After years practicing law, Cindy Hodkin of Kings Point chose to pursue her passion for cooking. She now teaches kosher cooking classes in her home. Hodkin has two adult children.
How did you go from practicing law to pots and pans?
I needed an outlet from the stress. I'd come home from a long day and just wanted to nurture my children and husband. I wanted us to eat more healthy.
How does your garden figure into your meals?
I go out to my garden to get something for dinner every night. We plant lots of herbs, four different types of tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuces, string beans, snow peas. We're known for our pumpkins.
What advice would you give novice vegetable gardeners?
Gardening is a lot of work, but what you grow yourself tastes better, and you know what is in your soil. We also do a lot of gardening in pots, which is a good option for new gardeners.
What do you consider vital to getting a meal on the table everyday?
I like to eliminate unnecessary steps and reduce the number of pots to reduce the clean up. If you plan ahead, you can prep for two days, two meals, instead of one. If you're chopping onions, chop twice as much as you need. If you're cooking a protein, marinate and cook enough for a second meal.
What do you hope people will take away from your cooking classes?
I want people to come home and think, "Yes, in 45 minutes I can have a nice, hearty dinner.
TURKEY OSSO BUCCO
5 pounds turkey legs (can use combination of thighs and legs)
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
6-8 tablespoons cornstarch or Wondra flour, divided
3 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil
2 to 3 heaping tablespoons tomato paste
1 large onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
4 sprigs fresh thyme
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 bay leaves
2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
3 ribs celery, sliced
4 cups chicken stock
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Lightly season turkey with salt and pepper. Place 6 tablespoons cornstarch (or Wondra flour) and turkey in a heavy bag and shake until lightly coated. Repeat until all turkey is coated.
3. Heat oil in heavy pan, preferably a Dutch oven. Put seasoned legs in hot oil. Resist the urge to turn, let legs brown, 4 to 5 minutes on each side.
4. When legs have browned, spread tomato paste over turkey legs and stir turkey around to coat with the paste.
5. Add onion and garlic to bottom of pan, season with kosher salt. Add herbs, carrots and celery. Pour in stock so liquid goes two-thirds the way up the turkey.
6. Cook on stovetop until dish bubbles, then cover and cook in oven 1 hour. Uncover and cook at least 1 hour more until meat is falling off the bone. Larger legs may require additional cooking time.
7. When turkey is done, skim oil from top of sauce with spoon. Leave turkey in sauce to reheat. When serving, remove turkey from sauce to serving platter.
8. To thicken sauce (optional), mix 2 tablespoons of cornstarch with equal parts cold water to make a slurry. Add to cooking sauce after turkey is removed. Cook for a few minutes to thicken. Serve with mashed potatoes, polenta or rice. Makes 4 generous servings.