Monday, November 30, 2009

twisted tamales

echnically speaking these are not really tamales and on that same technical note they are not really pasteles either so then what are they? We could call them pastmales or tamasteles but thats just shaking the tree a little too hard so they will be known as banana leaf tamales.

Sometimes I just "unique" myself all the way to the next county and this is one of those times. Banana leafs lend such a select flavor to foods that makes them unmistakeably Caribbean.

I ground up all the pieces of turkey that no one would want to eat - you know the skin and all those trimmings when you take the carcass down to nothing to make broth

....and this was processed with dried mulato, anaheim, chipotle, paprika, and guajillo chiles along with oregano and garlic until it was a nice mix.

Corn masa was made and the meat was spooned and the banana leaves folded and the pot was stuffed. This is how they looked before I wrapped them in parchment and tied them off with string before simmering for an hour in hot broth.

This is one of those rare instances where hot sauce seems to be the right condiment. I am submitting this to Natasha at 5 Star Foodie for her Makeover Challenge.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

leftover love

Plates of delight, thats what thanksgiving is and it keeps on giving. I dont start making other things out of the leftovers until I am absolutely tired of eating them as leftovers and sometimes I finish all of it before the pot pies or soups ever get a chance to see the light of day. Turkey tamales are in the plan so lets see how much turkey is left for me to make a few.

Who doesnt like a turkey sandwich with all the goodies tucked inside a nice fresh roll? The kid wanted to skewer a black olive on top of his sandwich and I didnt have any toothpicks so the skewer in this case is a skewer!

This molten pumpkin pie is so easy I can give you the recipe in five easy steps: 1)make pumpkin pie mix in the ordinary way (I had tonka beans so I grated some of that in as well as the regular spices) 2) make a brownie batter in the ordinary way and as a treat toss in some chocolate chunks or chips. 3) pour brownie batter into bottom of a spring form pan, pour pumpkin on top of brownie. 4) bake in a 350 F degree oven in a water bath als0 known as a bain marie (larger pan filled with water in which cake pan is sitting) bake for 30-40 minutes or until pumpkin is set. 5) refrigerate and slice when cool. Thats it - easy right?

Friday, November 27, 2009

tore up from the floor up

Let me start by saying that a twenty pound turkey is huge!

Twenty pounds of turkey is definitely bigger than a kids head! We had not had a 30 inch oven and range before this year in the apartment so we had to go all out and cook the biggest things we could find. The bird came out moist and tasty and I have to say that since I have always been a 10-12 pound fowl man myself, thinking that the big birds were dry, this exceeded my expectations - it did sit in a delicious brine of thyme, rosemary and juniper berries for 48 hours - and it was heavily injected with rosemary butter and basted throughout the cooking process - maybe that had something to do with it. There was cornbread stuffing, and green beans and fresh cranberry sauce to accompany the turkey and fine accompaniments they were.

There was noshing to be done before diving into the turkey, though. Black olives stuffed with thyme and chevre were a big hit. A sleeper as they say in big hit terms. The familiar flavor of the black olive was perfect with the soft tang of the chevre balanced gently with the thyme and drizzled with good olive oil and sea salt. I am pleased with this new idea I came up with.

Shrimp cocktail has become de riguer with any amount of feasting we do whether large or small. My son could easily make a meal out this alone and he is the reason for its popularity. Steamed in a dense broth of celery, onion, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper the shrimp had a complex flavor that was as light as a feather and perfect for dipping into the chipotle, horesradish and green onion cocktail sauce.

Wild Alaska salmon smoked with applewood cant be as bad as it sounds - ha, just kidding it was as good as it sounds. Regular old cream cheese and green onions with a little of this salmon on a toasted round of sour dough was about all I needed.

Oyster stew has become a tradition for our Thanksgiving meal and while there are a myriad of recipes for it out there I tend to make it any way I want each and every time - but then again it is only shallots, herbs (thyme in this case since it is our showcase herb this year) butter, sherry if you want, salt/pepper shucked oysters and milk all simmered to perfection.

When you have historically made the best mashed potatoes and you are usually recruited by friends and family to recreate the masterpiece year after year you become a tough act to follow. I am that act and I follow that act with the same dignity and grace that I have done for years. There is nothing special besides my caring hand that I add to the salted and boiled potatoes - sure there is some thyme, cream cheese and a lot of butter and cream but thats it really.

Soft, creamy mashed potatoes are an art.

The cheese plate started as huge slabs of gorgonzola picante, st. agur, thyme encrusted chevre, brie, boursin, some dried figs and apricots and a few crackers.

Made more manageable by putting out smaller pieces the board was less intimidating.

Put boursin in front of my kid and you can pretty much bid it adieu!

We drank Malbec, Proseco, Montepulciano D' Abruzzo, a crisp Sauvignon Blanc and my favorite St. Emillion throughout the courses and each libation loved its chewable counterpart but this dense chocolate and pumpkin pie was was the star of the show in my book.

Creamy pumpkin on a pillow of molten chocolate brownie is a dessert I will be duplicating.

This isnt to say that the flan that refused to release from the mold and the pear tart werent good too because they most definitely were! We will be eating leftovers for days and there will be no complaints. I hope everyone out there has a chance to feast to their fill!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

the art work

I cant show any of the piece I have been working since it is a surprise gift and I have no idea if the recipient looks at my blog. I want to show everyone so that I can get some feedback but alas I cannot. So in lieu of this I will discuss our Thanksgiving menu.

The desserts have been made, you will have to wait to see the beautiful plated versions but I will show you a little of the process and for starters here are some almond cookies to tide you over.

I did make a delicious flan and a pumpkin pie in this style but for now you can have a look at a pear tart....

...and individual pear bites with pomegranate arils!

Tri-color sweet potatoes are also on the menu and this about sums up the 'made in advance' stuff. Tomorrow is a big ol' Shadybrook Farms turkey with stuffing (dressing) thyme mashed potatoes and oodles of little tasty bites like mini crab cakes and chevre stuffed olives just to tease a bit. More to come maybe late Thursday or Friday - HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

candy cap flan

I am guest posting over here today so if you want to read all the juicy details head on over to MarxFoods.

Candy Cap Persimmon Flan


  • 1 cup and 1/2 cup sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 13 oz can evaporated milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ ounce Candy Cap mushrooms
  • 1 medium guajillo chile
  • pulp from one large persimmon


Grind mushrooms and chile together in a coffee grinder or food processor to a fine powder.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

You will need 6 ramekins or other specialty flan cookware and a large baking pan to put them in.

Pour 1 cup sugar in warm pan over medium heat. Constantly stir sugar until it browns and becomes caramel. Quickly pour approximately 2-3 tablespoons of caramel in each ramekin, tilting it to swirl the caramel around the sides. Reheat caramel if it starts to harden.

With powdered chile and mushrooms in bowl in a mixer or with a whisk, blend the eggs together. Mix in the milks and the persimmon pulp then slowly mix in the 1/2 cup of sugar, then the vanilla. Blend smooth after each ingredient is added. I also hit it a little with the immersion blender to make sure the persimmon pulp was masticated.

Pour custard into caramel lined ramekins or one large mold. Place ramekins or mold in a large glass or ceramic baking dish or large sheet pan and fill with about 1-2 inches of hot water. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes in the water bath and check with a knife just to the side of the center. If knife comes out clean, it's ready.

Remove and let cool in a refrigerator for at least 1 hour. To unmold, loosen the edges of the custard with a knife. Place in hot water up to the rim of the mold for a few seconds, and quickly turn upside down on a serving plate or invert each ramekin onto a small plate, the caramel sauce will flow over the custard making everyone feel like a rock star.


The anti- thousand- thats me - the guy that wont go all the way. I am so not doing my part to get to a grand. Its almost like who cares. Close enough as it is - you could touch it - but just not close all the way.

Friday, November 20, 2009

purple pickled eggs

When I saw this on my foodie friends blog I knew instantly that I needed to try it. Thanks Stace. Deviled eggs kicked up major notches - seriously who doesnt like a frou-frou deviled egg and then its pink! I am going to do these again for the guests at Thanksgiving and I might even use a piping bag but for this first run I simply spooned.

For my next attempt I am going to get a little more creative and try and get a purple spider web effect.

These guys were boiled in the normal way then dropped whole and peeled into the beet juice, then the yolks were removed and I dropped the halves in the liquid for a second time. I think they look pretty cool.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

irons in the fire


I am a little behind on my blogging lately - I have three guest posts to write that I have only barely started and I havent been over here on my own blog in almost a week. I have been working on a commissioned painting that I need to finish in the next couple weeks as it has to get shipped off and be ready for an anniversary coming up in January. What does all this have to do with anything you wonder - well it has to do with everything since I dont have time to blog. While I wait for things to dry I take off on my bicycle and if I am not careful I always end up at the same place.....

I have a favorite sandwich and this is it. It is the lamb doner from Yatagan and nothing comes close to it for flavor and value. Lamb slices, pita bread, onions, tomatoes, hot sauce, lettuce and a creamy yoghurt sauce make this meal a champion in my book. Bear with me while I get the painting to a comfortable level and then I will be back in full force!

Friday, November 13, 2009

shrimp biggie
After I got the nets folded up and stowed away I rinsed off the deck and got the boat ready to sit in the harbour for a little relaxing bit because I wasnt finished yet.

Wheat thrashers are a wonderous thing and I dont know what I would do without one but thats getting side tracked a little and I have flour to grind. See when you are me and you want to make something from scratch no task is to great or to small to get to the finished product.

I wanted a lobster roll but I am on a shrimp budget so I did the next best thing - I made a shrimp roll. Purists out there will tell you that a shrimp roll does not compare to a lobster roll and they would be right - economists out there will tell you that pound for pound shrimp is the better deal and fantasists will tell you that if you let your mind go and imagine its lobster it can be lobster.

Well it isnt lobster its shrimp but its still pretty darn good.

After I ground the flour and sorted the shrimp I baked the bread. While the bread was baking I took some steamed and peeled shrimp and mixed them whole with a little celery, onion and mayo - and that was it! I loaded the whole thing into my fresh made rolls and chowed down like Bubba Gump. (parts of this post were fabricated to enhance the experience of the shrimp roll)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Ida know

Hurricane Ida is making a drab day even more drab here in the Big Apple. Flights are delayed, the rain is cold, the wind is whipping in all directions, its not pleasant.

Chicken soup makes everything better. Slow simmered chicken to make broth, fresh hot chicken pulled from the bone cut into bite size chunks, mixed vegetables in large pieces - medicine that is so good for you and it wont matter if you get dependent on it. I am part of Springpad now and I need to start "spelling out" my recipes to fit into their format - you know how slow that process is going to be - I have been avoiding recipes like the plague.

I am addicted to soup and chicken soup is one of my crutches now if I can only get over my recipe issues.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Phonetics are difficult and simple all at once. Ravioli is one of those phonetic words.

Raaah-veee-O-lee. Pumpkin pasta with a mixed cheese and mushroom filling.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

holy mackeral

Mackerel, and all I think of is raw oily goodness. Seasoned in all kinds of ways makes the mackerel equally tasty but I like it raw. You can cook the mackerel to perfection but nothing beats its virgin flesh.

Singed with a torch can work too.....
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