Sous Vide Fried Chicken and Waffles!

The consistancy of using a Sous Vide machine will result in perfectly fried chicken everytime!

We all want that bite. You know the one….that succulent, juicy tender center with that traditional crunch- golden crispy and perfectly brown everytime! Sometimes it’s hard for home cooks to achive the same results getting the interior of the chicken properly cooked while the outside may over cook.

This recipe allows the cook to achive a perfected piece of fried chicken, inside and out, every- single time!

You’ll Need:

For the Chicken

6-8 pieces of chicken, wings, legs or thighs or breasts

Salt and pepper

1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground Italian seasoning

5 cups good quality, high smoke point vegetable or peanut oil for frying

For the Flour Mixture:

3-4 cups self-rising flour

2 teaspoons Kosher salt

1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

1 tablespoon dry Italian seasoning

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

For the Egg Mixture

4 eggs, beaten 

Fresh ground pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

1/2 teaspoon ground Italian herbs

For the Waffles:

2 large eggs

1 3/4 cups buttermilk

1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled to room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup pecan or your favorite nut meal ( optional ) 

2 tablespoons palm or granulated sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

Here’s How: 

The Waffles

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat together the eggs, buttermilk, melted butter, and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.

Combine the wet and dry ingredients, stirring just until nearly smooth; a few small lumps may remain.

Spray your waffle iron with a non-stick cooking spray before preheating it. Cook waffles according to the waffle irons manufacturer’s directions. For an 8″ round waffle iron, use about 1/3 cup batter; cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the iron stops steaming. 

Serve hot, or cool and crisp in the toaster before serving. Top with room temperature butter.

The Chicken:

Set your SV Precision Cooker to 155’F Degrees / 68.3’C.

Season the raw chicken with salt, pepper and a light dusting of Italian seasoning. Place into a resealable freezer or vacuum bag. Seal airtight.

Place the sealed bag of chicken into the water bath and circulate for 2 hours. 

Prepare the waffle batter and set aside. 

When the chicken is almost done, preheat the oven to 200’F degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and a baking rack. Set aside.

Once cooked, remove the bag from the water bath. Prepare a dredging station with two casserole dishes side by side-one containing beaten seasoned egg mixture, and the other with the seasoned flour. Set aside.  

Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed fry pan or Dutch oven to exactly 350’F degrees. While the oil is heating, remove the chicken from the bag and begin dredging by gently patting the cooked chicken dry and then running the chicken pieces one-at-a-time through the egg mixture, then through the seasoned flour mixture. 

Only when the oil reaches the proper temperature, carefully lower each piece of dredged chicken into the pan. Working in batches, with tongs, turn the chicken parts after a few minutes to achieve a crisp golden-brown crust on all sides. 

Once the chicken is completely golden brown on all sides, remove from the oil, pat off any excess the oil with a paper towel, sprinkle with kosher salt. Set on the rack-lined baking sheet and place it in a 200’F degree oven until ready to serve. 

Make the waffles while chicken stays warm and crispy in the oven. Be sure to serve hot with warm maple syrup or honey!

Chef’s Note: 

Do not allow the temperature of the oil to go below 350’F degrees to achieve the optimal crunch and have oil return to the pan.

No Buttermilk? No Problem!

Combine 1 Tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice mixed into 1 cup of whole milk. Let the milk stand for 10 to 15 minutes until it thickens very slightly and curdles- boom- you have buttermilk!

Homemade English Muffins

This recipe is so user friendly and satisfying. I like to use buttermilk for a pleasant, sour tang. The use of bread flour is for an incredible chewy bite. The dough will naturally be sticky, In essence, this is a good sign; the mixture contains optimal hydration, which will yield the traditional nooks and crannies that English muffins are known for. Be sure to split open with a fork to reveal your labor. This dough tastes best when you ferment the mixture overnight, but it is not necessary. Toast them on the stovetop then finish them in the oven. So easy to make, you will be amazed. 

You’ll Need:

5 cups unbleached bread flour

3 teaspoons granulated sugar or honey

2 teaspoons salt

2 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast

1/4 water, room temperature

1 1/2 cups buttermilk, room temperature

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

Cornmeal for dusting

Cooking oil

Special Equipment:

Cast Iron Skillet

Scale 

Here’s How:

In a small bowl, add the yeast to the water, stir. Set aside and allow the yeast to begin activation. In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the dry ingredients—flour, sweetener, and salt. Fit with the dough hook and mix on low speed to combine. 

Add the activated yeast, all but 1/4 cup of the buttermilk, and the butter. Mix on medium-low speed until the ingredients form a ball. If there is still loose flour in the bowl, drizzle in some of the remaining 1/4 cup buttermilk. Continue to knead for about 8-10 minutes until the dough looks soft, but still feels tacky and pliable. 

Dust your fingertips with flour, and remove the dough from the bowl and gently form it into a ball. Spray the bottom of your mixing bowl with cooking spray and place the dough back in the mixing bowl. Turn it once to oil, to prevent a crust from forming. Cover lightly with a clean kitchen towel, and allow to rise 90 minutes in a quiet, warm location of your kitchen, or place in the refrigerator and allow the dough to ferment overnight for optimal flavor.

Prepare three sheet pans with non-stick liners and dust two with cornmeal. Set aside. 

Wipe the counter with a damp cloth and release the dough gently from the bowl. Flouring the work surface is not necessary. Divide the dough into equal pieces weighing about 3 ounces each. Gently shape the pieces into small rounds practicing special attention not to deflate.

Transfer the dough balls to the sheet pans dusted with cornmeal, spacing them about 3 inches apart. Mist them lightly with spray oil, sprinkle them loosely with cornmeal, and cover with a clean towel.

Set aside and proof the rounds at room temperature for an additional 90 minutes or until the pieces nearly double in size.

Preheat the oven to 350˚F Degrees with the oven racks distributed evenly. 

Heat a large cast-iron skillet or heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat, drizzle the pan and a wide spatula with cooking oil. 

Uncover the muffin rounds, slide an oiled spatula under rounds, and gently transfer each one to the hot oiled pan, spacing them about an inch apart. Cook undisturbed for about 5 to 8 minutes, or until the bottoms are nicely brown and both sides slightly deflate to the characteristic of an English Muffin. Carefully flip and continue to cook on the other side for 5 to 8 minutes.

Transfer the pan-cooked muffins back to the original sheet tray and immediately place them in the oven. It’s essential not to wait for the remaining rounds to cook; they will deflate further.

Bake in the oven for an additional 7-8 minutes to ensure that the center bakes through. Cool, and cut open with a fork to display the nooks and crannies.

Makes 16

DYI Marshmallow Peeps!

You know Spring has sprung when Marshmallow Peeps are on the shelves in every drug store imaginable! This season, make your own and avoid almost all the crazy ingredients found in the large manufactured varieties. Plus… soooo much fun to make!

You’ll Need

For the Colored Sugar 

3 cups granulated sugar

Yellow or pink vegetable colorants

For the Marshmallows

3 tablespoons or 2 packets of powdered gelatin

1/3 cup cold water, to activate gelatin

1 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup light corn syrup

1/4 cup water

pinch salt

1 teaspoons vanilla or another flavoring of your choice

1 tablespoon chocolate chips, melted ( for the eyes ) or a little food-safe black dye

Special Equipment

Here’s How

For the Colored Sugar

Preheat the oven to 170′ F Degrees. Line a high-sided cookie sheet with parchment and set aside. Place the granulated sugar into the bowl of your food processor. With a toothpick, add a few dabs of the yellow gel coloring. 

Pulse the processor until the sugar becomes bright yellow, while cautiously not to pulsing to a powder. Once the color is to the desired hue, turn out onto the prepared cookie sheet. Place in the oven for about an hour, occasionally stirring to help the sugar to release any additional moisture. Set aside.

For the Marshmallow

Soak the gelatin in the cold water inside the bowl of your standing mixer with the whip attachment. Stir to combine and set aside to develop for about 8-10 minutes.

In a large stock-pot, fitted with a candy thermometer, dissolve the sugar with the corn syrup and 1/4 cup of water over medium-low heat. Stir until combine, careful not to gather any sugar up the sides of the pan. Raise the temperature and bring to a boil. Boil steadily for about 15 minutes without stirring until your candy thermometer reads 240 ‘F Degrees. 

Drizzle the hot sugar mixture in a slow and steady stream down the inside of the standings mixer bowl onto the gelatin. Once the entire mixture is in, increase the speed to high, add flavoring and continue to whip for approximately 10 to 12 minutes until thick, white, and tripled in volume.

In the mean-time, spread half the colored sugar onto a clean large parchment-lined, high-sided sheet pan. 

Piping Bag Technique 

New to a piping bag, or not comfortable working this fast-setting batter? Try the silicon mold technique below.

Fill the bag a little more than halfway. Twist the open end shut and pipe 2 inch long flat ovals, about 1 inch wide. Make sure to quickly snap your wrist by pulling the tip away promptly at the end of the piping stroke. This technique will create the chick’s tail. Repeat additional bases right next to each other, slightly touching. Try to work quickly because the batter will set quickly.

Now create the crest of the chicks’ head by refilling the bag and holding it in the upright position ( 12 o’clock to 6 O’clock ) with even pressure squeeze down and pipe a large circle onto the smooth end of the oval body about as wide as the oval. As you are piping the round, slowly raise the piping bag as you continue to apply pressure creating a pyramid-type shape of marshmallow, ending the pyramid by tilting the bag 90 degrees. Stop squeezing, quickly pull up and away from the mound, forming the head and beak. Be sure to pinch off the string of marshmallow with a wet knife, fingers or oiled scissors to create the beak. 

Dust the marshmallows in the colored sugar before they set.

Use the melted chocolate and a toothpick to dot on the eyes. or black food coloring with a toothpick. Alloe the Peeps to dry. Store in an airtight container.

Silicon Mold Technique 

Lightly spray your mold with cooking spray and set it aside. With an oiled spatula, scoop the sticky mixture into your piping bag, and pipe the blend into the lightly oiled molds. 

Allow to set for about 10 minutes. Gently push the Peeps out of the mold into the sanding sugar and gently dust.

Enjoy! 

Kid Friendly Plant-Based Mac and Cheese!

My readers know how much I prefer to cook outside-the-box and supply modifications to my recipes. Parents need to pivot at any moment, and that means anything in the pantry could be on the menu. This high protein plant-based version of my Mac and Cheese recipe is also vegan. Whether you are eating plant-based or not, this twist on traditional family favorite will have your kids eating clean without dairy, dyes, or stablizers. A win-win for all! 

You’ll Need:

1 pound Elbow or Fusille Bucati pasta, cooked to manufactures directions 

1-2 tablespoons Olive oil for cooked macaroni to prevent sticking

1 can ( 15 oz ) organic Cannellini beans

3-4 tablespoons Cashew milk, or your favorite substitute

1/2 – 1 cup Daiya brand vegan cheese shreds, white or yellow cheese substitute flavors. Add additional cup if baking the optional casserole recipe

1/2 teaspoon Kosher or pink Himalayan salt 

1/8 teaspoon Garlic powder, or to taste

2 tablespoons Miyoko’s creamery European style cultured vegan butter or good quality olive oil 

Pinch of ground Turmeric

Pinch of ground Nutmeg

Pinch of ground Cayenne pepper ( optional ) 

Here’s How: 

Cook and drain the pasta according to the manufacture’s directions. Toss in a few tablespoons of olive oil or Miyokos butter to prevent the pasta from sticking. Set aside. You’ll thank me later.

Drain and rinse the beans, reserving liquid. Add the beans to the bowl of your food processor or standing blender with the remaining ingredients, except the cheese, butter, and seasonings. 

Blend on high to liquefy. Add additional cashew milk, or reserved liquid from the beans if your family prefers a thinner sauce.

Transfer to a medium, high-sided pot and continue to warm on medium-low heat. Add the cheese and butter, occasionally stirring, until cheese shreds are melted. 

Add the cooked pasta, stir to cover with sauce. Add seasonings and adjust to taste. Garnish with chopped parsley, or fresh basil leaves for additional sweetness. Serve warm.

Variations: 

Can’t find Vegan Cheese? Substitute with 1/4 cup nutritional yeast. If using nutritional yeast, add 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar.

No Beans? No Problem. Substitute with additional vegan cheese. I love cashew cheese because it provides the lovely nutty notes we love in Mac and Cheese. 

Instant Pot Version. Place blended mixture in your instant pot and heat on manual for 5 minutes, season when done.

Try not to Substitute Cannellini’s due to their level of creaminess, but if you need to, Great White Northern beans would be a close match.

Bake it!  Place your completed mac and cheese a 9 x 13 heatproof baking dish and top with additioal cheese , seasoned bread crumbs or Panko and bake 350′ F Degrees until cheese is melted and breadcrumbs are toasty brown. 

Add Cooked Green Peas and tell the kids the recipe is, “Mac and Sneeze”! Trust me- they’ll love it!

Not just for Pasta! Use this delicious sauce to plunge or pour over veggies!

Nutritional information if you need it: 

Based on 1/4 cup sauce using Cashew milk and Nutritional Yeast. If including Miyoko’s vegan butter, add 10 calories and 1 additional gram of fat per serving. 

Approximate Serving Size: 2.5 ounces. Based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Calories: 37 

Calories from Fat: 5

Total Fat: 0.5

Trans Fat: 0

Cholesterol : 0

Sodium: 148 mg

Potassium: 15 mg

Total Carbohydrates: 5.7 grams

Dietary Fiber: 1.9 grams

Protein 2.6 grams

Vitamin A: 1%

Calcium : 5%

Iron 5%

Chocolate Blueberry Pavlova

Eau de brownie is the perfume, which can be deceived by the pale beige shade of the outer shell — yet inside; it is luscious like a truffle with the completion and texture that makes a perfect combination.

You’ll Need : 

For the Meringue 

6 large egg whites

1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar

A couple of pinches of sea salt

1 teaspoon good quality balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup cocoa powder, sifted

2 ounces semi- or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

For the Topping

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

2 teaspoons granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 cups fresh blueberries

1/4-1/2 cup organic good quality blueberry jam 

1-2 Tablespoons hot water

1 ounce shaved semi-or bittersweet chocolate, to finish

Here’s How: 

Preheat the oven to 350′ F Degrees. Line the backside of a baking sheet or the top of a 12′ inch round pizza pan. Draw a 9-inch circle on the parchment with a pencil and flip the paper over so that you can see the line, but it won’t touch the Pavlova. The meringue will spread while baking. 

In a chilled mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until satiny soft peaks form begin to beat in the sugar a spoonful at a time until the meringue is stiff and shiny. 

Sprinkle in the salt, cocoa, vinegar. Then the chopped chocolate over and very gently fold everything together with a rubber spatula taking great caution not to deflate the egg whites.

Shape the Pavlova:

Secure the parchment to the baking sheet or pizza round with a dab of meringue underneath. Mound the meringue into the 9-inch circle, smoothing the sides in upward strokes and slightly plateau the top to hold the berries. Swirl the back of a palette knife against the egg whites for swirl like decoration.

Place the meringue in the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 300’F Degrees. Bake the Pavlova for 60 to 90 minutes, should be slightly moist in the center. It’s ready when a crisp, dry crust forms on the outside, but the center feels sponge-like beneath your fingers. Turn the oven off, leave the door slightly ajar, and allow the meringue cool completely. You can leave it overnight if needed. 

When you’re ready to serve, peel off the parchment and slide the cooled Pavlova onto a big plate. Whip the cream with sugar and vanilla until soft peaks form. 

Combine the blueberry jam with a little warm water and mix until pourable.

Pile the whipped cream up high onto the meringue. Scatter with blueberries and shave chocolate, drizzle with blueberry jam and serve in wedges. 

Add an optional dusting of powdered sugar.

Enjoy!

30 Minute Individual Chocolate Lava Cakes

Molten chocolate lava cakes were developed by one of the worlds most famous chefs- Jean-Georges Vongerichten! He says more than a thousand of these cakes are made in his restaurants everyday.

The ingredient list is simple –butter, chocolate, eggs, sugar and flour which makes this recipe easy for busy people! Below is my adapted recipe.

Rich creamy chocolate pudding in a sauce pan with chocolate chunks and kitchen utensils

You’ll Need:

6 ounces of unsalted butter plus melted butter for brushing the ramekin

Dutch processed Unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting

4 ounces good quality bittersweet (70% ) chocolate, chopped 

2 large egg yolks

2 large whole eggs

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons sifted flour

1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt

Here’s How: 

Preheat the oven to 450’F Degrees. Brush 4 – 6 to 8 ounce ramekins with melted butter, and dust with cocoa powder. Set aside in a high sided roasting pan. 

In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate with the the butter in 30-second intervals stirring in between each zap. If you don’t have a microwave melt on the stove top very low heat–melting the butter first then adding the chocolate. Whisk until smooth.

In a medium sized bowl, with a hand whisk, whip the egg yolks with the sugar until creamy about a minute. Add the chocolate mixture while continually stirring. Combine until completely incorporated. Add the flour and mix to combine.

Divide the batter among the buttered and dusted ramekins, filling them two-thirds full. Place pan on oven rack. Add 1/2-1 inch of hot water to the pan.

Bake the cakes in the center of the oven until the tops and sides are set but the centers are still soft, 7-9 minutes. You will notice the centers will still wiggle.

Let stand for 30 seconds, then run the tip of a knife around the rims and invert the cakes onto serving plates. Remove the ramekin just before serving. Waiting will help hold it’s shape. 

Dust with cocoa powder or powdered sugar and serve with vanilla bean ice cream or whipped cream! 

Makes 4 Servings

Butternut Squash and Candy Cap Mushroom Brûlée

Incorporating these two seasonal ingredients into a crème brûlée makes perfect food pairing sense! Not to mention a sophisticated Thanksgiving dessert. Extracting the famous candy caps’ flavor is done by infusing the maple flavored mushrooms in cream. The same recipe method can also be used to flavor seasonal ice creams or custard bases for pie fillings. The natural maple-flavored essence of candy caps paired with sweet butternut squash will be most harmonist and unusual food pairing on your holiday dessert table this year! 

You’ll Need:

1 butternut squash, cut horizontally and seeds removed

3 cups heavy cream

1/2 ounce Dried Candy Cap Mushrooms

6 large egg yolks

2/3 cup candy cap sugar (see recipe below) plus ½ to 1 cup more for caramelizing 

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Pinch kosher salt

Here’s How: 

Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F Degrees.

Place the butternut squash and ½ cup water in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish — cover and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, or until soft and tender.

Remove from the oven, and place the squash in a fine-mesh strainer over a large bowl and drain for at least 30 minutes to release any excess moisture, press gently to extract all the liquid. Reserving the liquid for another use. After removing any excess liquid, place the squash scoop the flesh in the bowl of your food processor and purée until smooth. Discard the skin.

Reserve 1 cup of purée and save any remaining squash meat for another recipe.

Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F Degrees. Arrange eight 6-ounce crème brûlée dishes or ramakins in a large roasting pan. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a simmer while you finish making the custard.

To Make the Custard:

Place the cream and candy cap mushrooms in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring just to a boil, then turn off heat and allow to rest for about 30 – 60 minutes to infuse flavors.

Strain the infused cream through a fine-mesh strainer into a small saucepan, pressing on the mushrooms to extract all of the flavor.

In the bowl of your standing mixer whisk the yolks, 2/3 cup of the candy cap sugar, vanilla, and salt.

Reheat the strained cream to a gentle boil, then slowly drizzle the hot cream stream into the egg whisking mixture while on low to medium speed paying special attention to carefully introduce the hot cream to the egg mixture a-little-at-a-time until the egg mixture is almost the same temperature as the cream–this technique is called tempering and will prevent the eggs from scrambling.

Once you have tempered the cream into the egg mixture, add the squash purée.

Strain again through a fine-mesh strainer into a medium-size bowl. For an even creamier texture, strain a few times, or through a cheesecloth lined strainer.

Divide the mixture among the ramekins in the roasting pan. place the pan on the middle rack of the oven and pour enough of the simmering water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins allowing them to bake in the water bath for about 20-25 minutes, or until just set. The centers may still appear to be slightly jiggly- that is a perfect indicator it is time to remove from the oven. With tongs and a dishtowl, carefully remove the crème brûlées dishes from the water bath and place on wire racks to cool to room temperature.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Makes approximatly 6-8 servings 

Before Serving: 

Sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons of Candy Cap Sugar evenly on top of cold Crème Brûlée. Brown the tops using a blowtorch or by placing the ramekins under the broiler until the sugar is melted and bubbling. Wait 1 to 2 minutes for the sugar crust to cool and set up before serving.

Success Tips :

The drier the butternut squash purée, the better. Make sure to cook it until it is very tender, then give it the full time to release all of the excess liquid and steam. You can prepeare a couple of days ahead of time and refrigerate the purée until you are ready to use.

Substitutions and Variations:

You can use regular or vanilla-infused sugar in place of the candy cap sugar. Other winter squash varieties, such as acorn or kabocha squash, can be substituted for the butternut. Just be sure to precook the squash until very tender and to purée until smooth. Add a little spice, try a pinch of cardamom or allspice. Too much, however, will overpower the delicate flavor of the candy cap mushrooms.

Infused Candy Cap Sugar:

Infused sugar is one of the easiest things you can make, and as a bonus, it’s delicious, very pretty, and incredibly versatile. An infused sugar can enhance everything from baked goods to cocktails, and you can let your imagination run wild dreaming up a variety of flavor combinations and different ways to use them.

Plan accordingly – it can take up to a week or two to be fully infused after you make the sugar, but it will keep well for up to 3 months in dry storagae.

To make infused sugars, you just start with sugar—cane, beet or coconut sugar! Add the desired herb or spice to the sugar—the drier it is, the less the sugar will clump.

Infused Candy Cap Sugar 

You’ll Need: 

1 cup dried Candy Caps 

2 cups granulated sugar

Here’s How:

In the bowl of your food processor blitz the dry candy caps to a powder. If any moisture is exposed due to the friction, remove the mushrrom powder from bowl onto a parchment lined baking sheet and dry at room temperature. 

Once dry, combine with the sugar, stir well and store air-tight for a minumin of one week for infusion to take place.

Makes about 2 1/2 cups

The Brussel Sprout Files!

Below is a formula sure to make your Brussel sprouts are a success no matter what flavor profile you’re after. Sweet, salty, or tangy!

Brussel sprouts are aggressive in flavor. You either love them or hate them. So many ways to cook them too– from baked chips to chopped salads. At my home we love our sprouts pan-fried with crisp pancetta– caramelized with lots of butter and my homemade infused olive oil, & lots of crispy fried garlic cloves.

Brussel sprouts caramelize naturally. On special occasions we make a few variations. Addition of maple syrup, or a sprinkling of brown sugar with a handful of candied walnuts will make your family roar! Sometimes we like to add crispy bacon, a nice citrus finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and lot of lemon zest– then an good dousing of parmesan cheese. I add a fair amount of fresh cracked black peppercorns!

Here’s How : 

To properly sauté brussels sprouts, you’ll need a fair amount of fat in the skillet. While bacon is a classic pairing, use your families favorite flavor. Ground pork sausage,  Italian sausage, apple sausage, duck fat, or –If you’re a vegetarian, good quality olive oil is perfect. As mentioned, I use pancetta. So delicious and I love the little crispy, crunchy salty nuggets. How much to use is up to you- I personally like a lot of Pancetta floating around in my dish- so I use a least a pound or two ( shhhh) per stock/stem of Brussel sprout! about 40- 50 spouts.

If using something like bacon or sausage, start by browning the meat in a very large skillet  – I use two of my largest skillets, and split the recipe between them. (Brussel sprouts contain lots of water– so, if you over-crowd the Brussel spouts in the pan, they will steam not caramelize. Tragic.)  Always halve the sprouts and trim the root-end clean.

Sauté the pancetta or your choice of fat, over medium-high heat. Render the fat. Once the meat is cooked, remove it with a slotted spoon set it aside for later addition. Add the halved brussels sprouts to the fat, shaking the skillet so that as many as possible landing cut side down or use tongs to ensure the sprout is positioned for optimum caramelization. Now, step away from the pan. Resist the urge to move them around. Distribution will prevent them from cooking through and becoming crispy golden brown  and delicious. They need to stay in contact directly with the surface heat. Cook until they have a nice  brown sear on one side, about 8 to 10 minutes. If a knife runs easily through, they are done.

Just before removing from the heat, add in  your favorite seasonings–like chopped garlic, sliced onions, fresh thyme, sprinkling of brown sugar, maple syrup, honey  or lemon juice  with lots of zest. Return the sautéed meat you rendered the fat from and toss to coat nicely. Cook for an additional 1- 2 minutes. If making an addition of candied nuts, now is the time to do so. Toss well and serve. (The candies nuts will remain crunchy if not added to the cooking process.)

Salt and pepper. Serve!

Steaming Method: 

Clean Brussels sprouts and slice in half lengthwise. Fill a large stock pot with about 2 inches of flavored stock and water combination– place a metal steamer basket on top. Bring the water to a simmer, add the brussels sprouts to the basket, season with salt and pepper and cover. Steam until the brussels sprouts are bright green and just cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the lid from pot and let them cool slightly before removing. I like to shock my sprouts in cool ice water so they retain a bright green color. Then right before serving I dunk in hot boiling water or toss quickly in a pan with some olive oil, salt and pepper until warmed trough. About two minutes. See my method here for retaining color and nutrition in steamed veggies.

Baking Method:

Halve brussels sprouts (or quarter them, if they are especially large), making sure to hold on to any leaves that fall away (these get the crispest) and toss with plenty of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, and scatter them onto a rimmed baking sheet, making use of every inch. Brussels sprouts contain a good bit of water, and if they’re too crowded on the tray, they’ll steam instead of brown. If you need to use two or three sheet pans, do it.

Roast in a hot pre heated 450’F degrees oven, tossing every 10 minutes or so, until the outer leaves have begun to almost char, and the innermost part of the sprout is just tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Finish growing by making sure the cut side of the sprint is face down on the baking sheets surface so they get nicely caramelized. While they caramelize well on their own, tossing the sprouts with a tablespoon or two of maple syrup, honey or light brown sugar will give them a bit of holiday flavor. Remove from oven– add your favor flavors to finish, like lemon zest and fresh thyme, or fresh rosemary, or pine nuts with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese — toss well and return to the oven for an additional five minutes. Remove, set aside to cool. You can even toss with a bit of reduced balsamic reduction –. Whatever flavors you’ve decided on — enjoy– it’s all you!

I’d love to hear about your favorite way to make Brussel sprouts. Leave me a message and tell me how.

Happy Holiday!

Beautifully Creamy, Delicious… Ugly Soup.

Celeriac.jpg

Celeriac, also called turnip-rooted celery, or knob celery, or celery root– is cultivated for its delicious, edible roots, hypocotyl, and shoots. While this delicious root vegetable has many cooks and urban gardeners disagreeing on what to call it– there is one thing everyone agrees on. Many say, celeriac is the ugliest root vegetable ever. I say, while it’s not only ugly, and confusing…you should still give it a chance. Everyone wants to know if celeriac are celery the same thing , and can they each be used interchangeably in cooking? Are they… Can they?

What Exactly is Celeriac? Is it Celery?

Well… technically no. Not only are celery and celeriac appearances incredibly different– celery and celery root are really only long-lost cousins. Simply related botanically. They both have the taste of celery, although many people find celeriac to be earthier and more intense. Both can be used either cooked or raw, but in either case, their texture is widely different, so they are not interchangeable in most recipes.

Celeriac is very dense, hairy, knobby, and strange to look at. The size of a grapefruit and contains a pale-yellow hue. Like most root vegetables, celeriac is perfect in soups and stews. Makes a perfectly cheesy gratin sharing the spotlight with a somewhat jealous potato.

Left raw, celeriac can be grated into a salad and is most famous for its appearance in the dish, céléri remoulade. A very classic cold salad made almost everywhere in France; containing shredded raw celeriac, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, salt , pepper and a dash of lemon juice. Some add capers, green apple or chopped dill pickles, called cornichons.

Celeriac is a humble root that doesn’t get enough attention. I am here to ask you to give this ugly root a chance because celeriac makes a beautiful, creamy, deliciously sweet… ugly soup!

Ugly Soup with Truffle Oil 

You’ll Need:

2 Tablespoons good quality olive oil

4 Tablespoons of unsalted sweet cream butter

1 leek, cleaned thoroughly and chopped in 1/2 in slices up to the green leaves

2 celery ribs, rough chopped

3 large fresh shallots, peeled and diced

2 clove garlic, finely chopped

2 large celeriac roots, peeled and cut in medium dice ( will discolor quickly, place cut pieces in water while waiting to prepare soup)

1 large russet potato, peeled and diced

1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

4 quarts good quality chicken or vegetable stock

1 cup crème fraîche or sour cream or almond milk. Room temperature.

1 – 1 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper

Kosher salt

Truffle oil, for drizzling ( optional ) 

Crispy cooked and crumbled bacon or small diced cooked pancetta for garnish or air fried root vegetable

Here’s How:

In a large 8-10 quart stock pot on medium low heat, add the olive oil and butter. Add the chopped leeks and celery. Stir occasionally for 3-4 minutes until the leeks begin to soften. Add the shallots and garlic and continue to cook for and additional 2 minutes. Cook only until translucent, do not brown.

Add the celeriac, potato, and a large pinch of the chopped parsley (reserving some for garnish). Add the stock to cover. Simmer for 20-30 minutes until the vegetables are tender and can be pierced through easily with a knife. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and white pepper to your liking.

Remove the pan from the heat and blend the soup with an immersion hand blender or in batches in your standing blender. Process until smooth.

Return soup to the stockpot if using a standing blender. Add fresh thyme. Stir in the crème fraîche or almond milk and stir to combine flavors. Heat gently for an additional 1-2 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning for the final time. Do not bring to a boil with the addition of cream of the soup will break so resist the urge to walk away from the pot at this stage.

Serve in warmed soup bowls with a drizzle of truffle oil and additional chopped parsley and your favorite garnish.

Variation : Add crispy bacon or pancetta topping to garnish.

Make-Ahead Feast Worthy Cranberry Pear Compote! 


This recipe has been in my culinary repertoire for over two decades. It’s my absolute favorite! Loose the canned cranberry sauce- trust me on this one.

Just like everything Thanksgiving– it’s better the next day; especially smothered all over your leftover turkey sammy! There is quite a bit of sugar in the recipe because the natural flavor of cranberry is very, very tart so it’s ok to substitute with honey or your favorite sweetener.

Oh, sure to call your order in using discount code : “Chef Gigi” when ordering the wine from RiverStar Vineyards and secure 20% off you entire holiday purchase!

You’ll Need:

2 pounds fresh or frozen whole cranberries 

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar, or your choice of alternitive

3 tablespoons brown sugar, packed

3 Bosch pears, peeled, cored and chopped in large one inch chunks 

2 wide strips of lemon zest

1 lemon juiced, seeds removed

1 orange zested and juiced

1 bottle RiverStar Vineyards Sauvagnon Blanc

1-2 small cinnamon sticks

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg 

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 large sprig fresh thyme

1/4 teaspoon salt 

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper 

Fresh red forest cranberries

Here’s How:

In a medium high-sided saucepan, combine the cranberries, sugar, lemon zest, wine and spices including salt and pepper. 

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat then reduce to a simmer. Cook until you begin to hear the cranberries begin to pop open. Add the pears cook an additional 8-10 minutes until the pears are soft but still holding shape. Once the cranberries pop the sauce will begin to thicken. Continue to cook until a knife will gently slide through the pears. Taste, and adjust seasoning.

Remove from heat, cool and store air tight in glass jars. Can be made up to a week in advance. 

Makes a great hostess gift when packed in a fancy glass container with a fresh sprig of thyme and orange peel! 


Yields approximately 20 -25 servings 

KSCU 103.3 FM Season 2 Episode 6 Women of Wine – Riverstar Vineyards Angela Reinertson

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-nu9ii-c5fe0f

Sunday Supper, Chef Gigi’s Food Talk Radio on KSCU 103.3 FM Santa Clara host Angela Reinertson, owner of Riverstar Vineyards- someone everyone loves & wants to be like! Angela is fun loving, warm-hearted and draws you into her magnetic, effervescent personality- it’s really no surprise she is the now mastermind of Riverstar Vineyards! Listen in as she gives us all the details on her new venture with crackin monthly music events, a vacation house on site, oversized games for visitors to includes a life sized Yatzee and Wine Pong games next to the tasting room and grazssy Knoll for Picnics and BBQ’s what more does anyone need? Riverstar has something for everyone! Mention Chef Gigi or KSCU 103.3 FM and recieve 20% off this years harvest.

Riverstar, is a gorgeous 80 acre boutique, family-owned and operated winery on the Pleasant Valley Wine Trail just east of Paso Robles in San Miguel, California. With over fifty-eight of those acres grapes, they make some of the most delicious Central Coast blends from Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel, Merlot, Syrah, and Petite Sirah. Don’t miss this!

Join the wine club here  

#WomenInWine #Winemaker #FoodTalkRadio #ChefGigi #RiverstarVineyards #WomenOfWine #SupportFamilyBusiness

Chef Gigi’s Kabocha Spiced Rum Cake ! 

Looking for that perfect dessert this Winter? Kobocha is the Japanese word for squash. This  squash has a nutty, earthy flavor with a touch of sweetness. So delicious and versatile ! Kobocha squash can be used in sweet and savory applications.

This Spiced Rum Cake will be the perfect addition to your holiday! 

Kabocha Spiced Rum Cake

You’ll Need:

1 1/2 cups mashed kabocha squash

8 large medjool dates, pitted

3 Tablespoons quality dark rum

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup cane sugar or coconut sugar

3/4 cup buttermilk

2 Tablespoons orange zest

2 Tablespoons fresh orange juice

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon quality vanilla

3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted

1 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Pecan Caramel Glaze or Powered Sugar topping ( recipes below)

Here’s How:

Preheat the oven to 350°F Degrees. Prepare a high sided baking sheet prepared with organic olive oil.

Carefully cut the squash in half with a sharp serrated knife, careful not to cut yourself. De-seed. Save the seeds for roasting.

Spritz the top halves of the cut squash with a quick spitz of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Place squash cut-side down onto the stainless steel baking sheet. Place in center rack of preheated warm oven and bake until golden brown and a knife runs easily through the flesh, depending on the size of your squash anyhwre from 30- 45 minutes. Remove from the oven set aside to cool.

While the kobocha squash is in the oven, prepare an 10 inch bundt cake pan generously with non-stick cooking spray.  Set aside on top of a lined cookie sheet and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the pitted dates with 1 tablespoon of the rum. Fill with boiling water and soak the dates to reconstitute, about 15 minutes. Strain the water solution, discard and place dates in your food processor or blender. Process to a smooth paste.

While the dates are processing, whisk together in a small bowl the flour, baking powder, baking soda, all the spices including salt and the pepper. Set aside.

Remove cooled kobocha from its skin by scooping out the cooked flesh with a large spoon. Add the flesh straight to your food processor or blender with the dates and pulse process until completely smooth.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, or in a large bowl, using an electric hand mixer–add the butter and sugar.Beat on high speed until butter is creamed and pale in color and sugar crystals begin to dissolve about 2-3 minutes.

Add purée and mix an additional minute. Add 1 egg at a time beating in between addition until smooth. Add buttermilk and orange juice, vanilla and the remaining rum. Beat well.

Add dry mixture working in two additions, beating until just combine with every addition. Scrape bowl. Stir in the orange zest.

Pour the cake batter into the prepared bundt pan. Smack on the counter a few times to release any air bubbles and level out batter.

Place on the center rack of a preheated 350’F degree oven and bake 45 – 50 minutes, or until a toothpick is placed in the center and comes out clean.

While the cake is cooling, make the pecan glaze or combine the powered sugar topping. Allow cake to cool to room temperature, about 1 hour before applying glaze.

Dust with a 1/4 cup sifted powdered sugar spiked with 1 tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice. Or, pour on the pecan glaze. When pouring glaze make sure it has substantially cooled to a thick but pourable viscosity.

If the glaze is too warm it will run all the way off the cake.

Pecan Caramel Glaze

You’ll Need:

1 cup palm, or your favorote granulated sugar

½ cup whole cream, or your favorite nut milk

2 tablespoons butter

½ cup toasted pecans, roughly chopped

Here’s How:

In a high-sided pan over medium heat melt the sugar.When the sugar melts and begins to turn golden around the edges, reduce the heat to low and begin to stir until all the sugar has completely melted.

Add the butter and cream carefully – the cream will bubble up fast and could boil over. Continue to cook,stirring on low heat until you have a smooth caramel sauce- this may take up to 10 minutes.

Once the glaze is completely sauce like and thick– add the pecans.

Remove from heat. Cool to a thick but pourable consistency.Pour over the top of the bundt cake.

Serves approximately 12 slices. Delicious warm with vanilla bean ice cream!

Be Happy ! 

Drunken Squash with Forbidden Black Rice and Dried Fruit! 

Black Rice also known as Forbidden Rice

Once Reserved Only for the Noble. 

The health benefits of black rice are so powerful, this ingredient earned its name. Highly prized by noblemen and once forbidden amongst the common in ancient China. 

Black rice, was first introduced to the United States just recently, in 1995. Today it’s gaining popularity. Forbidden black rice is delicious, and has an amazingly chewy bite. It can be purchased at natural grocery stores, specialty markets and through your favorite on-line store. 

You’ll Need:

2-4 golden acorn squash, small sugar pumpkins or your fav squash

2 cups black forbidden rice, thoroughly washed

1 pound ground sausage

3 1/2 cups good quality chicken or vegetable stock

1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt, plus more to adjust seasoning 

Fresh ground black pepper, to taste 

1 teaspoon, plus 1/2 tablespoon good quality California olive oil, divided

1 cup celery, small dice

1 yellow onion, cleaned peeled and small diced

1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

1/2 teaspoon dried sage 

1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped fine 

Pinch of ground nutmeg

Pinch of ground cloves

1 red bellpepper cored and cut small dice

1/4 cup dried apricots, small dice

1/4 cup golden raisins 

1/4 cup pecans rough chopped

1/4 cup chopped pistachios

1/2 cup Grand Mariner or good quality brandy (optional) 

1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped fine 

Squash seeds, roasted for garnish

 

Here’s How:

Preheat the oven to 375′ F degrees, prepare a high-sided cookie sheet with olive oil and set aside. 

In a small bowl, soak dried apricots and golden raisins in Grand Mariner. Set aside.

Wash and dry the squash and cut the stem to remove. Cut the squash in half horizontally. Careful not to cut yourself. Place the round squash on a folded kitchen towel, to prevent from rolling. With a serrated bread knife-using a sawing motion, cut through the firm flesh. 

On each halve- carefully cut a very straight silver dollar sized piece off the backs of each halve. This will ensure each piece will sit upright at service time. With a spoon, gently scrape interior to remove seeds. Set aside to roast. ( See my seed roasting recipe ) or discard.

Lightly coat the flesh of the squash with some of the olive oil. Season generously with salt and fresh cracked pepper. Sprinkle lightly with ground nutmeg and ground clove.

Place flesh side down on the prepared baking sheet. Put into a pre-heated oven for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the flesh is soft- but stable when pierced with a knife.

Meanwhile, while squash is roasting, prepare the remainder of the recipe by rinsing the black rice thoroughly in a sieve under cold running water. Shake rice until water begins to runs clear, removing much of its starch.

In a medium sized, 6-8 quart sauce pan with fitted lid- bring rice, chicken stock, olive oil, salt, and pepper to a roaring boil – uncovered, over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cover tightly. Continue to cook rice until tender and most of water has been absorbed, about 35 – 40 minutes. Remove from heat, and let stand covered, about 10 minutes undisturbed. After rest period, reveal and fluff with a fork. Black rice is naturally chewy when done. Test for doneness. 

About 15 minutes before the squash and the rice are expected to finish cooking, begin to prepare the stuffing. In a large 10-12 inch skillet over medium heat add 1/2 teaspoon of oil add ground pork, season with salt and pepper and additional 1/4 teaspoon ground sage. Sauté until slightly brown. About 2 minutes. 

Add the diced celery and onion. Continue to sauté an additional 3-4 minutes until celery is cooked through, but still firm to the bite. Add fresh chopped herbs and small diced apples to the pan. Cook for an additional 2 minutes. Remove the from the pan away from any heat, stain liquid off dried fruit and add to the pan. Stir to combine. Return to heat and fold in the cooked rice, and pecans. Cook an additional 1 minute to combine flavors. Add a good pinch of chopped parsley reserving additional for garnish. Stir. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Place cooked squash skin side up in a baking dish. Generously spoon the rice stuffing into the cooked acorn squash so that they are piled high. Cover “tent like” with foil and return to the oven for 5-8 minutes or until heated through. If holding any longer in the oven, add a few tablespoons of chicken stock or water to keep moist. 

Remove from the oven, and finish with finely chopped flat leaf parsley- serve immediately! 

Variations

Remove pork sausage and replace with bacon or omit all together. 

If you want a sweeter flavor sprinkle acorn squash with a pinch of brown sugar or maple syrup and cinnamon before stuffing. 

Makes approximately 4-6 servings depending on size of squash.

Make Ahead Thanksgiving Gravy!

So… what came first, Turkey or the Gravy? Everyone says you need turkey before the gravy, but that’s not really so- and really, who really cares. The point is you need the gravy first to make your life easier. Why? Because Thanksgiving can be an ordeal if you are short on the clock, unorganized, or really just don’t like to cook. 

Even if you love being in the kitchen, you will still need to prioritize your time. For most cooks, the gravy is the most delicate, time-sensitive – yet over-consuming portion of the Thanksgiving menu. Let’s face it- most home cooks are afraid of digging in with the whisk. I’m here to tell you gravy is… welp, gravy, and I am about to make your hectic-kitchen-life a bit more humble.

Here is my formula for the best tasting do-ahead gravy ever. 

Enjoy your guests this holiday season by taking some of the stress off your plate. It’s about being together anyway, isn’t it? Make the gravy a few days in advance, and don’t sweat the timely stuff ever again! Drink up, you have other things to worry about! 

You’ll Need: 

1 tablespoon good quality olive oil

1 pound bone-in chicken wings

1 large unpeeled onion, root ball removed, cut in quarters

1 large carrot, peeled, cut in large chunks

1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped

A small handful of fresh parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, and 2 large bay leaves

1/2 teaspoon of peppercorns

1 cup dry white wine

8-10 cups of low-sodium chicken broth for added poultry flavor ( you can add water instead)

4-5 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire or fish sauce

Kosher salt, and ground white pepper

Special Equipment :

Cheesecloth 

Here’s How: 

Combine the fresh herbs and peppercorns into a delicate little bouquet and tie up tightly in the cheesecloth. Set aside. 

Heat the olive oil in a large high sided saucepan over medium-high heat. Salt chicken wings and gently place flat side down into the hot oil. Cook wings, occasionally turning until golden brown, about 10–12 minutes. 

Add the onion, carrot, with the celery and cook until everything in the pan is deeply browned, 14–16 minutes. 

Pour in the wine to deglaze the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil and cook until wine is reduced by half, about 3-5 minutes. Add stock and herbs then return to a boil. Immediately reduce heat and slow simmer, occasionally stirring, until liquid is reduced by a third, 35–40 additional minutes.

Remove herb packet and strain the stock through a fine-mesh sieve covered with cheesecloth into a heatproof bowl. You should have about 4 cups. If you don’t, add sufficient stock or water to get you there.

Discard any solids. Keep stock warm while you make your roux.

Heat butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, continually whisking until roux is golden brown about 4 minutes. It will be clumpy like porage at this stage, don’t worry. Start making the gravy by whisking gently and continuously pouring the hot stock into the roux mixture. Be sure to incorporate each addition of liquid thoroughly, making it lump-free before adding any additional fluid. Some cooks use both hands, stirring while pouring, while others turn this into a team-building event. 

Once you have a soup-like consistency, add the remaining stock, stir and bring to a gentle simmer. Whisk often, until gravy is thickened, and reduced to about 3 cups. The sauce should coat the back of a spoon; this will take about 8–10 minutes. 

Conclude by adjusting the seasoning with Worcestershire or fish sauce, taste, and season with salt and white pepper if needed.

Cool, and store in an air-tight glass container. This beautiful Thanksgiving poultry gravy will hold in the cooler for at least 4-5 days. 

Reheat and adjust flavor with salt and pepper. Use a few tablespoons of turkey pan drippings to awaken the poultry flavor. 

Enjoy your guests.

Green Beans with Brown Buttered Walnuts and Caramelized Shallots

I love to cook green beans, especially Haricots Verts, pronounced { herəkō ˈver } they are delicious and so tender. They are the French variety typically slimmer and longer than the common green bean we see here in America. You can use any fresh green bean for this recipe. 

You’ll Need:

1- 2 pounds fresh haricots verts, root ends trimmed

4-6 ounces unsalted butter or 3-4 teaspoons good quality olive oil

4-6 gloves of garlic, peeled and smashed

6-8  large shallots, cleaned and sliced thin

1/4-1/2 cup good quality chicken, vegetable stock, or white wine 

Salt and fresh ground pepper 

2 springs fresh thyme

Squeeze of fresh lemon juice 

1 cup browned buttered walnuts, see recipe below 

1 orange zested 

Here’s How

Bring a small saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the haricots verts and cook until just tender, about 1 minute. Transfer with a slotted spoon to an ice bath. Drain. Pat dry.

In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and sauté until they are browning and nicely caramelized about 5-8 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook an additional minute. 

Add the haricots verts and salt and pepper to taste, and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes, or until just heated through and crisp-tender.

Deglaze the pan very quickly with the chicken stock, add the fresh thyme and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice toss. Add toasted walnuts and toss.

Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper one last time, top with orange zest. Serve warm.

Approximately 4-6 serving


Variations: Add cooked bacon bits, panchetta, lemon zest, almonds or a splash of cream 

 

Browned Butter Walnuts


You’ll Need

1 – pound halved fresh walnuts

1 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter

1 teaspoon brown sugar

Salt and fresh ground black pepper

In a large sauté over medium heat melt the butter. Add the sliced almonds and sauté storing constantly until golden and fragrant. About 3- 5 minutes toss in the sugar lst minute toss till melted and remove from heat to a sigle layered sheet pan to cool. 

The walnuts will brown fast in the butter so be sure to remove them from the hot pan and cool quickly, or you will risk over browning.

Dust with salt and pepper while warm. 

Meet The Delicata Squash

The oblong shaped Delicata – pronounced dehl-ih-CAH-tah- is a fall delicacy. This succulent squash has a beautiful pale yellow skin with green striped markings and often ranges in size from 5 to 9 inches in length to 1 1/2 to 3 inches in diameter.

Unlike most summer squash (which are picked when immature and skins are tender), Delicata Squash have hard, thick skins and only the flesh is eaten. The mysteriously delicious yellow meat is reminiscent of a balanced dating life of a vibrant sweet potato and a sexy butternut squash.

These seasonal beautiful baes and can be roasted or steamed. Combined with butter and fresh herbs, Delicata Squash is good source of vitamins A and C.

Choose squash that have a hard, deep-colored rinds of course-free of blemishes or moldy spots.Tender skin indicates immaturity or poor quality. The hard skin protects the flesh and allows it to store longer than summer squash and keeps the magic inside safe!

Delicata Squash should be stored in a cool, preferably dark, well-ventilated area for up to one month. Wrap cut pieces in plastic and refrigerate up to one business week.

Can be cooked whole or split lengthwise (removing seeds). Pierce whole squash in several places, and bake halved squash hollow side up. Personally, I wash and slice in onion ring sized peices using a round cookie cutter I will remove the seeds and soak them in garlic salted water for an hour – roast the seeds separately. I then proceeded to generously oil a stainless steel sheetpan and rub the squash discs in the oil w a sprinkle of salt and palm sugar- I then blast roast on high heat 425’F for good Caramelization. I flip them halfway through the cooking process re-season- reduce oven to 325’F Degrees and continue roasting until pierced throughout gently with a fork. Remove from the oven and drizzle with maple syrup or honey.

You can also cut in half toast flesh side down and scoop cooked flesh into a bowl mash with butter, honey or maple syrup, a wee bit of cream, some pumpkin pie spices, non dairy nut milk to make the best mashed Delacata you’ve ever tasted!

Garnish with toasted seeds!

Kumamoto Oysters on the Half Shell with Cucumber, Melon Granita and Serrano Chili! 

Can what you eat affect your happiness? 

Forget what came first, the chicken or the egg. Looking for a great conversation starter at your next social gathering? Open with the latest hot food topic: Can what you eat affect your happiness?

According to research substantiated by Torrey Pines, Institute for Molecular Studies, certain flavors in fresh berries have a similar molecular structure matching those of Valproic Acid— a mood stabilizing drug developed in western medicine.  We all understand the flavonoid, anthrocyanidin—also found in berries, reduce inflammation. Inflammation is actually found to be linked to increased rates of depression.

I believe foods do have the ability to alter our mood, as well as heal. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that psychological stress was lower in individuals who drank five or more cups of green tea per day. Today, Matcha is readily available in drinks and delicious snacks.

Another example— low levels of Zinc in our body have been linked to anxiety. Eating delicious fresh oysters will not only heat things up— these o ocean delights will also cool you down. Zinc is said to lower anxiety quickly.

Noshing on good quality artisan dark chocolate, 70 % cocoa and above— reduces the stress hormone, Cortisol. Eating more cacao sounds like a great plan.

Mental health is an important component of overall well-being and also we need to continue to keep eyes on nutrition plan, its all about counting what goes into your basket. Everyone knows that bananas are high in potassium but what you might not know is they are also linked to  mood regulating tryptophan, a chemical released in our brains. Also a great source of vitamin B folate, which is also linked with depression. I think bananas and chocolate are a great paring.

Feeling down? Throw together a evening meal of wild salmon on a bed of quinoa. Saute some delicious baby spinach— for an extra splash of folic acid, which alleviates depression and reduces fatigue.

We all hear about  how important Omega 3’s  are in our diet. Sure we can pop a vitamin capsule— but why when you can nosh on the succulent wild. Salmon is loaded with beautiful fatty acids, which can improve mood—fight depression, and not to mention, makes your hair shiny and your nails strong.

Quinoa is having a serious moment right now— take advantage of its healing properties. A 2010 study in the Journal of Neuropharmacology. names a flavonoid found in quinoa, ( Quercetin,) to stimulate depression-related signaling pathways. The ones that involve neurotrophic factors resulting in improved moods.

Not only will your feel better— you will look healthier too. And if you’re happy— I’m happy. Eat. Try my recipe below!

Kumamoto Oysters on the Half Shell with a Cucumber and Melon Granita 

Fast, cheap and easy is the name of the game at the end of a long day.  For a delicious pick me up, try shucking a few fresh oysters. Top with up my fresh cucumber and melon garnish. Nothing like a fresh, sweet succulent oyster to change any mood. To make your life even easier, prepare the melon granite ahead of time— and store in the freezer up to one week. This recipe is a delicious variation on a classic mignonette.

Kumamoto Oysters are found in deep-cupped shells. Great to hold sauces. Classic for their petite meats accompanied by a very mild brine. Known for their sweet flavor and a lovely honeydew finish. They are a favorite for beginning oyster eaters.

You’ll Need

8 ounces a sweet watermelon, cantaloupe or honey dew. Any green, yellow, orange or pink fleshed melon — peeled and cut into very small 1/4 inch cubes. About 1 1/2 cups

2 fresh lemons, zested and juiced

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1 dozen fresh Kumamoto oysters, scrubbed well

Crushed ice cubes

1 english cucumber, peeled de-seeded and cut into very fine dice- about the same size as the melon

1 spring fresh baby thyme

1 lemon, zested

1 finger lime, ( optional )

Fresh edible flowers ( optional )

1 Serrano chili, cut paper thin ( optional )

Heres How

In the bowl of your food processor or standing blender, puree the melon until smooth. Strain mixture through a fine sieve into a 5-by-9-inch  non-reactive glass loaf pan. Discarding any solids.

Stir in lemon juice, sprinkle in about an 1/8 teaspoon of salt. Taste, and adjust seasoning with additional salt if necessary. Cover with plastic wrap. Freeze until firm, a minimum of 3 hours.

When frozen, scrape the granita with a fork until fluffy. Freeze again while shucking oysters. Start shuck oysters, and arrange on a bed of crushed ice, or rock salt.

Top each oyster with 1 teaspoon of frozen melon granita toward the narrow end of the oyster shell. Add a very small topping of small diced cucumbers, a fresh thyme leaf, and a few beads from the finger lime. Top with a paper thin slice of serrano chili, lemon zest and a petal of edible flowers with a small sprig of fresh chervil or micro-green to complete.

Serve immediately.

A Box of Books

A Chef’s Virtual Toolbox.

My latest book, Food Fight for Parents of Picky Eaters (Koehler Press, late 2018 ) is a hands-on guide to understanding and reprogramming how families battle picky eating. It’s loaded with proven tactics to help parents take mealtimes back.

As founder of a professional culinary school for children, author I have coached thousands of children and adults in how to cook (and eat!) better.

Based on over 35 years of professional experience, Food Fight targets picky eaters with the science of flavor and taste mechanisms, teaching parents how to transform nutrient-dense meals into something delicious for their children’s unique and developing palates. 

In addition to behavioral tips and solutions, the book features over 60 innovative and practical recipes, including naturally colored Green Eggs and Ham, smashed-fruit filled Purple Tie-Dye Unicorn Muffins, umami-rich Dinosaur-as Teriyaki Drumettes, and hassle-free Homemade Soft-Serve Ice Cream.

While it’s easy to see picky eating as a phase, moderate-to-severe picky eating often coincides with serious issues like depression and anxiety that may later require intervention. I expose the habits that inadvertently reinforce picky eating and helps parents navigate the challenging landscape by showing them the science behind flavor and awakening them to the culinary magic of umami. Gigi also talk about what kids who are athletes need in their diets.

Some of My Tips you will see Sprinkled Throughout the Book:


If a child develops a preference for a certain flavor at an early age, odds are she will stick to foods with similar flavor profiles.

Our taste buds disappear as we get older. Children have thousands of
additional taste buds, so flavor sensations, especially bitter flavors, can be extremely overwhelming.

Hiding or disguising vegetables in children’s favorite meals has negative consequences, with children later rejecting the food they once enjoyed and becoming suspicious of all home cooked meals.

Bribing backfires in the long run, as it teaches #children to create lists of negative and positive foods, where #healthy #foods are only viewed!

30 Minute Creamy Homemade Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons!


You’ll Need:


2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large yellow onion, sliced

1 large carrot, peeled and chopped in 1/2 inch pieces 

1-2 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves

1/2 cup fresh flat leaf Italian parsley leaves 

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 (28 oz ) cans good quality peeled and chopped organic tomatoes

2 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock) 

1/2 cup heavy cream, plain Greek yogurt or your favorite nut milk

10-12 fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped 

Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper 

Grilled cheese cut into croutons 

For the grilled cheese

8 slices of your favorite bread, crusts removed 

8-12 Tablespoons softened butter 

8 slices of sharp Tillimock cheddar cheese for grilled cheese 

Here’s How
:
In a heavy bottomed 6-8 quart stockpot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. 

Add the onions and carrots. Sauté for 3-5 minutes until onions are beginning to turn golden brown and caramelized. 

Add the garlic, oregano and fresh chopped parsley and cook an additional 1 -2 minutes.

Add the tomatoes with their juice and the chicken stock. Bring to a low simmer. Cook uncovered, for 12 -15 minutes.

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add fresh basil to last minute of cook time. 

While soup is cooking make grilled cheese sammies. Cut into croutons, set aside. 

Using an immersion blender or carefully transfer soup to a blender to puree soup. 

Return to heat add cream. Re-adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Do it boil after adding cream. 

Serve piping hot garnished with grilled cheese croutons. 

KSCU 103.3 FM Season 2 Episode 15 School Nutrition Program

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-rxgzt-d530e1

RECORDING OF LIVE RADIO SHOW 3/1/20 on KSCU 103.3 FM Sunday Supper, Chef Gigi Food Talk Radio in the San Francisco Bay Area, Silicon Valley.

Chef Gigi & guest co-host Chef Jeff Tachibana from the Epicurian Group host two Bay Area School Nutrition Superheroes! Chef Jason Hull Director of Food Services, Executive Chef and Co-Director of The Culinary Farm, a seed to table program at Marin Country Day School & #SuperWoman Karen Luna, Director of Nutrition Services from our local Santa Clara Unified School District Combine-these two are feeding kids 45,000 pounds a year of organic produce, and serving over 10,000 meals a day!

This weeks Featured Musical Artist – Mike Xavier 

Tonights Curated Playlist on Spotify

Mentions: 
8:00 Minute Mark.Food Talk Opens 
22.05 Wilcox School- Black Garlic Ice Cream on Valentines Day
22:44 Independent Artist,Mike Xavier
43:00 Chef Nancy Vasquez – Marin Country Day School 
44:13 Kathy Power & Lisa Feldman Healthy Kids Colab ( Culinary Instiute of America / Napa ) 
50:00 Chef Debbie Austin & Mountian Views Free Summer Feeding Program
58:00 Chef Chau
 
My Guests Social Media Links 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

#Food #Family #SchoolLunch #Organics #SeedtoTable  #ittakesavillage

KSCU 103.3 FM Season 2 Episode 14 Tablehopper Marcia Gagliardi / MyMilligram

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-gc2px-d4a39a

Copy of LIVE 90/60 Minute Talk Radio show on KSCU 103.3 FM 
Food Talk Begins at the 19 minute mark on tape with Tablehopper Marcia Gagliardi and Guest Co- Host Sommelier Mellisa Smith from Enotrias
 
Enjoy the shows playlist here on Spotify. A mix of 1960-1970 musical artists.
 
Marcia Gagliardi

Is the Founder of San Francisco’s long standing, food guide that has an extraordinary cult following. Tablehopper is an institution that’s been around longer than #Eater, #Twitter, or #Instagram.

 
She is a larger-than-life social influencer and the mastermind behind “mymilligram”, a microdoser media brand & educational platform featuring low-dose, high-quality cannabis products even your Madre would approve!
This boss babe is a regular contributor on KQED radio, has moderated panels with Chef Jacques Pépin, and author of #Tablehopper’s Guide to Dining and Drinking in #SanFrancisco. See her reccommended product list here.
 
She’s a repeat SFweekly “Best of San Francisco” award winner. Not to mention her over-the-top, after-hours dinner parties for #chefs are an industry legend!
 
Join myself and guest co-host Enotrias Sommelier Melissa Smith as we stream worldwide tonight on KSCU.org !
Hit the and listen button cause we are turning up tonight, it’s all about California’s latest Gold / Green Rush–The Cannabis Food and Beverage Industry. 
 
 
 

KSCU 103.3 FM Season 2 – Episode 13 Ashley Reinke- Hawk – Nutrition Expert

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-mfa9a-d21cda

RECORDING OF LIVE SHOW ON 2/2/2020
 
Did you make a News Years’ resolution to eat better or turn up personal self-care this year? If so, we might be just-in-time to give you a boost! Join KSCU’s Chef Gigi on Sunday, Supper Food Talk Radio this week after the Superbowl- and meet her guest, Miss Arizona, 2018! Ashley Reinke-Hawk, Certified Nutritionist and On-Camera Wellness and Lifestyle Host. She is here to encourage us to stay on track with her campaign that contains only five ingredients or less and for less than five dollars! Ashley is a certified nutritionist with a concentration in sports nutrition and is currently earning her Master’s in Nutritional Science.
 
As a modern professional, Ashley knows how time-consuming and browbeating it is to study or work all day and then come home and cook. Especially healthy meals based on a regime of plant-based options. To demonstrate how eating healthful can be manageable, economical, and enjoyable, Ashley created her “Five Ingredients, Under Five Dollars a campaign where she demonstrates various delicious recipes and gives healthy tips that don’t break busy schedules or tight budgets. 
 
Ashley regularly appears on morning talk shows from California to Arizona. Ashley’s “Anti-diet” approach to eating and living well comes from her experiences as Miss Arizona 2018 and as a professional model for over the past decade. She has seen hundreds of people try various fad diets, yet they never achieve lasting results. Ashley’s 5 Minute Food Hack goals are simple, to make cooking fun and tangible. 
 
Passionate about philanthropy and giving back to her community, Ashley launched Chomp Out Cancer, a program that partners with food banks to promote nutrition education for disease prevention. She also works with various non-profit organizations, including Teen Cancer America, The Susan G. Komen Foundation, Second Harvest Food Bank, and Ronald McDonald House Charities. 
 
To work with Ashley or get in touch- follow her on social media at @ashleyareinke or visit her website ashleyreinke.com So excited to have her on Chef Gigi’s Food Talk Radio right here on KSCU! Don’t miss it! 
 

Homemade Chocolate Cake with Maitake Mushroom Frosting

Maitake aka, Hen-of-the-Woods contains L-glutamate, a natural flavor-enhancer that provides umami — the “fifth taste” — the savory rich flavor that excites receptor-specific nodes on our tongue. Moreover, Maitake is one of the healthiest foods around! The Earthlyness of this mushoroom is a perfect pairing with chocolate!

You’ll Need: 

1 3/4 cups granulated sugar

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pans

3/4 cup good quality Dutch processed cocoa, sifted

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

1 cup whole milk

1/2 cup neutral-tasting cooking oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup boiling coffee

Good quality cooking spray

Maitake Mushroom Frosting ( See recipe below)

Here’s How:

Preheat the oven to 350°F degrees, spray and flour three 8-inch round baking pans, tapping out any excess flour. Place on a lined sheet pan and set aside.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the granulated sugar, flour, cocoa, espresso, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. 

In a separate bowl, crack and mix the eggs into a slight scramble and add to the dry ingredietns with the milk, oil, and vanillla beat the ingredients on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the boiling coffee and continue to mix for an additional minute. The batter will appear thin. Pour the mixture into the prepared pans, dividing it evenly, about 2 cups or approximatly 16 ounces in each cake pan.

Bake the cakes on sheet pans for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean or the cake slightlybounces back to the touch. Cool in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Then invert the cakes onto the rack, remove the pans, turn the cakes right side up, and let them cool completely. 

Make the Maitake Mushroom Frosting.

Maitake Mushroom Frosting

You’ll Need: 

1 1/3 cups good quality Cocoa, sifted

3-4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1/2 cup whole milk or cream

8 ounces of unsalted butter

2 ounces of dried Maitake Mushrooms 

Here’s How: 

In a small saucepan, heat the cream and the Maitake mushrooms until a simmer. Remove from heat and allow to steep for a minimum of an hour to over-night. Cool to room temperature. Strain and discard solids.

In the bowl of your standing mixer, beat the butter until velvety. Add the cocoa, and alternate between confectioners’ sugar and infused milk beating after each addition until you achieve a thick, but spreadable consistency. If a lighter frosting desired, add additional cream, a little at a time, until you’ve reached your ideal texture. 

Place a single cake layer on a platter or cake stand and spread a good amount of frosting on top. Place the second cake layer on the first and frost the sides and top. Garnish with chocolate truffles or meringue mushrooms with candied pine and roasted, crushed almonds or hazelnuts or a combination.

KSCU 103.3 FM Season 2 Episode 11 MycoKind LLC “The Fun-Guys”

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-g86hz-d131d0

#Recording of LIVE show on January 26,th 2020. Recordning begins at the 2 minute mark. 
 
KSCU 103.3 FM Silicon Valley, Chef Gigi’s Sunday Suppers Chef Gigi hosts a tiercé of food scientists.Co-founders of MycokindLLC, a lifestyle brand that incorporates food, culture, and education through the love of fungi and food science! This trifecta of food fanatics emerged on the Bay Area culinary scene in 2018 and are now lovingly referred to as, “The Fun-Guys”- as they share a passion for all things mycological! Ha!
 
We love them already! Be sure to tune in and meet this colony of super-humans behind the mushroom veil! You dont want to miss these guys! 
 
We LOVE these guys! Super heros of the Fungi world— Check them out!