Rich Turkey Soup with Sherry and Herbs

After a week of Thanksgiving cooking (preceded by almost a week of support and fun with Golfers Against Cancer), it's time to catch up on some great cooking entries. There are a few highlights from our multiple Thanksgiving dinners and follow up, including:

- A twist on Shrimp Cocktail, with Rose Marie Sauce
- Improved recipe for Braised Carrot and Parsnip with Shallots
- Lightly Smashed Root Vegetables with Orange


Really, no matter how good the stock is, no matter what choices I've made in veg or grains or pasta, no matter the technqiue, I've never ever been excited about my results with a "leftover" turkey soup. Some have been good - but none have ever been excellent, until yesterday. Here's the recipe:

Rich Turkey Soup with Sherry

1 to 1.5 pounds leftover turkey meat, roughly torn or cut into 1-2" pieces
1/2 a large onion, chopped finely
3 medium carrots, in 1/8" sliced rounds
4 medium garlic cloves, lightly smashed and skins removed
2 quarts rich brown turkey stock
4 sprigs fresh thyme
4 sprigs fresh, or 1.5 teaspoons dried tarragon
1/3 cup dry sherry, such as Amontillado or Fino
  1. Saute onion, carrot and garlic until slightly softened. Season lightly with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.
  2. Add stock and herbs, bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat, check seasoning and simmer 15 minutes.
  4. Add sherry and simmer 2-3 minutes.

What Did You Think of the Show "Master Chef?"

Many of you know that I was a finalist to appear on the reality cooking show Master Chef, with Gordon Ramsey. One step further and I would have been on TV.

Auditions for the second season are underway, and the producers have even contacted me directly to try out again.

What do you think? Many of you saw the show, with both it's ups and downs. I'm certain I cook as well as any of the finalist, or even the young winner. But, is it a show you'd like to see me on? Do you think it's worth the publicity - both positive and negative - to be associated with a show like that?

I'm thinking it over. Let me know what you can email me (Tom) at

Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon and Mint

I seem to have a soft spot for cauliflower. I know some people dislike it strongly, something about a funny smell. I've never experienced that, so it's somewhat toward the top of my list of favorite everyday vegetables. AND my kids like it. That's almost all that matters.

I prefer to roast cauliflower, as it's so easy to overcook it in water or by steaming. Cut the florets into bite size pieces or larger, toss in olive oil, S & P, and roast for 12-15 minutes. That's it.

A restaurant in San Francisco, Thermidor goes a step further and browns the roasted florets in a skillet to crisp them up a little, then tosses in lemon juice, hot pepper flakes and mint.

It's a great combination, but now it becomes easy to overcook the cauliflower. So, either be sure to under-roast in the oven. Or, don't worry about it. Just toss the roasted cauliflower with the lemon, pepper and mint when it's still hot. It will still be a great flavor combination.

Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon and Mint
1 head cauliflower, cut into roughly 1" pieces
1 medium or 1/2 a large lemon, halved

Fresh Herbs: mint leaves
Staples: olive oil, red pepper flakes, kosher salt, fresh ground pepper
Equipment: rimmed sheet pan, large skillet

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Line a rimmed sheet pan with aluminum foil (for easy cleanup), toss cauliflower florets in 2 tablespoons olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Roast cauliflower for 10-12 minutes if you plan to re-crisp it in a skillet, 13-15 minutes for the one-step dish.
  4. If re-crisping, allow florets to cool. Then cook in olive oil over high heat for 2-3 minutes, until crispy brown edges form.
  5. For either version, add lemon juice, hot pepper flakes to taste and a half dozen mint leaves, chopped.

Chicken Breasts with Capicolla, Mozarella and Herb Roasted Tomatoes

This dish is almost "stuffed chicken, only easier, because you don't have to carefully carve out pockets, nor flatten the chicken breasts.

The only thing to pay close to is the done-ness and browning of the chicken. If you cooked the chicken for the complete 40 minutes that the tomatoes roast, you'd dry out the breast. Adding the chicken part way through cooking, then using the broiler for browning, solves these problems. The exact cooking times may vary based on the size of your roasting pan and specific of your oven. Just make sure the chicken is cooked through. If it's browned and beautiful too, it's a bonus.

In the corner of the picture below you'll see fresh fava beans and peas with butter and lemon.

1.5  pounds boneless chicken breasts
1/4 pound capicolla (regular or hot), very thinly sliced
1/3 pound mozzarella cheese, cut into roughly rectangular pieces
1.5 pounds plum tomatoes, quartered
1 pint yellow cherry tomatoes

Fresh herbs: bay leaf, thyme, rosemary
Staples: Olive Oil, Salt and Pepper
Equipment: Roasting Pan
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Line a roasting pan with quarters of plum tomatoes, unseeded, and the yellow cherry tomatoes.  
  3. Add 2 bay leaves, 3 thyme sprigs, 2 rosemary sprigs, salt, fresh ground pepper and olive oil. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar. Toss together. If fresh herbs are unavailable, substitute each sprig with a teaspoon of dried.
  4. Roast vegetables for 25 minutes.
  5. While vegetables roast, place chicken breasts in a large bowl, season with salt and pepper, then drizzle with olive oil and toss together. .
  6. Slice each chicken breast lengthwise, being careful to not cut all the way through.
  7. Layer 2-3 slices of capicolla in this fold, then add a rectangle or two of mozzarella. See picture below to see uncooked breasts lined with capi and cheese.
  8. After vegetables have cooked 25 minutes, remove from oven and place the chicken breasts on top of vegetables and herbs, pocket facing up. 
  9. Cook for another 15 minutes. Turn over to broil to slightly brown the tops of the chicken and capicolla and completely melt the cheese (it may brown a little).
  10. Serve over rice or pasta or with bread.
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