Cook’s Corner

Recreating turkey legs found at the fair

 

Sleuth’s Corner

Q. My mother made what she called josephinas that she served with soups and sometimes with breakfast. She sliced Cuban bread and added more things before she put it in the oven. My sister says there was mayonnaise but I only remember there was cheese. I am hoping one of your readers can help.

Gabe, Miami Beach


Dessert

Salted Caramel Apple Tartlets

For salted caramel sauce

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 tablespoon butter

For apple tartlets

1 sheet all-butter frozen puff pastry dough, defrosted in the refrigerator

2 apples, peeled

1 tablespoon melted butter

4 teaspoons sugar

Flaked sea salt or fleur de sel, for sprinkling

To make the caramel sauce, put the sugar in a 2- to 3-quart heavy saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook the sugar until it melts into syrup, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon (NOT a metal spoon, which will get very hot).

Once the sugar is completely melted, let it cook undisturbed until it’s amber-colored. Lower the heat and very slowly dribble the cream into the pan.

The mixture will bubble up intensely, so be careful. When the bubbling subsides, bring the caramel to a simmer, whisking until any hardened lumps melt back into the sauce. Remove from heat and stir in the salt and butter until smooth. If you end up with a few stubborn pieces of hardened sugar, you can strain the sauce into a heatproof glass measuring cup.

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Roll the puff pastry on a lightly floured surface to flatten slightly. Cut out 4 (5-inch diameter) circles with a pastry cutter or use the upside-down rim of a small bowl. Transfer the circles to an ungreased baking sheet. Cut the apples in half and remove the core. Slice each half crosswise into thin slices, keeping them together as you slice. Unfurl the slices onto each pastry circle, fanning them in a circular pattern to cover the dough. Brush with the melted butter and sprinkle each with 1 teaspoon sugar.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes, until the apples are tender and the edges of the tarts are puffed and golden.

Reheat the caramel to pouring consistency, and spoon some over each tart. Sprinkle with a little flaked salt and serve warm. Makes 4 servings.

Note: You’ll have more caramel sauce than you need for the tarts, but it will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks to use in any way you like.

Per serving: 380 calories (49 percent from fat), 21.4 g fat (11.7 g saturated, 7.2 g monounsaturated), 56 mg cholesterol, 1.7 g protein, 48 g carbohydrates, 2.3 g fiber, 384 mg sodium.


Icing

Boiled Chocolate Icing

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

3 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups milk

2 teaspoons vanilla

3 squares unsweetened baking chocolate

Milk or cream if needed

Measure the butter, sugar and milk into a large heavy saucepan. Over low heat, stirring, cook until the butter is melted and the sugar has dissolved, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Cook without stirring for 1 minute, then turn off the heat. Stir in the vanilla and chocolate until it is melted and mixture is smooth. Scrape any sugar crystals that may have formed on sides of the pan.

Return pan to stove and cook over medium heat, without stirring, until mixture reaches 238 degrees, the soft ball stage (meaning, when a bit is dropped into cold water, it will form a soft ball. This is not a fast process — depending upon the heat and the pan it can take 20 minutes.

While the frosting is cooking, fill a basin or bowl big enough to hold the pan with ice and water. As soon as it is at 238 degrees, place the pan in the water bath (do not stir the mixture) and let it cool to lukewarm (120 degrees).

Beat the frosting for 4 to 6 minutes, until it reaches a pourable consistency. If it is too thick to pour, beat in milk or cream a tablespoon at a time until the proper thickness is reached. Work quickly and pour a third of the icing over the center of the first cake layer, spreading with a flexible spatula. Top with second layer and pour remaining icing over the top, again using the spatula to help spread evenly over the top so it runs down the sides of the cake. Let cake stand until frosting sets and is no longer shiny. Makes enough frosting for a 2-layer cake, 12 servings.

Per serving (icing only): 320 calories (33 percent from fat), 12 g fat (7.8 g saturated, 3.4 g monounsaturated), 23 mg cholesterol, 2 g protein, 54 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 16 mg sodium.


Main Dish

Renaissance Fair Smoked Turkey Legs

4 (1/2 lb) turkey drumsticks

Vegetable oil

Apple wood or hickory chips, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes

Sauce

1 cup applesauce

1 cup finely chopped onion

1/2 cup apple cider

1/4 cup cider vinegar

1/2 cup ketchup

1/4 cup dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon grated orange or lemon peel

Rub

2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon paprika

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Rub the drumsticks all over with oil. Drain the soaked wood.

Make the sauce: In a saucepan, stir all the sauce ingredients together using a whisk. Bring mixture to a boil; lower heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes, until the sauce is thickened.. Set aside in two portions, one for basting and one for serving.

Make the rub: Measure all the ingredients into a gallon-size zipper plastic bag and shake to combine. Place one leg at a time in the bag with the rub and shake to coat. Remove legs from bag and press in the rub.

Follow instructions from the grill manufacturer for using the wood chunks. Roast the turkey legs over indirect medium-low heat for about 1 hour, basting from time to time with the sauce. When done, juices should run clear and a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat should read 180 degrees. Served with remaining sauce for dipping. Makes 4 servings.

Per serving: 528 calories (32 percent from fat), 18.6 g fat (5.7 g saturated, 7.1 g monounsaturated), 250 mg cholesterol, 52 g protein, 36 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 1,402 mg sodium.


LindaCiceroCooks@aol.com

Q. My family and I love getting the newspaper to see what delicious recipe you have found or prepared. In Middle Georgia, the fair is about to begin shortly and I would like to know what is the recipe for the smoked turkey legs you get at the fair. Please help my family and I find out the recipe, you’d be doing us a favor!

James Bernard Scott

My cousin Tina once astounded the family by forsaking college to join a Renaissance Fair that traveled the country. I always envied her that free-spirited adventure! Twenty years later she is still a free spirit, making a living by drawing intricate henna tattoos on tourists at Clearwater Beach. She makes a mean Renaissance Fair turkey leg, too, and helped me with this recipe.

Most important is that you’ve got to do smoking to get a true fair flavor. Sure, you can try to add liquid smoke if you have to resort to using an oven or grill without a smoking option, but what makes the turkey legs distinct is wood smoke, preferably hickory or apple wood. You also should buy the biggest turkey legs you can find, no smaller than half a pound each, or the meat can be dry.

This recipe uses some pungent spices, as was wont during the Renaissance. If you’re not a fan of ground cloves or cinnamon in a savory dish, they can be omitted.

Apple Tartlets

Sometimes you have to forget the cholesterol and go with butter, because no substitute comes close to giving the flavor and texture of the real thing. At least that is how I approach baking and a lot of my cooking, though I do try to cook healthier than I once did. That’s the idea behind the recipe website goboldwithbutter.com, sponsored by America’s dairy farmers and the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, which gathers recipes from bloggers who use butter as an ingredient.

What I love about this apple tartlet recipe from the site is its simplicity. It’s a beautiful presentation that requires no artistic leanings. And what could be better for fall than the apple/caramel combination with the crunchy burst of flaked salt? The recipe is by Karen of familystylefood.com. You can make the caramel sauce up to 2 weeks ahead.

Q. When we visited the Blue Ridge mountains in Georgia we stopped at a barbecue restaurant in Jasper and had a wonderful piece of chocolate cake. It reminded me of the cake my grandmother used to bake. The cashier told me it was just "old fashioned chocolate cake." Well, I have looked online, in many recipe books and cannot find a recipe. The restaurant version was baked in a sheet pan and was white cake with a cooked chocolate frosting, the kind you "pour" over a cake. Any chance you have a recipe for this kind of cake?

Lisa

You can find a good from-scratch white cake in any basic cookbook. What you need to make that cake special is poured icing, a fudgy thick soft frosting that t isn’t made much anymore. That’s because it is a little tricky to make — like a from-scratch fudge — but once you’ve mastered it you will never go back to your quick recipes again.

Your grandmother probably knew what “soft ball” stage was without even testing, but I recommend investing in a candy thermometer you attach to the pan so you can watch as the temperature rises.

Send questions and responses to LindaCiceroCooks@aol.com or Food, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, FL 33132. Personal replies are not possible.

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