It does so matter how you slice it!

Last Thankgiving for the first time I had the most beautiful platter of neat turkey slices. I followed this video from the NY Times.

The man is a genius!! End of turkey hassles! The only thing I did differently (and it actually worked even better) was I removed the drumstick first and then held on to the thigh bone and slid my knife down that bone to remove it with no meat on it. Then it was a simple matter to remove the thigh - whole! Slicing boneless meat is a breeze! We will never carve a turkey on the bone again! My platter looked just as great as his! We should have taken a picture!

Thanksgiving - if it ain't broke, don't fix it!

I’m scared. I’ve been toying with the idea of making all new dishes for Thanksgiving this year, but I keep hearing that old mantra in my head: “You don’t mess with Thanksgiving!” Why fix something that’s not broken?

Former long-time Fullerton resident, Linda Gomberg, seconds the notion. The five Gomberg children and their four spouses, plus 12 grandchildren, will gather in the Gomberg home, as they do every year, to enjoy a menu that seldom varies.

“One time I switched out and bought a different kind of squash for my apple stuffed squash, and they went crazy,” she recalled. “I have so many people, and they all know what to expect.”

Daughter-in-law Glenda will bring the mashed potatoes. Daughter-in-law Carolyn will make her fat-free, sugar-free pumpkin pie. Linda will serve two kinds of stuffing with homemade croutons.

“I stuff the bird with giblet stuffing and make an extra vegetable stuffing with no drippings for my vegetarian granddaughter,” she added.

“(Husband) Ray likes candied sweet potatoes, and I love turkey, especially the wings. I buy extra wings and legs and have been making it the same way for forty years.” Green beans with almonds rounds out the menu.

“We’ve got one diabetic, one fat-watcher, various weight-conscious people and a vegetarian,” Linda noted.

The weight-conscious will need all their will power to resist the desserts: “I’ll make a chocolate fudge pie, pecan pie, key lime pie, and I always do a chocolate chip bundt cake. I buy a sugar-free apple or cherry pie.”

But Thanksgiving dinner is just the beginning of the Gomberg celebration. On Friday the whole gang (all 23 of them) will take off for Desert Springs, leftovers in coolers, as they have been doing for years, for a weekend of family fun. Full story with recipe

Posted in Submitted by Judy on Sat, 11/23/2013 - 10:19am.

Cranberry-Fig Chutney with Cinnamon and Pistachios

Okay I lied. I did make one new dish and it is in the freezer as we speak. I didn't add the pistachios - I will do that last minute.

The original recipe was from Julie Sahni, but I combined it with a bunch of things I saw in other recipes. Julie called for a whole teaspoon of cayenne. I used 1/4 teaspoon and it still has quite a kick, so I'm suggesting you start with 1/8. I added the lemon juice, honey, pomegranate molasses, preserves and cumin and substituted apricots for the raisins. Sahni has you cook the pistachios in the chutney but I like the crunch of adding them last minute. Also, it was my idea to saute the shallots first. That little bit of margarine gives a nice flavor. Anyway, I thought it was delicious!

Here's the recipe:

Cranberry-Fig Chutney with Cinnamon and Pistachios
makes about 7 cups

Posted in Submitted by Judy on Sat, 11/23/2013 - 10:18am.

Thanksgiving tips from famous chefs

I met chef Annie Miler of Clementine (across from Century City, 310-552-1080) and award-winning pastry chef Sherry Yard of Wolfgang Puck’s Spago in Beverly Hills (310-385-0880) a few years ago at a gala fundraiser for Women’s Chefs and Restaurateurs (WCR). I couldn’t resist the opportunity and asked them to give us some tips for the holidays.

“Thanksgiving is about cooking with your friends and family, not about being one person performing,” said Miler. “That’s what makes it stressful. Relax!”

The day prior to Thanksgiving is the single busiest day of the year for Clementine, she noted. “I always have a set of family members here before Thanksgiving and Christmas to help pack gravy and get the orders out. For our own dinner I could just order from Clementine, but this year my mom wants to make everything herself. After days of packing gravy she may decide to order!”

“Desserts like apple pie and pumpkin pie always taste better the next day,” observed Yard, “so why not make them the day before. And this will free the oven to let the turkey spread its wings!”

She also suggested measuring and prepping ingredients for dishes that need last-minute attention the night before.

Try a trifle for an easy, but showy dessert, she suggested. “Buy some gingerbread cake and layer it with whipped cream – fold in candied ginger – and sprinkle the cake with a simple syrup made with brandy or Jack Daniels.”

For an easy take on Miler’s hors d’oevre, serve bruschetta: roasted balsamic onions on toasted French or Italian bread slices.

Sherry Yard’s intense and velvety chocolate ganache is the basis of so many memorable desserts from truffles to mousse. For her “It” tart, pour the ganache into tart shells and top with tiny grapes that have been rolled in melted chocolate (no need to temper), then dusted with cocoa powder.

Posted in Submitted by Judy on Sat, 11/23/2013 - 10:14am.

What about the leftovers???

You’ve done it again, haven’t you? It’s Thanksgiving and you’ve made way too much food. Again. That beautiful bird getting its final basting today will be tomorrow’s turkey mole or turkey pot pie. The bones will become a hearty soup, and by next week your family will be singing in chorus, “Oh, no, not stuffing and sweet potatoes again!”

Every leftover will find a home, but where will the cranberry sauce end up, in the disposal?

If you’re like me and can’t stand waste, here are some fresh ideas for recycling today’s gleaming red relish into tomorrow’s tasty treats.

Whether you are using canned whole berry cranberry sauce or making your own, use it instead of sweetened applesauce in your favorite cake or bread recipe. Try adding some instead of ketchup next time you make meat loaf (1/2 cup to 2 pounds meat). Use the whole berry or the melted jellied mixed with chili sauce for a zippy topping for chicken or meat balls or mix either with some honey or maple syrup (2/3 to 1/3) as a glaze for a roast.

After today’s cooking extravaganza the thought of preparing any of these may leave you breathless. Freeze the leftover cranberry sauce in ice cube trays so you can use what you need later.

To most of us the name Ocean Spray is synonymous with cranberries, and indeed 70% of the world’s cranberry consumption comes from Ocean Spray. Once we had our own Ocean Spray bottling plant right here in my home town, Fullerton. Full story with recipe

Posted in Submitted by Judy on Sat, 11/23/2013 - 9:56am.

Yams or sweet potatoes? Sweet confusion!

Thanksgiving is around the corner, and even those who count the can opener as their favorite (and only) kitchen tool are planning to pull out all the stops for this feeding frenzy of a holiday. Decisions, decisions, decisions. Fresh turkey or frozen. Free range or…not. To brine or not to brine. And that’s just the main dish. Come to the side of the plate, and the real confusion begins. What on earth is the difference between sweet potatoes and yams? Well, when it comes to potatoes I know whom to turn to.

Distinguished cookbook editor Roy Finamore, with Fine Cooking magazine's Molly Stevens, offers 300 exciting, spud-studded recipes from appetizers, soups and salads through main courses, breads and even desserts in One Potato, Two Potato (Houghton Mifflin), an encyclopedic, lavishly photographed guide to everything you ever wanted to know about this humble vegetable.

Sweet potatoes, botanically unrelated to the potato, but included in the book nonetheless, are often mislabeled as "yams," Finamore explains. The true yam is more like the potato and not nearly as sweet as the sweet potato. Its texture upon cooking is also more like that of the potato, rather than the custardy texture of the sweet potato. Chances are your candied “yams” are really candied sweet potatoes.

“It’s an American thing, this confusion,” writes Finamore, who credits vegetable authority Elizabeth Schneider for tracing the mix-up to the African slaves, who began calling the American sweet potato “yams” because of their resemblance to the yams they remembered back home. “But the resemblance ends there,” continues Finamore. “Yams and sweet potatoes come from different families and have different flavors and different uses.” Full story with recipe

Posted in Submitted by Judy on Sat, 11/23/2013 - 9:49am.

Season for abundance at the Kremers

If you’re reading this on an empty stomach, go get a snack. Prepare to salivate!

My friend Gloria Kremer is a divine cook who loves to try new recipes while maintaining family traditions. And from the sound of her menu…well, talk about a groaning board!

“For Thanksgiving I like abundance,” she said when I called to ask what’s cooking. “Our Thanksgiving menu is very traditional. Many of the recipes are from my Italian mother’s wonderful cooking.”

Planned so far are mashed potatoes, herb stuffing, corn, glazed sweet potatoes, carrots with caramelized pearl onions, Brussels sprouts with Hollandaise sauce, green salad with mesclun mix, thin apple slices, caramelized walnuts, feta cheese and raspberry dressing, another salad she calls “simple” Caesar salad… “and for good measure a frozen fruit salad the little ones love with banana slices, fresh pineapple, cherries, sour cream, sugar and lemon juice that I freeze in paper-lined muffin tins.”

And let’s not forget the appetizers. Daughter-in-law Amy’s sister will make a wonderful layered spread with goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and pine nuts. “I’ll probably do a hot artichoke dip or maybe caponata, plus crudités and dip,” Gloria added.

Then of course there’s the turkey. “I always use a big Butterball,” she told me, “although my mother preferred a hen. I think years ago the Toms really were tough, but I don’t think that’s true anymore. And besides, hens are smaller, which means I’d have to get two, and I don’t want to tie up two ovens.”

Posted in Submitted by Judy on Sat, 11/23/2013 - 9:42am.

Tasty twist to healthy Thanksgiving eats

My friend Eileen Cohen knows her chocolate. In a blind taste test she can tell Tobleron from Godiva with her hands tied behind her back.

That’s why, when she raved about the chocolate mousse that nutrition expert and cookbook author Jennifer Flynn had served, I was intrigued. A healthy chocolate mousse? What was the secret? Would you believe avocado?

“Nobody believes me when I tell them they are eating avocado,” said Flynn, author of “The Super Food Generation: 14 Foods That Get You Glowing.”

“It’s amazing how well the other ingredients mask the flavor of this buttery fruit. The heart-healthy fat of the avocado is a perfect replacement for the dairy cream used in traditional mousse.”

Flynn became a vegetarian when a friend brought her an article about the conditions in slaughterhouses.

“I’m a really big animal lover, and I thought, I don’t want to be a part of this. My family didn’t think it would last, but I started paying attention to ingredients and noticing the hidden animal byproducts and ingredients you can’t even pronounce the names of.”

“The Super Food Generation” is not a diet book. “I wanted to get back to basics and promote healthy foods and ingredients rather than a particular diet,” she explained. “I want people be open-minded and not think so much about having to stick to a diet, but become more familiar with the healthy foods out there and adapt them to their own particular diet.”

Besides the avocado, pumpkin – along with carrots, sweet potatoes and its relatives in the squash family – is another of the 14 super foods that work “synergistically with the human body to unlock vitality, strengthen immunity and literally slow down the aging process,” Flynn writes.

Excuse me? Pumpkin Pie a health food? We’re talking about a healthy Thanksgiving feast now?

Posted in Submitted by Judy on Wed, 11/20/2013 - 7:07pm.


A delightful Internet urban legend concerns a diner who supposedly tasted this scrumptious cookie at the Neiman-Marcus Cafe and asked for the recipe. When her request was denied, she asked if she could purchase it, and the waitress quoted her two-fifty. When she got her monthly statement, the store had charged her $250! She tried to return it, but was again denied, so she vowed to get even by faxing and emailing this recipe to everyone she knew and asking them to pass it on to others. (A lovely hoax, but at least this one isn’t scaring the bejeebies out of us about carjackings and exploding cell phones.) 
Years ago I saw the same recipe touted as Mrs. Fields' classic, although Mrs. Fields too has denied it. But everyone I've ever served them to says who cares if it's the original. It's just as good or better!

5 cups rolled oats
4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature 
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups brown sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
24 ounces chocolate chips
1 Hershey chocolate bar (8 ounces), grated
3 cups chopped walnuts

1. Preheat the oven to 375° F.  Have ready several ungreased baking sheets.
2. Process the oatmeal in a blender to a fine powder and place in a large bowl. Stir in the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda and set aside.
3. Cream the butter and both sugars with an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 90 seconds. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until combined, about 1 minute more. Reduce the speed to low and blend in the flour mixture just until incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips, grated chocolate, and walnuts.

Posted in Submitted by Judy on Thu, 05/23/2013 - 9:32pm.

My new favorite brisket recipe

Some people – even great cooks – spend their entire lives with only one brisket recipe in their repertoires. Sure, they’ll try the newest crostini or cloufuti, but their brisket is somehow sacrosanct, unchanged through the decades (not that there’s anything wrong with that!)

Me, I flit merrily from brisket to brisket as the mood hits. My current brisket du jour – or I perhaps I should say du anne, as I’ve been making it all year – was inspired by a recipe from one of my favorite chefs, Sara Moulton. (And her husband is Jewish, so she should know!)

Here are my modifications (besides some slight changes in amounts of ingredients): I roast the garlic and then add it to the gravy. I use a whole can of tomato paste and have added the onion mix and Saucy Susan. The blender thing is my idea – you get a thicker gravy while still
leaving plenty of onion bits for that homemade look and feel.

I also find with this and other braised dishes that they always taste better the next day. Another advantage is it is much easier to skim off the fat when cold. And while we’re on the subject, don’t hack off all the fat before cooking. It adds so much to the flavor and you’ll get it all later.

Sara evaporates the wine; I don’t do this. I get a ton of gravy, just the ticket, because no matter what brisket recipe I’m making, I’d better do my mother-in-law’s potatoes and carrots or face that close-but-no-cigar look on my husband’s face.

Posted in Submitted by Judy on Wed, 05/22/2013 - 9:31am.
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