Thankful for Chorizo (Recipe Card Attached)

November 30, 2010

Baked Mediterranean Cod w/ Roasted Cauliflower

Almost a week later, I’m still thankful! And in this case, I’m thankful for chorizo. Because without this wonderfully flavorful dried sausage that Em’s Mom sent in for Em and I to enjoy, these last two meals would have been missing something.

I’m also thankful for making it over a huge cooking hurdle within the past few years. That hurdle standing in the way of so many cooks: the abundance of waste. So to be able to walk through a grocery store or a farmer’s market and feel confident that only scraps and in-edibles will make it into the trash is truly liberating. Because if waste has a direct relationship with overspending, than it has the inverse with creativity. The less you are willing to throw out, the more ways you will find to enjoy your own food!

And these two dishes are great examples of that. Primed with that above mentioned chorizo, a head of cauliflower, a bunch of shitakes, a red pepper, and a can of petite diced tomatoes, all I needed was a “main” ingredient to pack in the flavors while keeping back to back dinners delicious and interesting.

The first was a baked cod smothered in a tomato, red pepper, chorizo and olive sauce. By baking the sauce directly on top of the fish, it is amazing how moist and delicious the outcome is. Paired with some simple roasted cauliflower this meal was easy, fast, and a great reprieve from the turkey and stuffing leftovers.

Mussels, Shrimp, and Chorizo

And while this second dish of mussels and shrimp with cauliflower, red pepper, chorizo, and tomato sauce had almost identical ingredients, the addition of smoked paprika and a half a beer (steaming the mussels with a little beer is just awesome) brought out a whole new flavor combination; one that was thoroughly enjoyed to the very last piece. We even went fishing for more of that chorizo! This one was worthy of a recipe card…

SilverCaterersRecipeCards – MusselsShrimpChorizo

So particularly with the holiday season kicking into high gear take the time to think about your kitchen waste. Because there is nothing more satisfying than cooking yourself and others a delicious meal all while saving some dough!


Thanksgiving 2010: What a Feast!

November 27, 2010

This Year's Feast

Just Out of the Oven

A few years back, as my Thanksgiving cooking duties expanded from “string bean cleaner” to full-out cook, I had a constant stream of ideas flowing; new twists on this, deconstructions of that. There is no question that this type of thinking creates some pretty interesting stuff like last year’s psychedelic string bean casserole. But Thanksgiving, is rooted in tradition; small part history, and mostly family. So the dishes we grew up loving, we ultimately crave for that late November Thursday. And this year’s menu was a bounty of those familiar colors, textures, and flavors!

The star of the Thanksgiving table is almost always the Turkey. But all too often after the table gets passed the awe of the beautifully browned bird, you are left with overcooked meat begging for an overflow of gravy. Luckily for me, cooking a fantastic turkey hasn’t been an issue for the last two years after my brother hooked me on the pre-Thanksgiving day brine. You can read a lot about the brining method but bottom line, a brined turkey is a moist and flavorful turkey. This bird was seasoned with a Cajun butter throughout the cooking process which added great flavor and a little heat to go perfectly with the rest of the meal not to mention making the pan gravy all that more flavorful!

And although the Turkey sits as the main piece of the meal, it was the accompaniments that really stole the show. Silky roasted garlic and rosemary mashed potatoes, roasted sweet potato fries with garlic and tomato aioli, and a string bean and cauliflower salad all showcased Thanksgiving favorites while highlighting the great colors and textures of the seasonal ingredients. For a slight twist on a classic (at least for me), this pumpernickel and brussel sprout stuffing was studded with dried cranberries and cremini mushrooms and added a wonderfully savory piece to the plate. With a little sage and some more roasted garlic this was by far one of my favorites. With a bit of fresh cranberry sauce as a tart reminder to eat more, there was only one thing missing.

Because as I’ve mentioned previously, it’s not a great Thanksgiving with out some beets. And since I was a little sick of the same old preparation, this roasted greens and beet gratin was a perfect addition! Layering a mixture of sautéed spinach, kale, and collards with slices of roasted beets would have been good on its own. But baking this combination with a feta and mozzarella white sauce put this side over the top!

But dinner is only half of the Thanksgiving meal. Because if you hadn’t been looking forward to mashed potatoes and turkey this past month, you were definitely looking forward to pumpkin pie! So with my Mom handling the pie duties, I went straight for the ice cream. This cranberry ginger and pomegranate seed ice cream not only paired great with the pie, but was just fantastic on its own. And that flavor combination may sound familiar. Because I wasn’t about to go the Holiday without a few cocktails and that cranberry ginger syrup (here’s the recipe card) works just as good with vodka as it does with vanilla ice cream!

So I hope you all had a fantastic Thanksgiving full of tradition and creativity! Oh yeah, and some family too…

Sides and Wine

Cranberry Ginger Cocktail

Carved Up!

Pumpernickel and Brussel Sprout Dressing

Beet and Greens Gratin

Nora Sleeping Through Dinner

Empty Plates!

Thanksgiving Prep (Tacos and Ramen)

November 24, 2010

Last Year's Feast

This week was packed with pre-Thanksgiving prep! That is if you consider tacos at La Lucha and tonkotsu ramen at Menkui Tei prepping….

But there will be plenty of cooking tomorrow and with the exception of the looming jersey turnpike this afternoon, I’m fully pumped for Thanksgiving!! Because no matter what you eat, what you drink, and how you get there in the first place, Thanksgiving is and always will be the essense of sharing. So no matter whether you are the cook in the kitchen or the guest at the table, make sure to soak in the day and take your time enjoying it all!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Just a few more days…

November 22, 2010

Early Thanksgiving

Since Em and I are heading home to our respective families later in the week, Sunday was the perfect opportunity to have a little Thanksgiving of our own. Plus, I needed to work on a few of the recipe ideas I had so it was a win-win!

Turkey for two isn’t all that feasible but roasted chicken is a fantastic stand in. Particularly because roasted chicken has long been one of my favorite dishes to make. To me it’s like the essence of cooking. And one of the best ways to make your roasted chicken “special” is to add a bit of gravy. For chicken, I love to make a mustard pan gravy with the drippings. With just a bit of whole grain mustard, parsley and garlic it’s amazing how something so simple can be so delicous.

As for the Thanksgiving sides? We’ll I don’t want to give anything to specific away in fear of spoiling the fun for my family, but trust me these versions of sweet potatoes and string beans will be sure-fire hits!

Just a few more days!

Shades of Brown

November 19, 2010

Less than one week away to one of the most food centric holidays in existence! I recently overheard a funny comment about how despite the overabundance of dishes on the Thanksgiving table, there is one overwhelming theme…Brown. Which I guess I see: the turkey, the gravy, the potatoes, the stuffing, etc. tends to be a bit on the brown side, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing!

But it got me thinking. Most of my favorite dishes for Thanksgiving are vibrant shades of orange, green, and even purple (you’ve got to have beets!). So, is there any other meal that is so representative of a season by looks alone? Think about it…aren’t the colors of the table, the colors of Autumn nailed perfectly! 

But no matter what the color, we all have our favorites! So what is your Thanksgiving must? You know, the one dish that makes or breaks your holiday spirit and the one you can’t stand to see changed…and leave a comment with your favorite version!

Turkey Club Re-Do!

November 18, 2010

Turkey Club Re-Do

I wish I could say I intentionally held off making this “Turkey Club Re-do” to better align with Thanksgiving, but in reality, this was a tough one. My initial thoughts had been heading down similar paths: stuffing, souping (definitely not a word, but maybe it should be), and even just going the over the top homemade route. But I just couldn’t get excited about those options. It just didn’t seem satisfying, and for me, there is nothing more satisfying then a turkey club.

But when I was thinking about this year’s Thanksgiving menu (I’ve got a few surprises for my family), the inevitable discussion of “white meat or dark meat” arose. I know most will claim one preference, but is there really a discussion here? Isn’t juicy, perfectly cooked dark meat the real stand out?

So for the main portion of this dish, roasting turkey thighs and slicing the meat was a perfect way to get that great turkey flavor, while keeping the moisture and the richness of the turkey club! Topping the meat is a tomato and bacon sauce that was reduced till it was rich and sweet. And the kicker? This iceberg lettuce inspired sauce that cooled the whole plate down: it was pretty awesome how this spinach and cabbage blended with a touch of mayo could really bring the meal together.

And with a few extra pieces of crispy bacon, bite by bite, there was no doubt the turkey club was present! Although I can’t guarantee you’ll find this one at your neighborhood diner.

Must Make Holiday Cocktail – Recipe Card Attached!

November 16, 2010
Cranberry Ginger Syrup

Silver Caterers Recipe Cards – CranberryGingerSyrup

There is no denying that Thanksgiving is about the food. We all have our favorite dishes. But to me a gathering isn’t complete until someone breaks out a good cocktail. Which is why making this Cranberry Ginger Syrup is definitely on my Thanksgiving to-do list.

I’ve been experimenting with these syrups more and more because well, it’s just about the easiest thing in the world you can do. And maybe the best part of the outcome: if you have kids, making them a homemade soda with a little bit of setlzer and a few tbsp of the syrup is something even the Park Slope mothers can get behind.

But for the adults, this is also a must have. With a little gin or vodka, some seltzer and a wedge of lime, you’ll have yourself a drink perfectly paired for the feast. Or with a little prosecco to start the evening off, something so easy will take you into true entertainer status.

And here’s a thought! For the morning after pancakes (preferably Swedish) or muffins this syrup would be the perfect addition. Although I’ll admit it’s tough to pass on the Aunt Jemima!

%d bloggers like this: