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Posts from the ‘What’s in Season: Fall’ Category

In Case You’re Not Quite Sick of Turkey Yet, Here are Photos from My Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving this year went by without a hitch. The menu was simple, and easy to prepare. The most difficult part was getting all the ingredients from the farmer’s market to Connecticut on the train! While my younger cousins were a bit suspicious of some of the dishes, I heard one remark “there is something weird in this stuffing!”– the rest of the family enjoyed it, and I got out of the kitchen for long enough to spend some time with all of them. Sharing meals with my family like this one reminds me why I love to cook so much, and reminded me of all I have to be thankful for, this year, and every year.

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Thanksgiving 2011

Deciding what to do for Thanksgiving this year was more difficult than usual. Having already cooked three other Thanksgiving meals so far at work, I was feeling less enthusiastic about my own families meal. Since I have the whole week off, I decided not to spend it whining about having to cook, (although if someone wanted to bring something… I wouldn’t complain…) and try to have some fun in the kitchen doing a few creative things. I always like to focus on keeping my meal full of local ingredients, and put new twists on New England classics. Not surprising to anyone who knows me, a lot of bourbon has seemed to creep it’s way onto the menu. But also, I really can’t say enough good things about our menu in the November issue of Everyday Food. The recipes are quick, delicious, and made for three stress-free Thanksgiving dinners for me so far, so check it out if you’re still planning out your menu. And have a look at mine here, Thanksgiving Menu 2011.

Thanksgiving Recap

Now that we are no longer the stuffed, satiated lushes we were since Wednesday, (and no longer able to sleep in), I figured I have no excuse not to be productive and post about my holiday meal. Thanksgiving went by without a hitch this year… well almost (we won’t talk about my bacon related meltdown at the local Stop & Shop– the result of which my mother officially labeled me as “one of those obnoxious food people”). After trying to go completely local and seasonal, there were a few things that I forgot to add to my list, one of which was slab bacon. But otherwise, besides quite a mess, I feel everything came out really well. By taking on all the cooking, I hope my family got a little more time to enjoy each other’s company, or at least find some amusement or time to relax. The wine certainly helped if my cooking did not.

The Thanksgiving Spread

Vermont Cheeses

For the cheese plate I picked all Vermont cheeses that I purchased at Murray’s Cheese Shop:

Jasper Hill, Cabot Clothbound Cheddar: Nutty and sharp, aged one year.
Champlain Valley, Triple Cream: A buttery and rich creamy cow’s milk cheese from Vergennes, VT.
Consider Bardwell, Manchester: Raw Goat’s Milk, Intense and biting in character, paired best with the Wolffer Big Apple Wine.
Dancing Cow, Lindy Hop: Raw Cow’s Milk Blue, very earthy and barnyardy, also tasted great with the Big Apple wine, could also be paired with something even more sweet.

I served the cheeses with sliced granny smith’s and some La Quercia Proscuitto. I also made some simple maple roasted pecans.

1 bag pecans
2 T Vermont Maple Syrup
2 T Oil
Fine Salt (Sea Salt or I used Fleur De Sel)

Toss all ingredients and bake approximetly 15 minutes in a 400 degree oven. Sprinkle with salt while warm. Experiment with different herbs and spices, such as cinnamon, or even cayenne.

Uncle Gary Carving the Bird

The turkey came out really well and was extremely moist with I attribute to the brining process, something I have been doing for the past few years. I use Martha Stewart’s Brine Recipe, a mix of salt, sugar, and seasonings. Brining for 24 hours ensures that the turkey will retain much more of its moisture, and absorb much of the flavors added to liquid. I stuffed the turkey with carrots, celery, fennel, sage, lemon and thyme before cooking. We all really noticed the difference in flavor and moisture with the farm-bought bird and plan on making it a tradition.

Brussels and Potatoes

I made mashed potatoes for my two little cousins, and the secret here is as you probably guessed: butter. When you think there is enough butter, add some more.

Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon:

1 stalk (roughly 16oz) Brussels Sprouts
3 slices thick bacon
3 T Vermont Maple Syrup
3 T Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 400 Degrees. Cut bacon into 1/2 inch pieces. Combine all ingredients. Roast 20-30 minutes until sprouts have carmelized.

Acorn Squash with Sage & Cream, Cornbread Stuffing with Dried Cherries, Pecans, and Sausage (and Leeks)

The recipe for the squash can be found in the post below. The stuffing I adapted from a Cook’s Illustrated recipe. I also used a box of Trader Joe’s Cornbread Stuffing Mix because after making pie crust, cranberry sauce, and brining the turkey after arriving in Connecticut Wednesday night, I just didn’t feel like making cornbread too. But here is the recipe for the Cornbread Stuffing with Sausage, Dried Cherries, Pecans, and Leeks.

1 lb bulk sausage
1 large onion
3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1 leek, white and greens
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 box, bag, or batch of cornbread stuffing, or cornbread
1 cup dried cherries
1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
3 eggs

Brown sausage in saute pan and place on paper towel. Leave drippings in pan, and saute onions, celery, and leeks until translucent. Add stock to deglaze any sucs in pan. Pour over stuffing. Combine all ingredients and pour into 9 x 13 in baking pan. Cook about 15 minutes in a 300 degree oven.

I will add the photos and recipes of the desserts tomorrow, so keep posted!

Countdown to Thanksgiving

This year the Damuck’s have higher-than-usual expectations for my Thanksgiving meal now that I am almost three-months into culinary school. Christmas Eve is left to my Italian side of the family, and is always a very loud and colorful evening that leaves us over-indulged, overwhelmed, and is just all around over-the-top. My uncle Gary and I have taken over Thanksgiving, and made it something very different. He likes to tease me about making it too “Martha-esque,” but since it is a much smaller, quieter gathering, I like to make sure everything is perfect. This year my focus is keeping the menu local and seasonal, and somewhat rustic with a simple but elegant presentation. Some recipes will be my own and others borrowed from various magazines. I definitely found much inspiration in the November issue of Martha Stewart Living and the article and recipes from Stone Barns. Here is the final menu:

Cocktails and Starters:

Wolffer Big Apple Wine
Domestic Cheeses, Apple, Sourdough
prosciutto Wrapped Figs

Main Course:
Martha’s Perfect Roast Turkey (We ordered our Turkey from Gozzi’s Turkey Farm in Guilford, CT)

Pan Gravy
Roasted Root Vegetables
Orange-Scented Cranberry Sauce
Maple Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Bacon
Acorn Squash with Sage and Cream (Martha Stewart Living, November 2010)
Cornbread Stuffing with Sausage, Dried Cranberries, and Pecans (Cook’s Illustrated)

Dessert:
Apple Pie with Cheddar Cheese
Sweet Potato Pie with Maple Roasted Pecans and Ginger Whipped Cream

Will update with recipes later in the week.

Home Sweet Home

Home, 20 Cornelia St.

Cozy is certainly a word that comes to mind when walking through the front door of Home on Cornelia Street in the West Village. The space is small, tiny in fact, which makes for familiar surroundings to those who reside in New York City. Dimly lit, filled with mostly tables for two. Look closely at the hostess stand that doubles as a bar, and you will see a constantly replenished supply of tiny chocolate cookies, any child’s dream when walking in their own house. It made us pretty happy too.

The menu hosts a mix of unpretentious american fare, and ingredients are supplied by local farms, and change seasonally. Home makes their own ketchup, which is a delightful paring to the crisp, sweet, and not too greasy onion rings my friend Annie and I shared, and I would imagine on many other things as well. With dishes like Maple Bourbon Pork Belly and Spicy Apple Hash, Hudson Valley Duck Confit Salad with watercress, grilled apples, duck cracklings and cranberry vinagrette, Braised Beef Short Ribs with herb polenta, crispy hen of the woods, red wine jus, and Meyer Lemon Brick Chicken with sautéed collard greens, I can easily say it surpasses anything I remember having on the dinner menu at my own home (sorry mom and dad).

Many of the flavors were distinctly New England, which to me provides some of the most warm and comforting combinations. Apples, bacon, maple, pumpkin, sharp earthy, and smokey cheeses, and pork all appear on the fall menu all of which I consider to be very classic flavors (and very Vermont, even better).

Cheese Plate with "Home" Salami

Annie and I shared the Artisanal Cheese Plate with apples, and Home’s very own salami with sourdough toasts. We sipped a Long Island white (Bedell’s “First Crush” a blend of chardonnay and Sauvignon blanc).

Very Romantic, no?


Though I prefer reds, the wine mirrored the flavor of apples, and the crispness balanced out our sweet main course. The Molasses Double Cut Pork Chop with onion rings, brussel sprouts, and bacon was a really wonderful dish. The pork was tender and seasoned well. The brussel sprouts and onion rings were a perfect salty contrast to the sweetness of the glazed meat, and the homemade ketchup was a really nice touch.

Molasses Double Pork Chop, Brussels with Bacon, Onion Rings

We were very close to the table behind us, which was unfortunate because it was difficult to ignore the absolutely ridiculous conversation between the two girls of similar age behind us. After finishing the wine, and noticing one of our favorite Bob Dylan songs was playing, we tuned out of the conversation about someone traveling “Argentinia”. The Kentucky Coffee loaded with Knob Creek and topped with homemade whipped cream didn’t hurt either. Not to mention the chocolate chips, which we snuck many of (not quite as many as the table right in front of the hostess stand).

Dessert...

Overall, a really wonderful meal that incorporated many of my favorite flavors of fall, and any other season for that matter. Our conversation was stimulating enough, and our drinks strong enough to dismiss the close quarters. Though I think the atmosphere could be a bit more “homey,” comforting, relaxing, and welcoming– I look forward to returning during the Spring or Summer when the garden is open in the back. White walls with really drab oil paintings and rows of wine bottles didn’t feel like a warm home environment to me. I really liked the menu, the concept, and the fact that everything (even the wines) were farm-to-table. There were a very creative touches on the menu but what I liked most was the classic flavors and simplicity.

What’s in Season: Root Vegetables

Fall is a great time for food– not saying, of course, that the other seasons are not. These past few days of grey skies, cooler air, and lots of rain, have begged for warming home cooked meals, and some of my favorite autumn ingredients are likely to do just the trick. In Vermont I always looked forward to the vegetables that started coming into season right when we went back to school (and fruits, I can’t forget the apples!) But carrots, beets, turnips, and parsnips, along with onions, fennel and winter squashes are some of the most hearty and tasty ingredients to work with for fall dishes.

There are many ways to prepare root veggies, but my favorite way to prepare them is by roasting them. One of the easiest ways to prepare these vegetables for a quick weeknight dinner, is to roast them in the oven with a small (4-6 lb) chicken. The best (and most simple recipe) I have found for a foolproof chicken dinner is Ina Garten’s Recipe for “Perfect Roast Chicken.” I added turnips, red bliss potatoes, and butternut squash to my vegetables. Parsnips could also be really nice. As long as you cut them uniformly, these veggies have pretty similar cooking times, and should cook evenly– so I recommend experimenting with whatever looks good at the farmer’s market. I used a Whole Foods Organic Free Range Chicken. Also, look for great fresh local poultry at the Union Square Farmer’s Market (sells out fairly quickly, especially on Saturday mornings).

I cooked this chicken tonight… but once again forgot to take a picture. Hopefully I’ll remember to photograph some of the leftovers ideas!

Ina Garten’s Perfect Roast Chicken

Jeffery's Favorite!

Ingredients:

1 (5 to 6 pound) roasting chicken
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large bunch fresh thyme, plus 20 sprigs
1 lemon, halved
1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter, melted
1 large yellow onion, thickly sliced
4 carrots cut into 2-inch chunks
1 bulb of fennel, tops removed, and cut into wedges
Olive oil

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Remove the chicken giblets. Rinse the chicken inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pin feathers and pat the outside dry. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Stuff the cavity with the bunch of thyme, both halves of lemon, and all the garlic. Brush the outside of the chicken with the butter and sprinkle again with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Place the onions, carrots, and fennel in a roasting pan. Toss with salt, pepper, 20 sprigs of thyme, and olive oil. Spread around the bottom of the roasting pan and place the chicken on top.

Roast the chicken for 1 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh. Remove the chicken and vegetables to a platter and cover with aluminum foil for about 20 minutes. Slice the chicken onto a platter and serve it with the vegetables.

Butternut Squash, Wild Mushroom, and Sage Risotto

That brisk breeze in the air this week has been quite the relief. No more air conditioners, and hopefully a final farewell to the general stickiness, smelly-ness, and other joys that make up summer in the city. Fall is also a time to welcome back our favorite sweaters, scarves, flannels, the warm colors of the changing leaves, and some of the most comforting ingredients from local harvests. Fall means apples, winter squashes (Butternut, acorn, spaghetti, pumpkin), leeks, root veggies, Brussel sprouts, and beans. These are some of my favorite vegetables, and autumn dishes are some of my favorite of the year. I am looking forward to doing a lot of experimenting while practicing my knife skills and cooking techniques for school.

This week I made a simple Butternut Squash, Sage, and Wild Mushroom Risotto. Risotto is easy to make, inexpensive, and can make a hearty main dish as well as a rich side to meat dishes. Here is the recipe:

Ingredients:
1 large butternut squash
1 cup Arborio rice
1 quart homemade or free-range chicken stock
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
2 T butter
1 T chopped fresh sage
Hen-of-the-woods (Maitake) mushrooms
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

Procedure:

1. Peel the squash, remove seeds, square off, and chop into 3/4 inch cubes. Put on a baking sheet and sprinkle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper Roast about 30 mins.

2. Mince shallots, and in a large pot, melt butter. Saute shallots until clear. Ass the rice and cook for about 3 minutes.

3. Add stock one cup at a time, simmering on low heat, about every ten minutes.

4. Meanwhile, prepare the mushrooms in a rough chop. Saute in oil or butter, adding water, until somewhat soft (about 10 minutes, but it’s best to taste for doneness).

5. Cook for about 45 minutes total (until rice is al dente). Remove from heat.

6. Add squash, and stir in cheese and chopped sage.

7. Garnish with cheese.

Stay tuned for my next fall recipe, Savory Polenta with Roasted Heirloom Tomatoes, Japanese Eggplant, and mozzarella Cheese.

Maitake Mushrooms, fresh from Union Square.