Simple Roasted Turkey

Such a simple recipe, but the turkey turned out moist and juicy. I did add sliced up lemon to the onion and herbs I stuffed in the cavity. I also made sure to check the temperature of thighs (165 degrees) as well as the breast.

Simple Roasted Turkey


  • 1 14-16 pound organic turkey
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • Several sprigs of fresh thyme and/or sage
  • Oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Triangle of heavy duty aluminum foil big enough to cover the breast


  1. Pre-heat oven to 500 degrees F.

  2. Rinse turkey and pat dry inside and out. Season cavity with salt and pepper. Peel onion and cut into wedges. Place in cavity with herbs. Rub outside with oil and season with salt. Place in roasting pan.

  3. Roast on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F. for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cover breast with double layer of aluminum foil, insert probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and return to oven, reducing temperature to 350 degrees F. Set thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting not including the 30 minutes at 500. Let turkey rest, loosely covered for 15 minutes before carving.

Thanksgiving Gravy

I’m not big on gravy, but this was really good. I think the addition of wine made the difference. I also skipped the heart and gizzard because no one else wanted that in the gravy, but I think that would have made it even better.

Thanksgiving Gravy


  • Flour
  • Rendered turkey fat from the roasting pan or butter
  • 2 large shallots minced
  • kosher salt as needed
  • heart and gizzards, chopped (optional)
  • 1 cup tasty white wine
  • 1-1/2 to 2 quarts/liters turkey stock (I use a cup/250 milliliters per person, and then a little extra)


  1. In a small saute pan over medium heat, combine a tablespoon each of flour and fat for every cup of stock you have and cook over medium heat till the flour is lightly browned, about ten minutes. Set this roux aside to cool.

  2. In a 2.5 quart/liter sauce pan or larger, sweat the shallots in turkey fat or butter. Hit them with a four finger pinch of salt. Add the gizzards and cook. Add the stock and bring to a simmer. Whisk in the cooled roux. A little at a time until you have the desired consistency. Simmer on medium, skimming gunk off the surface as needed for a half hour or so till the flour cooks out. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if necessary (a tablespoon or two of fish sauce will deepen the turkey flavor). Remove from the heat an cover until ready to reheat and serve.

Easy Turkey Stock

I love making stock. Why? It’s the smell (as Agent Smith would say). I love the way it fills the whole house. I ended up simmering it about 15 hours total. I also let it simmer with the aromatic vegetables for the last 3 of the hours.

Easy Turkey Stock


  • 2 large turkey drumsticks
  • 2 large turkey wings
  • 2 spanish onion, sliced
  • 4 carrots, cut in pieces
  • 4 ribs celery cut in pieces
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon peppercorns, cracked beneath a pan or with mortar and pestle
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • fresh parsley and thyme (optional)


  1. Roast the turkey (you should have 5 or 6 pounds/2 or 3 kilos) in hot oven till it looks delicious (see donna pix above). Put them in a big pot and cover them completely with water, 3 to 4 quarts/liters. Turn your oven to 180 or 200 degrees F/80 or 90 degrees C. When the water comes to a boil, put the pot in the oven for 8 hours or over night.

  2. Add the remaining ingredients (if you don’t have enough room, remove the turkey, it will have cooked out by now). Bring to a simmer, then reduce temperature to low, and cook for another hour. Strain into a clean pot. Cool, then refrigerate.

  3. Discard fat that’s congealed on top. Reduce to 1-1/2 to 2 quarts/liters before making gravy.

Flatiron Steak with Herb Butter

When you think of all the different ways you can prepare a steak, sometimes the simplest are the best. This simple recipe has got to be my favorite. It takes very little time and the flavors are spectacular. The one thing you really need to do though, is learn to test the doneness of your steak by touch. The times in the recipe are longer than I’ve had to cook it.

Flatiron Steak with Herb Butter


  • 4 10-ounce flatiron steaks
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • canola oil
  • 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups shallots, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons minced thyme
  • 4 1/2-inch-thick rounds Maitre d’Hotel Butter


  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

  2. Generously season both sides of the steak with salt and pepper, keeping in mind that the salt and pepper will also season the shallots as they cook.

  3. Place two large skillets over high heat. Add 1/8 inch of canola oil to each skillet and heat until hot. Add 2 steaks and 1 teaspoon of butter to each skillet, reduce the heat slightly, and cook for about a minute to brown the first side. Turn the steaks over, tilt the skillet, and use a spoon to baste the meat as it sautes on the second side. When the second side of the steak has browned, but the steak is still quite undercooked, drain off any excess fat. Scatter half the shallots, thyme, and remaining butter around the steaks in each skillet and stir to combine. After 2 or 3 minutes, when the steaks are cooked to rare, transfer them to a small baking sheet. Continue to cook the shallots until they have softened but have not browned, 1 to 2 minutes.

  4. Spoon the shallots over the steaks and place the baking sheet in the oven for about 5 minutes, or until the steaks are cooked to medium-rare. Place a round of maitre d’hotel butter on top of each steak and return to the oven just until the butter begins to melt.

Maitre d’Hotel Butter


  • 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste


  1. Put the butter in a small bowl and stir with a spoon or stiff spatula until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.

  2. Cut a piece of plastic wrap and form the butter into a rough log about 4 inches long, about 2 inches from one end of the plastic wrap. Roll up the butter in the plastic, then twist the ends to form a compact log about 1 1/4 inches in diameter. (The butter can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days or frozen, well wrapped, for up to 2 months.)

Filets De Poisson Bercy Aux Champignons

For our monthly Advanced Wine Class, I made this fish dish from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I thought it would go well with the wine theme, which was Wines of Champagne. Just a warning. This dish is rich. On the other hand, if you are someone who doesn’t really like fish, this dish is good choice. The earthy flavors of the mushroom and the creaminess of the sauce make the fish almost secondary.

Filets De Poisson Bercy Aux Champignons


  • 3/4 lb. or 3-1/2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of pepper
  • 2-1/2 lbs. filets of sole or flounder
  • 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 cups cold, white wine fish stock made from heads, bones, and trimmings
  • OR 1/4 cup dry white wine or 2/3 cup dry white vermouth plus 1/4 cup bottled clam juice, and water
  • OR 1-1/2 cups wine and water mixed
  • Buttered brown paper or waxed paper (do not use aluminum foil-it will discolor the wine)
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons flour blended to a paste with 3 Tb softened butter
  • 3/4 to 1 cup whipping cream
  • Salt and pepper
  • Lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup grated Swiss cheese
  • 1 tablespoon butter cut into bits


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

  2. In an enameled skillet, toss the mushrooms in hot butter over moderately high heat for a minute or two without browning. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside.

  3. Season the filets lightly with salt and pepper and arrange them in one slightly overlapping layer in the dish. If filets are thin, they may be folded in half so they make triangles. Spread the mushrooms over them.

  4. Pour in the cold liquid and enough water so fish is barely covered. Bring almost to the simmer on top of the stove. Lay the buttered paper over the fish. Then place dish in bottom third of preheated oven. Maintain liquid almost at the simmer for 8 to 12 minutes depending on the thickness of the filets. The fish is done when a fork pierces the flesh easily. Do not overcook; the fish should not be dry and flaky. Place a cover over the dish and drain out all the cooking liquid into an enameled saucepan.

  5. Preheat broiler.

  6. Rapidly boil down the poaching liquid until it has reduced to 1 cup.

  7. Off heat, beat the flour and butter paste into the hot liquid, then 1/2 cup of the cream. Bring to the boil. Thin out the sauce with additional tablespoons of cream until it coats the spoon nicely. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and drops of lemon juice.

  8. Spoon the sauce over the fish. Sprinkle on the cheese, and dot with butter. Place dish 6 to 7 inches from a hot broiler for 2 to 3 minutes to reheat fish and brown top of sauce lightly. Serve as soon as possible.

  9. (*) Dish may be prepared ahead and reheated as follows: After sprinkling on the cheese and butter, set aside. Before serving, reheat just to the simmer on top of the stove, then run for a minute or two under a hot broiler to brown the top of the sauce.

Wines of Champagne

Wines of Champagne
Farpointe Cellar
Tasted Sunday, December 19, 2010


NV André Clouet Champagne Cuvée 1911 (95/96/97) – France, Champagne, Bouzy, Champagne Lots of stone and chalky lemon on the nose. There’s some yeasty apple in the middle, and a good dose of spice at the end. The lemon and stone are dominate on the palate at first, but it slowly adds some stone and yeast, and finally some apple. The acidity is just right. (93 Points)

1993 de Venoge Champagne Grand Vin des Princes – France, Champagne Rose petals and bread on the nose, the apple and pear fruit seemed a little oxidized. The palate was much like the nose, with rose petals and bread, apple and pear, and a nice carmel finish. (92 Points)

2000 Bollinger Champagne La Grande Année – France, Champagne A toasty nose, with a light mousse and apple aroma. The toast and fruit on the palate is fantastic. The spice on the mid-palate and the citrus at the end was very good. (91 Points)

2002 Moët & Chandon Champagne Cuvée Dom Perignon Andy Warhol Label – France, Champagne The nose is more peach and apricot upfront, with citrus and apple underneath. The spice and yeast in the middle was nice. Very rich on the palate, the apricot and peach flavors were the main fruits, with apple and spice behind. The finish had a good shot of yeast. (91 Points)

1998 Vranken Champagne Diamant Rosé – France, Champagne Strawberry and flowers form the core of the nose. The spice and honey add some secondary smells. The palate is a little spicier than the nose, mainly fresh ginger. The strawberry and floral are there, but in the background. (90 Points)

NV Michel Turgy Champagne Réserve Selection Brut Blanc de Blancs – France, Champagne, Côte des Blancs, Champagne A yeasty nose, with undertones of apple pie spice and lemon peel. The fresh baked apple pie flavors on the palate were very good. It had great acidity and a nice citrus and spice finish. (89 Points)

NV Gosset Champagne Grand Rosé Brut – France, Champagne A little jammy on the nose, the main fruit was strawberry, but it also had a bit of yeast and some floral notes. Jammy and floral on the palate, the strawberry and violets really shined. Underneath that was some bread and spice. (88 Points)

NV Krug Champagne Grande Cuvée Brut – France, Champagne A big shot of coffee and candied raspberry on the nose. The bread and chocolate at the end were nice. A little hot on the palate, the acid was pretty good. The flavors were not as good as the aromas. There was some fruit, but mainly it was just some strong astringent tastes. (86 Points)

Wine and Cheese Pairing

Wine and Cheese Pairing
Farpointe Cellar
Tasted Saturday, December 18, 2010


2007 Tudal Family Cabernet Sauvignon – USA, California, Napa Valley Very earthy and spicy on the nose, the plum and black currant play a secondary roll. The vegetables at the end add a nice touch. Rich on the palate, I really enjoyed all the earthy flavors. The grip of the tannins on the mid-palate was good and spicy, and the finish was heavy on the plum. (91 Points)

2006 La Jota Vineyard Company Cabernet Sauvignon – USA, California, Napa Valley, Howell Mountain This nose reminds me of wild strawberries growing deep in the forest. The spice and black currant add to enjoyment of the nose. Rich and thick on the palate, the tannins have a nice grip, with just a little sweetness. The mid-palate had some good spice, and the dark fruit is really strong on the finish. (91 Points)

2006 Fall Line Winery Red Wine Artz Vineyard – USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Red Mountain Graphite and grilled meat greet the nose on the first whiff. Black fruit follows, with herbs de provence at the end. Upon entry, dark, spicy fruit fills the palate. The mid-palate has sweet tannins and pencil lead, and the finish was nice and meaty. (90 Points)

2008 Coho Headwaters – USA, California, Napa Valley The nose was full of blueberry and spice. Slightly earthy underneath, it ended with some tobacco. The blueberry was upfront on the palate. Behind was some earth and spice. The cigar leave finish was good. (90 Points)

2006 Azienda Agricola Forestale Rigoloccio Il Sorvegliante – Italy, Tuscany, Maremma, Maremma Toscana IGT The cab franc really comes through on the nose. Heavy on the barnyard and fresh green vegetables, it gave a good lift to the sweet berry fruit and spice. The hint of wood at the end was nice as well. The sweet berry and balsamic notes on the palate were great together, and the earth and spice flavors in the middle rounded everything out. It finish with a healthy dose of cedar. (89 Points)


2005 Villa Creek High Road James Berry Vineyard – USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles This had a lot of spice on the nose, with a big dose of cassis. It’s a little more over-extracted than I would have liked. The palate was the same as the nose. Not my type of wine.

2007 Merry Edwards Pinot Noir Meredith Estate – USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley Not my favorite kind of pinot. A big, over-extracted nose, with blackberry, black currant, black tea, and cola. The palate was the same as the nose. Over-extracted, rich and thick. Did they add syrah to this? I don’t like it. (84 Points)

Roast Duck with Tamari Honey Glaze

I don’t get to eat roasted duck as much as I like, but every year on the day after Thanksgiving, a group of us get together for a feast of chinese BBQ. I decided it was about time to cook this myself. As a side note, make sure you save the fat drippings. That stuff is liquid gold! I’ll let you know what I do with mine.

Roast Duck with Tamari Honey Glaze


  • 1 whole duck (4 lbs.)
  • 1/2 cup tamari
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese five-spice powder


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

  2. Rinse the duck, then pat dry, inside and out, with paper towels. Optional: For extra crispy skin, place the duck in a roasting pan and refrigerate uncovered overnight.

  3. Remove fat and anything else from inside the cavity and discard.

  4. Using your fingers, loosen the duck skin all around it’s body. Apply seasoning under the skin as much as possible and on top of the duck skin.

  5. Optional: Truss the duck with kitchen string. A duck will cook just fine without being tied together, however, some people feel it looks better if it is trussed. There are many methods of trussing poultry and we favor a very simple one. First, cut 4 feet or so of kitchen twine. Set the duck breast-side-up with the legs facing you. Center the twine beneath the ends of the legs and the tail of fat at the end of the duck. Lift the two ends of twine on your left and right and cross the twine over the top of the duck legs and tail of fat.

  6. Pull the twine tightly so the legs are pulled close to the body of the duck. Pull the ends of the twine forward (away from you) and loop the twine over the wings and around the front of the duck so the wings are pulled close to the body.

  7. Tie a knot so the twine is secured where the neck once was. You can snip the tips of the wings off, as they have little to no meat on them and often burn while cooking.

  8. Place the trussed, seasoned duck breast side down in a roasting pan, preferably one with a rack so excess fat can drip off. Roast for 45 minutes.

  9. Turn the duck over and cook, breast side up about 45 minutes more. A thermometer inserted into a thigh (not touching bone) should read 170-180 degrees F. The meat will still be a bit pink.

  10. If the skin is not dark and crispy enough for you, turn on the broiler and broil duck a few minutes more until golden brown.

  11. Remove duck from oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes before carving.

Champagne and Cabernet

Champagne and Cabernet
Farpointe Cellar
Tasted Saturday, December 11, 2010


NV René Geoffroy Champagne Brut 1er Cru – France, Champagne A great nose of freshly activated yeast mixed with fresh whipping cream. The apple and pear aromas gave it a nice finish. Crisp and lively on the palate, the fresh baked bread flavor was really good. It had good apple and pear fruit on the mid-palate, and the finish had a nice creaminess. (91 Points)

NV Pol Roger Champagne Extra Cuvée de Réserve Brut – France, Champagne The coffee bean and danish pastry aromas on the nose were really good. add in some vanilla and nutmeg and you have a nose that you can smell forever. The minerals and chalkiness on the palate was tasty, with apple and pear on the mid-palate, and a nice finish of bread, vanilla, and coffee. (91 Points)

NV Pehu Simonet Champagne Brut Rosé Grand Cru – France, Champagne, Verzenay, Champagne The nose starts with a nice cherry aroma supported by stone and perfume. The bread underneath adds a good touch. The cherry deduction on the palate is really good. Add in some bread and stone and you have a really good wine. (91 Points)

NV Ayala Champagne Brut Majeur – France, Champagne A lively nose of fresh baked apple bread covered in a nice pear deduction sauce. The stone and citrus at the end nice as well. was The crispness and acid on the palate was very good. It really brought out the apple and pear flavors. The transition to the mid-palate picked up some minerality, and the finish added in a little lemon. (89 Points)

NV Mumm Napa Brut Prestige – USA, California, Napa Valley An interesting melon and vanilla infused nose, with creamy citrus fruit underneath. The palate was somewhat flat. The acid started out sharp, but quickly disappeared. The melon and citrus did show until the mid-palate, and the finish, though slightly creamy, fell off fast. (85 Points)


2002 Ayala Champagne Blanc de Blancs – France, Champagne A complex nose of honey and pencil lead, with cream covered peaches and mocha playing a supporting role. The peach on the palate was very nice, and the graphite and honey gave a nice lift to everything. (92 Points)

2007 Ghost Block Cabernet Sauvignon Estate – USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville The tobacco and cocoa on the nose were really good. The blackberry and cherry fruit added in some nice complexity, and the floral notes at the end rounded everything out. Rich and thick on the palate, the dark fruit flavors just saturate everything. The mid-palate had some spice and tobacco, and the finish was very floral. (91 Points)

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Red Pepper Vinaigrette

I made Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Red Pepper Vinaigrette


  • 4 large sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and quartered
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest (optional)
  • 1/2 cup sliced scallion
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh mint or parsley leaves
  • 1 or 2 fresh minced chiles (jalapeno, Thai, serrano, or habanero), or to taste
  • 1/4 cup raisins (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 400ÀöF. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into bite-sized pieces. Put them on a baking sheet, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the oil, and toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast, turning occasionally, until crisp and brown outside and just tender inside, about 30 minutes. Remove and keep on the pan until ready to dress.

  2. Make the dressing while the potatoes cook. Put the remaining 6 tablespoons oil in a blender, along with the vinegar, bell pepper, cumin, and zest if you‚Äôre using it. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Pur?©e until smooth.

  3. Toss the warm potatoes with the scallion, mint, chiles, and raisins if you’re using them. Add 1/2 cup of the dressing and toss to coat, adding more if necessary. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve immediately or at room temperature.

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