so many times (usually on the heels of the rare instance that they actually got something right) that those of us who have been in IT for more than a couple of decades simply sit back and wait for the shit to it the fan. Much like the Chick-Fil-A debacle, all that will come of this will be the revelation of the true colors of those who blindly follow an ideologue- the rest of us will simply get our chicken sandwich elsewhere...

Here's my prediction for the outcome of this fight: Ever seen a huge kid get bullied one time too many just because they're the biggest kid? Most of you have seen what happens when the big kid finally snaps: in a fair fight, the Big Kid usually ends up demolishing the Little Napoleon and his posse of fans. Google is moving carefully to make sure this is a fair fight, and Apple will have to step off at long last. Jobs' legacy/Apple and their fan-boys - they are the little bully-shits who you see strutting around the school-yard - picking fights with the Big Guy (Google), whose first response is to try to suck it up and not fight back, let the little bully have their square of turf. Make no mistake, it is Google who has the upper hand in this fight- regardless of how one feels about the company, they do know their stuff when things get ugly - and, like the bully who foolishly picks a fight with an Aikido master, Apple is about to become a victim of its own momentum.

Let me break it down using the headlines of the past couple of weeks. Apple's latest "victory" against Samsung simply accomplished two things: First, it established that Apple knows very well that it can't compete in the world markets - its price point is too high and its foreign labor standards have been revealed as draconian- so it behaves much like the RIAA/MPAA and tries to sue every single entity it encounters. Second, the jury in the Samsung case wasted no time admitting that it was taken over the first day by the foreman, an unabashed Apple fanatic, who openly stated that he had no need to look at the facts or read the evidence; he behaved exactly the way an Apple fan-boy would be expected to behave if he were handed that level of responsibility. Samsung will appeal this decision, and may even join forces with Motorola/Google to crush Apple in future litigation; it's happened before, and it looks like it will happen again. Wanna argue about Apple's position as "the biggest company in the world"? I have more than a passing familiarity with capitalization and its sensitivity to public perception: When they have their asses handed to them their stock price will suffer, and so as far as those "top market capitalization" arguments are concerned: they are nothing more than stock-price hype, located and sourced in the United States with heavy payoffs to China and a few judicial trade committees in Europe. Face it, most of the phone users on the planet don't have iPhones or iPads, they have much more versatile (and less expensive) devices that use Google's products. No amount of sneering or multi-syllabic insults can counter the fact that Apple has built its fortune and reputation on an elitist strategy - one that has been very successful in their monolithic and wholly-owned market. The problem with that market is that it's reached its saturation level, and in reality has to feed on its own limited demographic. I seriously doubt that there will ever be an "affordable" Apple device, it's not in their marketing plans, and as an elitist toy for DINKs and their ilk it has no need to accommodate the rest of the world. Meanwhile, the rest of the world will support Google/Android and tell the fanboys to have fun with their ridiculously overpriced toys. Or not, as Google just might force Apple to remove their products from the world's shelves - just as Apple has tried to do to Samsung, Google, Microsoft and Motorola just to name a few of those Big Kids...

Friday, December 30, 2011

Mister C's Beef Tenderloin Roast with Cognac Rosemary Dijon Cream Sauce

New Years' Eve used to be a performance night for me, so the fare was usually hastily-eaten and best-forgotten- usually a burger or sandwich courtesy of our host venue. Now that we've come to our senses and generally stay home on that most insane of party nights, I take the time to prepare a formal dinner for the family here at GreenWood.

As I was shopping for our holiday feasting a local market advertised a butchers' special for beef, so I picked up an excellent beef tenderloin at a great price. Here at GreenWood we are serious about our beef: we don't eat it often, so when we do I make sure it's memorable. I also found a bottle of cognac that someone had gifted me some time back, and as I'm not really a fan of the liquor I decided I would use it in some way for our New Years' Eve dinner. The recipe as follows is inspired by a couple of recipes I came across from home chefs and a meal I enjoyed some years ago in Chicago. Beef tenderloin is very easy to prepare, it has a rich and almost buttery taste that holds up extremely well on its own- but when coupled with a spice rub and a decadent sauce it becomes sublime. Suggested sides are potatoes of any sort, julienned carrots in an herbed reduction, broccoli with sesame or nuts, root vegetables such as parsnips and beets- basically any hearty vegetable which can hold its own with the beef and cream sauce. A spicy red wine such as a Tempranillo, a mature Shiraz or a fat-bottomed Cabernet will complement the meal. The recipe as posted will easily serve 6-8 hearty portions, or 8-10 when a full-course dinner is desired.

The Roast
5lb Beef Tenderloin Roast, trimmed of tendon and excess fat
2 Tbsp Dry Mustard
2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
Whole Sage Leaves to Garnish the top of the roast
Cracked Peppercorns to cover the top of the roast

Cognac Rosemary Dijon Cream Sauce
1 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream or Creme Fraiche
1/3 Cup Cognac
3 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
1 Tbsp Fresh Chopped Rosemary
Ground Pepper to taste

Remove the roast from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature, about 1.5hrs. Heat your oven to 400F.  Rub the roast with the dry mustard and brown sugar and set aside for a few minutes. Heat a heavy skillet on medium-high heat, then brown the roast on all sides. Set the skillet aside, as you'll use the browned bits and juices to make the cream sauce while the roast is resting after coming from the oven. Add the sage leaves to cover the top of the roast, then add the cracked peppercorns. Place the roast on a low rack in a shallow roasting pan and cook until rare or medium-rare at most, 125F-130F internally, for a 5lb roast begin checking the temperature at 20 minutes. Remove the roast from the pan and tent loosely to rest for 15 minutes. While the roast is resting, add about half the cognac to the pan to deglaze it. Heat the skillet on medium-high heat  until it gets fragrant and begins to barely smoke, then remove it from the heat and add the rest of the cognac to the skillet to deglaze. Add the cognac and juices from the pan to the skillet and return it the stovetop on medium heat, whisk in the cream and rosemary, then add the dijon mustard. Reduce by 1/3, whisking until the sauce has thickened a bit, remove from the stove and pour into a serving dish. Slice the roast according to the number of servings desired and spoon a generous amount of the sauce over the meat. Serve immediately with your chosen sides and enjoy!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Hallow-weekend! Dead Man's Dinner

It's Hallows' Season! Hallows' is the time of the traditional Celtic New Year, and we usually have a nice fire in the woodstove and harvest the last of our garden. It's all fun, but aside from good old trick-or-treating our favorite event is Dead Man's Dinner. Yes, it was inspired by the Oingo Boingo tune, and we kind of follow that theme for our Dinner.  We usually start by carving a few pumpkins while dinner is cooking, remembering folks who have passed in the past, particularly the ones who have passed on during the year while having soda (it's like liquor to our kids- mainly forbidden and make them act kooky) and lots of cocktails for me and Ash. I have tons of appropriate music and playlists, so it's loud enough to wake the Dead and let 'em know Dinner's on the way. We put on campy horror movies, build a new fire in the woodstove and wait for dinner to.... manifest... (insert spooky laugh here). Here's a bit of a digression to entertain you while I'm... looking for... the... rum:

The spiritual tradition is taken from is a combination of Native American and ancient European harvest festivals, where the Ancestors and recently-deceased were invited to come and visit, hang out with those who remember them and then PARTY til the dawn. In some societies it was quite debauched, after the initial solemnity of respectfully asking the Dead to join the Living for a night, a festival replete with pigging out and drinking copious amounts of the previous years' spirits. Traditionally children were excluded from what was a very adult time: what kid wants to be at a dinner where Mommy and Daddy start the night with something like the Last Supper but ends up resembling a tailgate party at a Pink Floyd concert? Right-O... Well, we don't do it like that here... not anymore, at least... plus, our harvest consists of tomatoes and peppers- pretty tame stuff. What's important to us is that we teach the kids that the Dead are immortal through our memory of them, that we miss them and this is our way of keeping their memories close by. Some traditions (I'm using the term loosely here) teach that the meal is eaten in silence out of respect for the Mighty Dead, but nobody I know wants to be remembered with tears or grief hence the Dead Man's Dinner motif.  Aren't you fond of your departed whom you've chosen to remember? Were they fun to hang out with? Then have a good time, like you're glad they've dropped by! Any excuse to whip up a feast, I say. And when I've passed, remember that I like rum and rare meat. And Snickers Bars...

We like meat, so Dead Man's Dinner usually includes something a bit out of the ordinary like a rib roast or Cornish hens. Some years we get creative with the sides and I try to make them campy with references to horror movies or haunted houses, lots of candles and red and orange colors in the food. Most importantly, we remember our Dearly Departed and invite them to dinner, and the kids have learned over the years that we do not simply wink out when our physical body breathes its last- the soul moves on after death, but there's a Party in our house every year and the Dead are always welcome!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Moqueca (Brazilian Fish Stew)

I had this dish many years ago while traveling, it was served as part a a "big dinner" by our hosts. The only fish soup I had tasted before was bouillabaisse (I hated it), and when our host Rolando announced that our second course was to be a fish stew my heart sank. I had to be polite, as my business - and perhaps my safety - depended upon this man's good graces but I was not looking forward to fish in a bowl. I was proven wrong, much to my surprise. Our server brought a wide bowl to the table that had a bed of white rice, filled with coconut milk and brilliant peppers, with big chunks of white fish, scallions and a bright orange oil drizzled over it all. It smelled like something sweet and spicy, not fishy at all. After the first bite I was a fan, and although I had it a few more times on my trip I never looked for it when I came back home.
A few months ago I had some big fillets of ocean fish and was looking for a new recipe as an alternative to the obligatory deep-frying or baking with breading. Then I remembered: rewind twenty-five years or so, back to a tropical locale and the amazing fish stew I discovered: My Brazilian hosts called it Moqueca. Since I prepared it that first time it has become one of those indulgences that I make every few months. It's tangy, creamy and spicy all at the same time with big chunks of fish marinated in lime to complement the peppers and coconut milk. I always make enough so it can be enjoyed as leftovers the next day, after the flavors have mingled overnight.
Mister C's Moqueca
Serves 4-6
2-3 Lbs White Fish Steaks (Cod, Halibut, Plaice, Sea Bass, etc)
1 Tsp Annatto Seeds
3 Tbsp Canola Oil
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
4 Cloves Garlic, minced (4 Tbsp)
3 Tbsp Lime Juice
1 Tsp Coarse Kosher or Sea Salt
1 Large Sweet Onion, diced
3 Tbsp Scallions, chopped
4 Medium Tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 Medium Sweet Bell Peppers, chopped (pick your favorite colors)
1/2 Medium Green Bell Pepper, chopped
14oz Coconut Milk (equivalent 1 can)
Black Pepper and Hot Sauce to Taste
Serve over rice in wide shallow bowls. Suggested serving portion is 1 cup of rice per bowl.
Heat the canola oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, add the annatto seeds and cook for 10 minutes until the oil turns bright orange. Strain and discard the seeds, then pour the oil into a small dish and set aside for plating. Start your rice and other sides you wish to serve with the stew.
Cut the fish into large pieces and put into a large bowl or dish. Add the lime juice, garlic and salt to he bowl and toss to coat the fish thoroughly. Set the bowl aside (countertop or refrigerator) to marinate while the rest of the dish is prepared.
In a large, deep skillet or saucepan heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the onion and peppers. Sautee 3-5 minutes, until the onions begin to soften and turn translucent. Add the tomatoes and cook another 3 minutes, then add the hot sauce and black pepper to taste. Reduce the heat to low and add the fish in a single layer. Pour the coconut milk over the fish, shaking the pan gently to make sure the liquids mingle and the fish doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. Cover the pan and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes. Give it a gentle shake occasionally to keep things from sticking.
Plate the rice, then place a generous amount of the stew over the rice - I usually add a few spoonfuls of the coconut milk from the pan for extra goodness. Drizzle some of the annatto oil over the dish and garnish with a generous pinch of chopped scallions.
I consider this a complete meal, but it may also be served as a main entree with bread and salad. Although this is a fish dish, a hearty red wine complements the heaviness of the coconut milk and provides an interesting mix of tannins to the meal.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Bountiful But Beautifully Easy Thanksgiving Recipes 2010

Soups and Hors D’oeuvres
Soup is usually an entrée in our home, whether a classic French Onion or a hearty meat and vegetable with chunks of bread on the side. Thanksgiving, especially if you’re entertaining for the day, offers a number of opportunities for soup to complement light hors d’oeuvres, and gives the gentle cook a reason to get some food in the belly while preparing the feast. Here is a quick-ish soup along with some complementary pre-feast nibbles for your consideration:
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup (serves approximately 8)

This is perhaps the best-known Thanksgiving soup, and there are at least a few dozen recipes that will entice even the most hard-core Curcurbita-phobe to have at least a taste. My recipe is nothing too fancy, and can be prepared the day before and frozen in order to save time and space.

4lbs Butternut Squash (2 med squash), halved lengthwise, clean and set aside the seeds
2 Tbsp Olive Oil, divided
1 Tbsp Soy Sauce
2 Tbsp Rubbed or Fresh Chopped Sage
4 Cups Chicken Broth
½ Cup grated Carrot
½ Tsp Ground Cinnamon
½ Tsp Ground Nutmeg
1 Tsp Salt
Ground Pepper to taste
½ cup Heavy Cream or Half-and-Half
2 Tbsp Butter
2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
Preheat your oven to 400F.  Dice the squash into 1-inch pieces and place into a baking dish with 1 Tbsp of the olive oil and toss to coat. In a small saucepan on low heat add the carrots, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg, stirring constantly until the sugar is melted and the carrots are soft and beginning to caramelize. Pour the mix from the saucepan over the squash chunks, toss thoroughly to coat and arrange the pieces in a single layer in the baking dish. Bake for one hour, tossing to recoat the squash after 30 minutes.  Mix the remaining olive oil, soy sauce and the sage in a small dish until well blended, then add the seeds to the dish. Stir to coat the seeds and lay them out on a cookie sheet or shallow pan in a single layer. Drizzle the remaining soy/sage mix over the seeds, then put them into the oven to bake with the squash until browned (usually 30-45 minutes), remove from the oven and allow them to cool.
 In a large saucepan heat the chicken broth until just boiling, then add the cooked squash and stir until mixed. Simmer for 15 minutes and the allow to cool until just warm to the touch. Transfer to a food processor (or use a blender or hand-mixer in the saucepan) and blend until smooth. It will be a bit thick when you’re finished with the blending, then transfer the soup back into the saucepan and slowly heat on low, slowly stirring in the cream or half-and-half until rich and creamy. At this point you can cool the soup and refrigerate or even freeze it to be reheated just before serving. If serving immediately, pour into a tureen or individual small ramekins and garnish with the roasted seeds.  

Chocolate Crostini (serves 8-12)

Some readers may think that chocolate should wait until dessert, but this is Thanksgiving- I say “why wait?”  This recipe is super-quick and easy to make with ingredients most people always have on hand, and chocolate as an appetizer is usually greeted enthusiastically:
1 Crusty Baguette, cut into ½- to-1-inch slices
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Bar Dark (Bittersweet) Chocolate, divided to match the bread slices

Turn your oven to broil, or set your toaster oven to high. Line a cookie sheet with foil and place the bread in a single layer, not touching. Place under the broiler for no more than two minutes until lightly browned and toasted. Flip the bread and toast the other side in the same manner. Remove from the broiler or toaster oven, turn off the heat but leave the oven closed (more about why in a moment) and flip the bread again without allowing it to cool too much. No, I’m not compulsive- the side that was toasted first will have an indentation from toasting, and acts as a little “dish” to hold the chocolate. A chef-friend of mine- a real chef – taught me that about twenty years ago. Next, drizzle a bit of the olive oil over each piece of toast, enough so each piece has a decent amount. Next, place a piece of the dark chocolate in each little indentation on the toast. It will begin to melt just a little from the warm bread, and put the tray back into the warm oven (not on, but still hot) for a couple of minutes. Remove from the oven and set it down firmly on the countertop; if you should drop it a few inches it would do the same trick. Why? It “sets” the chocolate in that little dent in the toast, plus it will make your guests wonder what you’re about in the kitchen.  For an added kick, add the merest pinch of red pepper or a couple of red pepper flakes.

 I’m no fool: There are so many variations of sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, casseroles and the like which find their way to the table at Thanksgiving that I will not insult you or your ability to make your own. However, it’s a good idea to have a few quick and interesting recipes that will satisfy the need to add something a bit different to the menu- but not so different that it seems incongruous.  I love green beans, parsnips, potatoes and carrots: I grew up eating lots of them, and my Dad still grows beans and potatoes in his garden.  Here are three fairly quick and very simple sides to toss into the Thanksgiving fray:
Honey Almond Green Beans (serves 6-8)
These are always a favorite with kids: It’s very colorful, crunchy and sweet.  It takes about 10 minutes from beginning to end if you’re practiced at cutting vegetables, so it can also be whipped up at the last minute as long as you have room for another pan on your stove.

8 Cups Fresh Green Beans, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 Red Bell Pepper, sliced and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
½ Tbsp Butter
¼ Cup Sliced Almonds, toasted or raw
1 Tsp Pepper, coarse ground or cracked
2-4 Tbsp Honey (depending on taste)
Salt to taste

Heat the olive oil and butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. When the butter is melted and hot, add the almonds and toss until they are just beginning to brown. Add the green beans and bell pepper and toss until coated. Add the honey, salt and pepper and toss to coat again. Increase the heat to medium-high and sautee 5 minutes, tossing to assure even cooking. Place into a covered dish to keep warm until serving.

Orange Ginger Beets
We love beets. We love the greens, the roots, everything about them. We especially love the way it looks like a massacre has just concluded when they’re sliced up for cooking.  Unfortunately, beets by themselves are a bit bland for all their sweetness. So, we use the sturdy root as a foundation on which to add orange and ginger and then cook them to tender perfection. This recipe assumes 3-4 beet slices per serving, adjust more less as you desire:
6 Medium Beets, greens removed, scrubbed or peeled and beards (roots) trimmed
1 Cup Orange Juice, with pulp (fresh squeezed is best, just save some of the pulp)
2 Tbsp Fresh Grated Ginger or Ginger Paste
1 Tbsp Olive Oil or Butter
In a large skillet or saucepan, heat the olive oil or butter on medium-low heat. Slice the beets into ½-inch thick slices, cut to fit the pan in as few layers as possible. When the oil/butter is hot, place the sliced beets into the pan and coat with the hot oil. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep from sticking. While the beets are simmering, mix the orange juice and ginger together until well-blended. When the beets have begun to soften a bit, increase the heat to medium, stir the orange-ginger mixture once more and add it to the pan, stirring to mix the beet juice and the orange juice. Cover and simmer another 15 minutes or until the beets are tender, stirring occasionally to keep from sticking. For a thicker sauce, simmer uncovered until the liquid is reduced by one-third. Place in a serving dish and serve warm.
Parsnips and Carrots in a Rum Butter Rosemary Glaze (serves 6-8)
Image courtesy McCormick's

Those readers who know me well are aware that I have a fondness for working spiced rum into many dishes. Here’s one that you can prepare while making sure the rum is properly spiced, in your glass as well as in the pan. I don’t shy away from the butter in this one, because it adds such a savory counterpoint to the sharpness of the parsnips and the greenness of the rosemary:

1 Pound Medium Parsnips, scrubbed and trimmed
1 Pound Medium Carrots, scrubbed and trimmed
2-3 Tbsp Fresh Chopped Rosemary (more if you like)
4 Tbsp Butter
½ Tbsp Olive Oil (to keep the butter from burning)
2 Oz Silver or other Spiced Rum
2 Tsp Salt, divided

In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil on medium heat. Slice the parsnips and carrots into 1-inch pieces and add them to the pan, tossing to coat with the oil. Add 1 tsp salt to “sweat” the vegetables and cover for 5 minutes, tossing occasionally to keep from sticking. Add the butter slowly, tossing the vegetables to keep it from burning, then add the rosemary. Toss until the rosemary is mixed into the vegetables, and then add the rum. Cook until the liquid begins to thicken, then increase the heat to medium-high. Toss or stir until a glaze begins to form, then remove from the heat. Place in a serving dish and serve hot.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving Menu 2010, Round Two: Stuffing vs. Dressing

Stuffing vs. Pan Dressing
There’s always been a debate between aficionados of stuffing and dressing. Stuffing is more or less self-explanatory, while dressing seems to have a more varied definition based upon regional influences. One would tend to think that there’s not much in the way of comparison, as the only thing stuffing and dressing have in common is bread, but my ears have been burned by the vehement opinions of friends and family. My take on the matter is that stuffing can be prepared either stovetop or baked inside the bird whereas dressing is baked in a pan separate from the main entrée. Here are a couple of recipes that you can add to your Thanksgiving Day table, to quell the strident opinion that may arise should one or the other be left out of the day’s offerings.

Mrs. Pat’s Pan Dressing
When I was growing up my Mom always made pan dressing with Thanksgiving dinner, many times her mother- Grandma Ruby- would also show up with a slightly different but still-substantial pan of dressing. It was dark and savory, more like a casserole or bread pie with cornbread and chicken. It was actually a meal in itself, and Mom always makes an extra pan for late-night leftovers when the munchies set in. I find pan dressing to be the perfect complement to the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Special we always watch later in the evening. It’s my comfort food of choice, and I will eat an entire pan of this stuff if I’m not prevented from doing so. As an entrée-type offering I’ve added instructions for the extra step of adding chicken to the recipe, but as listed below it is offered as a competitor or alternative to the side of stuffing. This is best prepared the day before and left to chill in the refrigerator overnight to let the flavors mingle. Just take it out and let it return to room temperature before baking so it won’t go soggy.

4 cups Cornbread, Crumbled
2 Cups White or other Loaf Bread, Torn
1 Large Onion, Diced
4 Stalks Celery, Diced
2 Tbsp Fresh Chopped or Rubbed Sage (fresh for a stronger flavor)
2 Tbsp Butter or Olive Oil
2 Tsp Poultry Seasoning
2 Large Eggs, Beaten

Put the bread into a large mixing bowl. Heat the butter or olive oil at medium heat, then sautee the celery and onion until translucent. Add the broth, sage and poultry seasoning and stir for 2 minutes. Add the broth and vegetable mix to the bread, stir and allow to cool a bit. Then mix in the eggs until the mixture is lumpy and pourable but not soupy. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours (preferably overnight) to allow the flavors to mix, then allow to return to room temperature. Pour into a greased (or sprayed) 9 x 12 baking or casserole dish. Preheat your oven to 350F and bake until crisp on the edges and a toothpick comes out clean. Cut into squares in the dish and serve.

Entrée Option: Bake whole small chicken, cut meat from breast, legs and thighs into strips and boil the bones and carcass for broth.  Add the chicken meat to the mixture and bake as usual.

Mister C’s Fruited Nut Stuffing

Some of you who have been fans of Cookin’ With Mister C for a while will recognize the stuffing recipe I’m reproducing here as the Fruited Nut Stuffing I use for Cornish Hens. Stuffing generally takes two forms: Stuffing made in a pan and stuffing that’s actually stuffed into the bird. They are very different dishes: one is fluffy and kind of crisp and the other is dense and very complex with the juices of the bird cooked into the bread mix.

4 Cups Stale Bread, cut into small cubes (whole grain or multigrain is good because it’s very firm)
1 Cup Chopped Celery
1 Cup Chopped Onion
2 Tbsp Butter (just enough to moisten the bread)
1/4 Cup Chopped Walnuts, Almonds or Pistachios
1/4 Cup Dried Apricots, finely chopped
1/4 Cup Dried Cranberries, finely chopped
2 Tbsp Olive Oil and Butter, combined equal parts (1 Tbsp each, warmed and mixed)

In a large sautee pan or cast iron skillet heat the olive oil/butter mixture and add the onions and celery, sauteeing until just soft then remove it to a bowl. In the skillet add the remaining butter and bread chunks, moving the bread until it is moistened then stir until the bread is very slightly browned. Then add the onions, celery, nuts and fruit to the bread and stir on medium-low heat until it’s thoroughly mixed, steamy and soft. Then increase the heat to medium-high or high and toss until the bread is lightly browned and just barely toasty. Remove the stuffing from the heat and cover it to keep it moist until time to move it to a bowl for serving. If you are making this to stuff the bird, triple the ingredients (dividing the portions as needed to accommodate pan size)- trust me, you’ll be surprised how much stuffing it takes to stuff a turkey! If you make more than you need, just plate the rest and use it as garnish when the bird comes from the oven.

Tomorrow: Soups, Cheeses and Other Hors D’Oeuvres

Sensible Suggestions for Thankful Thoughts: Thanksgiving 2010 Recipes

Hello friends- it’s that time of year! Cooks and nervous Significant Others will once again begin the planning and fretting over the Thanksgiving Day dinner: How large a turkey should I bake? Should we have ham? What about both? Dressing or stuffing? Sweet potatoes or mashed? Gravy? Soups? Green Beans? Desserts? Wine and Cheese? Oh dear… but before we dive in I need to let you know that the Cookin' With Mister C part of this blog will be moving to it's own website: Cookin' With Mister C , yes, I know: how original. Hey, I figure Go With What You Know...  Go ahead- bookmark it, I'll wait.

I wouldn’t be Mister C if I didn’t offer at least a few suggestions, completely unsolicited (like advice from your old Auntie, who manages to hover at your elbow while sitting in the recliner in the den) but this is the season for unsolicited and vaguely helpful… er, help.  So, I decided to publish a half-dozen recipes that you may enjoy or decide not to prepare for that all-important day of family togetherness, heavy social drinking and reminding oneself of why you all live so very far away from your relatives.

So, with much further ado- we’ll start with the Big One- the turkey.

Turkey: Now, I’m not going to get involved in issues of whether frying or baking makes for a moister or more tender bird. Let’s just say that I’ve fried my share of turkeys, but for tradition’s sake I’ll stick to the baked variety.  Oh, yes: and whatever size turkey you decide to bake, cook it at 350F until it reaches 165F in the thickest part of the bird. It will continue to cook after you remove it from the oven, although USDA recommends 180F I find that the turkey dries out as the internal temperature can rise as high as 220F before beginning to cool. That makes for one dry bird.

This Turkey looks a bit DRY-
I’m a big fan of glazes and various basting concoctions for all manner of fowl. It helps to keep the meat moist and adds an additional layer of flavor in what’s usually reserved for a gravy platform. Do yourself a favor and save the gravy for the rolls and potatoes, and whip up a nice baste or glaze for the bird. Here are a couple of each to try out next time you think the turkey was a little boring.

Mister C’s Orange Ginger Sweet Turkey Baste
4 Large Juice Oranges, peeled and sectioned
¼ Cup Red Wine
¼ Cup Dark Honey or Brown Sugar
3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 Tbsp Butter (not margarine)
2 Tbsp Grated Ginger or Ginger Paste

This makes a sweet, tart essence as a baste – actually it’s very light so be sure to season the bird with salt and pepper or better yet, brine the day before. In a food processor, add everything except the butter and pulse until chunky but not smooth. Heat the mixture in a medium saucepan (except the butter) to just boiling and remove from the heat. Add the butter, stirring until it is completely mixed. Pour the warm mix into a small dish or bowl and baste the bird with a brush before placing in the oven. As the bird bakes, baste with the mix every 20 minutes until the skin turns golden or you’re out of baste, then place foil over the pan and continue baking until done. It helps to keep the basting bowl on the stovetop or other warm place so the butter won’t thicken. Before carving, spoon out a quarter-cup or so of the juices, mix them in the basting dish with whatever’s left over and give the turkey a final baste so it’ll glisten for your efforts.

To make a glaze, double the oranges, honey and wine, then reduce by at least half or until it’s thickened. Rub the bird with a thin layer of olive oil and then use half the glaze to cover the bird before baking. Baste again in one hour, making sure to cover the entire bird. This should caramelize and make a sticky glaze when the bird is done.

Mister C’s Rosemary Sage Baste

The idea behind a baste is to keep the skin of the bird moist by flooding it with juices and other savory stuff until just before the turkey is done, then browning the skin the last half-hour or so. A baste takes a lot more effort, but it does make for a more “marinated” taste and is pretty much guaranteed to give you a tender bird.

¼ Cup Olive Oil or Vegetable Oil
3 Cloves Garlic, Crushed
¼ Cup White Wine
3 Tbsp Chopped Rosemary
3 Tbsp Rubbed or Fresh Sage

This is easy: Put everything in a food processor or blender, puree until smooth or it resembles Italian dressing- your preference. Some people don’t like the texture of herbs so process according however you like, it won’t affect the flavor. Pour the mix into a small dish or cup, and either brush onto the bird before baking or use a bulb. A brush will use less to cover the bird so you can use up the basting mix while the bird is baking. If you use a bulb, use no more than half the baste before baking- you’ll want to add a bit of the fresh baste each time you open the oven, and it will slowly infuse the juices cooking out of the bird. When you baste (every 20 minutes or so), first baste with the juices from the pan, then a bit of the fresh baste. This baste is very light, more of an herb essence for those who prefer their turkey less rich and ready for the gravy or cranberry sauce.

Tomorrow: Stuffing vs. Pan Dressing