Turkey, Stuffing, Gravy, Oh My!

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If there is one thing that is a must for me, it’s a lovely holiday meal. It doesn’t matter how busy one is with their career, work, or running around with the kids, when the holidays roll around, it’s time to put a proper meal on the table.

Turkey is as traditional as it gets when it comes to Thanksgiving and Christmas, although Roast Hams, and Legs of Lamb are often substituted. I love working with turkey, but can’t stand purchasing a whole one. Can you imagine all the turkey that would be left over? All those turkey sandwiches, soups, stews, salads, quesadillas?  I can’t force feed turkey to myself for weeks on end, and I don’t recommend you do either. My simple solution is to purchase turkey breast.

Many of you will argue that you prefer dark meat, and I don’t blame you. It is a lot more flavourful. However, I come from the school of thought that if prepared properly, a slice of turkey breast can be as juicy, tender, and succulent. At the end of the day, it’s all about technique. Nonetheless, if you’re a stickler for dark meat, turkey drumsticks are sold on their lonesome as well.

Butter basted turkey is boring to me. I mean, you’re going through all this effort to put a memorable meal on the table, you might as well go the extra mile. I season my turkey with a variety of herbs, olive oil, and seasonings and marinate it over night so that the flavours permeate the meat.

I roast the turkey in a pan with seasonal vegetables. This year I opted for sweet potatoes. They caramelize in the oven while your bird cooks, and soak up the juices and fat let out by the turkey. As sides, I prepare mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and a lovely gravy flavoured by the turkey juices collected in the pan after baking. Please, please, please…if cranberries are in season, do take the 5 minutes necessary to make fresh cranberry sauce. There is nothing like it.  The sweet and sour tang of fresh cranberry sauce trumps tinned cranberry sauce any day, and your efforts will be validated by the smiles of satisfaction around the table.

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Easter is around the corner, and it’s almost time for that holiday meal. Time to pull out those roasting pans once again!

I Challenge You to a Duel

Vietnamese cuisine is one of my favourites. As such, over the years I’ve tried to recreate it at home. I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t eat certain things at Vietnamese restaurants anymore, because I like my home made version better.

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So I challenge you to a Bun Thit Nuong (Cold Vermicelli Salad with Grilled Pork) challenge. The video will explain 🙂

Gordon Ramsay in Toronto

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If you’re like me and had no clue that he was coming to town, then join the club. Food aristocrat Gordon Ramsay graced us with his presence at the Chapters-Indigo location at the Eaton Centre. He was here to promote his new book “Gordon Ramsay’s Healthy Appetite- Recipes from the F-Word” and the new season of, you guessed it, “The F-word”. Chef was scheduled to be in the vicinity at 12:30 pm to sign copies of his new book. I thought I was making excellent time when I rolled in at 11:18 am. It took me a couple of minutes to pick my jaw up off the floor when I realized how long the line was. The line was so bloody long, that a secondary line was created upstairs. To my dismay, I was in the secondary line. I didn’t realize that there was such a fan following for Chef in this neck of the woods.

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Let me tell you, I am not a new found Gordon Ramsay fan. My affinity for him has neither stemmed from a few episodes from his popular series Hell’s Kitchen or Kitchen Nightmares like most people have come to know him.  Oh no, it goes back about 10years, when I was a young’n watching British cooking shows on TVO. I am the girl who grew up with Delia Smith, Gary Rhodes, and Jamie Oliver (when he was still the naked chef).  Gordon Ramsay was another, who had an undeniable talent for being himself on screen (a tough task for many) and producing dishes that were as exquisite to the eyes as they were to the tongue.

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I knew what I was going to say to him when I met him. “Marinated Tuna Salad, Gressingham Duck with Chicory Tarts, and Passion Fruit Souffle. Chef Ramsay, that menu has never parted with me.” This reference was to a show that he once appeared on, namely Friends for Dinner. He appeared twice on the series, surprising unsuspecting viewers with the task of preparing a 3 course meal from one of his books for their friends. A small tutorial would ensue, and then the viewer was left to their own devices with his cell phone number as their only  lifeline.

He is gracious, inspirational, and at the pinnacle of excellence in food.I think you can now grasp my appreciation for Chef.