Thursday, December 27, 2012

Pheasant Barley Soup

It's been a rough few days and my voice is only just coming back.  When I feel this way then soup is required.  I have plenty of things in the freezer for soup but they can wait.  Today I wanted to tend to those pheasant leftovers.

First, the stock:  I roasted the bones, some celery, carrots, and onion at 450 for almost an hour.  Then I boiled them in 6 pints of water, with bay, and a teaspoon each of parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.  (No, I did not sing Scarborough Fair even once!)  This simmered for 3 hours and was strained.

Then, the soup:  I cut up more onion, celery and carrot, our mirepoix, and browned them in olive oil.  To this I added the leftover pheasant meat and browned that slightly as well.  Then I added the stock, whatever meat I could get off the bones, chopped up leftover green beans, a package of dried porcini mushrooms and, after a while, 3/4 cup of pearled barley.  This simmered until all the barley was split and much of the liquid was absorbed.  The soup was seasoned with salt and pepper at the end.

Served with biscuits and blackberries, it was a filling meal.  The 7 year old even ate some of the broth!  That is a WIN.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Eve Feast

Not the most attractive of posed shots;
I suppose we could have at least finished setting the table!
Merry Christmas!

This year I am working over the Christmas holiday so I did the overnight on the 23rd and will work overnight tonight.  That left Christmas eve and morning so we had our "feast" last night.  Tonight we will have macaroni and cheese, but homemade, at least!

I had wanted to roast a duck but we got to the store and there were no ducks.  There were pheasants, so we decided to try that instead.  I combined a few recipes I found on the net and roasted 2 very tasty pheasants.  Here's how:

First the pheasants were brined for about 6 hours.  To make the brine I boiled 4 cups of water, 1/2 cup kosher salt, 6 bay leaves, and 2 T. sugar together and then soaked the pheasants in that.  They were then taken out, dried, and set in the fridge until the next day.   Each was stuffed with a small onion, a quarter of an apple and some sage and then bacon was draped over the breasts.  Then the birds were trussed and roasted for 15 minutes at 500 degrees.  After that, I dropped the oven temperature to 325-350 (hard to tell since my oven isn't very accurate) and roasted them for an additional 60 minutes or so, until the meat thermometer said 150.  About halfway through, I drizzled them with maple syrup.

Once they rested for 15 minutes they were carved.  I served them with red bliss potatoes, purple potatoes, carrots and parsnips roasted with thyme and rosemary.

Now we have some leftover pheasant meat in the fridge and bones in the freezer and a plan to make stock or soup in the near future.  Maybe pheasant will work as well as duck for a variation of the turducken soup?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Spicy Holiday Giving

Habaneros!  Today I made another double batch of the Cranberry-Rhubarb compote but I added 4 chopped habanero peppers (minus the seeds).  And is it ever spicy!

This made 14 4-ounce jars and 3 8-ounce jars and, I'll have to look, but I think this makes my gift stash almost complete.  For now....

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Wintergreen Muffins

Over the past few weeks, I've been taking a lot of walks.  It's wintergreen season and I've been looking for berries.  I have found a few places that have wintergreen and a lot of places that don't.  But I am persistent!

In total, with help from my family, I amassed 77 berries.  Not enough to do anything substantial with.  But enough for something...right?  So I decided that today we would eat them, in muffin form.  First I made the batter from this recipe for chocolate muffins but I left out the chocolate chips.  I even got to use homemade plain yogurt that I made the other day.  (I hadn't made yogurt since last winter, there always seems to be something else to do...)  Then I put the wintergreen berries on the top of the muffins and baked them.

I had contemplated adding wintergreen extract but I wanted to see how much flavor the berries have on their own.  The answer is, not much initially, but then there is this faint wintergreen aftertaste that is really pleasant.  It was worthwhile.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Finally I Have Some Time

I've been planning on working on my gift stash for a while but something always seems to get in the way.  So I set aside several hours this morning to try to make a dent in it.  I made two batches today - Maple Pear Ginger Jam and Cranberry Rhubarb Compote (same as last year).

For the Maple Pear Ginger jam I made a few changes from the first recipe attempt.  One change was that I added ginger (obviously).  I cut the pears larger and simmered them with some pear juice and 4 big chunks of fresh ginger.  When they were soft I removed the ginger, mashed the pears, and returned the ginger to the pot.  Then I added the lemon juice and the pectin and then, once it was boiling, the syrup and the sugar.  When it was time to can it I removed the ginger.  This made 5 cups and a little bit.

The Cranberry-Rhubarb Compote was easier since I had 1 pound of rhubarb already measured out in the freezer.  (There's that thinking ahead thing - isn't it great when it works?)  That plus 1 and a half bags of cranberries and 2 golden delicious apples made 9 cups of compote.  I now have 21 8-ounce jars and 31 4-ounce jars in the stash.  I might need more, but this is a significant improvement!