Thursday, November 15, 2007

All Day Event!

I was thinking about Thanksgiving day and what usually takes place during a normal holiday. Reflecting back over the years, I think of family and sometimes friends getting together to enjoy really good food, drinks and fellowship but I know of so many families that only gather at dinner time and then there may be a little relaxation and then it’s dessert and after only a few hours it’s time to go home.

To me it’s kind of a shame to put all that work into a great meal, only to be doing the dishes in a couple of hours and miss time with your family and guests, especially those that come from out of town. To me, this day should be an all day event.

If this sounds like your family why not try this to make it a nice day to enjoy family and friends. Try inviting them over early around noon to a nice spread of appetizers which can include a delicious cheese tray, fruit tray, bruchetta’s, maybe shrimp cocktail and crackers and dips. Have the family munch while you put in the turkey and sides etc. This will give you, the home chef, time to relax before dinner and actually have time to enjoy the company of your guests while the dinner is in the oven. Have the big dinner around 4or 5 in the evening.

Here are a couple of recipes for your pre-dinner party:
Sweet Cajun Shrimp

1 lb Large raw Shrimp (U-15's shelled and devined) rinsed and dried with paper towels
¼ C. Lemon infused olive oil
2 Ts. Cajun/Creole spice
2 Tbs. Honey
2 Ts. Soy Sauce
1 Clove Garlic (minced)
2 Tbs. Chopped Parsley
2 Tbs. Butter

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
2. Combine oil, Cajun spice, honey, soy, garlic in oven proof dish (6x8 ceramic). Stir well
3. Add shrimp to mixture. Let marinade for 15 minutes.
4. Bake shrimp in marinade until opaque 8-10min. remove from oven.
5. remove shrimp from dish and reserve mixture and heat a sauté pan and melt the butter
6. Add the sauce mixture to melted butter and stir with a whisk and cook down to thicken. 1-2 minutes. Add shrimp to pan and toss in thickened sauce to coat.
7. Plate shrimp and drizzle with some of sauce and sprinkle fresh chopped parsley to garnish
Makes 2 servings

Simple and Quick Bruchetta

1 loaf Italian baguette sliced in ½ in thick pieces on the bias
3 cloves of garlic
Olive Oil – extra virgin from 1st cold press
Olive tapanade
Tomato tapanade (both can be bought at you local grocier)
Freshly graded parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place sliced bread on a large sheet pan. Place in oven to crisp bread about 8 to 10 minutes. Take out bread from oven and let cool until able to handle with hands, only a minute or so. Slice a clove of garlic in half and rub cut end on 1 side of the bread slices. Top bread with each kind of Tapanade, drizzle with olive oil and then sprinkle with freshly graded parmesan cheese. Place on a serving platter and serve. Enjoy!

The Home Chef

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Thanksgiving Continued

As stated in yesterdays post, planning is the key to a stress free holiday season. I myself get a true joy of planning for the holidays. Cooking and preparing a large spread of delicious food for everyone gives me a sense of satisfaction that doesn’t come with other things. Working in a restaurant only gives you a few short moments of satisfaction because most of your day is handling several items at one time and usually isn’t in the preparation if the food. Managing a commercial kitchen is made up of deliveries, employee problems, quality issues, equipment problems and many others but cooking for family and friends when planned and executed correctly will give you a great sense of satisfaction and joy.

What are you planning for this holiday season? Is it the usual turkey cooked the same way you have fixed it that last ten years in a row or do you have the confidence in trying something new to your recipe? I love trying new recipes or creating my own. Maybe it’s time for you to venture out and try something new too!

Here are some recipes I found online you may want to try from the food network. I will be featuring my own recipes in the next couple of days.
Roast Turkey with Gravy

Please continue to check in on this blog several times a week. I will be adding some exciting items soon such as cookware reviews and suggestions, recipes from my own creation and some of which I have tried and loved. I will also be adding some restaurant reviews now and then along with some of my favorite places to shop for high quality foods and some great wines. I want to also add some menu’s for your daily home cooking. It’s always great to get a recipe on how to fix a nice main dish like fish, chicken, beef, pork or lamb but you usually don’t have good suggestions on what sides to serve with it. The simple dishes of corn, greenbeans or the grocery box sides can get pretty boring and I don’t ever suggest them. Yes, they are good in a flash but wouldn’t you rather have something fresh and much more delicious that may only take a few more minutes to create? I know I would and do.

Please leave a comment on what you think so far and also what kind of content you would like to see in this blog. I look forward to reading them. Here’s to great cooking and good times!

The Home Chef

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Thanksgiving and Fine Home Cooking

This blog is a celebration of food, cooking, wine, festivity, and a bounty that draws people from all walks of life together. It’s the season of Thanksgiving and in just over a week millions of people will be gathering together for good fellowship, good food, good wine and much more.

When I think of this holiday there is something inside me that reverts to my childhood. I am reminded of good times with family getting together to celebrate and enjoy the best of home cooking from many different family members. Everyone would bring their best dish to the party and all would enjoy the bounty before them.

Today, I start several weeks out thinking of different recipes, from how to prepare the bird to what kind of sides I want to prepare that everyone would enjoy. This takes time to really prepare a delicious menu and to please everyone on the guest list. Even this very moment my mind races to what would be the best combination of food and spices that will create a fantastic meal. Of course the menu can’t be the same as last year because that would be like eating the same meal as I did yesterday. Where’s the fun in that?

Cooking for the holidays doesn’t have to be drudgery either. It should be an enjoyable event, especially for the one who is cooking. Preparing a fantastic meal is just that, preparing! Here are some easy tips I feel really help me in planning for a big day of eats and takes some of the stress away which can accompany the holidays.

First, start with a guest list. The key to planning a good menu is to know who your audience will be and what kind of food they like. Yes, I know that most homes will have a nice big Tom Turkey on the table but it doesn’t have to be the same old bird you have every year. There are so many ways to cook a delicious bird that there isn’t enough room on this page to list them. Secondly, know what kind of food your guests like, do they have any food allergies to be aware of. Lastly, create a menu. You will need the main dish, and several sides and of course the condiments. Write everything out that you think you want on the menu. It’s ok to go back and add more or delete some dishes but once you come up with what you want to be served, decide if you are going to ask other guests to cook some of the menu or if you will have them bring their own special dish. If you go this route it’s good to ask what they will bring so you can either mark something off the list if you wish.

After you have created the menu then write out each dish and what you will need to create it especially spices, herbs etc. It will really put a damper on your day if you look into your pantry and you’re out of something vital the day you want to cook it, especially if all the stores are closed. Next, decide what can be made a day or two in advance such as homemade stock, croutons for stuffing, cranberry sauce etc. The last thing you want to do is try to prepare the entire meal for several people the day of so get done all that can be without diminishing from the quality of the dish.

More to come in the next day or two.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Coming soon

Newly created blog for the daily home chef. Will be posting soon. Please check back daily. I'm looking forward to sharing with you.
Home Chef