Time is nigh for setting the table and facing that big ole mess we call family…and all that that entails. This seems to be the one holiday when everyone descends on the same day and comes with baggage instead of picnic baskets. But let’s be real – we are indeed so lucky that we can in fact gather, break bread and give thanks. I am hoping the biggest debate your gang faces on Thursday is sweet potato or pumpkin. (I’m looking at you Val – duh, pumpkin!) And my picnic basket this year is loaded with a secret weapon – a dessert that you can make a day or two ahead. Check that box. Move on. Worry about the Beaujolais Nouveau and who will do the dishes. Dessert is mission-accomplished. This pumpkin ginger cheesecake falls smack in the middle of the “consider it done” category. That of course assumes you can keep it safeguarded til after dinner on Thursday. It’s tempting.
Thanksgiving dinner often gets a bad rap for being a brown meal. But I love the vibrant colors of fall squashes, pumpkins and gourds. Use them for table settings, roast them for a side or salad, make a quick bread, or whip them up in a dessert.
Cheesecakes are pretty flawless desserts to prepare even if you haven’t made them before, as long as you follow a few simple tips. They are super sturdy, so you don’t need a deft hand. I would argue quite the opposite. You really don’t want to be dainty with the batter – don’t incorporate lots of air, do bang the pan, get aggressive. Be bold. If you follow my instructions and read the accompanying notes, you will be a star performer – dare I say, a pastry chef. Start with your ingredients at room temperature, use a good quality springform, and use a food processor, not a mixer. A processor will combine the ingredients without incorporating air which will cause the cheesecake to puff and fall, leaving a crater in the center. Allow all the time needed for cooling to room temperature and then refrigerating. It takes time, but not active time. And know that if all else fails – craters or cracks – you will be slathering a cream topping on and that can cover a multitude of mistakes. Yes, indeed. You are definitely a pastry chef.
This pumpkin ginger cheesecake is surprisingly light, yet creamy. The nutty crust has that I want more-ish quality! And, a dose of Gentleman Jack Daniels keeps the party rolling.
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup melted butter
15 ounce can pumpkin puree
24 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
5 ounces Gentleman Jack Rare Tennessee Whiskey
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoons vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground clove
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
6 eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
1 cup sour cream
2 Tablespoons Gentleman Jack Rare Tennessee Whiskey
2 Tablespoons powdered sugar
Make the Crust:
Preheat oven to 350° F. Combine flour, brown sugar, pecans, and melted butter and mix until crumbs adhere. Press into a 9 or 10″ sturdy nonstick springform pan and bake for 10 – 12 minutes. Remove and cool. Wrap pan in heavy duty foil. Reduce oven temperature to 300°F.
Make the Filling:
In food processor, puree pumpkin until smooth. Add cream cheese and puree until smooth. Add Gentleman Jack, sugar, vanilla, ginger, cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg and pulse until mixed. Add eggs and pulse 2 – 3 times only until just combined. Do not overprocess.
Pour filling into cooled crust and bang pan on the counter to eliminate extra air. Place in a roasting pan and fill with hot water, halfway up the side of the springform. Bake for 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 hours or until set. It may still be a bit wobbly in the center, but it will firm up as it cools.
Turn oven off and leave the cheesecake in the water bath in the oven for 30 minutes more. Remove the roasting pan from the oven, and carefully remove the springform from the water. Remove foil and cool on wire rack until room temperature. Refrigerate until fully chilled.
Make the Topping:
Combine sour cream, Gentleman Jack, and powdered sugar and spread on top of cheesecake. Refrigerate until set.
Gently run a knife or thin metal spatula around inside edge of pan. When cheesecake has released, open outer pan ring and remove.
Feel free to substitute a dark Rum or Bourbon if you prefer.
It’s last call for #NationalSoupMonth, and we are in the final countdown for Super Bowl LI. It seems like a good time to crack out a recipe I did for Cutty Sark Scotch – a Super Bowl campaign that involved scotch-laden wings, pigs, Kick Off Chili, cheesy bread bowls and more. Over the years, I have done more than my share of recipe development for liquor companies, but I am always particularly happy to do culinary recipes that go beyond the bar.
Sometimes the categories are wide open and I am on my own to get uber creative, and sometimes every last ounce of energy goes into meeting the numerous (inordinate?) parameters the client has identified. And other times, it’s a technical culinary challenge: find the perfect moment to add the alcohol. Add it too early and it cooks off with nary a trace; too late and it can be bitter or boozy. And, bitter and boozy is exactly what the messenger is thinking of me, when he rolls up with yet another bottle of my client’s elixir. It’s a dirty, rotten job, but somebody’s got to do it!
I have a little bit of a soft spot for Cutty Sark – my mother sometimes drank it….”Cutty and soda with a twist, for the lady,” my father would order. But not until this job did I consider adding it to chili. It is a remarkable improvement. The peaty flavors of scotch add a real depth of flavor and complexity that make this dish more than the sum of its parts. You can experiment with other brands or even other types of whisky, but like I said……the job………my mom….Cutty is what I always reach for.
You have let me know how fond you are of dump and stir recipes, so after the posole recipe, I figure I owe you. This chili is a snap to make. Other than draining the beef after browning, there is no heavy lifting. You will note that I am light on seasonings here – using all these convenience (read: canned) products means you are going to get more than your fair share of sodium. Personally, I have moved toward using low or no-sodium stock for most soups these days, but it’s the Super Bowl people….all bets are off!
This soup is perfect for a party. Make a tray of toppings and let guests add their favorites. #TouchDown
This is a spin on a recipe I once developed for Cutty Sark, as part of a Super Bowl campaign. The complex layering and depth of flavor which result from adding scotch to this dish have made it my go-to recipe when making a hearty winter chili.
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 1/2 pounds ground round
3 Tablespoons chili powder
3 Tablespoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
2 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes, and their juices
3 16-ounce cans dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
14.5 ounce can beef broth
3/4 cup Cutty Sark Scotch Whisky
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
Toppings and Serving Suggestions:
Warm Flour or Corn Tortillas
Heat oil over medium heat in a large stockpot. Add onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté an additional 2 minutes.
Turn burner to high heat and add ground round, breaking into large chunks. Cook until browned, about 10 – 12 minutes; drain off any liquid.
Add chili powder, cumin, and cayenne and stir for 1 – 2 minutes to toast spices.
Add tomatoes, beans, beef broth, scotch, and tomato paste. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Prep Time:5 minutes
Cook Time:1 hour 10 minutes
Category:Soups & Stews
Cuisine:South of the Border
It’s the last day of #NationalSoupMonth and Super Bowl is fast approaching – so shout it out!
Beets and goat cheese are a match made in heaven. Adding the goat cheese to roasted potatoes elevates this root vegetable appetizer to a whole new level of sublime.
1/4 cup fresh beet juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 clove of garlic, roasted at 350oF for 20 minutes, peeled
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 pound beets, scrubbed
1 pound baking potatoes, scrubbed
3 ounces of soft herbed goat cheese, cut into bite-sized chunks
1 Tablespoon butter
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1/3 cup milk, warmed
1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
1 medium yellow squash, thinly sliced
Make the vinaigrette:
Place all the ingredients in the blender and blend on high until emulsified. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.
Makes about ½ cup.
Make the napoleon:
Roast the beets and the potatoes at 400oF until a fork inserts easily, about one hour. When cool enough to handle, peel both.
Press the roasted potatoes through a ricer, or mash by hand. Using a handmixer, begin to whip the potatoes, while adding the goat cheese, butter, salt and pepper and slowly drizzling in enough milk to reach desired consistency. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Thinly slice the beets and set aside.
Brush the zucchini and yellow squash with oil and grill or sauté until golden, about 1 – 2 minutes per side.
In a 3-inch ring, stack the vegetables by layering the beets, then the whipped potatoes, and finish with a layer of alternating rounds of zucchini and yellow squash. Repeat, to create 6 vegetable stacks.
Transfer the napoleons to an ovenproof dish and keep warm at 200oF until ready to serve.
To serve, place the warmed napoleons in the center of the salad plate and scatter the salad mix around the outside edge. Drizzle the beet vinaigrette from the end of spoon over the greens.
Taste the Tropics. Lime-cured fish, spicy jalapeños and tropical fruit. It’s a fruity fresh twist on a traditional recipe.
1/2 pound medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
1/2 pound bay scallops, trimmed of muscle
1/2 pound salmon fillet, cut in ½ “ pieces
1 diced red pepper
3 scallions, sliced on diagonal
1 minced jalapeno
1 cup lime juice, or enough to cover
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 Tablespoons orange juice
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 mango, diced
1 pink grapefruit, cut in sections and diced, juice reserved
1 orange, cut in sections and diced, juice reserved
Salt and pepper
Garnish: Fried Plantain Chips
Blanch the shrimp in boiling water, for 1 – 2 minutes, until no longer translucent. Drain and refresh in cold water. Cut into 1/2″ pieces.
Combine shrimp, scallops, salmon, red pepper, scallions, jalapeno, and lime juice. Refrigerate, covered, for 2 – 3 hours, stirring occasionally.
Drain off most of the liquid. Whisk together olive oil, orange juice, and cilantro. Pour over fish and add mango, grapefruit, orange and their juices. Season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
This fragrant soup will warm your soul on a cold winter day. Spices and ginger create an exotic perfume and are the perfect counterbalance to roasted blueberries, with just a hint of sweetness. Coconut milk (or coconut milk drink) is a relative newcomer to the beverage market. It adds some nice richness to the soup, but only has 45 calories per cup – infinitely better than the fat-laden canned coconut milk from the tropics.
1 cup Black Japonica Rice
8 cups chicken broth, divided per below
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded, ribs removed and minced
4 pods cardamom, slightly crushed
2 teaspoons ground coriander seed
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 large potato, peeled and diced
1 cup yellow split peas, cleaned and rinsed
1 cup fresh blueberries 2 teaspoons plus 2 Tablespoons lemon juice, divided per below
In a large saucepan with tight-fitting lid, bring 2 cups chicken broth to a boil. Add black Japonica rice, stir once, and reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook 50 – 55 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and let stand covered for an additional 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil in large stockpot over medium-low heat; cook onion, garlic, ginger, jalapeno, and spices, stirring, until onion is softened and mixture is fragrant, about 5 minutes.
Add remaining 6 cups of chicken broth to pot, along with carrots, potatoes, and split peas. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 20 – 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Discard cardamom pods (they float!).
Meanwhile, place blueberries in a shallow baking dish. Combine 2 teaspoons lemon juice with honey, and drizzle over blueberries. Roast for about 7 minutes, or until blueberries are about to pop.
Blend or process soup mixture, in batches, until pureed; return to pot. Add remaining 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice, coconut milk, and tamarind paste; stir until heated through.
Divide black Japonica rice and roasted blueberries among 6 shallow soup bowls and ladle soup in. Garnish with chopped cilantro.