To Brine or Not To Brine?

By: Keir DeFonzo

We all have our uncompromising ways of just how to prepare a Turkey for the big Thanksgiving feast. Some pride themselves on generations of family secrets to get their birds just to the right desire of crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. There are lots of different ways to handle the main attraction on our dinner table. But one question to ask as we kickoff the holiday season is whether or not to brine your turkey.

Brine is a salt solution in which the turkey is submerged and kept chilled, in the refrigerator or a cooler, overnight, before being cooked. Some may argue brining a turkey is the only way to guarantee the juiciest meat. This especially occurs in the turkey breast which is notorious for being dry if over-cooked. Others feel that the brine will compromise the flavor since the ones we buy from the store already are high in sodium and have been pre-treated with brine before being sold.

With salt as the main ingredient, the solution will allow the salt to transfer into the meat overnight and act as a sponge to retain the juices and moisture. The bird will lose some of its water when cooking off in the heat; brine will prevent the bird from losing too much. The fun part of preparing the brine is that you can add herbs and aromatics to give the flavor a twist that will enhance the meal. For example, some people add bay leaves, rosemary or peppercorns. The options are endless. Having experience with the brine myself, I will say that once I started the tradition, I find there is no other way to go. Where I keep perfecting my technique is in the ingredients of the brine. One thing is for sure; my days of serving turkey that needs to be drowned in gravy are over! Turkey can now stand alone on the plate and compete with its rivals (the potato, the stuffing and the cranberry) for your taste buds attention.
One last tip I will share that I picked up along my cooking travels: place the bird breast down. The majority of the fat is actually in the back. By cooking your turkey face down, the fat will naturally create an additional baste for the white meat and create perfection!

Executive Chef Nino LaCasio’s Turkey Brine Recipe For an 8lb Turkey:
2-1/2 gallons cold water
2 cups kosher salt
11/2 cup sugar
2 bay leaves, torn into pieces
4 tablespoons dried thyme
1 whole head of garlic, peeled
1 cup of pickling spice
2 tbsp Ground pepper

Whisk sugar and salt in water till it dissolves. Stir in other ingredients. Pour over turkey in a plastic bag and tightly seal the bag before refrigerating. Make sure turkey is fully submerged in the solution and let soak overnight. Drain Turkey and pat dry. Allow to sit one hour before roasting.

Pregnant in Princeton


By: Jaime Wess

Being pregnant in the summer has its major downfalls; especially being eight months pregnant! Any woman who has experienced this, can and will, back me up. However, I could not have picked a better location to work for convenience and relief from the summer heat and from the discomforts that come along with it.

First, let us focus on a pregnant woman’s favorite pastime. It isn’t a bottle of wine, nor lounging and relaxing in a hot tub; and it certainly isn’t high heel shopping … its Food!!! The only indulgence she gets to have anymore. But as great as it is to give in to a strong craving for something very, very bad for yourself, sometimes you have to rein it in a little. Princeton is perfect for finding a variety of delicious treats and lunches! My favorite, on days when it has been 100 degrees outside and far too humid to walk for a half hour, is Twist – the well known frozen yogurt shop located on Nassau Street. The offerings of different flavors, nonfat or low fat options and the variety of toppings keep me coming back! Continue reading

Pi Day Princeton


Guest blog by: Mimi Omiecinski of Princeton Tour Company

Designed by Joy Cards www.joycards.com

During Geek Freak Weekend ……. Nerds will RULE in Princeton!

Einstein was born on March 14th – 3.14 – the numeric equivalent of Pi. The entire town of Princeton celebrates this amazing coincidence with tons of hysterical events during the 2nd Annual Pi Day Princeton:
• Pub Crawl
• Pi Recitations
• M-Athlete Events
• Pie Throwing Events
• Pie Eating Contests  (@ Nassau Inn!)
• Re enacter Tours
• Pie Judging Contests
• A No-Socks Sock Hop
• Pi Pricing from local merchants
• The Einstein Look-A-Like Contest
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Helpful Tips to Reception Planning

There are so many elements to planning your wedding reception.  Everyone has their own opinion on what the “perfect” reception should be for them.  Here are a few things, the Do’s and Don’ts to think about while planning your special day.

Want the perfect designer shoes to walk down the aisle in?  One thing to keep in mind for the reception is to bring a comfortable pair of shoes, even flip-flops, to change into after your first dance.  You feet will be happy you did!

Don’t forget an emergency kit for the day of the wedding that can include anything from a needle and thread to clear nail polish, superglue, safety pins and bobby pins.  You never know what will happen when you least expect it and this will be a life saver.

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Celebrating the Year of the Rabbit!

Happy Chinese New Year

2011 is the Year of the Rabbit.

Chinese New Years are named after a cycle of twelve animals that go in the order of Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Chicken, Dog and Pig.  This coming year is the year of the Rabbit and it officially begins on February 3, 2011.

The legend of the Chinese New Year includes a story on why the Cat never made the zodiac list.

The 12 Chinese Zodiac Cycle

Once upon a time, the Jade Emperor thought it would be better to assign an animal to each year so people could more easily remember the Zodiac cycle. He decided to hold a meeting with all the animals so that he could choose twelve of them to be the Zodiac animals. At that time, Cat and Rat were close friends. They were very excited about the meeting and decided to go early; however, Cat was a sleepyhead.  He hardly ever woke up before noon. On the night before the meeting, he asked Rat to wake him early the next morning. When morning came, Rat got up early and quietly left for the meeting alone. When Cat finally awoke in the afternoon, he knew it was too late. Feeling betrayed, he vowed that henceforth Rat would be his enemy. This is probably the main reason Cats are always chasing after Rats.

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Behind The Red Door: Post-Holiday Healthy Eating

Although losing weight and getting healthy may be a cliché of a New Year’s Resolution, the New Year is a great time to kick start a new diet plan. As an avid nutrition and exercise planner, I love when my friends and family get in the spirit of getting healthy when the New Year rolls around.

Fresh fruits and vegetables are a vital part of eating healthy.

Healthy eating can be boring and hard; and I am one to attest this. The staples of my diet consist of cottage cheese and lettuce: this doesn’t mean it has to be monotonous!

The Yankee Doodle Tap Room offers a variety of healthy and light choices for those who love to eat out and still remain healthy. Kick-starting your day with a healthy and hearty breakfast is the most important diet tip to remember. While most people forget about breakfast, I opt for the Tap Room’s Egg White Omelet: served with broccoli, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions and feta cheese. Order a big glass of ice cold OJ to really get your day going! Continue reading

New Fall-Winter Menus at the Tap Room

As the seasons change and the brisk October air of autumn chills us all, I always start to think of the warm comfort foods that have satisfied my cravings over the years. I think back to my grandmother’s hearty chicken pot pie filled with earthly goodness, the succulent leg of lamb that has made my mother a culinary master in my eyes, and the classic steak that my father roasts to perfection. Executive Chef Matt Volpe of the Yankee Doodle Tap Room has embraced this comfort food theme with classic dishes and new dishes that are sure to excite.

Brie Lobster

Chef Volpe has created two new appetizers to our menu, the Brie Lobster and Chicken Pot Stickers. The Brie Lobster features soft brie cheese and lumps of lobster meat wrapped together in phyllo, then baked to a crisp golden brown and served with a portobello sherry sauce.

Chicken Pot Stickers

The delicious Chicken Pot Stickers have bits of chicken wrapped in an Oriental pastry, and then pan fried and served on a bed of sesame mustard sauce with pickled ginger and drizzled with soy sauce.

To continue with his classic comfort foods, Chef Volpe has created these new entrees to the menu that will delight your taste buds and fulfill your winter time appetites. Below are descriptions of the new dishes with suggested wine pairings:

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September Events For Everyone in Princeton

Theatre.  Sports.  Music.  Food.   September brings seasonal and annual events you won’t want to miss – within Mercer County and right here in our backyard.  As the Princeton CVB states: “Princeton.  Not just a town, an experience.”  After the summer winds down, the pools and beach houses are closed, the kids go back to school, or get on the bus for their first day of kindergarten, college classes begin – welcome back PU!,  and the leaves begin to fall, people look to fill their calendars with things to do with the whole family.  Here are some events you won’t want to miss: Continue reading