Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Gulliver's Corn

Every year this dish is the most requested from any of my classes, and from my family.  It seems a shame that not everyone has this recipe, it's in both Perfect Party Food, and Happy Holidays from the Diva of Do-Ahead, and it's not only simple to make you can do it ahead, and then pop it into the oven to finish cooking.  You don't want to miss this dish, it's the best creamed corn you will ever eat and it's kid friendly!

Gulliver’s Creamed Corn
Serves 8 to 10

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese        
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Two 16-ounce bags frozen white corn, defrosted, or kernels cut from 8 ears of sweet corn
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1.      Brush a 13 x 9-inch baking dish with some of the butter.  Sprinkle 1/3 cup of the Parmesan over the bottom of the dish and tilt so the cheese is evenly distributed and adheres to the butter.  (or if you would like, you can use 4-ounce ramekins for individual servings)
2.      In a 4-quart saucepan, heat the cream until it begins to boil.  Add the corn, salt, and sugar, and heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is almost at a boil   
3.      In the meantime, make a paste out of the remaining melted butter and the flour. Stir it into the mixture in the saucepan and cook until thickened and the liquid does come to a boil.  Remove the pan from the heat, transfer the mixture to the prepared dish, and sprinkle with the remaining 1/3 cup of cheese.
4.      Do-Ahead: At this point, you can let cool, cover, and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month. Bring to room temperature before continuing.
5.      Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the corn dish until bubbling and golden brown, about 30 minutes.  (Individual ramekins will take about 15 to 20 minutes)
Lower Fat Option: If you would prefer to skip the cream, try whole milk; it’s not as luxurious, but it does the job.

Just don't get mixed up with the leftover Halloween candy and try and make it with these!
I'll be back with some more later this week.  For now, enjoy your evening. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

A Few Tips for Thanksgiving

With the Thanksgiving holiday rapidly approaching, I thought I'd share some tips for being prepared.  No matter how many people you are serving for the big day, make sure to have a game plan.  No one ever gave a great party without a great plan.  So here are my top 10 tips for having a less stressful Thanksgiving holiday.

1.  Write out your menu, from the menu figure out quantities that you will need and write out a shopping list.  
2.  Shop for non-perishable items and items that will keep for 10 days (butter, heavy cream) now; include paper goods, wine/beer, liquor and soft drinks on this list. 

3.   A few days before Thanksgiving, set the table, and cover it with a sheet to protect it from kids/pets and dust.

4.  Get your knives sharpened this week; I've never cut myself with a sharp knife, dull knives have a tendency to slip and cause disasters.
5.  Assemble all your tableware, and if you need to borrow or buy more, do it this week.

6.  Iron table linens this week, or send them to the laundry to be professionally done.
7.  If you haven't already ordered your turkey, call the butcher and order one today; fresh turkeys will be limited this year.
8.  Try to make and freeze any dishes that you can make this week.  Cranberry relish can be made ahead and refrigerated. 
9.  Give yourself permission to order dishes you won't have time to make; desserts, rolls, vegetable trays should all be ordered now.  

10.  Make a calender, and plug in the pick up times for foods, and prep days for do-ahead dishes. 

These are the top 12 pieces of equipment to pull off the perfect thanksgiving dinner:
o   Heavy Duty Roasting Pan (All-Clad and Mauviel are tops here)
o   Cuisipro roasting rack with removable pin
o   Sauce whisk
o   3-quart saucier for gravy (All-Clad wins here)
o   Emile Henry or Le Creuset oven to tableware
o   Silicone food loops
o   Carving knife ( I prefer one with granton/hollow ground)
o   Silicone basting brush
o   More Than Gourmet©  Turkey Stock Base (reconstitute for gravy)or Superior Touch Better than Bouillon Turkey soup Base
o   Oxo Peeler
o   Meat thermometer (either Taylor/Polder probe, or instant read---I have both)
o   Fat separator (Oxo wins here)

Students always ask what brand of knife I recommend; any high end retail store will carry a selection of good quality knives:  Wusthof, Shun, Messermeister,  and Global are all great brands and it will come down to what feels right in your hand.  If the knife feels too heavy you will never use it, if it feels too light, it will wobble in your hand, and you won’t feel comfortable with it---make sure to test drive the knives (any reputable kitchen store will let you hold the knives, and feel which is right for you)  If you have read this blog, you know where I teach, and the staff at each of these places will take good care of you, making sure that you find the right knife to fit you. 
And promise me you will never carve the turkey at the table!  It's a recipe for disaster!  
 OK, I lied, #11 is the most important tip:  enjoy this have invited people you love to share a meal, so enjoy it.  These are memories you will make for your family and friends, so dive in and savor each moment. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Holiday Favorites #2

Sweet and Spicy Nuts from my book Perfect Party Food are a staple here at Chez Phillips; with just enough spice from cayenne, and a coating of raw sugar when they are done, these nuts are a great nibble, but they are also a terrific garnish for soups and salads and some desserts.  I usually make a huge batch and freeze them, just don't tell anyone they are in the freezer, because you may not find them when you go looking for them!

Sweet and Spicy Nuts
Makes about 2 cups

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon Lawry’s garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups pecan or walnut halves or whole almonds
3 tablespoons raw sugar

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking liner.
  2. Melt the butter in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat.  
  3. Add the granulated sugar, the seasoned salt, garlic salt, and cayenne and stir until the spices give off some aroma, 1 to 2 minutes.  Add the nuts and toss until well coated. 
  4. Transfer the nuts to the baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. 
  5. Remove from the oven and transfer the nuts in a bowl.  Sprinkle the raw sugar over the nuts and toss until coated.
  6. Do-Ahead: At this point, you can let cool, transfer to zipper-top plastic bags, and freeze for up to 6 months.
Cook’s Note: If you would like to make nuts to toss into salads, chop them before cooking them in the butter and seasonings. 
Another Note:  It’s important to use dried spices with the nuts because they become fragrant in the butter and will adhere to the nuts.  Fresh herbs and spices are terrific in other recipes, but not here.

Holiday Favorites #1

Although my posts will be short this week, I want to try and share some great do-ahead recipes for the holiday season (not just Thanksgiving)  Many years ago we had Thanksgiving at a friends' house and the first course was a curried cream of pumpkin soup; it was awesome!  Just enough, and not too much to fill you up.  It's a great do-ahead, goes together in a flash, and is delicious not only for Thanksgiving as a starter for any dinner.  Try garnishing with crostini, crispy prosciutto, a drizzle of coconut milk, or sweet and spicy nuts (more on that later)  Have a great weekend, I'll be back at odd moments to share other recipes--this is a loaded week.

Curried Cream of Pumpkin Soup
Serves 8

4 tablespoons butter
½ cup chopped onion
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 cups pumpkin puree
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups half and half
¼ cup finely chopped Italian parsley for garnish

  1. Melt the butter in a three quart saucepan and add the onion, bay leaf and curry powder.  Cook until the onion is softened, but not browned, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add the pumpkin and stock, stirring well, and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes.   
  3. Taste for seasoning after about 15 minutes, and season to taste, adding more curry powder, and/or salt.  Remove from the heat, remove the bay leaf   
  4. Do-Ahead:  at this point the soup can be cooled, and refrigerated for 4 days, or frozen for up to 1 month, bring to a simmer before proceeding) and add the half and half .   Bring the soup to serving temperature, but do not boil. Serve garnished with parsley or your favorite garnish.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

As Thanksgiving approaches, most parts of the country are finally feeling a bit of a nip in the air, and some parts have already had snow. Today it's 76 degrees here in San Diego, and although I know it's November, it feels like summer.  I love the Thanksgiving holiday, and have taught many Do-Ahead Thanksgiving classes in my day.  This is the first year I won't be teaching Thanksgiving, and since I'm not teaching, I thought I'd start giving some helpful hints and a few recipes for the holidays.
Last Friday night, I taught the Specialty Produce Farmer's Market Box class at Great News.  It's one of my favorite classes to teach, and this was the box we got that night.  One of my favorite recipes from the class is a baked cauliflower and goat cheese dip that I developed after having it at a local restaurant.  It is delicious, and a nice start to any evening, but might be a great start for your Thanksgiving meal.  It can be made ahead, and then baked when you are ready.  Make sure to have plenty of baguette slices because this one will go fast!  Buon appetito!

Baked Cauliflower and Goat Cheese Dip
Serves 6

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
Pinch red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
8 ounces goat cheese, softened
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped Italian parsley
Toasted baguette slices or fresh vegetables to dip

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat the inside of a gratin dish with non-stick cooking spray. 
  2. In a 5-quart saucepan, heat 3 quarts of salted water. Add the cauliflower, and simmer until the cauliflower is crisp/tender, about 6 minutes. 
  3. Drain thoroughly and season with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool. 
  4. In a small skillet, melt the butter, and sauté the garlic and shallot for 2 minutes, until fragrant, add the red pepper flakes, and swirl in the pan for 10 seconds. Set aside to cool.
  5. Place the cauliflower, garlic butter, Dijon mustard, cream cheese and goat cheese in a food processor, and process on and off until the mixture is smooth, with a few chunks of cauliflower. 
  6. Taste for seasoning and adjust using salt or pepper. 
  7. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish. 
  8. Do-Ahead:  At this point, you can cover and refrigerate the dip for 2 days. Before baking, remove the baking dish from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking, and proceed as directed. 
  9. In a small bowl, combine the Parmigiano, bread crumbs, oil and parsley, and stir until the crumbs are moistened. Sprinkle over top of the cauliflower mixture, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the dip is bubbling and the topping is golden brown. Spread on crackers, baguette slices, or use as a dip for vegetables.