When a client has type 2 diabetes, creating a healthy dessert can be a tricky thing. What everyone immediately fixates on is the sugar. But sugar is really a foil for something larger, which, of course, is carbohydrates. And all carbs are equal when it comes to diabetes management. The other component just as important in managing diabetes is fat. For most people with type 2 diabetes, excess weight is what led to the disease. Keeping weight in check through a healthy, low-fat diet along with exercise—and managing blood sugar through carb control—is what will help those with type 2 diabetes stay healthy in the long run.
Now that we’re smack dab in the holiday season, where does dessert fall into a healthy diet? Dessert is an indulgence, a part of the pleasure of a day. But the person with diabetes has to plan for it. My experience has been that it’s all about moderation and portion control—and they’re not necessarily the same thing.
Moderation includes portion control but it also means being discriminating in what you eat. In the context of dessert, it means looking for sweets that are mostly made with real fruit or dark chocolate. It means seeking out desserts that are airy—made with lots of egg whites, like angel food cake and sponge cake—which cuts down on the density and carb count. Or simply desserts which call for less sugar than conventional recipes.
Portion control can be tricky. So one approach is to look for desserts that are by their nature single portion: chocolate mousse servings in a small ramekin, a single piece of dark chocolate, a small honey crisp apple. If a client is craving pie or cake you can slice it into individual portions, wrap them, and put them in the freezer. Same with cookies or muffins.
I know there are a lot of people who look for sugar-free choices. But what you have to remember about sugar-free options is that they aren’t necessarily lower in fat or carbs. And they usually include chemicals we may not want to consume. It’s better to eat natural ingredients. Yes, there are healthier sugar-free options; honey and maple syrup are favorites and many people love stevia. For a long time, agave nectar was considered a good alternative to sugar but doctors like Andrew Weil are now concerned about the impact of high fructose and are discouraging its use.
Sometimes your client just wants what she wants and you have to figure out how to make it work. Does she love apple pie? How about ditching the crust and instead make a crisp? By reducing the amount of butter, sugar, and flour—and eating small portions—she can have something healthier since it’s just topping cooked fruit, not encasing it. You can even make a bag of crisp mixture, store it in the freezer, and she can pull out a handful at a time to top a sliced apple or cup of berries.
Ultimately, it’s all about balance. Balancing carb portions, balancing fat and calories, balancing exercise with relaxation, balancing indulgence with healthy choices. Dessert isn’t something you have to cut out so much as balance with everything else you’re doing to stay healthy.
Caron Golden’s Crisp Mixture
What I love about this recipe is that I can make the mixture in advance and store it in the freezer. Then I can create an individual serving for myself or a large dessert for company, using whatever fruit is in season. In cool seasons, I peel, core, and slice a Granny Smith apple. Then I toss the slices in a small amount of flour and sugar, and place the slices in a large ramekin or individual pie dish that I lightly coated with baking spray or vegetable oil. I’ll pull out the crisp mixture from the freezer and spoon out just enough to top the fruit, then bake. In less than an hour I have a pretty healthy, fiber-rich dessert.
Makes 8 to 10 servings, depending on how much you use per serving
2 cups quick cooking oats
1 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
1 ½ cups lightly packed brown sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon fennel pollen
1 cup unsalted butter, melted
Store in the freezer until you’re ready to bake.
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare fruit. Toss with a little flour and sugar. Arrange in a baking dish lightly coated in baking spray or vegetable oil. Top with enough crisp mixture to cover the fruit. Store remaining crisp mixture in the freezer.
Bake for about 40 minutes or until fruit is bubbly and the topping is browned.
So many chef stories begin with childhood anecdotes of cooking with grandparents or just being born with a passion for food. For Silver Plum Personal Chef’s Elizabeth Prewitt, preparing food started simply as a post-college bargain with her parents. After graduating from Auburn University with an industrial design degree, she moved back to the family home in New Orleans. The deal was that they would buy the food if she would cook it–not necessarily because she had proven skills, but because they were working hard at their consulting business and didn’t get home till late. They needed someone to make dinner.
You could call that her first personal chef gig.
Prewitt was self taught, with the help of her parents’ subscriptions to Cooking Light and Cooks Illustrated (“I have no idea why they had these subscriptions,” she joked.). She muddled along with those and chefs from Food Network. Until Hurricane Katrina hit. Then she and her parents headed a bit north to Kentucky where her sister lived in Louisville. And it was then that she decided to attend culinary school at Louisville’s Sullivan University, where she graduated magna cum laude in 2007 with a specialty in baking and pastry arts.
“I’ve always loved the arts and creative expression,” Prewitt explained. “Cooking is a way for me to be creative three times a day. I like doing things I’m good at and the more I cooked and baked the better I got. And, it’s a way to help people.”
During this time, she’d had a long-distance relationship with the man who would become her husband. He lived in Chicago, so eventually Prewitt moved there to be with him. She’d already done the restaurant shift thing, having worked at New Orleans’ famed Commander’s Palace and Louisville’s Proof on Main. “I had worked in enough restaurants to know I didn’t want to do that,” she recalled.
So, instead she took jobs that would give her steady daytime hours that would allow her to spend evenings and weekends with her husband. She worked for awhile with a jewelry designer, then as a receptionist at an architecture firm. But when the recession hit and she got laid off, she did some research on Sullivan University’s website and learned “that personal cheffing was a thing.” The university offered a degree in this but Prewitt thought, “shoot, I could do that.” She found APPCA through Sullivan, became a member, and launched her business in 2010.
Today, it’s thriving, thanks to a lot of word of mouth and a dynamic website filled with her beautiful food photography. She focuses on higher-end clientele, emphasizing high quality and customization. “I want to give my clients the experience of fine dining on their schedule in their home,” she said. She specializes in bi-weekly and monthly service and special events. “And I’ve been very successful doing that. I just stick with my strength.”
Prewitt also has a food and travel blog, onehundredeggs.com, which features recipes and her travel stories.
One thing that Prewitt feels has given her an advantage in her business–which is currently running a waiting list–is the fact that she’s a trained pastry chef and baker. “I definitely think it gives me an edge, especially for dinner parties. I can make an amazing dessert for a client that works with the savory meal I’ve created.”
Prewitt is sharing with us a simple holiday treat she makes for friends every year.
Crispy Chocolate-Mint Guys
From Elizabeth Prewitt, Silver Plum Personal Chef
Makes about 50
These could not be simpler. They’re a fantastic way to use up any leftover melted chocolate, if you ever have any. Take care when adding the peppermint oil, as one drop too much can make them taste unbearably minty.
10 ounces good-quality chocolate (not chocolate chips)
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon peppermint oil (not extract)
2 cups (about 4 ounces) puffed rice cereal (such as Rice Krispies), or a little more if needed
Chop the chocolate into 1/2 inch pieces, leaving about a third in larger 1 inch pieces (which will help temper the chocolate). Place all the chocolate in a medium to large microwave-safe bowl.
Heat the chocolate in the microwave on high for 45 seconds. Remove and stir (it will not be very melty yet). Continue microwaving in 10 to 15 second increments, stirring after each one, until the chocolate is mostlymelted, but a few large lumps remain (this is important to help the chocolate temper properly; do not fully melt it in the microwave).
When chocolate is heated enough, remove from microwave and stir gently until all lumps melt. This may take a minute or two. It’s okay if all the chocolate doesn’t melt, just remove those lumps after stirring.
Stir in the peppermint oil in 1/16 teaspoon increments (it’s easiest to add such a small amount with a dropper or pipette), tasting after each addition, until chocolate has a noticeably minty flavor. Add the oil until you’re okay with the flavor. Note: peppermint oil is potent, and adding too much can make these taste unbearably minty, but you do want it to be a little too minty right now — just a little –to account for all the cereal you’re going to add. (If you accidentally add too much oil, melt some more chocolate and stir it in. Solved.)
Add the cereal and stir until fully coated, using extra cereal if necessary. Spoon out onto a wax-paper-lined sheet tray in bite-sized mounds, a shy tablespoon or so per mound.
Let sit briefly, about 15 minutes. If properly tempered, the chocolate will begin to firm up. If not, place in refrigerator until set. Even if they don’t look perfect, they’ll still taste the same.
Photos courtesy of Elizabeth Prewitt
Not an APPCA member? Now’s the perfect time to join! Go to personalchef.com to learn about all the benefits that come with membership.
Guest post by Caron Golden
With Hanukah just around the corner, those of you with Jewish clients will probably pull out your recipe for traditional potato pancakes, or latkes. But what you might not realize is that the true focus of the dish isn’t the potatoes; it’s the oil. It all goes back to the legend of the Maccabees having only enough oil to keep their lamp in the temple burning for one night, but, miracle of miracles, it burned for eight. Hence the eight nights of Hanukah.
With that in mind, you could take this traditional latke recipe and use zucchini or carrots, or sweet potatoes–or, how about this, turnips.
I discovered the wonder of turnip pancakes when I was given a bag of beautiful gold, pink, and Japanese turnips to try. I loved that I could eat these vegetables from root to top, sauteing the greens in olive oil and garlic, and slices of boiled turnips. Then I tried my hand at making latkes out of them and frying them in rendered duck fat. The confetti-like mixture of the shredded turnips made for a pretty plate. And I couldn’t get over how sweet they were.
Now I’m going to assume that like me, you see turnips as one of those root vegetables that you pick up to add to a chicken soup stock, but otherwise ignore. It’s been a big mistake for me. These baby turnips in particular are not only very pretty, with their bold colors, they’re really delicious. Raw, they’re sweet with just a hint of spiciness–kind of like radishes. Cooked, they’re melt-in-your mouth sweet.
And, what I especially appreciate about them is that they’re low in carbs. So, for dealing with my diabetes, I can create dishes that I would otherwise use potatoes for and have something equally delicious but less problematic. So, I can make mashed turnips instead of mashed potatoes. Scalloped turnips. Sauteed turnips. You get the idea. And, I can eat them raw, chopped into a salad. You can’t do that with potatoes.
Making the latkes is very easy–and they’re a great way to introduce your kids or your clients’ kids to a new veggie (and maybe even yourself). Be sure to use a cast iron skillet to get them extra crispy. They’re also freezable. Reheat them straight from the freezer in a 350-degree oven until warmed through and crisp.
Baby Turnip Pancakes
Makes about two dozen, three-inch pancakes
1 pound of baby turnips, trimmed but not peeled
6 large green onions, trimmed
3 cloves garlic
3 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup Panko or seasoned bread crumbs
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons fresh, chopped herbs (parsley, oregano, thyme, etc.)
salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil or rendered duck fat for frying
1. Grate the turnips coarsely, using the large holes of a box grater or food processor grater. Put the grated turnips in a colander, set over a bowl, and let the liquid drain from the turnips.
2. Chop the green onions coarsely and add to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the chopping blade. Add the garlic and pulse until the onions and garlic are minced.
3. Put all the vegetables in a large bowl and add the Panko, baking powder, herbs, garlic, salt, and pepper. Stir it all together to fully mix the ingredients.
4. Add the eggs and mix well. The batter should be moist but not runny.
5. Heat 1/4-inch of oil or duck fat in a hot pan. Place a tiny bit of the batter in the pan. If it begins to sizzle, the fat is hot enough for the batter. Use a large spoon and drop the batter into the pan, then flatten into a pancake. Don’t crowd the pancakes by putting too many in at one time. Cook for several minutes on each side until the pancakes are golden brown. Put the pancakes on a plate with paper towels placed on top to drain the fat. Then serve (with applesauce, sour cream, or crème fraîche).
Turkey Stuffing Muffins an essential? What, you’ve never heard of them? Well, after you try these they will become as essential as the stuffing itself. After all, you get the best of the actual stuffing and you can eat it with your hands. You can make extras and freeze them. You can make them all year long (wouldn’t they be wonderful for brunch?). And, even though this recipe calls for specific ingredients, it would be easy enough to riff on them with the ingredients in your personal favorite stuffing.
Then there’s the cranberry chutney. Now I know that there is a large camp of people who in other contexts would turn up their nose at the very thought of eating jiggly food out of a can, but at Thanksgiving simply will not hear of anything else but slices of canned jellied cranberries embedded with the rings of the can on their holiday table. Good for them. For the rest of us, always seeking a new twist on cranberry sauce, you’ll love this vaguely traditional, but ultimately fresh and bright twist on a seasonal favorite.
So, where do these recipes come from? Our social media manager Caron Golden got to make them at a recent Contemporary Thanksgiving Side Dishes class at The Art Institute of California-San Diego, taught by my friend Chef John Miller. She swears she loved them all, but after raving about the muffins and the sweet, sour, and spicy chutney (she admits she added more red pepper flakes than called for and loved it), we agreed we had to share them with you.
Turkey Stuffing Muffins
The Art Institute of California-San Diego
Yield 6 to 8
4 ounces of bacon, diced
1 cup onion, diced
1 Granny Smith apple, 1/4-inch dice
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
1 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
salt and pepper to taste
1 day-old baguette, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Place diced bacon in a saute pan and just cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and let water evaporate as the bacon cooks. Saute until bacon is crisp. If necessary, you can add additional neutral flavored oil to continue rendering the fat.
Add the onions and apple and continue to cook until translucent. Transfer to a bowl and let cool until it’s under 180°F.
Whisk together the eggs, cream, milk, poultry seasoning, parsley, and salt and pepper. Place bread in a large bowl and pour the egg mixture over the bread cubes. Gently fold ingredients together and let rest in bowl for 15 minutes so the bread can absorb the liquid. Add the cooled bacon mixture to the bread and eggs. Don’t over mix.
Lightly grease the cups of a muffin tin with butter or use a non-stick pan spray. Using your hands, fill the muffin tins with the stuffing mixture (squeezing out excess moisture) to slightly mounded muffins.
Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until the tops are browned and crisp.
The Art Institute of California-San Diego
Yield: 4 cups
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and diced
1/2 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 cup onion, small dice
1 cup golden raisins
3/4 cup sugar
12 ounces whole fresh cranberries, thoroughly rinsed
1 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup orange juice
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup brown sugar, tightly packed
1/2 teaspoon fresh garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Remove zest from the orange and mince. Remove white pith from the orange and discard. Chop the orange, being careful to remove any seeds.
Combine all ingredients into a stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a boil then reduce heat toa simmer. Cook gently until cranberries are soft (approximately 15 minutes). Stir often to prevent chutney from sticking.
Remove from Heat. Chill at least 24 hours before serving to allow flavors to blend.
Denny and I wish you and your family and friends the happiest of Thanksgivings! We hope this is the beginning of a brilliant and special holiday season for you!
Ever wonder how those food trend predictors come to their conclusions? CBS News interviewed culinary director Kara Nielsen of Sterling-Rice Group, a brand development company which recently released its trends predictions. She tells CBS that their research evaluates culinary shifts and the evolution of consumer behavior. She also looks at societal forces shaping the future of the country, “including aging baby boomers who are increasingly focused on their health; entrepreneurial millennials looking for opportunities to start new types of food businesses; as well as the growth of Asian and Latino communities with their own strong culinary traditions.” And, she notes, that food trends are also influenced by core values, including the desire for joy, adventure, and community.
So, according to SRG, what will be in the markets and on restaurant menus next year? They fall into 10 broad groupings:
1. Advanced Asian: Forget “Chinese” or “Japanese.” Instead, we’ll be seeing more complex and true-to-region Asian foods. It’s spicier and funkier, appealing to the “advanced” Asian food lover. Diners will be discovering Northern Thai cuisine, Japanese okonomiyaki pancakes, and the tangy flavors of Filipino foods.
2. Matcha Madness: The quest for vitality will lead to Japanese matcha, a nutrient powerhouse green tea that’s hitting the market in convenient formats. Made from crushed green tea leaves, matcha is full of antioxidants, L-theanine and beta carotenes. Next year’s go-to energy and wellness beverage offers a calming energy with less caffeine than green tea, but with more nutritional benefits. These include sparkling match tea, sweets, baked goods with matcha, matcha-based sauces.
3. Cannabis Cuisine: Being in Boulder, says SRG, gives them unique insight into the, uh, budding edible marijuana trend. Forget pot brownies, today’s edible come in many forms, including confections, bars, simple syrups, and even bottled cold-brewed coffee. Cookbooks, cooking classes, and online reviewers legitimize the burgeoning industry, which already has a food truck.
4. Hop-Free Suds: Countering the surge of IPAs, brewers are taking a cue from their medieval predecessors and using herbs, spices, and other bitter plans to provide flavor balance and aroma to beer instead of hops. These seasonings, or gruits, include mushrooms, sassafras, rosemary, tea, hemp, and even reindeer lichen, yielding intriguing flavors instead of hoppy bitterness.
5. Incendiary Charcoal: With more grilled Asian foods, like yakatori, more chefs are turning to ancient styles of charcoal. Japanese charcoal, or bonchotan, is kilned oak that burns at 1,652 degrees to 2,92 degrees in a clean, odorless, and smokeless way that allows food to cook fast and retain natural flavors. Thai charcoal can do the same. Beyond the grill, charcoal is also coloring breads, crackers, lemonades, and even beauty products.
6. Local Grain Network: Regional grain economies are growing with farmers raising small-scale alternative grain varieties and selling them to local bakers, brewers, chefs, and consumers, who are in turn using mills to grind fresh flour for bread, pizza, and pastries. With more farmers’ markets selling locally grown grains, expect a bigger demand for countertop mills, grain-milling appliances like the Vitamix Dry-Grain Container and Wolfgan Grain Mill, and products made from fresh-milled flour in 2015.
7. Coconut Sugar Sweetness: Sugar, says SRG, is in the doghouse these days and has many gravitating toward less processed sweeteners like coconut sugar. Made from coconut blossom nectar, it has a lower glycemic index than white sugar and more nutrients, making it perfect for granolas, confections, and spreads in the natural channel. Coconut sugar also appeals to sweet-loving Paleos and home cooks making Southeast Asian recipes. You’ll find it in Purely Elizabeth Ancient Grain Granola, Kika’s Treats Salted Caramels, and Hope Foods Chocolate Spreads.
8. Farm-to-Table Kosher: Milennial Jews, seeking to eat in a more sustainable, conscious, and cultural way, are starting to keep kosher, supported by a rise in small businesses offering better tasting, better sourced, and more varied kosher far. These include artisan Jewish delis, handrafted bagel shops, and restaurants that also appeal to non-Jews attracted to food that seems cleaner and purer.
9. Hunger Games: Restaurant Edition: What combines communal dining, pop-up restaurant novelty, chef competitions, and crowd-sourced creation? It’s incubators that support aspiring chefs with kitchens, dining spaces, and marketing power.
10. Ugly Fruit and Vegetable Movement: In line with growing concerns over food waste, this French-born trend gives misshapen and funny-looking produce a place at the table and in recipes where looks don’t matter. According to Nielsen, “People around the globe are uniting to find new ways to reduce food waste. Efforts are already underway here to raise awareness to this issue and to find resourceful ways to manage our food supply and feed the hungry at the same time.”
Not feeling moved by these trends? Then check out Andrew Freeman & Co.’s annual trends list for restaurant menus. You’ll find scrambled eggs, more spice, more flavor through less fat, meat spreads, Spanish flavors, and more.
What trends do you see occurring in your food community? How might you take advantage of some of the trends SRG forecasts?
Not an APPCA member? Now’s the perfect time to join! Go to personalchef.com to learn about all the benefits that come with membership.
It seems every time we turn around there’s a new social media platform we’re told we must be active on. Facebook. Twitter. Linkedin. Instagram. Tumblr. For many of us, there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything. After all, we’re working chefs. Time is not on our side, especially if we also have a family or just want to have a life. So, it’s important to be strategic about where you spend your time and energy.
Recently, a discussion began on one of our forums about Pinterest. How does it work? Should I be on it? How will it help me? So, we thought it would be a good idea to offer some pointers so that if you decide you want to take it up, you can get started fairly painlessly.
Pinterest launched back in 2011 as a platform where users could upload, save, organize, and share images (and now other media, like videos and gifs) to unique pinboards (think of them as pages). These pinboards could be uniquely named by users to reflect a theme (great kitchen utensils, gluten-free food, cool teapots). The images can come from other users that you follow (you would repin them to a your own pinboard), from photos you upload from your computer or device, or websites you enjoy or manage yourself. Once they’re uploaded onto a pin, they’re shared with the rest of the Pinterest community, and in particular, people who follow your pins. In turn, you’ll see the images of those you follow.
Initially, this was thought of as a great way to organize personal projects. You want to renovate your kitchen? Then you could grab ideas for new lighting or counter tops, fabrics or dishware and have them in one place to get inspiration. People you knew or respected would pin something cool and you’d get great ideas that you might not otherwise have come across. The same applies to great vacation ideas, clothing and accessories, pets. You name it. But, as with everything these days, it’s also morphed into a way to promote brands.
So that’s where you can come in. As a personal chef you have a brand that you want to promote. Like Facebook and Twitter and other social media, this shouldn’t be all about you. But, along with creating boards that reflect your interests, you can also create boards that reflect your personal chef business. Are you a terrific food photographer? You can create a pinboard that features your food photography. Do you have a food blog? You can pin photos of your dishes that link back to the recipe on your blog (and generate more traffic). Do you cater parties? Take pictures and pin them to your catering pinboard.
You can also use Pinterest as a place to collect interesting recipes you want to try. Follow people/pinboards that reflect your interests and create a pinboard for repinning them. Perhaps a pinboard you call Paleo Treats. Or Everything About Grains. It’s limited only by your imagination.
Our social media colleague Caron Golden has a blog called San Diego Foodstuff. So, of course, she has a pinboard called San Diego Foodstuff Recipes. Every week that she posts a new recipe she links it to that Pinterest board. How does she do it? Pinterest offers a “pin-it” button you can put on your browser.
When you’re on a page that has an image you want to pin (including a photo of your recipe), simply click on the button and it will load a page with all the images on that page. Click on the image you want to pin. Then a new little window will open from Pinterest. You’ll select the pinboard you want to pin the image to from the pinboards you’ve created and then add a description. The link will already be included. That’s it. And, if you want, you can automatically connect that to Twitter so that your new pin appears on your Twitter feed.
Caron also has boards that reflect the variety of her food writing interests: SD Chefs and Their Dishes, San Diego Food Vendors, What I Want–And Can–Eat, Edible Reading, Curious and Compelling Food. And some non-food pinboards, like I Have a Purse Problem and Books to Curl Up With.
Don’t want everything to be public? Perhaps you have a project you’re working on that’s not for public consumption. No problem. You can choose to keep your board private.
You can also share pinboards on Facebook or Twitter or with individuals. You can like pins you find by clicking on the heart. You can repin images you like to your own boards by clicking on the red Pin It button that pops up when you hover your cursor over the image.
How will people find you? When you sign up, Pinterest can draw from your Facebook connections and enable you to connect with people who already know you. As you get more active, your pins will be repinned and others will see them. There can be a viral effect that’s very cool. You’ll also be informed via email of new people following you and have the opportunity to reciprocate.
Pinterest is evolving, but fortunately they do have tutorials you can click on that are helpful. Just click on your username on the upper right part of your homepage on Pinterest and then click on Visit Help Center. And, if you have any questions, you can post them here or on our forums.
If you’re watching Food Network Star, you know we’re rooting for our own Nicole Gaffney. And, she cruised through again! Well, perhaps cruising isn’t the best word. In this special Cut Throat Kitchen challenge, she and her fellow contestants were directed to make spaghetti and meatballs. Unfortunately, Nicole completely spaced on picking up a package of spaghetti during the shelf raiding, but she cleverly made up for that by making pan-fried breadcrumb gnocchi. Along the way, she got nabbed by fellow contestants who made her grind her meat with a spice grinder and then had her stomp grapes (don’t ask). But she did it and the judges passed her through to next week.
Speaking of next week, we’ll have a profile of Nicole in this space. Stay tuned!
Are you on Pinterest? If not, what’s keeping you from joining?
Not an APPCA member? Now’s the perfect time to join! Go to personalchef.com to learn about all the benefits that come with membership.
Periodically, we invite our members or friends to guest post in this space. I marvel at what member Beth Volpe of Savory Eats in Southern California does with her Thanksgiving turkey. The way she bones and butterflies–it is a marvel of technique and her timing is the perfect example of exquisite planning that allows her to enjoy the day with family and friends. So, I asked her to explain to us how she makes it. And she surprised me with an additional recipe, which I think you’ll love. So, here is Beth:
Savory Eats by Beth opened for business in January 2014. I had the fortune to take my classes in the warmth of Candy Wallace’s home and kitchen in San Diego. I am currently enrolled in Escoffier Online International Culinary Academy and have one year left towards becoming a Professional Culinarian. I have been cooking as long as I remember. I do it because I love it and it is who I am. I have three regular clients I cook for weekly and they are wonderful! I cater small dinner parties frequently and I teach cooking classes. Like all of us, I have done the work to get here and it has paid off.
Thanksgiving is my most favorite holiday. I love the way the house smells when everything is cooking. When I was working in the corporate world I did not have time to prepare a full Thanksgiving dinner without being totally exhausted Thanksgiving Day. So for the past 10 years I have figured out a way to make my Thanksgiving meal two days before so that I would have the holiday to enjoy with my family. I make a brined, butterflied turkey, the gravy, the dressing, and the cranberry sauce the day before. Come Thanksgiving Day, all I do is slide my turkey in the oven and pour myself a glass of wine. One thing to note, in order for the turkey to fit in your oven and on a rack or the slotted top of your broiler pan, the turkey can be no larger than 14 lbs. Here is how I do it.
Over the years I have tried every variety of turkey out there (aside from hunting one down). In the end, they all taste the same after my process. So nowadays I generally purchase a nice frozen turkey. My process starts on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. I butterfly the turkey. That requires cutting out the backbone and the tail. I reserve these parts to be used later in the making of my gravy. Reserve the gizzard, heart and neck. Once the backbone is removed I remove the tiny breast bones on each breast. This makes carving easier. Turn the bird over, stand on a stool so that your weight is above the turkey and press hard on the center of the breast. The breastbone must be broken in order for the turkey to lay flat. You will hear it crack. It’s at that point that I take the bird to the sink. It will be very floppy.
Once I butterflied my first turkey and actually saw what was left inside the cavity, I was convinced that I would never again stuff a turkey. Sure we clean the inside well; however, there are the liver, kidney parts, and other “things” inside that cavity that just don’t wash away unless you open the bird up. Once cleaned I put the entire turkey into a brine (recipe to follow). It sits overnight or about eight hours. On Wednesday, I remove the turkey from the brine and rinse well in cold running water for five minutes. Dry the turkey with paper towels. It’s important to get as much of the moisture possible off of the bird. Place the bird on a cooling rack set in a rimmed cookie sheet, uncovered, in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. This is an important step because the chill dries the skin and creates a nice crispiness when roasting. I also make my gravy and my dressing on Wednesday. Come Thursday all that is left is to pop the turkey into the oven. I actually place the rack with the turkey over one of the large foil square pans full of my dressing. When the turkey cooks, the juices from the turkey drip into the dressing. So you get the great turkey flavor stuffing the turkey provides without the risk.
So, here we go:
Tuesday – Butterfly the turkey, reserving all of the parts that you remove (minus the liver). Those parts get tossed into a roasting pan along with garlic, celery, and carrots to caramelize for the gravy.
2 gallons water
1 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons black peppercorn – whole
2 cups kosher salt
1 cup granulated sugar
6 to 8 fresh sage leaves
Add all ingredients to the brining bag and seal. Massage the mixture to dissolve the salt and sugar. Once dissolved, place your cleaned, butterflied turkey in the brine. Remove as much air as possible. Seal the bag and into the fridge it goes. There it will stay overnight for 8 hours.
Wednesday – Remove the turkey from the brine and discard the brine and bag. Rinse the turkey well for 5 minutes to remove the brine.
These instructions are without the dressing.
Cover a large jelly roll pan with foil (if you don’t like cleaning the pan) and place a cooling rack or the slotted top of your broiler pan on top of the foil. Place your turkey breast up on top of the cooling rack. Make sure all parts of the turkey fit on the cooling rack. You may need to tie the leg joints together to keep the thighs and legs in place. See Photo. Back into the fridge this goes for up to 24 hours. Do not cover.
Thursday – Pull out your bird. Be careful because there will be fluid in the pan and you don’t want to spill. Take the tray to the sink and pour off any accumulated fluid. Brush the turkey with turkey fat, duck fat or butter. Season with salt and pepper.
This turkey will literally take around 80 to 90 minutes to cook. I cook it hot at 450°F. I turn my turkey front to back after 40 minutes. Continue to cook until your instant read thermometer reads 175° in the thickest part of the thigh. Let rest. Carving this turkey is a breeze.
Chef Beth’s Thanksgiving Roulade
(Boneless Turkey Breast stuffed with Cranberry and Bourbon Compote, Turkey Leg and Thigh Confit, and a simple dressing wrapped in Puff Pastry)
Serves 5 to 6
I have been wanting to create a recipe for an elegant turkey dinner with all the flavors of Thanksgiving minus the carcass. This recipe was created in about a week. It took me two tries to get the outcome I was hoping for. I knew it the minute I tasted it. I hope you enjoy it!
The following items must be prepared before your start rolling.
TURKEY LEG AND THIGH CONFIT
6 peeled fresh garlic cloves
¼ cup kosher salt
1 tablespoon juniper berries
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
Zest of one large lemon
8-9 cups duck fat
2 turkey legs, 2 turkey thighs, skin on
Fresh sage leaves
4 peeled fresh garlic cloves
In a food processor grind the first 6 ingredients. This will be your rub.
Massage the rub into your turkey legs and thighs. Place in a bag and let sit (preferably) overnight; however for this recipe I only let them marinate about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 250°F.
Heat the duck fat on the stove until melted.
Transfer the legs and thighs to a deep Dutch oven. Add a couple springs of fresh sage and 4 whole peeled garlic cloves. Pour melted duck fat over the turkey. Make sure all of the legs and thighs are submerged. Cook this for 3-4 hours uncovered. You want to make sure the turkey is very tender and cooked through.
Remove from oven. Let sit at room temperature for about 2 hours. Keep in the Dutch oven and transfer to fridge when cool and cover. The confit is complete at this point and ready for use. It can stay in the fridge for a few days.
To prepare the confit for the roulade, gently reheat the confit in its fat on the stove and only when warm, carefully lift out the legs and thighs. Remove the meat from the bones and process in your food processor (pulse so that you have control) until coarsely ground.
Add enough gravy from the roasted turkey to give it a spreading consistency. You will have leftover confit to enjoy.
4 cups fresh cranberries (should be equal to one bag at the grocery store)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 cinnamon stick
¼ cup bourbon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
Toss everything into a small saucepan and cook at medium-low heat, stirring periodically. Reduce until you get to a compote consistency. Remove cinnamon stick and process the mixture in a food processor until smooth. Refrigerate
I used a very simple recipe that I found on Epicurious. I needed something relatively plain but with all of the traditional ingredients…parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, all from my garden.
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for baking dish
1 pound good-quality, day-old white bread, torn into 1″ pieces (about 10 cups)
2 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions
1 1/2 cups celery, sliced in 1/4″ pieces
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided
2 large eggs
Preheat oven to 250°F. Butter a 13x9x2-inch baking dish and set aside. Scatter bread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake, stirring occasionally, until dried out, about 1 hour. Let cool; transfer to a very large bowl.
Meanwhile, melt 3/4 cup butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add onions and celery. Stir often until just beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Add to bowl with bread; stir in herbs, salt, and pepper. Drizzle in 1 1/4 cups broth and toss gently. Let cool.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Whisk 1 1/4 cups broth and eggs in a small bowl. Add to bread mixture; fold gently until thoroughly combined. Transfer to prepared dish, cover with foil, and bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of dressing registers 160°F, about 40 minutes. DO AHEAD: Dressing can be made 1 day ahead. Uncover; let cool. Cover; chill.
Bake dressing, uncovered, until set and top is browned and crisp, 40-45 minutes longer (if chilled, add 10-15 minutes).
PREPPING THE ROULADE
I use a ½ skinned, boned turkey breast (Reserve bones and skin for another use.) and 1 sheet of puff pastry dough.
Lay turkey breast skin side down (sans skin) on a long sheet of plastic wrap to aid in rolling the roulade later.
It’s important to make sure that the turkey breast half is uniform before pounding. So, it may be necessary for you to butterfly a portion of the breast that is thicker. Place in plastic bag and pound to ½-3/4 inch thick. Turkey breast halves are not symmetrical. You may need to do some trimming. Use the turkey tenderloin to fill in open spots.
Spread an even coat of the cranberry compote all over the breast.
Spread the confit in an even layer over the compote. Press down.
Spread an even layer of the dressing over the confit. Press down.
Do your best to maintain the integrity of the layers.
Use the plastic wrap to roll the turkey breast. Parts may fall out the sides but don’t worry. You will stuff them back in and use the plastic wrap to form the roulade. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate 4 to 12 hours.
It is now time to wrap the roulade with puff pastry dough. You will need only one sheet per half breast. Roll it out very thin (1/16 to 1/8 inch). Make sure your roulade will fit on the pastry sheet and be fully covered front to back. You will need a couple of inches on each side. Remove the plastic wrap from the rolled breast and cover the breast with the pastry sheet. On the sides, cut away extra dough (it won’t cook through) and seal the ends by tucking them underneath the roulade. Place on a jelly roll pan lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Remove and make fine cuts into the pastry diagonally across the top. Brush with an egg wash and bake in a 350° preheated oven for 1 hour or until crust is golden brown and turkey registers 165°.
If there are fluids around the roast, carefully discard them. Allow roulade to rest 15 to 20 minutes. Carefully slice and serve with gravy and the remaining Cranberry Bourbon Compote.
Elegant, the whole dinner in one roulade! Mission accomplished!
What’s your favorite way to prepare your Thanksgiving turkey? Please leave a comment for Beth and let her know your thoughts or ask her a question.
Anyone can make a Halloween party festive–but how about the next day when the neighborhood is taking down the decorations? Well, our little street in central San Diego is Halloween crazy! We love to go overboard for our trick or treaters. It takes a lot of effort to make sure every possible realistic creepy crawly bug, warty witch’s nose, and fake bloody appendage is artfully displayed. It’s a ghoulish feast for the eyes. That’s the fun part. But, as everyone knows, the clean up is always a drag.
So, I thought it would be fun on that chilly weekend to make a pot of soup that I could share with my friends on the block who were wearily packing up random pumpkins and spider webs, talking skulls, and tired ghosts. And what better soup than a creamy butternut squash soup? It’s easy to make, irresistibly tasty, and very healthy. I especially enjoy the nice touch of acid from the Granny Smith apples I add to balance the sweetness of the squash. And the squash itself, with its smooth skin, is much easier to work with (as in peel) than ribbed pumpkins.
This a great soup for families, of course. Perfect for the personal chef who has soup-loving clients. You can make it vegetarian by substituting vegetable stock for the chicken stock. And, here’s a quick tip for you to expedite the vegetables softening: chop them into small, 1/2-inch pieces.
Simple Soup for a Group
Serves 10 to 12
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium yellow onions, fine chopped
2 celery ribs, fine chopped
2 carrots, fine chopped
2 butternut squash, peeled, chopped, and seeded
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, chopped
6 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup minced chives for garnish
Smoked paprika for garnish
Heat a large soup pot to medium high. Melt the butter and add the mirepoix (the onions, celery, and carrots). Stir and saute for five to seven minutes or until the vegetables are softened and the onions opaque. Do not allow them to brown.
Stir in the squash, apples, chicken stock, and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes until all the vegetables are soft.
Puree the soup in a blender or Vitamix (let cool first) or immediately with an immersion blender until smooth.
Stir in seasonings. Taste and adjust seasonings.
To serve, stir in a dollop of sour cream or heavy whipping cream, and garnish with minced chives and a sprinkling of smoked paprika for an added dash of flavor.
Serve with a tossed salad, cheese and fruit board, and a crisp Chardonnay.
What’s your favorite cold weather soup to make for clients (or yourself)?
On Oct. 19 one of the most prestigious moments of my culinary career took place when–with the smack of a spatula–I was inducted into the Disciples of Escoffier. At a magnificent gala at the InterContinental The Clement on Cannery Row in Monterey (which I actually also co-emceed along with Disciple and Les Dames d’Escoffier’s Mary Chamberlin), nine of us were brought into this premier international gastronomic society, established in France, which honors the memory of Auguste Escoffier, the father of modern French cuisine. The society’s mission is to promote and preserve his work, and promote culinary education and apprenticeships encouraging young people to discover the desire and motivation to work as professional chefs.
Proceeds from the gala, hosted by The American Institute of Wine & Food and Les Dames d’Escoffier Monterey chapter are slated to provide a full culinary scholarship to a Northern California student to the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts. My friend Michel Escoffier, Auguste Escoffier’s great-grandson, oversaw the induction.
And, in fact, I received my Red Disciples of Escoffier chef sash from him, as Mary looked on.
So, what kind of company was I in? The other inductees included:
- Executive chef Thomas Keller of the French Laundry and Per Se
- Chief Pierre Bain of Fandangos
- Executive Chef Nathan Beriau of the Ritz Carlton, San Francisco
- Wine Producer and Owner Bill Stahl of River Ranch Vineyards
- Chef Tene Shake, President of the American Culinary Federation
- Executive Chef Robert Mancuso of the Bohemian Club
- Chef John Pisto, Restaurateur and host of “Monterey’s Cookin’ Pisto Style”
- Executive Chef Ben Diaz of Rosa Mexicano
Additionally, Chef Cal Stamenov of Bernardus Lodge & Spa, and a Disciple of Escoffier, was honored. And, Mary presented a donation to chef Paul Lee from the Drummond Culinary Academy at Rancho Cielo Youth Campus, a Salinas nonprofit that works with at-risk youth, teaching them the skills to work in our local culinary and hospitality industry. Dennis and I donated a full live seminar experience, a year’s personal mentoring, and a full year membership in APPCA to a graduate of the Drummond Culinary Academy.
As wonderful as the event was–and it was special–my take aways from being inducted into such a high-profile and exclusive culinary society are two-fold. Personally, it was a humbling, enlivening, and deeply meaningful experience. Only the cream of the culinary industry is ever considered or invited to participate in this society that protects and practices the legacy, philosophy, and culinary skill of Auguste Escoffier. I simply didn’t see it coming, especially since traditionally they haven’t inducted women. So, it was enlivening from the standpoint that I am one of the few women–and the only one in this group–inducted into the society to date. And, of course, it was meaningful as a public recognition of a lifelong career that has focused on establishing a different kind of career for chefs.
That, in turn, makes this an honor that reflects on the worthiness of our organization and the success of our members. It’s a clear validation of the personal chef career path. It’s validation that the level of skill and commitment to professionalism held by personal and private chefs is as real as it is for executive chefs in the commercial kitchens of the finest restaurants and hotels and private clubs throughout the world. The Disciples of Escoffier recognize this–and recognize the value of our organization as a means of building, promoting, and protecting this career path. In being honored with this induction into this great society, APPCA and its members have also been honored.
Now I can’t duplicate the breathtaking champagne toast by saber from that evening, but I raise a virtual glass to all of you, our APPCA members, who have also dedicated your lives to a career that seeks to bring joy, health, and well-being to clients through the food we create for them. Whenever you have a moment when life is just too crazy or you’re feeling frustrated–and we all have them–you can fend off that negativity by telling yourself that you are doing good work and that your path has been acknowledged by the best in your industry as being special and worthy of the highest honor.
I swear I’m seeing winter squash everywhere these days–not just at the market, but even at random places like Target. Everyone’s selling them–and not just the traditional Charlie Brown Halloween pumpkin but all sorts of interesting varieties like big Fairytale and Cinderellas, Sweet Dumplings and Tiger Stripes, L’il Tigers, and Blues. I’m sure you have your favorites in your region, but if there’s an opportunity to experiment with varieties you haven’t tried, give it a go.
Winter squash are a marvelously deceptive vegetable. They look so hard and tough and impenetrable, but cook up to some of the sweetest and tenderest of edibles. I love the variety of clothing they wear–soothing cream, sexy blue, bright orange, rocking stripes, dappled sprays of color. But it’s only skin deep. Peel any of these hard squash and you get a glorious orange flesh that surrounds what may be the best part of all–the seeds.
The flavors of a freshly cooked pumpkin are so beyond what you get with the canned version that it’s worth the effort to peel and clean them for everything from pies and muffins to stews and soups. I love roasting pumpkin with other vegetables for a thick mellow soup. And, I enjoy chopping them up and adding the pieces to sweet and savory ingredients for a one-dish baked meal.
No doubt most of you use a traditional casserole dish or perhaps a high-quality enameled cast-iron pot to make a large one-dish meal. I love those, too, but I’m going to invite you to try something very traditional but perhaps new to you: cooking in clay pots.
If you are a cookbook junkie you’re probably familiar with longtime food writer and teacher Paula Wolfert. Her expertise is Mediterranean cooking and she wrote a book a few years ago called Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking that won over many fans, including our friend Caron Golden, who has since been collecting clay pots of all kinds and experimenting.
Winter squash is the perfect ingredient for this style of cooking. All you need is a stoneware pot. Caron used this gorgeous silky brown 2 1/2-quart casserole made by San Diego potter Roberta Klein to make the dish below. Don’t worry about it cracking. As long as you don’t preheat the oven, but instead let the pot warm with the rising temperature, it should be fine. And, of course, make sure that the glaze is lead free.
Caron came up with a recipe for a one-pot winter squash dish based on ingredients she happened to have in her kitchen, other than the squash. You can find frozen giant Cuzco corn at Latin markets. Native to Peru, they’re filled with protein, and have a dense chewy texture, making them perfect for stews and soups because they keep their shape. But if you can’t find them, just add something else like garbanzo beans. Same with the sausage. In her one-dish meal she added a couple of spicy and sweet apricot chipotle pork sausages she bought from a local rancher. While its juices and meat added a lot of flavor and some nice heat, this dish would work just as well without meat for a vegetarian meal–or with other protein selections.
Serve this with a hearty grain like quinoa, wild rice, barley, farro, or kasha (buckwheat groats).
Clay Pot Winter Squash
2 pounds winter squash, peeled, seeded, and chopped into 1-inch pieces (save the squash seeds)
1/2 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups giant Cuzco corn (you can find frozen in Hispanic markets)
1 cup golden raisins or other dried fruit
2 large fresh sausages, sliced
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup olive oil or 1/4 cup olive oil and 1/4 cup pumpkin or butternut squash oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar, plus more to sprinkle on toward end of baking
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
ground pepper to taste
1. Combine all the ingredients except the squash seeds and extra brown sugar and mix well. Add to 2 1/2-quart or larger stoneware pot and cover. Place the pot in the middle rack of the oven. Heat oven to 375. Bake.
2. Put squash seeds in a colander and rinse, separating the seeds from one another and the squash fibers. Let dry. Then toss with olive oil and salt. Spread on a baking sheet or aluminum foil. Toast in the oven with the squash for about 10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool.
3. Check the squash at about an hour and 15 minutes. If the squash isn’t completely cooked through, cover and cook another 15 minutes. When it is cooked through, sprinkle the mixture with brown sugar and let cook another 15 minutes uncovered. Remove from the oven and serve, sprinkling with toasted squash seeds to garnish.
Do you cook with clay pots? What’s your favorite, most unusual recipe?