Posts tagged #fall

Lekker: Lemon Sage Butter Roasted Turkey

Gobble gobble gobble bitches! If I was some fancy cook I would have done this turkey as a test before Thanksgiving, and posted enough in advance so that you, my faithful followers, could make it yourselves for that happy day of gluttony.

Alas! I am but a poor and busy girl, so go ahead and bookmark this bad boy for your Christmas festivities or for Turkey Day next year. I'm not just saying that because it's *a* turkey recipe, but because: this is the best roasted turkey I have ever had.

(Everyone knows deep fried turkeys are the BEST turkeys, but not everyone wants to mess around with 30 gallons of boiling hot oil.)


Like no lie, I'm not meaning to boast because any time something of mine turns out so perfectly I'm 98% convinced it's a fluke, but--THIS IS THE BEST AND MOISTEST, MOST DELICIOUS TURKEY EVER!

Crispy brown skin, check.
Moist, succulent breast meat, check.
The kind of gravy I'd kill for, check.

Hooolllyyyyyyy shit. This one's a game changer.

So! Onwards to it then. This is a long-ass recipe because it covers the whole she-bang from the brine to the gravy and everything in between. The brine is a bit tedious and requires advance planning, but the rest of it is quite simple in execution.

First: To brine or not to brine? That is the question. Well, maybe not, but it's a much better question that that other esoteric bullshit.

~Kidding~, kind of, because Hamlet is my favourite Shakespearean work--but I have to believe that if the good ol' Prince of Denmark knew anything about Thanksgiving turkeys he would definitely be asking MY question instead. So, back to it--to brine or not to brine?

There's copious debate about this on the web and equally so among my friends and fellow home cooks. When informally polled, those who were pro-brining swore by it while others simply brushed it off with a "Meh, not worth it."

Alternatives to the traditional wet brine are a dry brine, a salt crust, or no extra preparation at all save removing the plastic.

This year, since I was cooking Thanksgiving dinner (my first by myself) at my Dad's house which boasts two fridges and the ideal 5 gallon bucket, I figured I would take the opportunity to do a classic wet brine. I'm sure in future years when I'm cooking Thanksgiving dinner in god-knows-what far flung locale, I'll be pressed to try these other more convenient brining methods and indeed, I look forward to it.

Let's get to it cluckers!

serves 4-6 people


For the brine:

  • a 5 gallon bucket or other very large pot, washed & dried
  • 1 12-14 pound turkey (which will feed 4-6 people plus leftovers; I used Butterball)
  • 8 bay leaves
  • 2 T whole peppercorns
  • 2 T dried sage
  • 1 T dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup rock salt or other large grain salt (kosher, sea salt, etc.) (if you only have fine grained table salt, you might need to reduce it to just over 3/4 cup)
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice (bottled is fine)
  • 1 can light beer
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • Water

For the roasting:

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) salted butter of choice, softened (I am batshit crazy about Kerrygold Irish Butter for fancy things like this)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh sage leaves
  • 2 lemons, zested, and the juice squeezed from only one (strain to avoid any pulp or seeds)
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • ~2 cups low sodium chicken broth (you'll need to fill up the bottom of the roasting pan to about 1/2 an inch)


  • 1/2 a stick (1/4 cup) salted butter of choice, melted
  • 1 T chopped fresh sage leaves
  • 1 t lemon juice 

For the gravy:

  • Pan drippings, drained of fat
  • 3 T flour, mixed with 1/3 cup water to create a smooth mixture
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth (possibly)
  • 1 cup water


To Brine:

1. First you gotta brine, about 24 hours before you plan to roast. In a medium sized pot over medium heat, combine the salt, sugar, spices, and lemon juice with enough water to fill almost to the top of your pot. Bring to a low boil and stir until all the salt and sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool.

2. In the meantime take your turkey out of the fridge, unwrap it in the sink, and remove the neck and giblets and whatever other weird body parts they've stuffed inside there. You can do whatever you want with those since I won't be using them. Rinse the turkey with cold water inside and out, and plop it into your makeshift poultry hot tub.

3. Pour your dissolved mixture over the turkey, along with the beer and lemon quarters, and then fill the bucket the rest of the way with plain water until the turkey is just covered and stir. You may need to weight it down with something to make sure it stays immersed; I found that if I just sort of jammed it in there properly it stuck.

4. Stick that monstrosity in the fridge to chill out for about 24 hours, or until about an hour before you need to roast.

To Roast:

1. Hooray, it's T-Day! Time to get going. About an hour before you need to stick the turkey in the oven (check the packaging directions to find out how long your turkey will need to cook; I had a 13.45 pound turkey and it took about 3 hours and 20 minutes) remove it from the brine and place it on a roasting rack set inside a roasting pan. Pick off any solids like bay leaves and peppercorns and such and throw the brine down the drain. Allow the bird to come to room temperature for about an hour. Chill the hell out about bacteria and whatnot, it'll be fine.

2. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. In a small bowl, mash together the butter, lemon zest, lemon juice, sage, and freshly ground pepper. Now here you have to do something kinda gross/mostly cool: run your hands underneath the turkey skin on top to separate it from the breasts. There's a thin sort of membrane that attaches the skin to the flesh and you'll feel it give way as you separate it.

3. Take half the butter mixture in your fingers and insert it in between the skin and the breasts you just separated, rubbing and smoothing it out until the breasts are well covered.

This is sounding a bit suggestive at this point but tbh who doesn't want to be rubbed down with Kerrygold Irish Butter? 

Rub the other half of the butter mixture all over the outside of the turkey, in all the crevices like the wings corners and drumsticks.

Like so.

That's my Maple Bourbon Pumpkin Cake chilling behind me, and a mimosa in my hand because it isn't a holiday unless it's started with some bubbly!

4. Woo! All done and time to go in the oven. Last thing you have to do is pour in about 2 cups of chicken stock or broth into the pan so that the drippings won't burn during roasting. Toss that bird (we named ours Dorothy because I'm macabre and weird) into the oven at 450 for only 15 minutes. This blast of heat allows the skin to get a jump start on browning. After 15 minutes, turn the heat down to 350 degrees and set the timer for 1 hour.

5. Somewhere in that hour, melt the additional 1/2 stick of butter and mix with the extra sage and lemon juice. After the timer goes off, remove turkey from oven and baste with pan juices and some of the melted butter mixture. Replace back into the oven, and repeat two more times until turkey registers 160 degrees F when a meat thermometer is inserted into the thigh, or about 2-ish more hours. If you find that the breast is browning too much (at around hour 2 for me) you may gently cover it with a bit of foil.

The last baste...look at all that yummy sage and lemon zest! And those pan juices are destined to make a bomb ass gravy.

To Grave

(.......I went with it)

1. Once the turkey is done, remove it to a plate or carving board to relax for about 20 minutes to let the juices disperse throughout. Cover with foil to keep warm. Toss the roasting rack into the sink, and pour off the majority of the fat from the bottom of the pan into a separate heat-safe dish. You can use one of those nifty gravy-fat separators if you want.

That should leave you with just the delicious drippings in the pan. At this point you have the option of cooking the gravy directly in the pan set over two burners; or if you used a nonstick pan like I did, you can just pour all the drippings into another more manageable smaller pot. However if you did NOT use a nonstick pan I DO NOT RECOMMEND THAT! All those browned bits stuck to the bottom will be left behind and they are total flavour bombs. You'll want to include them in your gravy.

2. At any rate, bring the drippings to a rapid simmer and whisk in the flour and water mixture. Whisk constantly and cook for about 4 minutes to thoroughly cook out all the raw flour taste. The gravy should thicken considerably at this point. Then add the wine, and cook for about 8 minutes, whisking often, until most of the alcohol has burned off. Whisk in the water, and TASTE! The salt level at this stage is important. All that salty butter and chicken broth may have provided more than enough salt for your tastes. If the salt level is good, do not add chicken broth and instead simply add more water until your gravy reaches the desired consistency.

Serve over your carved turkey, and I'm sure you will have a very happy table! Bon Appetit!

Posted on December 1, 2014 .

Lekker: Maple Bourbon Pumpkin Cake

My last blog post was about the amazingly simple Salted Butter Apple Galette, which I love as an alternative to pie because I hate pie. SUE ME. In that pies are traditional for Thanksgiving dessert and my hatred of them does not take holidays, I opted to make this Maple Bourbon Pumpkin Cake.

I chose this because

1. bourbon and
2. because I didn't want a painfully sweet saccharine dessert.

This cake strikes the perfect balance between sweet (the glaze and the maple candied pecans) and boozy-spiced-fall-ness, and was a hit at my table. Try with vanilla ice cream.

I like to envision this method of decorating as all the pecans coming to worship at the pecan Altar of Candied Wonder in the middle.

It doesn't really matter which bourbon you decide to use. Maker's Mark is my do-or-die favourite, but I am poor now and cannot afford that so I was good ol' Jack for me. Most of it bakes off though, so honestly it doesn't make any difference.

So, let's get baking!

serves 8


For the cake:

  • 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1 t pumpkin pie spice
  • 3/4 t salt
  • 1 1/2 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 cup cooked pumpkin (Use the tinned stuff like I did, since I had leftovers from making one of my all-time favourites: Pumpkin Soup.)
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/3 cup bourbon of your choice

For the glaze:

  • 2 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted after measuring
  • 2 T half-and-half
  • 1 T melted unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 T bourbon
  • 1 t vanilla extract

For the maple glazed pecans:
Shocking that you would need pecans and maple syrup, right?

  • 1/2 cup pecan halves
  • 2 T pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 t cinnamon



1.  First things first, in a small bowl mix together the pecans, maple syrup, and cinnamon really well. These babies are gonna soak in that goodness while you're mixing up the cake. Give it a stir every once in awhile to make sure the syrup gets into allllll the nooks & crannies.

2. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and grease two 8-inch round cake pans. (I suppose this cake could also be done in a Bundt pan or some other loaf pan, or as cupcakes, but I don't know the cooking times and what have you for that.)

In a medium sized mixing bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Whisk it well, since I'm saving you the hassle of actually sifting that flour separately to aerate it!

3. In another larger mixing bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer until light yellow and fluffy. Add the brown sugar, and beat again until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and mix well. See: light and fluffy. (Get the picture?) Then add your pumpkin and vanilla. It might look a little grainy and weird after you add the pumpkin, but don't try to overbeat it just to get rid of that. It's fine.

4. With your mixer on low, add half the flour mixture to the wet batter. Mix well. Add the milk, and mix well. Add the other half of the flour, and ___ ____. Finally, dump in the bourbon and mix well-ish.

5. Pour the batter evenly into your pans, and bake at 350 for about 20-ish minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the pans and set on top of wire cooling racks for about 10 minutes (this gives the cake time to contract from the sides of the pan) and then flip out onto the racks to finish cooling.

6. *While* those babies are cooling, and your oven is still at 350, it's time to do the pecans! Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and dump your maple coated pecans on there. Bake for 5 minutes, then remove and toss, and bake for 5 minutes more. That's all it should take for them to go all nicely dark brown and smell amazing. Feel free to taste test one.

7. Since that only took 10 minutes and your cakes are probably still cooling, you can mix up your glaze now and give it time to set up.

Tangent: I have a love-hate relationship with glazes. They are easy because they literally involve just dumping everything together and stirring until smooth ( that), BUT. Since glazes have a more liquid consistency than frosting, you kind of just dribble it down over the top of the cake and hope that it will come dripping down the sides attractively. But if you want those attractive little drips, then you can't pour too much glaze on...WHICH MEANS THERE ISN'T ENOUGH GLAZEY GOODNESS ON THE DAMN CAKE! And I won't stand for that.

So what you should do is schmear a decent amount on the inside of your two 8-inch layers as a filling, and *then* content yourself with dribbling the glaze over the top. If you want to put something else or nothing at all in the middle, then here's what I suggest: do one layer of slow glaze dribbling. Stop. Leave it alone for about 15 minutes, giving it time to set up. Then come back and do a second layer. It still won't give you a ton of glaze on the sides, but there's more on the top and whatever, I suppose that works.

8. I honestly don't even remember where we were now. Oh right, okay so you made the glaze. Once the cakes are cool, stack them on a cake plate and glaze accordingly as discussed/ranted about above. Decorate with the pecans as you wish. Done!

It would have been nice if I had remembered to take a photo of the *inside* once we had cut a slice, but no. Of course not. FOR THE RECORD, though, it's a lovely dusty dark orange.

Recipe originally inspired by this one by Bakerella.

Lekker: Salted Butter Apple Galette

It's here, it's here, it's finally here!!! Happy Thanksgiving guys!

I can't wait to share with you some of the things I'm making for today, after they are taste tested by my highly qualified tasting panel (hah). On the menu is a Lemon Sage Butter Roasted Turkey with white wine gravy; my classic Perfect Mashed Potatoes; Sourdough, Italian Sausage, and Roasted Chestnut Stuffing; and a luxury Green Bean & Mushroom Casserole. I'm not a fan of dessert pies, generally, and so for dessert I opted for a Maple Bourbon Pumpkin Cake.

If you find it utterly sacrilegious not to serve apple pie for Thanksgiving dessert though, may I propose this delicious and simple Salted Butter Apple Galette as an updated alternative?

Isn't it beautiful?! And so deceptively simple, too. The ingredient list is short, and you just might already have everything you need around the house. It never hurts to have a back up just in *case* one of your preplanned desserts doesn't entirely work out.

This recipe is straight from the hallowed halls of Bon Appetit Magazine, with whom I enjoy the most majestic of love affairs, so I'm just going to link to it right here.

The only changes I made were to use a teaspoon of vanilla extract instead of bothering with vanilla beans. Don't be intimidated by the apple slices! If you have a mandolin of course you can use one, but I just sliced neatly with a steady hand. The tart dough is easy to whip up too, just make sure you have some time for it to chill in the fridge. Onward!

Ah, look! Proof, that I do, actually, do all this cooking! And yes, I am using an empty wine bottle as a rolling pin, because why not?

It should look like this right before you pop it into the oven. Num num num,


Lekker: Vegan Sweet Potato & Black Bean Chili

Hello there, and Happy Thanksgiving pals!

As a foodie I'm sure you can imagine that this is very nearly my favourite holiday of the year. Christmas is my actual favourite, but only because it's LONGER.

Because Thanksgiving is just one day I feel like it never really gets its proper due, so when I "grow up" one day I plan to host Thanksgiving dinners at least twice a year. It's such a great excuse to get together with friends and family for quality time, and besides, there's just too many cool recipes I want to try. Once per year is not cutting it. Bollocks.

(That plan hinges on the obviously faulty logic that I will, in fact, one day grow up--but nevermind.) 

Surprising no one I've been planning my Thanksgiving menu since sometime in September, and I ultimately decided that sweet potatoes were axed from this year's menu. Since it's just my Dad, my 20-year-old body building brother Champ and I for dinner this year it's quite the small party, and thus I had to be painfully limited with my side dishes.

Champ threw a hissy fit when he found out I wasn't doing sweet potatoes because OF COURSE he doesn't care about anything, ever, but the **second** I say no to something it's immediately the most important thing ever--but I'M IN CHARGE HERE DAMMIT!

However in light of the "family togetherness" of the holidays etc etc etc I yielded somewhat to the sweet-potato-based pressure by cooking up this vegan sweet potato and black bean chili for dinner.

None of us are vegans here but it's so lean, filling, and chock full of wholesome things, it'll make you feel better about yourself before you dive in face first to the gluttony and gravy-induced stupor that is Thanksgiving the following day.

Chili never looks particularly appetizing, but damn if it isn't delicious.

And yes, my father promptly ruined the "vegan" aspect by topping it with a mountain of shredded cheddar cheese.

serves 4


  • 1 very large, 2 medium, or 3 smallish sweet potatoes, peeled and diced small
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 red or green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 green jalapeno, seeds removed and flesh diced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 3 1/2 cups cooked black beans (or 2 15-oz tins; see my note below if you want to cook them from scratch)
  • 4 teaspoons adobo sauce from a tin of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (if you like your chili more on the spicy side, feel free to add in one of the chipotle peppers, chopped)
  • 1 28-oz tin diced tomatoes with their juice
  • 1 teaspoon white granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup water or vegetable broth, to thin it out

Optional, To Screw Up The Whole Vegan Thing: Sour cream or shredded cheese, to serve

***On black beans from scratch:***

My Mother, God rest her soul, was born and raised in Guatemala on the traditional staple diet of black beans and rice. Do you think they use tinned beans down there? LOL, no. That's an American convenience, and it is convenient--but cooking your own is stupidly easy and SO worth it.

As the beans cook they release starch and flavouring into the cooking water, yielding this black salty broth that acted as my liquid in the chili recipe, and tastes AMAZING. Like I could sip that from a mug all day in bliss. These are the beans I remember from my childhood, and if you did a taste test of beans from scratch next to tinned beans, I absolutely guarantee without a doubt that the beans from scratch will come out on top, every time.

For God's sake, just make sure that they are fresh beans. The first time I made this recipe I used a batch of beans I dug up from the back of my Dad's pantry that I later found out were AT LEAST six goddamn years old. Turns out the older the beans are, the longer it takes to cook--which in this case was SIX HOURS PLUS AN OVERNIGHT SOAKING. It felt like forever. I felt like I was stuck in some kind of parallel universe where nothing cooked.

That's it for my rant on beans for now, but I'm planning on writing a recipe for cooking your own--and more importantly, why you should definitely, positively, should be putting them in and around your mouth.


1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with foil. On it, toss together your diced sweet potatoes, paprika, salt and pepper to taste with only 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and spread out into a thin layer. Roast for 25 minutes, tossing once in between. Remove from the oven and set...somewhere. Aside. Out of your way.

Roasted sweet potato is the best sweet potato and there will be no debate on that fact.

2. In a large pot over medium heat, heat your olive oil and sauté up your onion, bell pepper, garlic, jalapeño, cumin, and oregano until everything is nice and soft. Add in the black beans, the tin of tomatoes, adobo sauce, sugar, and cocoa powder. Stir.

(Note: at this point, I added 1 cup of the black bean broth because the chili was too thick to simmer properly. If you opted for tinned beans, add in a cup of water or vegetable broth here.)

3. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then reduce heat to low and let it simmer merrily away for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add in your sweet potato. Simmer for another 15 minutes-ish or until all heated through nicely.


There are zillions of chili toppings, of course, but in my house we dig shredded cheddar cheese and saltine crackers. Cheese is obviously not vegan, but there are vegan cheese options so if you're into it, by all means, have at it.

Lekker: Pumpkin Soup

You know what success tastes like? THIS SOUP. No, really. I am so thrilled to have finally mastered a recipe for pumpkin soup I could SING! 1, because I refuse to be defeated with crappy recipes when I have my mind set on something and 2, because I am so. sick. of pumpkin by now. Trust me, I've gone through about 3-4 different recipes in my pursuit of perfection and since I was raised with a "third world country" mentality I can't justify throwing food away--so I've been eating a lot of pumpkin soup. And there's nothing more frustrating that eating something that isn't quite right! Too garlicky. Way too spicy. Too rich and unhealthy. Sigh.

And then, over the weekend, finally...perfection. I tossed all the recipes in the rubbish bin and decided to wing it, and whaddaya know...finally, something I can rave about. Huzzah! Not only is the colour of this soup beautiful and vibrant, but it lets the pumpkin shine as the main ingredient while still maintaining a complex flavour profile. It's also super easy and quick to whip up--and even better the next day.

Pumpkin Soup
makes about 3 servings

What You Need
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium shallot, diced
2 small leeks, white and light green parts only, washed well and thinly sliced
1 stalk celery, sliced in half lengthways and diced small
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh sage, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups pumpkin puree (Make your life easy and use the tinned stuff; just make sure it's pure pumpkin and not pumpkin pie filling)
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons heavy cream
freshly ground pepper, to taste

You'll need an immersion blender for this one, or, work in batches pureeing in a standard blender.

What You Do
1. In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter until the foam subsides and it turns a lovely light golden-brown colour. Keep  close eye on it, as it can go from beautifully nutty and brown to blackened and burnt within seconds. Add your shallot, leeks and celery and saute for 5-7 minutes or until soft and golden brown. Add the garlic and sage and cook for 1-2 minutes more until fragrant.

2. Pour in your wine and let it simmer and reduce until there is no liquid left. Add the broth and the pumpkin puree and stir well to combine. Simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Remove from heat and puree with an immersion blender. Taste, and adjust salt and pepper as necessary. I find I usually need about 4 turns from a pepper grinder, and actually I don't use any salt since I think the broth is plenty salty enough. Stir in the 3 tablespoons of heavy cream, and serve!

If you wanna be all fancy-pants, serve it with a couple of whole sage leaves fried quickly in butter. A multigrain, highly seeded bread would be delicious toasted alongside this.
Posted on October 31, 2013 .

Lekker: Potato-Leek Soup

Oh god. I feel so guilty for posting yet ANOTHER soup recipe. (And there's a second one in the chute...) I'm sure I've lost ALL of my male readers (those that aren't sick and making my Italian Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup, anyway) with the dearth of salads and soups that've been on here lately. What can I say for myself? Most of the time I'm solo, and I like soups! I can make a big batch and have lunch or dinner for a few days, and because I'm not expected to feed a man I don't have to feel obligated to make "real food." And, it's "soup season" because it's fall and blah blah blah.

I promise, I have plans for "real food" in the coming weeks--Sticky Chutney Chicken, Tex-Mex Chili, Bucatini Bolognese and some to-die-for buffalo chicken sandwiches that are *perfect* for football Sundays. This wasn't even planned for today; it only happened because my housemate TB and I spent the morning harvesting the final crop from the garden before tearing it up for the winter, and it yielded a shit ton of leeks and potatoes.

Not to mention...sweet potatoes. BOATLOADS AND BOATLOADS OF SWEET POTATOES.

But for now, one of my absolute favourites--Potato Leek Soup. Of all the versions I've tried and tinkered with, this one is my favourite because it's largely dairy free except for the butter, but just as rich and creamy as you'd wish. I love serving this with a hearty slice of garlic bread, just like my mother used to, and a crisp green salad. TB raved about this recent batch and subsequently cleaned me out of my dinner for the rest of the week. Oh well. :)

Potato Leek Soup
makes 4 servings

What You Need
2 T butter
2 leeks, white and light green parts only, washed well and sliced thinly
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch pieces (I find Yukon Golds to be the smoothest and richest potatoes for mashing or pureeing)
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (or you can use vegetable broth to make this completely vegetarian)
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
~1/2 cup of water, to thin

You'll need an immersion blender for this soup, or, work in batches to puree in a regular blender.

What You Do
1. In a medium saucepot over medium heat, melt the butter until the foam subsides and it turns a light brown colour. PLEASE be watchful, as it can go from beautifully brown to blackened and burnt within seconds. Browning the butter, though, gives it a nice colour and slightly nutty flavour. Toss in your sliced leeks and chopped onion and saute for about 7 minutes or until soft and golden brown. Add the garlic and rosemary and cook for 1-2 minutes more until fragrant.

2. Pour in your chicken broth and add your potatoes. Cover and bring to a boil, then simmer for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are completely tender. Remove from heat.

3. Using an immersion blender, puree until smooth. At this stage I found that I needed to add 1/2 cup of warm water to thin it out to a consistency that I preferred, but use your judgement.

TB wanted the flavours of a baked potato, so he topped his soup with some shredded cheddar cheese and bacon crumbles. It was, in a word, divine. I'm a simple girl though and this soup is so flavourful I love it as-is. It's warm, rich, and sticks to your ribs for those disgustingly chilly winter nights that are sure to come this season...

Bon appetit!
Posted on October 28, 2013 .

Lekker: Andouille & Kale White Bean Stew

Thank god for this recipe. Seriously, I've been absent for awhile solely because I've just had one dud recipe after another. I wouldn't share anything here I'm not TOTALLY crazy about and can't wait to make again and lately it's all just been bleh, bleh, blah. Meat & Potato Pies that were good, but just too much damn work (3+ hours for six tiny little pies? GTFO); Chocolatey Peanut Butter Banana Bread (which was less like bread and more like cake and boring in either case); Roasted Garlic, Leek & Pumpkin Soup that sounds good in theory but turned out to be way too garlicky and way too spicy (will be tinkering with that recipe though) and a number of other nonsense failures.I needed a win.

Enter this deliciousness!

I'm sort of stretching this by calling it a "stew" because there is SOME broth, but it's so hearty and filling I don't think it deserves the "soup" classification. For most people, I think, "soup" is something that requires a Part 2 of the meal--a salad, or a sandwich, etc--to make it a full meal. Yesterday I had only a big bowl of French onion soup for lunch and I was a royal cranky bitch for the rest of the afternoon because I was starving. This is chock full of protein with just the right amount of veggies and delicious, salty, flavourful broth. I can't imagine anyone who wouldn't like this--except my Bonus Dad, who does not like kale, and my Bonus Mom, who does not eat sausage. Sigh. Sorry guys--can't please everyone, all the time! :-}

This takes about 35-40 minutes to prepare from start to finish. Serve with a thick wedge of garlic bread and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese on top and you'll want nothing more out of life.

 I took a picture of it still in the pot because I knew that if I got it into a bowl, I would be wanting to get it into my mouth much more than wanting to take some snaps--and I was right.

Andouille & Kale White Bean Stew
makes about 6 servings

What You Need
6 ounces Andouille sausage (I used one link of this one by Johnsonville)
2 medium shallots (If you don't know, shallots are like onions but stronger and more pungent in taste; they have the same reddish papery skin but are smaller and oblong instead of round, and purple and white in color instead of white or yellow; typically you can find them next to the garlic in your shop)
2 small or 1 large celery rib
2 medium carrots, peeled
2 cloves garlic
1 dash cinnamon (sounds weird, I know, but restrain yourself to JUST ONE DASH and it's amaaazing)

3/4 cup dry white wine
1 cup of diced tomatoes, drained of their juice (I found this to be just about half a can)
2 15-ounce cans of white beans, rinsed (I used Great Northern beans, but cannellini or "small white beans" work well here too)
4 cups of chicken broth (I used low sodium since the sausage has plenty)
1 bag (16 ounces) kale (I buy the triple-washed pre-chopped version because I am lazy)
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons dried tarragon
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1-2 tablespoons of butter or your preferred oil for frying
~1 teaspoon red wine vinegar (you can add more to taste, but start with that)

Shaved or shredded Parmesan cheese, for topping

What You Do
1. In a large stockpot over medium heat, melt the butter or oil. Slice up the sausage into bite sized pieces by slicing it lengthwise first, and then into little half-moons. Fry that over medium heat until nicely browned.

2. While that's cooking, dice up your celery, carrots and shallots. Since I like consistency, I try to aim for a size that is close to the size of the beans for the carrots and celery, and a smaller dice for the shallots. When the sausage is done, scoop it out to drain on a paper towel and, in the same fat, fry up your veggies for about 5-6 minutes until they're golden. Mince your garlic and toss that in with the dash of cinnamon, frying for an additional 2 minutes until fragrant.

3. Now add the wine. Again, if you're anything like me (that is, an inexcusable lush), that just means tipping your wine glass over until it looks like 3/4 of a cup. Ta dah! A miraculous excuse for a refill. The thing with cooking with wine (in the actual food anyway) is that you want to cook it down quite a bit; that raw wine taste in food is just nasty, and happens when you add wine at the same time as other liquids. So you'll want to cook this for about...meh, maybe 3-4 minutes until most of the liquid is gone.

4. Throw in everything else! The beans, sausage, tomatoes, chicken broth, bay leaf, and kale. If your kale is like what I had, even though it comes prewashed and pre-cut there are still some stemmy bits in there. Kale stems are tough and bitter (like some of my exes) and I don't particularly care for them (no comment), so I tear off the stems while I'm tossing it into the pot. Bring it to a good boil and then let that all simmer nicely for about 10 minutes.Sprinkle in your dried spices (adjust salt & pepper to taste at this stage if you like) and simmer another 10-15 minutes or so, or until everything is tender and your house smells droolworthy.

5. Remove from heat, stir in the teaspoon of red wine vinegar, and serve with Parmesan cheese on top with a thick hunk of garlic bread. TO. DIE. FOR.
Posted on October 23, 2013 .

Lekker: Momma's Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Hello all, and TGIF! I suppose since it's a Friday I should have a fancy featured cocktail recipe of some sort but I've been sitting on this one for a few days and wanted to share it. I have ALSO been challenged to dream up a Mac-and-Cheese Martini, so that's bouncing around in my head for the future. If YOU have something you want me to attempt, e-mail me at do love a challenge!

So, let me preface this recipe by saying that it is just slightly more complex than some of my other recipes. It doesn't require any special skills, but it'll take just over an hour to complete and requires two "specialized" tools (if you want to call them that) that aren't reeeeeeally that specialized: a citrus zester (though you might be able to get away with the really really fine holes on a cheese grater) and an immersion blender or a regular blender. If you don't have an immersion blender and you're a regular cook, I highly suggest you get one. KitchenAid I think makes one for like $30 and I've found it to be immensely useful over the years for all sorts of soups, sauces, pestos, etc. But, you can of course use a regular blender for this as well.

This particular recipe is very near and dear to my heart because it is the creation of my dear sweet Mamon. I suppose most memories take on a bit of a rose-hued patina after someone you love dies, but beyond my personal connection with this recipe it's just really GOOD and unique. Many people don't realize what a beautiful soup butternut can make, and most recipes call for a curry taste while this one is so bright and fresh it's almost like springtime. That's why I serve it year-round, really. Wanna give it a shot? Course you do, it's damn delicious.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
makes enough for 2 people, IMO
total time: this took me exactly 1 hour and 10 minutes to do, so basically one episode of Orange Is The New Black

What You Need
1 butternut squash, about 2 pounds (or 2 pounds' worth of pre-cut butternut if you can find it...but it's not as good as fresh!)
1 medium onion
Dash or two of white wine
~2 cups of chicken broth or stock
1 orange (normally I give options for lazy people substitutions but not here! This is a must!)
3 T sour cream
vegetable or canola oil
salt & pepper
fresh or dried parsley, to taste

Optional Garnishes: I like a little bit of textural contrast in my soups so I typically top it with a handful of croutons. If you want more creaminess or tang, use a dollop more of sour cream or try crème fraîche. Want a kick? Add a drizzle of sriracha, which looks pretty against the bright yellow too. Or if you really want to be utterly decadent (who doesn't?) you can fry up some bacon or panchetta and top it with THAT. Now that is delicious.

Anyway, 'nough of that. We have to actually MAKE it first before we go garnishing away.

What You Do
1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. First thing you have to do is process your butternut into manageable 1-inch chunks and this is the most time consuming part. BE CAREFUL. Use a sharp chef's knife and go slow, cutting it into circles first and then slicing off the skin. (You may want to use a smaller paring knife for that part.) Scoop out the seeds and discard. Chop up into 1-inch pieces and toss with the oil and salt and pepper to get it nicely seasoned. Spread them out evenly on a baking sheet lined with foil and place in the oven for about 10 minutes.

 Look how pretty!

Something like this. My hand slipped on the oil decanter so this is a bit over-oiled; don't do that because I had to use tongs to put the pieces in the pot to avoid everything becoming an oily mess. Pain in the ass.

2. While that's going, heat a tablespoon of oil (or butter if you want for this stage) in a large pot over medium heat. Dice up the onion and fry it up until it gets all...golden and nice smelling. You can add the wine at this stage; any kind will do but I'm usually drinking Sauvignon Blanc and no, I don't measure, I just tip my wineglass over until I think it's enough. If I was pinned against the wall to give a measurement, I guess I'd say 1/4 of a cup? Little more? What do I know, I'm pinned up against a wall and thinking about other things.

Ahem. Moving on.

3. OK so your onion is sizzling nicely on the stove with the wine and if the buzzer has gone off for your butternut it's time to take it out, give it a quick toss and put it back in for another 10 minutes. You want them to roast up nicely without drying out, so just use your judgement. I'll admit that the original recipe called for simply boiling the butternut, but I find that roasting it gives it such a fantastic depth of flavour that I don't think I'll ever boil it again. At this point you can add the chicken stock to the pot and bring it up to a slow boil. Get to work zesting the entire orange (putting the zest aside to add in a second) and juicing it; you'll want to strain it to get rid of the pulp.

 Since you're zesting, find an orange with a really nice, bright orange healthy skin color. Bonus points if you use a South African navel orange!

4. BZZZT. Squash is done, right? Good. Add it to the pot along with the fresh orange juice and orange zest and go to town with that immersion blender. You want it to be really nicely blended with no chunks. If you're opting to use a blender here, you may have to work in smaller batches and just please for the love of God BE CAREFUL, it is a hot mixture and it will go into a glass container that will also immediately become hot. Now that it's all blended it's time to taste. Adjust salt and pepper to your liking and add parsley for color at this stage, too. Feel free to tweak the amount of chicken stock depending on how thick or thin you like your soups. Let it all simmer together for another 5-10 minutes while you toast up some French bread to serve alongside it, or make a salad or drink another glass of wine. If it's all yummy and bright and spring-y, you can take it off the heat now and stir in the sour cream. Serve right away. Bathe in praise and adoration from your dinner guests.

That's it! In my opinion it's totally worth the work and I always get rave reviews when I make this. Hope you do too.

Posted on August 16, 2013 .