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Posts from — November 2010


Turkey-Day is only 5 days away!!! Complete Thanksgiving Planning Guide and Timeline.

OH MY GOODNESS!  I stumbled upon the easiest (we’re talking 4 ingredients – two of which are olive oil and S&P), most decadent, most delicious, most wonderful, richest, and probably one of the most fattening roasted chicken recipes – purely by necessity and accident. You see, I had a 3-pack (from Costco, of course) of Boursin cheese in my fridge. The entire thing was unopened and the expiration date was a few days ago… why the heck did I buy it? I don’t remember, all I can think is that I must have read the date wrong and intended to use it during the holidays. Boursin is too good and too pricey to waste, so I needed a way to use most, if not all, of it up – NOW!  I went to FoodNetwork.com and searched “Boursin” and this recipe, from the adorable Emeril Lagasse, was the first one I saw – plus it uses 2 packages – Perfect!

I had the pleasure of working with Emeril in 2001 when I was the producer of the Culinary Concert for the International Association of Culinary Professionals and he was one of the Star Chefs.

When I say he is adorable, I mean it! He is one of the nicest, most genuine, sincere, warm, and sweetest guys around. Emeril dear, my taste buds and I thank you for this recipe, but my waistline and cholesterol levels curse you!

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November 20, 2010   2 Comments

not pumpkin pie

Turkey Day is only 6 days away!!! Complete Thanksgiving Planning Guide and Timeline.

I was going to call these appetizer ravioli “Mascarpone-Spiced Pumpkin Ravioli.”  But upon Marissa’s first bite, she declared them “Pumpkin Pie Ravioli” – a new and improved name is born.

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November 19, 2010   2 Comments

breaking tradition

Turkey-Day is only 7 days away!!! Complete Thanksgiving Planning Guide and Timeline.

Shhh, don’t tell my family, but I am going to make different rolls this Thanksgiving. This is a big deal!  There will be whining, complaining, moaning, crying, and even a possible revolt, but I’m still going to do it! Our traditional roll is the absolutely delicious and addictive James Beard Potato Bread Rolls that I made each year. The thing is, I also make these rolls only a short 4 weeks later for Christmas Eve dinner, Christmas day dinner, and use the same dough for my killer Cinnamon-Pecan Rolls on Christmas morning. So… these people, who I have to feed every single day, (sometimes up to 3 times a day!) can try something different on Thanksgiving this year! That something different will be cloverleaf rolls.

Cloverleaf rolls sometimes have tiny crosses marked on each of the three sections, referring to the Holy Trinity, which in Ireland is often compared to the clover. I’ll save that little embellishment for Easter. You may also dip the balls in melted butter after forming and before placing in the muffin cups, that makes for one very rich roll!  Another option is to brush the tops of the rolls (after rising in the muffin tins) with and egg wash or melted butter and then sprinkle the tops of the rolls with sesame, poppy, or mixed seeds. Do so if you wish.

The composed butter that accompanies the rolls calls for pomegranate molasses, which I’ve posted about before and you can get the recipe for by CLICKING HERE. You can make a full 1 cup recipe or reduce it by two-thirds, which will produce exactly 1/3 cup, as called for.  And finally, I’ve added a pumpkin variation for this recipe, just in case, you too, want to mix things up next week. That and the measurements for a scaled down amount of pomegranate molasses are found at the bottom of this post.

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November 18, 2010   4 Comments


Remember to check out my Complete Thanksgiving Planning Guide and Timeline. Turkey Day is only 8 days away!!!

One other note before getting on with it… To the students in my series classes at Les Gourmettes Cooking School: The recipe for the pepitas I used in the soup last night can be found by – CLICKING HERE – it will take you to the link from an older post. Happy Thanksgiving, see you on November 30th!

What we have today is another “easy-breezy” recipe that you can nake as written or mix it up with what you have on hand. This version uses Italian parsley, but cilantro would be a great substitute or a mix of parsley and cilantro. Even switching from Italian parsley to curly parsley would change it up. The topper I used is shrimp – but minced chicken or turkey, coarsely chopped scallops with a little pancetta, or even flaked crab or tuna would also work fabulously. And of course, the cheeses and spices can be altered depending on the occasion or your taste. Let me know what ideas you have – I’d love to try them out!

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November 17, 2010   1 Comment

that seems kinda fudgy!

I had a load of marshmallows left from last Friday night’s “S’Mores Party” TV shoot. It was just Dave, Marissa, Tram, and me around the fire pit so not too many of the 60 homemade marshmallows were eaten! I don’t want them to go to waste, they are too good for that. So I’ve made fudge, which will, in turn, be given as hostess and Christmas gifts next month. It is possible to freeze fudge – it must be tightly and well wrapped, actually double wrapped is best, and then place it in an air-tight container before placing it in the freezer.  When ready to defrost, place directly in the refrigerator (without opening or unwrapping) for 24 hours before eating or packaging for gifts.

Speaking of that TV shoot, it will air on Monday, November 29th, at 3:30 on Channel 12 Valley Dish. And speaking of holidays, I need to remind you that last year I posted a Complete Thanksgiving Planning Guide and Timeline. And since the big feast is only 9 days away, today would be the perfect day to check it out. I’ll keep putting up reminders for the next few days… be sure to get there soon!

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November 16, 2010   3 Comments

one or the other

Today I can’t decide which recipe to post. The one that uses the rest of the duck that I received back on Tuesday of last week. Don’t worry, I’m not just now using the duck – nearly a week later! I’m just getting around to posting it. Or the recipe that uses up the leftover homemade marshmallows from the S’Mores Party…  OK, decision made – I’ll put up the yummy duck recipe today and use the marshmallows tomorrow…

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November 15, 2010   No Comments

gimme s’more!

The Ice Cream Sundae Bar – a superstar at summertime picnics, BBQs, cookouts, kid’s parties, and even fancy adult parties and weddings. But in the dark and cold of a fall or winter night, not so appealing anymore. Yet having a banquet of options and choices for a “make-your-own” dessert is so much fun, that there should be such a thing for those chilly evenings too. There is! It’s called a S’Mores Bar and it is just as fabulous and festive as those ice cream sundaes, about as messy too.

Here are photos and a menu with various concoctions to get you started. And if you really want to go “all-out” be sure and mix up a batch or two of the homemade chocolate and/or raspberry marshmallows in yesterday’s post to make it extra special.  Have Fun!

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November 14, 2010   7 Comments

brown and pink fluff

Before I get to today’s recipe I want to send out birthday wishes to a very special woman in my life. Happy Birthday to my mother-in-law, Pat Hopkins, in Rockton, Illinois. Happily, all four of us flew to Illinois last weekend and spent fun times with Mom at Katie and Eddie’s wedding. Happy Birthday, Mom, we’re looking forward to your visit in February. I love you! xoxo

What in the world would possess a person to even think of making homemade marshmallows? What or who could make me consider doing it? Tram Mai, that’s who! Tram called a couple of weeks ago and asked if I’d like to do a story for Valley Dish about a S’Mores Party. Sure, sounds fun – gourmet S’mores – a party – cool entertaining idea- I’m all in! Immediately I start thinking of all the wonderful alternatives to plain old milk chocolate squares and graham crackers. How to really “kick it up a notch”, as Emeril would say. The filling alternatives are the easy part, then I wonder how to do something different with the real star of the show – the marshmallow. OK, honestly, I have made homemade marshmallows once before; in a cooking class with my summer children’s series, years ago. But those were still plain vanilla marshmallows, I needed something more than that. So I did my usual research – meaning, I “googled” it – and found a chocolate-flavored marshmallow recipe. Cool! The chocolate marshmallow recipe provided here is adapted from a site called GlobalGourmet.com.  Sadly that site is no longer around, you may read about it and find their 10 most influential articles HERE.

I then went a step further and decided that we needed a third flavor, so I created up a raspberry version too. (that recipe is just below the chocolate version… so keep scrolling). Tomorrow I will post all the gourmet S’mores recipes I created and pictures from our shoot with the entire pretty spread. 

Before you scroll down to the actual recipe, let me preface it by saying, “Please don’t be intimidated by the massive length of the recipe!” There are only 9 ingredients… and one is water; some of the others are non-intimidating salt, vanilla, sugar, etc. It’s just a bunch of really long descriptions, explanations, and directions, plus more than a dozen photos to help you visualize it all. The process itself is not hard! Really! Read through the whole thing and you’ll see what I mean. Because now that I’ve made and tasted and drooled over these homemade marshmallows, I am wondering what took me so long to make homemade marshmallows again. Seriously!

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November 13, 2010   7 Comments


A few ducky facts for you today: Duck is low in Saturated Fat. It is also a good source of Iron, and an excellent source of high-quality Protein, Niacin, and Selenium. Some people wonder if the duck is in fact “white” meat since is so much darker than chicken or turkey meat.

The reason is that ducks are more active in comparison to chickens or turkeys, therefore they need and use up more oxygen. The extra oxygen in the body of the duck and in other types of game birds gives their meat a darker red color. Duck is “white” meat.  

Now that you know more about ducks than you may have wanted to know – it’s time to use the little quackers in a tasty dish!

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November 12, 2010   No Comments

lucky duck

I had the good fortune of being given more than a dozen cooked duck legs and thighs to use however I choose!  (Thank you, Barbara!) What to do with this unexpected treasure? I decided to shred off all the meat and reserved it for a recipe I shall post tomorrow and then use all the bones to make luscious, gelatinous (as seen above), and luxurious duck stock. Having a load of duck stock in your freezer is akin to having a trust fund at your disposal. A good duck stock can be the base for wonderful soups, stews, ragouts, cassoulets, and sauces. If you do not have enough duck pieces, use a mixture of 75% duck bones and 25% chicken bones. The stock can be stored in the freezer for up to 1 year.

Some of the best soups are made with a combination of homemade duck and chicken stocks. I’ll use the duck stock to deglaze the pan for richer chicken and beef dishes, and it is fabulous as a component of out-of-this-world chicken pot pie. Unless you’re making duck soup, duck stock is generally used in smaller amounts due to its distinctive flavor and richness, so freeze it in small quantities, as seen here in muffin tins, so that it can easily throw it into dishes without having to defrost more than needed. The six cups of stock I made yielded 20 muffin cup-size portions.

A note on my complete and utter laziness … you’ll notice that I used carrot and celery pieces from some Costco Chicken Soup purchased for Marissa and myself,  instead of driving to the store to purchase those two necessities. What can I say, I don’t feel all that swell with my swollen head and I generally pick out the carrots from my chicken soup anyhow, so what the heck!

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November 11, 2010   No Comments