Purple Kitchen Treats

Over the past few years, I have been working on a cookbook. During this time, I took time off to finish my Master's Degree. Now that I have accomplished that, I am working again on my cookbook, slowly but surely.

However, over the past few months, something interesting has happened...I have received multiple requests for baked goods, particularly my cookies. I am also receiving multiple requests for granola. So, with all these requests in mind, I have started to make my cookies for sale, along with my granola.

My official web site is available, but will be undergoing a significant redesign. Be sure to visit my "official" web site at: http://www.susanshonk.com and watch for some exciting changes.

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you,

Sunday, November 27, 2011

365 in 365 - # 127 - Pumpkin Custard Bread Pudding

I know...there are a ton of bread pudding recipes out there, but I promise that this one is different.  It is uniquely a Susan recipe.

I made 2 kinds of pies for Thanksgiving - pumpkin and custard.  I had left over filling from each pie, so I dumped the left-over pumpkin pie filling into a container and without thinking, I dumped the left over custard pie filling into the same container.....and almost poured it down the drain.  then I thought...basically, the pie fillings each have cream, eggs, sugar and spices in them.  So I thought...what the heck...I'll make a pumpkin custard pie.

The next day, I decided to make bread for Jason.  He loves my home-made white bread.  A great trick to any bread recipe....add butter and honey to the liquid when you start to heat it to activate the yeast - your bread will never be the same and you will get RAVE reviews.  

So, I made 4 large loaves of bread.  As I was rooting around in the fridge for eggs, the pie filling was staring me in the face.  Well, it wasn't just staring....it was glaring at me, so thick and sweet.  And then I thought bread, custard - bread pudding!!!!

I added some milk to thin the filling out a bit and immediately sliced a fresh loaf of bread and took 6 of the slices, each was 3/4 of an inch thick, broke it up into pieces and placed them in the container with the pie filling, being careful to coat all the bread with the custard.   I placed it back in the fridge overnight to soak up all the liquid.

The following day, I used a loaf pan, buttered it and placed the custard drenched bread into the baking vessel and then into a preheated 350` (F) oven to bake for approx. 45 - 60 minutes.

OH MY FLIPPIN' STARS......this was incredible with the maple whipped cream on it.  Jason actually at it for dinner tonite.

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you,


365 in 365 - # 125 & # 126 - Turkey Stock and Southwestern Turkey Pot Pie

Ladies and Gents - this is not yo' mama's pot pie.  This one is spicy, thick, rich and simply chock full of flavor.

I used the turkey that I brined for Thanksgiving for this recipe and used the carcass to make the turkey stock with.  I have to tell you...the brined turkey was an event unto itself.  It turned out to be the most flavorful, moist and tender turkey I have ever had.  I have to confess that I had stopped cooking turkey because of how dry the bird always came out.  Because of the brining process, I will never have to suffer through a dry bird again...and neither will my family.

Southwestern Inspired Turkey Pot Pie
1 Dutch oven
3 deep dish pie plates
1/2 cup turkey fat from the stock made from your turkey carcass.
For a wonderful turkey stock:

  • Place the turkey carcass in a large pot and cover with cold water.  Add 4 celery stalks, 4 carrots and 1 large onion cut into chunks, 1 tablespoon pepper corns and 4 bay leaves, but no salt yet.
  • Place the cover on the pot and turn onto the lowest heat setting on your burner.
  • Cook until the water starts to simmer, then let cook for 30 minutes
  • Strain the hot liquid into another large pot using a large wire strainer lined with 3 layers of cheese cloth.
  • Let cool for 30 minutes and then refrigerate covered over night.
  • The next morning, you will have a nice layer of softly solid turkey fat covering some incredible turkey stock.
  • Use the fat as the thickener for the pot pies

1/2 cup flour
4 tablespoons spicy adobo
4 - 5 cups turkey stock
1 cup each - diced onion, celery and carrots (about a 1/2 inch dice)
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 can each sweet corn and black beans, drained and rinsed
4 diced poblano peppers (about a 1/2 inch dice)
6 cups diced turkey
Salt to taste
Pie crust to cover 3 pies

Begin by melting the turkey fat in the Dutch oven over medium heat.  however, if you prefer an alternative to the turkey fat, you can use olive oil as a substitute.
Once melted, add the onion, celery, carrots and poblanos and cook for approx. 10 to 15 minutes.
Add the garlic and cook a few more minutes.
Sprinkle on the flour and stir to incorporate and cook for 5 minutes
Add the turkey stock, stir and let thicken
Add the corn, black beans and turkey and adobo, stir to incorporate and let heat through
At this point, taste for seasoning.  You may or may not need salt, especially if the turkey was brined.

Divide the filling amongst the 3 pie plates, cover with pie dough so that the dough is touching the filling, trim excess dough if needed.

Place the pie plates on a sheet pan lined with tin foil and bake in a pre-heated 350` F oven until the filling is bubbly and the crust is nicely browned.

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you,


Thursday, November 24, 2011

365 in 365 - #124 - Maple Whipped Cream

I made a version of pumpkin pie for the holiday that was simply fabulous, and I promise I will post it.  But, the whipped cream was a spur of the moment lightening strike.

I wanted to change the flavor profile of the pie to truly give it a New England feel, but didn't want to put the maple syrup in the pie filling until I have a chance to really play with the recipe.  So, I was whipping the cream and getting ready to put in the powdered sugar when "light dawned on Marblehead".....to use the maple syrup instead.  So I did and a whipped cream legend was born.

I used:
2 cups of ice cold heavy cream, beat until thick and it begins to hold it's shape, then add 2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract, the real stuff and beat to incorporate and then begin to slowly drizzle in about 1/3 cup of maple syrup.  Taste to see if it has the amount of maple flavor that you like.

Dollop on anything that you think appropriate....pie, cake, trifle, use in a mousse or eat it right out of the bowl that it was whipped in.

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you!!!

365 in 365 - Giving thanks and passing on a blessing

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!!  I hope your day was blessed with family, friends and good times.  

While we are giving thanks, let's not forget about those in need.  I am fortunate, as are my family and most of the people I know.  But, there are families and people who struggle with emotional challenges as well as financial challenges every day.  This is not just a need that occurs at the holidays.  For many, it is a need that is constant.  

My way of giving is to have a set dollar amount taken out of my pay check every payday.  My donations are to a couple of charities that work with cancer patients and one that provides food to those in need.  The other ways that I give are to help with special fund-raisers by giving time, donating baked goods or money, which ever is what my resources will allow.  Another way that I can help is to do something for someone else on the spur of a moment....hold a door, give up my seat for an elderly individual, greet someone warmly, buy a Police Man a cup of coffee when they are directing traffic in the cold, or whatever else may be appropriate.  

There are so many opportunities to bless others, so some day, if I ever get to open a diner, I would like to find ways to help struggling families and individuals through my business. 

Wishing you all many blessings from the heart of my purple kitchen to you!!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

365 in 365 - #121, #122 & 123 - Southwestern Inspired Brine, Roast Turkey and Roast Pork Loin

OK....I have read several recipes for brining liquid and I liked elements of each, but didn't have one the particularly struck me, so here is my version of a southwestern brine for turkey and pork loin, both of which are currently tucked away in my fridge in this wonderful liquid.  My kitchen smells amazing!!!

For the recipe below, I had enough brine to cover one 12 pound turkey and one 3 pound pork loin
This would also work well for 2 to 3 large chickens for those who don't eat pork.

For the brine:

Warning - this will be spicy.  If you like something a bit more mild, use a milder version of adobo and 1 tablespoon of peppercorns.

2 brining bags, available at Sur la Table (www.surlatable.com)

6 quarts water
1 1/2 cups kosher salt
1 cup honey
6 small bay leaves, broken into pieces
2 heaping tablespoons minced garlic
4 tablespoons adobo seasoning mix.  I use the spicy one from Baked Spice (www.bakedspice.com)
1 tablespoon peppercorns

Place all the ingredients except for the water, into a very large pitcher
Heat 2 quarts of water until warm and pour over the other ingredients
Stir until the salt is dissolved
Add the remaining water and let it cool

Prepare the turkey by removing the "pop-up" thermometer, the giblets and the neck and rinse well, place in a large brining bag and place the bag with the meat in a very large container (pot or bowl that will fit the meat and liquid).

Once cool, pour the liquid over your meat of choice, covering it with the liquid.  Seal the bag very well and marinate for 2 to 3 days in the fridge.

Remove from the liquid, rinse and pat the meat dry.

Next, you will need 4 to 5 sticks of butter......yes, that many sticks of butter at room temperature.  This is a special occasion and there is no need to be frugal on taste.  Place in a mixing bowl and add 3 tablespoons adobo and 1 bunch of chopped fresh cilantro and mix well.  If you don't like cilantro, though I can't imagine anyone not liking cilantro, you can substitute flat leaf parsley.  I sometimes use olive oil and make a rosemary, lemon zest and garlic paste for under the skin and on the meat......which is amazing!!!!

For the turkey use approximately 3 1/2 sticks and for the pork use approximately 1 1/2 sticks of butter.

Run your hand under the turkey skin to separate the meat from the skin and slather in the butter mixture being sure to get it all over the breast meat, down to the thighs and to the wings.  Take more butter and slather all over the top of the turkey skin.  At this point, Chef Ann Burrell suggests placing the turkey uncovered in the fridge overnight to dry out.  This will make the skin brown amazingly well.  I really liked this tip, so I am going to use it.

The next day, stuff the turkey cavity with 3 heads of garlic, cut roughly...no need to peel the garlic.  Tie the turkey legs together to help the turkey hold it's shape.  Place your turkey in a preheated oven (425 ` F) in a roasting pan with a rack.  The turkey should be placed on the lowest shelf in the oven.  To the bottom of the pan, add 4 cups chicken stock, 4 large diced carrots, 2 ribs of diced celery and 1 large onion, diced.  After the first 30 minutes, turn the oven down to 350` F and cook until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the  turkey breast reads 165` F.  Baste the turkey about every 30 minutes.  If the turkey starts to get too brown, place a tin foil tent over the turkey and continue cooking until the proper temperature is reached.

Remove from the oven, tent loosely with tin foil and let it rest for at least 30 minutes before carving.

To prep the pork loin, take a paring knife and cut several slits in the meat, about 2 inches apart and 1 inch deep.  Peel enough garlic cloves to stuff into the holes and follow with a bit of the butter mixture
Then with the remaining butter mixture, slather it all over the pork, including the ends.  Place the pork in a roasting pan on a bed of roughly chopped carrots, onions and celery with 2 cups of chicken stock and bake at 350 until a thermometer reads 165` F.

Remove from the oven and place on a cutting board, loosely covered with tin foil and let rest at least 20 minutes before carving.

For either meat preparation, you can make a great pan sauce from the veggies and drippings or you can serve with gravy of your choice or a lovely Mexican Mole`.

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you!!!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

365 in 365 - #120 Cranberry, Walnut and White Chocolate Cookies

I will confess right now.....the kitchen at the hospital in which I work makes the most amazing cookies.  They have just started making a dried cranberry and white chocolate chip cookie that is simply addictive.

I do not have their recipe, but I think I can guess what it might be.  So, I am unabashedly and shamelessly going to tell you how I think they are making them.

Use the simple and original Toll House cookie dough recipe and add 1 cup of chopped white chocolate, 1 cup of chopped dried cranberries and, as an option, add 1 cup of chopped walnuts.  Bake according to the recipe directions.

I use a 3 ounce scoop to make most cookies, except my shortbread cookies.  please feel free to drizzle the cookies with melted white chocolate.  Oh my flippin' stars!!!!!

From my purple kitchen to you.


Monday, November 14, 2011

New Web Site

Have y'all had a chance to visit my new web site?  I would love to hear your feedback on the site.

Here is the link:


Thanks for your feed-back!!!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

365 in 365 - #118 & #119 - Cranberry, Orange & Walnut Oatmeal Cookies AND White Chocolate, Dried Apricot & Macadamia Nut Cookies

It is getting to be my favorite time of year......Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's.  Holidays are always a time for families to gather to celebrate, to start new family traditions and share old ones, to catch up on all the going's on in everyones lives and to eat with abandon and not feel guilty.  The cookies that I am sharing today are a step away from the standard holiday favorites, but with an enhanced flavor profile.

Use your favorite oatmeal cookie recipe, instead of the standard raisins and walnuts, add:
  • 1 cup of chopped dried cranberries 
  • 1 cup of  chopped walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon of orange zest.  
  • Drizzle with an icing made with a few tablespoons of orange juice and 2 cups of powdered sugar.

Use the same cookie recipe and add: 
  • 1 cup of chopped, dried apricots 
  • 1 cup of chopped white chocolate
  • 1 cup of chopped macadamia nuts  
  • Drizzle with melted white chocolate and enjoy.

I use a 3 ounce scoop to make the cookies, only 6 to a cookie sheet, and they come out amazing.  

If you are feeling particularly decadent, take a scoop of your favorite ice cream and make sandwiches with the cookies.  Wrap them individually in waxed paper and freeze until firm.  These make a wonderful treat for any occasion.

I know y'all will enjoy these cookies.

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you,

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

365 in 365 - #117 - Cream of Poblano Soup

This was a recipe that I posted last year, before the challenge began.  It is soooo good that I wanted to bring it back and include it in the challenge.  I have changed it up a bit and the flavor profile is a bit more smooth and sophisticated.  The texture is creamy and thick, but I will warn you...this is spicy!!!!!

My mother-in-law discovered this soup in a restaurant and tried to make it.  Hers was very good, but I decided to give it a try and came up with this version.  Everyone agreed that this was the better of the two.  

This is a very rich and decadent soup and is not for everyday.  It is a wonderful “special occasion” soup for a holiday or birthday.  It is a beautiful soft green color and is on the spicy side.  It can also be used as a sauce for chicken or pork tenderloin.  Just substitute 1 quart of the half-n-half with heavy cream so you will have a thicker base.

8 poblano peppers, charred, peeled, seeded and deveined
2 jalapenos, charred, peeled, seeded and deveined
1 large bunch cilantro, chopped
1 medium onion, sautéed in 2 tsp olive oil
6 cloves of roasted garlic
2 quarts half-n-half at room temperature
1 pint heavy cream at room temperature
¾ tsp kosher Salt 
¾ tsp fresh ground / cracked Pepper

½ small bag of frozen corn, thawed and sautéed with a bit of olive oil until lightly brown 
4 chicken breasts, grilled and diced
4 ripe roma tomatoes, cored, seeded and diced
2 ripe avocados diced and spritzed with lime juice to prevent oxidation
Thinly sliced radish

In a blender, combine the onion, cilantro, garlic, enough of the half-n-half to cover and process until very smooth and pour into a 4 quart soup pot.  Process the poblanos and enough half-n-half to cover in the blender and add to the soup pot.  Add the remaining half-n-half, the cream, salt, pepper and stir.  If you like your soup more spicy, add the remaining 2 poblanos after processing them in the blender with some of the soup.  If you like even more spice, you can roast a few Jalapeno or Serrano peppers in the oven with a bit of olive oil to soften them.  Place them in a blender with a bit of the soup to process and add to the pot of soup. If needed, add more salt and pepper taste.

When reheating this soup, please be careful to do so on a very low heat stirring frequently or it will scald.  Also, because of the cream base, do not leave this unattended while reheating as it may boil over.  

Serve with your choice of garnishes and enjoy!