I love Thanksgiving. Many Chef's hate it. The turkey is the main reason why. To me....it's the smell of roasting meat and all the incredible side dishes that accompany it. It's a lot of work to come up with a menu. My main goal when creating the meal is to maintain balance. That means adding some crunch to a dish, using some acidity to cut through the fatty heavy foods and of course butter. Below is one great recipe I did on eightWest a number of years ago. I still love making it. Using local butternut squash and baking it twice changes up the usual soft and overly sweet yams with marshmallows. Enjoy!
Twice Baked Butternut Squash
1 Large Butternut squash
½ onion diced
6 Slices bacon
2 Cloves of garlic
¾ cup whole milk
6 oz goat cheese
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Black Pepper
2 cups bread crumbs
½ stick of butter
2 TB chopped parsley
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
2 tsp ancho chili powder
Directions: Heat oven to 375. Cut squash in half, scoop out seeds. Coat cookie sheet with non stick spray and cook squash until soft (aprox. 45-60 minutes). Remove from oven and let cool.
Cut bacon into thin strips. On medium high heat, place a 5 qt pan on stove. Add bacon and cook. Keep stirring until bacon is crispy, remove bacon with slotted spoon on to a paper towel. Add onion and garlic into bacon greased pan and saute until softened.
Scoop out butternut squash and add to pan with onions and garlic. Add milk, salt, pepper, and goat cheese. Puree the mix, once smooth, fold in bacon.
In microwave, melt butter. In a bowl, add bread crumbs, parsley, garlic powder, onion powder and ancho chili powder. Pour melted butter over bread crumbs and mix.
In a greased 9 x 13 pan, add sweet potato mix, top with bread crumbs and bake until top is golden brown. Serve immediately.
Winter and soup have so many tasty directions you can take. Broth based is at the top of my list. This Beef and Cabbage soup is outstanding with all the fresh flavors. I used local vegetables from Crisp Country Acres and the ground beef mixed with heart from Country Dairy. All procured from my friends at West Michigan Farmlink. Do not fret if you cannot get local vegetables. Using fresh veggies is the key to making this great soup. Enjoy!
Beef and Cabbage Soup
3 TB olive oil
1 onion, Diced
3 Carrots, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
4 cloves of garlic
1lb Ground Beef
4 cups rough chopped cabbage
8 cups beef broth
¾ Cup long grain white rice
2 TB brown sugar
1 28oz can petite diced tomatoes
3 TB sherry vinegar
2 bay leaves
¼ cup chopped parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
Directions: Heat olive oil, onion, garlic, celery and carrots on medium. Saute until onions are translucent. Add ground beef and brown. All remaining ingredients with a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir, raise heat to medium high and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 45 minutes until rice is fully cooked. Remove bay leaves and taste the soup. Add more salt and pepper if necessary. Ladle into bowls and garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and chopped parsley if desired.
I love soup. Hearty soups with a broth base are my favorites. This White Bean soup is one of my new favorites. Loaded with fresh beans, kale and sausage turns the soup into a filling savory meal. The reason dried beans are used instead of canned is because of the flavor they add to the soup. Dried beans add an earthy flavor, something canned beans cannot give. This recipe is simple to prepare. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do.
White Bean, Kale and Sausage Soup
1lb dried white beans (pinto, cannelloni, great northern), soaked over night in water
1 large onion, diced
7 cloves of garlic, chopped
3 TB olive oil
3 stalks of celery, sliced thin
4 carrots, sliced
1lb bulk sausage (I used Hehlden Farms kielbasa)
2 smoked ham hocks
8 cups chicken stock (turkey stock works too)
1 cup white wine
Parmesan rind (about 3 inches by 1 inch, less is ok)
2 TB chopped rosemary
2 bay leaves
3-4 cups chopped kale (Lacinato Kale)
2 TB rice vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste
Shredded Parmesan for garnish
Directions: Soak beans in water overnight. Heat a stock pot at medium high with olive oil, add celery, onion, garlic and carrots. Saute for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add sausage. Break it up and saute until fully cooked. Strain dried beans and add them to the pot, stir. Add stock, wine, Parmesan rind, ham hocks, rosemary and bay leaves. Bring to a light boil, reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 45 minutes, stir often. Add Kale. Simmer for 30 minutes, remove ham hocks and let cool. Simmer for 15 minutes, remove bay leaves, add rice vinegar, cut off any bits of ham (there will not be much) and add it to the pot.. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with Parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil
Cote de Beouf. An old school French method of serving a really good thick steak! The name alone can be a turnoff for those who do not have strong faith in their cooking abilities. Do not fear....this is a simple dish to make. All you need is patience and a great cut of beef. Which cut you ask?
A thick good quality Ribeye is they key. For presentation...a bone in ribeye. You do not need the version I procured from my friends at The Grilling Company, which by the way is a Tomahawk Chop. Impressive, isn't it? The reason yo want a good quality ribeye....the fat. See the thin veins of fat going through the meat. That is a good sign of a great cut of meat. Those fat lines mean flavor. Essentially...fat is flavor.
Now for the cooking. I removed the ribeye 1 hour before I was set to cook it. The goal is to get it up to room temperature. With 15 minutes remaining to warm it up, light up all the burners on your gas grill (I lit all 5 of mine). Then season the meat generously (I mean generously) the top, bottom and sides with Maldon Sea Salt and cracked pepper. Nothing else. Next up is the cooking. Turn off the middle burner, place the meat directly over that turned off burner, close the lid and start cooking. If you do have 5 burners, after 5 minutes, turn the burners next to the steak down a quarter turn. This is to prevent the very large fire that might happen as the fat melts off the steak. After 10-15 minutes, flip the steak, close lid, keep cooking for another 10-15 minutes. Then.....let it rest for 15 minutes.
While the steak is almost done resting, heat a cast iron skillet or saute pan on medium high heat. Let it get good and hot. Once meat is sliced (FYI, cut away the thick fat layer around the meaty middle section. The meat and fat you cut off is still edible and great to soak up what will be left in the cast iron skillet. Cut the middle section up into slices). Add 5 Table Spoons of butter, 3 cloves of garlic and two large sprigs of thyme to the pan. Remove from heat. Place sliced meat into pan. Coat with bubbling butter, top with parsley and a good pinch of sea salt. All that's left is a buttery garlic and smokey goodness. Enjoy each and every bite!
A dear chef/writer friend suggested last week that we should do a Thanksgiving Sunday. We were busy discussing meals we had made with other chefs on Facebook. I was excited. What was I going to do? What recipes would I try? I can easily say, I was like a kid waiting to open presents at 5:30am on Christmas morning. So, Amy Sherman, currently seen doing food stories with John Gonzales for MLive doing Michigan's Best Searches and I set out to do a home bound Thanksgiving meal. If we ever needed a reason to do this, I think a stay at home order is all we need. Below are the pictures (as best as I could get) of my meal. If you know me...I am not a lengthy blogger. Each Pic will have a description and some of them will have recipes. During this stay at Home Order....take the time to get creative with your meals, post on my FB page pictures of those meals...have fun and be safe!
Chantilly Mashed Potatoes with Parmesan Crust
I used Food and Wine's recipe which turned out great!
Sourdough Sweet Potato and Cranberry Dressing
3 cups sourdough bread, 1 sweet potato (diced, about 1 cup), 1 celery stalk sliced thin, 4 cloves of garlic(chopped), 1/2 cup diced onion, 1/2 TB chopped rosemary, 1/2 TB chopped sage, 1 TB chopped parsley, 2 TB butter, 3 to 4 cups turkey or chicken stock (warmed), 1/2 cup dried cranberries. Directions: saute vegetables at medium heat in butter. Add some olive oil if it gets too dry. Add to bowl with bread, herbs, pinch of salt and pepper, and cranberries. Toss in 1/2 of the warmed stock. If still too dry, add more stock. Place in a greased casserole dish, cover and bake at 425 for 45 minutes until internal temp is 165. Serve.
Corn and Bacon saute with Foraged Green Onions
Roasted Turkey Gravy. Made with what I call "liquid gold"..aka Roasted Turkey Stock
Green Bean Casserole prepared from scratch.
I relived my past recently. A culinary school past...Classic French Cuisine. If there was one love from my days training at GRCC's Culinary Arts program, it was my love of Duck Confit (A future post on that awesome food). I recently invited some fun friends over for an evening of Confit. After breaking the duck down into its parts, I roasted the remaining pieces with vegetables and made a fresh and rich stock. Like this recipe here! Just substitute duck for the chicken.
Now, for the fun part. Clarifying the Stock to make a classic Consomme. The rich and flavorful broth that can amplify your soup to super star status. What is a consomme? How do you make it? How hard is it to do? Ahhhh. Time is the most difficult start.
Consomme is a clarified stock that is the base for your soup. It is a process that takes a few hours to create the best soup you will ever have.
allTV appearances give me a chance to rethink recipes, create new ones and most importantly, offer cooking tips. Today, February 21st, 2018, I had the opportunity to be on WZZM's Noon news for their Better Bites (click here for the video). What I shared was a super healthy meal that truly has Superfoods in it. Kohlrabi, a root vegetable with broccoli and cabbage flavor profiles, is rich in vitamin c, complex b, iron, potassium, vitamin k and much more. Salmon is rich in omega fatty acids. Wait....2 awesome superfoods in one meal? That is the way to go. Enjoy the recipe! Note that any fish or shell fish would be a great substitute for salmon as well as chicken. If you have leftover vinaigrette, use it as a vegetable dip. Enjoy!
Pan Fried Salmon with Kohlrabi Salad
4 salmon filets, 5-6 oz apiece
2-3 TB Vegetable Oil
2 kohlrabi, peeled
5 radishes, washed
½ lb of asparagus, trimmed and washed
2 Cups arugula
¼ cup Toasted Almond Slivers
2 cloves of garlic
Zest 1 lemon
Juice of 2 lemons
1 TB Dijon Mustard
1 TB Honey
¼ tsp of salt
¼ tsp pepper
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
For the salad: Slice, spiralize or cut kohlrabi into thin slices, add to a bowl. Do the same with the radishes. Cut asparagus diagonally, ¾ of an inch in length, add to the bowl. Add almonds, add 3 TB of vinaigrette and mix salad. Put ¼ of each salad on each plate. Cook salmon
For the vinaigrette: Place all ingredients from shallots down to olive oil into a food processor. Mix until smooth.
Fish: Take salmon out of packaging and let sit on counter to air dry for 30 minutes. Then, Heat ¼ cup of vegetable oil in a large skillet or saute pan. Salt and pepper salmon. Once oil is shimmering, place salmon into pan, skin side down, cook for 3 minutes, flip and cook skin side for 3 minutes. Remove from plate, place on top of salad. Pour 1 to 2 TB of vinaigrette over salmon and rest of salad, serve.
Local food sourcing for the home cook is incredibly easy in the Spring and Summer months. It is truly stunning at what we can find at our local farm markets. But alas, Winter arrives. It feels like a punch in the fresh flavor gut. What can we do if we want to use more local food? If you think about it, back in the day, cooks would resort to using lots of different root vegetables. They might look like a difficult task to undertake but the end result is always a beautiful thing. Below is a great recipe I did a few years ago on the local Grand Rapids WZZM Better Bites segment. Now is a great time to share it again as it is truly a tasty bowl of root vegetable goodness. Enjoy!
Root Vegetable Stew
1 Beet, peeled and cubed
1 Turnip peeled and cubed
1 Parsnip peeled and cubed
2 Carrot peeled and cubed
2 cups of cubed butternut squash
1 bulb of garlic
1 medium onion diced
1 lb. ground turkey Heffron Farms is a good local source
1 Tsp chopped rosemary
1 Tsp chopped thyme
2 tsp chopped sage
2 TB lite soy sauce
3 cups vegetable stock plus 1 more if needed
1 Cup red dry wine
1 8oz can tomato paste
Salt and Pepper to taste
Pre-Heat Oven to 375. Cut top off bulb of garlic, toss in a tsp of olive oil and wrap in aluminum foil. Roast for 30 minutes or until soft. Let cool and squeeze garlic out and reserve.
Toss beets, turnip, butternut squash, parsnip and carrot in 2 tsp of extra virgin olive oil, place on cookie sheet pan and roast for 35 minutes or until lightly golden brown.
In a medium sized stock pot, place 1 tb of extra virgin olive oil into the pan, turn heat to medium high. Add onion and stir. Cook to medium brown color. Add Turkey, brown turkey. As turkey cooks, chop roasted garlic into a paste. Add to pan. Once turkey is cooked, add wine. Bring to boil. Add vegetable stock and herbs, simmer for 15 minutes. Add roasted vegetables and tomato paste. Simmer for 2 minutes. Add 1 tsp salt and pepper. Add more if necessary. Garnish with green onions sliced thin and shaved parmesan. Serve with crusty whole grain bread.
Food, Family, Friends. This is where it all begins and ends in my kitchen.