Taco Seasoning

1 T chilli powder
1½ t freshly ground cumin
1 t freshly ground coriander
1 t smoked paprika
1 t oregano
½ t garlic powder
½ t onion powder
½ t red pepper flakes, depending on how spicy your chilli powder is
1 t kosher salt
1½ t corn starch (optional)

First of all make sure your chilli powder is nothing but dried, ground chillis. Often they’ll sell you chilli powder that has many other additives in it. I like a nice hot chilli powder, and if it’s hot enough, will omit the red pepper flakes entirely.

Mix all ingredients together, adding the corn starch only if you want to have a thicker, saucier taco meat (you’ll have to add water as well to the taco meat for this to happen). Alternatively, you can make the spice mix and add in the corn starch to the meat separately.

Turkey Sausage Pasta with Four Cheese Fresh Tomato Sauce

1 1/2 lbs tri-colour rotini
1 lb sweet italian turkey sausage
1 small red onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 t red chilli pepper flakes
8 medium tomatoes, diced
1/2 – 3/4 c dry white wine
100 g of capers
2 large stems of basil leaves
1/4 c flat leaf parsley
3-4 oz fresh mozarella
3-4 oz ricotta salata
1/2 c grated parmigiano reggiano
1/2 c pecorino romano
extra virgin olive oil

Slice the sausages into 1″ pieces and sauté in a little olive oil. Once browned, set aside. Add a little more oil to your pan and sauté the onion and garlic, adding in kosher salt to sweat them out so they don’t burn. Add in the chilli flakes. Once the onions are soft, add 1/2 – 3/4 c of a good dry white wine (a Chardonnay is good in this) – the same one you want to drink along side this. Reduce until nearly evaporated and then add in the diced tomatoes and the drained capers. If the capers are salt-packed you’ll need to rinse them quite well. Simmer the sauce on low and meanwhile set the pasta water on to boil.

After simmering for about 10-15 min, chiffonade the basil and add to the sauce. It will be very watery, but once you add it to the pasta will thicken up and the pasta will absorb a lot of the tomato juices. Chop the parsley and reserve to add in with the cheeses. Grate the hard cheeses, crumble the ricotta salata. Drain and dice the mozarella (or buy the tiny balls and just drain them).

Once the pasta is cooked to al dente, drain & dress with olive oil. Add in the sauce, parsley, and cheese and mix well. Add in more olive oil and salt to taste. Serve with the wine.

Turkey Parsnip Barley Stew

1 turkey (or chicken) carcass with some meat still on it; more meat
1 celeriac (also called celery root), scrubbed well and quartered
bay leaves
bouquet garni of parsley, thyme, rosemary, sage/left-over herb stems*
2 large carrots, snapped in half
1/2 onion, skin on

left-over gravy and/or bouillon
3 medium carrots
6 large parsnips
3 medium turnips
1 medium onion
2 celery stalks
1 to 1 1/2 C whole barley. Also great is a mixture of brown and wild rice.
1 bunch fresh Italian parsley*
several sprigs of fresh thyme*
several sprigs of fresh rosemary*
fresh ground pepper
1 c dry white wine

After Thanksgiving is done, most have a turkey carcass and/or some left over meat, leg bones, etc. I freeze this all until I’m going to make this stew.

Put the carcass in a large stock put and fill with *cold* water – this allows the flavour to go into the broth – don’t use hot water. Also add in the bay leaves, carrots, onion, celeriac, and bouquet garni. Let it warm up slowly on low and bring to a simmer on medium-low for several hours until the meat is about to come off the bones. Use a spider to remove the vegetables, meat and bones, picking out the meat and putting into a bowl to add back to the broth later. Strain the broth through fine cheesecloth and rinse out your soup pot.

Peel and chop the parsnips, turnips, and carrots into about 1/2″ chunks.  Dice the onion and celery and sauté in the cleaned out soup pot in a little butter/olive oil until softened. Add in a couple of tablespoons of turkey bouillon (which is hard to find) I use “Better than Bouillon” brand, which is quite good.  Also add in a the Chardonnay or other dry white wine and reduce until almost evaporated. Add in the stock, any left-over gravy, and the rest of the veggies.  Apart from any turkey bullion you add, don’t add too much salt as you want this to cook down quite a bit more before you serve it, and you don’t want it to become too salty. You can always salt it later if it isn’t seasoned enough.  Add freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Chop half of the parsley, and about 3/4 of the thyme and rosemary and add to the broth with the vegetables. Add in the barley/rice and simmer on medium with the lid off so you concentrate the flavours a little more. It will look like soup at this point, but as the barley cooks it will absorb a lot of the liquid, so don’t worry about it. Add the meat back in about 30 minutes before ready to serve.

Right before I serve it, I finely chop the rest of the herbs and add them to the stew, or put them in little bowls for to place on the table. Fresh rosemary is amazing, and goes really with the parsnips in this stew.

From first adding the water to the pot, this should take about 5-6 hours until it is ready – so for supper you should start this about 12.00.

*When I’ve used the leaves from fresh herbs, I put the stems in a ziploc bag and place in the freezer until the next time I’m going to make stew or soup, and use them to flavour the stock, rather then letting them go to waste. I do the same with bits and pieces of poultry like the wing tips, backs/spines etc.