Sunday, November 30, 2008

Oh My Feast... the story goes...our waist size will increase!

A 'Heritage Turkey' story with a juicy plot...

...from the minute we over over here... much food...I am not sure I can survive...

...mixing and stirring ingredients for a magical meals delight...

...gourmet 'Texas' cornbread stuffing souffle lead to a fight...

...out of the oven came the bird...but something was not quite right...Were there buzzards circling my plight?

...proud Chef E with her gravy...what a beautiful sight...

...and then some how someone slipped this in on me...what a night!

...on the third day it was still good, but I was ready to heave...

...did I mention walking along the sound in between courses, days, and just before we leave...

There was more than one bottle of wine...C C Manhatten...Stelling & Stelling Fariente...Long Island Vodka Shots...fireside Friday wineries...followed by massive amounts of tea...

With dessert of course...

Ahhhhhhhhh...did someone say let's diet...please...

MENU:(All Organic and Natural ingredients)
Brine (sealed tight) 2 days- 23 lb Heritage Bourbon Red
I left it in sealed baking bag and cooked it until an hour left; unwrapped and
browned for another 1/2 hour or so...
Balsamic Mushroom Gravy
Mushrooms, onion, celery- small chop...saute in oil; add balsamic and flour to thicken, and then add turkey drippings to make gravy
Texas Cornbread Stuffing Casserole
This was a combination of cornbread baked with corn pieces, onions, celery, oil
(no butter), dab of sour cream, heavy cream (thats the butter), egg and whites
Roasted Turnip/Bacon Salad
Roast in oven with bacon pieces and onions; blend in food processor
Green Bean Almondine
Sassy Sage Biscuits
Sorry no pictures, they did not last that long!
Cranberry Apple Pie
Coconut Cream Custard
Sorry, same here!
Lots and Lots of Appetizers and junk food provided by LI family

I forgot to add this...R is snoozing off either the drinks or the turkey feast!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Organic/Natural- Heritage Bourben Red Turkey Information

I had to opportunity to cook a totally organic meal for my extended Lawng Island family this Thanksgiving that included cooking a local Griggstown natural variety of bird for the main course. I am exstatic about how wonderful it all came out, but first wanted to share some history on this very tasty and moist creature (out of the oven). We all felt the meat was much moister than the white breed, and did not have a game taste, but a rich flavor that was complimented by my mushroom balsamic gravy. I felt as if I could have left that bird in the oven for days and it was still so juicy!

The Bourbon Red is a breed of domestic turkey named for its unique reddish plumage and for Bourbon County, Kentucky. Mature Bourbon Red toms weigh 33 pounds (15 kilos), and mature hens weigh 18 pounds (8.2 kilos). Bourdon Reds slaughtered at market weight are 16 pounds (7.25 kilos) in toms and 10 pounds (4.5 kilos) in hens. The breed's feathers are a dark chestnut base color, with white tails and flight feathers.

In the past, the breed has alternatively been called Kentucky Reds and Bourbon Butternuts. The bird originated in Kentucky and Pennsylvania in the late 1800s, and was created by crossing Buff, Standard Bronze, and White Holland turkeys. It was first recognized as turkey variety by the American Poultry Association in 1909.

Photos and recipes will be posted Sunday we have fallen under a mysterious spell and lure of the Northfork wineries...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Turkey Day Wishes

I am taking on a Turkey and one of us is coming out stuffed!

I am sad to say (but many of you might be glad) that I will not blog again until after the holiday. I am off now to cook for clients and then to Lawng Island to cook with my 'Stelling' family, so I will come back with my own pics of ??? and just wanted to send a Holiday greeting to you all...Many times we gather around with family and each take a turn saying what they are thankful for...I made a list, but the holidays are hard for me since my daughters favorite part of the year started with Halloween and ended with New Years. She loved to draw pictures and place them all over the house; which drove her step-father crazy, since many times she started in July! Just that thought makes me laugh, and remember the fun days when the kids were little and how they loved life, like their mother!

Be thankful for the ones you love...hold them close and tell them that you love them...even if you were not brought up affectionate...start today...with a gentle nudge, hug, or smother everyone with kisses (my favorite)...otherwise when they are's too late!

I am Thankful for my health

My talents, and zest for life

My wonderful partner if life

A son that drives me crazy and keeps me on my toes

...and that I had Ane in my life...even if it was for a short time...I wish all of you a wonderful Turkey Day with lots of love!

...OMG, I was cooking this weekend with Christmas music blasting in the restaurant kitchen, and my staff was calling me loco...Felis Navi dad...I wanna wish you a...Okay, next month...

Sweet & Sour Meatballs

Ahhhhhh I ate processed food that included canned ingredients...and I liked it!

My friend proceeded to tell me that they were made with only three ingredients I would have never approved of (because I do not eat them)...the group gets together once a month...this time someone else cooked, and I contributed very little...

Many people or friends either try to over impress me with cooking over the top ingredients, or some just don't cook. A secret wish is to have someone come over and cook for me once a week, so I can relax...not shop, prepare, cook, or clean up...have a glass of wine, and I got my wish...but wait till you hear what she told me was in the sweet and sour meatballs:

1 can cranberry sauce
1 jar Heinz Chili Sauce
2 pounds frozen meatballs

Place all in a crock pot; cook on high for thirty minutes and serve

I am not sure what got to me the dislike for canned cranberries or the what might be in the processed frozen meatballs, since I cook organic and from scratch. She also made chicken pot pie from scratch (so she says, lol, no I trust this girl!), with biscuits on top. My hubby loves that and it is one of my favorite comfort foods.

Buddha Hand Marmalade Scones

Last week we learned about Buddha's Hand Citrus; which in another blog I explained how to grate it all up and use it in a marmalade recipes. Well this is one of the busiest times of the year for my business, so it is time to make myself some scones with this very citric spread.

Many years ago I entered a baking contest making traditional English scones and lemon curd, and we were judged by a British panel. I like a challenge and I come from a long line of country biscuit southerner's who could whip them out like a sow having piglet's every third Sunday! I had never made scones before that day and only biscuits a few times, with some success. I admit baking is just not my forte, but giving it a try I won first place.

Traditional Scottish Scones-

By the Book ~ My Way

2 Cups Flour ~ 50/50 Organic Arrow Mills Flour
-sift into medium bowl; add next two ingredients and sift again...

3 teaspoons baking powder ~ 4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt ~ same
3 tablespoons sugar ~ 4 tablespoons, and I used light brown sugar

5 tablespoons shortening ~ 8 tablespoons butter; cut into pieces with cold knife, and one of my key secrets is that I cut it into the mixture with cold fingers right out of fridge, and quickly!

-measuring cup...
3 eggs ~ same
1/4 cup heavy cream ~ I added 1/4 cup orange juice, plus 1/4 cup cream
-beat together softly breaking yolks together

- pour into dry mixture, stirring softly till it comes together (you made not need all of liquid, or you may need a bit more cream for the whole wheat flour; regular flour would be just fine) DO NOT over knead the dough.

fruit optional ~ 3 tablespoons marmalade
(after tasting I felt I should have added more)

-Form into two five inch balls

On floured pan flatten into disks; moisten tops with cream and then sprinkle turbano (raw) sugar on top. Slice into eight pieces and then Bake 375 degrees for about 20 minutes, or slightly brown on top.

I catered my own wedding reception a few years ago making the cake with a similar method using orange juice; it was so moist and orangey the relatives and guests still talk about that cake!

Chenin Blanc- South African Wine

The label reads 'The Hands That Work The Soil Feed The Soul', and is an excellent value...this wine should be drunk young and with its versatility it will go with most fish, Malay curries, chicken and Pacific Rim dishes.

Our bottle was slightly sweet and also went well with my pear ice cream dessert. Other dishes paired with it were Curried Tofu Mushroom bites ~ Drunken Shrimp Masa Boats, Veggie Empanadas, and some left over White Yam Stew.

I recommend this wine to those of you who do not like dry whites, and want it a little on the sweet get you away from always drinking Chardonnay!

Fairvalley, 2008 Chenin Blanc- South Africa
Tasting Notes: Color: Pale straw with a greenish tint. Aromas: Green apple, lime, melon and grass. The body is very light, and the citrusy green apple flavors finish quickly and cleanly.

Closure: Screw cap.

Excellent value ($8).
Rich & ripe – slightly sweet(between 9 and 30 g/ℓ residual sugar)

Homemade Ice Cream Treats

I know its becoming cold across the country but my own 'Sweetie' has been traveling a lot lately, and he loves ice it has to be something unique with lots of chewy, chunky, chocolaty and crunchy with a spoonful of ice cream to solve the problem and celebrate his return I made home made Pear Pecan Ice Cream (frozen pears I had leftover), and mini chocolate chip cookies in a muffin pan. I also collect small and antique liqueur glasses for entertaining and my catering business...portion control baby!

After letting them cool, removed them and put a tablespoon or more between two cookies, and refroze them for about 20 minutes; while we ate a lovely dinner during our belated movie night...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Tapas- Mini Inspirations

A 'tapa' is a 'lid' or 'cover'. In the early days of tapas, a slice of cheese or ham was given with your drink and placed over your drink. There is some debate over why exactly this was done:
* To keep out the flies
* To hide the smell of the bad wine
* To keep the wind from blowing your drink everywhere

You can find Tapas served all around the Mediterranean. In France, they're called hors d'oeuvres, in Italy, antipasti; in Greece, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Egypt, they use the word meze; and in Morocco, mukabalatt. Even Venice has its own custom of cicheti, the local equivalent of tapas and meze.

Our country has taken these delights to even a higher level with our 'Fusion' versions popping up in restaurants and in our own home entertaining. The belief is those that once you start with Tapas you should end with them, and they they are not starters. These are a great menu idea when you are having a gathering of guests after lunch, but too early for supper...

Catering has allowed me to play with an array of ingredients, and I needed something sweet for two reasons today ~ Braised Pear Pecan Ice Cream Parfait ~ Mini Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwiches

Definition of Tapas is courtesy of this website, and has more amusing information on this subject, so check it out!

*Ceviche Vodka Shooters

Tomato-Shrimp Masa Boats ~ Curried Tofu Stuffed Mushrooms ~ Chorizo Cheese Balls ~ and other goodies over the past two days ~ Bon Appetite!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Top Chef- BTW

I decided to watch this seasons 'Top Chef', so did anyone else watch it this week? Normally competitions bother me, since I myself feel bad for the anyone under pressure, and something being filmed...I was in one myself once, and they never really show what happens...

I do agree that many of them were not creating 'New' American cuisine, and just sticking to their comfort (Jill or was it Leah)...the Ostrich egg could have been a winner if she had thought...or did she think...with her 'duh, I guess I thought I was being creative making quiche', do not cook with something that you at least might have some idea of what the ingredient's possibilities are... I felt she also wasted a perfectly good piece of 'future' art work cracking into that egg like she was an anthropologist cracking into a rock looking for fossils. She deserved to time BS and say "using the ostrich egg gave my dish a certain...flair"...

The guy (Hosea) who used can crab meat in my opinion should have walked out with her...did he not taste his dish before he served it, nor did he really look at the 'fresh' seafood counter to see what he could have replaced it with. I see so many chefs and cooks make food in restaurants and they do not taste what they are sending out to the tables!

Is this on next weeks menu, and do we really want to try it???

Thursday, November 20, 2008

E'asy Pie

I have always heard that phrase 'easy as pie', sweet ones come to my mind, but they are not easy...and it finally came to light, they call pizza- 'Pie' here in Jersey!

Pie for my dinner tonight...St Louis BBQ style...and thin crust...not much cheese! I American can I be to not like lots of cheese???

I grew out of being a true pizza lover, after they closed Shakey's Pizza Parlour down so many years ago in the south...I can still remember it...every June 16th, the New Orleans style band was playing 'When the saints go marching in'...while the family drank beer (well my dad anyway), me, root beer, and that birthday card I got in the mail for the free small and greasy pepperoni disk that I ate all to myself! I lived for those moments as a child...

Take your favorite pizza crust recipe and spread it out thinly (or thick); add a thin layer of your favorite sauce, white or red onto the crust. After marinating your chicken/tofu and mushrooms in your favorite (mine spicy) BBQ sauce, with a squeeze of lime or lemon. Chop some red onions. Brown chicken in need for tofu... Spread on thin pizza crust. Add some cheese, and maybe some extra BBQ sauce, and then bake!

Put on some Louie Armstrong playing New Orleans style trumpet music and remember when...da da da da...da da da da...da da da da da da da...

(BBQ Tofu/Mushroom on the left ~ BBQ Chicken on the right with no onions...they look the same, and taste just as good too)

HISTORY/FOOD GEEK NOTE: Do you remember Shakey's, well I found a website that talks about its history!

Chorizo Dumplings/Pot Stickers

I have a birthday party to cater on Sunday, and she uses me often, so I know I have creative control on the food and theme. This is a two in the afternoon event, so mostly appetizers are wanted. Putting on my thinking cap, in this case my La Toque, and I remember in the commercial fridge I have many packages of wonton and egg roll wrappers left from another party.

I looked through some of my Thai and appetizer books to get some ideas, and remember that I have vegan and buffalo chorizo my class made last week. Stopping off at the market yesterday I picked up some more Chinese cabbage (Napa) and carrots. I grate some carrots and cabbage; then soak them in rice wine vinegar over night. Roll the chorizo into 1/2 inch little balls, cover them and put into fridge over night.

I take some of the cabbage mixture and put into my food processor with an egg, and some of the vegetarian chorizo to bind it more; then roll that into 1/2 inch little balls, and place into fridge overnight.

Vegan: Use some flour of choice and a few drops of water to bind this mixture; you will have to wait and pick up a pinch when you are ready to place in wrapper.

Place wax paper on the counter and sprinkle flour over the top; then place as many wonton wrappers across; filling each one with the 1/2 inch balls of chorizo mixture; dip fingers into water or egg wash and run across three edges and pinch them together. Once you get going it goes quickly. Place them on sheet pan with flour, so if they touch they will not stick together in air tight container and place in freezer. Keeps up to one month. -Thaw slightly and steam dumplings or pan fry to make pot-stickers when ready to eat

Drain rice wine vinegar from cabbage and carrot mixture and adding vegetarian chorizo if desired; roll in wrappers and shallow fry. I usually make small ones like Lumpias, and place flour all around well as to not stick. Cook immediately straight from freezer.

All those tea bag saucers come in handy when I need to do my food styling!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tagine Cooking- White Yam Stew

Remember this dusty old show piece? Well I feel the same way does not cook enough, so I make more in another pan...does it really make a difference in the flavor? Yes it does, because it keeps the liquids going up and back down into the dish to keep all that wonderful flavor intermingled and juicy! Although I have used 'White Yams' in this dish, I have cut back on my carbs, so no couscous or rice tonight!

If you read my 'White Yam' blog yesterday about how I saw a French man cooking on cable and he was making a Basque-Provence regional dish called 'Potato Stew' in a pot called a 'Marmita'. After having these yams laying around screaming "what are you going to do to us...bake us...cut us into pieces...mash fiendish chef you"! I decided to fuse together the French masters dish with my Tagine...Viola!

...for the meat (grass feed) combo in this dish I have chosen...lamb shoulder chops, because they are a cheap cousin cut to their expensive traditional chop and they work fine when making oven roasted dishes like this (leave the bone in, it will fall off!)...beef, or stir fry cuts that come from the 'Top Side' cuts of the animal, usually the shoulder; it has some marbling and slow roasts well in a mixture like this...Marinate it with my Chai Lamb Chili mixture, minus the chai (now you have to look through my blogs, nah nah)...and I always toast my own seasonings and keep them in small containers, but I cheated and used a garam masala spice I keep on hand for the added mediterra flavor...all is organic! white yams need some company in this dish...and remember to cut all things similar in thickness to evenly cook through...

Vegetarians/Vegans- I always remember you, since I also eat this way most of the time, and my Indian clients will get some of this too. Portobellas will replace the meat in this dish...and follow the rest of the recipe... potato...two potato...three get the idea...layer, layer, layer!

Pull out one of those canned tomatoes you worked so hard on...mine well I will blog about the recipe later...separate some of the pieces out of the juice and sprinkle them on top...

French 'Marmita' Stew cooking calls for three times the amount of ingredients, because the pot is so huge, but I can only manage one bottle of white wine between the vegetarian and combined meat pans to pour 2/3 of a bottle...well, I did save a glass to drink when its done!

Bake 1 1/2 hour and Bon Appetite!
(this is the vegetarian version)
I have to say that this drove me absolutely crazy smelling it while I was working up in the office today, since being sick with a cold has altered my taste buds!
The colors, the sweetness of the yams and garam masala, the bite of my tomatoes, Perfect!
(this is a bite of the lamb from my carnivore's tagine)

WINE:French, White Table Wine, 2006
I chose this wine because it would be dry and not take away from the sweetness of the white yams and the other combined vegetables, plus like they say if you cook with wine you should make sure it is worthy of your efforts!
(save the box wine for the friends who do not appreciate the good stuff)

Cookbook Geek- TexMex Foodways

Talking with a fellow foodbuzz'er today about my newest history lesson in my 'White Yam' blog reminded me of how cooking is not just a passion, but learning about each ingredient and dishes origin. I am fascinated to watch, read, hear about new dishes; then run home and try their way, and then do it my way!


The TEX-MEX Cookbook, A History In Recipes and Photos, Robb Walsh

Thanks to my hubby's brother who is a world traveler and doctor for the W.H.O. for one of my favorite books to date. He said he bought it in of all places, Egypt! The book was published in the United States. Makes some of my favorite history lessons in this book is where did the exotic tastes of Tex-Mex originate? In the early 1800's it was simply called Mexican food, but it all was long as it taste good to me.

Traces of the Berber people where recruited from the coast of Africa, due to lack of land, and they came from the Canary Islands settling in the Bexar, San Antonio area. Bringing with them their exotic spices, slow meat cooking methods, and thus descendants began to inter mingle with the local Indian population and it exploded from there. One of those dishes...Chili came about...

I am from Texas and have always loved 'Chili', and becoming the fusion cook I am today is how I came up with my Chai Marinated Lamb recipe that turned into Chili. I taught a class on the history, cooked it in a Tagine, and out came this fantastic dish I still make for myself and clients. Simply it is slow cooking meat, or poultry with tomatoes, onion and your own crazy various seasonings, that all can be traced back to the middle eastern areas, and more. I do make a vegetarian version as well!

I tell anyone who even thinks of giving me a gift for my birthday or other holidays to look for unique cookbooks that hold as much history on the foods, traditions, regions, as they do recipes. If that doesn't work just buy me a gift certificate for any internet site that I can buy some unique cooking pots like the one I want now that is called a 'Marmita' dish...I saw the french guy cooking in that got me started on my next creation; that lead to this...yada yada yada

Someday I will have my own chili stand, and this will be the 'Portrait Of A Chili Queen'....