Homemade Holiday Marshmallows! 

Try this homemade marshmallow recipe as a base formula. You can make  additions of essential oils or flavored extracts along with organic food colors to create a variety of fun flavors.

So easy, you won’t believe it. You will never want eat a store bought marshmallow again! 

You’ll Need:

3 packages unflavored gelatin

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup light corn syrup

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Here’s How:

Combine the gelatin and 1/2 cup of cold water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and allow to dissolve while you make the syrup.

Meanwhile, combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. 

Raise the heat to high and cook until the syrup reaches 240’F degrees on a candy thermometer. 

With the mixer on low speed, very slowly pour the sugar syrup into the dissolved gelatin running a small stream while increasing the speed of the mixer onto high. Whip until the mixture is very thick and cooling, about 15 minutes. Once the volume has increased by 1/2, add the vanilla and mix thoroughly.

With a sieve, generously dust an 8 by 12-inch glass baking dish with confectioners’ sugar. Or spray generously with cooking spray. ( Avoid using any metal pans for this recipe) 

Quickly pour the marshmallow mixture into the pan, smooth the top with wet, clean hands. ( move fast because it sets quickly) Dust more confectioners’ sugar on top. Allow to sit uncovered overnight or until set ( a few hours) if you can’t stand the suspense. The longer it sits the more successful your final cuts will be. 

Turn the marshmallows onto a powered sugar dusted board and cut them in large squares. ( Use my cut technique with non-flavored dental floss ) 

Toss to dust all sides with more confectioners’ sugar. Enjoy!

Variations : Add 1 teaspoon of your favorite essential oils or extracts for flavors and 8-10 drops of organic food coloring for nice swirls or complete a solid pastel color.

Traditional Herb Crusted Prime Rib with Red Wine Reduction!

A true prime rib that is labeled USDA Certified Prime, is heavily marbled with a generous amount of fat. These cuts are usually reserved for top restaurants and are hard to come by. It may be better to seek out a fine aged prime rib. Aged beef is similarly hard to find in the supermarket, but you’ll find aged prime rib and other cuts for sale online that come right to your door. But ask your butcher first!

The typical prime rib serving size is around 10 ounces per person; a roast weighing 7-7½ pounds should serve 11 or 12 people.

You’ll Need:

8 ribs – prime rib of beef. Center cut, chine bone removed. (make sure to give your butcher a friendly reminder to remove the chine bone)
1 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves plus 1 large bunch
1/4 cup fresh thyme leaves
1/8 cup fresh rosemary leaves
1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves
1/4 cup fresh marjoram leaves
1/4 cup good quality olive oil
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and root removed
3 whole heads garlic, 1/4 cut off the top exposing cloves, skin and root left intact.
3 large shallots, cleaned roots removed
1 large onion, cleaned, cut into quarters
1 carrot, cleaned and sliced lengthwise
2 ribs of celery, cleaned cut in half
1/2 pound of unsalted butter, cut into pieces and kept cold
2 cups good quality Pinot Noir wine
Preferably Maldon salt or large flat crystal salt
Fresh ground black pepper

Here’s How:

Preheat oven to 475’F degrees. Clean and pick the leaves of the fresh herbs, reserving the stems. Except the extra bundle of parsley.

Prepare a large roasting pan with organic non-stick cooking spray. Check to make sure the roast will fit. Spray a cookie cooling rack with non-stick cooking spray, and lower into the roasting pan. Build a bed for the roast to lay on with the bundle of parsley, and all the stems left over from the herbs on top of the cookie rack. Add the carrot, onions quarters, the 3 whole heads of garlic on the side, and the celery ribs. Spritz everything with a good drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of salt and pepper. Set aside.

Pat the roast dry with paper towel. Season the roast generously with salt and fresh ground pepper by hand massaging it in ; on all sides. Set aside. In the bowl of your food processor, add 4 cloves of garlic, all the fresh herbs except the extra bundle of parsley, add 2 shallots and pulse to small mince.

Add salt and pepper and cold butter, pulse to combine well- make a paste.

Place roast, horizontally with the fat side up, in the roasting pan. Smother the roast with the butter mixture paying extra attention to the sides of the roast. Add 1 cup of beef stock to the bottom of the roasting and roast for 1 1/2-2 hours (20 minutes per pound), for rare –or until internal temperature reaches your desired temp ranges. ( see roasting notes below ) Bathing with juices from the bottom of the roasting pan every twenty minutes, without fail!

Start with high heat oven of 425’F Degrees and reduce temperature to 325’F Degrees after about 15 minutes of oven time.

When roast reaches your desired internal temperature, remove from the oven and allow to rest a minimum 10-20 minutes.

Keep in mind the internal portion of the roast will continue to cook, make sure to remove it from the oven ten minutes prior to your desired internal temperature. See below for important roasting notes.

Variation: To serve roast without bone, use a sharp knife and cut between the bone and the flesh. With your slightly angled knife, saw towards the bone, carving slowly–keep following the bone to the bottom where it can be completely removed.

Chef Notes: 

Use your meat thermometer about a half hour before the expected end of the roasting time. Make sure to insert it in the thickest part of the meat, not touching the fat or the bone.


When the internal temperature reaches 120° F
Degrees pull it out of the oven, and cover with foil.

Allow the roast sit for twenty minutes.

While resting the roast will continue to cook, reaching a temperature of about 125° F Degrees to 130° F Degrees. This is called the endo-thermic reaction. Cooking from the inside out.

A nice resting period allows the juices and flavors to permeate back into the roast instead of all over the cutting board!

Rare measures in at 120° to 125° with a bright red center that grows slightly pinkish towards the exterior.

Medium rare measures between 130° F Degrees to 135° F Degrees and are characterized by the extremely pink center portion that grows brown towards the exterior.

Medium meats have a light pink center, brown outer portions and readings of about 140°F Degrees to 145°F Degrees.

Medium well is not pink at all, and is achieved at 150° F Degrees to 155° F Degrees.

Well done is at 160° F Degrees and above and is characterized by a uniform brown color. 

Cover any exposed bones with a little oil and foil.

Red Wine Reduction

While roast is resting, strain drippings from the pan. Defat and add the remaining juices into a medium saucepan with wine, remaining garlic cloves, remaining chopped shallot.

Bring to a boil, and cook stirring occasionally until the liquid is reduced to 2/3’s of a cup, about 10 -15 minutes. Adjust heat as necessary to avoid boiling over or burning.

When liquid is reduced, remove from heat and whisk in remaining cold butter, 2 or 3 pieces at a time, waiting until pieces are melted before adding more. Season with salt and pepper.

Cover to keep warm and set aside. To serve beef cut between rib bones and serve bone in.

Serve sauce at the table on the side.

Holiday Worthy Brioche Bread Pudding with Bourbon Butterscotch Sauce !

Ahhhh, bourbon and brioche. Two of my favorite things! 

You’ll Need:

1/4 cup bourbon 

1/2 cup currants  

1-1/2 pound loaf of Brioche, torn into 1-2 inch chunks, or cut into cubes – allowed to stale overnight  

1 1/2 cups whole milk or substitute 

1/2 cup heavy cream or substitute

4 large eggs or substitute 

1 cup pure organic cane sugar, or coconut sugar

1 Tablespoon good quality pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

4-6 Tablespoons unsalted butter 

2 cups coarsely chopped pecans 

Bourbon Butterscotch Sauce, see recipe below 

Here’s How

Heat bourbon in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until warm. Pour the warmed bourbon over currants in a small bowl. Allow currants to reconstitute and plump. Minimum 1 hour, or overnight. 

Cut brioche into large 1-2 inch chunks and let sit out overnight uncovered to stale– or if you didn’t have time –slightly toast in a warm 375’F oven on a cookie sheet until dry.

Begin by Preheat oven to 350’F degrees. With the butter, generously prepare an 13 x 9 x 2 inch glass casserole dish by rubbing it into the pan using your hands — set aside. 

Add stale brioche pieces to a large mixing bowl and set aside. In an additional medium sized bowl, combine cream, milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla, salt, cinnamon and allspice. With a wire whisk– beat well to combine. 

Pour into bread mixture. Add reconstituted currents and any remaining soaking liquid. Add the nuts. Combine well and mix into the bread well without compromising  the shape of the cubes. 

Place the bread and egg mixture into the buttered baking dish and cover with plastic wrap. 

Allow to sit overnight in the refrigerator for best results –or a minimum of an hour on the counter. 

Bring to room temperature and bake until bread is browned around edges and custard is cooked, about 35 -40 minutes. 

Allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Serve warm with vanilla bean ice cream and warm bourbon butterscotch sauce.

Bourbon Butterscotch Sauce 

You’ll Need:

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup organic corn syrup 

3 Tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup heavy cream

1 vanilla bean, cut open and scraped of seeds

2 Tablespoons good quality bourbon 

pinch of salt 

Here’s How:

In a very small saucepan, heat the cream with the vanilla bean and the pod. Bring to a simmer for 1-2 minutes. Allow to cool. Set aside.

In a large, high sided, heavy bottomed saucepan, add the brown sugar, corn syrup, butter and salt together and bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar.  

Let the mixture simmer for about 5-8 minutes, or until it’s reached a maple syrup type consistency. Remove from heat, whisk in the heavy cream into the sugar mixture discarding vanilla bean pod. 

Add bourbon and stir until smooth. ( the mixture will bubble up after adding the cream take special precaution not to let it bubble over) 

Note: The sauce can be made up to 3 days ahead. Allow to cool completely and store refrigerated in an airtight container until ready to use.  

Reheat before serving.

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

The Best Thanksgiving Stuffing I’ve Ever Made! 

Grand Mariner Apricot and Sausage Stuffing. 

This recipe is adapted from The Silver Palate Cookbook. One of the first cookbooks I ever purchased. Co-Authors, Sheila Lukins and Julee Rosso Miller were hot on the gourmet carry-out scene in 1980’s. They really kicked off the “Artisan” food trend!

From that birthed, The Silver Palate Cookbook in 1982. An instant success! This book helped cement America’s interest in quality cooking and helped acquaint cooks with purchasing much-needed  “gourmet” ingredients.

Pioneers, if not legends for their Manhattan, food-to-go and gourmet ingredient boutique ! One of my favs!

You’ll Need:

1 cup diced dried apricots

1 1/2 cups Grand Mariner

1 cup unsalted butter

2 cups coarsely chopped celery

1 large onion, chopped small dice

1 lb bulk pork sausage

1 lb herb stuffing mix

1 cup slivered almonds, toasted

2 cups rich chicken broth

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon dry sage

Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Here’s How:

Place the apricots and 1 cup of the Grand Marnier in a small saucepan. Heat to boiling. Remove from heat and set aside

Melt ½ cup of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the celery and onion and saute for 10 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.

In the same skillet, cook the sausage, crumbling it with a fork, until it’s no longer pink. Remove from heat and add to the celery & onion mixture.

Add the stuffing mix, apricots with the liquid, the almonds. Stir to combine.

Heat the remaining 1/2 cup butter and chicken stock just until the butter melts. Pour over the stuffing mixture and add the remaining 1/2 cup of Grand Marnier. Stir well to moisten the stuffing, adding the thyme, ground sage, salt and pepper to taste.

Bake stuffing in a large buttered casserole at 325’F degrees for 30-35 minutes.

Note: Enough to stuff a 21-24 pound bird with a small extra casserole on the side.

Now, should you stuff the bird is the question!

Happy Holidays

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!

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 ! 

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.