What? Exactly. I don't even like turkey. I always pass it up in favour of the ham at Christmas. Which is why there is an extremely large turkey still frozen in my refrigerator as of this very moment. Every year, I volunteer at People's Congregation Church in upper northwest D.C. handing out food baskets at Thanksgiving and Christmas. My former bosslady (and awesome friend) Carol invited me three years ago (her mother, Shirley, runs the show) and I've been coming back for more ever since. I've even made some church friends (heyyyyy, Gloria). It's like an episode of Amen. Everyone at Peoples is so friendly and welcoming that you can't really say "mm, no thanks, I'm not a fan of turkey" when they offer one to you. Especially when Shirley is doing the offering. You just humbly accept, bow your head and keep it moving. I mean, who says no to a 20 pound bird? Don't answer that. So ever since Christmas, my gifted twenty pounder has been hanging out in my freezer. My very very small freezer. Well, it's time I freed up some space, so guess what this post is about?
The 5 days of turkey. Fuuuuuuuuuuck. I don't take kindly to leftovers, so I can't imagine what I'll do with leftovers of a food I don't really like in the first place. So I'm going to knock it out with one shot. 5 dishes out of one turkey. Whatchasay???
Monday: A roast turkey is a cliche. When you picture the white picket fence, the perfect 50s American family, they always seem to be serving up a turkey. It's always perfectly trussed and perfectly golden. It's always served along side that freaky green bean casserole which I've honestly never had. I've never been to Olive Garden either, so there. There are always leftovers (presumably not of the green bean casserole) in the fridge that get the inevitable pick. I'm going to let you in on a weird but factual dish I totally enjoy. It's completely gross, but it's the first thing I make from a lovely roast chicken. In this case, a lovely roast turkey. Sliced meat and mayonnaise. I hit that straight, but if you need a slice of whole grain bread, have at it. I know. It's bad. Almost as bad as my other secret obsession, pork rinds and champagne. Hold the judgement, please and thank you.
Calories: 310; Fat: 8g; Carbs: 23g; Protein: 38g
Tuesday: Moving right along, after I've had my fill of fatty goo on protein, I set my sights on getting the turkey off the bone. Makes it much easier to work with. Next up was a delicious croquette that I served up with a strawberry vinaigrette and spicy arugula. Whip up the croquette like you would if it were salmon. An egg, onions, parsley, scallions, breadcrumbs, yadda yadda yadda. Brown them in a bit of olive oil and you're done. For the vinaigrette, combine a bit of strawberry preserve and apple cider vinegar. Slowly drizzle in olive oil until it's a light feathery consistency. Drizzle over the croquette and arugula. This pretty much adds the fat to this dish, so if you want to cut a good 14g of fat off this, forgo the vinaigrette and just use a bit of strawberry preserve for garnish. It's delicious y'all and I'm going to go ahead and put my name on this combo even if I'm not the first one to come up with it. La vinaigrette de fraise de Devrouax. So simple, so incredible.
Calories: 388; Fat: 20g; Carbs: 24g; Protein: 27g
Wednesday: Have a good bit of shredded turkey to handle, so I put to use that last lone package of taco seasoning and guess what? You guys are so smart. It's a basic setup here. Sautee the turkey with onion and taco seasoning and dress it up however you like. I have absolutely no imagination today, and no ingredients, so my tacos are an interesting breed. Apparently, I'd forgotten about that cheddar hiding in the back of my refrigerator, so in the trash it went (it's so sad, so sad to waste food). Replacement? Parmesan. I know. Hmmm, romaine? Not today, darlings... today it's arugula (it's *shocker* left over from the croquettes). Yes, lovelies, we're making that stretch (it will be the accompaniment to an egg salad sandwich later this week for lunch). I did have a tomato, so there it was... the most international taco on the planet. I made three and still had filling left over, so guess who brought nachos to the neighbors? You guys are so SMART!
Calories: 331; Fat: 10g; Carbs: 16g; Protein: 39g
Thursday: Feeling like I need a hug today, so let's put aside the "skinny" in our bitch and rock out some comfort food. Moderation, moderation, and I just can't resist (tastebuds were GIDDY). Turkey Pot Pie! I don't believe in substitutions (low fat, non fat whatevers with chemical substitutes do not interest me at all), so we're going to use the pastry, flat out. I just won't use as much as I'd like. I would normally try to get around this, try to find a delicious alternative to flaky, golden, buttery crust. But it's similar to finding a substitute for a roux or vegan bacon. The choices just pale in comparison to the real thing. I'm taking the easy way out. Did I mention that when Shirley tossed the turkey my way, she also gave up canned goods, jiffy cornbread mix, margarine and hot dogs? Sure did! I used the mixed vegetables in a can for the veggies in the pie. It was very easy. Make a roux (butter and flour until it's even and frothy) then add the can of mixed vegetables. I can't believe I actually went the Sandy Lee route, but there it is... I see why she's adamant about cocktail time. Add chicken stock and let thicken until it's that classic pot pie consistency. Top with rolled out pastry (I like Dufour) and bake at 375 degrees until golden. Enjoy each and every bite, but for God's sake people, don't devour the whole thing... then promise 50 extra situps tomorrow.
Friday: Last day of turkey. Kind of glad, I must admit. It's all starting to taste the same. I said it once and I'll say it again. Not the biggest fan of turkey. So I'm going to put on my big girl pants and make a dish my mom used to make for me as a kid. It ensured I ate my peas and my mushrooms. Chicken Turkey a la King. The original recipe does not call for peas, but I dig on peas, rice, and chicken. It always does right by me. I'm going to be a magician (read: lazy cheater) and use the pot pie filling for the a la King. Abracadabra! It's magic! It's a little rainy out, a little cool with a nice breeze.... perfect for a little Mommy love....
photo credit: Norman Rockwell, Freedom From Want, 1943
Tonight, my Dad and I shared a bowl of yaka mee (yaka mein for all you sticklers). Growing up, yaka mee was my chicken soup. I didn't have it very often, despite how easy it was to make, but when I did it reminded me from where I came. It brought me back home.
Some things can bring it back immediately. Some things bring me right back to the house where I was raised in northwest D.C. Small things. The smell of popcorn made on the stove, the trumpet solo on Sunday Morning, walnuts in the shell with a nutcracker..... and yaka mee.
I can see my Dad right now, digging on a bowl for breakfast while catching up on EastEnders. For those of you who knew my Dad, you know how positively hilarious that last part is...
So in the last few days, I've felt like my Dad has been right next to me. Little things tipped me off to his visit. Super interesting excursions at work that he would have loved (mini CSI episode with Kari Bruwelheide, forensic anthropologist), special songs that randomly play on Pandora... back to back.... to back, and running into Jose Andres outside of PAUL (right?) in Penn Quarter. I can't properly explain it, but I feel like I wasn't the only one on the couch last night watching Murder on the Orient Express.
Anyway, tonight I took a trip back home, but in my very own kitchen in Bloomingdale. I didn't have all the traditional ingredients, but I made it work and it was delicious. Even more so with the Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce added at the end. The telltale sign my Dad was right there. Hot sauce is so much more his thing.
Miss you, Daddy. Happy Father's Day.
Tonight I used chicken stock where I should have used beef and pork where I should have used brisket. Apparently. That's the way some do it, but I suppose we mellowed it out up here. When I grew up, in place of the pork was chicken. Oh, and did I mention I used soba noodles instead of traditional spaghetti, but you get where I'm going, right?
Slice grilled pork into thin fillets and chop scallion for garnish. Prepare spaghetti pasta in salted water and hard boil an egg. Place pasta, pork, scallions and egg in a bowl and cover with chicken broth. Add a bit of soy sauce and hot chili sauce.
The Deal: Calories: 304; Fat: 13g; Protein: 29g; Carbs: 16g
Shut up. We've done it. Not a single thing in the fridge fermenting, turning unnatural colours, or growing legs and walking out altogether. I'm so jazzed I can hardly stand it. Here's what's left:
mustard greens romaine leaves acorn squash turnips red potatoes yukon gold potatoes pink lady apples spring onions eggs ground buffalo bacon milk yogurt
not much one can do with 2 ingredients but combine them together and hope for the best. I know the bacon fad is long over and the bastardization of the single entity that stands between me and a vegetarian lifestyle still irritates me, but there is no questioning it. Bacon makes everything better. Which is why I saved this particular ingredient for the lone mustard greens. Do you remember when you didn't like brussels sprouts until someone roasted them and added bacon? Yeah. Remember when a grilled cheese was just goo between bread until you added bacon and tomato? Yeah. You know how pancakes are just uber sweet without that salty bacon back flavor? Yeah.
I'm not going to go all mainstream and declare bacon the new IT ingredient (so 2008) and I won't even mention that I was using bacon as garnish in my bourbon YEARS ago. I'm not going to explain that everytime a friend sees some ridiculous pairing of bacon with a random (lip balm? seriously?) I immediately get an email or a photo via text message. Won't even tell you how I'll squeeze onto the sofa next to Mandeep warning him, "move over bacon, here comes something leaner" (those in their 30s will remember that one). No, no, I'll shut up about that and stick to the facts.
Well, here goes. Super simple, super delicious.
Crisp up the bacon in a pan then set aside. Use the drippings from the bacon to sautee a bit of onion and garlic (these are staples people) then add the mustard greens.
Soften a bit before adding water or chicken stock. Simmer for about 30 minutes. Prepare brown or white rice (depending on gluten tolerance... I got you, Hasselbeck) and mix in the greens.
Hmmm. The choices are not so fantastic now, eh? I suppose this is the challenge? If I've said it before, you're going to hear it again. I could brunch every day of the week. There is nothing better than a leisurely meal smack in the middle of the day. Especially when it involves mimosas.
Brunch during the day is fantabulous, but when it's carried out until the dusk, it takes on an entirely different feeling. The French say there is nothing more dignified than a simple herb omelet on a Wednesday evening. I concur. On a Wednesday, when I'm dog tired and can't really be bothered to do much more than scramble an egg, the omelet comes in handy. Or the frittata. Or tortilla Espanol. It seems everyone has their version of the egg based, dog tired, can't be bothered dinner. So here's what we'll do. Brunch for Supper.
yukon gold potatoes
pink lady apples
So, I could knock out most of these ingredients and be left with just the mustard greens, but I'm going to leave the greens with a friend for Day Five. A while back, my dear friend andGoddess Tinamade brunch for me at her place in Southwest DC. She made a quiche without the pastry. It was marvelous. Even without its deliciously buttery flaky home.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Start by grating the potatoes and chopping some onion. Toss this around in some olive oil until soft and tender and set aside.
I'm cheating here, and adding spinach, even though it's not on our list. Truth be told, I always have frozen spinach, corn and peas in my freezer. They're always good for a little colour.
Depending on how large you'd like your quichetatta espanol, beat up a few eggs with a little milk, then add your cooled veggies and a bit of shredded cheese (cheating again! using gruyere). Spray a baking dish with cooking oil, pour your contents in, sprinkle the top with a bit of gruyere and bake until firm and golden brown on top.
Slice it up and enjoy! I'm rocking mine with a bit of yogurt, a few strawberries, and a planter's mimosa.*
Dog Tired, Can't Be Bothered Dinner Done and DONE. In 30 minutes (Rachael whoooo?).
1 part Ceres Medley of Fruits juice
2 parts champagne
p.s. Thanks for the patience and pretending that this post is chronologically correct with the last. I'm back from my hiatus and promise to be a regular again... What can I say, life throws you curve balls sometimes and for those of us not familiar with baseball, it can be a bit of a bitch... Cheers!