Monday, November 29, 2010

Eat More Meat ~ Kiva Atkinson

Thanksgiving Turkey

Roasted Pheasant

Roasted Goose

Holiday Ham

Roast Beef

Leg of Lamb

Venison Chops

For more minis by Kiva Atkinson, visit:

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Mini Cranberry Tarts for Thanksgiving


Thanksgiving is less than 24 hours away, and if you have still not decided what will go on your dessert menu, try these rustic Cranberry tarts which have an old-world charm to them, and with cute individual-sized portions, each guest can have their own personal pies, without having to horde around one big plate! Homemade pie dough can be made overnight and refrigerated, and you can also make the cranberry filling ahead of time. Add some holiday flavor by sprinkling dashes of fall flavors like nutmeg, some raisins and chopped pecans. Orange zest and Grand Mariner take it up one notch higher, making it a memorable feast for your friends and family. Recipe by Karen Baker, via Fine Cooking magazine; photo by Scott Phillips.


For the dough:
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 tsp table salt
6 oz. (12 Tbsp) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 Tbsp plus 1 tsp cold water

For the filling:
3 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup golden raisins
3/4 cup granulated sugar; more to taste
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 Tbsp orange liqueur, such as Grand Marnier
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
1 Tbsp fresh orange juice
1/8 tsp table salt
pinch of nutmeg
2 tbsp chopped pecans or walnuts

For Base & Garnish
3 Tbsp gingersnap cookie crumbs (from about 6 cookies)
Granulated sugar for sprinkling
Lightly sweetened whipped cream for serving

Making the dough
Put the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the water and pulse until the dough just starts to come together.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface and press it into a cohesive ball. Divide it into six equal balls and put each on a sheet of plastic. Press the balls into disks and wrap well with the plastic. Refrigerate the dough until firm, 1 hour (or hold in the refrigerator for up to two days).

Making the Filling
In a medium saucepan, combine 2 cups of the cranberries with the raisins, sugar, maple syrup, orange liqueur, orange zest and juice, and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally until the sugar has dissolved, the cranberries have popped open, and the mixture is quite thick and syrupy, about 6 minutes. Taste the mixture. If it seems too tart, add more sugar. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the remaining 1 cup cranberries, nutmeg and chopped pecans. Let the filling cool to room temperature (it will thicken to a jam-like consistency). Once cool, the filling can be refrigerated for up to two days.

Baking the Tarts
Position oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment. About 15 minutes before rolling the dough, take it out of the refrigerator so that it becomes malleable.

On a lightly floured surface, roll each disk of dough into a 5-1/2- to 6-inch round.

Transfer three rounds to each baking sheet and sprinkle the gingersnap crumbs evenly over the surface of each round, leaving a scant 1-inch border. Dollop the cooled filling into the center of each dough round. Use the back of a spoon to spread the filling evenly, leaving a 1-inch border.

Gently fold the border over the filling, pleating as you go, to partially enclose the filling. Lightly press the pleats together to seal. Sprinkle the crust with sugar. Bake until the pastry is golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway through. Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream on the side.

Tart Recipe Variations
Feel free to adapt the recipe for the filling by using seasonal fruits. Apples, Pears, Peaches, Plums are all great fruit tart flavors. the basic recipe for the dough and the shell remains the same. You can freeze the tart dough for upto a month, so make the most of this recipe, and you can easily bake variations of the same, all through Thanksgiving and Christmas!

Related Recipes
Traditional Bourbon Pecan Pie
Roasted Pumpkin & Onion Bisque
Upside Down Cranberry Cake

Thanksgiving Turkey ~ Christel Jensen

For more minis by Christel Jensen, visit:

Thanksgiving Turkey ~ Kimmie Lou

For more minis by Kimmie Lou, visit:

Tutorial: Turkey ~ Julie Old Crow

You will need:
green clay for lettuce
flesh-colored clay for turkey
red clay for cranberries

artist pastels in brown, orange and gold (or whatever combination will give you a nice golden-brown color
Gloss Varnish
wad of aluminum foil
paintbrush (to spread pastels)
razor blade (to shave pastels)
pic (to help move small items

Platter for turkey--make or buy.

Start by pulling off pieces of the green, and shredding slightly in your fingers to achieve a 'torn' lettuce look. Arrange around the platter. You won't need to fill the center, as the turkey will set there.

Go all the way around the platter. I occasionally use Liquid Sculpey as a 'glue' to hold this to the platter, but don't stress if you don't have any. Once everything is baked, if it comes off the platter a spot of white glue will hold it firmly in place.

Next, take your flesh color and mold it into the shape of a breast of turkey. Note that it will be larger and fatter at the front. Wad the aluminum foil slightly, and use it to texture the turkey by pressing lightly into the ball. Not sure how big a ball to make? Just pluck of a chunk and form it--then if it is too small, add more and reform. Too big, just pinch off some of it and reform. Turkeys come in many sizes!

Pick off two smaller pieces from your clay, and form into drumsticks. I like to make it look a little like bone at the end, but this is of course your choice. Texture the legs also, and then stick them to the side of the turkey. Position them like you would see them on a baked turkey.

Next--wings! It's easiest to make two small tubes and bend them in the center. Then, press them to the side of the turkey above the legs. Texture these also with the foil. I like to shape them a bit more once they are on the turkey.

Make sure your turkey is going to cover all the garnish on the tray. Then, remove it, and get ready to use the pastels.

Shave off a small amount of each color, and blend until you have the right shade for a cooked turkey. If you aren't sure, look in a cookbook! There are always great pictures there to show you how it would look in real life. I also shaved off a little of the dark brown to use as a highlight, so my turkey wasn't all one color. Use the paintbrush to put the pastels onto the turkey.

Once it is done to your satisfaction, set it onto the tray. Now, take the red for the cranberries and form small balls. Place them decoratively around the turkey. Bake your turkey according to the directions on your clay packet. Allow to cool.

This turkey hasn't been baked yet, but this gives you an idea of what it will look like.

Once baked, lightly brush with gloss varnish. I use Liquitex Gloss varnish. This will give it a 'greasy' cooked look. As soon as I finish some other items, I'll bake mine and add a picture here!

Note: I buy all of my platters from eBay (where else!) and you can get some very nice platters in metal, wood, or even ceramic. Just shop around. Or--make your own platters from clay.


For more minis by Julie Old Crow, visit:

Monday, November 22, 2010

Why do YOU bake, Irvin Lin?

AJ, Irvin and his prize-winning pie
While Irvin Lin is a relative newcomer to food blogging, having launched Eat the Love earlier this year, he has quickly been embraced by bakers, cooks and food lovers. He's extremely talented as a baker, having won various competitions, including the Food Wars:Pie or Die, also this year. Lin does it all with a sense of joy and humor that is positively delicious.

"There is something slightly schizophrenic about being a home baker.

It’s a soothing zen-like solitary experience where precision measurements are needed to ensure a perfect end result. It’s a bit magical, when you put that batter or dough into the oven, at the correct temperature, and it comes out a baked good, something worthy of sharing with the people you love. Baking may be a lot of science (as well as a lot of art – don’t let anyone tell you any differently) but it’s also a magic that everyone can access. Few things in life create the warm happy feeling I get when I smell something baking in the oven.

But baking is also an act of social engagement, as all my baked goods are meant to be shared with friends, family and loved ones. I enjoy cooking, but to me, cooking is something I do to survive. Everyone needs to eat, and cooking is one of the ways that I provide sustenance to my body. But baking…baking is about pleasure. It’s about providing an experience to not only for yourself but for others as well. Cooking is a necessary. It’s a need. Baking is special. It’s a want.

I bake because I love to give joy to others. I love to watch other people eat. I love to watch their reactions when they take a bite of pie that I’ve made, or break off a piece of cookie and put it in their mouth. I love watching their eyes light up as they see the dessert placed in front of them. I love to see their eye roll to the back of their head as they savor that rich butter and sugar that I use in my sweet baked goods. I love hearing about how a specific dessert reminds them of their trip to France, or their wedding day, or of their childhood kitchen. I love talking to them about desserts and baked goods, because inevitably, every single person has a story about their favorite cookie, their favorite cake, and/or their favorite pie.

It is not everyday that people eat desserts. However, every time someone bakes, a normal occasion is turned into a special occasion. I strive to have as many special occasions as possible. I bake because baking is a way to connect with others. Baking is a joy. And we all need a little more joy in our lives."

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Today's Special Movie Review

Today's Special opens up in theaters around the US tomorrow. I got a chance to see a preview of it a few months ago at the International Food Blogger Conference and found it to be utterly charming, funny, and a bit of a tearjerker at times. You may recognize the lead actor Aasif Mandvi from the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. You will certainly recognize cookbook author and actress, Madhur Jaffrey. She's great in the role of the mother of the central character, a chef in the midst of professional and personal crises.

I don't want to give away too many of the details, but the movie is about a chef, Samir, who impulsively quits his job, is pressed into service at his family's restaurant, finds his cooking mojo and of course, the approach to food is really an approach to life. I was disappointed that the filmmaker did not accept Madhur Jaffrey's offer to help with the food scenes, because some of them lack authenticity. It's a shame, because in every other way this film is such a pleasure.

The story is completely predictable and formulaic, but with a film this enjoyable, who cares? Sure, it includes many cliches of dating and family strife but somehow there is a sweetness that tugs at your heartstrings anyway. The supporting cast of veteran Indian actors are just a joy to watch, especially Naseeruddin Shah, who was in Monsoon Wedding. You don't have to be Indian to appreciate the culture clashes and modern drama that the lead character finds himself in; the story has a universal appeal. Overall it is sweet, romantic, sentimental and will make you want to go out for Indian food, so plan accordingly.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Meet Chef Gopinathan of Campton Place

Executive Chef Sri Gopinathan
Campton Place the restaurant at Campton Place Taj Hotel San Francisco has an illustrious history. Many celebrated chefs have passed through the kitchen including Laurent Manrique, Jan Birnbaum, Bradley Ogden, Daniel Humm, Todd Humphries and Peter Rudolph. The restaurant added an Indian flair to the menu when the Taj took over the hotel and Executive Chef Sri Gopinathan took the helm. The restaurant has flown a bit under the radar for the last few years, but now it's back in the spotlight. Michelin just awarded Campton Place a star in their 2011 guide.

Chef Sri Gopinathan hails from Southern India, trained at the CIA Hyde Park and apprenticed in the kitchen of Raymond Blanc and Gary Jones at the famed Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, in Oxford, England, a Michelin 2 star restaurant.
Since Campton Place is sure to be on the list for local and visiting foodies, I checked in with the chef to learn more about him and his cooking.

How would you describe your food?
My style of cooking is French California with a subtle Spice Route

What is your signature dish or dishes?
Most of my dishes have my signature-  a subtle use of spices- but I have an emotional attachment to one dish in particular.  It is butter poached lobster with basmati crisp, a coconut curry sauce and cilantro. This preparation reminds me of home; it has typical southern Indian flavor but a French cooking technique.

How has your cooking been influenced by San Francisco and California?
I love the produce available here-  really some of the best produce in the world is from here!  Also there is a really great group of chefs in the Bay Area and the area offers a wonderful, and challenging, culinary platform for me.  The area is full of amazing farmers, artisans in baking and cheese-making, vintners… and the list goes on and on of people who are very influencing, inspiring and motivating.

What are your greatest sources of culinary inspiration?
This is really simple:  I’m inspired by fresh, seasonal produce…and there’s nothing like what is grown here in Northern California.  And secondly, my 90-year old grandmother’s cooking.

What do you like most about living in the Bay Area?
I’ve never lived in a part of the world that has so many people interested in food and wine.  It’s a dynamic influence on me…really everyone is so passionate about what they literally bring to the table.

What are your 3 favorite Bay Area restaurants?
Oh, and now a hard question to answer!  SPQR, Yank Sing and, of course, The French Laundry.

Thanks chef!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Friday, November 12, 2010

Featured again in Times of India

Another article in My times segment of Times of India, Chennai edition some weeks back

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Meat Cookbooks

Vegetarians, avert your eyes, now! This year there are several cookbooks dedicated to cooking meat. If you are like me, you are eating less meat, but being more particular about what you consume. I no longer buy meat at the supermarket. I am too haunted by images of factory farming. But I am still eating meat and while it makes up less of the plate, the few days a week I do cook it, I want it to be as deliciously satisfying as possible. Each of the following books are written by James Beard award-winners who know their stuff. Their recipes work, their writing is clear and their knowledge unassailable.

Meat by James Peterson James Peterson is an experienced cooking teacher, he not only knows how to cook, but knows how to explain it clearly to just about anyone. Meat, A Kitchen Education is his latest book. All kinds of cooking methods are covered in it and it's worth pointing out his book includes chicken, turkey and fowl. Step-by-step photos show how to carve, make dishes like salt pork and veal chops in papillote. The book focuses on classic dishes like Irish Stew, and Beef Wellington but also has more creative ones such as Oxtail Stew with Grapes, and Mostarda di Cremona. Particularly helpful are illustrations that show where each cut comes from on the animal. The book has 175 recipes.

Good MeatThe most massive tome out this season is Good Meat, subtitled the complete guide to sourcing and cooking sustainable meat, by Deborah Krasner. If you are concerned about sustainability, this is your book. It answers the questions you may have about grass-fed beef, Halal and Kosher meat, the flavor of pastured meat, "pink veal" and other modern meat issues that are not necessarily covered in other books. It is lovingly written, I don't know how else to describe it. The photos are stunning of both animals and dishes. There are recipes for using offal, pheasant, and pig's tail, in addition to much more accessible cuts and types of meat. Recipes I can't wait to try include Lamb Sausage, Eggplant and Orzo Salad, Pork Loin Chops with Ruby Port, Prunes, Cinnamon, Turmeric and Ginger and Beef Stew with Vermouth, Yam, and Mint (it included pomegranate molasses). The book has over 200 recipes.

Falling Off the BoneThe smallest format book is Falling Off the Bone by Jean Anderson. This is a straight-forward recipe book. Not all the recipes use meat on the bone, but all are for succulent style dishes that will make you swoon. It's a book of comfort food, plain and simple. It includes and braises, soups and stews. There are old fashioned dishes like Country-fried Steak and more out of the ordinary dishes like Aegean Lamb and Fennel Stew, Far East Spareribs on Sesame Sauerkraut and Danish Fricadeller in Onion Sauce. Unlike the other books, this one includes just beef, pork, lamb and veal, and no poultry or game. The book has 163 recipes.