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Another basic and simple recipe that packs a flavorful punch.  So tasty and easy, you’ll never eat canned applesauce again.

baked applesauce

2 apples, skin on

1/4 cup white sugar

2 tbsp cinnamon, 1 tsp nutmeg, dash of clove

Roughly dice apples, and place in small baking dish.  Cover with sugar and spice mix.  Bake at 220C (400 F) for 30-45 minutes until soft.  Mash with a potato masher, leaving rough and chunky.  Garnish with cinnamon stick and serve.

I hate cranberry sauce, so I dished this up with the Thanksgiving turkey.  Also would be great for that timeless classic, pork and apples. Yum!

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This turkey was so moist and tasty, I wouldn’t wait until next year to test it out. Perhaps a Christmas roast? 

5 kg (12 lb) turkey

200 g herb butter

2 apples, 2 fennel bulbs, 1 white onion, cut into wedges

6-7 garlic cloves, skin off

handful of fresh sage leaves

bottle of apple cider (the alcoholic kind)

If possible, brine the turkey the day before for 10-12 hours in 1 part kosher salt, 3 parts water.  Cover completely with the saline solution and either refrigerate or place in a cool dark spot while brining.  

To roast, rinse turkey and pat dry.  Starting at the base of the breast, just above the cavity, slowly massage the skin away from the fleshy breast.  Using a circular motion and soft but steady pressure, extend your hand along the length of the breast along the breastbone and then down to the wing, until the skin is completely separated from the meat (but still intact).

Slather herb butter along the breasts under the skin, then vigorously rub butter on the entire exterior of the turkey. Yes, vigorous rubbing is key; really work it into the skin.  Rub interior with kosher salt and cracked black pepper, and stuff with apple, fennel, onion and garlic.

Pour apple cider in the pan and roast, basting every 45 mins.  After 1.5 hrs, remove half the liquid in the pan and reserve for gravy (I simmered mine with the turkey neck, water, carrots, fennel stems, and a few chicken bones we had left over from a roast the previous weekend). 

Cover top of breasts and drumsticks with aluminum foil as they begin to brown.  Remove from the oven when turkey reaches 78C internal heat, rest for 30 mins and carve. (Mine took ~3.5 hours)

Serve with gravy (thickened with 1 tbsp flour) and baked applesauce (recipe to follow).

This recipe takes a good thing and makes it better!  I first started making herb butter when we had an abundance of basil in our garden in D.C. and I was in need of creative ways to use up a cash  crop of fresh basil.  Sweet basil butter dripping from end of the summer corn = a little piece of heaven.

It’s so simple it barely deserves its own post, but its simplicity means that you can easily whip up a batch and use it for roasting meats, or to add a little flavor to sauteed or steamed veggies.  You could even butter up your bacon. The possibilities are endless…

 

herb butter

butter (200g)

2 handfuls fresh herbs (basil, rosemary, tarragon, sage), roughly chopped

Let butter soften on counter for a number of hours.  When soft, combine with herbs in food processor and pulse until incorporated.

(the dinner spread)

(a crowd gathers to watch the turkey carving)

(which seemed to take a long time…!)

(Steve defending his pumkpin / pecan pie)

(flowers by Steve)

Happy Thanksgiving!

As everyone back home settles down in a tryptophan-induced coma (or maybe helps themselves to a third helping of pie), we’re just kicking off Thanksgiving here in Australia.  No, we havent entered a time-warp where it’s now a day behind here…

But as there’s no holiday in Australia for Thanksgiving, our celebration and feast had to wait til Saturday.  To get a jump start on the cooking, I am “working from home” today to get stocked up and space out the cooking (since I have the tiniest oven known to man).  I picked up my $77 turkey from the local butcher (that’s right, a 12 pound turkey cost me SEVENTY SEVEN DOLLARS!) and all the necessary ingredients from the grocery store.

(looks like the makings of a fantastic meal, eh?)

Stay tuned for tales of our 18-person dinner party with representatives from nearly every Commonwealth (or former Commonwealth) country, and recipes to follow!

This fine Sunday, my husband took his wife and his dog for a walk.  We were both in great need of a little exercise and R&R.  So we took off for Airey’s Inlet, a quiet and remote coastal expanse only a short drive (<2 hrs)  from the city, at the beginning of the Great Ocean Road.

It felt human again to have the sun and wind on my face, and hear the calm crashing of waves.  And Bentley, oh Bentley was beside himself.  We walked up and down the coast for 3 hours, til our tired little pup nearly gave out (he slept the entire ride home, and is snoring next to me now).

Yep, it was a pretty great day. Full pics on the photos page.

Since I first resolved to re-learn the piano, and brought my beautiful G Schwechten home as a first step to realizing that aim, I’ve had a hard time evaluating when to declare this particular resolution complete.

I briefly considered success to be achievement of my previous playing level. This goal was promptly abandoned when I flipped through the pages of my Chopin nocturnes and realized I could barely read the tightly packed stanzas, much less contort my early-onset-carpal-tunnel fingers into the right technical positions. Honestly, 9 months later at the “re-learning” effort and I am amazed that I was ever able to perform such a feat, which I chalk up to youthful zeal and a phenomenal and patient teacher.

I then considered, particularly given my remote location, recordation of a tune as evidence of my accomplishment. After all, concerts are a necessary part of any pupil’s repertoire and it would be the only way for the parents and grams back home to nostalgically reminisce of Sunday afternoons spent in the Andover public library.

I set out to record The Long Day is Over, both because my determination to re-learn piano was partially fueled by a desire to find an outlet for my passion for singing (other than shower karaoke) and I relate to this song on a particularly deep level. It is of the melodic romantic style my musical soul has always craved, and a particularly poignant commentary on my current lifestyle. But try as I did, and despite my sweet husband’s assertions that I play it as good as ol’ Nora, my perfectionism has not yet let the slight blemishes in my every attempt escape into the public domain.

At last, I have decided to judge this re-kindled passion of mine by the same token as my culinary leanings.  For the last few weekends, despite my zombie like state from 60+ hour work weeks, all I yearn to do on Saturday mornings is sit and play.  It looks at me longingly in the morning as I run for the tram, remembering mornings of a less stressful time when I would sit and play a few songs before catching the 9:15. I long back, waiting for the lazy, sunny afternoon when we can spend hours together remembering old melodies.

So, in my heart at least if not in my fingers, I declare, resolution complete!

(p.s. Jody, this post is for you and you are right, long overdue)

I heart this recipe for caramelized onions

Actually, let me rephrase.  I ate an entire batch of caramelized onions (4 onions, and I’m not going to add up the # of tbsp of butter) in 2 days flat. Dressing for veal ravioli with olive oil and parmesan, check.  Topping for mixed greens, sliced pear and fennel salad, double check.  Snack-time with a spoon straight into my mouth, you guessed it, CHECK.

I’m pretty sure that kinda of love qualifies for just this side of obsession / desire.

The duo at Rufus’ Food and Spirits Guide has an awesome step-by-step tutorial, so rather than do it injustice by replication here just wander over there… you may find you like them as much as I do!

After a heckuva week at work, it was off to the races last Saturday.  Let’s just say over a 5-day span, my cumulative sleep was hovering in the low double digits.  Plus the forecast all week was calling for rain rain and more rain on race day.  So imagine my delight at an ENTIRE day off work (yes, it was  Saturday) to sit in the sun, sip champagne, and watch the horses whizz by.

From a fashion perspective, it was as  close to NYC Fashion Week as I can imagine.  And the view of the city from behind the race track was phenomenal.

For a few minutes, I did get caught up a bit in the whole betting thing ($1 bets only)… and then disillusioned as my horse selection strategy (awesomeness of horse name) did not yield any winnings.

All up I made $5 (my share for placing a winning bet for Mel because she was in the beer line).