Decadent Creamed Corn Casserole!

Trust me when I say– someone at your dinner table will ask you for this recipe! 

You’ll Need:

8-10 ears of fresh shucked corn off the cob, or 1 pound frozen white kernels and 1 pound frozen yellow kernels. Or, all yellow.

1/2 onion, peeled halved and studded with 3-4 cloves

1 large russet pototo peeled and cut in large 1/2 inch dice

1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed

1 pint unsweetened whipping cream

1 cup chicken stock

1/4 cup cane sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/2  teaspoon white pepper

1/4 teaspoon Cayenne pepper

2 Tablespoons very cold butter

2 Tablespoons flour

Chopped parsley for serving

Paprika for garnish

1/2 cup grated Parmesean cheese, divided

Fresh homemade crutons

Here’s How:

Preheat the oven to 350′ F Degrees. Generiously butter an 4 quart casserole dish, and dust with grated parmesean cheese. Set aside on a foil lined sheet pan.

In a large heavy bottomed saucepan, combine all the ingredients except for the butter and flour bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes.

In a small dish combine the flour and butter to form a paste. Mix into the corn mixture and continue to cook until thicken.

Adjust seasoning with salt, white pepper and cayenne. Add additional sugar if your prefer your recipe a bit sweeter. Remove smashed garlic and studded onion. Discard.

Add diced potato and parmeseasn cheese and mix to combine,

Place in prepared casserol dish and cover. Bake for 10-20 minutes until flavors are incorporated and potatos are cooked.

Serve piping hot. Garnish with warm homemade crutons with a sprinkling of paprika and chopped parsley.

Makes approximately 8 to 10 servings

Variations:

Add chopped fresh pimento for a little kick .

Holiday Cheat Sheet- Just in case you’re wondering how much to Shop, Cook and Serve! 

As a professional chef, one of the most frequent question I’m asked is  how much food do you need to feed each guest? So, I decided to build a mini cheat sheet for the upcoming holiday season! Hope this helps!

Every 2.4 pounds of food you donate creates a meal for someone else. 

Cocktails: if you are serving throughout a two-hour cocktail party or dinner with spirits and mixers – One 750 ml. bottle of spirits will serve 17 drinks. Plan on 3 drinks per person if you have a fun crowd!.

Finger food: On an average, guests will eat about 3-4 appetizers each during the first hour and will eat about 3 appetizers each for each subsequent hour. Especially If consuming alcohol. My rule of thumb is  to be prepared to serve : 3-4 pieces per person with alcohol and 2-3 without alcohol. 10-12 pieces will be equivalent to a full holiday meal replacement.

Main Protein: Turkey: 1 1/2 pounds per person.

Gravy: 1/2 cup per person.

Cranberry Compote: 1/4 cup per person.

Stuffing: 1 1/2 cups per person.

Side dishes : 1/2 cup per person for more than one side dish. If serving only one side dish plan on 1 1/2 cups per guest.

Potatoes or sweet potatoes: 5 to 6 ounces per person, which is about about 1 large golden yukon, or small russet potato, or half of a large sweet potato.

Salad: plan for 1/2-1 cup of salad per person unless the majority of your guests are counting calories, then I would increase by 50%.

Bread : estimate 1 1/2 rolls per person 

Pie: 1 pie will feed 8 people if you are serving additional desserts. If not, plan on one pie serving 6 guests .

Whipped topping: 1/4 cup of cream (measured before ) whipping per guest.

After dinner drinks: plan on 1 drink per guest. Depending on who your friends are. 

Wine: A typical wine bottle size is 750 ml that contains 25.4 fluid ounces. The glass size determines how many servings. For example, you’ll get approximately six servings per bottle using a 4-ounce wine glass compared to five servings using a 5-ounce glass.

Sparkling wine: I usually recommend 2 glasses of sparkling wine per guest. There are 6 full glasses of sparkling wine in a standard 750ml bottle.

Coffee: plan on 1 1/2 cups per guest after a meal.

Happy Holiday

Hassleback Potato Casserole

Acclaimed food science writer, J. Kenji López-Alt has developed this sort of “mash-up ” ( if you will ) of a classic French gratin, and a beautiful Hassleback potato recipe. The idea is to stand the slices of potato vertically, rather than laying them flat. This ensures each serving receives both a creamy potato serving and a crispy edge in each bite.

This is my adaption.

You’ll Need:

4 to 4 ½ pounds russet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8-inch thick slices with a sharp knife of on a mandoline 

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1/2 cup chicken stock

3 medium cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon fresh thyme, leaves removed for the stem

Kosher salt and black pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes

2 cups finely grated Gruyère cheese

1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

1 bunch chives, chopped for garnish

Here’s How:

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400’F degrees. Combine cheeses in a large bowl. Transfer 1/3 of cheese mixture to a separate bowl and set aside for garnish.

Add cream, stock, garlic and thyme to the cheese mixture, and mix well. Season with salt and pepper, add white pepper, and red chili flakes– stir to combine.

Add potato slices and toss with your hands until every slice is coated with cream mixture, making sure to separate any slices that are sticking together to get the cream mixture in between them.

Prepare a 2-quart casserole dish with butter. Place on a high sided baking sheet.

Pick up a handful of potatoes, organizing them into a neat deck stack, lay them in the casserole dish with their edges aligned vertically. Continue placing potatoes in the dish, working around the perimeter and into the center until all the potatoes have been added. The potatoes should be very tightly packed. If necessary, slice an additional potato, coat with cream mixture, and add to casserole. It is important the potatoes are very tight.

Pour the excess cheese mixture evenly over the top of the potatoes in the casserole dish until the mixture comes halfway up the sides. You may not need all the excess liquid.

Cover dish tightly with foil– sprayed on the inside with non-stick cooking spray. Transfer to the oven. Bake for 30-40 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking until the top is golden brown, about 45 minutes longer.

Carefully remove from oven, sprinkle with remaining cheese, and return to oven. Bake until deep golden brown and crisp on top, about 30 minutes longer. Remove from oven, let rest for a few minutes,  garnish with chopped chives and serve.

Enjoy!

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!

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 

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 ! 

How to Make Your Halloween Sugar-Free in Five Minutes or Less!

Halloween is just around the corner and you might be cringing at the thought of your child coming home with that giant bag full of candy.

Honestly, who says treats have to be candy? Make life easier for you and healthier for the kids in your neighborhood.

Purchase party favors in bulk via mail-order instead of candy!

Here are a few suggestions:  

Glow in the dark vampire teeth 

Transferable Tattoos 

Halloween Slime

Spider Rings

Jack-O-Lantern Stickers

Sidewalk Chalk

Playdoh

Halloween Stamps

Bubbles

Movie passes

Color Crayons 

Glow-in-the-dark bracelets

Themed pencils

It’s really ok to put a healthy spin on Halloween this year.

For you too- think how many times have you gotten into the fun-sized candy bars

waiting for the holiday to arrive! Plus, sidewalk chalk has a longer life expectancy.

What are you handing out this Halloween?

Earthy Egg Embellishment

Searching for eggs around the yard is an annual tradition for many families in the Spring, but first there is decorating to be done. Dyes are easy enough to find in stores this time of year. No special trip to the store is necessary this year. All the things you need are in or around your house.

Decorating eggs has various historical roots. Eggs are a symbol of Springtime, and new life. The ancient Zoroastrians painted eggs for their new year’s celebration, which falls on the spring equinox. Sculptures on the walls of Persepolis, capital of the Achaemenid Empire, show people carrying eggs to the king. Jewish Passover Sedar calls for hard-boiled eggs called Beitzah dipped in salt. Thanks to craft.com, we have a homemade recipe for your own beautiful eggs.

This year start a new tradition at home by playing with flowers, clovers and pretty leafs as the inspiration for your beautiful eggs. So many things can be used as dye like berries and veggies – yep, a fun way to play with your veggies!

You’ll Need
White eggs
Flowers and leaves to decorate eggs
Pot of water
Dye (onion skins, blueberries, asparagus / spinach…)
1 tablespoon white vinegar to intensify the dye
One pair old nylon stockings (in a color that won’t bleed)
Thread

Here’s How
Cut up your stockings into 4-5″ sections. Tie off one end.

Wash the eggs in mildly soapy water to clean off any oils or residue that might keep the dye from being absorbed.

Dry off the eggs and place them in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use.
Choose leaves and flowers carefully, looking for interesting and distinctive shapes. Plants that can be pressed flat create interesting two-dimensional graphics.

Carefully place the egg in the stocking pouch. Be careful, your plant could move around. This will get easier with practice.

Tie off the other end of the stocking, making sure the stocking is stretched tightly as possible around the egg to hold your natural inspiration in place.

Add the dye material – blueberries, raspberries, spinach, asparagus – with vinegar and eggs to the water. Boil for 20 minutes. Remember to do the dyes separately. Or, mix blueberries and strawberries and see what happens.

Remove the eggs, cut off the stocking and leaves. Then rinse your eggs. Rub vegetable oil on for a nice finish.

Lastly, share any really special designs with me in the comment section below!

The BEST Ever Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe. 

I have ever so slightly adapted the very, very famous- New York Times, chocolate chip cookie recipe. Enjoy! 
Ingredients:

8½ ounces cake flour

8½ ounces bread flour

1¼ teaspoons fresh baking soda

1½ teaspoons fresh baking powder

1½ teaspoons kosher salt

10 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature

10 ounces dark brown sugar

8 ounces granulated cane sugar

2 eggs

1 egg yolk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract or 1 Tablespoon Vanilla bean paste

20 ounces good quality dark chocolate chunks,( at least 60% cacao content) chopped into 1/4 -1/2 inch nuggets

Maldon salt, for garnish on top

Method
Step 1: In a medium size bowl, sift together the flours, baking soda, baking powder and kosher salt. Incorporate well to ensure ingredients are evenly distributed. 

Step 2: In the bowl of your stand mixer or large mixing bowl with paddle attachment; cream together the butter and both sugars until mixture is pale in color and creamy in texture.

Step 3: Add the eggs and yolk, one at a time- mixing well after each addition. 

Step 4: Add the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low, and gradually add the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. 5 to 10 seconds. Do not over beat.

Step 5: Using a rubber spatula, scrape the bottom of the bowl and mix an additional 10 -15 seconds. Fold in the chocolate by hand.  

Step 6: Chill in an airtight container over night or up to 72 hours. Using a 3 1/2 ounce portion scoop. Portion onto cookie sheet immediately before baking. 
Step 7: Preheat oven to 325’F.  Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18-20 minutes. 

Notes
Makes approximately 1 1/2 dozen large 5 inch cookies. Or approximately 40 smaller, 2-3 inch. 
I like to use a 1 ounce portion control scooper and scoop onto a parchment lined baking sheet, wrap and freeze individually overnight. Once frozen, I pack into one larger airtight container- store in the freeze and use as needed straight into the oven. Bake 1 ounce cookies for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown, and no signs of shimmering sugar crystals on top. 

This recipe works well in a parchment log and sliced in 1/2 inch rounds prior to baking.

Dough should always be baked when chilled.

Variations with nuts or white chocolate chunks or both combine are delicious. 
Photo credit: NYT

Vegan Baked Apple Pastry Roses

I wrote this recipe for my friends over at #30SecondMom. Thought I’d share with you too if you don’t follow me there.

You’ll need:

  • 6 red apples, cored, halved and sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1/2 cup melted vegan butter or regular butter
  • 1 package phyllo dough
  • nonstick spray
  • water or nut milk, to seal
  • equal parts cinnamon and sugar
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • powdered sugar

Here’s how to make it:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Saute the apples in the vegan butter until soft.
  3. Lay 4 phyllo sheets flat and spread butter in between each sheet.
  4. Cut four 3-inch by 6-inch strips.
  5. Sprinkle the strips with cinnamon-sugar mixture.
  6. Place apple slices overlapping along the long side of the dough. Use about half an apple per strip. Top with the almonds.
  7. Fold the bottom half of the dough up to meet the other side of the dough, enclosing about 1/4 to 1/2 inch of the apple slices to form one long ruler-like pocket. Now roll from the right to the left to form the rose. Use water or nut milk to seal the edges.
  8. Bake in the muffin tins for about 10-12 minutes, or until brown.
  9. Cool and top with powdered sugar before serving.