21 Days

30 11 2009

In the spirit of yesterday’s blog, and the latest episode of “Family Guy”, Doc has a 21 Day proposal. Starting today, for the next 3 weeks, Doc is going to show you how tasty healthy eating can be and how you will enjoy that Christmas feast even  more by welcoming it as a vacation and not just the pinnacle of gluttony. We’ll be going vegetarian (still with dairy, nothing radical or “just nuts” here) for 21 days. We won’t bother with breakfast and lunch (often consisting of cereal, fruit and  salad anyway). We will share with you what we did for the previous day’s dinner with the recipe-so you can follow along if you like. If you want a head start, tonight will use the basic risotto recipe (and video is available as well), so you can check that out in the sidebar.


‘Tis the Season

29 11 2009

Hey Food Nation,

Hope you enjoyed the Thanksgiving recess. Great food, family and on the Sunday after the holiday, a little R&R before we head back to the daily grind. Yet, it’s a little different this Monday as we all know. With Thanksgiving officially over, we start the Christmas run. Over the spread between the holiday past and the one forthcoming, we’re going to list some recipes and thoughts for some healthier and lighter alternatives to the classic grunge. This is a great opportunity, with another feast highlighted on the menu in about four weeks, to get in a month of better habits. A lot of people continue the gluttony from Thanksgiving non-stop until they are ready to break their New Year’s resolution. This is a plan to enjoy the Holidays completely guilt free, because you’ve earned a little “culinary holiday”. So check back in and see how to make this month between the feasting  pillars one that improves your overall well-being.

Hot Chocolate

28 11 2009

It was cold this morning. Finally. The sky was bright and everything had that extra bit of clarity that comes with cool crispness of autumn and winter time weather. It made me think of hot chocolate; not a Swiss Miss or Carnation instant mug of something that looks like dirty dishwater and doesn’t taste much better, but real hot chocolate. Instead the kind of hot chocolate that warms you up  while it fills that dessert pocket with something sweet. A hot chocolate so rich and decadent that it only takes 1 mugful to satiate any desire. Really, any desire. With that being said, if you have the need or feel the urge, here’s the recipe:

  • 1 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup superfine sugar (to make superfine, put regular granulated sugar in the food processor or blender)
  • 3.5 oz dark chocolate (good quality)
  • 1 oz (about 1/4 cup) cocoa (good quality)

Bring to a boil over medium heat, milk, cream and water. Add chocolate and cocoa and bring back to a boil, stirring or whisking continually. Once the mixture has reached a boil, remove from the heat and continue stirring until the chocolate and cocoa are completely dissolved. Pour the mixture in a blender or use an immersion blender to whip until frothy. Serve, makes 4 portions.

Some Pics

27 11 2009

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving.  As we devour leftovers for the next two weeks, I thought I’d share some pics from the Thanksgiving Feast recipes posted earlier. It was delicious.

Brined and Seasoned Turkey Pre-Smoke

First Course of Potato Feta Leek Soup with Truffle Oil Drizzle

Intermezzo with pickled vegetables

Smoked Turkey

Fresh Homemade Popover Loaf ready for gravy

Smoked Sliced Turkey Breast with Giblet Gravy, Spinach with Country Ham and Juniper Vinegar, Roasted Butternut Squash with Pomegranate and Pumpkin Cornbread Stuffing

Fried Sweet Potato Pie over homemade Vanilla Ice Cream and Caramel Sauce Drizzle


26 11 2009

Happy Thanksgiving! Between the football and Beaujolais here’s how to finish the feast. For the bird, I like to loosen the skin and coat with olive oil and poultry seasoning, then apply the same to the outside. Cook the bird according to directions dependent on size and method (the recommended internal temperature is about 160 degrees F, remember to allow for carryover- I’ll be smoking mine over bourbon cask chips for a “lightly sauced” bird).

  • For the gravy: Heat olive oil in a medium sauce pan. Add the neck and giblets. Lightly brown about 1-2 minutes. Add (chopped) 1 carrot, onion, celery rib and bay leaf (do not season as this will be reduced) and cook until soft, 2-3 minutes. Add 3 cups Turkey stock and 2 cups of water and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer. Reduce until about 3-4 cups of liquid remain (around 1 hour). Remove meat and giblets and reserve. Strain liquid. Prior to serving the turkey, melt 4 tbsp of butter and add 1/4 cup of masa (corn) flour; you can use AP flour as well. Once you have a roux, add back the liquid plus 1 cup white wine. Cook over medium heat until thickened, about 8-12 minutes. Add back the giblets and neck meat and serve.
  • For the squash: Heat some olive oil in a pan over medium heat and add 2 tbsp chopped shallot. Cook until soft, about 1-2 minutes. Add the roasted squash, gently heating. Add the pomegranate seed, 2 tbsp of butter and cream. Season and serve
  • For the chard (or other green): remove stems if necessary. Heat a little olive oil over medium heat in a sauce pan. Add 1/4 cup chopped country ham (or bacon if you prefer, or a mix). Cook until crispy, remove and reserve. Cook 2 tbsp finely chopped onion in the rendered fat. Add the greens and cook until wilted, do not overcook or they will lose the vibrant color. For the juniper vinegar, crush 1 tbsp juniper berries in a small pan. Add 1/2 cup vinegar and bring to a boil, remove, strain and cool. Drizzle the vinegar over the greens when serving.
  • For the stuffing: Render about 8 ounces of bacon, chopped into bits until crispy. Add 1 1/2 cups of chopped onion, 1 cup chopped celery, 1 cup chopped carrot, 1 cup chopped mixed mushrooms (I like a combination of porcini, Portobello and white button) with 1 tbsp chopped garlic. Remove, place in a bowl and allow to cool. Add the crumbled stale pumpkin cornbread to the mixture along with 1/3 cup bread crumbs (unseasoned). Add 1/3 cup fresh chopped parsley, 1 tbsp fresh thyme, 2 beaten eggs and salt and pepper. Mix well. Add light chicken or turkey stock to moisten (don’t add to much, we’re not boiling it). Bake covered for 20-30 minutes at 325; remove the cover and finish (about another 15 minutes) until golden brown on top.

You have the soup recipe to start. I like to serve the soup with some chopped chives and a drizzle of truffle oil. You also have the  dessert recipe to finish the pies by frying at 375 degrees F.

Happy Thanksgiving

T (Turkey Day) minus 24

25 11 2009

Okay, last bit of prep work to make for a seamless meal tomorrow from the soup starter until the finish serving the incredible fried sweet potato pies. Today, make the  feta potato leek soup (recipe in sidebar). We’ll reheat that tomorrow and the soup is better after it has a chance to sit for a day and allow all the flavors to subtly come together. For the roasted butternut squash with pomegranate (recipe in sidebar) just roast the squash  today and place it in the refrigerator. If you have brined the bird, remove it later today and pat dry. Allow the bird to dry.Then what I like to do is gently separate the skin, particularly under the breast meat, and rub that with olive oil or smart balance mixed with a little poultry seasoning. Then season the outside of the bird with poultry seasoning, salt and pepper. Allow to rest in the refrigerator. For the fried sweet potato pies, just make the filling today (recipe in the sidebar-if you like caramel sauce go ahead and make that today as the recipe is in the sidebar as well) and refrigerate overnight.

Thanksgiving prep day 2

24 11 2009

Feast Day draws on nigh. Hopefully we have gotten our ingredients and can avoid the marketplace (make sure you’ve got your beaujolais). Likewise the beets and cucumbers should be pickling and the cornbread should be getting stale. By allowing the cornbread to dry out and become stale prior to making stuffing, it crumbles better and then will adsorb the gravy/juice flavors it’s cooked with or that are applied later. Today prepare the brine as directed and allow the bird to soak overnight. Make sure the brine is room temperature as you do not want to par boil the turkey. Also make the stock (substitute about 3 pounds of turkey bones for  chicken  carcasses if making turkey instead of light chicken stock). If you like homemade ice cream for the dessert. today is a good day for that as well.  This is Emeril Lagasse’s recipe, I really like it because it is simple and really is more a frozen creme anglais then anything else:

Real Vanilla Bean Ice Cream (Emeril Lagasse):

  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

With a small sharp knife cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise. Place the milk and cream in a small, heavy saucepan. Using the tip of the knife, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean halves into the milk and add both halves to the saucepan. Set the saucepan on the stovetop and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from the heat.  Crack the eggs and whisk the eggs and sugar in a mixing bowl until pale yellow and well combined, about 2 minutes. Using a ladle, add about 1/2 cup of the hot milk mixture to the eggs and whisk to combine. Add the egg mixture to the hot milk in the saucepan and stir well with a wooden spoon. Return the pan to medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is slightly thickened and coats the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes. Remove the custard from the heat and strain through a fine mesh strainer into a clean mixing bowl, pressing down on the strainer with a rubber spatula to get as much liquid as possible into the bowl. Discard the vanilla bean halves and any other solids sticking to the strainer. Add the vanilla extract to the bowl. Stir the custard for 5 minutes with a whisk until cooled slightly. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap gently against the surface of the custard. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, about 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Pour the custard into the bowl of an ice-cream maker and process according to manufacturer’s directions.