Archive for November, 2008

Turkey Chanterelle Pot Pie

Friday, November 28th, 2008

There are few things more comforting on a chilly winter day than a piping hot chicken pot pie out of the oven. Pot pie was one of the first things I taught myself to make when I was learning to cook, and is what I crave when I’m sick. This turkey version provides another option for your Thanksgiving leftovers, or use two fresh turkey breasts. This recipe also makes use of the chanterelle mushrooms that are in season at the farmers markets, though you can use whatever mushrooms you find at your store or even reconstitute dried chanterelles.

Recipe: Chanterelle Turkey Pot PIe

Ingredients:

  • 1 or 2 9 inch pie crusts
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed from stems
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsely, chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups leftover turkey meat, shredded or 2 fresh turkey breast tenders
  • 1 cup chanterelle mushrooms, diced

Instructions: If using a bottom crust, roll out and place in pie plate. Roll out top crust and lay aside. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. [If using fresh turkey breasts, cube the meat, season with salt and pepper and cook over medium high heat in saute pan until browned, about 6-8 minutes. Remove turkey to plate and cover to keep warm.] Melt butter over medium heat and cook garlic and onion several minutes, until soft. Reduce heat to low, add flour and cook one minute until bubbly. Gradually stir in milk, whisking over low heat until sauce thickens, stir in herbs, salt & pepper and remove from heat. Mix in turkey meat and mushrooms and pour into prepared pie pan. Top with crust, poke a few slits to allow steam to escape, and bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes, until crust is golden. Makes 6 servings. Enjoy!

Cranberry Baked Brie

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

Looking for a last-minute Thanksgiving appetizer? This cranberry baked brie kicks things off with seasonal flavors and will keep your guests happy if the turkey is a little slow arriving on the table — always a challenge if you’re cooking with toddlers underfoot!

Recipe: Cranberry Baked Brie

I couldn’t resist Whole Foods’ new Isigny Ste. Mere Holiday Brie, produced by a co-op of eco-friendly farmers in Normandy, France. It was fairly mild-flavored, creamy and rich, and went wonderfully with the sweetly tart tang of my spiced cranberry sauce.

Ingredients:

  • 1 12 ounce (6″) wheel of brie
  • 8 sheets fillo dough, thawed
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup cranberry sauce
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • sliced apples and bread

Instructions:

Cover a baking sheet with a layer of parchment paper. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Unwrap the brie and have the cranberry sauce and thyme ready before you begin working with the fillo dough. Lay out one sheet of fillo dough on a clean work surface and brush generously with melted butter. Repeat with the additional sheets of fillo.

After the last layer, spread cranberry sauce in a circle in the center, as wide as the round of brie. Center the brie over the sauce and lay thyme sprigs over the top.

Trim the corners off the fillo to make an oval shape. Working quickly, fold up the edges over the brie, brushing folds with melted butter as you go. Once it’s closed, gently flip over onto baking sheet and brush outside with butter. Bake for 25 minutes, until fillo is golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool for 45 minutes, then serve with apples and bread.

If you’re impatient like me and can’t wait to dig in, be prepared for a gooey gush of warm, melted cheese. Mmm. Enjoy!

From the FoodieTots’ family to yours, we wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday! And check back on Friday for some fresh turkey leftover recipes.

Local Flavor, Turkey Edition

Friday, November 21st, 2008

If you missed out on pre-ordering your heritage bird, EcoFriendly reports that they will be bringing a limited quantity of turkeys to the Courthouse (Saturday) and Dupont Circle (Sunday) farmers markets, first-come, first-serve.

a Del Ray Farmers Market supperIf you prefer your turkeys still free ranging, bundle up and take a hike at Turkey Run Park off the G.W. Parkway!

Speaking of markets, Fairfax County Markets have closed for the season, except for Mount Vernon which ends Tuesday. Alexandria’s Del Ray and Old Town are going strong, and Dupont Circle is year-round as well. Warm up after your market visit with Andrea’s Roasted Acorn Squash with Apples and Sage.

Get a head start on your Christmas shopping at Mount Vernon, where former White House pastry chef Roland Mesnier is creating a gingerbread replica of George Washington’s home and signing books Saturday and Sunday at 1 and 4pm.

Keep warm and support your local winter markets!

Organic Spiced Cranberry Sauce

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

Now that we’ve covered why organic cranberries are important for your health and the environment, how easy are they to find? Read on for my shopping recap, or just skip to the bottom for my Spiced Cranberry Sauce recipe.

I scoured the produce sections at three local grocery stores, Safeway, Giant and Whole Foods. I generally find that Giant has a better selection of organics than Safeway, but I was intrigued by the promise of “locally grown” berries in yesterday’s Safeway ad. My hopes were quickly dashed when bags of Ocean Spray were all I could find – bags labeled, “Product of Canada,” at that. I asked the produce manager to verify that was all they had, and he reported that they stocked organic cranberries last year but none were sent this year. To his credit, he did try to be helpful and suggest I just go to Whole Foods…

I was hoping to prove that you could find organic cranberries without having to go to an organic market, so I continued on to Giant, a local chain. I did see a few more organic items, potatoes, onions, etc. at first glance, but was about to give up when I spotted two lone boxes of organic cranberries. (Naturipe brand from Wisconsin.) Score! I do hope they are planning to restock before the holiday, though. Curiously, Giant’s bagged Ocean Spray berries were “Product of USA,” stating that they were packed in Wisconsin, Massachusetts or Washington. Not the most helpful if you’re trying to plan a 100-mile Thanksgiving, but slightly more local than Canadian berries for most of us in the states. (I guess if you’re in Minnesota you can go either way.)

On then to Whole Foods, which offered two choices, organic from a family farm in Massachusetts (Orcranic brand), and Ocean Spray branded IPM berries from New Jersey. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) attempts to use natural methods first and pesticides as a last resort, but the consumer has no way of knowing what that means in actual quantities of chemicals unless you can talk to the producer directly. It is generally preferable to conventional, at any rate.

How do the prices stack up?

  • Safeway: No organic fresh cranberries.
  • Giant: Naturipe brand organic cranberries, $2.99 (in-store only, not available through Peapod delivery service).
  • Whole Foods: Orcranic brand organic cranberries, $4.99; Ocean Spray IPM cranberries, $3.99.

Now I was primarily focused on fresh berries, but I perused the dried and canned options at each store as well, for those who have to have the can or just like to snack on dried berries year round. Here’s the scorecard:

  • Safeway: Newman’s Own Organic (from US or Canada) $2.99 (4oz.) vs. Sun-Maid “Cape Cod” conventional cranberries, $3.99 (6oz.)
    No organic canned cranberry sauce.
  • Giant: Nature’s Promise (store brand) organic dried cranberries, $5.99 (9 oz.). (Out of stock yesterday, but available through Peapod.)
    No organic canned canned cranberry sauce. (Ocean Spray conventional, $1.00.)
  • Whole Foods: Organic cans, 365 brand, $1.79.

Recipe: Organic Spiced Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce is surprisingly easy to make, and can be made ahead of time and stored up to a week in the refrigerator. This simple spiced version incorporates other classic fall flavors, apple cider and maple syrup, to lend a dark (and healthier) sweetness. I used the Orcranics for this, and they were firm, tart and full of flavor.

Ingredients:

  • 1 12 ounce bag organic fresh cranberries, rinsed
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice

Instructions: Place all ingredients in a medium sized saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Berries will pop and burst. Don’t worry if it is still slightly runny, it will set up more as it cools. Remove from heat and cool; refrigerate until ready to serve. Makes the equivalent of one can, but tastes infinitely better! Enjoy!

Have you seen organic fresh cranberries in your local grocery? Let me know!

Fresh from the Cranberry Bogs

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

Part One of Two on sustainable cranberry sauce for your Thanksgiving dinner… While cranberry-sauce-in-a-can is always on our Thanksgiving table to appease my “traditionalist” husband and in-laws, I make one or two fresh variations as well. I’ve always been intrigued by the notion of cranberry bogs. While my home state Oregon actually boasts a few, I have never seen one in person. In other random cranberry facts, did you know that cranberries are one of the few native North American fruits? And that the cranberry capital of the US is Wisconsin, with Massachusetts in second place? Nutritionally, cranberries provide a boost of antioxidants, vitamin C and fiber.

If you’re like me, one of the first steps you probably took to “go green” was swapping out plastic bottles for a few reusable bottles. (We’re fans of the Sigg (especially for kids) and Klean Kanteen here at the Foodie Tots household.) Then you probably started noticing the news reports about what’s really in that bottled water and just how polluted your tap water really is. (Especially if you’re lucky enough to live in lead pipe-supplied D.C.) Yeah yeah, enough with the science lesson, how does this relate to Thanksgiving dinner?

Cranberry bogs. I was brushing off my maple cranberry sauce recipe and started wondering just what chemicals might lurk in those mysterious bogs. Then I realized they probably add pesticides on top of whatever groundwater contaminants are already there. Sure enough, cranberries are treated with 22 different types of pesticides (and herbicides, fungicides, etc.), which are then discharged into lakes, rivers and wetlands. And cranberry bogs are exempt from the Clean Water Act (!).

So I pointed my trusty Google towards “organic cranberry bog” and discovered this great little video from Nantucket, Connecticut, where the Nantucket Conservation Fund is slowly converting traditional bogs to all-natural cranberry plots. (Remember that crops have to be grown organically for a number of years before they can obtain organic certification, so there is a significant lag time.)

As retold in the video, their organic cranberries garner three times the price of conventional, but they put about four times as much labor into maintaining the bogs. Organic bogs also produce a lower yield, which is further disincentive in a conventional food system that values quantity over all else. They are making progress, however. The University of Massachusetts-Amherst’s Cranberry Station is also conducting research and outreach to increase the use of integrated pest management (IPM, or less-pesticide) techniques in cranberry bogs.

So check your local grocery and spring for the organic berries if you can find them – Thanksgiving only comes once a year, after all, and now you can enjoy your meal knowing a little less pesticide is entering our water (and your kids – after all, cranberries soaking in toxins for months at a time can’t simply be rinsed clean). And you can wash it down with organic Triple Eight cranberry vodka, straight from Nantucket.

Up next, where to find organic cranberries and a recipe to enjoy them in.

“Behind the label” is a new series by FoodieTots.com that highlights the sustainability issues behind our food, and brings you the facts you won’t find in the glossy food mags who rely on ad revenue from big agribusiness.

Ingredients: