Friday, November 20, 2015


This is the first year ever in my adult life that I have not cooked a full Thanksgiving dinner. It already seems a little odd, but I know my husband and I will have a wonderful celebration with good friends and neighbors. I am grateful for the love all around me and am blessed to be surrounded by such beautiful people.

I am going to bring an appetizer and a turkey roulade to our neighbors who have graciously asked us to join their 20+ member family dinner! First, the appetizer...

I love chicken liver pate and double checked with Brian and Lori to make sure their family feels the same way. I found this recipe online and because I am making it for the first time will follow to the letter. It looks gorgeous!

In case you don't want to go to the Serious Eats site (which I am not familiar with), here is the recipe:


2 lbs. chicken livers, trimmed of sinew and fat
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 shallots, minced
1/2 tsp. minced fresh thyme
2 oz. bourbon or whiskey
2 oz. apple cider
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
1/2 envelope unflavored gelatin
1 cup unsweetened cranberry juice
2 Tbsp. sugar
If using sweetened cranberry juice, omit the sugar.

Pat livers dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in large skillet until smoking. Cook half of the livers, turning, until browned on both sides and pink in the middle, about 4 minutes. Transfer livers to the bowl of a food processor. Add 1 more Tbsp. oil to the skillet, heat until smoking and cook the second half of the livers.
Add remaining 1 Tbsp. oil to skillet, add shallots and thyme and cook, stirring until softened, about 2 minutes. Add bourbon and cook, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan until almost evaporated or flame the bourbon to cook off the alcohol (that's what I plan to do!). Add cider and cook until slightly reduced. Scrape shallots and any remaining liquid into food processor bowl with the livers.
Add butter and process, stopping to scrape down sides, until a smooth pure forms. (The recipe does not say this, but have your butter at room temperature before adding to the food processor. It will blend much easier.)
Set a fine mesh strainer/sieve over a large mixing bowl and, using a wooden spoon or ladle, press and plunge liver through it. Season liver pure with salt and pepper and scrape into a large ramekin or terrine (I just bought a pate mold special for this occasion!). Tap the container against the counter to remove air pockets. Smooth surface, then press plastic wrap directly against surface and chill in refrigerator until set, at least 2 hours or overnight.

To make the Cranberry Gelee:
In a glass measuring cup, sprinkle gelatin on top of cranberry juice and let stand for 15 minutes. Transfer cranberry juice and gelatin to a small saucepan and stir in sugar (if using. It's simpler to just use regular sweetened cranberry juice). Heat over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved and juice is simmering. Remove from heat and let cool. Gently pour cooled cranberry juice on top of pate. Cover with plastic and refrigerate until cranberry sets, at least 2 hours or preferably overnight. Pate can be refrigerated for up to 5 days before serving.

Here is the roulade (boneless stuffed turkey breast) I am bringing which I generally make every year along with the full, big bone-in bird. Go to link below for complete recipe.
And finally, recently I was asked if I have a good pumpkin cheesecake recipe. Here is one I made for my family Thanksgiving dinner a couple years ago. I served it with pumpkin ice cream, which made for a fabulous combo. The ice cream is not made from 'scratch' so really simple and easy to put together. Here is the link. Scroll down as the desserts are at the end of the blog.
We are sharing Thanksgiving dessert with some of my favorite golf ladies and their families. I will bring the pumpkin ice cream to them!
Thanksgiving is less than a week away!
Wishing you all a very happy, healthy, bountiful holiday
filled with good food and lots of love!
And thanking you all for  tuning in to another episode of
Cook with Cindy. We just exceeded 15,000 views.
I am grateful to all of you for sharing my love of cooking.
Here's my Dad in his easy chair after a huge feast--Thanksgiving 2013.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


I have wanted to make sausage at home for a long time. Falls into my category of wanting to make cheese, which I just did, ice cream, which I now make regularly, and pasta, which has become one of my favorite homemade treats. Last spring, March to be exact, I met with some good friends for a sausage making party. None of us had made it before, but among us we figured it out and had a blast doing it. What a fun and festive evening resulting in two beautiful sausages: Traditional Italian, and a gorgeous Chicken Sausage with Poblano Peppers and Cilantro. I made the Italian and think it came out pretty good for a first attempt, but was a little salty.
I did extensive reading on sausage making before attempting and one of the things that I read again and again was salt to meat ratio has to be EXACT in order for the meat to bind. Not sure that is completely true and next time will use less.
1 4 lb. skinless, boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt) cut into 1-2" pieces (I couldn't get a boneless shoulder so used a bone-in. Since you're cutting it apart, it doesn't really matter and this way you have the benefit of the bone for soup.)
2 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. Morton coarse Kosher salt (too much; next time I would use 1 1/2 Tbsp. salt)
1 Tbsp. toasted fennel seeds
1/2 tsp. freshly grated black pepper
1/2 tsp. white pepper
1/4 tsp. red pepper flake
2 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. Italian blended spice
3 tsp. freshly grated garlic
3 Tbsp. red wine
Here I am with my 4 lb. Boston Butt!! ;-0 Glad you're seeing this view!

Cleaning silver skin, tendons, and anything else that looks tough and nasty is important
even if you are grinding the meat.
Chill all grinder parts, including die with 1/4" holes, in freezer until very cold, about 1 hour. Chill a large stainless steel bowl in refrigerator until cold. Place pork in a single layer on 2 plastic wrap-lined baking sheets; cover and freeze until meat is very firm, but not frozen, about 1 hour.

I followed these steps closely as I thought it might influence texture.

Combine salt, fennel seeds, black pepper, white pepper, Italian spices, and red pepper flakes in a small bowl, set aside.

Grind pork on high speed, 3-4 pieces at a time, into chilled bowl (keep second baking sheet in freezer until ready to use.).
Tony and Griff are pretty pleased their sausage is ready to grind!
If grinder clogs, clean die and cutter before continuing. We had no problem here.

Add garlic and mix gently with your hands just to begin to distribute, about 20 seconds. Sprinkle reserved spice mixture evenly over pork and knead, rotating bowl, until spice mixture is evenly distributed and a light film forms on the side of the bowl, about 1 minute.

Add wine; knead until mixture holds together and is very stiff (it will spring back when pressed), about 1 minute. Do not over-mix or sausage will be crumbly.
Sausage Making Supporters Carrie and Anabel who kept wine glasses filled and offered so much encouragement!
Form 1/4 cup sausage mixture into a 3" diameter patty; press into your palm. Extend your hand with meat, palm facing down. If meat sticks for at least 5 seconds, it is sufficiently mixed. If not, continue to knead in 15 second intervals until it passes the palm test. (This sounds so complicated, but it really is not at all. I believe there is much latitude in making sausage, with the most important ingredients being FUN and LOVE!).
Place casings in a large bowl under cold running water and let sit, allowing water to overflow and flushing water through casings (take care not to tangle) until softened, about 2 minutes. Slide 1 casing onto stuffer nozzle, leaving a 6" overhand (do not tie).

If casing is too long or tangles, cut in half and work with 1 piece at a time. I bought these casings online and they worked beautifully!
Carrie and sausage supporter Diana who quickly decides to get her hands into it!

As Diana stuffs,  Tony receives the filled casings.
Pack a handful of sausage mixture very lightly into stuffer. Working with a partner and with stuffer on high speed, use plunger (or your hands) to push meat through, gradually filling casing; gently slide filled casing off nozzle onto a baking sheet as you go (or in our case, the counter!).
Fill casing firmly, but do not overstuff (mixture will tighten when links are twisted, and overfilled casing will burst when cooked). As casing fills, lightly prick air bubbles (about 3 pricks per sausage--this helps prevent bursting) with sausage pricker. Leave at least 6" of empty casing at the end. Repeat with remaining casing and sausage mixture.
Griff and me tying off the sausage links.
I looked everywhere, including online, for the perfect sausage pricker, but could not find one so we
ended up using a toothpick, which worked perfectly. The tool I am looking for has a knife on one end
to cut the sausage once tied, and a two-pronged pricker on the other end.
Tie off 1 end of casing, making a knot flush with meat. Starting 6" from knot, pinch off a 6" length, squeezing on both sides (this part was really fun!). Twist link toward you 2 rotations. Staring 6" from link, pinch off another 6" length, squeezing on both sides, and twist link away from you 2 rotations. Repeat, alternating direction of twists, until you can't make another 6" sausage. The recipe called for squeezing out extra meat; we just made a mini sausage; and tied off the final casing.
The recipe also calls for arranging links on a parchment lined baking sheet and chilling, uncovered, to dry out casings at least 12 hours. We skipped that step, as at this point we were very hungry so went right to grilling after maybe a 30 minute rest on a platter!
Chef Tony did a fabulous job grilling both sausages...and none of our sausages burst so I guess we pricked correctly.
To learn a lot more about making sausage than I know, check out this fantastic book!
 I have so much to learn about making sausage, but what a fun and wonderful first experience with dear friends who made it a delightful experience! Thank you Dennis, Diana, Anabel, Griff and Tony and Carrie for hosting our first sausage making party. Let's hope it's the beginning of many more cooking adventures. The next sausage recipe I want to try is a goat sausage made with roasted red peppers, caramelized onions, charred green onions and I would add some of my friend Anastasia's beautiful fresh goat cheese. How yummy does that sound?!?
My husband's birthday is less than a week away and, as usual I am spoiling him with food. Last night we had grilled filet mignon wrapped in Hempler's all natural bacon topped with a garlic and smoked salt compound butter served with steamed asparagus. Lobster Pasta and Osso Buco coming next! Lots of other goodies planned. His request this year for cake is a Blueberry Pie so you will get that recipe soon.
We consider his birthday the kick-off of holiday season so Thanksgiving is right around the corner. I am going to give you a quick idea next week for a fun and different appetizer--Bourbon Infused Chicken Liver Pate with Cranberry Gelee. How perfect for Thanksgiving. This will be the first time ever in my adult life that I have not cooked a full Thanksgiving dinner. It will be different, but I am sure I will find love and joy in every moment.
Until next time, continue experimenting and creating
your own delicious meals!
So proud of the first ones coming out!
 Here are a few more shots from our Sausage Making Party!
Grif grinding chicken for his southwestern sausage!
Me assisting.

Checking meat temp at all times through the process is very important.