December 27, 2017

Dear friends,

“That’s a do over,” my niece said on Christmas Day, nodding at my platter of Wild Rice and Citrus Salad. It looked gorgeous. The glistening swath of shiny black grains was topped with colorful peeled orange and grapefruit sections and dotted with dried cranberries and bits of pecan. I thought it tasted great. It was a do over?

“That’s what we call a new recipe that’s good enough to make again,” Heidi explained.

Oh, yes, I would make this again. Banished were my memories of the chewy, bland black grains I boiled in the 1970s to accompany duckling ala orange. This wild rice was tender and infused with flavor, thanks to fellow food writer Heather McPherson.

Heather, retired from the Orlando Sentinel, wrote about the salad last year in a blog she produces for hypeorlando.com. The recipe in Heather’s Florida Kitchen contains celery and a bed of greens, which I eliminated. I also expanded the directions to explain things some of us Northerners might not know.

For example, Heather called for cooking the wild rice for 20 to 25 minutes. Maybe that’s fine for recently harvested wild rice (I was surprised to learn it grows in Florida swamps), but my bulk-purchased wild rice took a full 60 minutes to tenderize. You’ll know it’s done when most of the black grains have split. If you find the cooked rice is still too chewy after you drain it, just transfer all of it to a bowl, cover and microwave it in one-minute increments until tender.

Although it’s an oxymoron, cultivated wild rice is becoming increasingly available, as the land conducive to growing true wild rice shrinks. Hopefully, the distinctive wild grain (it’s not actually rice) will remain available in the future.

 

WILD RICE AND CITRUS SALAD

 

Wild Rice And Citrus Salad

• 4 tbsp. olive oil, divided
• 1/2 cup diced yellow onion
• 2 cups wild rice, uncooked
• 2 cups orange juice
• 2 cups water
• 1 bay leaf
• Fine sea salt to taste
• 2 tbsp. sherry vinegar
• Coarse-ground pepper to taste
• 1/2 cup dried cranberries
• 2 oranges, peeled and cut into segments (see note)
• 1 grapefruit, peeled and cut into segments (see note)
• 1/2 cup toasted, chopped pecans

Place 2 tablespoons olive oil and onions in a medium saucepan; sauté 3 to 4 minutes, until softened. Add wild rice, orange juice, water and bay leaf; season with salt. Cover and cook 20 to 60 minutes, or until rice is tender but not overcooked (most of the rice grains will split open when done). Remove from heat; let stand 5 minutes.

Remove bay leaf from rice and fluff with fork. Transfer to a bowl. Sprinkle with vinegar and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Toss. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add cranberries and toss again. Cover and refrigerate until chilled. The salad may be made a day ahead to this point. Adding the dressing and cranberries before refrigerating infuses the wild rice with flavor and softens the cranberries.

Just before serving, toss rice well. Mound on a platter. Scatter citrus sections over rice. Scatter chopped pecans over all. Makes 8 or more servings.

Note: To peel citrus segments, first cut off the top and bottom of the orange or grapefruit with a sharp knife. Place the piece of fruit on a cutting board, one flat end down. With the sharp knife, pare the thick peel and pith from the fruit in downward swaths, following the natural shape of the fruit. You will end up with a completely skinned but intact piece of fruit.

With the sharp paring knife, cut the segments from the membranes by slicing downward close beside a membrane and flicking the segment out. Repeat until all of the segments have been freed. Do this over a bowl to catch the juices. Discard the peel and membranes.


GUT CHECK

What I cooked last week:
Wild rice-citrus salad, potato salad, pickled eggs, Swiss cheese fondue, baked ham with apricot-honey glaze, chocolate-peppermint miniature trifles.

What I ate out last week:
Chicken pad Thai at the Asian restaurant in Giant Eagle Market Place in Cuyahoga Falls; an incredible Forbidden Stir Fry with a gingery-spicy sauce over black rice at the Courthouse Inn and Restaurant in Lisbon; steak burrito bowl at Chipotle; edamame, tuna nigiri and a Jane roll at Sushi Katsu in Akron’s Merriman Valley; mu shu pork from China Express in Wadsworth.


THE MAILBAG
From O.R.:
Hold the phone. Scrambled eggs with horseradish? You may be the smartest person I’ve ever encountered. Please let us in on your method! Do you add the horseradish before cooking, after? What kind exactly? I must experience this as soon as possible.

Dear O.R.:

I would like to take credit, but I learned the eggs-and-horseradish thing from my mother. Her method was even stranger than mine. After plating, she would gently prick the yolk of her fried egg and slip in a half-teaspoon or so of prepared horseradish. She gently daubed the yolk mixture with her toast and ate it until gone. Then she would cut up and dispatch the white.

Unlike my gentle mother, I cut up fried eggs, yolks and all, and shovel them into my mouth. But sometimes I remember her fondness for horseradish and slather the stuff (prepared, from a jar) on my plated scrambled eggs. Your email got me thinking, though. The next time I make soft-scrambled eggs, I will stir in a tablespoon of horseradish when they are almost set, dragging my spoon to distribute the horseradish in a thin ribbon through the eggs.

From Sandy D.
For Brad who is looking for foodie culture in the Akron area, I suggest he go to meetup.com.  After filling in the parameters, he will find at least two meet ups that I am aware of. I am not part of these groups so I can’t speak to their passion or quality, but Akron Area Dining Out Group and Akron Area Beer Lovers are two that I found after a quick search.

From Francie L.:
For your reader asking about foodie culture how about the Canton Food Tours (http://cantonfoodtours.com/)? We did a cousins’ night out in September and had a great time. They’ve also expanded the tours to Wooster as well.

Dear Sandy and Francie:
Thank you both for excellent ideas. I also found an Akron/Canton Foodies Group on meetup.


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December 20, 2017

Dear Friends,

What was I THINKING? I invited my family to celebrate Christmas at my house Saturday while I’m trying to avoid carbs, especially sugar. I can’t punish them for my overindulgence. But if I bake cookies or make candy my willpower will snap like an old rubber band.

Here’s the plan: I bought enough wrapped chocolates to fill a candy dish; I’ll send any excess home with my niece. I will buy a plateful of lovely handmade cookies (I saw some beauties at Earth Fare) but no ginger cookies, my favorites. And I will make decadent chocolate-peppermint trifles.

The trifles will not wreck my diet because I’m making just one miniature trifle for each person. Three of them — mine and my diabetic husband’s and brother’s — will be made with sugar-free pudding, cake and whipped topping to reduce the carb count.

I’m serving the individual trifles in squat, footed Italian prosecco glasses. In my test batch, I drizzled 1/2-inch-thick rounds of pound cake (cut to snugly fit the glasses) with peppermint schnapps, added a layer of chocolate fudge sauce, then a layer of vanilla pudding sprinkled with crushed candy cane. The layers were repeated, crowned with a puff of whipped cream and decorated with a miniature candy cane. If the glass is tall, you may want to add whipped cream between each set of layers. Lined up on the buffet table, the trifles should be real show-stoppers.

The trifles can be made with a rich homemade custard or boxed vanilla pudding. If you use boxed, add a splash of vanilla to bump up the flavor. I bought the pound cake, but if you have gobs of time to spare (ha!) you could make a sponge cake or pound cake from scratch. Roughly crushed amaretti cookies (from an Italian or specialty-foods store) would be delicious, too. I recommend buying premium fudge sauce from a fancy-foods store. The trifle recipe is so simple that inferior ingredients could sink the flavor.

My blueprint can be expanded or shrunk to accommodate two to dozens of diners. You could even make one big trifle instead of individual ones, although you’d lose the impact of all those adorable little trifles.

f you need an easy but gorgeous finale for your Christmas buffet, here you go. You’re welcome.

 

CHOCOLATE-PEPPERMINT MINATURE TRIFLES

 

PEPPERMINT TRIFLE

 

• Pound cake, thawed if frozen
• Peppermint schnaps
• Fudge sauce, warmed
• Vanilla pudding, homemade or from a mix Crushed candy canes
• Whipped cream or topping
• Miniature candy canes

Line up the other ingredients in the order above. For each trifle you will need about 1/4 cup fudge sauce, 1/4 cup pudding and 2 tbsp. crushed candy canes. The exact amounts will depend on the size of your glasses.

If the glasses come to a point, fill the point with pudding or whipped topping. Then begin layering with a cake round, a tablespoon or more of fudge sauce, the same amount of pudding, some crushed candy cane and, if the glass is deep, a layer of whipped topping. Continue layering until the glass is almost full. Top with more crushed candy, a dollop of whipped cream or topping and a whole miniature candy cane. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

NOTE: Making beautiful layers of ingredients without smearing the glass can drive you nuts. My tip is to drop the ingredients from tiny spoons (espresso or iced tea spoons) into the very center, then use a long straw or other slim implement to spread it evenly to the edges.


GUT CHECK

What I cooked last week:
Pan-seared, oven-finished thick pork chops with Italian herbs and a wine reduction, French green beans, baked sweet potatoes; pickled eggs; chocolate pudding; scrambled eggs with horseradish; chocolate-peppermint mini trifles.

What I ate in restaurants last week:
Steak salad in a tortilla bowl crowned with french fries (which I virtuously skipped) at Brimfield Family Restaurant; barbecued ribs from Dickey’s Barbecue Pit in Medina; a thin-crust veggie pizza from Earth Fare; grilled chicken breast with feta, roasted red pepper and escarole at Village Garden in Cuyahoga Falls..


THE MAILBAG

From Bob P.:
I grew up in Akron but have lived in North Carolina for more than 30 years. I am on a quest that has led me to you. No, not the Holy Grail, but the holy grail of Akron appetizers, the sauerkraut ball. Of course, they are unheard of down here.

I have searched the net and get a variety of recipes, but which one is truly what I grew up with? The cream cheese recipes confuse me — I don’t remember them being creamy. I thought with your storied career you may be able to help.

Dear Bob:
The sauerkraut balls against which all others are measured are the ones that were served at the old Bavarian Haus on East Market Street. They were the size of a golf ball with a crispy-crunchy coating and creamy, tart filling of sauerkraut, ground ham and chopped onion. The creaminess is slight, and doesn’t come from cream cheese.

The restaurant is long gone, but Chef Dick Mansfield gave me the recipe in 1995, before all traces of the building were plowed under. He mixed batches in a big plastic bucket, so you can figure the recipe makes plenty — Mansfield says eight dozen. Feel free to cut the recipe in half.

Don’t, however, be tempted to add enough flour to firm up the sauerkraut mixture. The raw mixture should be so soft it would spread and flatten if the balls were fried without freezing. They must be frozen, and deep fried straight from the freezer, to produce that crisp exterior and soft center.

This recipe won’t disappoint you, Bob. Maybe you can fry up a ginormous batch and teach those barbecue boys a thing or two about good Midwestern eats.

SAUERKRAUT BALLS
• 1 1/4 lbs. ground ham
• 6 eggs
• 2 1/4 tsp. granulated garlic or 1 tsp. garlic powder • 1 tsp. black pepper
• 3/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
• 1 medium onion, minced fine
• 5 lbs. sauerkraut, drained and chopped
• 4-6 cups flour
• 1 egg beaten with 1 cup milk
• Flour for coating
• Dry, unseasoned bread crumbs
• Oil for deep-frying

In a very large bowl, combine ham, eggs, garlic, peppers and onion. Add sauerkraut and mix well with your hands. Add flour a little at a time, kneading until the mixture is smooth and can be shaped into soft balls. Use only enough flour to achieve the proper consistency. The mixture will be soft and sticky.

Pull off chunks of the mixture and roll between your palms to make balls the size of a golf ball. Place on cookie sheets and freeze until firm, about two hours. While frozen, roll in the flour, then in the egg-milk mixture, then in the bread crumbs. Freeze again and transfer to plastic freezer bags until ready for use, or fry immediately without thawing.

To fry, heat oil to 375 degrees. Fry a few at a time until the coating is golden brown and a fork easily pierces to the center. If the oil is too hot, the outsides will burn before the insides thaw and cook. Makes about 96.

From Brad P.:
My wife and I are retired. We have a passion for food. It seems like the Akron area lacks the “foodie’’ culture that is so rich in other parts of Ohio. We have taken the culinary walking tour in Asheville, N.C. — outstanding. We go to the Traverse City, Mich., area yearly. It is amazing for food, wine, craft beer and so much more.

Can you make us aware of a culinary group in our area that shares our passion? Is there such a thing? We are looking for a way to be around others in this area who share our passion, to talk and share and experience.

Dear Brad:
The foodie culture in Ohio was INVENTED here in Akron at West Point Market. No one else in the state had the ingredients that were available to Akronites, nor a mentor as enthusiastic and knowledgeable as retired owner Russ Vernon.

Although the store has downsized, it still holds regular wine tastings that many passionate local food lovers attend. You will also find such people congregating at the Countryside Farmers Markets and events sponsored by the Countryside Conservancy (cvcountryside.org). And finally, you could try a couples dinner class at the Western Reserve Cooking School in Hudson. Does anyone else have a suggestion?

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December 13, 2017

Dear friends,

I know you are busy so I’ll get right to it. This week’s recipe is a party snack you can assemble in 15 minutes while fighting a sinus headache, making soup and cleaning the house. I know because I did it Saturday when my sister phoned to say she was dropping by with her husband for a visit.

Dee and her family live in Burton so I don’t get to see them every day. In fact I hadn’t seen them since August, so I was excited. Luckily, I didn’t have to clean and cook too much. On a company-cleaning scale of “deal with it” to “you could eat off the floors,” my sister’s visits are a comfortable three — “vacuum and remove major chunks of debris.”

I did want to treat Rob and Dee to a yummy snack, though, so I thawed a sheet of puff pastry and began chopping olives I had bought earlier that week. I put the olives in a dish on the counter along with finely crumbled feta, grated lemon zest and a tiny bit of minced rosemary from the potted bush I’m trying to keep alive in the mud room.

After rolling the puff pastry sheet into a larger rectangle, I evenly sprinkled each ingredient over it, folded it as for a palmier, and cut the resulting log into slices. The slices baked up golden brown, and deliciously fragrant with the pungent ingredients.

A palmier is a French sweet pastry that is said to resemble pigs’ ears or elephant ears. I simply switched the sugar filling for savory ingredients that would make it party-worthy. Or sister-worthy, in my case. Frozen puff pastry, sold in most supermarkets, makes the palmiers an elegant last-minute treat.

 

OLIVE AND FETA PALMIER
Olive and Feta Palmiers

• 1 sheet frozen puff pastry
• Flour
• 3/4 cup chopped kalamata olives
• 4 oz. (about 3/4 cup) finely crumbled feta cheese
• 1/2 tsp. finely minced fresh rosemary
• Grated zest of 1 lemon
• 1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp. water

Thaw pastry according to package directions. Sprinkle some flour on a work surface and unfold pastry onto the flour. Roll to a 11-by-14-inch rectangle. Sprinkle evenly with the olives, then the feta, rosemary and lemon zest.

Fold one long edge toward the middle. Fold the other long edge toward the middle. Then fold each toward the middle again, pressing down. Fold one long log on top of other and press with hands to form a cylinder. Basically, each side is folded in on itself twice, then the two sides are folded together to form a log.

With a sharp knife, cut pastry log into 1/2-inch slices. Place the slices flat on the floured work surface and with your palm, flatten each to about 1/4-inch thick. Arrange on parchment-lined baking sheets. Brush tops with egg mixture. Bake at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes, or until pastries are crisp and golden. Cool. Store loosely covered at room temperature. Makes about 20.

 

TIDBIT

With a bit more sauce, KFC’s new Nashville Hot Chicken might be worthy of the name. Might. It’s hard to tell from the skimpy dribbles of red sauce Tony and I got with our order last week.

What I tasted I liked. My chicken wasn’t pressed, as it is in Tennessee, but it did come with a dill pickle chip. Coleslaw and a biscuit rather than the typical white bread was served alongside. The heat was just a mild sting that built in my mouth but not Tony’s. He couldn’t detect the heat. Real Nashville chicken, even the milder choices, is so hot I have to eat a meal in two or three sittings, pausing to let my mouth recover.

While no one is likely to mistake the Colonel’s Hot Chicken for the real thing, it may help you endure until your next authentic Nashville Chicken fix. The chicken comes as extra-crispy legs and thighs, extra-crispy tenders or as a patty in a sandwich

GUT CHECK
What I cooked last week:

Skillet meat loaf, roasted Brussels sprouts and potatoes; scrambled eggs with ham, bell pepper and onions; roast chicken, quinoa and farro salad with roasted butternut squash, pomegranate arils and Moroccan-spiced vinaigrette; palmiers with feta, kalamata olives, lemon and rosemary; ham and lentil soup.

What I ate in restaurants last week:
Grilled chicken Caesar salad at Rockne’s; Nashville hot chicken, a biscuit and slaw at KFC in Wadsworth; chicken breast with mushroom sauce, green beans, roast potato chunks at Tangier; pepperoni, sausage and onion pizza (the Cleveland) at Pizza Fire in Montrose; a dry, rubbery mozzarella and basil omelet with about a tablespoon of filling, and chopped fruit, fried potatoes and tea at Burntwood Tavern in Montrose.

 

THE MAILBAG

From Jenny K.:
In response to your discussion of dry-brining a turkey, for the last few years I have dry brined. About three to four days ahead, I have the butcher prepare a turkey for spatchcocking (take out the backbone and break the breast bone to flatten the bird).  I then rub it with the dry brine, cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate. For the last eight to twelve hours I uncover it and leave it in the fridge for the skin to dry out so that it will have crispy skin once it is cooked.

I have tried every which way to cook a turkey and this is by far the best. Spatchcocking assures me that the turkey cooks more evenly, without the breast getting done before the rest of the bird. Dry brining is so much easier than wet brining! The result is just as moist if not more so. The texture of the meat is much better, also.

Dear Jenny:
I haven’t tried it but I am already a convert. Thanks.

From Carol B.:
Jane, I thought you might enjoy this:
Haute Dots of Sauce

Dear Carol:
The debate over minimalist restaurant plating techniques continues to rage, and this NPR essay makes an excellent argument. Writer Nina Martyris calls the dots and smears of sauce decorating tiny portions of food “Pollock on a plate,” and to me, sums up the objections succinctly: “The precision blobs and artful smears look exquisite on Pinterest and Instagram, but they certainly don’t allow you to satisfyingly dunk your crust of bread in them.”

Exactly.

I, too, have struggled to drag a bite through enough dots to impart a hint of what the sauce tastes like.  Even when the sauce is pungent, there’s often too little of it to tell. Is that grapefruit I taste? Mint and thyme? I want more sauce, dammit.

 

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December 6, 2017

I screwed up. I was going to bring you a recipe for a delicious country pate that could be made in a hurry in the microwave, but things went horribly wrong. Bottom line: The pate didn’t cook properly and didn’t taste very good, either.

So instead of a new, party-ready recipe, I will repeat two of the grandest pate recipes I have ever tasted — a much-tested and loved rustic country pate recipe from “The New York Times Cookbook” by Craig Claiborne, and an equally loved recipe for chicken liver pate with bacon and walnuts from a small calendar put together in the 1980s by the Silver Palate folks.

In my opinion, unless there’s raw goose or duck foie gras on hand, these are the only two pate recipes you will ever need. Both are unctuously rich and scented with Cognac.

The country pate is the kind that is sliced and served on a plate with cornichons and baguette. It takes a while to make. The chicken liver pate is the kind that is served in a crock or a bowl and spread on crackers or slices of baguette. It requires less time to make.

Both pates remind me of Christmases past and gatherings with old friends and Champagne. Proust has his madeleines. I have my pate. Try one of these incredible recipes and make some memories of your own.

MOUSSE PATE WITH BACON AND WALNUTS

• 6 slices bacon, diced
• 1lb. chicken livers (often sold frozen in supermarkets)
• 1/2 cup brandy
• 3/4 cup whipping cream
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 1/4 cup mayonnaise
• 1 tsp. dried thyme
• Pinch of fresh-grated nutmeg
• Salt, fresh-ground pepper
• 1/2 cup coarse-chopped walnuts
• 3 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley (optional)

In a large skillet, fry bacon until crisp; remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

In the bacon fat, fry chicken livers over medium-high heat until brown outside but still slightly pink inside, about 5 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to the bowl of a food processor.

Add brandy to skillet and scrape up browned bits. Add cream and boil until reduced to about 1 cup. Pour cream mixture into food processor bowl. Add onions and puree until smooth.

Add mayonnaise, thyme, nutmeg, salt and lots of pepper. Process until mixed well. Add bacon, walnuts and parsley; process just until incorporated. Transfer to crocks or decorative bowls. Cover and chill several hours or overnight. Makes about 3 cups.

For the following pate recipe, you will need to  contact a good butcher and ask to have the veal and pork shoulder ground with one-fourth of the fat, and the ham ground with one-fourth of the fat. Half of the pork fat should be sliced thin.  Call up to a week in advance if possible so the butcher can save the necessary pork fat for you.

COUNTRY PATE

• 1 1/2 lbs. fresh pork fat
• 1 lb. boneless veal
• 1 lb. boneless pork shoulder
• 1 lb. ham
• 1/2 lb. chicken or pork livers
• 8 cloves garlic
• 1/4 cup heavy cream
• 3 eggs
• 1/2 cup cognac
• 4 tsp. salt
• 2 tsp. white pepper
• 1/2 tsp. allspice
• 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
• 1/2 cup flour

Have the butcher slice one-half pound of the pork fat thinly and finely grind half of the remaining  pork fat with all the veal and pork shoulder (or do it yourself.) Grind the ham with a coarse blade with the remaining pork fat.

Line a 3-quart mold or two 1 1/2 quart loaf pans with the thin slices of pork fat, letting the long ends hang outside the pan. (Jane’s note: If the butcher doesn’t have enough pork fat, use raw bacon for this step.)

In a blender, puree the chicken livers with the garlic, cream, eggs and cognac. Gradually blend in about one-third of the pork-veal mixture.

In a mixing bowl, combine all the ground and pureed meats. Add the seasonings and flour and mix thoroughly. Fill the prepared pan(s) with the mixture. Fold the ends of the fat strips over the top. Cover tightly with a double thickness of foil. Place in a larger pan and pour in enough hot water to come halfway up sides of pate pan(s).

Bake at 400 degrees for 3 hours.  Remove foil and continue baking until top of the pate is brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven,  pour water from larger pan, and again place pate in larger pan. Set on counter. Cover pate with foil. Place a pan slightly smaller than pate pan directly on foil-covered pate and fill with weights (coins, canned goods, etc.)  Do not remove weights until pate is completely cool. When cool, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Pate will keep several weeks if surrounding fat is not removed.

From “The New York Times Cook Book” by Craig Claiborne.

GUT CHECK

What I cooked at home last week:
Baked cod in a Szechuan sauce, roasted Brussels sprouts; pan-grilled T-bone steak, roast butternut squash; turkey broth with wilted greens and a hard-cooked egg; hot dogs and beans; wilted greens with garlic (and thawed-out previously roasted pork); wilted greens and eggs scrambled in olive oil; sugar-free chocolate pudding; country pate with Cognac.

What I ate away from home last week:
Vegan gumbo at a Christmas open house. Tony was away for a week hunting and I mostly stayed home and cleaned house.

THE MAILBAG

From Dorothy G.:
There is a library book, don’t know the name right off, that lists how much money old cookbooks and pamphlets are going for on the sale market. We all probably have a fortune in our collections! Don’t let anyone in your family get rid of them when you are gone — they can be sold.

Dear Dorothy:
We’re rich! Actually, I plan to get rid of dozens of cookbooks for $1 to $2 each next spring at a yard sale, so come on over.

From Mike:
I know from past posts that you are a proponent of brining your turkey. I agree. As a matter of fact, several years ago I sent you an email regarding my idea of putting my turkey and brine in trash bags in my cooler surrounded by ice overnight. Oops. Some of your other readers weren’t happy with the idea of possible toxins leaching from trash bags. Shhh! I continued to do that practice until last year. That is when I heard of dry brining.

Last year was good just with overnight dry brining because I didn’t know the procedure called for a longer time. So this year I applied the dry brine on Tuesday night and my 22-pound turkey sat uncovered per instructions in my fridge until Thursday (some Internet sites suggest even longer, up to 3 days ahead of cooking.)

I have to tell you we were very happy with the results and the procedure is so much easier than wet brining. It uses a lot less salt — one-half cup kosher salt mixed with two tablespoons baking powder. I added a couple tablespoons of brown sugar. Some recipes suggest adding herbs, too. Then just evenly sprinkle the mixture all over the turkey and a little in the cavity. I didn’t even use all of the mix.

Just curious, have you tried this method?

Dear Dave:
No, but I will the next time I roast a turkey. Thanks for the tutorial. I have dry-brined chicken breasts and pork chops but I didn’t know you could dry-brine a whole turkey. That sure would beat hauling a cooler to the kitchen and scouring it before and after brining — not to mention measuring out all that salt and liquid and replacing the ice each morning. Thanks again, Dave.

Has anyone else tried dry-brining a turkey? Is the meat as juicy as with wet brining?

From Joanne:
(Regarding last week’s cookie recipes), My husband made jam poppits for years; that was his special Christmas cookie. I didn’t have the patience.

From Nancy S.:
(Regarding the Viennese Shortbread recipe), These cookies are the BOMB! I’ve been making them ever since I cut the recipe out of the Beacon over 20 years ago. They are my son’s favorite and mine, too. Thanks, Jane.

From Dawn C.:
The pecan-apricot cranberry sauce you mentioned in the newsletter sounds divine! Was that at Heidi’s? Would she share the recipe?

Sorry you won’t be making cookies for the holiday. I’m about to delve into my baking frenzy. (I have all the decorating, shopping and cards done, so it’s on to the really fun stuff!) I spend about three days baking from sunup to sundown. And I love it. The cookie recipes you shared sound wonderful! I may have to try at least one of them this year. Merry Christmas!

Dear Dawn:
Whoa, whoa, whoa. You have all the decorating, shopping and cards done? Who are you, Wonder Woman?

Your Christmas baking spree sounds wonderful. Kudos to you. I did something similar when I was young. Then I realized that of the 10 dozen cookies I made each December, I ate about 9 dozen of them. I do miss baking cookies.

The pecan-apricot cranberry sauce Heidi made is from “Cold Weather Cooking” by Sarah Leah Chase. It is fabulous. I have printed the recipe several times, and am happy to do so once more.

WHOLE CRANBERRY SAUCE
• 1 lb. fresh cranberries
• 1/2 cup inexpensive port wine, such as Gallo
• 1/2 cup orange juice
• 1 cup diced, dried apricots
• 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
• 3/4 cup granulated sugar
• 3/4 cup pecan halves

Place cranberries, port, orange juice, apricots and sugars in a saucepan.

Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thick, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat and refrigerate.

Meanwhile, spread pecan halves on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for five minutes. Set aside. Immediately before serving, stir pecans into cranberry sauce. Makes about four cups, enough for 10 to 12 servings.

Please note: If your email address changes, you must re-subscribe to my newsletter in order to continue receiving it. We are unable to change the address for you in our email list. The procedure is easy. Just click on the “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of a newsletter. Then click here to sign up under your new address. Thank you.