Sunday, November 29, 2009

Some-What Homemade #7: Thanksgiving Leftovers!

Thanksgiving is over and now the focus turns to cleaning out the fridge. Year after year, I remember chewing through two-day old turkey sandwiches in a quest to finish the remains of the once succulent bird.  I vowed that this year would be different................although a classic turkey sandwich variation would have to be in the works for traditions sake.

First up, Perogies filled with Turkey and Stuffing. Think of perogies as mini pies that can be stuffed with anything.  In this case, leftover diced turkey mixed with leftover stuffing. The dough is actually made from leftover Nana-roll dough.  Just punch it down, stretch it out, then cut circles. Stuff, fold, crimp with a fork, and bake. Serve with a little leftover cranberry and some braised cabbage to give it a little Old World feel.

Back by popular demand, the Turkey Sliders with Cranberry-Mayo. Another double use of leftovers, day old Nana-rolls and finely shredded turkey breast. Fold a little cranberry sauce into some mayonnaise and then lather it thick and served with a slice of tomato.  Apparently, the Mrs. has been eating these since she was a whittle one and never new how trendy they actually where.

Getting tired of the flavor of turkey.  By day three, just pull that thigh meat and douss it with a little of your favorite barbeque sauce to make Pulled-Turkey BBQ Sandwiches. Top with some cheese of your choice and serve that last little bit of sweet potatoes casserole.  If you got em, pull out the Bush's Baked Beans to keep the BBQ theme alive.

Lastly, get rid of all those wilting holiday herbs and that last bit of turkey by tossing together a little plate of pasta. If you still have some leftover cheese from your pre-holiday cooking or some cheese leftover from yesterday's BBQ sandwiches......................just toss it all in!  This is the back-of-the-fridge meal that will clean house.  Anything you got left, throw it in and look forward to the holiday special that emerges. If you tend to finish all your turkey on day one, please disregard all previously mentioned information.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving for Two!

Keeping with tradition, the Mrs. and I put together our 2nd Annual California Walnofer's Thanksgiving feast for two. Classic and traditional will always be the theme around the Walnofer Thanksgiving table and this year was no different. Luckily, I have picked up some "chef's tricks" over the past year that brought the meal up a level.

The art of brining the Turkey is the number one key to success for carving up a juicy, tender bird. But, make sure you have room in your fridge and a non-leaky vessel. Just barely! 
Be sure to start this procedure two days in advance with a thawed bird. One day in brine, and what about the other day?

Allow for one day in the refrigerator to dry the skin out so it will be able to become golden and crispy. The moving air under refrigeration is key to pulling the moisture out of the skin of the bird. Even though it is brined, still season the skin heavily and rub the bird with canola oil infused with chopped rosemary or festive herb of your choice.

Bake on lowest rack in oven at 500˚.  Watch those hotspots if you have a circa-1960's gas oven! There isn't any meat in the neck cavity so don't worry if it gets a little darkened. Check out that golden, crispy skin. Be sure to truss the bird up tight so everything cooks evenly.

Voilla! The entire spread..................for two. Complete with all the sides, Jus de Giblet with Apple, Ocean Spray's finest Cranberry Sauce, and the Mrs. Family Secret Signature "W" Pumpkin Pie. Speaking of sides...............

.............Cinnamon and Cardamon Roasted Sweet Potatoe Puree with Hickory Smoked Bacon.

.............Pugliese Bread Stuffing with Apples, Fried Sage, and Roasted Chestnuts. Wanna know a little product development secret to replicate that fabulous color of StoveTop from Betty Crocker..................add a pinch of Turmeric to capture the color.

Nana's recipe Dinner Rolls. Great for sopping up jus de giblet and apple gravy.

Carved and ready for, tomorrow, and probably till the real Thanksgiving.

No Thanksgiving meal in Napa Valley is complete without the proper wine pairing. Last year we tried the 2006 Cuvaison Bald Mountain Vineyard Napa Valley Zinfandel and we were converted to Zin with T-Day for life. This year we pulled a 2004 Chateau Montelena "Montelena Estate" Napa Valley Zinfandel out of our cellar. Superb wine with all the elements to accentuate a Thanksgiving feast.  Much thanks to Bo Barret and George Blanckensee for blessing us with this gift to enjoy at our Family Table. It helped make this the tastiest Thanksgiving of all.  Now, what to do with all the leftovers......................there is only two of us eating all this! I've got some ideas.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Cuisines of Europe and the Mediterranean: Scandinavia!

The last stop on this culinary tour through the Old World ended in Scandinavia. Very bidding for a country that has been shaping the food culture of Europe since the late eigth century. The cuisine today can not be labeled as barbaric Viking food, but some influences are still prevalent.

Swedish Meatballs. Smothered, covered, and tasty. But not all of the cuisine of the North is meatballs.

Glazed Roast Leg of Lamb with Root Vegetables is a common protein used around all parts of Scandinavia. The honey mustard marinade acts as a tenderizer and a flavor enhancer.

On the last day, two groups performed the same menus, therefore I felt it was justified to hold an unofficial Frikadeller throwdown. Would you like your Danish meat patties with either Fruit Berry Ketchup or Madeira Sauce? I pick ketchup everytime!

Pork Loin Stuffed with Apples and Prunes. Add some karo syrup blanched potato chips fried in duck fat and some slices of apple confit for a Danish delight that is tastier than a Danish pastry. That concludes Cusines of Europe and the Mediterranean.  Now we take a little break for Thanksgiving and then into Baking and Pastry Skills. There is never a break from the kitchen...............I need to get my turkey in brine!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Cuisines of Europe and the Mediterranean: Austria, Hungry, Poland, Russia!

Let's celebrate the cuisines that have been feeding Walnofer, Wallnofer, and/or Walnoffer families for the past 6 centuries in the Tirol region of southern Austria and northern Italy.  And, in America for that matter.

Everyone has seen the famous Weinerschnitzel that put Austria on the culinary map, but rolled beef stuffed with dijon mustard and dill pickles is way more exciting. Roulades of Beef. Get 'em while they are hot!

Is it from Germany?  Maybe from Austria? But actually, Beef Stroganov is native orignially to Russia. I won't lie, I grew up eating the stuff cleverly crafted by Betty Crocker. It tastes a lot better when you substitute beef tenderloin for ground beef and when you reduce your onions and mushrooms in German Riesling instead of just adding boiling water.

Hungarian Stuffed Cabbage.  You guessed it, it is from Hungary. I never thought stuffed cabbage would make me hungary, but this one does. There is a lost art in the use of cabbage in our American cuisine. Except for that '80s diet fad that I remember my parents doing on a number of occasions

Speaking of soup, get out the root veg and let's make some Borshch Moskovsky soup from Russia. Raw beets gives this soup its delightful, some-what unappealing color. If you look closely in the ethnic foods aisle at your local Safeway, you can actually find the regular and reduced sodium version of this Russian delicacy on the bottom shelf.

Perogies are from Poland, but almost every culture has their version of these stuffed mini-pies. Stewed Cabbage, mashed potatoes, and cheese fill these bite size treats. Boil em, fry em, or bake em! Delicious any way.

Polish Baked Stuffed Carp. Carp is the fish of choice during the holiday season in Poland. Lore is that Poles carry their carp home alive from the market in buckets filled with water.  Then once in the home, the carp is stored in the family bathtub until it is time for the meal.  Wow! Freshness-guaranteed.

What do you do when your fish isn't fresh? Well, wrap it in pastry. This Salmon in Pastry concept hails from Russia but shares a striking resemblance to the cuisine of the Alaskan Eskimos. That Bering Land Bridge theory might just be true! What's left in Europe..............Scandanavia.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Cuisines of Europe and the Mediterranean: Greece, Turkey, England, Scotland, Ireland, Belgium!

Weve got lot of Europe to cover in the next few days before we switch our focus to Thanksgiving. Better smoosh Greece, Turkey, England, Scotland, Ireland, Belgium all in one.

Baba Ghanoush with Pita Bread. Classic Greek eggplant and tahini dip. Great with pita. Substitute for Velvetta Cheese dip and serve at your next Super Bowl Party.

Spanakopita. Little Greek stuffed carrots, broccoli, feta, nutmeg, raisins, and curry powder triangle pockets.  I have found a new love in phyllo dough.

Chef Almir introduced the class to a unique wine made throughout the Mediterranean region. Passito de Pantelleria. This is a raisin wine made from grapes that have been dried to concentrate their juice. Somehwhat similar to ice wine without having to endure living in the cold weather.

Speaking of cold.  Up to Belgium we go where cyclocross is king and the pavĂ© paves the roads. This country breeds hardened citizens and they need hearty foods to make it through those winters. You can make them happy with Chicory au Gratin and of course, some of those famous Belgian beers. But leave room for those fine Belgian chocolates and of course, those waffles in the morning.

Speaking of beers, Ireland is pretty proud of theirs as well.  Forget champagne and oysters, the Irish would rather have Baked Oysters with Bacon, Cabbage, and Guinness Sabayon.

Scotch Eggs from Scotland. Maybe the most interesting thing I have ever seen in culinary school. Do them right and the yolks will actually remain runny. Encased Sunny-side up eggs. Delightful!

Classified as Belgian, but could quite easily be a hometown favorite of just about any town in Europe. Mussels in White Wine and Shallots. Where to next, the motherland!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Cuisines of Europe and the Mediterranean: France, Spain, Italy!

I was a little bit shocked to discover that Cuisines of Europe and the Mediterranean only had two days in the schedule for all of France, Spain, and Italy.  I had spent 5 months traveling all over France, and even dipped my toe into Spain and Italy and I for sure didn't see it all then.  Even though, two days is all we get and here are some of the classics.

Burgundy produced the classic Coq au Vin. Braised rooster in red wine (Pinot of course), lardons, garlic and mushrooms. Since their is not a lot of demand for rooster in the American kitchen, the capon is the best substitute. Similar to a steer in the cattle world, the capon is...................well, I think Bob Barker said it best on the Price is Right, "Help control the pet population. Have your pets spayed or neutered."

Moving into Spain, the classic Pork Chops Stuffed with Prunes and Pine Nuts with a Port Wine reduction sauce. Could be French, the course guide says it Spainish, I say it is delicious!

And of course nothing says Spain like Paella! Paella de Marsico y Carne made with chicken, pork, peas, shrimp, mussels, rice, and clams. Sort of like a rice version of all those shellfish I shucked at Bouchon all summer. This way of opening them was a lot easier and produced a lot less puncture wounds.  Up next, Greece and Turkey.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Cuisines of Europe and the Mediterranean: Morocco & Tunisia!

Welcome to the Cuisines of Europe and the Mediterranean.  This journey will takes us all over the great continent of Europe and all its neighbors including Northern Africa, the Mediterranean Islands, and the former Eastern Block. As you can tell by all these exciting faces, everyone is happy to be back in the kitchen instead of the classroom this past 6 weeks. I've never been to Morocco or Tunisia so let's go see what's cooking.

Chicken Smothered in Green Olives. A personal favorite of mine even though I don't really like olives.  The trick to removing the bitterness from the olives is blanching them and stewing them with a lot of dominant spices such as cinnamon, ginger, sweet paprika, and those strands of saffron goodness.

Next favorite was is the Chakchouka au Merquez. Merquez is a spicy, sweet beef sausage flavored with a hint of anise and mint. Topped with a little Harissa and garnished with Baked Eggs. Just wait till Denny's gets a hold of this, you will be seeing it everywhere.

Moroccan Baked Fish. Dang my landlocked upbringing! I always pass up the fish but it sure looks perrty (insert Arkansas accent here).

Last favorite of the Moroccan/Tunisian experience is the Moroccan Couscous with Lamb, Mint, Apricots, and Cashews garnished with Pickled Radish. This culinary region is beautiful for their flavors combinations and I am looking forward to exploring this cuisine more in my own home kitchen.  Off to Spain, France, and Italy.....................all in two days!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Eureka: I have found it!

The motto of California guessed it Eureka: I have found it! Even though Governor Schwarzenegger has been telling me this all along, I am learning to appreciate what ever IT is more and more.

This is the view back into San Francisco from Land's End park. Golden Gate and all is gradeur! Proud to say that the Mrs. and I.................and the Mrs.-in-Law have all walked across that entire span.

I sometimes wonder what it must have been like to look out to a vast ocean and decide to set sail to find a land that one didn't even know existed. But let's not kid ourselves, I just thought this photo looked really cool.

Speaking of cool photos, this one is cool too.

You don't have to be in the city or staring out into the vast ocean to appreciate the beauty of Northern California. Check out this view from the top of Mt. St. Helena. That is right in our backyard.

Speaking of our backyard, check out the fall skyline when the Mrs. was on her evening run...........apparently she was taking a breather to get this shot.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Some-What Homemade with the Walnofer's #6

So, contrary to this blog's image, we aren't going out to eat everynight. In fact, I crave the simple meals most of the time. Call it California comfort food if you must.

After a long day of eating rich, culinary food, sometimes a nice salad is in order. Baked Figs stuffed with Cheddar Cheese and Honey, Sliced Ham and Pecorino over Mixed Greens. Also known as the refrigerator cleanout!

Recently I had to develop a restaurant concept for a class and I came up with a wine and burger bar concept titled VinoBurger. The inspiration led to this Cheeseburger with Mozzarella, Frisee, and Basil Mayo.

No wine and burger concept is complete without the wine.  Out from the cellar came this 2004 Beringer Single Vineyard Napa Valley Syrah that the Mrs. and I picked up at an industry event about a year ago. Syrah and grilled burgers are a match made in Napa!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Restaurant Experience: Belle Epicurean: Seattle, WA!

During our last afternoon in Seattle, the Mrs. and I were walking aimlessly back to the Excutive Hotel Pacific when we came across Belle Epicurean.  Anxiously needing a light lunch before we headed off to the airport for our return flight to Napa Valley, we snuck in for a sandwich and of course....................another coffee.

 Belle Epicurean is chef/owned by Carolyn Ferguson and is located at 1206 4th Ave. I knew this was going to be good when the counter girl said hello with a very thick Parisian accent.

Belle Epicurean is another Seattle restaurant that focuses on natural, fresh, and organic ingredients.  Here is the Warm Pepper Turkey & Cheese on Rosemary Potato Brioche.

After striking up a conversation about the cultural differences between the people of Paris and Toulouse, I had to break the awkward silence by placing another order. Belle's Croque Monsieur with Black Forest Ham, Gruyere Cheese and Mornay Sauce on Brioche. Top it with an egg and this might have been the best French-style sandwich I have ever had. Please let me know when the Belle's Croque Madame hits the menu.

It was a long bus ride from downtown Seattle out to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport so a little caffeine was in order.  Latte and Cappuccino please. Merci!

I am always a sucker for a little bit of sweet with my afternoon coffee. Many cultures celebrate this as High Tea..........which I have now adopted into my daily lifestyle.  Belle's Epicurean is known for their pastries and notably their brioche buns such as this Classic Pecan Brioche Bun. This struck my interest as my past employer, Chef Thomas Keller, is about to launch a brioche-snack kiosk concept in the Time Warner Building in New York. Belle Epicurean has set a pretty high benchmark in my opinion. Thank you Seattle for the fun........................and the food!