“For each new morning with its light, For rest and shelter of the night, For health and food, for love and friends, For everything Thy goodness sends.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
We have a small family, (4 members to be exact!) so at Thanksgiving, it fills my heart with joy to invite friends to my table to fill the room with laughter and love. According to what traditionally is known as “The First Thanksgiving,” the 1621 feast between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag indians consisted of turkey, waterfowl, venison, fish, lobster, clams, berries, fruit, pumpkin and squash. Keeping with tradition, my menu this year includes roast turkey and stuffing (not to be confused with dressing),
whipped potatoes and gravy (not to be confused with mashed), cranberry sauce
(not to be confused with Cranberry jelly), scalloped oysters,
green bean casserole,
apple pie with rosemary and thyme
and to wash it all down with, an ice-cold Gewürztraminer to go with the turkey, champagne with the apple pie and some roasted chestnuts
with sparkling apple cider to nibble on while waiting to sit down. This may sound like a huge undertaking to some, however, with a few little tricks, this meal can be accomplished stress-free. I start two days in advance to get the grocery shopping done. Then I peel the chestnuts, and make the cranberries.
Chestnuts sauteed in butter with rosemaryFrom: GalleyChef.org
Chestnuts sauteed in butter are savory, salty caramelized treats. The rosemary makes it a perfect holiday snack.
Melt butter in a saute pan over medium-low heat. Add chestnuts and toss to coat well. Season with salt and saute until dark golden brown on both sides. Sprinkle in the rosemary, remove from heat, let cool. Chestnuts can be stored in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Sift together flour and salt into a food processor. Add the lard and butter and pulse until the size of small peas. Gradually add ice water, until dough comes together in a ball. Shape into 2 balls, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least one hour.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Roll out 1 pastry ball and line the pie pan with it. Pour filling into pie dish and dot with butter. Roll out remaining pastry and fit to top of pie. Pinch the edges closed. Slice three holes down the center to allow steam to escape.
Fit aluminum foil around the edges to prevent burning. Bake for 20 minutes, reduce heat to 375 and bake for 20 minutes, remove foil and bake another 20 minutes. Remove and let cool.
For the filling
Combine apples, sugar, thyme, rosemary, salt, corn starch, lime juice and lime zest in a large bowl and set aside for 1-2 hours.
Place all the ingredients into a pot and heat just until boiling to dissolve the salt and sugar. Stir and let cool.
After this mixture cools, add flavors to this basic recipe to impart a taste that suits your individual palate. Anything goes. Some suggestions are: garlic cloves, peeled and crushed;a small onion, thinly sliced;1 lemon, thinly sliced;1 orange, thinly sliced;cloves
The day before you roast the turkey, make a brine and let the turkey sit in the brine for 12-24 hours.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Take the giblets out of the turkey and wash the turkey inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pinfeathers and pat the outside dry. Stuff the turkey with Italian sausage stuffing. Make a pocket between the skin and the breast and stuff with stuffing. Place the turkey in a large roasting pan. Brush the outside of the turkey with oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and rosemary. Tie the legs together with string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the turkey.
Roast the turkey 1 hour then tent it with foil and cook another 3 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between the leg and the thigh. Remove the turkey to a cutting board and cover with aluminum foil; let rest for 30 to 40 minutes.
Slice the turkey and serve.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Drain the oysters into a 2 cup measuring cup reserving the liquid. Set the oysters aside.
Add the cream to the liquid. Add all of the seasoning.
Combine the crackers with the melted butter.
Butter a 9 inch square pyrex baking dish and set aside.
Put 1/3 of the crackers into the baking dish.
Then add half of the oysters spreading them out evenly over the crackers.
Pour 1/3 of the liquid evenly over the oysters.
Add another 1/3 of crackers, then remaining oysters, then 1/3 of the liquid and finish with remaining crackers and pouring the last of the liquid over the entire dish.
Bake 30 minutes until the top is golden brown. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Saltines can be used in place of the Ritz crackers for a lighter, less rich effect.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Blanch the haricot vert until they are al dente, about 3 minutes.
Melt 3 T butter in a dutch oven. Add flour. Stir and cook until the flour is a light brown color. Stir in the salt, onion, sour cream and green beans. Transfer the mixture to a casserole dish.
Spread cheese over top. Add 1 T melted butter to bread crumbs and parmesan cheese, mixing thoroughly. Sprinkle over casserole. Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown and bubbly.
Fill a large bowl with cold water. Peel the potatoes and plunge them into the water as you finish peeling them. Fill a large saucepan half way with water. Cut the potatoes into ½ inch pieces. Add them to the saucepan as you cut to keep them from oxidating and turning brown. Bring the potatoes to a boil over medium heat. Lower the heat and cook for 20 minutes or until they are fork-tender.
Drain the potatoes in a colander. Use a Foley Food Mill for a light and silky consistency. Add the butter, cream and salt.
For the Gravy
Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan. Add 3 tablespoons of flour to the melted butter and cook it for a couple of minutes until it’s a light golden brown. Add 2 cups of chicken or turkey stock to the pan. Continue to cook and stir until the gravy thickens. Salt and pepper to taste. (if you are cooking a turkey or chicken, use the drippings from the bottom of the pan in your gravy.
That’s it. No worries. Be sure to get an extra big turkey so everyone will have left overs to nibble on the following day. My favorite way to eat left over turkey? A turkey melt, with stuffing, cranberries and mozzarella cheese on rye bread. So when you do your grocery shopping, be sure to get plenty of rye bread and mozzarella! Cheers!
The warm winds of summer usher in a myriad of vibrant fruits and vegetables from our local farms. So when I stumbled upon a road side stand the other day, I just had to stop. There standing before me were the two most adorable Amish boys doting over a bowl full of freshly picked strawberries. Laid out in front of them were beautifully presented tomatoes, garlic scapes, cucumbers, lettuce, onions, peas and rhubarb.
When I was a child, we had rhubarb growing in our back yard. To keep the slugs off of it, bowls of beer were placed around the rhubarb, coaxing the slimy little creatures away from our precious vegetable and into the bowl of beer to meet their demise. When the rhubarb grew to maturity with its subtle red hues, my Mother would make rhubarb pies and sometimes strawberry-rhubarb pies. It is the quintessential dessert, sweet, but not too sweet, light, and colorful.
This is the perfect strawberry rhubarb pie recipe and it’s a great way to get your kids to eat their vegetables!!!
In the bowl of a food processor add the flour, salt, sugar and butter and pulse until butter is the size of a pea. Add the cold water 1 tablespoon at a time while pulsing until mixture comes together and forms a ball. Divide in half and wrap in saran wrap and refrigerate.
Mix all the filling ingredients in a large bowl
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Roll the dough out on a floured surface with a rolling pin. Place it on the bottom of a pie pan. After rolling the 2nd dough out, slice it into 1/2 strips to make the lattice work for the top of the pie. Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with a tablespoon of sugar. Bake for 50 minutes.
Feel free to use all strawberries or all rhubarb when making this pie. If you use all rhubarb, you might want to add a little extra sugar to sweeten it up.
With double carbs (triple if you have bread with it to sop up the gravy) this is a heavy dish, but the farm hands needed all those carbs for energy way back when…… Great Grandma, Iretha Hunter, grew up on the nationally recognized historic farm in Carrol, Ohio known as Rock Mill.
As summer came to an end all those years ago, and the wheat crops turned the hill sides their golden hue, a crew of men who operated the threshers (a device that separates the head of a stalk of grain from the straw, then separates the kernel from the rest of the head) would show up at Rock Mill to help with the harvest. There would have to be a mighty sizeable meal put out to stave off those hungry appetites. So…. with a hen house full of chickens and plenty of flour from the mill, Great Grandma’s homemade chicken and noodles over mashed potatoes and gravy was born.
Chicken and NoodlesFrom: GalleyChef.org
Creamy chicken and noodles in a delicious gravy served over light and airy mashed potatoes, the original "comfort" food.
Place a whole chicken in a stock pot and add water to an inch over the chicken. Add onion and garlic skins, parsley stems and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook a couple of hours until pulling on the leg, it separates from the rest of the chicken. Remove chicken from stock. Let cool.
Meanwhile, make noodles. (see "tender, buttery, egg noodles" recipe)
After chicken is cool, take all the meat and fat off the bone and set aside. Reheat stock.
While stock is heating, make a roux by melting 1 stick of butter in a small saucepan. Add 6 T of flour. Cook until golden brown. When stock comes to a boil, add the rue and stir a couple of minutes. Add the noodles and cook 7 minutes. Add the chicken back in. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle over mashed potatoes and sprinkle with parsley.
For the mashed potatoes
Peel the potatoes. Cut into a 1 inch dice. Add to a pan. Cover with water. Cook until tender. Mill the potatoes through a food mill into a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and stir.
After Grandma grew up and got married, she purchased a boarding house a half a block away from Ohio State’s High Street where she charged $100.00/month rent. Dad decided to go back to school at Ohio State so they rented an apartment across the alley from Great Grandmas boarding house. On moving day, after hours upon hours of moving furniture and boxes, both Mom and Dad were dead tired. Great Grandma invited them over for dinner and made chicken and noodles over mashed potatoes and gravy.
Mom said “it was to die for”, “it couldn’t have been better if it was caviar or filet mignon”. This is one of many recipes my Mom remembers making with Great Grandma in her modest little kitchen in the basement of the boarding house and has passed down generation after generation. She also made wonderful “cream and sugar” pies, which is a great topic for another post.
Tender, Buttery, Egg NoodlesFrom: GalleyChef.org
Tender and buttery, these egg noodles are the ultimate comfort food.
The noodle recipe is from my paternal Grandma “nu-nu” who is pictured below.
Let’s raise a toast to Grandma’s everywhere who have passed on great family recipes for us to enjoy. Let us celebrate these moments together, where the past and the present unite to remind us of the beautiful people who have touched our hearts and souls.
Note regarding featured image: The china in the featured image is “flow blue”, a style of porcelain that originated in the Regency era, sometime in the 1820’s among the Staffordshire potters of England. The name is derived from the blue glaze that blurred or “flowed” during the firing process. These dishes are believed to have belonged to Great, Great, Grandma Clara, Iretha’s Mother.
“A silence fell at the mention of Gavard. They all looked at each other cautiously. As they were all rather short of breath by this time, it was the camembert they could smell. This cheese, with its gamy odour, had overpowered the milder smells of the marolles and the limbourg; its power was remarkable. Every now and then, however, a slight whiff, a flute-like note, came from the parmesan, while the bries came into play with their soft, musty smell, the gentle sound, so to speak, of a damp tambourine. The livarot launched into an overwhelming reprise, and the géromé kept up the symphony with a sustained high note.”
― Émile Zola, The Belly of Paris
I took a journey through my taste buds last night at Whole Foods Market’s new “Cheese Night”. It was all about the complexity of flavor in raw-milk cheeses and what makes them unique. Certified cheese professional, Lynn Battels and David Hall, up and coming certified cheese professional, explained what a “raw-milk” cheese is, how it’s made, and how to taste it, with four of our five senses.
Looking at a particular artisan cheese can tell you a lot about the type of milk that was used to make it. Goat milk cheese, for instance, is much whiter in appearance than cheeses made from other types of milk. Look at the rind and the fissures in the cheese.
Then there is the smell…. A mild aroma is sometimes described as floral, perfumy, fresh, sweet, grassy or nutty. A strong aroma is described as barnyardy, earthy, funky, musty, sour, ripe or stinky. Lynn explains, if you break up the cheese in the palm of you hand and roll it between your fingers, this will warm the cheese and expose more surface area, therefore releasing the cheese’s aromas. Then take a good whiff, exhaling through your nose and viola! There you have it.
Tasting the cheese is all about being in the moment. I close my eyes and focus solely on my breathing. (in from my mouth, exhaling through my nose) Then, rolling the cheese on the back of my tongue until it melts, ever so slowly, on my pallate while thinking about the mouth-feel. Often the difference between mediocre cheese and excellent cheese is in the finish. There are eternal truths to be recognized, just as there are eternal harmonies in a Beethoven sonata. Ultimately, a cheesemakers’ goal is to achieve balance among the five human taste areas: sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami. It is all about that universality and transcendence.
We started with an 8 month aged Manchego cheese from Spain. Made from raw sheeps milk, this cheese has a firm consistency and a buttery texture with a kind of sour note to it. It is made in the La Mancha region of Spain from the milk of sheep of the Manchega breed. Official Manchego cheese is to be aged between 60 days and two years. The designation Queso Manchego is protected under Spain’s Denominación de Origen (DO) regulatory classifaction system and has been granted Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status by the European Union. We tasted the Ruffino Orvieto Classico with it. This is an Italian white wine produced by Ruffino in the Tuscany region of Italy.
When I think about the great cheese makers of the world, I think immediately of French and Italian cheeses, however, there are some really good artisan cheese makers cropping up all over America. Grafton Village Farms out of Vermont is one of them. We tasted their Classic Reserve Cheddar, a raw cow milk cheese with a creamy texture and the classic cheddar flavor we all love. The designation of “Raw Milk” is reserved for cheeses made from milk that has not been heated to more than 100 F. At this temperature, the hundreds of varieties of bacteria continue to thrive and interact with the milk, giving a greater, deeper flavor within the cheese. In the United States, the FDA requires raw (unpasteurized) milk cheeses to be aged a minimum of 60 days.
We tried the “Le Gruyere Reserve”, a raw cow milk cheese from Switzerland. Considered to be the best “melting” cheese to use in fondues and for baking. This cheese has a creamy-nutty-mushroomy flavor with the pronounced salt crystals that I so desire. It’s complexity is next to none, however, it never overshadows the other ingredients it’s married with. They can only fit 156,000 wheels of cheese in the caves of Kaltbach in Lucerne. It’s never enough is it? My favorite sandwich has to be the Croque Monsier. Made with Gruyère, bechemel and ham on a croissant, this sandwich is gooey, creamy, cheesy and comforting all at the same time.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Melt the butter over low heat in a small saucepan and add the flour all at once, stirring with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Slowly pour the hot milk into the butter–flour mixture and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thickened. Off the heat add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, 1/2 cup grated Gruyere, and the Parmesan and set aside.
Lightly brush half the toasted croissants with mustard, add a slice of ham to each, and sprinkle with half the remaining Gruyere. Top with the other half of croissant. Slather the tops with the cheese sauce, sprinkle with the remaining Gruyere, and bake the sandwiches for 5 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the topping is bubbly and lightly browned. Serve hot.
For a Croque Madame
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet over medium heat. Cook one egg for each sandwich sunny side up. Turn egg over and cook 3 minutes longer for soft-cooked egg.
Place 1 fried egg on top each sandwich. Season egg to taste with salt and pepper and serve.
I have to admit I am passionate about all types of cheese, from the humble ones to the exotic. Parmigiano Reggiano, known the world over as the “King of Cheeses”, is a raw cow milk cheese, some say, from heaven! The one we tasted was from Modena. There, it is an important part of the local traditional gastronomy and incorporated into antipastos, pastas, entrees and even desserts. It takes 148 gallons of milk just to make 1 wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano!
The Parmigiano Reggiano was paired with Gran Passione Rosso, a light red wine, almost like an Amarone. It is from the Chianti Classico region of Italy and revives the old tradition of including white grapes in the blend, resulting in a softer flavor.
When milk is pasteurized, the naturally occurring enzymes are destroyed. Raw milk keeps that important flavor foundation, resulting in cheeses that are more complex. I have to admit, I definately have a greater appreciation for cheese after this event, and who knows, maybe one day I’ll attempt to make my own artisan cheese!
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, cubed and chilled, but not cold and hard
2 T finely chopped fresh basil
In a small sauce pan combine the wine, vinegar, shallots, peppercorns and thyme sprigs. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add to the pan with the bean. Turn the heat to medium high and reduce the contents until the pan is nearly dry. Add the heavy cream and cook until slightly reduced and the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Remove the pan from the heat. Whisk the butter into the sauce a piece at a time. Add the finely chopped basil. Let rest for 10 minutes. Strain the sauce through a fine sieve. Season with a bit of salt. Use right away or hold in a warm bath or thermos. Serve with sea scallops, lobster, fish or steak. Makes about 1/2 Cup.