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Posts Tagged turkey

4 Years of … Blogging?

Zucchini Noodles with Turkey & Beef Ricotta Meatballs | Gorging George

It’s anniversary day folks. And when I look back on the past year I have tons of fond memories; we’ve been busy, we’ve done tons, we have clearly cooked and eaten in that time and … I’ve posted once. Trust me, I wasn’t ignoring the blog on purpose. I thought about it nearly every time I entered the kitchen or became inspired by something food-related that I read. But I’m not going to make excuses. The past year has been amazing for me and my family in spite of the lack of blogging. Hopefully I can sometimes still make room for a post every once in a while.

Zucchini Noodles with Turkey & Beef Ricotta Meatballs | Gorging George

Zucchini Noodles with Turkey & Beef Ricotta Meatballs | Gorging George

Zucchini Noodles with Turkey & Beef Ricotta Meatballs | Gorging George

If I did have to give one reason for the slow down in recipe sharing, I would say it’s that food has become simplified in the house. There’s not much time for leisurely cooking, we can’t wait to eat until 8 or 9 like we used to when I was testing new recipes. There’s a tiny person that demands food. And she demands food that tastes good … so there’s also not a lot of room for error. So honestly, I’ve stuck to cooking staple recipes the past year. Ones we can get on the table fast and that will be slurped down without any complaints. We still try new recipes, but they are typically ones other people have written and shared.

Zucchini Noodles with Turkey & Beef Ricotta Meatballs | Gorging George

Zucchini Noodles with Turkey & Beef Ricotta Meatballs | Gorging George

However, I got one of those fancy looking spiralizers from my mother-in-law for my birthday last year. And now we can’t get enough of zucchini noodles. I just thought it was a weird fad that was sweeping Pinterest, so I ignored these long green zoodles for a while. But when I got my gift I tried it out right away. And holy crap guys: zucchini noodles are amazing. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t trade good pasta for anything. But we aren’t eating zucchini noodles as a substitute, we’re eating them because they taste great. Once I paired them with these moist, flavourful meatballs; now we rarely eat zucchini noodles with anything else.

Zucchini Noodles with Turkey & Beef Ricotta Meatballs | Gorging George

Zucchini Noodles with Turkey & Beef Ricotta Meatballs

Don’t have a spiralizer? Just serve the meatballs with your favourite long pasta. Shred some zucchini into the sauce if it makes you feel better. 

Meatballs

8 oz lean ground beef

8 oz ground turkey

2/3 cup ricotta cheese

1 cup panko bread crumbs

1/2 cup pecorino romano cheese, grated

1 egg

1 Tbsp sundried tomatoes in oil, drained & chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1/8 tsp pepper

4 cups of your favourite marinara sauce

 

Zucchini Noodles

3-4 zucchini (I would use 1/person; not kidding)

olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

kosher salt

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Prepare a sheet pan by spraying with olive oil (or you can cover with tin foil). Place all of the meatball ingredients into a large bowl. Mix gently to combine. Don’t overmix, or you’ll end up with tough meatballs. Form into approximately 32 meatballs, placing them on the sheet pan as you go. Bake the meatballs for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, spiralize that zucchini.

Heat the 4 cups of marina in a large sauce pan. Once the meatballs are cooked, gently dump them into the marina sauce. Simmer the meatballs and sauce together for an additional 10-15 minutes or until your ready to eat.

While your meatballs enjoy their tomato bath, heat a large, non-stick saute pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add a scant Tbsp of olive oil to the pan, followed by the garlic. Let the garlic simmer for about 30 seconds, then add he zucchini noodles. Season generously with the salt (start with at least a tsp. You can add more if needed). Cook the noodles to your desired degree of doneness. I’m not going to tell you how to eat your noodles. Maybe you just want them warm with nearly all their crunch. Maybe you want those things so cooked you could slurp them down without chewing. I’m not here to judge. Important step learned after eating wet noodles: drain those zucchini noodles when they are cooked to your liking. Add them back to the pan or plate them.

Top bowl-fulls of zucchini noodles with meatballs and marinara. Sprinkle with more pecorino if you like. Or just devour.

Serves 4.

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Gluten Free Holiday Dinner with Chef Robin Wasicuna

During the summer months in our northern capital city, the food trucks come rolling out of their hibernation and set up camp to serve the hungry masses some amazing “fast food.” One of those trucks is run by Chef Robin Wasicuna and his wife Karen, Wise Guy Foods. Chef Robin serves up his takes on cholesterol raising, but damn tasty burgers, sandwiches, and the like. The summer before last, I was fortunate enough to devour some of those delicious piles of meaty goodness; such as the “I Haz Cheeseburger,” one of Chef Robin’s most popular (and now elusive) burgers: a giant patty of beef topped with cheese, and jammed between two grilled cheese sandwiches. If you have the pleasure to eat this burger, you will be thanking the Gods you have taste buds … and that your cardiologist is on call. Alas, I can no longer eat gluten, and Chef Robin now keeps this monster of a burger tucked away, to bring out for special events and on random days to tease his customers into coming back for more. Luckily for me though, this summer Wise Guys Foods started to serve up some Gluten Free options from time-to-time. Such as my favourite salad of the summer: a braised pork belly and kimchi salad. Thank You Robin.

But what does this have to do with my blog? This is a recipe sharing blog, not one where I review tasty places to eat. Well there is this little thing called Twitter (maybe you have heard of it…), where myself and Wise Guy Foods happen to update our own prospective goings on; and we both happened to follow one another. Then, back in August, Robin sent me a direct message stating he’d like to do some sort of Guest Blog on the site. I was immediately excited about the opportunity, and Robin and I hashed out a few ideas. Then those ideas became a bit more concrete with Robin suggesting a gluten free Thanksgiving meal. Sold. Unfortunately life gets in the way, and Kyle and I happened to be in the midst of a move and had a lot of family coming and going for visits – it was becoming a challenge finding a time when Robin and I could get together in the kitchen. We finally set a date for a weekend in September; which would have provided ample time to get this on the blog for Canadian Thanksgiving. However, the day before we were set to cook, Robin got a call for an amazing last minute opportunity: he was asked to represent NWT at the Canadian Chefs Conference – which was taking place in 2 days. Yikes. Needless to say we had to cancel. He did our territory proud out in Nova Scotia!

So we missed Canadian Thanksgiving. But we managed to get together last weekend after Kyle and I settled into our place, and cook up a holiday feast that’s free of gluten. Just in time for our friends south of the border to serve at their Thanksgiving tables – and you can tuck this away for Christmas or next year if you’re so inclined. Although, maybe everyone should take a lesson from my parents: Turkey is not just for Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. It’s a bird that should be cooked many times a year, whenever you’re heart desires.

When Chef Robin and I got together last weekend, I was getting very pumped up prior to him showing up. And nervous. I had never cooked with a chef before. And I’m just a humble home cook – I wasn’t sure my skills would be up to snuff. But I reminded myself this was not going to be a fine dining meal, filled with challenging techniques and hard to get ingredients. It was going to be a family-style meal, one that anyone with a little kitchen know-how could prepare at home; right in my comfort zone. Although I talked myself into this, I was still slightly awkward when Robin and his wife Karen arrived. After a quick introduction (we had never formally met prior to our cook day), we got right to work with prepping the meal so the turkey breast could get into the oven right away. But after a glass of wine and some chopping under our belts, I relaxed and the rest of the afternoon was a breeze of roasting, sauteing, and meal prep. We chatted about the joys and challenges of living in the North; about great food, restaurants, and chefs; and about our shared love of pork. Chef Robin discussed how he got into the food truck business, and how it provides him with a place to serve “real,” creative food to people. He let us in on future plans for a possible permanent shop, where he could make high-end pub food – such as delicious Con Fit Chicken Wings … I have been dreaming about those for a week now. Kyle ended up having to leave early for work, so he missed out on the meal (but we made him a plate that he thorougly enjoyed later). However, my sister-in-law and her girlfriend showed up for dinner, so we had a great Family Style meal with five of us sharing food and wine and stories. It was an awesome day, and I’m looking forward to cooking with Robin again.

Gluten Free Holiday Meal

Menu (Serves 6):

  • Cider Basted Roast Turkey Breast
  • Roasted Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes
  • Pork Sausage Stuffing
  • Brussels Sprouts & Bacon Hash
  • Pumpkin Cake with Bourbon Compote and Maple Bourbon Frosting

 Note: Once we sat down to dinner we realized we didn’t make any gravy. Not that anything needed it – everything had tons of flavour, and the turkey was juicy from the cider baste. However, I have provided a quick, gluten-free pan gravy below in the event you would like to make one for your holiday meal. The recipe for the Pumpkin Cake will follow at a later date.

Cider Basted Roast Turkey Breast

Recipe provided by Chef Robin Wasicuna

1 4-5 lb turkey breast
Salt & Pepper
1 Tbsp dried Sage
1 large white onion
1-2 cups apple cider (alcoholic or non)

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Season turkey breast liberally with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the dried sage over the turkey breast. Slice the onion into 4 thick slices. Place the onions in a small roasting pan, and place the turkey breast over the oven. Pour about ¼ cup of the apple cider over the turkey.

Place the turkey breast in the oven. Roast for 30 minutes at 425°F; basting every 15 minutes with apple cider. Turn the temperature down to 350°F, and then continue to roast for another hour to 1.5 hours; basting every 15 minutes with additional cider. Remove from oven when temperature reaches 160 degrees. Cover with foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Remove string.

Slice and serve.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Potatoes

1 large sweet potato
3-5 white or Yukon gold potatoes (about 1.5lbs)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Scrub the potatoes – peel if desired (I did not peel them; gotta get your fiber anywhere when you’re gluten free!). Cut up all the potatoes in 1 inch chunks; place in a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl (rosemary through pepper) and stir to combine – using your hands for this is by far easier than a spoon. Evenly distribute the potato mixture to a large baking sheet.

Roast the potatoes at 350°F for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, until soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. Alternatively (if you’re not cooking this with the turkey breast), you could roast these for 45 minutes to 1 hour in a 425°F oven.

Sausage Stuffing

Recipe provided by Chef Robin Wasicuna

Note: Robin has provided his recipe to make sausage from scratch; alternatively, you could purchase 2 lbs of any regular pre-made pork sausage – but nothing hot or flavoured! Robin stated that this recipe was adapted from a Scottish family recipe of his wife’s. Karen informed us that she had never heard of bread stuffing until she had a holiday dinner at a friend’s house!

For the Sausage
2 lbs ground pork
½ cup red wine
4 Tbsp salt
2 Tbsp fennel sit
2 Tbsp black pepper

Remaining Ingredients for Stuffing
1 large white onion
1 Tbsp dried sage
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper

To Make Sausage: Mix all the sausage ingredients together in a large bowl (ground pork through 2 Tbsp black pepper). Once mixed, allow to sit at least 2 hours (ensure you refrigerate it).

To Make the Stuffing: Preheat oven to 350°F. Roughly chop the white onion – toss into a food processor or blender and puree. Combine the pureed onion, sausage meat, dried sage, salt & pepper in a large bowl. Pack into a loaf or cake pan. Bake in the oven for 45 – 50 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes. Remove from pan, slice, and serve.

Brussels Sprouts and Bacon Hash

Recipe provided by Chef Robin Wasicuna

Note: You will want to purchase a rasher of bacon for this (you’ll need about ½ lb) instead of using pre-sliced bacon. You want to taste the bacon in the hash!

2 lbs Brussels sprouts
1 small onion, diced
1 cup bacon, large diced
¼ cup water
¼ cup butter
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
2 Tbsp Sherry vinegar

Cut off the ends of the Brussels sprouts. Peel apart all the layers of tender leaves and place them in a large bowl – set aside (you can save the tougher middle sections for another use).

Place the bacon and water in a heavy saute pan over medium-high heat. Cook until bacon is cooked through and water has evaporated; approximately 5-10 minutes. Add onions to the pan. Saute everything until the onions are golden brown; approximately 5-8 minutes. Turn down heat to medium, add the Brussels sprouts leaves, butter, salt and pepper, and saute for 3-5 minutes, until Brussels sprouts are soft and cooked through. Add the sherry vinegar, stir everything to combine, and remove from heat. Serve warm.

Pan-Dripping Gravy

Drippings from Cider Basted Turkey Breast
1 ½ cups chicken or turkey stock
2 Tbsp sweet rice flour or potato starch
salt & pepper

Discard solids from the pan the turkey was roasted in. If the pan you used can be heated on the stove top, place over a medium-high heat. Add ¼ cup of the chicken stock to the pan and scrape up as much of the bits off the pan as possible. (if the pan can not be placed on the stove, pour the ¼ cup of stock into the hot pan as soon as possible when it comes out of the oven; scrape up the flavour bits from the pan, and pour everything into a saucepan). Whisk in the rice flour or potato starch, then add the remaining stock. Bring everything to a light boil, then simmer for 5-10 minutes or until the gravy thickens. Have a taste, and season with salt and pepper if necessary. Serve warm.

Note: if you have a dry white wine, you could add this to the pan instead of the ¼ cup of chicken stock mentioned above; then add 1 ¼ cup of chicken stock for the remainder of the recipe.

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Hoisin Turkey in Lettuce Cups

Sometimes things are too good to wait for. I was craving something specific, and I had to have it NOW. Normally when Kyle is out of town I don’t try too many new recipes (unless it’s something that I’m 95% positive he wouldn’t be in to). Part of the joy of cooking for me is eating the food, but I also cook to share with others; and when Kyle’s not around to taste and test my food, dinner doesn’t seem as fun or tasty. Quite frankly it seems downright lonely when I’m asking myself with each bite “Could this use more seasoning?” “Do you think the meat is tender?” “Were the veggies overcooked?” Plus I think the neighbours start to wonder…

Kyle has only been away for two days (ONE night) and I couldn’t resist making this dish. I was digging into my recent issue of Bon Appetit and inside there was a recipe for Lettuce Cups with Stir-Fried Chicken. They looked good. I wanted them. Right now. But then I read the recipe. It looked decent enough, but I could tell they were going to lack the flavour profile I was starting to crave upon first glance at the photo in the magazine. I do not enjoy Asian Sweet Chili Sauce – it’s goopy, sticky, lacks heat and I can make something better with sambal oelek and honey. Plus what I really wanted was some Hoisin Sauce.

Last September I went to a restaurant in Edmonton with a couple that I love! They are two fantastic friends and wonderful people … plus they are also crazy about eating good food. We ordered kung pao chicken lettuce wraps. They were tasty and served with a big ‘ol bowl of hoisin sauce. This is what I wanted. I went to the store, picked up ground turkey, bibb (butterhead? Boston?) lettuce, carrots, water chestnuts, and hoped I was right about having the rest of what I needed at home. Five ‘O Clock could not come fast enough today. I wanted to get home as quickly as possible and start preparing these for myself … and you of course, because now you must go out and try this one. Normally I’d test a recipe a few times before sharing it with people – but I dare say that this one was exactly as perfect as I needed it to be today.

Hoisin Turkey in Lettuce Cups

Inspired by Lazia Restaurant

1 head bibb lettuce
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp hoisin sauce
1-2 tsp Sriracha hot sauce (depending on how hot you want this)
1 tsp Chinese black vinegar (or unseasoned rice vinegar)
1 Tbsp canola oil
2 tsp ginger, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup green onions, chopped (divided)
1/8 tsp salt
1 lb ground turkey
1-2 carrots, julienned/matchstick cut (about 1/3 cup)
1/4 cup water chestnuts, sliced
1 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1 tsp Maggi sauce or Worchestershire sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 cup roasted cashews, chopped
2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped

* It is very important to have all your ingredients chopped, minced, and ready before starting any cooking. It makes stir-frying the turkey mixture quicker and you’re less likely to overcook/burn anything.

Lightly tear off the individual lettuce leaves and rinse them. Dry the leaves and lay the larger ones out on a platter. Save the smaller leaves for a salad.

Whisk together the 1/4 cup of the hoisin sauce, the Sriracha, and black vinegar. Set aside.

Preheat the canola oil over medium-high heat. Add the ginger, garlic, and 2 Tbsp of the green onions. Stir-fry until fragrant and slightly tender, approximately 1 minute. Add the turkey to the pan and stir-fry until almost cooked through 5 – 6 minutes. Add the carrots, water chestnuts, the remaining 2 Tbsp of hoisin sauce, soy sauce, Maggi sauce, and sesame oil. Stir-Fry for another 2 – 3 minutes until the sauce has heated through and the carrots are slightly tender. Transfer the turkey mixture to a serving bowl.

At this point you can gently heat the hoisin dipping sauce in the microwave for 10 seconds to take off the chill (if your hoisin and Sriracha were in the fridge). Place the remaining 2 Tbsp green onions, cashews and cilantro on a small platter. Serve the dish by spooning some of the turkey mixture in a lettuce leaf, top with hoisin sauce and any of the other toppings you would like – spoon on more hoisin sauce for added enjoyment.

Serves 4 as a meal with rice or 4-8 as an appetizer.

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