Thanksgiving Traditions…The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

 

Homemade Jellied Cranberry Sauce | Dear Martini

Thanksgiving is all about tradition… good and bad.  In Chef Mia’s house we have the Dilemma of the Cranberries.  Artist husband grew up on canned cranberry sauce and loves it like nobody’s business.  He even claims it is an essential part of the Norman Rockwell painting.  Chef Mia thinks otherwise.  How to keep peace in the family? Compromise solution: Homemade Jellied Cranberry Sauce

Ingredients for Cranberry Sauce | Dear Martini

What she came up with is a delicious compromise.   A recipe catering to his tastes and still beautiful enough and made with simple fresh ingredients for her.  Sometimes it’s time to adopt new traditions.

Jellied Cranberry Sauce

Makes 4 cups

2 packets unflavored gelatin

2 (12-ounce bags) fresh or frozen cranberries, washed and sorted

1 Granny Smith apple, small diced

1 navel orange, zest removed in strips and juiced

1 cup granulated sugar

Special Equipment: Food mill and 4 cup decorative mold

Place cranberry juice in a small bowl; sprinkle the gelatin over the surface of the juice and let sit for at least 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a deep saucepan, combine the cranberries, apple, orange zest & juice, and sugar. Bring to a boil; reduce the heat and simmer stirring often until the cranberries begin to pop about 5 minutes. Continue cooking an additional 3 to 5 minutes until the mixture begins to thicken. Turn off the heat and stir in the softened gelatin.

Transfer the berry mixture to a food mill and pass through the finest holes into a bowl. (Discard the solids in your compost) Transfer the berry mixture to a lightly oiled mold. Top with a piece of oiled plastic wrap placed directly on top of the jelly. Refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours. (Can be made several days ahead)

To unmold, dip briefly in a bowl of hot water. Using a spatula, press gently on one side of the jelly (placing the spatula between the side of the mold and the jelly) to release the vacuum seal. Then turn out onto a plate. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Cranberry Sauce Recipe | Dear Martini

Dearest Readers, We are so very thankful for each and every one of you who have supported us all year.  We love hearing from you and when you share with us.  Please share your favorite dish with us here or on Facebook!  We’d love to hear from you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

xxoo Mia and Terri

 

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Company’s Coming: Crème Fraîche Mashed Potatoes

Creme Fraiche Mashed Potato Recipe | Dear Martini

When company’s coming we pull out all the stops and make the creamiest and smoothest potatoes we know how!  The secret is…our mashed potatoes aren’t mashed at all, but put through a ricer or food mill. Instead of a rustic mash the texture is smooth and perfect for making a “gravy lake” in the center.  We know, we know, there are purists who will say you can’t call it mashed if it’s not mashed but potato puree sounds scary so we’ve agreed to call it an elegant mash!

Creme Fraiche Mashed Potatoes | Dear Martini

Call them what you will, this is not the recipe to skimp on the fat and cream.  This dish is all about the little details… The butter, crème fraîche, and heavy cream all play an important role in the richness and texture of the final dish.  If you can’t find crème fraîche in your area you can substitute with a really good quality sour cream or full fat Fage plain yogurt.

Don’t forget to infuse the cream with the aromatics — it’s an extra step but adds depth to the flavors. And, pop the drained potatoes back into the hot pot for at least 30 seconds to dry out the potatoes which makes them even fluffier.

Watch for the tip at the end of the video on how to keep the potatoes warm — it’s worth the price of admission we promise! Happy Start-to-the-Holiday Season!

 

Crème Fraîche Mashed Potatoes

Serves 4

 2 pounds (about 3 large) russet potatoes

Handful of kosher salt

½ cup heavy whipping cream

4 to 5 peppercorns

1 bay leaf

1 clove garlic, peeled and mashed

½ stick unsalted butter, cubed and room temperature

½ cup crème fraîche

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

 

Peel and cut the potatoes into quarters and place in a large saucepan. Cover the potatoes with at least an inch of cold water. Add the salt and bring the potatoes to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer potatoes until tender when pierced with a knife, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Heat cream in a small saucepan over medium heat with peppercorns, bay leaf, and garlic to a simmer. Remove from heat, cover and set aside.

Drain the potatoes in a colander and return potatoes to the pot to allow the potatoes to dry.Process the potatoes through a food mill or ricer. Toss in the butter to the hot potatoes as you work. Fold in the crème fraîche and heavy cream and gently fold until the potatoes are thick and creamy. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Aromatics and Cream Infusion | Dear Martini

ch-ch-ch-Ultimate Cherry Pie

How to Make a Cherry Pie with Dear Martini

What’s the secret to making the ultimate ch-ch-ch-cherry pie?  Use fresh sweet summer cherries. Some folks think you need sour cherries (which we seldom find fresh and are usually packed in syrup) to make a good cherry pie, but we think you’re missing out on some really great pies by sticking with canned cherries.  When cherries are in season we use whatever looks the best at the market– everything  from Bing to Queen Ann cherries.

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No one wants to spend their 4th of July in the kitchen, so here are a couple of ways to make it easier:

  • Make the dough as early as tomorrow and refrigerate tightly wrapped in plastic wrap. While the dough rests in the fridge the water is absorbed in the dough and the butter firms up.  A properly rested and chilled dough relaxes,  making it easier to roll out.
  • Buy an inexpensive cherry pitter.  A cherry pitter makes the process go much faster!  If the thought of pitting fresh cherries makes you want to poke your eye out, you can use pitted frozen cherries or bottled cherries (which are great for pie making during the winter as well.)  Thaw the cherries completely and use no more than about 1/4 cup of the collected juice.

ch-ch-ch-Ultimate Cherry Pie

Makes one 9-inch lattice topped pie

1 recipe Basic Pie Dough (see below)

5 cups sweet fresh cherries, pitted

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 teaspoon Kirsch cherry liqueur (optional)

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

3 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces

1 large egg

2  teaspoons heavy cream or whole milk

Garnish:  Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Roll out half the pie dough on a lightly floured work surface with a floured rolling pin into a 12-inch round.  Brush off excess flour; roll dough around rolling pin, and place it over your prepared pie pan.  Press the dough into the pan and trim the edges so that the dough hangs over the pie pan by about 1-inch.  Refrigerate while you make the filling.  

In a large bowl, add the cherries, sugar, salt, almond, kirsch, lemon juice, and cornstarch.  Toss the filling ingredients with the cherries until coated .  Set cherries aside while you roll out the top dough.

Roll out the remaining dough to a 12-inch diameter circle.  With a pastry cutter or a knife cut at least eighteen 1/2 -inch strips.  Place strips on a parchment lined sheet pan and refrigerate. Cut out stars or decorations using a cookie cutter from the remaining dough scraps and refrigerate.

Spoon cherry filling into the pie shell.  Dot with butter. 

Lay strips horizontally across the pie and give the pie a quarter turn.  Fold back every other strip starting with the first strip.  Place a strip horizontally next to the folded strips and unfold the folded strips.  Repeat the process starting with the 2nd strip folding back every other strip.  Repeat folding, adding strips,  and unfolding strips to weave a lattice pattern.  Trim the lattice and fold the edge under or over and crimp the edge.    Refrigerate the pie for 30 minutes.

In a small bowl whisk the egg and cream together to make an egg wash. Brush pie with egg wash and bake for 15 minutes at 425°F. Reduce heat to 350°F and bake approximately 35 to 45 minutes more until crust is golden brown and filling bubbles.  Remove pie from the oven and cool COMPLETELY (at least 2 hours) before serving.  Serve with pie with a scoop of ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream.

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Basic Pie Dough

Makes one 9-inch double-crust pie shell

Want an easy way to remember our recipe without having to look it up again?  3 + 2 + 1!  3 parts flour  2 parts butter 1 part ice water.

2 sticks (½ pound) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and frozen for 15 minutes

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

½  teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

½ cup ice water

Place the flour in a large mixing bowl, add the chilled butter and toss to coat the butter with flour.  Quickly rub the butter with the flour between your fingers to make flat pieces of butter. Take care not to overwork  the butter – you want to work each piece, but should still have pea-sized lumps of the butter in the flour.  Sprinkle in the salt and sugar and toss with your fingers to mix.  Add the water and using a plastic scraper and a quick a folding motion, mix the dough just until it begins to clump together.   The dough will look sandy and lumpy at this point and that’s okay.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface dusted with flour and gently pat out the dough into a flat disk about an 1-inch thick.  Fold the dough in on itself until the dough just begins to hold together and is no longer sandy on the edges.  Once the dough begins to come together, fold dough in half, turn it a quarter-turn and pat it out flat again to an inch thick.  Repeat this process 4 to 5 more times.  Butter will still be visible in the dough — it’s these pieces of butter that result in a flaky dough!  Divide the dough in half and flatten each piece into a disk one more time and wrap them in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to an hour before rolling out.

How to Make Pie Dough YT Tumbnail How to Roll and Fit Pie Dough YT Thumbnail

 

We dare you not to lick your plate!

We dare you not to lick your plate!

 

Baked Alaska – A flaming dessert for Valentine’s Day

Dear Martini Baked Alaska

Q:  What’s sweet, frozen and yummy… and set on fire?

A:  Baked Alaska!

Originally, the chef of New York’s Delmonico’s Restaurant created this show-stopping flaming dessert in 1867 to honor the United States acquisition of Alaska.  Though the chef didn’t invent the flambéed ice cream cake, Delmonico’s is credited for coining the name “Baked Alaska” to the delight of generations of ice cream cake enthusiasts.

If you’re in the habit of making a special dessert for your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day, chances are sooner or later you’re going to run out of ideas that have to do with chocolate.   We’ve found Baked Alaska usually wins over even the diehard chocoholics.  All you need to do is assemble your favorite ice cream (we love strawberry!) on top of your favorite cake and slather or pipe the entire thing with fluffy meringue.  Then, when it’s time to serve, ignite an ounce of your favorite eau de vie (any flavor that pairs with your ice cream, as long as it is at least 40% alcohol by volume or higher) and carefully drizzle the flaming liqueur over the dessert.  If your sweetheart hasn’t fallen for you by now, this flaming dessert will definitely seal the deal.

Baked Alaska

Makes 6-8 individual servings

1 recipe Yellow Cake, baked into a 9X13″ pan (or, you can use any cake you like – even frozen pound cake!)

1 quart of your favorite ice cream

2 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup water

8 large egg whites, brought to room temperature

1/4 cup Kirsch (or any of your favorite distilled eau de vie – must be at least 40% alcohol by volume) 

Special Equipment:

Round cookie cutter, 3 inches in diameter

Large ice cream scoop

Piping bag fitted with star tip

Kitchen torch

Small, long-handled saucepan

Long reach (fireplace) match

Punch out rounds of cake and arrange on a sheet pan.  Freeze for about 30 minutes.  Scoop out the ice cream and place one mounded scoop on top of each cake round.  Return to the freezer and freeze for 30 minutes, or overnight.

Prepare the meringue by first cooking the sugar and water together until the sugar reaches 240ºF.  Whip the egg whites until soft peaks and slowly pour the syrup in and whip until stiff peaks.

Pipe the meringue in decorative swirls around each ice cream cake.  The fluffier the better. Return the cakes to the freezer and freeze for 1 hour or overnight.

Just before serving, lightly torch the surface of the cakes with a kitchen torch.  Transfer a cake to an oven-proof plate. Pour the kirsch into a small long-handled saucepan and heat over the stove for a few moments, just until the Kirsch is hot.  Carefully ignite the Kirsch in the pot with a match.  While the Kirsch is flaming, drizzle over the cake and allow the liqueur to flame out on its own before enjoying!

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Here are some helpful videos – just click on the photo and jump to the video:

Dear Martini How to Make Italian Meringue VideoDear Martini How to Fill a Pastry Bag VideoDear Martini How to Use a Star Tip Video

Thanksgiving Planning: Time to Order the Bird!

It’s the first week of November, and you know what that means… time to order your bird!

Time to Order the Bird |Dear Martini|What you need to know about ordering your turkey

The Thanksgiving Turkey is the centerpiece of any Thanksgiving Feast.  It’s the main course, the entrée… the piece de resistance… the real deal… the Big Kauhuna…  so don’t treat purchasing the turkey like it’s an afterthought!  Take a few extra minutes to decide on what kind of bird you want, then pick one out that’s the best you can afford.  Starting off with the right bird – you’re halfway there to a delicious Thanksgiving!

Picking Out a Bird:

Here are some questions to think about  that might help you choose the right bird.

1)   How many people are coming to dinner?   

The general serving rule is 1 pound of turkey per person.  This factors in for bones, too, so if you’ve got 12 people coming over, choose a bird that’s 14 – 16 pounds so you’ll get to enjoy some leftovers and second helpings.

2)   How are you cooking the turkey?

Are you doing a traditional roast turkey?  Deep-frying?   Split-roasting or  grilling?   For most cooking methods, it makes little difference between fresh and frozen.  A frozen bird, however, requires extra time for thawing.  So keep that in mind.

3)   Do your guests prefer white meat or dark meat?

Lucky you!  You get to be the provider of all things delicious and bountiful!  In some households (well, maybe just ours), the majority of folks prefer dark meat… which means there is never enough dark meat carved right off the turkey.  Consider buying a few extra turkey legs so there will be enough of the succulent dark meat to go around.  Conversely, if the household prefers white meat, buy an extra breast to make everyone happy!

4)   Fresh or frozen bird?

There is no shame in purchasing a frozen bird, as long as it’s from a good-quality producer.   Just keep in mind you will need time to thaw the bird.  It will take a 10-pound turkey 1 day to thaw if kept in a refrigerator at or below 40°F.  For every 5 pounds of frozen turkey, add another half day.   See the Turkey Thawing Chart for more information.

Turkey Thawing Times Dear Martini 

5) Natural? Organic?  Kosher? Help!!!

Regular — Plumped (or pumped!) with anything including: water, salt, chicken fat, broth, and or BUTTER.

Natural — Minimally processed and contains no artificial ingredients or colors.

Organic — Must follow strict USDA standards for organic production and processing including access to the outdoors, no antibiotics or growth hormones, and fed organic feed.

Kosher —  Slaughtered in accordance with strict kosher law (Jewish rabbinical dietary laws) then soaked in water and salted inside and out (great if you don’t want to bother with brining.) 

6)  What the heck is a Heritage Turkey?
Ah, the Heritage Turkey….  Remember back to the illustrations from your schoolbooks depicting people dressed up like Pilgrims and Indians enjoying a  Thanksgiving feast?  Think about how that turkey look in the picture:  smaller breast, larger wings, legs and thighs in equal proportion to the breast.   Now think about the commercial ads you see for Thanksgiving Turkey in your local newspapers, magazines and television ads.  Commercially-raised turkeys today have been bred to yield larger breasts, and smaller wings and legs.  They are raised to be grown quickly, then processed to be available in the frozen bird bin immediately after Halloween.

Heritage Turkeys, however, are farm-raised more naturally and slowly in the exact opposite way industrially raised birds are.  Heritage birds might actually be specific breeds with names like Bourbon Red or Standard Bronze and are more similar to wild turkeys.  According to chefs, the meat from Heritage turkeys is tastier, a little gamier, and healthier given the ways they are fed and raised.  They can also be more expensive to purchase, but since the bird is the star of the meal we allow ourselves to splurge a little more to get a better quality bird.

The Dear Martini Thanksgiving Playlist and Hotline

This week, we are announcing TWO essential tools to get your Thanksgiving Holiday off to a great start.

Dear Marini’s Homemade Thanksgiving Playlist

Our YouTube Channel is bursting with plenty of great videos that highlight every technique you need to know to cook your Thanksgiving dinner – from boiling potatoes, to making cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie… all the way to carving the roasted turkey!  Be sure you subscribe to our channel so you’ll get immediate updates when we add new videos!

 

Happy Valentine’s Day!

happy VD DM

Happy Holidays, from Dear Martini!

Happy Holidays!

Dear Martini

Happy Holidays from Dear Martini

(Mia and Terri)!

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