Thanksgiving 2015

We had the honor and pleasure of cooking Thanksgiving again this year for a really great family.

I bought a local turkey as I did last year from Long Shadow Farm in Berthoud, CO. Unlike last year when I arrived at the farm to find a woman seated at a desk in the garage near a large refrigerator distributing chilled birds to anyone who had pre-ordered, this year I walked into a slaughtering/de-feathering/cleaning of turkeys small-scale processing line that I was not expecting at all. Our bird hadn’t even been chilled as she had been slaughtered just a few hours prior to pickup. Talk about having a real understanding of where our food comes from! I have that image seared into my memory… and will spare you the few photos I took.

We’re very fortunate to purchase such a quality turkey, so it’s extra important to me to serve it with all made from scratch accompaniments and sides.

I made the caramelized onion gravy base on Tuesday night. I’ve been making this gravy for more than ten years now, and each year I think it tastes better than the last. The butter and onions cooked low and slow for six hours. Six. Hours.

caramelized onion gravy

I started with a full pot and snapped a photo every couple of hours…

caramelized onion gravycaramelized onion gravy

 

 

 

 

 

 

…until I couldn’t resist spooning it into my mouth.

caramelized onion gravy

Wednesday I made my pumpkin pie, but failed to snap a photo. I also made a cranberry sauce with roasted shallots and mandarin zest.

Cranberry Sauce

Thursday, Chef and I cooked the rest of the meal on site in their Boulder home. The beautiful bird went into the 325 degree oven after being rubbed with butter and herbs. She amazingly and somewhat surprisingly appeared done after just under two hours. That was a fast cooker!

Longshadow Farm TurkeyRoasted Longshadow Farm Turkey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I put together a wild rice stuffing while Sean made a sweet potato and chevre gratin, which has now become a Thanksgiving tradition for this family.

sweet potato chevre gratinSweet Potato Chevre Gratin

The ingredients in this dish are simply sinful- The health benefits of sweet potatoes are far outnumbered by the cheese and heavy cream combo. But, that’s what makes it so GOOD too!

While the gratin baked, Sean worked on maple glazed carrots in a cast iron skillet.

maple glazed carrots

Next, he assembled green beans in shallot butter topped with fried shallots.

green beans with fried shallots

We added the pan juices to the gravy base, carved the bird,

caramelized onion gravyRoasted Local Turkey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And set up a small buffet for them.

Thanksgiving 2015

We can’t wait until next year!

 

Palisade Peaches in Vanilla Bean Syrup

August is here and Palisade Peaches are in their prime. Last year Chef Sean made some vanilla bean syrup for his canned peaches, and they were some of our FAVORITE jars to open in the winter. Looks like we’ve now started a yearly tradition.

Peaches in Vanilla Syrup

These peaches are pretty easy to make. This post here isn’t the place to learn the basics of canning, so be sure to familiarize yourself with sterilizing jars, water baths, etc. if you’ve never canned before. I also don’t have ratios and proper measurements… it’s more of an idea for you home canners to try.

First, Sean made a vanilla bean syrup by boiling equal parts sugar and water with a couple vanilla beans that he sliced in half long-ways and scraped out the beautiful caviar-like black beads. He let this reduce and cool completely.

Next, the peaches were blanched, which means boiled for a few minutes and then plunged into an ice bath. This allows the skins to be easily removed.

When cool to the touch, he sliced them in half and removed the pits, stacked them in jars, covered them in syrup, and processed them in a water bath for 15-20 minutes. After removing the jars from the boiling water, set them somewhere and allow them to cool. You’ll hear the pop of the lids after a little while, letting you know they’re properly sealed. Store in a cool place until winter.

Enjoy!

Maple Masala Pecan and Szechwan Peppercorn Crusted Tofu

The first thing Sean said upon tasting the Cosmic Maple Masala Pecans by Olomomo Nut Company was that they’d make a great crust to something. Indeed they did with the addition of Szechwan Peppercorns from Savory Spice Shop.

Cosmic Maple Masala Pecans and Szechwan Peppercorn Crust

He ground them in our mortar and pestle, and then crusted some extra firm tofu that had been (of course) frozen, thawed, and pressed. The tofu pieces were crusted and pan fried in peanut oil until oh-so-gorgeously golden brown.

Crusted Tofu

These were a perfect accompaniment to sautéed greens and brown rice. Nothing fancy, but a somewhat effortless great meal thanks to the maple masala crust.

A Bolder Table in Texas

Sean and I had the honor and privilege of being flown down to Texas to cook for one of our clients. We’ve had the pleasure of cooking for them a number of times in Boulder, but never for their friends in Texas. After a brief discussion with the hostess, he planned a spring-themed menu. We had the interesting opportunity to shop in the enormous (which is an understatement) Whole Foods in Austin, drive out to a ranch about an hour away from the city, and experience the peacefulness of a Texas ranch during a few breaks in our marathon of a day.

We started with some h’ordeuvres: a cheese platter and smoked salmon toast points. I was in charge of the cheese platter and followed his directions on the smoked salmon toast points topped with chives and capers. These were ready for the guests upon arrival with a little bubbly to get the book club gals talking.

Cheese Platter

Smoked Salmon Toast Points

 

After a bit of nibbling and socializing, we steered our guests to the dining room for our first course: chilled pea soup with creme fraiche and mint.

Chilled Pea Soup

Our second course was an arugula, endive, and grapefruit salad in a citrus vinaigrette.

Arugula, Endive, and Grapefruit Salad

Our entree was a citrus brined chicken breast on risotto with grilled asparagus and a citrus olive relish. I must declare- the chicken came out perfectly. I ate an entire portion and had to show serious restraint to not dive into a second.

Chicken, Risotto, Asparagus

Dessert was a pound cake (I made it!) topped with hand-whipped cream and the last jar of Sean’s Western Slope peaches in vanilla syrup that he had canned in Boulder last summer and brought with us to Texas.

Pound Cake

In the end, we had a fantastic time working together, hanging with the homeowners, and staying the night deep in the heart of Texas. We can’t wait to do it again!

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