Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Salute to Seafood at Ashford Castle

Anyone can stay at a castle but only a lucky few will be able to participate in Seafood Appreciation Week Feb.28-March 6, 2011 at Ireland's impressive Ashford Castle. Located near the seafood-filled western coastline, Ashford was voted "Top Resort in Europe" by readers of Conde Nast Traveler this year.

Special two-day packages are available March 1 and 2 and March 4 and 5 during which Executive Chef Stefan Matz will guide participants through an oyster farm, a smokehouse, lobster fishing and a gala seafood dinner.

Here's the schedule.

Arrival: Welcome glass of Champagne
7.00pm: Dinner at leisure in the George V Dining Room

DAY 2:
Full day tour of Connemara, escorted by a chef from Ashford Castle
10:00am: Depart for Cleggan
11:30am: Visit an oyster farm
12:30pm: Depart for Ballyconneely
1:00pm: Guided tour of the Connemara Smokehouse at the Bunowen Pier
1:30pm: Lunch sampling of Graham Roberts' specialty products
3:00pm: Lobster fishing aboard a small local fishing trawler at the pier
5:30pm: Return to Ashford Castle
7:00pm: Gala 5-course seafood dinner in the George V dining room

8:00am: Breakfast followed by a fond farewell

Rates start at €385 per person (approximately $535) and include breakfast each morning. For more information, visit: www.ashford.ie

Not all of us have access to fresh Irish seafood so Chef Matz shared his recipe for another special, Beef and Guinness Stew.

Beef & Guinness Stew  
Serves 2

Guinness Sauce
4 1/4 cups Guinness Extra Stout
1 1/3 cup chicken stock
1 medium shallot, diced
2 tsp. flour
2 tsp. butter, room temperature
Combine 4 cups Guinness and 2/3 cups chicken stock.  Bring to a boil and reduce mixture down by 1/3.  Meanwhile, sauté the shallot until transparent and golden brown (about 5-7 minutes).  Add Guinness reduction and 2/3 cup chicken stock, and bring to a boil.  Combine 2 teaspoons flour and 2 teaspoons room-temperature butter and add to mixture.  Boil until sauce has a creamy consistency.

Sautéed Beef Fillet
10 1/2 oz. beef filet, trimmed and cut into small cubes
2 TBS oil
salt and pepper
broccoli and carrots, blanched
potatoes, steamed
Sauté beef in oil in a very hot frying pan.  Season with salt and pepper. When the beef has a nice color and is cooked to liking, allow to rest for two minutes.
Add beef and 1/4 cup Guinness Extra Stout to the Guinness sauce. Reheat, but do not bring to a boil. Season to taste.  Present in a bowl and garnish with blanched broccoli, carrots and steamed potatoes.

Last but not least, says Chef, "serve with a glass of Guinness and a fresh oyster.  Enjoy!"

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving Survival Plan with recipes from Xanterra chefs

Even kitchenphobics find themselves drawn - or forced - to pots, pans and heating elements this time of year.

If this describes you, it isn't too late to announce to all that it is time to break out of the family rut and try something new like tofu turkey with liverwurst dressing. You may find guests will volunteer to bring the traditional dishes.

That leaves you free to set the table and contribute something else that's easier.

If you love the meal-making marathons, consider these recipes.

While the turkey cooks, whip this up for the family's breakfast.

Monkey Bread, Chef Michelle "Mike" Hanson
Furnace Creek Resort

2 tubes canned biscuits
1 tube canned cinnamon rolls
2 cups honey
1 ½ cups chopped walnuts or pecans
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

Take biscuits and cinnamon rolls and cut into small pieces. The easiest way is using some scissors. Place in bowl add honey, nuts and cinnamon sugar. Mix well.

Pour dough mixture In a well-greased bundt or angel food cake pan. Place cake pan in a larger pan with two inches of water (this will stop the honey from burning).

Cook for 45 minutes-1 hour at 350.

Run knife around edges of pan and invert on a platter.

No one bringing the sweet potatoes?
Leave the masher in the drawer and try this version.

Raspberry Apple Sweet Potatoes, Chef Kenneth Diederich, 
Salt Fork State Park Lodge, Cambridge, Ohio

3 large sweet potatoes
1 cup frozen raspberries
2 red apples
lemon or orange juice
1/2 stick butter
cinnamon sugar
brown sugar

Wash, peel and cut the sweet potatoes in larger cubes, inch by inch. [Start cutting them small, you'll wind up with bigger ones without thinking] Cook the potatoes in lightly salted water for 15 minutes. Drain well and place hot potatoes in a small to medium sized casserole dish. Place frozen raspberries evenly on top.

Cut the apples into 1/2 inch cubes and toss with lemon or orange juice so they won't turn brown. Place evenly on top. Melt butter and drizzle over entire dish. Sprinkle as you like with cinnamon sugar and brown sugar. Bake for 20 minutes covered.

Family okay with a non-traditional main dish? Try this for something different.

Beer Braised Pork Loin, Chef Ben Theis
Deer Creek State Park Lodge

6-8 lb. boneless pork loin
2 lb. sauerkraut
8 oz. onion, large dice
4 oz. celery, large dice
4 oz. carrot, large dice
3 oz. turnip, large dice
1 oz. grated fresh horseradish
3 12-oz. bottles of beer, dark preferably
Bay leaf
Oil for searing

Rub the pork loin with salt and pepper, then sear over high heat in the pan in which it will be roasted in.

Once the roast is seared on all sides deglaze the pan with two of the bottles of beer. (“The third is for sipping on,” said Chef Theis.)

Add all the chopped vegetables then roast in oven for at least two hours, adding liquid as needed during the braise. Once the pork loin is fork-tender remove from the oven.

Bring sauerkraut up to heat over a medium fire on the stove top. Place sauerkraut on a large platter, slice pork and lay over top. Spoon vegetables and braising liquid over top of pork then serve.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Thanksgiving and beyond recipes from Xanterra chefs

Everyone has favorite Thanksgiving dishes but if you don't slip a new recipe into the lineup you'll never know if it could be the next favorite. The chefs at Xanterra resorts have offered a few for your consideration.

Today: Soups

Butternut Squash Soup from Chef Nathan Snyder, Mohican State Park Lodge
6-8 servings

3 large butternut squash
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 leek, chopped and rinsed well (Chef's note: I love to use leeks because it is a simple,way to add depth to my dishes.)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 16-oz can of crabmeat
1 orange, zested
1 sprig of fresh thyme
1/8 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. curry powder
3 TBS butter
1 cup of cream
vegetable stock, as needed

Wash all of the produce and preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut squash into halves and take seeds out (Chef's note: I prefer to use an ice cream scoop to get my seeds out, it's very sturdy and keeps all the seeds together). Oil the halves, sprinkle with salt and pepper, place on a sprayed sheet pan skin side up. Roast until the skin blisters and browns, about 30 to 40 minutes.

In a large pot on the stove begin sauteing the onion,leeks, garlic, spices and thyme. Once the squash is done, it should be soft enough to scoop out with that ice cream scoop into the pot with the other ingredients. Add enough stock to cover and simmer for 30 minutes, Take a stick mixer and blend the soup until smooth, adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. Return back to the heat and add crab. Simmer for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and whisk in cream and butter until well blended. Optional - zest the orange into the soup before serving. (Chef's note: Adding zest to a dish can give you that extra special touch.)

El Tovar Smoked Corn Chowder with Asiago Cheese and Tortilla Confetti
Chef Mat McTigue, Grand Canyon National Park Lodges
6-8 servings

1/4 lb. red potatoes, medium dice
3 celery ribs, medium dice
1 onion, medium dice
2 carrots, peeled and medium dice
2 cips corn (frozen or canned)
1/4 lb. cooked bacon, diced
1 1/2 gallon chicken stock
1/2 gallon heavy cream
1 tsp. Liquid Smoke

Cornstarch mixture
4 oz. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. black pepper

Mix together dry ingredients, add 5 oz. cold water and stir until smooth. Use to thicken soup when boiling.Season with Tabasco to taste.

Saute all vegetables in a large saucepan over medium heat until tender. Add chicken stock and cream; bring to a slow boil. Add the cornstarch mixture.

Garnish with julienne fried tortillas and shredded asiago cheese.

Tuscan Pancetta Soup
Chef Michelle "Mike" Hanson, Furnace Creek Resort
6-8 servings

4 oz. pancetta diced small (rind removed) or thick-cut smoked bacon
2 TBS. olive oil
1 TBS. butter
5 1/2 cups white or yellow onion, julienned

1 TBS. sugar
2 qts. vegetable, chicken or beef stock
5 Roma tomatoes, chopped large
3 TBS. brandy or bourbon (optional)
3 large fresh basil leaves, shredded
Salt and pepper to taste

2 cups croutons
2/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Place chopped pancetta or bacon in a very hot medium saucepan and cook until almost crispy. Add oil and butter and the onions. Stir occasionally so the onion caramelizes slightly. Scrape the pan occasionally, too. Add sugar and stir for about 3 minutes or more. Add half the stock and bring to a boil, reducing to almost no liquid. Add the rest of the stock, tomatoes and basil. Stir and season to taste. Cook for about 20 minutes. Serve immediately or set aside and serve later. When ready, place a good portion of crouton in bowls. Add soup and sprinkle with cheese.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Tips for Thanksgiving

The chefs of Xanterra, the outfit that manages the resorts and lodges at many of our nation's favorite parks, have offered their tips and even better, recipes for cooking and enjoying this holiday for grateful gluttons.

I'll start with the tips today and follow later with some not so traditional recipes.

Chef tips

"Soup always tastes better on the second day so go ahead and make it the day before Thanksgiving," says Mat McTigue, executive chef at the Grand Canyon.

"Pull out and wash your china and silver several days before Thanksgiving." Kenneth Diederich, regional executive chef, Salt Fork State Park Lodge, Ohio.

If using a frozen turkey, take it out of the freezer at least a week in advance [note: keep it in the fridge]. If you are into all things natural and organic, choose a fresh Heritage turkey, advises Chef Peter Pahk, senior executive chef at Kingsmill Resort. This is not for procrastinators: you must have your Thanksgiving orders in by June.

Chef Michelle "Mike" Hanson at Furnace Creek Resort, Death Valley National Park makes her family a breakfast casserole "so the family has something to eat for breakfast and isn't picking at all the stuff I'm making for dinner."

Have plenty of food storage containers on hand before the feast and clean out your refrigerator before shopping.

Consider asking guests to bring a dish. "I am a big fan of potluck," said Chef Pahk. "It makes it easier on the host and guests get to show off their own Thanksgiving specialties."

Chef Mike sets out the food buffet style.

If you are still daunted by feeding friends and family, consider the advice from Chef Diederich. "Go to someone else's house so you don't have a mess to clean up. And be sure to take along plenty of good storage containers."

Whether you'd rather do it yourself or are lucky enough to have a generous hostess [Thank you, cousin Gloria],  the next post will have some recipes for the gobbling day.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Turn to "Roux Memories" for authentic Cajun and Creole recipes

Food writer Belinda Hulin grew up in Cajun country where her relatives whipped up memorable meals. When Hurricane Katrina hit, destroying or seriously damaging those families' homes, she realized a lot more than property was at risk. The blueprints for an entire way of life - recipes - were about to be lost.

Finding a box of her mother's recipes atop a newel post in the inundated house was a blessing and an impetus to collect those and many more for future generations and for many families who weren't as fortunate.

The result, Roux Memories, A Cajun-Creole Love Story with Recipes, is the kind of cookbook you read cover to cover. Part memoir, part reference book for Louisianans, it is filled with love and mouth-watering recipes.

Most of us have cookbooks we never use, but try to make room on the shelf for this one. Bet you can't resist trying a recipe or three.

Belinda graciously said "Yes," when I asked to share a recipe or two with you. Having scarfed down more than my share of her red beans and rice on numerous occasions, I've chosen it and included Belinda's introduction from the book to give you a sample of her infectious style of story-telling.

Before that, though, here's the info you will need to get your own copy of  Roux Memories, A Cajun-Creole Love Story with Recipes: Lyons Press, $19.95 USA/$21.95 Canadian; available online at Amazon.com and local bookstores.

The Fraziers lived next door to my parents in an apartment building at the corner of Eagle and Palm Streets, back when my father was getting his master's degree at Tulane. At that time the area was populated by young families and working-class folks, who could catch a bus downtown with only a short stroll. Mrs. Frazier was the first real New Orleanian I knew, and unlike the gentile Uptown types I met at Dad's graduate assistant job, she was loud, brash, and funny, and she had a heart the size of Lake Pontchartrain. Whenever I told her about my plans for the future (to have a horse farm, become famous, marry a prince), she'd laugh and say, "You have a lot of red beans and rice to eat yet." Since Mrs. Frazier followed the old New Orleans custom of cooking red beans on washday Mondays, I had plenty of opportunities to start my march toward life's realities while sitting at her table.

Red Beans and Rice
8 servings

2 lbs. dried red kidney beans
1 TBS vegetable oil
1 lb. andouille sausage, sliced
2 onions, diced
1 bell pepper, cored and diced
1 rib celery, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp. thyme leaves
1 tsp. Tabasco sauce
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
8 cups pf ham or chicken broth, or water
1 tsp. lemon juice or wine vinegar
2 green onions, sliced
1/2 cup chopped parsley
salt and black pepper
steamed rice

Rinse beans very well and discard any discolored or damaged beans. Put beans in a large bowl and add enough cold water to cover by several inches. Let soak 8 hours or overnight, adding more water if needed.

Drain the beans in a colander. Place the oil in a heay Dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook 3 minutes.

Add the onions, bell pepper, celery and garlic. Saute mixture 5 minutes. Add bay leaves, thyme, Tabasco and cayenne. Stir the beans into the pot, along with broth or water. Bring mixture to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer beans for 2 1/2 hours, stirring often and adding more water or broth as needed. Stir in lemon juice or wine vinegar, green onions and parsley. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve over steamed rice and pass the Tabasco.

Monday, November 1, 2010

2010 South Carolina Campground Cookoff Dessert Winner

 Winning first place in the 2010 South Carolina Campground Cookoff dessert competition is - ta-da-dah and another drum roll, please - The Hicks Family 
Carolina Peach Cobbler

We didn't think any dish could top the bread pudding, but  after all that meat, the fresh, true fruit flavor of this really bit the spot. The fact that we were in the heart of South Carolina's peach-producing counties didn't hurt. For all I knew, they used fresh picked peaches from Titan Farms, probably the premier producer.

The Hicks Family 
Carolina Peach Cobbler

6 cups of peaches sliced, peeled and pitted (If peaches are out of season you may substitute frozen fruit)

1-2 cups of blackberries (optional)
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar, packed
¼ cup cornstarch

½ teaspoon cinnamon


2 cups of all purpose flour

1/3 cup sugar

2 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt
¾ stick cold butter (6 ounces) cut in small pieces

1 large egg, beaten
¾ cup whipping cream

1/4 -1/2 cup pecans, optional

Preheat Dutch oven lid to about 375 degrees (about 16 coals). Grease Dutch Oven with butter. In a large bowl, combine peaches, blackberries, ½ cup sugar, ½ cup brown sugar, cornstarch and cinnamon. Toss together lightly and set aside. (Pecans may be included in peaches or in crust.)

In another large bowl, combine flour, 1/3 cup sugar, baking powder and salt. Using a pastry blender or two knives cut in cold butter and continue until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Mix the egg and whipping cream together and add to the flour mixture. Mix only until dough is moistened and comes together in a ball. Do not overwork the dough. Reserve leftover egg mixture.

Pour fruit mixture into the prepared Dutch oven. Turn out dough on a floured surface and pat it with your hands in to a round circle big enough to cover the Dutch oven. Carefully lift the dough onto the fruit and gently pat into place. Cut a few decorative vent holes on top. Brush a little of the egg mixture on top and sprinkle with sugar and/or cinnamon if desired.

Dessert category winning teams, from left, first, second and third place.
Bake at 375-400 degrees (about 16 coals) for 45-60 minutes or until cobbler topping is light golden brown and juices start to bubble up through the holes. Remove cobbler from coals and cool until ready to eat. DO NOT eat directly from the Dutch oven! It is VERY hot and can burn the roof of your mouth. Serving suggestion: Serve with ice cream, whipped topping or fresh whipped cream and garnish with fruit and/or mint leaf.