Monday, November 29, 2010

jams, jellies and sweets galore

My Austin Thanksgiving in numbers this year:

42 famished guests

25 pounds of Becca's
(my grandmother)
famous cornbread dressing

10 delicious desserts (cakes, pies, trifles, cookies and tarts)

3 beautifully set tables of 10 (the others had to find a spot)

3 roasted turkeys, 1 ham

a never-ending Longhorn/Aggie fued

...and a partridge in a pear tree

Amongst the chaos, the spread was mouthwatering and bountiful. Our contributions to the meal included:

Truffle Roasted Turkey

[Seriously the best turkey I've ever had in my life. No chopping, no basting, no guess work. Pull turkey out at 150 degrees to allow for carry-over cooking. Thanks, Ina.]

Roasted Brussels and Rutabaga with a Hazelnut Brown Butter

[There is nothing better than caramelized brussels sprouts to me. Sweet, tangy roasted rutabaga and hazelnut brown butter were icing on the cake.]

Roasted Cauliflower with Gruyere, Capers and an Anchovy Vinaigrette

[Some of my favorite flavors wrapped up in one gratin dish.]

Sweet Potatoes with Ginger, Orange and Clove

[Baked sweet potatoes are baked, peeled then sliced and layered with fresh ginger, orange peel, cinnamon, clove, a sprinkling of marshmallows and a touch of turbinado.]

After a short drive, we placed our dishes amongst an already-full table of:

Turkey, Ham
Scratch-Made Gravy
Mashed Potatoes
Corn Pudding
Cornbread Stuffing
Green Bean Casserole
Pecan and Brown Sugar Sweet Potatoes
Cranberry Orange Sauce
Waldorf Salad
Yeast Rolls
Potato Rolls

And don't forget about dessert....

My contribution:

Fresh Cranberry Tart with a Maker's Mark Glaze

[buttery, tart and full bodied] accompany the table of sweets bursting with:

Apple Pie
Chocolate Pecan Pie
Pecan Pie
Pumpkin Pie
Apple Crumb Pie
Chocolate Kahlua Trifle
Autumn Cookies
Banana Cake with Pecans
As a result of my oversized meal finished with sweets, coffee and wine...I fell in a turkey trance quite quickly.

After a cooking day of rest, I pulled out my baking sheets, parchment, saucepans and more to create a dozen Linguine and Dirty Martinis Homemade for the Holidays gifts.

This first treat is oh-so-simple. We had extra fresh cranberries leftover from Thanksgiving along with several bright lemons. Voila!

Cranberry Lemon Jam
yields approximately 6 cups

2 cups fresh cranberries
rind of 2 lemons, thinly sliced
2.5 cups sugar
3 cups water

Reduce all ingredients in a medium saucepan until reduced by half-- approximately 1 hour. Let cool completely then package in jars or chill and serve.

After I packaged this bright and tart jam, I simmered plump blackberries with sliced jalapeno, black pepper, sugar and water to create the perfect topping for cocktail party treats:

Blackberry and Jalapeno Compote

This amethyst-hued delight has a kick of hot pepper that packs a punch. Not for the faint of taste buds!

Next treat to create are holiday staples: Spiced Nuts. These are a sweet and spicy version given depth with an enhancement of nutmeg and fresh rosemary.

Rosemary Spiced Mixed Nuts

yields 1.5 cups

3 T light corn syrup
1.5 T sugar
3/4 t kosher salt
1/4 t fresh ground pepper
1/8 t cayenne
1/8 t ground nutmeg
1 t fresh rosemary, minced
1.5 cups mixed roasted and salted nuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients thoroughly in a bowl. Spread into a greased baking sheet in an even layer. Bake approximately 8 minutes until coating is bubbly and nuts are golden.

Spread mixture atop parchment paper in an even layer and let cool completely. Before packaging or serving, break up cooled nuts with hands to separate.

If saving treats for your own use, add cheeses, fruit and vino for a cocktail party in a flash!


Sunday, November 7, 2010

wedding bells & one-pot meals

What a pleasure it was to cook for a crew of gorgeous, successful young women celebrating the upcoming wedding of their dear friend, Sarah.

I arrived in the charming home of one of her cheery bridesmaids, Kacey, and immediately set to work in preparation of my Linguine and Dirty Martinis Risotto 101 demo.
Gals sipping wine always seem to love
cheese, fruit and carbs
so my appetizer combination seemed like a natural choice.
As guests arrived, hors d'oeuvres and libations awaited including my new favorite appetizer for a crowd:

Savory Bleu Cheese Cheesecake with a Rosemary Pecan Crust

serves 16 appetizer portions
3/4 c pecans, toasted and salted
2/3 c breadcrumbs
3 T butter, melted
4 eggs, room temperature
1 lb cream cheese, room temperature
1 T fresh rosemary, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb bleu cheese, room temperature
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wrap the bottom of 8-inch springform pan with foil. Set aside.

In a food processor, grind pecans, breadcrumbs and butter to form a fine crumble. Press in an even layer into greased springform pan. With a handheld or stand mixer, beat cream cheese, garlic and rosemary until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Delicately fold in bleu cheese with a spatula then transfer mixture and spread evenly atop pecan crust.

Bake approximately 40 minutes until slightly brown and set completely. Transfer to cool completely on a rack before releasing springform. Serve at room temperature with fig compote. Can be made and chilled 1 day ahead.

Fig Black Pepper Compote

1 c apple juice
1 c water
1/2 c sugar
1 bay leaf
1 c dried figs, halved
1 c dried currants
zest of 1 orange
1 T fresh-cracked pepper

Reduce all ingredients over medium high heat approximately 30 minutes until reduced by half. Let cool and serve room temperature atop cheesecake.

After guests snacked on assorted cheese preparations, I began the risotto and vinaigrette demo:

Spinach, Fennel and Bosc Pear Salad

This salad is sweet, bitter and anise-ridden with a thick, slightly-spiced vinaigrette perfect for the holidays.

Toss fresh spinach, sliced bosc pears and julienned fennel. Serve with Maple Mustard Vinaigrette and garnish with fennel fronds.

Maple Mustard Vinaigrette

3 T mustard
1/2 c pure maple syrup
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 t fresh rosemary, minced
zest of one lemon
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Whisk together all ingredients except olive oil. Slowly drizzle in olive oil, whisking frequently, until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper.
Winter Squash, Pancetta and Sage Risotto

Although I was a bit immersed in my cooking to recall a "formal" recipe, this wintry risotto takes a traditional base of aromatics, arborio and white wine with vegetable stock and is amplified with sweet and smoky additions.

During my "stir-time", I made sure to season arborio mixture with liberal salt and pepper and fresh, minced sage. After all stock was added and risotto reached al dente, I stirred in roasted acorn squash, crisp-rendered pancetta, whole butter and fine parmesan cheese.

Sheer comfort in one bowl.

For desserts to share over gift-giving, I decided on an array of hand-held glossy cakes that would lend well to chocolate cravings.

Cocoa and Lavender Salt Cakes
with Ganache and Edible Flowers

I added just enough
unsweetened, fine cocoa powder
along with
a sprinkling of dried lavender salt
to substitute for kosher salt.

After a
swirl of bittersweet ganache

and the careful placement of
delicate edible flowers,

the delightful cakes were ready to shine!


Thursday, November 4, 2010

homemade for the holidays

In a seasonal rut?
Go Homemade for the Holidays with Linguine and Dirty Martinis!

Cross everyone off your holiday list in three simple steps:

visit my website to view the homemade for the holidays menu including:

[jams, jellies, compotes and pickled delights]
my personal picks:
lemon + lime curd
fig + black pepper compote
spiced blueberry jam + star anise

[candies, chocolate and barks]
my personal picks:
dark chocolate truffles + fleur de sel
milk chocolate bark + crushed peppermint

[sweet and salty baked treats]
my personal picks:
pecorino cheese straws
vanilla + almonds + flaxseed granola
triple ginger cookies + lemon glaze

email to set up a complimentary consultation and secure your spot.


made-from-scratch treats will be prepared, packaged and decorated in your home kitchen just in time for holiday cheer!
Beautiful letterpress tags compliments of Lauren with Blue Eye Brown Eye will also be available for clients if desired. [photo compliments of Blue Eye Brown Eye]

Look for Linguine and Dirty Martinis Homemade for the Holidays goodies available for purchase this December at Walter Kaufmann Chef's Holiday Pantry benefitting Tarrant Area Food Bank.

More details to come!