Mostly Modernist Thanksgiving

-Turkey Breast
-Bread stuffing
-Roast Potatoes
-Mashed Sweet Potatoes
-Cranberry sauce
-Bread machine rolls/buns
-Pumpkin Pie with whipping cream

Day N-2
Make large loaf of bread in your bread machine.
It seems like a crime, but you are going to take this lovely soft bread….
Large Load of Bread

and butcher it by removing all the crust and cutting it into slices to let go stale,
Stale Bread

which is why you need to make it two days before. Bread made from the machine does not have any preservatives so sitting out for two days will make it very hard on the outside and soft indside which is what you need for great bread stuffing.

Make Cranberry Sauce in the Sous Vide.
The Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking have a really interesting recipe for cranberry sauce. You first wash and sort through the cranberries then weigh them. Then weigh out 10% each of water and sugar. Coat the cranberries in the sugar and then put them in a sous vide bag and add the water. Hang the bag off of the end of the counter and vacuum seal.
Cranberries in Sous Vide bag

Note: The family decided that the amount of syrup was correct but the next time use 20% sugar.

Then cook Sous Vide to create sweet sugar syrup on the outside of whole cranberries. It is kind of wild to eat because first you get sweet of the syrup and then when you bite into a cranberry is explodes with sour.
Cranberry Sauce

Day N-1
Make Pumpkin Pie.
I use Libby’s Pie filling and recipe (amended of course)…
The one on the tin has you bake the pie crust blind first, then add then add the mix and bake which I agree with as no one wants a soggy crust (anywhere).
Pumpkin Pie Crust baking blind

You can get all the ingredients at Waitrose in the UK so there is NO excuse not to (that was for Guy).
Pumpkin Pie Ingredients

Pumpkin pie by itself is pretty (ok very) bland so we need to pimp it up with some spice! This is my change to the recipe because I love nutmeg so I include a whole grated nutmeg to the rest of the spices in Libby’s recipe.
Pumpkin Pie Ingredients

Watch you fingers toward the end of the grating and in fact I lied it is not a whole nutmeg it almost a whole nutmeg I stop grating when it nears adding skin to the mix.

There are two reasons you make pie a day before. The first is that by sitting for a couple of days in the fridge it allows the spices and other flavour to mix together into a smoother tasting pie. The second is that you have enough to do on the day.
Pumpkin Pie

Oh and BTW whipped cream is not optional… it rules! Don’t even think of using that UHT stuff from a can you have in your fridge. This requires proper whipping cream and powdered/icing sugar to give it that little bit more.

Thanksgiving Dinner (TD)
TD (when you finally get up)
The Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking books have a type of recipe they call “parametric recipes”. They are designed to make any quantity and have one ingredient that is 100% by weight. For brown poultry stock the 100% ingredient was water. Now I had two packages of meat the needed to be ground for the recipe that were 1 kg combined weight. So I extrapolated the water up to be its correct percentage which was 1.33 kg of water which I used to determine the amount of the other ingredients. The Modernist chefs do all of their recipes by weight, and here is why: Tipping the Balance. I wanted to make some stock from the book since I purchased my pressure cooker, and Thanksgiving is all about the gravy so I thought today I would take the time (and money) to make some Brown Poultry Stock.

Here are the ingredients for Parametric Brown Chicken Stock for Gravy
Ingredient, kg
Water, 1.33
Chicken Breast and Turkey thigh, 0.99
Chicken Wings, 0.63
Leek, 0.07
Shallots, 0.08
Carrot, 0.07

All in this cost about £10 which is a lot for ingredients you are going to throw away in the end, but from what I had read the stock was worth it. I put the chicken wings in the oven to roast for ½ hour at 190°F.
Roasting Chicken Wings

I then cut up the leeks, shallots and carrot into very thin slices.
Vegetables for Stock

I got out one of my favourite toys – the Fleischwolf!!!

To grind the chicken breast and turkey thigh. The reason you slice so thinly and grind the meat is to increase the surface area and decrease the penetration distance to the centre which produces more flavour in a shorter amount of time.

With a little oil in the pan of the Pressure Cooker brown the ground meat. Then remove the meat with a slotted spoon and add the vegetables and cook until soft. You may wonder why we are cooking the meat and vegetables before putting into the pressure cooker which is going to cook them anyway. The answer is flavour, which is due the Maillard reaction (or caramelization to you and me).

Everything goes back into the Pressure Cooker and then we need to add the water. After spending £10 on the ingredients I think that I can spare another quid for some quality water.

The water in my area is very hard so I do not steam or cook with it anymore and I can notice the difference in flavour and texture, especially of vegetables. Oh and no my pans are not coated in white gunk either.

After 1½ hours in the pressure cooker, turn it off and let the pressure reduce without venting. This is supposed to concentrate the flavour even further. When you can open the lid then strain through a fine sieve into a plastic container that has a lid. To facilitate removing the fat from the stock I then put the plastic container into a iced brine to cool it quickly. This was accomplished by putting the plastic container in a washing up bowl, adding ice and salt then topping up with cold water. By the time I was ready to use the stock in the afternoon I could skim off the fat easily.

Take the Cranberry sauce out of the fridge to get to room temp.

You need to make some rolls because they are great for:
Gravy bread – just ask my son
Butter and strawberry jam on the day (yah I mix sweet and savoury in a big way)
Leftovers – bun+butter+lettuce+turkey+salt oh ya bring it on!!!!!
See previous posts for how to make rolls in the bread machine.

The ones on the left are my lunch for the next few days, and the ones on the right are for the day.

TD-4H Turkey Breast Sous Vide 147°F for 3 hours
Get the Sous Vide up to 147°F and bag that turkey breast with some butter.
Turkey Breast in a Sous Vide Bag

I have to admit the next section is lacking pictures, but my son came home early and wanted to play the new Call of Duty (Duty or Cooking, Cooking or Duty). OK, so were really doing well on survival because we were working as a team. I think the only reason that the dinner was on time and not a mess was that later my daughter arrived and slid into my spot (and she is better at it than me, OK anyone is :-)).

TD-2H Make stuffing
I use a tried and trusted recipe for stuffing from Betty Crocker, but I use my own bread. Please note you can never have enough stuffing, ever. This stuff rocks, and rocks the next day too! No added extras because it would be just wrong to say you pimped Betty Crocker.

This is sweet potatoes or yams or what ever you want to call them. Give a good scrub up and put them in a pan to bring to a boil, and then let them simmer until you are ready to smash them up.

TD-1H Roast Potatoes 45 minutes in ActiFry
I have done the Tefal ActiFry so many time is past posts you can look for pictures. It is not just for chips as it does sauté and roast potatoes to perfection (see the plated up picture to check it out). Peel, quarter and wash several potatoes and then dry with a kitchen towel. Just 45 minutes and 5ml of groundnut oil produce the most perfect roast potatoes. I know that traditional TD utilizes mash, but I like roast potatoes since moving to the UK they are now traditional to me.

Put your stock into a pan and bring to a boil. Put about 25g of butter into a frying pan and heat until just bubbling. Cover the flour with regular flour and stir in until smooth, repeat 2 more times. Now add a ¼ cup of hot stock and stir until it is all incorporated. Now add two ¼ cups of hot stock and stir until incorporated, repeat doubling the amount of liquid until you have the desired consistency for gravy. Season with salt and pepper to taste. I like to make the gravy a bit runny then let it simmer for a while to reduce and intensify the flavour, plus it gives you time to do other things….

The first thing to do is to get the sweet potatoes out of the water and onto a chopping board, and then in my case forget about them totally (oops).

Next is to extract the turkey from the sous vide and slice.
Cut the rolls in half.
Get the stuffing out of the oven.

Finally cut a slice in the skin of the sweet potatoes and remove the skin. Then put them back into the pan with some of the whipping cream for the pumpkin pie and a couple of teaspoons of Allspice and smash them up with potato masher BTW that is the gold/brown stuff in front of the roll on the plated picture, it is great!

Here is a Mostly Modernist Thanksgiving Dinner plated up
Thanksgiving Plated

My son said it was “The best meal he has ever tasted” which made all the work worthwhile.

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Street food my way…

Just got 15 minutes to put together dinner, well there is nothing better than my egg fried rice. A few store cupboard items are required as we have no time for shopping and I am hungry NOW!

Egg Fried Rice Store Cupboard

So crack a couple of eggs into a bowl and add a good slosh of Soya sauce and give it a good stir and set aside. Chop 3 green onions into rings and add to the egg and Soya sauce.

Dice two shallots. Get your cheats garlic and ginger out of the fridge and put a heaping teaspoon of each into some olive oil in your wok. Add the shallots and fry on low heat until the shallot is soft and the garlic and ginger are slightly browned.

Shallot Garlic Ginger

Add the pre-cooked rice and heat until you can smash it up into individual grains

Rice and Spice

After about 2-3 minutes when the rice has separated and warmed through add the egg mixture to the wok and give it a good stir.

Rice with Egg Mixture

Cover with a lid to retain all the moisture.

Rice covered with a lib

Leave it cook for two minutes then give it another stir. Now turn the heat right down and leave the lid on. We want to cook it for another 3-5 minutes to get a nice brown crust on the rice. Then turn off the heat and leave it to rest for another 3-5 minutes to cook through and make rice and egg clumps.

Here it is plated up with a couple of steamed Cha-Siu buns from my local Chinese supermarket. Dash on some more Soya sauce depending on how salty you like your rice.

Street Food My Way

This is the basic recipe but any of the following make nice additions:
– frozen peas added with the egg mixture
– cooked ham or gammon cut into cubes into the egg mixture
– cooked prawns right at the end to warm through
And anything else you have lurking in your fridge except of course sweet corn.

P.S. put what you don’t serve into a container and squirt some washing up liquid into the wok along with some hot water, so by the time you finish dinner the soap will have loosened the burnt rice and the wok will be ready for cleaning.

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I have new favourite food…


Cholla from the Paradise Bakery in London.

I have been following a thread on French toast at eGullet. They suggested using challah which is the same as cholla, it appears to have several names depending on the country. I thought yah, where am I going to find that in the UK. Yesterday I was at Costco and looked down to see a pallet of the stuff, French toast here I come!!!! BTW this is eggy bread to the people in the UK.

You need to top and tail the cholla and try to get rid of many poppy/sesame seeds as possible.

Cholla tops and tails

Crack and egg into a bowl and then add a couple of glugs of milk, then beat with a whisk until it resembles scrambled egg batter. Pour the egg mixture into a pie plate and set next to the stove. Then get some butter just sizzling in a pan – not to hot, just so you can barely hear it. Then quickly place the cholla in the egg mixture and then turn over and coat the other side and place into frying pan. This is kind of an art as you need to cover the whole surface, but not so long as to soak up too much egg. Cholla is a dense bread and also a little sweet which is why it makes ideal French toast.

Cholla being fried

Now is the time to get your butter and syrup out.

Cholla being fried

I love this marketing gag, “Organic” Maple Syrup, its tree sap, doh of course it is organic!

When the toast is lightly browned on both sides plate it up with lots of butter and syrup.

Cholla French Toast

This made my daughter go yuuuummmm this morning, and she exclaimed that she had a new favourite bread too.

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I’ve gone all spiritual…

and started to read the Pie-ble


Come on, 140 pie recipes for £9, you gotta get one or two even (it is a great gift idea with Christmas just around the corner). Right now I am about ¼ the way through having my first thumb and came across deep fried apple pie, now that is rocking my boat for sure!!! Especially since it is apple season in the UK.

This looks to be a great book and I will let you know what recipes I cook from it and how they come out. Just for a taster here are the contents:

double-crust pies
handheld pies
top-crust pies
open-topped pies and tarts
plated pies
potato-topped pies
party pies
raised & freeform pies
fancy pies & suet puds
sides, salads & sauces
the basics

How cool is that – they have a section on leftovers… I always say sometimes the leftovers are better than the original meal.

PIE PIE PIE, Eat it Learn!

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I think this is the last…

BBQ of 2011. I snuck one more BBQ in this weekend as I wanted to try the proposed changes to Brined Chicken on the Rotisserie. I used the original recipe with the change of smoked sea salt and then let it sit for about 45 minutes after the brine to warm up to room temperature. I also rubbed some smoked paprika into the skin before cooking.

I started to cook at about 4:30 as sunset is about 6:15 here in the UK at this time of year.

Towards the end of the cooking it would go around a couple of times and the you hear the juice coming out of the skin.
Chicken Starting

And then you would get the light show.
Chicken Starting

I had to eat this at the sink in the kitchen as the juice from the chicken was over running the channels on the cutting board. Man was this nice; I ate half of it before I knew what was happening – caveman styling!!!!

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Huh, what are you sick…

dude you are talking about meat glue! I was reading Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking (which is now in stock at after a 6 month wait) and they were doing some construction again. Not wood and nails, but meat! I keep coming across this stuff they use to reconstruct food. While reading about a Modernist Fried Chicken which takes the skin from the whole chicken and wraps it around a two chicken thighs before deep frying I decided to investigate what it is and see if I can get some. This meat glue is called Activa RM which is a brand name for a transglutaminase . I am not sure what this stuff is but I have sent an email to the company to ask where I can get some in the UK.

I was going to have a laugh and mark this vegetarian, but I need all the readers I can get 🙂

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Man sometimes leftovers ROCK…

Sorry I don’t have any pictures of this one, but it was so good I had to blog it. On the weekend I cooked some Costco Sirloin steaks sous vide to a perfect 134F medium rare. The steaks were fantastic and we had a great meal. I could not eat all of mine so I put half away for later this week. Tonight I got the steak out of the fridge and cut the 1 inch thick steak in half the long way making two ½ inch thick medium rare medallions. I sliced two shallots into strips and melted a knob of butter with some garlic infused olive oil in a pan. Set the shallots to slowly cook for about 20 minutes. When the shallots were just soft, put the buns into the grill to make them golden brown. Push the shallots off to the side and added the steaks, then tip the shallots onto the steaks and add some slices of cheese. Cover with a lid until the cheese is melted, about 2 minutes. A little mayo on the bun lid and then lift cheese and shallot covered steak onto the bun. OMG this just melted in my mouth it was so good… and my me go yuuuummmm.

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Just 16 tiny razor blades…

In a single row Jaccard meat tenderizer. I never knew these existed until it was brought up in Volume 3 of Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking.

First I will give you a couple of shots of the Jaccard I bought. Here it is with its safety on.
Jaccard Meat Tenderizer

And here is one with its teeth out.
Jaccard Blades

This little nasty piece of work is quite amazing. One of the key properties of this device is that the cuts in the meat are almost impossible to see after cooking. In fact they are hard to see on the raw meat also. These two chicken breasts have been heavily Jaccarded and I can hardly see any incisions.
Jaccard Chicken Breast

It can serve two purposes which I will explore in this recipe.

OK so putting holes in your meat makes it retain more moisture, ya pull the other one…
The blades cut through the collagen fibres in the meat. Collagen shrinks when it cooks so it squeezes the juices out of the meat when the long fibres contract. The Jaccard cuts the long fibres into shorter lengths and thus has less contraction and moisture loss. Also myosin leaks out of the ruptured cells that the cuts produce and binds with the meat juices and thickens it, stopping the juice from running out of the meat. By using the Jaccard you can increases the moisture in the meat by 5-15% during cooking.

All of these techniques work on the outside of the meat and slowly work there way towards the centre. They are used to impart more intense flavour in the end product, but all work slowly. With lots of channels for the flavour enhancer to get into the meat it can permeate faster and deeper. And if you cook the meat in a vacuum pack in a Sous Vide it works much, much faster.

The kids were over so I decided to have chicken wraps. This time I was going to Jaccard the chicken then take the seasoning from the fajitas kit and rub it into the chicken before Sous Vide cooking them.
Chicken seasoned and ready for Sous Vide

I got the other bits together for the fajitas, here are the cold ones.

I really like the Old El Paso trio of guac, sour cream, and salsa in my wraps. Some lettuce, chopped tomatoes and cheese top it all off.

Cut up some shallots and a red pepper
Pepper and Shallots

into slices and put it in a frying pan with a little olive oil and cook on low heat for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

After about 1 ½ hours the chicken will be done, so take it out of the bag. PUT THAT KNIFE AWAY! I have had another lesson from a friend of mine. You need to tear the chicken into strips. That way you are not cutting across the grain. Tearing with the grain has little effect on the texture and moisture of the meat. You want your mouth to feel/taste that explosion of juice and flavour when you chew across the grain. Why leave all that on the cutting board?
Chicken cooked and torn

The wraps go into the microwave in a zip lock bag for 40 seconds and then assembly. Oh ya this is eating and made my son exclaim that this was the best chicken he ever ate yuuuummmm…
Plated Chicken Fajitas

Damn – where is my margarita?

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My Favourite Vegi Meal…

is Cauliflower Cheese! You have to admit the sedate cauliflower needs a little help to elevate itself from being a side covered in gravy to a full meal. A friend of mine gave me some white stilton cheese the other day and I thought that it would be just the thing to put the zing into my favourite vegi dish. Of course helped out with some English mustard and cracked black pepper and a little sea salt.

Turn the oven on to 200C/GM 6/400F so it gets to heat and is ready when we have assembled the dish. My favourite cooker for this is VisiCook SuperChef Multifunction Wave Oven which is efficient and uses all three types of heating: convection, infrared and conduction all at the same time.

We need a large cauliflower

Remove the outer leaves and cut into florets. Get the steamer out and steam the cauliflower for 8 minutes. Remember if the water in your area is hard use bottled water to steam so you do not affect the vegetable with the water.
Steamed Cauliflower

While that is steaming it is time to prepare the sauce and cheese:

175g white stilton – for flavour
75g Jarlsberg – for texture
Cut into cubes
Cubed White Stilton and Jarlsberg

For the sauce collect together:

500ml Milk (fat content is up to you but I like “FULL ON” with this recipe)
25g butter
25g plain flour
1 tsp English Mustard
1 tsp Black Pepper
½ tsp Sea Salt

In a frying pan melt the butter over a medium low heat. When it is all melted, then sprinkle in the flour stirring constantly. It should form paste. When all the flour is incorporated add some milk, not all just a tip from the jug. Stir that in and when it is gone add two tips of milk and stir that in. When all of the milk is incorporated then add 3 tips etc. until you have a smooth white sauce.

Now to give this sauce some flavour. Add the mustard, pepper, salt and cheese. Turn the heat down until you have steam coming off of the pan, but a only a very few bubbles as we want to reduce the sauce and not boil it.
Cheese Sauce

Continue to stir and reduce until you have a velvety cheese sauce.
Finished Sauce

Put a layer of sauce in the pan
Bottom Sauce

And then the steamed cauliflower
Steamed Cauliflower

Cover with the rest of the sauce and we are ready to cook and make it bubbly and golden brown, oh ya
Ready to Cook

Here it is in the VisiCook bubbling away

And here is the finished product…

This made me go yuuuummmm x 2 as I had major league seconds, and it was great!

Sorry I have not posted in a while but I have been on holiday with my children, and eating out… I always like to have someone else cook for me!

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It was a Dark and Stormy Night…

I wonder if Snoopy liked chili?

Today was a dark and stormy “Summer” day in the UK and so I thought it was time to crank out Drew’s Soon To Be Famous Chili recipe. This chili requires at least 3 hours to cook, so a Saturday or Sunday afternoon is best for working people. You need a big pot with a lid for this recipe so dig out the biggest one you have.

The dry ingredients are:


2-3 onions roughly chopped
1 large clove garlic crushed and chopped
1 large bay leaf
1 beef stock cube

The spices are:


3 tsp Smoked Paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp chili powder

Smoked Sea Salt

2 tsp smoked sea salt

The wet ingredients are:


1 tsp Mushroom Ketchup
½ can beer (I wonder what to do with the other half?)
3 tbs honey
400g can of peeled plumb tomatoes
1 jar mild salsa

The meat is:


300g pork
300g beef
Both cut into bite size chunks.

And finally the legumes are:


Put the beans in a strainer and let them drain.

Glug some oil into the pot and brown the onions and meat. Add everything to the pan except the legumes. Bring it up to a boil then put the lid on and turn it all the way down and simmer for at least 1 hour. At this point you can let it cool and freeze it for another day or a week day dinner. I usually simmer it for a couple of hours and then just turn it off until ½ hour before I am ready to eat. Just letting it sit for a couple of hours makes all the flavours meld together.

About half an hour before you are ready to eat add the beans. Bring it up to the boil again and then turn it down to simmer and reduce.


OK this chili is great but we are now going to take it up a level with….


Condiments!!!!! Sour cream, grated mature cheddar cheese and Doritos.

Here it is plated up and ready to trough with ice cold beverage of choice.


Picture a Dorito covered with chili and melted cheese with a dab of sour cream, you picture it I am eatin it and it made me go yuuuummmm!

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