Beer Can Chicken

2012-12-29 19.10.30

Another Thursday, another Fresh Living TV appearance.  This time I decided to usher in the grilling season (although I use the grill all year long) with a good old Beer Can Chicken.  It’s so easy and way more fun than a boring burger.  There was a 4th grade class at the TV station today and of course they got to watch me film my segment.  They were like little vultures hovering over the chicken waiting for me to tell them they could eat the “Props”.  As soon as I said go it was gone in seconds.  There were cries of glee and lots of yummy noises.  They all said they wanted to make it this weekend.  So I guess that means this is pretty kid-friendly.  Here is how I like to do it:

 

 

Vertical Grill Roasted Chicken

1 Whole fryer chicken
1 can soda or beer *if using soda can then you will need 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
Kosher Salt
Pepper
Fresh thyme
Fresh Oregano
Fresh Bay leaf
2 carrots, cut in 1” peices
3 potatoes, quartered
1 onion, quartered

Heat grill to high; 500 degrees or more. Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Generously salt and pepper the entire bird. If using beer open can and pour off (or drink) about ¼ c of liquid and put fresh herbs in mouth of can. The beer will fizz a bit so make sure you have it on a sheet pan or towel. If using stock fill empty soda can with stock and stuff with fresh herbs. Place the chicken over the can and stand the chicken upright with the legs tucked under. Place on small sheet pan (not non-stick) place vegetables on sheet pan. Place on grill and close lid. You may need to rotate your chicken if your grill has hot spots. Cook chicken until thermometer inserted in to the thigh reads 165 degrees, 1-1 ½ hours depending on your grill. Allow chicken to rest, tented under foil about 15 minutes. Remove can, carve and serve!

Fresh Ricotta

FRESH RICOTTA
Making homemade fresh ricotta is so easy!  Once you make it you will never use the boring stuff from the grocery store again.  I find that you need to use the freshest milk and cream you can get your hands on…makes me wish I lived on a farm.
2 C whole milk
1 C heavy cream
2-3 T lemon juice

Heat the milk and the cream until just before it boils.  Turn the heat off and mix in 2 T of lemon juice.  I like to use fresh squeezed but a bottled works fine.  Mix until small curds form or it looks like it’s starting to separate.  Pour into a strainer lined with cheesecloth set over a bowl.  Let cheese stain and cool down and then place in refrigerator and strain overnight.  The result is a beautiful, rich ricotta that is delicious served with Turkey Meatball Sliders.  Cheers!

 

Turkey Meatball Sliders

Rebekah’s Kitchen Turkey Meatball Sliders

1 lb ground turkey
½ C Panko bread crumbs
¼ C whole milk
¼ C Worcestershire
½ C chopped onion, Sautéed
3 cloves garlic, chopped and sautéed with onion
1 egg
½ C parmesan
¼ C parsley, chopped
1 T oregano, chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste
12-16 slider buns

Sauté onion and garlic in a bit of olive oil and set aside to cool.  In a large bowl add bread crumbs, milk and Worcestershire and set aside until the breadcrumbs have absorbed all of the liquid.  Add onion mixture, egg, parmesan, fresh herbs, salt (I add about 1T) and pepper and mix well.  Add ground turkey and mix well.  Form into 12-16 meatballs (depending on the size of your slider buns) and place them on a parchment lined, rimmed baking sheet.  Bake at 425 degrees until meat thermometer reads 165 degrees, about 30 minutes.  I like to put my meatballs into my Roasted Tomato Sauce to warm until I am ready to use them.  You can serve the meatballs “naked” without sauce on the slider buns or you can use a jar sauce to dress them.  I also like to spread a little fresh ricotta on the bun before I stack the meatball on.  This helps the meatball stay put on the bread and it tastes delicious.  Cheers!

 

Homemade Ginger Limoncello

Every year I make treats for the people in my life that I want to thank.  It’s the standard list: UPS guy, pet care (my husband calls it doggy day camp), wholesalers who help me run my business and the guys who make my ski boots comfy.  They look forward to it (or so I am told).  This year I am way behind on the thank you gifts.  Luckily I had to test out a few things for my new menus (MapleBacon Almonds) so at least Doggy Day Camp has been fed.  For the rest it will be more like a “happy January” gift.  Hey, it’s the thought that counts!  This year I made homemade Ginger Limoncello.  It’s an homage to my Italian roots…or a least my wanna be Italian roots.  The semester I spent abroad in Florence still brings back delicious and happy memories and I think it made me just a teeny bit Italian.  Limoncello is an aperitif, and great for a celebratory toast after a spectacular italian meal.

My search for recipes lead me to Savuer.com, as it usually does.  I liked what I found, but of course I had to make my changes.  Here’s what I ended up with:

GINGER LIMONCELLO

14 Organic Lemons
6 C neutral High Proof Liquor (I used 100 proof vodka)
1 1/2 C Sugar
1 Large nub of Fresh Ginger, peeled and cut into small pieces
Lemon Oil
Ginger Oil
2 Quart size Canning Jars

Wash the lemons and peel away the yellow skin, carefully avoiding the white pith. Place peel from 7 lemons in a canning jar. Repeat with second canning jar and the rest of the lemons.  Fill each jar with 3 cups of alcohol.  Seal tightly and let sit in a cool, dark place for 5-7 days, until the liquid turns deep yellow.  Strain the liquid and discard the zest.  Combine the sugar and ginger with 3 cups of water and heat on medium for 10-15 minutes.  Allow to cool completely and strain the ginger out.  Divide the syrup evenly between the two jars.  Add one drop of Lemon Oil and one drop of Ginger oil.  Tightly close jars and shake to combine.  Allow to rest for at least a week before enjoying.  Cheers!

Chanukah Potato Latkes

Chanukah Potato Latkes with apples sauce and sour cream

Chanukah Potato Latkes with apples sauce

It wouldn’t be Chanukah without potato latkes.  When we were kids my mom used to throw a Chanukah party for my brother, sister and I.  We were each allowed to invite 3 friends and we lit the candles and opened presents and ate potato latkes.  We talked about Chanukah with our Goyim friends and everyone went home full and happy.  Let me sum up Chanukah for you: Macabees, oil, candles, potato latkes.  The idea is that there was supposed to be enough oil in the lanterns for one night and miraculously it lasted 8!  At least that’s what they told me in Hebrew school, and that’s what we told our friends.  So we cook things in oil to celebrate.  In the grand scheme of Judaism Chanukah is pretty minor, and over the years it has become the Jewish answer to gift giving at this time of year.  But what a great excuse to make potato latkes!  I know the house smells like latkes for days after we make them but I don’t care.  They are just so delicious.  In the spirit of my Grandma  I have to make them my own.  I don’t like it when have the consistency of mashed potatoes.  Far to often people just squash a giant glob of mashed potatoes on the flattop and make a mashes potato pancake.  Lame.  I like texture and color and they should look like they have some yummy life to them!  So I use the food processor (some say you should use a box grater).  I also like to add some sweet potato to the mix.  It gives them a tangy sweetness that is subtle and nutty.  Of course the sour cream and apple sauce need to accompany them, as per family tradition, but you can top them smoked salmon or caviar if you are feeling a little fancy pants…oh and I don’t think latkes should only be eaten on Chanukah.

Potato Latkes
3 Large Russet Potatoes1
1 Medium Sweet Potato
1 Large Yellow Onion
1 big handfull Dill chopped
1 small bunch chives chopped
4 T flour
4 Large eggs lightly beaten
giant pinch of kosher salt
Oil for frying (I like extra virgin olive oil but my mom always used vegetable oil)

Shred the potatoes and onion in food processor. Put in a mesh strainer set over a bowl and let the most of the liquid drain out. Squeeze as much moisture from the mixture as possible.

perfectly shredded potatoesChanukah potato latkes frying in olive oil Chanukah potato latkes frying in olive oil

Mix in dill, chives, eggs, flour and salt. I like to make the pancakes with my hands but if you aren’t into making a big mess you can use a cookie scoop or 2 spoons. Generously oil a big non-stick skillet or cast iron pan (this makes it so you don’t have to use as much oil). Heat oil over medium heat and drop pancakes into hot oil. Fry until nicely browned and flip and brown the other other side. Transfer to paper towel lined plate to rest before serving with your favorite accompaniment. This makes enough latkes for me and my husband to eat for dinner, use that info however you want to…

The Best Doughnut I ever Ate

Doughnut Plant

Mmmm, doughnuts…

The best doughnut I ever ate (so far anyways) was from Doughnut Plant in NYC.  I was on one of my many trips to NYC to visit my sibling who both live in Brooklyn.  My Mom, who might argue the homemade cake donuts at the Dartmouth Ski Way are the best, came down from Boston to meet me.  We got up early and made a pilgrimage to the lower east side.  It was a pilgrimage because what else do you go to the lower east side for at 10 in the morning.  And I was told to get there early because there would be a line, and they do sell out.  I hate lines so why not be the first one there.  My mom is a good sport.  She helped me carry the extra doughnuts that I bought to bring home to my husband.  We carried them all over the city that day.  They were the most well traveled doughnuts ever by the time they got home to Jason in Park City that night.  But back to the doughnut.  It was peanut butter and jelly.  What was amazing to me is that the doughnut was jelly filled and yet there was still a hole in the middle!  The hole in the middle makes it so you are not loosing your jelly all over the place.  Brilliant!  A perfectly pillowy yeast doughnut with homemade jelly filling and peanut butter glaze.  Light and chewy and delicious.

There are a few more things to do on the lower east side.  We hit up Economy Candy which is a sugar addicts dream come true.  Every nostalgic candy you could possibly imagine all crammed into a shop the size of my bedroom.  The place is a tiny candy closet with candy all they way up to the ceiling!  We also ventured over to the Essex Street Market to eat the famous pumpkin pancakes at Shopsins.  But, they were closed.  So we headed over to Katz’s Deli because I had never been there, and everyone should go there at least once in their life.  Especially if you are Jewish.  It was a mouthful of comfort food deliciousness.  Pastrami and Knishes and Pickles.  I truly believe you should eat the house specialty when you go to a place like that so I did.  And of course I had my mom there to help with variety.  I also believe you should always have someone to eat with because then you get to eat their food, too.

Oh Mai!

My friend San San said there are good bagels in Midway.  I said “ha! You wouldn’t know a good bagels if it hit you in the head!”.  She’s from Massachusetts.  And she’s Asian.  I’m from Eastern Massachusetts, and by that I mean Boston.  And I’m Jewish.  Now, when she told me about the best Banh Mi at Oh Mai in Salt Lake I said “I believe every word you say…and I want to go to there”.  And I did.  And Oh Mai!  It was everything she said it would be.  After a few bites of my Honey Sweet Pork Banh Mi my tongue was tingling.  And by the time I ate my last bite it was satisfyingly on fire.  And as I ate my masterpiece of a sandwich, chewy bread, sweet pork, vinegary dressing, I kept thinking just one more bite.  One more perfectly crunchy on the outside and pillowy soft on the inside bite.  San San told me the sandwiches were so big she never finishes hers and she brings the rest home to her husband. I got Jason his own because there was no way I was going to share.  I guess that’s why she’s a size 2 and I’m a size 10…

Pumpkin Ginger Cheesecake

Pumpkin Ginger CheesecakeWell, it seems appropriate to announce my new food blog the same week that we stuff ourselves full of cheer and gluttony.  One of my favorite things about Thanksgiving (besides the excuse to eat myself into a stupor) is the variety of food I get to eat all at once.  It’s like going to one of those enormous Vegas buffets without getting food poisoning.  I wish I could eat like that everyday.  People always ask me how to cook things.  They want to know what the best way to cook the turkey is or how I make the soup.  I could talk about the best Thanksgiving dishes but you can find that everywhere.  Seriously, you can’t open your email or turn on the TV right now without seeing something about how to Thanksgiving blah, blah, blah.  When people ask me “how to” I always say perfect your desserts.  It’s the last thing your guests eat so it better be the best thing you do because if dessert is awesome your guests walk away saying the meal was amazing (even if the turkey was dry or the mashed potatoes were lumpy).  But, if dessert is boring they won’t remember the succulent turkey you labored over all day or the perfectly crispy, bacon-y brussels sprouts.  So, when you ask me what is my favorite dessert to cook I always have an answer, or four or five…
I originally found this recipe for a Pumpkin Ginger Cheesecake in Gourmet Magazine.  Yes, I miss it too.  I’m a firm believer that you should tackle a recipe with an open mind.  You might have to change things to make it just how you want it.  Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but you should always try because who cares if you screw it up.  You don’t have to tell anyone if it didn’t work, but you may have a funny story to take away.  Or you can always “remember” things differently, I learned that from my grandma Edith.  I also like mini anything.  2 bites can make a party a lot more fun and you can hold your drink (way more important) instead of a plate.  I like to make these in little mini muffin pans so they are cute little pies.

Pumpkin Ginger Cheesecake
adapted from Gourmet
1 Gingersnap crust (see below)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup crystallized ginger, chopped
8 oz cream cheese
2 large eggs
1/4 cup whole milk
1 T flour
1/4 t nutmeg
pinch salt
15 oz can pumpkin

Pulse the sugar and the ginger in a food processor. Add the cream cheese and pulse until smooth. Add eggs, milk flour, salt and nutmeg and process until just combined. Reserve about 1/2 cup of this mixture (I like to put it in a squeeze bottle when I make mini’s). Whisk the remaining mixture with the canned pumpkin and pour into crust. Pour the reserved mixture over the pumpkin filling in a zig zag pattern and then swirl with the back of a spoon or butter knife (if doing mini’s use a toothpick). No rules here just do what looks nice. Bake in a 350 degree oven until the pie is just set in the middle, about 45 minutes (12 minutes for mini’s). Let cool completely and chill 4 hours until the pie is firm. I’ll tell you a secret, if I’m in a hurry I put it in the freezer. I know, this might crack the pie in the center but, hey, I get to eat it faster. Serve with a whiskey whipped cream, hand whipped of course.

Gingersnap Crust
5 T melted butter plus extra for the pan
1 1/2 cups fine cookie crumbs (I like Nyakers Swedish Gingersnaps)
2 T sugar
pinch of salt

Butter the pie plate or mini muffin tins. Stir cookie crumbs and melted butter together with sugar and salt and press into pie plate or tin. Bake 12-15 minutes at 350 degrees until lightly brown. Let cool completely before using for Pumpkin Ginger Cheesecake.

 

 

Grilled Cheese with Caramelized Onions and Tomato Jam on KUTV’s Fresh Living

Grilled Cheese with Caramelized Onions and Tomato Jam on KUTV Fresh Living

Mmmmmm, Grilled Cheese…

I had the pleasure of visiting KUTV’s Fresh Living show in Salt Lake City today.  Casey, the host, and I cooked up the Grilled Cheese with Caramelized Onions and Tomato Jam I have been working on.  I think I’m getting pretty good at this TV thing!  Maybe there is a specialty show in my future.  Or maybe I will just have to keep pretending I’m on TV every time I’m cooking for my clients.  It’s all just a big performance anyways.  It’s funny, when I worked in restaurants I swore I would never work in an open kitchen because I didn’t want to be watched all the time.  But here I am, working in an open kitchen, being watched the whole time.  And now I have people asking me questions and wanting a taste of everything!  Maybe I’m growing up.  Really I think it’s that I like to be the center of attention…

Harvest Squash Soup and Grilled Cheese with Caramelized Onions and Tomato Jam

 

 

 

 

 

 

HARVEST SQUASH SOUP 
3 ½ LB Squash (I like Buttercup, Acorn and Butternut)
7 T Olive Oil
3 Large Shallots, chopped
4 C Chicken or Vegetable Stock
2 ½ C Apple Cider
1 T Dry Mustard
¾ t Cumin
½ t Cloves
½ t salt
½ t pepper
½ C Maple Syrup

Cut squash in half and drizzle with 3 T olive oil.  Put on a sheet pan, cut side down and roast at 425 degrees for 40 minutes or until soft.  Let cool to touch.  Sauté shallots in remaining olive oil until soft.  Deglaze pan with apple cider.  Add squash and stock and simmer for 30 minutes.  Add mustard, cumin, cloves, salt and pepper.  Puree in blender or with stick blender.   Stir in maple syrup and serve with garnish or your choice.  I like crab, chives or crème fresche.