Cooking

Stock photo

Come in out of the cold and join the Smithtown Historical Society for a fun evening of Soup Making & More on Friday, Jan. 24. Create three different soup mixes in mason jars, homemade butter and old-fashioned Johnny Cakes to take home. Meet at the Frank Brush Barn, 211 E. Main St., Smithtown at 7 p.m. Fee is $25 per person, $20 members. Advance registration is required by calling 631-265-6768.

Potato, Leek and Fennel Soup

By Barbara Beltrami

If ever there was a veggie suited to winter cooking, it’s got to be the leek, which is like an onion but better because it’s sweeter and more colorful. And it doesn’t make me “cry” as much as an onion does when I’m cutting it up. The French love to use leeks in their cooking, and perhaps their best dish that uses them is their potato leek soup, potage aux poireaux, a savory and comforting bowl of creamy white or pale green goodness. Then there’s a hearty milk-poached fish dish with leeks and mashed potatoes or an unusual salad of leeks marinated in a vinaigrette and served up with walnuts and goat cheese that are just a few of my favorites. The one drawback for leeks is that they have to be carefully washed as there is often field dirt in between their leaves. However, it’s a small price to pay for such a wonderful veggie.

Potato, Leek and Fennel Soup

Potato, Leek and Fennel Soup

YIELD: Makes 8 servings.

INGREDIENTS:

2 quarts chicken stock

8 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

4 leeks, white part only, washed and sliced

1 fennel bulb, outer leaves removed, thinly sliced

1 cup half-and-half (optional)

½ cup chopped fresh parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

½ cup snipped chives, for garnish

DIRECTIONS: 

In a large pot, combine the chicken stock, potatoes, leeks and fennel; boil until everything is very tender and soft, 20 to 30 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes, then puree in small batches until smooth, using immersion or regular blender or processor. Return to pot, stir in cream, if using, and parsley, add salt and pepper as needed and simmer until soup is thickened, about 20 minutes. Garnish with chives. Serve hot or warm with a hearty salad.

Marinated Leeks with Walnuts and Goat Cheese

YIELD: Makes 8 servings.

INGREDIENTS:

6 large leeks, roots, , tough outer leaves and  2 inches of tops of leaves removed

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove , minced

¼ cup white wine vinegar

2½ tablespoons Dijon mustard

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped

4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

½ cup finely chopped parsley

DIRECTIONS: 

Slice leeks into half-inch disks; in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook them until very tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Place in bowl of ice water to stop cooking, drain and pat dry. Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk together oil, garlic, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper. In a salad bowl, toss vinaigrette with leeks and walnuts; sprinkle with goat cheese and parsley.  Serve at room temperature with crusty bread and meat, poultry or fish.

Milk-Poached Fish with Leeks and Potatoes

Milk-Poached Fish with Leeks and Potatoes

YIELD: Makes 4 servings.

INGREDIENTS:

1½ pounds potatoes, peeled, washed and cut into quarters

½ cup olive oil

2 leeks, white and pale green parts only, washed and halved lengthwise

4 sprigs thyme

2 garlic cloves, bruised

3 cups milk

Salt and pepper to taste

Four 6-ounce fish fillets such as cod, Chilean sea bass, monkfish, etc.

¼ cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

DIRECTIONS: 

In a large pot, boil potatoes in salted water until very tender, about 25 minutes. Drain, but reserve half a cup of cooking water. Coarsely mash potatoes, add ¼ cup cooking water (more if needed) and half the olive oil to potatoes and set aside to keep warm. In a medium wide saucepan, combine leeks, thyme, garlic, milk, salt and pepper. Over medium heat bring to a simmer and cook until leeks are a little tender, about 8 minutes. Gently slide fish fillets into pan with milk and leeks; poach in liquid until fish is cooked through and flakes when tested with a fork, about 8 minutes; adjust to a simmer as needed. Divide potatoes, leeks and fish among four shallow bowls; garnish with parsley, drizzle with remaining olive oil before serving.

Spinach with Raisins and Pine Nuts

By Barbara Beltrami

Recently faced with a 2½-pound bag of spinach, I was reminded of a visit with my friend at her wine estate in Tuscany where after cooking with her, I came away with a whole new attitude about and repertoire for spinach. In the ways she prepared it, it was a far cry from the plain old green stuff boiled or microwaved or taken out of a can. In fact, the things she did with it were such treats that second helpings were de rigueur. Consider these adaptations of her recipes, which move spinach to a sublime and savory taste echelon.

Spinach with Raisins and Pine Nuts

YIELD: Makes 6 servings.

INGREDIENTS:

2½ ounces unsalted butter

2 pounds fresh spinach, washed, drained and squeezed dry

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 ounces golden raisins, soaked in warm water 10 minutes and drained

2 ounces pine nuts, lightly toasted

DIRECTIONS: 

In large skillet, melt butter, add spinach and salt and pepper and cook over medium heat about 5 minutes. Stir in raisins and pine nuts and cook over medium low heat a few more minutes. Serve with meat, poultry or fish.

Pasta with Spinach, Gorgonzola and Mascarpone Cheese

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings.

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound pasta such as penne, rigatoni or ziti

1 pound fresh or frozen spinach, cooked, drained, squeezed dry and chopped, liquid reserved

½ pound Gorgonzola cheese, diced

2 ounces mascarpone cheese

1 ounce grated Parmesan or pecorino cheese

Freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS: 

Cook pasta according to package directions. Boil one cup of reserved spinach liquid (if not enough, add pasta cooking liquid). Meanwhile put the cheeses and pepper into a heat-proof pasta bowl; mash them together with a fork until they are well blended. While it is still hot, put cooked pasta in bowl with cheeses; add spinach and toss vigorously to combine; if sauce is too thick add a little of the spinach liquid and toss again. Serve immediately with a chilled dry white wine. 

Little Spinach and Gruyere Soufflés

YIELD: Makes 8 servings.

INGREDIENTS:

1 ounce unsalted butter plus extra for greasing individual soufflé dishes

1 ounce flour

1 cup boiling milk

2 pounds fresh spinach, washed, cooked, squeezed dry and finely chopped

Salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste

4 large eggs, separated

7 ounces Gruyere cheese, diced

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Dried breadcrumbs

DIRECTIONS: 

Preheat oven to 375 F. In small saucepan melt butter. Stir in flour, then slowly add hot milk; stirring constantly, cook mixture for 5 minutes; add spinach, salt, pepper and nutmeg; stir and let cool. With wire whisk, stir in egg yolks, Gruyere and Parmesan. Beat egg whites until stiff; gently fold into mixture. Grease individual soufflé molds and dust with breadcrumbs. Place equal amounts of mixture into each soufflé dish; bake 20 minutes; serve immediately with thin breadsticks

Ricotta and Spinach Gnocchi

YIELD: Makes 8 to 10 servings.

INGREDIENTS:

2 ounces unsalted butter

2 pounds cooked fresh spinach, drained, squeezed dry and finely chopped

1 pound ricotta

5 ounces sifted flour

5 ounces grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons breadcrumbs

3 egg yolks plus 1 whole egg

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Grated nutmeg to taste

1 ounce melted unsalted butter

4 sage leaves, minced

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS: 

In large skillet, melt the two ounces of butter; add prepared spinach and, stirring frequently, cook 5 minutes. Put spinach in a large bowl; add ricotta, flour, 5 ounces Parmesan, breadcrumbs, egg yolks, egg, salt and pepper and nutmeg; mix to thoroughly combine; refrigerate for one hour. Remove mixture from fridge and roll into little balls (about 1- to 1½-inch in diameter). Carefully drop balls into pot of gently boiling salted water and cook 4 to 5 minutes. Preheat broiler. With skimmer remove balls, drain well and place in a greased ovenproof dish. Dot with melted butter and sage, sprinkle with remaining two tablespoons of grated Parmesan and place under hot broiler a few minutes to lightly brown. Serve hot with a mixed salad.

 

Apple Latkes

By Barbara Beltrami

Latkes, aka potato pancakes, are such a Hanukkah tradition that I cannot imagine that holiday without them. Usually made of grated potatoes and fried to commemorate the oil that miraculously burned for eight days when the Macabees purified and rededicated the Second Temple in Jerusalem, they are one of the several fried foods for the holiday. However, there’s nothing that says you can’t make them with veggies, apples or sweet potatoes. You may run into protests from the kids who love the originals, but maybe you can sneak in a few new versions from the following recipes.

Original Potato Latkes

Original Potato Latkes

YIELD: Makes 8 servings.

INGREDIENTS:

2 eggs, beaten

3 cups grated and drained potatoes

¼ cup grated onion

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 tablespoons matzo meal or flour

½ cup vegetable oil

DIRECTIONS:

In a medium bowl combine the eggs, potatoes, onion, salt and pepper and matzo meal or flour. In a large skillet heat half the oil over medium-high heat and drop the mixture into it by tablespoonfuls; flatten with back of cooking spoon. Fry, turning once and adding more oil as necessary, until golden brown on both sides; drain on paper towels and set aside to keep warm. Serve hot or warm with sour cream or applesauce.

Apple Latkes

Apple Latkes

YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings.

INGREDIENTS:

¼ cup flour

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

¼ teaspoon baking powder

2 large russet potatoes, peeled, shredded and drained

1 large apple, peeled, cored and shredded

1 small onion, minced

2 large eggs, beaten

½ cup vegetable oil

DIRECTIONS:

In small bowl sift together flour, salt and pepper and baking powder. In large mixing bowl thoroughly combine flour mixture, potatoes, apple, onion and eggs. Heat half the oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Drop batter by large spoonfuls into hot oil; flatten with back of cooking spoon; fry, turning once and adding more oil as necessary, until golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels; set aside to keep warm. Serve hot or warm with applesauce, apple butter, sour cream or honey.

Central and Eastern European (Ashkenazi) Veggie Latkes

YIELD: Makes 6 pancakes.

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups shredded cabbage

2 large baking potatoes, peeled, shredded and drained

2 large carrots, peeled and shredded

3 medium leeks (white and light green parts only), washed and finely chopped

1 cup finely chopped fresh mushrooms

¾ cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder, sifted with flour

3 eggs, beaten

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

½ cup vegetable oil

DIRECTIONS:

In a large bowl thoroughly combine cabbage, potatoes, carrots, leeks, mushrooms, flour and baking powder, eggs, salt and pepper. Heat half the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Drop the mixture by heaping tablespoonfuls into the hot oil; flatten them with back of cooking spoon. Fry, turning once and adding more oil as needed, until golden brown; drain on paper towels and set aside to keep warm. Serve hot or warm with sour cream

Mediterranean (Sephardic) Veggie Latkes

Mediterranean Veggie Latkes

YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings.

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups peeled finely diced eggplant

1 large frying pepper, finely diced

1 medium zucchini, finely diced

2 medium tomatoes, diced

1 small onion, minced

2 large russet potatoes, peeled, shredded and drained

¾ cup flour sifted with 1 teaspoon baking powder

3 eggs, beaten

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tablespoon, chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1½ teaspoons fresh thyme

1 teaspoon fresh oregano

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

½ cup vegetable or olive oil

DIRECTIONS:

In a large bowl thoroughly combine eggplant, frying pepper, zucchini, tomatoes, onion, potatoes, flour and baking powder, eggs, garlic, parsley, thyme, oregano, basil, and salt and pepper. Heat half the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Drop the mixture by heaping spoonfuls into hot oil; flatten them with back of cooking spoon. Fry, turning once and adding more oil as necessary, until golden brown on both sides; drain on paper towels; set aside to keep warm. Serve hot or warm with plain yogurt, basil pesto or tomato sauce.

 

Candy Cane Cookies

By Barbara Beltrami

There are certain traditions whose pleasure is as much in the anticipation and process as in the outcome. And I think that baking Christmas cookies is one. I’m not saying that those delicious confections aren’t fun to eat, that they aren’t downright addictive. I’m just saying that it’s the expectation, the clearing of the kitchen counter, the line up of all the ingredients and decorations and the assembly- line camaraderie of family and friends all pitching in to mix and press, bake and decorate and even clean up the beautiful mess that is the real fun. 

And it doesn’t stop there. Then it’s surveying the heaping platters, dividing and arranging them into assorted pyramids or decorative containers that caps the whole experience. Of course, we all have our traditions, the one Christmas cookie that people expect from our kitchen (mine is my ginger people), and then there are those that are digressions from tradition — little crunchy, crumbly surprises that are likely to become new traditions. Here are a few.

Candy Cane Cookies

Candy Cane Cookies

YIELD: Makes 4 dozen

INGREDIENTS:

¾ cup sugar

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 large egg

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon peppermint extract

1¾ cups flour

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon coarse salt

½ cup crushed candy canes

¼ cup sugar

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. In large bowl combine, the ¾ cup sugar, butter, egg and extracts; beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until smooth and creamy. In separate bowl, sift together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt; add butter mixture and beat on low speed until well blended; stir in half the candy canes. Stir remaining candy canes into the ¼ cup of sugar. Shape dough into ¾-inch balls; roll them in sugar and candy cane mixture, then place 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheets. Bake 8 to 10 minutes until edges are lightly browned; do not over bake. Let cool one minute on baking sheet, then remove to rack to cool completely. Serve with peppermint tea or hot chocolate.

Teddy Bear Cookies

Teddy Bear Cookies

YIELD: Makes 4 dozen

INGREDIENTS:

½ cup unsalted butter at room temperature

½ pound cream cheese at room temperature

1¼ cups sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 large eggs

3 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon coarse salt

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

About 50 gummy bears

DIRECTIONS:

In large bowl beat butter, cream cheese and sugar until smooth; beat in vanilla and eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one. In a separate bowl sift together flour, baking powder and salt, then gradually beat into creamed mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm enough to shape, about one hour. Preheat oven to 350 F. Roll dough into 1½-inch balls, roll in confectioners’ sugar and place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake until edges are set and tops are cracked, about 13 to 14 minutes. Immediately press a gummy bear into top of each cookie. Cool five minutes, then remove to wire racks to finish cooling

Orange Chocolate Truffles

Orange Chocolate Truffles

YIELD: Makes about 1½ dozen

INGREDIENTS:

½ cup heavy cream

8 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chunks

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1½ teaspoons finely grated orange zest

1 cup good quality cocoa powder

DIRECTIONS:

In a medium saucepan bring the cream to just a simmer over medium-low to low heat, transfer to medium bowl; pour cream over chocolate, cover with plastic wrap and set aside until chocolate melts, about 10 minutes. Stir in vanilla and orange zest until thoroughly blended; set aside to cool to room temperature, about 45 minutes. When you are sure there is no heat left in mixture, beat it on medium speed of electric mixer until it turns a light color; refrigerate about one hour. Using a melon baller, scoop into balls and roll smooth with hands. Place cocoa powder in shallow dish and roll balls in it until covered on all sides. Gently remove each one to a waxed paper or parchment-lined baking sheet; refrigerate until ready to serve, then let sit at room temperature. 

 

Lobster Mac and Cheese Casserole

By Barbara Beltrami

It’s that frenzied time of year when the imminent holidays take huge chunks out of not just our wallets but our time. For many of us, preparing complicated and time-consuming meals is out of the question, and it’s either takeout or something quick but hearty that can be shoved in the oven while we scramble around to attack the holiday chores. This is when casseroles can be the answer. They’re meals that the kids enjoy and can even pitch in to help prepare (if you can pry them away from their iPhones and video games). Casseroles can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated or frozen, then reheated. Here are a few that are my favorites.

Lobster Mac and Cheese Casserole

YIELD: Makes 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound elbow macaroni

1 stick unsalted butter

½ cup flour

1 quart 2% milk, heated but not boiled

8 ounces Emmenthal (Swiss) cheese, grated

8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated

4 ounces fontina cheese, grated

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1/3 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

1½ pounds cooked lobster meat

1 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375 F. Put a large pot of salted water on to boil for macaroni. Cook macaroni according to package directions; drain. Meanwhile in a large saucepan, melt all but two tablespoons butter over medium heat; reduce heat to low and, stirring constantly with wire whisk add flour, cook for two minutes, until nicely blended and a pale golden color. Still whisking, add hot milk and cook a minute or two more, until mixture is smooth and thickened; remove from heat and whisk in the cheeses, salt and pepper and parsley until well blended and smooth. Stir in cooked macaroni and lobster; transfer to greased large casserole dish or individual ramekins. Melt remaining two tablespoons butter and combine with breadcrumbs; sprinkle over mac and cheese mixture. 

Chicken, Wild Rice and Mushroom Casserole

YIELD: Makes 8 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup uncooked wild rice or wild rice and long-grain rice blend

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 shallot, minced

¼ cup flour

1½ cups chicken broth

1½ cups half-and-half

Pinch nutmeg

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

½ pound mushrooms, cleaned and sliced thin

3 cups diced cooked chicken

2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Cook rice according to package directions; set aside. In large saucepan over medium heat, melt half the butter, then cook the shallot until opaque but not brown, about a minute or two; sprinkle in flour and whisk until just blended; add broth and half-and-half and over medium heat, vigorously whisk; when smooth, simmer about 5 minutes, and season with nutmeg, salt and pepper. In medium skillet over medium heat, saute mushrooms in remaining butter; add, along with chicken and rice, to butter-flour mixture; thoroughly combine and turn into 2-quart greased casserole. Bake about 30 minutes, until bubbly and barely crispy on top and garnish with parsley.  

Bean and Corn Casserole

YIELD: Makes 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

¼ cup olive oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 green frying pepper, diced

1 tablespoon flour

1 tablespoon chili powder

One 14-ounce can diced tomatoes with juice

One 28-ounce can + one 14-ounce can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

One 14-ounce can corn kernels, drained

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

¼ cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 F. In large skillet over medium heat, warm olive oil; add onion, garlic and frying pepper; cook, stirring frequently, until onion is wilted, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add flour and chili powder and stir until blended. Stir in tomatoes and their juice and over medium heat, bring to a boil; continue to cook, stirring frequently, until most of the liquid is evaporated, about 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in beans, corn, salt and pepper, thyme and parsley, and transfer to greased two-quart casserole. Bake until bubbly, about 40 minutes; sprinkle with cheese and bake 5 more minutes. Garnish with cilantro before serving.

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Judges taste pies made by local residents, making the decision on both taste and texture. Photo by Kyle Barr
PJSD student in the aftermath of the pie-eating contest. Photo by Kevin Wood

Pie to die for was served up at the Village Center in Port Jefferson Nov. 23 as the village hosted its first Pie Bake Off and Eating Contest, sponsored in part by Torte Jeff Pie Co. and the Village of Port Jefferson. 

Residents and locals, even one who hailed from across the Sound in Connecticut, sent over two versions of their home-made pumpkin pies to see which would be the cream of the crop. Six judges, including Mayor Margot Garant and trustee Kathianne Snaden, as well as Torte Jeff Pie Co. owner Lisa Harris tried slices of 33 pies, judging them on crust, taste, sliceability and more. By the end, it was general surgeon Dr. Lawrence Kelly of Port Jefferson who won first place. Second place was tied between Tom Capodanno and Beth Whitford. The pies were raffled off for those wanting to take them home, and over $250 was donated to the food pantry at Infant Jesus Church in Port Jeff.

After the judging, both adults and kids from Port Jefferson Elementary School took part in a blueberry pie-eating contest, with Luke Musto winning in the children’s division. In a contest between the village and school, the village barely managed to pull ahead. Finally, Jimmy Purificato won in the public pie-eating contest.

My Favorite Turkey Gravy

By Barbara Beltrami

I can still see them standing there by the stove, Mother and Aunt Ruth in their ruffled gingham aprons and Aunt Lillian with the dish towel tucked in her waistband. And I can still hear the arguing as each one vied for her version of the best and, of course, only way to make the gravy.  

“You have to chop up the neck meat and the gizzards That’s what thickens it.”

“No it doesn’t, it just makes it lumpy.”

“You have to deglaze the pan with a good splash of wine.

“What do you want to do, get the children drunk?”

“You’re not going to use all that fat, are you?

“What do you think makes it taste so good?”

“I told you we should have put herbs in it. It has no flavor.”

“Not so much flour! Too much salt!”

“It’ll never thicken with the flame that low.”

“Don’t cook it down so much. We’re not going to have enough!”

And so it went, year after year. Some Thanksgivings the gravy was great, others it was awful, but most Thanksgivings it was OK enough to save the mashed potatoes and make the white meat seem moister than it really was. I’ve developed, with no one allowed to come near the stove when I’m making it, my own versions of those turkey gravies of yore. And I certainly don’t have to tell you what to serve them with! Just make sure they’re nice and hot.

My Favorite Turkey Gravy

My Favorite Turkey Gravy

YIELD: Makes about 8 cups

INGREDIENTS:

¼ cup vegetable or olive oil

1 leek, washed, trimmed and thinly sliced

Neck, giblets (except liver) and one or two extra turkey wings, separated at joints

8 cups chicken broth

1 celery rib, coarsely chopped

2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks

1 garlic clove

Handful of herb sprigs (parsley, sage, thyme)

Turkey drippings from roasting pan

¾ cup dry white wine

½ cup flour

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat, then add leek and turkey parts; cook, stirring very frequently, until browned, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add broth, celery, carrots, garlic and herbs; cover and simmer two hours. (I do this while the turkey is roasting.) Remove and discard veggies and all turkey parts but wings. (They can be de-boned and saved for another use, dog or cat.)

When turkey is done, remove it to cutting board to rest; pour roasting pan drippings into bowl and let fat rise to top. Place roasting pan over two burners on stove top over medium heat. Add wine and with a wooden spoon, scrape any browned bits from the pan bottom until liquid is slightly reduced, 3 to 5 minutes.

Reserving half a cup, discard the separated fat, add pan juices to liquid in roasting pan and combine thoroughly. Pour half cup fat into large saucepan, whisk in flour, salt and pepper and continue to stir until roux achieves a nice golden brown color, about 3 to 5 minutes. Gradually ladle hot broth into flour mixture, whisking constantly, over medium-low heat. Add turkey dripping mixture, stir vigorously and bring to a boil, then simmer gently until mixture thickens, about 10 minutes.

My Other Favorite Turkey Gravy

My Other Favorite Turkey Gravy

YIELD: Makes 4 to 4½ cups

INGREDIENTS:

3–3½ cups roasted poultry stock

½ cup apple cider

½ cup flour

1½ teaspoons apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2/3 cup mixture of chopped fresh sage, parsley and thyme

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

INGREDIENTS:

Carefully lift turkey from roasting pan; set aside to rest for 20 minutes. Pour drippings into small bowl or measuring cup. Let fat rise to surface and skim off but reserve ¼ cup. Add drippings to stock. Set roasting pan over two cook-top burners on medium heat. Add cider and cook, scraping up any brown bits, about two minutes. Whisk in flour and reserved fat; continue cooking and whisking until roux is a nice deep golden brown, about 5 minutes. Still whisking, gradually ladle in stock and simmer until mixture is thickened. Add vinegar, soy sauce, herbs and salt and pepper. Keep warm until ready to serve.

Roasted Marinated Sweet Potatoes. Stock photo

By Barbara Beltrami

As the countdown for Thanksgiving begins, the cooking side of my brain starts thinking of recipes, old ones and some variations on them as well as new ones to jazz up the dinner a bit. It seems like a good time to take you along on this culinary journey and share with you this week and next some of the recipes that have been in my files for a long time and some that have recently landed there. This week I’ve been fooling around with sweet potatoes. Although I personally think that a sweet potato baked in its skin can’t be improved upon, I know most people think a sweet potato has to be made even sweeter with things like brown sugar and maple syrup and yes, marshmallows. Capitulating to the majority I offer you the following recipes.

Scalloped Sweet Potatoes and Apples

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups peeled cooked sweet potatoes, sliced into 1/4-inch discs

1½ cups tart apples, cored, peeled and sliced into ¼-inch half moons

½ cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon salt

½ stick unsalted butter

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter a 9×5×13-inch baking dish or deep pie dish. Evenly arrange half the sweet potatoes in the dish, then half the apples followed by half the sugar and half the salt; dot with butter; repeat procedure using second half of ingredients. Cover with aluminum foil and bake 30 minutes, uncover and bake till apples are soft and top is brown. Serve with turkey, chicken or duck.

Baked Sweet Potatoes with Bourbon and Pecans

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

4 sweet potatoes

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature

 2 eggs, lightly beaten

½ cup heavy cream

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1/3 cup raisins

¼ cup bourbon

½ cup chopped pecans

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375 F. Scrub potatoes and bake until tender, about 45 minutes, depending on size. When cool enough to handle, peel and mash in a large bowl. Add sugar, butter, eggs, cream, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon and raisins, and mix until thoroughly combined. Turn into greased casserole and bake until heated through, about 30 minutes; soak pecans in bourbon for at least an hour, then sprinkle them with the bourbon  on top and bake another 10 minutes, until they just start to brown. Serve with turkey and cranberry sauce.

Sweet Potato-Cranberry Casserole

YIELD: Makes 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

6 sweet potatoes, peeled, boiled, and cut into ½-inch-thick slices

1½ cups whole cranberry sauce

¾ cup water

½ cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon grated orange zest

¾ teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Place potato slices in a 2-quart greased casserole. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine cranberry sauce, water, sugar, zest and cinnamon; bring to boil and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in butter until it melts; pour mixture over sweet potatoes. Bake 20 minutes or until heated through and bubbly. Serve with turkey and stuffing.

Roasted Marinated Sweet Potatoes

YIELD: Makes 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

¼ cup olive oil

2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves

2 teaspoons honey or brown sugar

Juice of one freshly squeezed lemon

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large ovenproof skillet heat the quarter-cup of oil. Add the sweet potato chunks and over medium heat let them caramelize on one side, about 2 to 3 minutes; add salt, pepper, thyme and rosemary and toss together. Transfer pan to oven and roast until tip of sharp knife pierces the potatoes easily, about 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer to large bowl; add honey, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar and 2 tablespoons oil; toss to coat; let sit and cool to room temperature or serve warm. Serve with meat or poultry and tossed green salad.

Stock photo

Time to bake a pie!

The Village of Port Jefferson and Torte Jeff Pie Co. (218 East Main St., Port Jefferson) are teaming up to host Port Jefferson’s first Traditional Pumpkin Pie Bake Off and Eating Contest at the Village Center, 101 E. Broadway, Port Jefferson on Saturday, Nov. 23 from 1 to 4 p.m. 

Participants for the bake off must submit an application no later than Nov. 21 at 5 p.m. There is no entrance fee. Pies must be delivered to the Village Center by noon on Nov. 23. Each entry must present two pies — one for the tasting and one to be auctioned off after the contest to help raise money for the local food pantry at Infant Jesus R.C. Church. Pies will be judged for taste, texture, crust and appearance. First-place winner of the bake off will receive a $250 cash prize and lottery tree. 

There will be two pie eating contests —  one for adults and one for children under the age of 16. There is a $10 pie eating entry fee and all participants must also register by Nov. 21 at 5 p.m. For an application and more information, call 631-473-4724 or visit www.portjeff.com/pie.