PRINT this recipe

Print Friendly and PDFPrint Friendly and PDFPrint Friendly and PDF

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Cider Brined Stuffed Turkey Breast with Pan Gravy: 3 Recipes!

Turkey Breast in  Apple Cider Brine

  • Stock Pot
  • 1 Cup Kosher Salt per 8-12 pounds of turkey
  • 1/2 Gallon Apple Cider
  • Turkey Breast - 8-12 pounds, boned if preferred, though a bone-in turkey breast is even tastier!
  • Cold Water
  1. Rinse the turkey thoroughly.  If using a whole turkey, remove the giblets, nick and all excess skin/fat.  Remove any pin feathers, blood and vessels, liver and gizzards from the inside of the turkey cavity.  Remove the plastic thermometer if one has been inserted by the poultry manufacturer & throw it away!
  2. Place the cleaned & rinsed turkey in a stock pot or large CLEAN container.  Add in the Kosher Salt, 1/2 Gallon of Apple Cider and cover the turkey with cold water to cover it completely.  Stir the water to dissolve the kosher salt.
  3. Cover or close the container and refrigerate the turkey minimum 8 hours to 24 hours.  
  4. If your refrigerator is not big enough to hold turkey & brining solution, use a cooler.  Place the brined turkey in its salt-cider-solution container/pot/brining bag into a large cooler.  Surround the container/pot/bag with ice - enough to completely surround the turkey.  Close.  Use a thermometer to check the ambient temperature of the cooler.  It should be under 40 degrees, ideally in the 32-38 degree temperature zone.
  5. After the turkey has brined between 8-24 hours, remove from brining solution.  Discard the solution. Rinse turkey and allow to drain for 15-30 minutes on rack over a sheet tray.  If not roasting the turkey within 30 minutes, cover & refrigerate until ready to cook.
  6. It is not necessary to add any additional salt to the turkey once it’s been brined.  Your turkey will be salted and seasoned perfectly thought each bite.

For best results, brine the turkey a day ahead of the Thanksgiving Meal.  You can brine it two days ahead.  Brine it for 8 to 24 hours, then rinse and drain it.  Put the brined turkey into container and back into the refrigerator.  When ready to stuff and roast, take the turkey out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before ready to use.  

Brining will work for a whole turkey, a turkey that is broken down into its parts (Wings; Breast; Thighs; Legs; Back), or just the turkey breast - bone-in or boneless.  NEVER BRINE A KOSHER Turkey - it’s already been salted.

When stuffing or filling the cavity or meat of a brined turkey, don’t add too much salt to the mixture, as the salt in the brined turkey will have more than enough it it already!

Stuffed Turkey Breast

  • Brined Turkey Breast - per recipe
  • 2 Small-Medium Carrots - small dice
  • 2 Small-Medium Celery Stalks - small dice
  • 1 Medium Onion - small Dice
  • 2 Garlic Cloves - minced
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons Salt-Free Poultry Seasoning (such as Bell’s)
  • 2 Tablespoons Fresh Parsley - rough chop
  • 1 16-24 ounce bag of Spinach Leaves- cleaned & stemmed
  • 1/2 Cup Craisins
  • 1/4 Cup Pine Nuts
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper - to taste
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil - divided
  • Kitchen String or Aluminum Foil
  • Roasting Pan
  1. Preheat oven to 425 Degrees Fahrenheit. 
  2. Prepared Brined Turkey as per recipe.
  3. Prepare vegetable stuffing - dice the carrots, celery and onions and mince the garlic.  Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers.  Sauté the aromatic vegetables until the onions and celery turn translucent and the carrots begin to soften - about 5 minutes.  Add in the garlic and sauté another 1 minute.  Add in the poultry seasoning, stir to incorporate.
  4. Add in the spinach leaves, sautéing them until they wilt.
  5. Remove the mixture from heat and stir in the chopped parsley, the craisin and pine nuts.  Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper and a smidgen of salt.  Set aside and allow the mixture to cool while you prepare the turkey breast.
  6. Bone and filet open the turkey breast - opening it like a book.  Cut down the center of the turkey breast, from the inside and then cut a slit into each side of the breast, not cutting all the way through the breast.  Open the turkey as though you were opening the pages of a book, making a center incision and folding/peeling back the turkey breast layers.
  7. Season the turkey breast with freshly ground black pepper, then spread the cooled sautéed vegetable mixture into the center of the filleted turkey breast.  Close or roll up the turkey breast.  If using kitchen string, tie together and truss into a neat and somewhat even roast.  Rub the turkey breast with remaining tablespoon of olive oil to coat it and season with addition ground black pepper and if desired, Bells Salt-Free Poultry Seasoning.  Place the stuffed & trussed turkey breast in a roasting pan.  
  8. If using aluminum foil to wrap and roast the turkey, coat the turkey with olive oil, season with pepper and/or Bells Salt-Free Poultry Seasoning.  Roll the stuffed turkey breast in foil to form a roast. Wrap the ends of the foil to create a sealed package.  The ends can be twisted to resemble a giant “Tootsie Roll” ends
  9. Roast the turkey at 425 degrees for 1 1/2 hours.  If the turkey has been trussed, check the pan and add in apple cider and/or water if the pan dries out, a 1/2 cup at a time.  If the turkey is in aluminum foil, remove the foil the last 1/2 hour so the at the turkey can brown. Check the temperature of the turkey to check for doneness.  A throughly cooked turkey breast should register 165 degrees on an instant read thermometer.  The juices will run clear, there will be no traces of pink in the center and the meat will be be completely white/opaque throughout.
  10. Allow roasted turkey to rest, loosely covered for about 20 minutes before slicing.  The accumulated pan juices can and should be used to make your gravy.  
  11. The cider brined turkey will release juices that have a sweet and salty flavor making the pan drippings savory and flavorful.  
  12. Skim away any fat that has accumulated in the pan.  If the pan juices are too watery, reduce them on the stovetop until the liquid has reduced by half.  If the pan juices are too dry, add in addition water, chicken or turkey stock to reconstitute the dried bits from the bottom of the pan.  The pan juices will not need any additional salt or pepper - it may be already seasoned perfectly from the turkey.

Turkey Pan Gravy

  • Drippings and bits from roasted turkey pan
  • 1/2 Cup Dry White Wine or Dry Vermouth
  • 2 Cups Chicken or Turkey Stock
  • 1/4 Cup Apple Cider - optional
  • 1/4 Cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 3-5 Tablespoons Cold Water
  • 2 Tablespoons Fresh Parsley - Rough Chop
  • Salt, Pepper & Poultry Seasoning to taste if needed
  1. Set the roasting pan with turkey drippings over two burners set on medium-high heat.  If using wine or vermouth, add in along with 1/2 cup of stock; cook, stirring  with a spoon to loosen up the browned bits in the pan and allow the liquid to come to a simmer - about 5 minutes.
  2. Add in the remaining stock & apple cider (if using) and parsley and bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat;  reduce the heat and let simmer for about 5 minutes.
  3. Make a slurry with the flour and about 3 tablespoons of cold water.  Mix well to incorporate the flour into the water.  Gradually whisk in the flour slurry into the roasting pan.  Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, the reduce to low and gently simmer to thicken the gravy and cook out the raw flour taste - about 10 minutes total.  Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.  Keep hot and serve hot.

Make a slurry and you’ll have no lumps in your gravy!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Apple Layer Cake

Sharing my recipe for apple layer cake, which I made for a cooking class this fall.  Time gets away me - I wanted to post this a month ago.  Go! Grab some apples while the farmers' markets are still running for another week.  I like to use 2 kinds of apples, a sweet apple and a tart apple.  The batter will look like there's not enough; this recipe is all about the apples.  As they cook the batter acts like a glue holding everything together.  The apples shrink and condense.  This is a cake that's like a kuegel, brown betty or a crumble. Whatever you call it call it delicious!

Apple Spice Layer Cake Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Lemon - cut into wedges
  • 5 Large Apples - peeled, cored and sliced thin (about 1/8-inch thick) Use a variety of eating and cooking apples such as Granny Smith and Golden Delicious
  • 1 Stick of Unsalted Butter - melted & cooled
  • Butter or Cooking Spray for baking pan
  • 1 Cup All-Purpose or White Whole Wheat Flour - plus 2 tablespoons for baking pan
  • Pinch Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Apple Pie Spice or Cinnamon (or a blend of 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1/8 teaspoon ground All-Spice & 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamon)
  • 3/4 Cup Sugar 
  • 2 Eggs - Lightly Beaten
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Streusel Topping:
  • 1/2 Cup All-Purpose or White Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1/4 Cup Light Brown Sugar - Packed
  • Pinch Salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Apple Pie Spice or Cinnamon
  • 3 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter


  1. Make the Streusel Topping: In a small bowl, mix the flour, brown sugar, salt and spices together, whisking to combine. 
  2. Add in the butter. Combine with your fingers or use 2 forks or a pastry cutter to “cut in” the butter into the flour mixture until clumps form.  The mixture should resemble coarse meal or small pea-sized lumps.  Set aside.
  3. Prepare a cake pan - 8 x 8 or 9 x 13 by spraying it with cooking spray or coating it with butter. Lightly flour the pan with 2 tablespoons of flour, shaking to coat the pan and shake out excess.  Set aside.
  4. Make the Cake filling:  Prepare the apples - wash, peel and core them and then slice into thin slices - about 1/8 inch thick.  Squeeze the juice from half of a lemon over the apple slices to keep them from browning - tossing to coat with the lemon juice.
  5. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, apple pie spices and pinch of salt.  
  6. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla extract and the melted & cooled unsalted butter.  Combine the egg/butter mixture to the four mixture, stirring to combine; then add in the sliced apples.  Thoroughly fold all the ingredients to incorporated and coat the apple slices with the batter.
  7. Spread the batter into the prepared baking pan in an even layer.  Scrape all the batter out of the bowl and into the pan.  Sprinkle the streusel mixture over the batter.  Bake for 50 minutes or until a knife inserted in the cake meets no resistance and comes out clean.
  8. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes before serving.
  9. Apple Cake is best served warm, but it will hold for up to 3 days, covered and refrigerated.  Warm before serving.

Peel & Cut Apples in half, then core and slice into thin slices.

Put the thin slices of apples into water that has some lemon juice added to it. The lemon juice will help keep the apples from turning brown (oxidizing) and the lemon juice flavor adds a bit of tartness to counter balance the sweet. 

Melt some butter - and then allow to cool.

Whisk together the dry ingredients and then fold in the wet - butter/eggs
Fold into the apples - the batter will seem like there's not enough, just stir to coat all the apples thoroughly then add them to an 8 x 8 baking pan.  Press the apples down to fit.

Top the apple batter with the struessel crumb topping and bake
The topping will get golden brown and as the apples cook, they shrink down and form a layer cake.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Follow Friday - Tinsel and Tine

One of my best blogging friends is also one of my longest friendships.  My friend, LeAnne, and I met back in late 1995 at a theater company in Philadelphia.  We were young, eager, impressionable and into all sorts of artistic, musical and theatrical things.  The mid to late 1990's in Philadelphia was an amazing time to work in theater due to the surge in small theater companies forming, mid-sized companies growing and in general, the economy allowing the arts to flourish.  LeAnne and I worked in the office, at the theater, doing any and everything that needed to be done.  I was hired as a bookkeeper/office manager; Leanne was the Artistic Assistant.  In addition, we were box office staff, house managers, prop assistants, cabaret staff, artistic liaisons. concessions staff, script readers, workshop proctors…you get the picture.  We probably weren't paid top dollar but we were happy and having fun!  18 years later, we are still happy and having fun but we're doing radically different things in our lives.  Well, sort of.  I'm still doing bookkeeping as my day job gig and Leanne is doing office work for hers, but in-between, we blog, a lot.
Halloween at The AMTF Cabaret at The Bellevue Hotel circa 1996
LeAnne started blogging for a class assignment a few years back.  In her funny, irreverent style, she was challenged to think of a pithy blog name and she blurted out, Suck My Pretty Toes!  For a year or two, she blogged under this moniker, writing about her favorite pastimes, eating and seeing movies.  As her audience grew and her hobby became a bigger passion, she changed the name over to Tinsel and Tine Reel and Dine, to reflect her blog's mission.  Tinsel being Hollywood, aka, Tinsel Town.  And Tine for the tines of a fork.  Making it a bit more clever, she rates her food and restaurant reviews on a scale of fork tines; none, one, two, three, four, as a restaurant or the meal deserves.

LeAnne's blog is fun, insightful, honest and REAL!  Unlike other movie review sites, LeAnne injects a lot of her quirky personality into her reviews.  She's not afraid to say what she really things and she's not so star-struck that her enthusiasm gets in the way of giving an honest review of movies.  She asks unique questions and tries to go out of her way to be original when interviewing actors, directors, chefs or restaurateurs.  The same love of the live arts that she had 18 years ago when we were shuttling around semi-famous Cabaret Music Stars is still alive in her today.

Given that my love of food has taken me from all sorts of restaurant and catering work, to culinary school and into writing and teaching, food is a real connection between LeAnne and I.  We've dined at many places and have shared a few co-reviews together - The Dandy Lion; Diner en Blanc; Collingswood Pop UP Gala in White, to name a few.  We've shared many a meal together in my home and LeAnne was also the "blogger-in-residence" at my house (The Top Gun Abode) this past summer.  Ours is a friendship formed over cocktails, cigars, great food, musical theater and many many laughs.  When I heard that she was blogging, I invited her to join up with an inaugural luncheon meeting of a group of other women bloggers, spearheaded by my friend, Barbara.  I've written about the group on numerous other posts - The Bloggstress Network.  LeAnne fit right into the group, seeming to have more in common with this group of ladies than I, the odd gay duck in the crowd!

I'm proud that we've remained steadfast friends over the years.  I'll never forget LeAnne telling me once, way back when we worked together that she didn't think you made real friends after you left school, high school or college.  At that time I was convinced, as I still am, that it wasn't true, that you could make friends at work, in your, ahem, older non-college years.  We were both right.  It is harder to make friends as you get older because you get busier, and your life fills up with career, family, and of course, our blogs, but…we did manage to forge a friendship that passed the test of time!  Now we share not just memories of our lifetime friendship, we share a bond through writing, food and film.  Plus, she is my movie connection, keeping me informed about all sorts of movies.  LeAnne is my own personal Roger Ebert "at the movies" since I never get to see anything in the theaters these days.  Do yourself a favor and like, follow, read and learn all about LeAnne by reading her blog and following her on Facebook - she's the friend you need to have in your life, even if you're just a fan!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Pumpkin Souffles with Gingersnap Dust

Another successful evening at cooking classes - tonight I taught a Thanksgiving Simplified class - although for me, it was anything but simple!  A few days of re-writing and tweaking recipes and a full night of cooking everything for the class so that we had finished products, demonstration products and foodstuff somewhere in between.  The magic word of the night was "rustic" as I made the good food, hearty, simple and let it fall apart as it needed to…or I forgot to do certain things, like, say, make the soufflé first so it would be done in time for the dessert portion of the class! Cest La Vie, line and learn!

In my quest to have more regular posts, recipes, stories, photo walkabouts, I'll start with dessert first this time!  This soufflé is far easier than you realize.  You can make the base ahead of time, get the ramekins prepped and then whisk the egg whites right before you're ready to make the soufflé.  And you'll read it here first - I'm creating a new foodie trend - these soufflés are topped with "Gingersnap Dust", a finely crushed crumble of ginger snap cookies.  Since this soufflé is a lighter, far healthier version of a pumpkin pie, deconstructed, I wanted to add back in an element of a pumpkin pie that you might truly miss.
Pumpkin Souffles with Gingersnap Dust - a deconstructed pumpkin pie, lighter, healthier and very low-fat
Pumpkin Soufflé Ingredients:
  • 2 Tablespoons  Unsalted Butter - melted, for buttering the ramekins
  • 3 egg whites 
  • 2 1/2 Cups Pumpkin Puree (about 1 & 1/2  -  14-15 ounce Cans)
  • 1/3 Cup Sugar plus more for sprinkling
  • 2 Tablespoons Pumpkin Pie Spice or Cinnamon & Nutmeg
  • 2 Tablespoons All-Purpose Flour (optional - it will help the soufflé stay stable)
  • 1 Egg Yolk 
  • 3/4 Cup Milk - Full, Low-Fat or Fat-Free
  • 2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
  • 5 Ginger Snap Cookies - crushed to a fine crumble or "dust" for garnish
  • Whipped Creme - for garnish (optional, but hey, why not?!)

  1. Preheat oven to 425 °F.
  2. Prepare the soufflé molds - Generously butter a soufflé mold or deep-dish casserole and dust the bottom and sides with sugar.  Tap out the excess sugar.  Cut a collar out of parchment to extend 3 inches above the rim of the dish.  Tape the collar around the outside of the dish with masking tape; using a pastry brush, butter the inside of the paper collar.  Chill the prepared mold. Alternatively, you can use 6 small, 4 ounce ramekins, buttering, sprinkling with sugar and if desired, creating a paper collar around each one.  Chill and set aside.
  3. Separate the egg whites from the yolks, reserving one of the yolks.  Save the other 2 egg yolks for another use.  The yolks can be frozen.  Put into a zip-lock bag, label quantity, date and freeze.
  4. In one mixing bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, flour, egg yolk, vanilla extract and milk.  Whisk until thoroughly combined.
  5. Beat egg whites in a CLEAN large bowl until stiff peaks form.  Fold 1/3 of egg whites into pumpkin blend. Continue to fold in egg whites 1/3 at a time until egg whites are completely folded into the pumpkin mixture.  Don’t worry if there are some streaks of egg white remaining.
  6. Pour pumpkin/egg mix into the prepared ramekins, leaving 1-inch from the top to allow room for the soufflé to rise.
  7. Place ramekins or soufflé mold on baking tray and put into oven.
  8. Bake a large, single soufflé for 40-50 minutes; small ramekins for 25-30 minutes.
  9. DO NOT OPEN OVEN TO CHECK ON SOUFFLÉS or else they will fall.  If you must look at them, turn on the oven light.
  10. When the soufflés are done, they will be high but will most likely, deflate very quickly.  Remove the parchment paper collars, and serve immediately.  Garnish with a dusting of the ginger snap cookie crumbs and/or dust with powdered sugar or a dollop of whipped cream.
  11. Most of this recipe can be done ahead of time. Prepare the ramekins and chill them. Make the soufflé base - the pumpkin mixture.  When the it’s time to make dessert, whisk the egg whites then continue following the recipe as directed.  A soufflé is best finished/baked and served as close to dessert time as possible.
  12. This soufflé can be sweet or savory - used for dessert or as a side dish.  Without using the flour as a stabilizer, it can also be a gluten free dish.  To make this a savory side, omit the sugar and vanilla extract and add in tablespoon  each  of dried thyme, parsley and a 1/2 cup of finely grated cheese such as a gruyere, fontina, cheddar or even parmesan.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Wednesday Walkabout: Toys

 This week's photo idea started with this little alligator toy that I found on the sidewalk in Collingswood.  I was doing a photo walkabout for World Wide Photo day, and I spied this little critter on the curb.  I laid down on the sidewalk and snapped some shots with my iPhone, ran them through the Instagram app and voila! cool perspective.  From there, I took a few more photos of Wall-E-Gator as well as a few other random toys that were in our house and at my office.
 I took the gator home for Nate. For a day or two, Nate played with the toy, taking it to bed with him and then bringing the plastic ankle biter into our room in the morning.  It made its way onto a table where we have a few elephant knickknacks.
 The gator then inspired us to find the albino alligator toy that we bought Nate a few years ago from the Cape May Zoo when we saw the real-life albino alligator.  Old Whitey happened to be on the counter with Sophie Giraffe, so naturally, the predator in me made the blue-eyed swamp creature attack poor Sophie.
 From my original photo.
 Other fun toys - with guilty faces.  Some Kinder Egg Toys given to me by my friend, Ellen.  The inch-worm rolls and his nose and tail go in and out.  Clever toys.
 At Nate's recent Halloween Birthday Party, Spider Man somehow wound up sitting on the bathroom window sill.  He looked very pensive.  The lighting, the textures, all made for a moody Spidey photo.
 And then there was the combination of Star Wars Figures, Space Ships, The Incredible Hulk and random busy abacus style toys, all formed together by Nate in a still life creation.  It was Nate's castle, being protected by a Storm Trooper or Bobo Fett, with the Hulk standing guard. Menacing and clever at the same time.
Don't take a step closer or else...