A passion for food + fashion

Posts Tagged ‘thanksgiving’

Thanksgiving Cheats

In Food on November 24, 2013 at 2:37 pm

doris

For most of the hostesses I know there’s usually one thing about Thanksgiving that stresses a girl out. For some it’s her mother-in-law, for others it’s piecrust. For me, it’s the gravy. There, I said it. My favorite part of my favorite meal of the year is gravy, and it’s the one thing I don’t make at the Thanksgiving table. For the past few years, I’ve been dry-brining our bird and once you try the technique, you’ll never go back. The one glitch is that the drippings are too salty for pan gravy, and so I order it. There’s no shame in that, especially when the Chardonnay and thyme gravy comes from my friend Kate Paul of foodink catering—former personal chef to the Rolling Stones and a favorite with the likes of Vanity Fair, Vogue, Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld and other A-list clients around town. You can order the entire dinner from foodink, or just fill in the sides as need be.

foodink

It turns out I’m not the only of my friends sneaking in a little outside help. Sisters of Los Angeles co-founder Sara Stein is too busy making her dad’s famous Red River BBQ Sauce (I swear one day I’ll get that recipe out of her!) and grilling her turkey to bake the pies, so she turns to Los Feliz favorite House of Pies for dessert.

house_of_pies

As for my friend Alison, who recently went gluten-free, she’s ordering a classic stuffing with sage, apples and mushrooms from Clementine in Century City to serve to her 20 guests on Thursday. “If I can’t eat it, I don’t want to make it!” she says. Other childhood friends who are heading home to the Napa Valley this week, plan to order mashed potatoes from Rutherford Grill and cranberry relish with orange and cinnamon from Dean and Deluca to take the pressure off. Sometimes you have to cheat to win.

BN Ranch Turkey

In Food on November 3, 2013 at 1:13 pm

BN RANCH TURKEY

I’ve gotten a jump on my holiday shopping this year, namely by pre-ordering a heritage bird for Thanksgiving from Bill Niman at http://www.bnranchtotable.com. I am ridiculously excited that he’s offering heritage turkeys, and that the bird doesn’t have to travel far. Niman and his wife, Nicolette, are leaders of sustainable and humane farming—their BN Ranch is in Bolinas in Marin County, not so far from where I grew up in Northern California—so it feels right that this bird joins our Thanksgiving table.

Here’s the Rub

In Food on November 19, 2012 at 8:20 pm

 

No doubt if you’ve looked at any food sites or read any editor’s letters, you’re in a freaking frenzy that you have waited TOO LONG and needed to start prepping the meal two weeks ago, and that you are a total domestic failure. Relax. Pour a glass of wine. Worst case, you may be a little late to make your own gravy, but if you are in Los Angeles, just grab some at Joans on Third and be done with it. Focus your attention on making the most flavorful bird that is dripping with juice and has perfectly crisp skin. Having worked for years at a food magazine myself, I’ve tried countless turkeys—wet brined, cider-brined, beer-brined, smoked, grilled, deep-fried, turkeys rubbed with compound butters, Cajun spices, turkeys glazed with maple, citrus, soy, you name it. But the best, hands down, is Russ Parson’s Judy Bird inspired by Judy Rogers’ legendary roast chicken at Zuni Cafe in San Francisco. Flip through any food magazine since Russ published the recipe in 2007, and you’ll find countless knock-offs. His original recipe is still the best.

Make it your own by adding a pinch of dried herbs to the salt—I like to pick up on one of the flavors from the stuffing like using dried sage or fennel—or citrus zest. The basic formula is 1 tablespoon of salt for every 5 lbs of bird. If you can start it tonight, perfect. But tomorrow will give you enough time to produce a bird like no other. I promise it will be the first Thanksgiving where people actually want to eat the turkey.

A Little Thanksgiving Something on the Side

In Drink, Food on November 15, 2011 at 9:35 am

This year—more than most—Thanksgiving’s pending arrival has caught me completely by surprise. Perhaps that’s because for the first time in over a decade I won’t be cooking, or at least I won’t be cooking the main event. I’ve been asked to bring a side dish—so I’m bringing two. My friends Vanessa’s excellent Cranberry Sauce with Red Wine, Pomegranate Molasses, and Mediterranean Herbs and Nicki’s favorite Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts Gratin with Pine Nut Bread Crumb Topping were standouts last month at our cooking club. We all made our favorite Thanksgiving side dishes and while I would be hard-pressed to pick a favorite from the lineup, these two were particular show stoppers.

Photo by Tim Morris via bonappetit.com

Photo by Elinor Carucci via bonappetit.com

Looking back through the archives, I thought I’d share a few other ideas from Thanksgivings past. And would love to hear what you’ll be bringing to the table this year. Something tells me I’ll be back in the kitchen next year and really, when it comes to my favorite meal of the year, it’s never too early to start planning…

I LOVE these Pearl Onions Glazed in Port with Bay Leaves. They provide a nice bright note to some of the heavier flavors on the Thanksgiving table.

My go-to and totally decadent Escarole Cornbread Stuffing—rich with prosciutto, fresh ricotta, parm and wild rice. What’s great about this is that it’s all prepared stove top so you’re not fighting for oven space, and then you stick it in the oven for a few minutes to melt the parm just after you’ve taken the turkey out to rest.

This is my all-time favorite Brussels sprouts recipe that’s rich with butter, shallots and fennel—from my friend Carolynn (who cowrote Nancy Silverton’s latest book, The Mozza Cookbook). I’ve made this for the past 10 or so Thanksgivings, so I’m taking a break this year and making the Cauliflower Brussels Sprouts Gratin (which is epic).

And for heaven’s sake, let’s not forget about cocktails! This Champagne Pomegranate Punch is probably the most-requested recipe in my arsenal. I blogged about it last year over on Herman Miller’s LIFEWORK blog. For recipe, click HERE.

Pumpkin Flan

In Food on February 24, 2011 at 8:44 pm

I know we have a ways till Thanksgiving, but I’m already sold on this year’s dessert. This past weekend—for my Turkey in Mole Poblano soiree—I liberated a leftover can of pumpkin purée, added it to a flan and topped with some pepitas toasted in ancho salt. MAGIC. I might make it again this weekend for the Oscars, any excuse really. This was the first time I’d made flan and the first time I’d made a dry caramel. Talk about weird science. You just heat plain cane sugar in a pan until it turns to caramel. (Obvi for some, revolutionary for the rest of us.)

The caramel gets poured into a souffle dish, and then the flan so that when you eventually turn it upside down, the caramel spills out and pools around the flan.

The flan itself is a snap—you probably already have most of the ingredients in your cupboard. Click HERE for recipe. The flavor and texture—absolute perfection. My flan was a little runny in the middle so next time I might cook a little longer than the recommended hour and 15 minutes, and make sure it has more than 6 hours chilling in the fridge to set. Oh, and with any dessert it passes the most important test of all: A++ leftover for breakfast the next morning with a cup of coffee.

Turkey Trials 2010

In Drink, Food on November 26, 2010 at 9:44 am

Two thousand ten will go down in the books as one of the most memorable Thanksgivings—for the good, the bad and the unbelievable. On this beautiful sunny Los Angeles morning, surrounded by my family, the turkey trauma of three days ago seems like another lifetime. And so I will answer a few questions. Yes, the turkey turned out okay. In fact, it was fantastic! So here’s what I learned. You can safely defrost even a 16-pounder in a matter of hours (click here for info). And even one day of salting will produce superior results. This turkey was so juicy and flavorful. Look at it coming out of the oven!

And then my husband, who is the greatest in the whole wide world, took to the bird with the precision that only a Japanese knife can offer.

And just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, it did. My dad surprised us with a magnum of 2004 Stony Hill Chardonnay.

And so, it was quite late and we were quite drunk by the time we tucked into my sister’s pumpkin and pecan pies made with the buttery best crust imaginable. Oh, and the pies were pretty spectacular for breakfast, too, though this coffee doesn’t hold a candle to the Stony Hill.

Pilgrim’s Progress

In Food on November 24, 2010 at 7:07 pm

My sister has arrived and is making beautiful flaky crusts for the sour cream-pumpkin and pecan pies as we speak. My husband is scoring red pearl onions, which I will simmer in port just as soon as I hit “post.” After the turkey trauma of the past 24 hours, I am finally feeling relaxed and good about dinner tomorrow (and I haven’t even started drinking yet!). Thanks in no small part to my TURKEY SAVIORS, who talked me off the ledge and taught me how to defrost a bird at the 11th hour. About an hour ago, I salted our 16-pound turkey with a heaping three tablespoons of kosher salt and a generous pinch of dried sage.

It is now peacefully resting in a bag in the fridge, where it will dry brine until it’s ready to roast tomorrow afternoon. What follows next is why this holiday is my favorite of the year. The mixing, the baking, the brining, the boiling, the simmering, the sautéing, staying up late and getting up early to cook. And now if you’ll pardon me, I’m off to do just that!

Thanksgiving Wines

In Drink on November 24, 2010 at 5:31 pm

Q: How do you please a Champagne addict, White Burgundy loyalist, Pinot Noir enthusiast, Riesling devotee and vodka drinker who are breaking bread together at the Thanksgiving table?

A: You don’t.

I’ve given up trying to please everyone with just one bottle because it’s futile. Plus, I don’t know about your Thanksgiving table, but at mine the wine disappears pretty quickly so it’s a safe bet that if a few different bottles are open someone will polish them off. And, after reading my friend Patrick Comiskey’s article on dividing and conquering with Thanksgiving wines over on Zesterdaily.com, I’m feeling emboldened. So this year, I’m uncorking a cornucopia, if you will, of wines and people can have at it as they will. The line-up will look something like this.

2007 Schramsberg Brut Rose ($35). This Napa Valley sparkling pink is one that everyone at the table agrees on. I love the bright cherry notes and it is a beautiful wine with turkey. And given that my family lives in the Napa Valley, it’s a little nod to home.

2008 Domaine Zind Humbrecht Riesling, $19. This is a great wine for the meal—crisp acidity to cut through all the richness of the food, and gorgeous mineral and peach flavors. And it won’t break the bank if you need a couple bottles.

Bouchard Père et Fils Meursault ($ You don’t want to know). Typically there is a bottle of White Burgundy designated for my father’s use and nobody is allowed to touch it. That’s okay, I’m usually hoarding my Riesling.

2008 Ponzi Reserve Pinot Noir ($60). This one is my sister’s favorite, and I have to say I wouldn’t kick it out of my glass either. At all.

A Tale of Two Turkeys

In Food on November 24, 2010 at 10:50 am

Yesterday afternoon I blew my stack. I’m not proud of this and I’m sorry, Dan at Heritage Foods USA, that you were on the receiving end. But here’s the thing. After pacing like a jungle cat all afternoon in anticipation of the arrival of my 12-14 lb heritage bird (which I’d ordered on August 3), the box arrived. And it was surprisingly light. Upon opening the box I wondered if my eyes weren’t playing tricks on me because the turkey was only slightly larger than the two pork chops that were also tucked inside the box.

More surprisingly, Ashton Kutcher did not jump out from behind a door wearing a trilby to inform me that I’d just been punk’d.

And so, in a panic, I called Dan at Heritage Foods USA in Brooklyn, NY, who was able to get a bird on a truck to catch a redeye to Los Angeles for arrival this morning. The new bird is indeed here and, well, he’s a beaut. A 16 pounder. But I’m super bummed out because the bird is frozen and will have just one night of dry brining before 10 people gather at our table tomorrow night. (Thank god we are eating late.) So what do you do with a frozen 16-pound bird in order to get it on the table in 24 hours? I frantically texted the pros and here’s their sage advice:

Janet Taylor McCracken, associate food editor at Bon AppétitIf it’s still frozen, keep it in an airtight bag and place it in a cooler filled with cold water. It should defrost pretty quickly, as in a couple of hours. If the water gets too warm (above 45°F), put some ice in it.

Russ Parsons, author and Food Editor of the Los Angeles Times: You can even roast it if it’s still partially frozen. It’ll take more time. And it may be slightly mushy (defrosting too fast), but this is about survival, right?

Kristine Kidd, Bon Appétit‘s former Food Editor (for 20 years!!!) and author: To thaw quickly, put in a large bowl or sink with cold water to cover (if possible). I would do this wrapped in an airtight plastic bag. Change water often, and it will thaw surprisingly quickly. Another idea, Gelson’s carries Diestal Heritage birds. I pre-ordered, but you could call around and see if they have extras. These are not pure heritage as from Heritage foods, but a cross breed. I am grilling one right now, à la Russ. Mine got only a 24 hr salting, followed by 8 hour drying in fridge. I started the process  yesterday morning at 10 AM. I’ll tell you how it comes out. A third idea—cook your small heritage turkey, plus another small turkey from Gelson’s or Whole Foods, and let everyone have a taste of each.

Amelia Saltsman, TV host and author of The Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Cookbook: I wouldn’t worry about brining turkey. Rub with butter or olive oil and kosher salt. Roast on a “rack” of whole carrots, celery, quartered onions, etc. After about 30 minutes add some water to pan, which will start some steam going to keep breast moist, not to mention augment juices later for basting and gravy. Hope this helps!! Happy turkey day!

So the moral of the story is to BE THANKFUL FOR YOUR FRIENDS, especially those who are far better at making lemonade from lemons than you could ever be. And it helps if these friends are some of the best cooks in the whole wide world! Happy Thanksgiving, everyone, and check back for progress on our bird, which is currently frozen rock solid and cooling its wings in our kitchen sink:

The Onion Eater

In Food on November 22, 2010 at 10:08 pm

My father, who is the cook in our family, does not like onions. AT ALL. And so my sister and I grew up with nary an allium in sight. Which of course made onions all the more beguiling, the forbidden fruit—or plant—whose name we dare not speak. And so it will be quietly that I introduce a gorgeous bowl of Glazed Pearl Onions in Port with Bay Leaves at our Thanksgiving table this year. The recipe ran in Bon Appétit a couple years ago and has been cunningly tempting me ever since. I made a test-run for dinner tonight, served alongside a pan-fried pork chop, and let me tell you the fall from grace is worth every bite. The port-balsamic glaze is nothing short of heavenly and will add a bright note to all the earthy and comforting flavors at Thursday’s table. It was also quite, quite good drizzled on a pork chop.

The comments on the recipe all say that the flavors continue to develop over a day or two, so I’ll be making another batch tomorrow for Thursday’s feast. You do have to carve out a bit of time. First the onions soak in hot water for an hour before you peel them.

Oh, and I used red pearl onions instead of white simply because they have a slightly milder flavor plus I thought they were prettier. After they’ve soaked and the skins have been peeled, the onions simmer in port and broth with bay leaves for half an hour.

And then the onions rest while the sauce is reduced to a glaze. Total time commitment is a little over two hours from start to finish (including soaking and peeling, which is something of a pain), but if the payoff is worth the effort.

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