Satsuma mandarins...the perfect winter snack, gift, everything!

Satsuma mandarins...the perfect winter snack, gift, everything!
peel, eat, repeat

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Giving thanks every day helps get you through everyday or Happy Thanksgiving

Holidays are moving into my consciousness a bit lately. I guess being a caterer I probably need to be thinking in that direction to pay my mortgage but just the same I am really not a huge fan of this time of year. There I said it. I must get it from my mom as she absolutely hates Christmas and usually gets into a big funk around now. I can't blame her really. Growing up with six brothers and sisters was a challenge for us but must have been brutal for her. That right there is a whole lot of planning for Christmas morning with seven stockings to figure out and seven Santa makes my eyelashes hurt thinking of it. No wander she hates it all even if we are all grown and no longer get anything but an exchange gift that we all participate in so everyone only has to get one thing for the whole family. I have a son and six nephews and they all only want the dough and I ain't talking about the edible kind. One of my nephews and his bride, my new niece whom I adore are expecting their first child. You would not be exaggerating to call this a HUGE event in our family. We have not had a baby around for several years. My youngest nephew is turning eight in December and we are ready for a baby. Just not mine. My parents will turn eighty, celebrate their sixtieth year of marriage and welcome their first great grandchild next spring. I am going to be busy for those parties being the only one that likes to cook out of the whole brood. It is my pleasure

Back to the holidays.....I have some ideas, opinions, hints whatever about all this bizarre eating and pressure drinking for the months of November and December heading all the way into January. Keep it simple all the time. Never forget to breathe, walk, exercise your mind and body. Get out into nature or take a yoga class and let the kundalini kick in.

Always take your own food to parties. When it is a potluck, take a big bowl or basket of satsuma mandarins or a great veggie tray with goods you procure from a farmers market. Make a nice salad with a little protein in it so you don't get stuck with the choice of going hungry over eating some ghastly store bought concoction. We all know that you need to drink a glass of water for every drink to minimize hang over and wrinkles but try two in between to keep the waistline a bit more in control.
Choose that dessert or cookies wisely. I can understand eating something that tastes shitty and makes you feel even worse if you're in a bad mood, having a tough day or something but if you are just taking them to take, be a little picky. You are going to have a million choices for about 45 days. Also if you make the good thing, you know you can use whole wheat flour and fresh fruit etc... to minimize trauma to your system.

Too preachy? Whatever, you're the one still reading this.

I also need to start a buzz around a Produce Pro calendar slated to make it's debut December 1st. It is a 15 month calendar with Dave Johnson's amazing original water colors of seasonal fruit along with my prose about said fruit for each month. It was astoundingly difficult to choose only one fruit per month but we did it and we are almost ready to distribute it. The cost will be in the 15 to 17 dollar range as it is expensive to produce but it will be a great piece of interactive, ever changing art work on your wall or whatever for 15 months. More on that in a week or two along with info on how to get it.

I am going to leave you for now with a few recipes for some veggie side things as well as a short list of food ideas in my battery if you ever decide to indulge yourself with a caterer!

Happy Thanksgiving...I know I have a whole lot to be thankful for and I do not only think about it on a Thursday in late November but every day my feet are able to hit the floor of my house and I can crawl walk into my son's room to wake him up again is a good day.

Peace and love, mush, mush etc...

This dip can be made with light cream cheese and it will not get wierd. It is an offering that will render you popular and a ask back guest to parties. Serve with good crackers or sliced baguette.
Shitake Pate
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, chopped
½ pound of shitake mushrooms, chopped
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon fresh thyme and savory, chopped
¼ teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
½ pound chevre
½ pound cream cheese
Sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil. When onion starts to soften, add the mushrooms and cook over low heat about 5 minutes. Add the soy sauce, thyme, savory and nutmeg. Sauté for a minute longer. Put mushroom mixture into a food processor and add the cheeses. Process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Use this for your awesome veggies from the market.
Blue Cheese, Herb and Yogurt dip for Crudités
½ pound good blue cheese
2 cups plain yogurt
3 tablespoons assorted chopped fresh herbs
2 cloves fresh garlic
2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
Place all in food processor and pulse for a minute or 2. Adjust seasonings. Makes 3 cups.

Grilled chicken breast or shrimp are an exellent addition to this salad but it is also an amazing salad as aside as well.
Napa Cabbage Salad w/ Pea Tops, Fuyu, Feta and Lemon Oil
1 head of Napa cabbage, thinly sliced
1 Fuyu persimmon, quartered and sliced thin (substitute Satsuma Mandarins in winter)
1 bunch pea tops, washed, dried and sliced thin
4 scallions, thinly sliced
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
¼ cup crumbled feta
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon of blond Balsamic
Sea salt and pepper
Toss everything together in a bowl.

This dish, in the right situation, if you are willing and able, will get you laid by almost anyone eating it.
Apple, Onion and Squash Gratin
2 apples of your choice, get sweet if you like sweet and tart if you like tart, cored and sliced thin
1 red onion, sliced thin
2 delicata squash, peeled, seeded and sliced thin
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 cloves garlic
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
1 pint cream
Spray a large baking dish and layer apples, onions, garlic, squash and cheese in dish. Drizzle cream over and sprinkle fresh thyme, salt and pepper. Bake in a hot *400 oven covered for 30 minutes and remove foil and cook for 20 minutes more until browned on top. Serves 4.

This is ditto as above but can also be eaten from more than just a plate or...alright I'll behave...
Mashed Butternut Squash with Potatoes, Celery Root and Parsnips
This is an exceptional way to get more nutrition out of your mashers. Works well with cauliflower too. You can use chicken stock in place of the veggie stock if desired.
4 large yellow or red potatoes, cubed
1 medium sized butter nut squash, peeled and cubed
1 celery root, peeled and cubed
2 parsnips, peeled and sliced
Water to cover
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup stock
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
½ cup grated aged Gouda cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Place veggies in a pot of salted water, cover and bring to a boil. Let simmer until soft. Drain most of the water, leaving some to mash with. Add stock to desired consistency. Stir in cheese and season with butter, salt and pepper and garnish with parsley. Serves 8.

The title speaks for itself....
Sautéed Assorted Winter Greens w/ Pancetta, Herbs and Garlic
3 pounds assorted braising greens, chopped
¼ pound pancetta, sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons assorted chopped fresh herbs
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons chicken stock
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
Sauté pancetta in olive oil for a minute and add the garlic. Sauté for 2 minutes and add greens. Sauté for 3 minutes and add the herbs and chicken stock. Cook for a few more minutes and season with salt and pepper.

Do not save this only for the holidays. It is amazing with or without the cream addition.
Roasted Butternut Squash and Orange Soup
1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Zest and juice from 1 large orange
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup white wine
4 cups stock
1 cup ½ and ½
¼ cup seasoned rice vinegar
Sea salt and pepper
Heat oven to 425*. Toss squash, onion and garlic with olive oil roast for 20 minutes until caramelized. Remove from oven and place into a large soup pot. Add the white wine and turn heat to high. Reduce by half and add the stock and orange zest. Bring back to a boil and cook for 20 minutes. Add the half and half and puree with a stick blender. Season with salt and pepper. Serves 4.

A partial and just tickler list of things I can create for you for your party if you ever needed any help....

Hors d’oeuvres
Crab cakes w/ lemon verbena aioli
Brie Bites – mini puff bites w/ brie and homemade preserves inside
Pesto and chevre torte w/ croutons – cream cheese and chevre whipped together and layered w/ fresh pesto
Imported and domestic cheeses – interesting crackers
Sautéed assorted mushrooms over warm brie – sliced baguette
Grilled peaches and proscuitto w/ balsamic drizzle and arugala
Oven roasted tomato and proscuitto tarts w/ garlic jam and fresh thyme
Truffled potatoes stuffed w/ mushrooms and brie
Smoked salmon Crostini w/ curried deviled eggs
Grilled prawns marinated in lemon and oregano
Chicken sate w/ spicy peanut sauce
Foccacia bread w/ roasted butternut squash, pancetta and reggiano (seasonal)
Foccacia w/ toasted walnuts, caramelized onions, fresh figs and gorgonzola (seasonal)
Seasonal fruit
Roasted seasonal vegetables w/ balsamic drizzle
Salad Caprese (seasonal) organic heirloom tomatoes w/ fresh made mozzarella, assorted basil and balsamic drizzle
Grilled lamb or steak, with caramelized onions and peppers open faced pannini
Foccacia bread w/ caramelized onions, thyme, pancetta and fresh mozzarella
Crostini w/ orange tapenade, smoked salmon and crème fraiche
Toasted walnut, feta and fresh herb spread w/ croutons
Sliced prosciutto w/ shaved reggiano parmesana and lemon olive oil on a bed of spiced arugula
Smoked Turkey and Avocado Panini on herbed sourdough rounds

Entrée Stuff
Tossed market greens w/ Satsuma mandarins, feta and toasted almonds w/ lemon vinaigrette Summer time replace mandarins with pears or white nectarine or even some awesome apples
Caesar salad w/ home made croutons and dressing
Chinese chicken salad
Syrian Fatoush salad w/ cherry tomatoes, cukes, feta, olives, onions, pita chips and lemon-cumin vinaigrette
Grilled vegetables w/ balsamic drizzle
Roasted beets w/ orange can be a salad with arugula and toasted walnuts too

Polenta layered w/ grilled vegetables and fresh mozzarella w/ a fresh tomato sauce
Chicken breasts stuffed w/ mushrooms, chevre and herbs
Roasted salmon w/ rosemary, olive oil and sea salt
Marinated grilled tri tips w/ mushroom BBQ sauce
Pork loin stuffed w/ dried apricots and herbs
Turkey breast stuffed w/ dried figs, chevre and garlic
Braised short ribs w/ rich oregano and orange peel sauce

Fresh apple cake w/ lemon glace
Rocky road brownies
Fresh fruit crisp w/ vanilla ice cream
Chocolate layer cake
Chocolate decadence cake
Assorted cookies
Fresh fruit short cake