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A Toast To All by Kelly Sears

At this hectic holiday time of the year, we all tend to keep our heads down, focused on the task at hand and the next task on our list. Is the turkey thawed, the gravy silky, the mashed potatoes lump free, the linens pressed, and the table set? But, if you’ve taken a class with me before, or you know me well, you know my thought is, it’s not what’s on your table, it’s who’s around it that should keep our focus.

But what about those not around your table? How do we keep them present this holiday?

Perhaps the hole in your heart is fresh, maybe still aching, or now a brief tug, but the absence is present, the chair once filled, empty. We can choose to be sad or we can choose to celebrate, in some way, somehow, what they would have shared at the table.

For the nine that gather around our table this Thanksgiving, more than half that number that don’t.

Bud, Dan’s dad, creator of “Bud’s secret spice” seasons our bird. We still have a jar with his special label and handwriting. He preached the importance of great stock as the foundation to any great gravy; ours is silky smooth for this reason. The apple trees on the Northern Michigan property where he chose to retire, still bear fruits and fills our apple pies.

It’s Eileen’s (Dan’s mom) stuffing that fills the big bird’s cavity. We always laugh that ours doesn’t taste quite the same. We’re convinced her secret ingredient was the ash that fell from her cigarette while she chain smoked her prep! The kid’s split up her dishes so we would all have a few. Our table-setting is mismatched to include some of hers and some of Grandma Wilma’s.

Yep. Grandma Wilma, not the least bit warm and fuzzy, but she brought the shrimp each year, and we shared a slice of mincemeat pie since we were the only two that liked it. We keep the coffee hot since she wouldn’t have it any other way.

Aunt Helen didn’t make it often but when she did, we would always play cards after dinner. She taught us a game called hand and foot and we usually played while eating dessert. I laminated the rules she wrote out to make sure her instructions never faded away.  Aunt Helen was the most giving person I have ever known. When I shop for our meal, I shop for someone else’s too.

Barton, my mom’s husband, Warren’s brother, was an artist in New York. His art fills our walls. It’s edgy, thought provoking, and opinionated. It makes for great conversation.

Warren’s mom Marie, was a woman of modest means with a rich heart. She was a linen maker in her younger years. We try and keep the cranberry sauce from spilling and the gravy from dribbling on her work, but the stains just end up being covered with filled dishes instead. We fill our plates with her serving spoons and our pie with her servers.

And he hasn’t been seated at my table in over 35 years, but I mentally set a chair for him. My dad used to tilt his head back and laugh deep from his belly. Every time I set the table, I set it for people who gather around it to do the very same. My dad was a lover of bread. Rolls are never missing from the table.

Set the table for those who can come, toast those who can’t make it, honor those missing from yours by folding them into the day.

Happy Thanksgiving to all~

Here’s a little something to toast those, no matter how they are present.

Pomegranate Sparklers
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Ingredients
  1. 1 ounce vodka
  2. 1 ounce house-made pomegranate grenadine (equal parts sugar to pomegranate juice)
  3. 1 ounce fresh orange juice
  4. Splash of lemon juice
  5. 4 ounces Prosecco
  6. Pomegranate arils and lemon zest for garnish
Instructions
  1. In a mixing glass, add vodka, pomegranate grenadine, orange juice, and splash of lemon juice. Add ice and shake. Strain into a glass over ice and top with prosecco. Garnish with some fresh arils and lemon zest.
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Cheddar Beer Soup with Black Pepper Croutons

Cheddar Beer Soup with Black Pepper Croutons
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Black Pepper Croutons
  1. 3 tablespoons olive oil
  2. 4 cups rustic bread cubes
  3. ½ cup finely shredded Pecorino Romano
  4. Salt and pepper
  5. Cheddar Beer Soup
  6. 3 tablespoons olive oil
  7. 1 medium onion, chopped
  8. 1 clove garlic, minced
  9. 1 pound red skinned potatoes, peeled and chopped into ½” cubes
  10. 1 c beer
  11. 4 cups vegetable stock
  12. ¼ teaspoon dry mustard
  13. Several dashes Tabasco sauce
  14. Several dashes of Worcestershire
  15. 6 ounces shredded sharp cheddar
  16. Salt and pepper
Croutons
  1. Toss the bread cubes in olive oil and season with salt. Spill the coated cubes on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees until golden brown. Remove from heat and immediately toss with cheese and black pepper. Cool until ready to use.
Soup
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy saucepan over medium high heat. Add the onion and sauté until onions begin to sweat, about five minutes; add the potatoes and continue sautéing another 10 minutes; add garlic and sauté until flavor is released, about 2 minutes. Add the beer and the stock, increase heat to a simmer and cook about 20 minutes until potatoes and vegetables are very soft.
  2. Remove from heat and puree the soup in either a blender or use an immersion blender depending on desired consistency. Return the soup to the pot and place over low heat. Add the mustard, Worcestershire and Tabasco. Add the cheese a handful at a time, stirring between each addition (do not bring to a boil). Simmer until the cheese is melted and smooth. Taste and adjust with salt and pepper. Garnish with croutons.
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Vegetable and Fontina Frittata

Vegetable and Fontina Frittata
Serves 8
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Ingredients
  1. 8 large eggs
  2. 4 tablespoons whipping cream
  3. 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus a pinch more
  4. 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  5. 2 tablespoon butter
  6. 2 tablespoon olive oil
  7. 1 lb. asparagus, trimmed, cut into 1/4 to 1/2-inch pieces
  8. 2 tomato, seeded, diced; or canned diced-drained
  9. 6 ounces Fontina Cheese, diced
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to broil. Whisk the eggs, cream, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper in a medium bowl to blend. Set aside.
  2. Heat the butter and oil in a 12” Toughened Non Stick or 10.25” Cast Iron skillet over medium heat. Add the asparagus and sauté until crisp tender, about 2 minutes. Raise the heat to medium-high. Add the tomato and a pinch of salt and sauté 2 minutes longer.
  3. Pour the egg mixture over the asparagus mixture and cook for a few minutes until the eggs start to set. Sprinkle with cheese. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until the frittata is almost set but the top is still runny, about 2 minutes. Place under the broiler & broil until the top is set and golden brown on top, about 5 minutes.
  4. Let the frittata stand 2 minutes. Using a spatula, loosen the frittata from the skillet and slide it onto a plate.
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Mixed Berry or Peach Clafoutis

Mixed Berry or Peach Clafoutis
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 3 large eggs
  2. 1 cup milk
  3. ¼ cup heavy cream
  4. ½ cup flour
  5. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  6. ½ cup granulated sugar
  7. 1 teaspoon butter
  8. 2 cups mixed berries or 2 medium peaches, peeled and thinly sliced
Instructions
  1. In a blender or with a mixer, combine the first 6 ingredients on high speed for 30 seconds
  2. Butter 10.25” cast iron skillet. Pour 1 cup of batter into the skillet and bake 7 minutes.
  3. Remove from the oven and carefully arrange the berries or peaches on top. Gently pour the remaining batter over the fruit.
  4. Return to the oven and bake 45 minutes more, or until golden and puffy on top. A testing knife should come out clean.
  5. Let cool slightly and serve warm or at room temperature. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.
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Orange Pecan Wild Rice

Orange Pecan Wild Rice
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup wild rice
  2. 1 1/4 cup chicken stock
  3. 1 1/4 cup water
  4. 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  5. 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  6. 1 cup seedless green grapes, halved
  7. 1/2 cup scallions, sliced in rounds, white and light green parts (2 scallions)
  8. 1 cup pecan halves, toasted and coarsely chopped
  9. 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  10. 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  11. 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Place the rice, chicken stock, 1 ¼ cups water, 1 tablespoon of the butter, and 1 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cover the pot and lower the heat to a simmer (pull the pan halfway off the burner) and cook for about 1 hour, until the rice is tender and the grains begin to burst open.
  2. Stir the rice occasionally while it’s cooking, scraping the bottom of the pan to prevent it from sticking. Turn off the heat and allow the rice to steam for about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir the remaining tablespoon of butter into the rice, then add the grapes, scallions, pecans, orange zest, orange juice, 1 teaspoon salt, and the pepper and toss well. Taste for seasonings and serve hot.
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Kids Crew Chef Club

Marcel’s membership only kids club designed to foster a love of cooking, baking and all things kitchen related for our blossoming chefs (ages 6-12 years). For more information and to register a child, click here.

The Beauty of the Scale by Rachel Cuzzone

The Beauty of the Scale – as told by the Chocolate Crinkle Cookie.

I have to say, I’m a little confused with all this back and forth weather.

But I have decided to take full advantage of the recent snow that we received (even though it was on Halloween!!) and go full on Christmas baking mode – with my favorite recipe for the holidays, Triple Chocolate Crinkle Cookies.

The snow and smells of holiday baking start to put my soul in a good place. For me, the holidays are all about the people and the food. It is all about gathering around the table with the people most important to you and always with a plate of cookies.

This cookie is one of my favorites due to the intense chocolate flavor, the additional option to add peppermint for the holidays, the chewy texture, and the super easy mixing process. If I’m really organized, I try to make a larger batch, and once I scoop them, keep a stash in the freezer for when I need a quick dessert for an event or late night pick me up.

You will notice below that the recipe is in grams. If you have ever baked with me before, you would have definitely noticed this as well. The way I defend this point is that it really allows you to begin the creative and flexible process of baking. When all of your ingredients are weighed in grams or ounces, the end recipe becomes that much more consistent and exact.  Then, once you start to develop the ease and consistency with weighing ingredients, you can begin to play with the quantities and types of ingredients. Look to slightly increase the fat content by adding a yolk to the recipe, or look for additional chewiness by switching out brown sugar for white sugar. I love to keep track of my process in recipe development through excel spreadsheets and percentages. It also comes in handy to help reduce dishes – no need for all the measuring cups and spoons!

Embrace the scale, take the chance on it! It will become your best friend with your baking! And help with all the upcoming holiday baking.

Note: Marcel’s sells cooking scales that are easy to read and use.

Triple Chocolate Crinkle Cookie
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Ingredients
  1. 151 grams all purpose flour
  2. 4 grams baking powder
  3. 1 gram baking soda
  4. 3 grams kosher salt
  5. 63 grams cocoa powder
  6. 335 grams brown sugar
  7. 163 grams eggs, room temperature
  8. 5 grams vanilla extract
  9. 112 grams of dark chocolate (I like 91%)
  10. 51 grams unsalted butter, melted
  11. 50 grams dark chocolate, roughly chopped (I like 61%)
  12. 4 drops peppermint oil, optional
  13. Granulated sugar, as needed
  14. Powdered sugar, as needed
Instructions
  1. Melt together the 112 grams of dark chocolate with the butter.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder and soda, cocoa powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Whisk together the brown sugar, vanilla, and eggs. Add the melted chocolate mixture into the egg mixture. Stir in the peppermint oil, if using. Stir in the flour mixture, mixing just to combine.
  4. Scoop dough into pieces about 1 ½ tablespoons in size (#40 scoop). Line up on a sheet pan and refrigerate overnight, or freeze for about 2 months. *If you decide to bake immediately, give your dough at least 1 hour to rest in the refrigerator.
  5. When ready to bake, preheat your oven to 325 F. Remove your chilled dough and roll in granulated sugar, followed by powdered sugar. Place onto parchment lined sheet pans, no more than 12 to one ½ sheet pan. Lightly press down. Bake about 12-15 minutes, until the edges are slightly firm.
  6. Store at room temperature for about 1 week, tightly wrapped or freeze baked cookies, up to 1 month.
Adapted from The Boy Who Bakes
Adapted from The Boy Who Bakes
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Turkey Tetrazzini

Turkey Tetrazzini
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Ingredients
  1. 5 tablespoons butter
  2. 8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  3. 4 green onions, chopped (2/3 cup)
  4. 2 tablespoons flour
  5. 2 cups chicken broth
  6. ¾ cup half-and-half, room temperature
  7. ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  8. ¼ cup sherry
  9. ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  10. ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  11. 2 cups hot cooked fusilli pasta
  12. 2 cups cooked turkey or chicken, diced
  13. 1 cup fine, fresh soft bread crumbs
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms and green onions. Sauté 8-10 min or until soft. Transfer to a large plate.
  3. Melt 2 more tablespoons butter in skillet and add flour, stirring until smooth, about 1 min. Stir in half-and-half and chicken broth. Cook, stirring occasionally, 6-8 min until lightly thickened and smooth. Remove from heat and stir in ¼ cup Parmesan and next 3 ingredients. Fold in mushroom mixture, cooked pasta and turkey. Return to medium heat and cook until heated through.
  4. Transfer to a lightly greased 11x7 baking dish. Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Mix in bread crumbs and remaining 1 T Parmesan. Sprinkle evenly over dish. Place on middle oven rack and bake 25-30 min or until bubbling and beginning to brown.
Notes
  1. Cooking Light
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Cranberry Chutney

Cranberry Chutney
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Ingredients
  1. 1 (12-ounce) package fresh or frozen (don't thaw) cranberries
  2. 1 cup unsweetened pineapple juice
  3. 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  4. 1/2 cup golden raisins
  5. 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  6. 1/2 teaspoon hot red-pepper flakes
  7. 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  8. 1/2 teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a 2-quart heavy saucepan.
  2. Simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until cranberries burst, then collapse, about 12 minutes.
  3. Transfer to a bowl and cool, uncovered (chutney will thicken as it cools). Chill chutney, covered, at least 8 hours for flavors to develop.
Notes
  1. Chutney can be made 5 days ahead and chilled, covered. Leftovers will keep, chilled, 2 weeks.
Marcel's Culinary Experience https://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

Roasted Pumpkin Millet and Herb Patties

Roasted Pumpkin Millet and Herb Patties
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Ingredients
  1. 1 small pumpkin (medium butternut squash)
  2. 1 zucchini, shredded
  3. olive oil, sea salt + black pepper
  4. 2 cups cooked millet, cooled
  5. 1 large free-range egg
  6. 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  7. 1/2 cup panic breadcrumbs
  8. 2 good big handfuls of fresh herbs, roughly chopped (I used flat parsley, rosemary, sage and thyme)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Peel and de-seed pumpkin (squash) and chop into small pieces. Place onto a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and season well with salt + pepper. Give it a good mix, then roast for 20-25 minutes, turning once during cooking, until golden and tender. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
  2. When pumpkin has cooled, place into a medium bowl along with remaining ingredients and mix well to combine. The pumpkin will break up, this is okay but try to keep a few little chunks intact too. Set mixture aside for 5 minutes to rest and absorb excess moisture. Heat a little olive oil in a large frying pan and shallow-fry tablespoonfuls of mixture for 1-2 minutes on either side, or until cooked through and golden. Transfer patties to a paper towel-lined plate while you continue to cook the remaining mixture.
  3. Sprinkled the patties with a little extra flaked salt if you like, and serve hot with cranberry relish (recipe found in Condiments section) and salad on the side.
Marcel's Culinary Experience https://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/