Happy Thanksgiving

November 24, 2011

Well, I’m officially full! I hope your Thanksgiving was as good as ours!

I’m off to a 9 day adventure in Costa Rica so the posting might be a bit limited. That being said, I’ve got some big news when I come back on the 5th so stay tuned.

Good luck with the food coma!

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Mimi’s Gravy

November 22, 2011

Not Enough Gravy!

So by now, you’ve planned your menu and have probably even started to execute some part of it. Maybe the turkey is in the brine, maybe the groceries have been purchased, but whatever you are doing, stop. This last tip of mine could easily turn this Thanksgiving into the best you have ever had…

Two years ago, on my first Thanksgiving with the Gordon clan, there was quite a bit of talk about Mimi’s gravy. I didn’t think much of it because well, I had gravy at every Thanksgiving prior; pan drippings turned delicious. But in all my experiences past, there never seemed to be enough of the stuff. So maybe we were scarred from our Bubba’s early preparations of other dishes, but the idea of a make ahead gravy never registered. That is until Mimi’s. I don’t think I can give away the official recipe without risking my life but the process is pretty straight forward. Roast a few turkey legs until they are nice and crusty brown with your typical stock vegetables. Add all these wonderful bits to a homemade chicken stock (or store-bought if you don’t have homemade) and fortify the hell out of it with that rich turkey flavor. You can thicken with a slurry or even use a roux but regardless, you now have yourself the most delicious gravy around. And most importantly, by making it ahead of time, you can be sure you will have enough to smother all of those delicious plates of food!

I’ll be hard at work doing some prep tomorrow and might stop in for a little bonus suggestions but if I don’t, have a great Thanksgiving!


Crunch Time

November 21, 2011

String Bean, Beet and Goat Cheese Casserole

Okay…were just a few days away and I’ve saved the best for last. But before we get there, don’t forget the most important part of Thanksgiving…

To Relax!

Honestly, as much as I love cooking for the Holidays, it’s because I have found a way to let the “craziness” be part of the fun. You can only plan so much and inevitably something won’t turn out the way you thought it would. But who cares? Whether you are the one who loves to cook or the person who loves to dictate, just have fun with each other. Otherwise, what’s the point!

But that being said, this first of two Thanksgiving game changers are so damn delicious. Two years ago, when I made my string bean, beet, and goat cheese casserole as a modern take on the old school cream of mushroom variety, I knew the crunchy onion topping was a must. But instead of buying that war-time bunker canister of “fried onions” I decided to make my own. Fried shallots in fact, and holy hell were they good. Honestly, these are perfect for your string bean casserole, but they are also sort of perfect for anything. I’m not quite sure where these guys will end up this year but I know one thing…I’m making them!

Fried Shallots:

Shallots (as many as you want to fry)

Milk (enough to cover the sliced shallots)

Flour (enough to toss the shallots in)

Oil (enough to fry the shallots in)

Thinly slice as many shallots as you want to fry. For a topping of a casserole 5-8 good-sized shallots will do the job. Soak the shallots in the milk for up to 45 minutes. Bring a large pot filled a few inches with oil to around 350-375 degrees over medium heat. The best way to monitor this is with a frying thermometer but if you don’t have one, the best test is a first attempt with one sliced shallot.  Just before frying, toss your sliced and soaked shallots in seasoned flour (season with paprika, salt and pepper). Drop the shallots (small batches) into the oil. The frying should be obvious but not violent. Remove the fried shallots to a paper towel when golden brown and season with a pinch of salt. Do your best not to eat them all as you make them!


Meat and Potatoes

November 18, 2011

Roasted Beef Tenderloin and Potato Gratin

Check out this delicious beef tenderloin and potato gratin I put together for my clients last night. Turned out amazingly! Tons of cracked pepper on the meat. Tons of gruyere on the potatoes. Just like the French define!

Less than a week before Thanksgiving! I’ve got a few more ideas coming…it’s crunch time!


Don’t F- with the Mashed Potatoes

November 17, 2011

Seared Scallops, Chorizo, and Creamy Celery Root Potatoes

No matter how much we all love to create in the kitchen, Thanksgiving remains a Holiday built by traditions. Slowly and surely you can make changes to menu items or the time in which you gather to eat, but it’s a potentially dangerous game to play. This year, I was given a free pass to come up with a menu balanced in tradition and ingenuity. That is, with one major caveat…

“Do not Fuck with the mashed potatoes”

So I wont…but that doesn’t mean I can’t suggest that you make this version, which by the way is frickin’ delicious!

Having worked in a French restaurant, I know the secret to the perfect potatoes. And I’m sure most of you do as well. Butter. Most restaurants do half by weight, potato to butter which makes those creamy, silky mashed that we all love. But no matter how hard I try to wrap my brain around it, it feels wrong to be adding that much butter to anything. But with the addition of celery root, the flavors are seriously enhanced and the creaminess factor is definitely ratcheted up. And don’t worry, I didn’t get rid of all the butter.

Last night I classed it up a bit even more with this preparation. Seared scallops with chorizo make these potatoes even better. With just a touch of arugula, I honestly think this was one of the best meals I’ve made in a while. And it looks pretty damn good as well!

Creamy Celery Root and Potato Mash:

4 yukon gold potatoes (roughly chopped)

1 celery root (trimmed and diced)

2 bay leaves

1/2 stick of unsalted butter

3 chopped scallions

1/2 cup milk

In a large stock pot of salted cold water, bring the potatoes, bay leaves and celery root to a boil. Meanwhile in a small stock pot warm the butter, milk, and scallions over low heat. When the potatoes can be easily pierced by a knife, use a food mill or potato ricer to mash the potatoes and celery root. The food mill by far is the best tool for this. If you don’t have a food mill or potato ricer, you can use a traditional potato masher but you won’t get the same delicate texture. Mix the riced potatoes with the milk mixture and season generously with salt and pepper. Serve with a little olive oil.


Stuffing with a Twist

November 14, 2011

Mushroom and Farro Stuffing

Two years ago we managed to turn a soft pretzel surplus into a delicious Thanksgiving stuffing. Diced up philly pretzels tossed with mustard, sausage, and sautéed vegetables made for a really unique side that still gets talked about today. So this year, when I started to think about new stuffing options, I thought back to one of my favorite substitutes from the past. Farro, an amazingly hearty grain acted perfect in faux risotto. How about for a stuffing?

Really damn delicious it turns out! Playing off the earthiness of the grain I sautéed shitakes, cremini’s and re-hydrated Asian dried wood eared mushrooms. The trifecta was accompanied by celery, garlic and kale and honestly was everything I love about a stuffing. It was just missing some delicious gravy!

As for the recipe, I’m gonna leave this one open-ended for you. The basics for a stuffing are that stale or toasted bread cubes (in this case I used two cups of cooked farro) tossed with your sautéed ingredients, broth and whisked eggs, and baked until golden brown. A stuffing or if you really want to be technical, a dressing (baked outside of the bird) is a savory bread pudding when you think about it. And a delicious one at that!

So now we have the sprouts, the stuffing, and the cranberry sauce…think its time for some mashed potatoes!


Time for Dessert

November 11, 2011

Cranberry Ginger Syrup

Last friday I promised an awesome Thanksgiving dessert for you…Well I’ve got one better for you. Because this Cranberry Ginger syrup acts as an addition to almost anything on your thanksgiving agenda.

I stumbled upon this syrup after finally getting my taste of real cranberry sauce made by my sister-in-law a few years back. Up until then, my idea of the sauce was cylindrical and jello-y. Finally, I understood why cranberry sauce was such a key part of Thanksgiving dinner. And her fresh cranberry version got me thinking about what else this simple process of reducing fresh berries with sugar and spices could create.

By pureeing the mixture, and using a little more water than you normally would, the outcome is a cranberry syrup perfect for so many ideas. Add a little to your whipped cream and you’ve got a wonderful tart topping for your pies. Add some to a simple meringue recipe for a new take on the classic. Or even better, mix with a little seltzer and vodka and you’ve got yourself the best Thanksgiving cocktail out there. Speaking of cocktails…I have a bunch of new ones over at the Nobler. Check them out here.

Still working on that stuffing recipe…I’ll get back to you early next week. Have a great weekend!

Cranberry Ginger Syrup

1 12 oz bag cranberries, washed

1 large knob ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

2 cups water

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 tsp cardamom

1 tsp cinnamon

In a medium size stock pot add all of the ingredients. Bring to a boil and then quickly reduce the heat to low. Simmer with the pot covered for 30 minutes. In a food processor (or blender) blend the ingredients together and pass through a strainer. Store in the fridge.

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