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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas Breakfast

The Holidays present some challenges for menus. Most families with young children get up early to open presents.  So what do you prepare for a chaotic morning? Some ideas include the usual pancakes and waffles.  Or you could have some Cinnamon Rolls or even a coffee cake to tide everyone over until lunch or dinner.  For those who don't have young ones try a Fritatta or a Strata.  Easy to do and you can use almost anything in them.

A Strata is basically a savor bread pudding.  You can use meats like sausage or ham or chicken sausage in them there are several great recipes on line for these.  The best part is that you make them the night before and pop them in the fridge.  Then when you get up they go in the oven. 

My cookbook has a great recipe for Cinnamon rolls too.

So what do you do?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Dishwasher Miracle

Like many places in the Southwest Las Vegas has VERY hard water. Over the past two years I have battled with hard water film on my dishes. I blamed the dishwasher, changed detergents, bought new glasses only to have the same result.  Then I discovered Lemishine.  This product is amazing! After one wash all the glasses in the dishwasher looked like new and the hard water stains on the inside of the stainless steel dishwasher were gone. If you have film on your glasses check out Lemishine.

Monday, November 28, 2011

SAVE THE DATE! DECEMBER 18

Please join me at the Williams Sonoma in The District - Henderson NV on  December 18 at 12 noon.  I will be premiering DAVIS DUST and promoting my cook book

AUNT B'S BORDELLO AND BOARDINGHOUSE

 I will also be cooking some of the recipes from the book and serving samples.  There will be samples of DAVIS DUST and a special promo code to get $1 off the purchase of my book at Smashwords. So save the date and Get Dusted!

Please use the comments section to ask any questions or to get your place reserved at the presentation.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Making Food Gifts for the Holiday

I think that a well-made gift of food for the holidays is one of the best things we can do.  It shows you cared to assemble the ingredients, cook them and wrap them yourself.  That seems so much more personal than a gift certificate. Here are some ideas to help.
Stained Glass Cookies – these are simple sugar cookies that are formed into shapes with a small gap or pane in the design.  When you add some crushed hard candy and bake them, the hard candy melts and the result is like stained glass.  There are several sources for the recipes online.   I do recommend the Base for Filled cookies in my cookbook. It will stand up to the demands of this process.    (TIP - a silicone sheet under the cookies - it makes getting them out much easier!)
Fudge – who doesn’t like chocolate??  There are a lot of recipes for this online too. My favorite is a family recipe.  Make it ahead and keep it in the refrigerator.
If you have a favorite recipe, make a personalized mix for your friends.  Put the ingredients in a glass container that can be sealed.  Tie the instructions on with a ribbon and you have a very attractive gift.
Take a pot of your favorite soup to someone who is ill or has a lot of company. I am sure that they will enjoy it.
These are just a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing. 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

DAVIS DUST IS HERE!

DAVIS DUST
SO WHAT IS THE “DUST”?
I love a good dry rub, but most were too salty or had overpowering ingredients.  So, four years ago I started to experiment with some different ideas.  DAVIS DUST is my original recipe, created from those four years of trying to get it right.  As a result, I  ended up with, not only a great dry for ribs, chicken and beef, but also a seasoning for stove top or oven cooking too. 
 DAVIS DUST is produced for me by Pacific Spice, under high quality control, using fresh blended organic and natural ingredients.  When you get your container, it will not have been sitting in a warehouse getting old.  I only produce small batches to control the age of the product.  When you open your container, the aroma will tell you that it is fresh and ready to go!
 For those who respond to this post, I am offering an introductory price of $6.00 for 3.2 oz. of DAVIS DUST.  The regular price is $8.50.  I want to get this out to a lot of people who can help me promote the product.  Anyone who wishes to do so, can also write a review and I will place it on the website.  For those who are out of town, DAVIS DUST can be shipped to your home for a nominal additional charge.

Here is what some of the focus group  and testers had to say.

“DAVIS DUST is about the only seasoning I use any more.”  SH  - Las Vegas
“We love it on ribs!  But it is great on chicken too!” – SP Portland
“I use it as table seasoning.  It is wonderful on my homegrown veggies – especially the tomatoes. “ LN
"We used it on our vegetarian stir fry with tofu.  It was great!" - GB Las Vegas

To order send an email to me vegaswes@gmail.com  The website http://www.vegaswes.com/ will have an order form soon as well as paypal.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Turkey Leftovers

So Friday means the start of Turkey leftovers.  Most people will have at least one more full meal of turkey and all the sides.  Then we start the slow decline into soup.  Here are some other ideas that may help

1. Instead of the usual fare, try Turkey Enchiladas or a stir-fry. It is easy to substitute turkey for chicken in any recipe.  Try a nice sour cream Poblano Sauce. Spice it up!

2. Make your own frozen dinners or lunches before anything is too old or dry to use.  That way you can have a new dish now and have the complete meal later.  The holiday season does present a lot of time challenges so having you second from Thanksgiving in a week or two is actually very good.

3. Dressing freezes very well. Portion out some small portions to use later with a Pork Roast.

4. Soup - If you like a hearty soup, then by all means clean the meat off the bones and cook the bones to make a soup base.  Adding some left over gravy will add more taste.  Just be sure to boil the bones and then take them out before adding any other ingredients.  If you just want to make stock then freeze it that is a good idea too.

5. Left over cranberries can be frozen for up to a year.  Relish will last about a week in the fridge.

Above all else - be sure to put the food away after dinner as soon as possible.  If something has been left out too long, it could make you ill.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Countdown To Turkey

At this point your turkey is thawed and ready to go into the brine tonight or tomorrow. Any last minute shopping to do I recommend it be done today. Here are some things that always help me bet organized.

1. Do a place setting and see if you have all the flatware, glasses and dishes you need. I also set the empty serving dishes on the table to see if they will all fit and to make sure I have the right size dish for sides. If you are low on room now, just wait until the dinner guests are here. 

2. A side area or side board. I sometime set up a side area for things like a crock pot for extra gravy or potatoes since those are always in demand.  I find it easier to have those handy rather than in the kitchen. If you are planning a buffet style this also helps keep the flow going.  For a buffet style dinner to work you need to think about the area and the traffic flow.  If everything is on the table then all the guests have to juggle plates and people to get their food.

3. Do ahead items can be done today too. Cheesecake can be made today and it will be fine for Thursday. As will Pumpkin Pie.  If you want do some of your prep - chop celery or onions and put them in a  plastic bag.

The best Thanksgiving is when YOU have time to enjoy the meal too!  So take a moment and relax and do some planning now.  It will make it easier.

Monday, November 21, 2011

TURKEY DEADLINE !!

If you have a frozen turkey you must start your thawing today.  It may be too late if the bird is over 14 pounds.  If that is the case you may need to thaw it in some cold water.  However, pay attention to the directions.  If not done properly, the turkey can be a place for bacterial growth. 

If you are brining the turkey, that should be done on Wed.  Allow for 16 - 48 hours for the Turkey to brine.  Make sure that the brine is cold - between 28 and 38 degrees all during the brine process.  Also wash your bird BEFORE and AFTER you brine. Washing before removes surface bacteria that may have accumulated during processing. Washing after removes excess salt and brine ingredients.

If you have any questions, please contact me or one of several hot lines for Thanksgiving.  Be safe and may all your memories of Thanksgiving be wonderful!!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Pumkin Cheescake - new recipe

Here is the new Pumpkin Cheesecake recipe that I demonstrated at class today and will again on Monday at 6pm. This also has a Bourbon Sour Cream topping.

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Sour Cream Bourbon Topping
Preheat oven to 250
For the Crust
¾             Cup Gingersnaps crumbs
½             Cup pecans or walnuts – finely ground – about 2 oz.
½             Cup packed Brown Sugar
3              Tablespoons melted unsalted butter

Place Gingersnaps in food processor and pulse until finely ground.  Add nuts and brown sugar- pulse until mixed.  With machine running add butter. Stop machine as soon as all of the butter has been added.  Pour the mixture into a greased 9’ spring form pan.  Use a one cup metal measuring cup and pat the mixture down and up the sides.  You can use the side of the measuring cup to form the sides of the crust.  Chill the crust for at least one hour.

Filling
Have all ingredients at room temperature.
3              eggs
½             cup dark brown sugar – packed
1              teaspoon Vanilla
2              Tablespoons of heavy cream
1              Jar Muirhead Pumpkin Butter (this is the secret!)

Beat eggs until they are light and lemon colored.  Add the rest of the ingredients and whisk to combine.  Set aside.
3              8 oz. packages of cream cheese – at room temp!
½             Cup white sugar
1              teaspoon Saigon Cinnamon
¼             teaspoon ground cloves
¼             teaspoon ground Ginger
1 ½         tablespoons cornstarch
½             teaspoon salt
Fresh grated nutmeg to taste
In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the cream cheese until it is soft. Scrap down the bowl and paddle to ensure that no small lumps remain before adding any other ingredient.  Add the sugar and mix until the sugar is absorbed, then add the rest and combine.  Once this mixture is combined slowly add the pumpkin mixture on low speed.  Stop and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix again.  Take crust out and place on a sheet pan.  Pour the filing into the prepared crust and grate fresh nutmeg over the top – about ½ teaspoon.  Bake for 50 – 55 minutes.  The center should be just barely set.  Take the cheesecake out put on a wire rack for 10 minutes to cool slightly while you prepare the topping before finishing the baking.
Topping
2              cups sour cream
½             teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of salt
3              tablespoons of sugar
1              tablespoon of Bourbon
Return to the oven for 5 - - 7 minutes.  Turn oven off and open door.  Let cheesecake cool for an hour in the oven.  Then take the cheesecake out and cool to room temperature.  Cover the cheese cake in the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.  Take out an hour before serving so it can warm up.  Cheesecake is best served when it is not ice cold.   This cake can be refrigerated for up to three days – if it lasts that long!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Class Today

I will be teaching the Sous Chef Series Class today at noon in Green Valley in the Williams Sonoma in The District.  Great recipe for Caramelized Brussels Sprouts.  Come on by and try some.

Tomorrow at noon and again on Monday evening at 6 PM I will do a different class on Thanksgiving.  A new Recipe for Pumpkin Cheesecake will be demonstrated and tasted!!

Come to any of the classes.  Let me know you heard about this on my blog!!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Get Paid to Shop!

Ok so this is kind of a commercial for me. But it is also an opportunity to earn cash back at over 3000 stores when you shop.   Hey it is the holidays and we all shop so why not earn money for your purchases??  Need a new pan or a mixer?  Do some comparisons and find the best fit and the best price.  Just sign up as my customer and I can help you.  Don't worry it does not cost anything to sign up and you will earn money as you shop on the partner stores.  Got questions??  Let me know and I will take care of them. Here is the link.

http://www.marketamerica.com/vegaswes/?refEmail=1B13042A160E0805232C0818041A4D280A14&switchPrdCountry=USA

So after all the good cooking tips and recipes this one may save and/or earn you money.  I try to take care of my readers!!

Thanks!

Wes

Are You Ready for Thanksgiving?

This is a very busy time for most of us as we anticipate the Thanksgiving Feast. It is one week away. (YIKES!)  So take a moment and think through your menu now.  When I was a Catering Chef, I would often plan the party and menu and then just take a moment to visualize all the components. I find that helps. I also would write down the cooking and serving plan.  I do the same thing for a festive dinner like Thanksgiving.  Here are some things to look for.

1. Start at the beginning.  If you are planing appetizers think about how you are serving them and where you will serve them.  Most cooks want to be part of the gathering, But having people under foot as you finish the meal is not a good idea.  Assign someone to be in charge of the appetizers and check to see what plates, napkins etc they will need.

2. Depending on how elaborate the menu is, you want to consider how many plates, spoons and forks you need.  You may find that some more are needed or be prepared to wash some for desert.

3. Glassware - there is no shame in having some disposable for soda and the like for the kids. But if you are serving wine or cocktails to adults, they should have glass.  Do you have the right kind of glasses for the wine you are serving?

4. Menu options - if someone is bringing a guest that you do not know, ask if that person has allergies or is a vegetarian.  Better safe than having a guest eat celery all night while the rest indulge in all the goodies.  You may find that a simple addition of Ratatouille may not only enhance the menu, it may also prevent an awkward moment.

5. Is your turkey ready to thaw? Remember it may take up to four days or longer to thaw a large bird.  If you are brinning the bird do you have room in the fridge or do you need to plan to use a cooler and lots of ice?

These are a few ideas.  Take a few moments now and it will let you enjoy the day more.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Great Class Tonight

Thank you to all who attended the class tonight!  It was great fun and lots of questions.  One of the things that some people had not seen was the Potato Ricer.  It does do a great job and I do recommend it.  The trick is to make sure that you do not put too many potato pieces in it.  But the results were very good.  Also remember to have your milk warm and ready to add.  Anyone can make great potatoes with a ricer.

The Butternut Squash souffle was a hit again.  Try the recipe and let know what you think.

Stay tuned for news on Davis Dust.  Coming soon!!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

New Recipe - BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUFFLE

I decided to make something different for class today.  Here is my take on a different side dish

Butternut Squash Souffle

2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon maple syrup - the REAL maple not imitation!
1/2 teaspoon salt

Whisk all of these together and then add

1 jar of butternut squash puree

whisk to combine until well mixed and the pour into buttered ceramic baking dish.  Bake in preheated 350 oven for 30 - 40 minutes.  The center should be just barely set.  Serve warm with a drizzle of Brown Butter and Sage over the top

Brown Butter and Sage

3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
4 sage leaves - cut in a Chiffonade

In small saute pan cook butter and sage until the sage is crisp and the butter just starts to brown.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Side Dishes for Thanksgiving

I think we all like Turkey, but without the sides dishes it really is not Thanksgiving. I know many people are thinking of the standard Green Bean Casserole.  However I want to challenge you to try something a little different.  Here are some ideas

How about Brussels Sprouts? There are many ways to prepare them that are tasty and won't remind you of  those bitter and soggy attempts when you were growing up.  I am doing a recipe at the classes on Sunday and Monday that may change your mind.

Sweet Potatoes Souffle - a different take on sweet potatoes or Yams.  Easy to do and it bakes with the Turkey.

Mashed potatoes - how about Sour Cream and Chives or Leeks in your mashed? Or add some roasted garlic. 

Just some ideas - I will post some recipes this week that may change your mind about the side dishes at Thanksgiving - or any other time for that matter!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans Day

Take a moment today to thank any of the Veterans that you know.  We often forget that many of the freedoms that we enjoy were at the expense of those who serve. No matter what branch they all deserve our thanks and support.

One of things I like to do is make a special food for some of my friends who are Veterans. A homemade meal, a batch of cookies or a pot of soup on a cold November day make for great gifts. Here are some ideas that may help in transporting food at the Holidays.

I make my Quiche for delivery to friends. To make that easier on me and them I make it ahead and once it is cooled, I double wrap in plastic wrap and then use a gallon size zip lock freezer bag and freeze it.  I print heating instructions on a small piece of paper & place it on top of the quiche before I freeze it.  The recipient doesn't have to worry about what to do and can put the quiche in their freezer until they are ready.

For cookies - if they are soft, I include a terracotta disk for keeping sugar soft in the tin. They get two gifts and the cookies stay nice and soft.  If the cookies are crisp, I put an extra layer of cushion in the form of tissue paper on the bottom before I add the cookies.

If I am taking a dish to a dinner, I do not use disposable pans.  Instead I buy a nice dish that will let me cook whatever I am bringing.  That way the hostess or host has the food and a nice nice dish to use for other times.

I hope these help.  Have a great Veterans Day.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Coming Soon - DAVIS DUST!

In my cookbook I reference a seasoning blend called Davis Dust. It was developed over the last four years as a dry bub for ribs.  However it is an all purpose seasoning and is good on almost everything.  I happy to say that it will soon be available on my new website.  ( LOOK to right of this post for the section that says Check this out -- the link is My NEW WEBSITE) Please take a look. I would love some feedback on the website and when the seasoning is available for purchase I will post a notice here.

I do hope you all try it!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Stuffing the Bird

For many the idea of Thanksgiving Turkey includes putting the stuffing in the bird and cooking the two together. This method does add some flavor to both.  However, if done improperly, it can have some serious consequences.  To avoid that I suggest you follow some simple guidelines.

1. Make your stuffing the morning that you plan to cook the turkey.  Stuffing should be warm when it is put in the bird. I fyou made it the day before you have to bring it up to temperature before stuffing.  ( 145 - 165)

2. Do not over stuff the bird.  Allow room for the stuffing to expand during cooking.  You can always put some in a dish and cook it along with the bird.

3. If you use meat in your stuffing, cook it before you put it in stuffing.

4. Cook by temperature not time.  If you do all of the above the stuffing and the bird will get done at the same time.  The breast should read 165 when it is done. Test the temperatue of the Stuffing - it should be at least 145.

If you do not want to worry just cook your dressing outside the bird. The only difference between "Stuffing" and "Dressing" is where you cook it!

For those like me who do not stuff the bird, use aromatics in the body cavity such as onions, celery, sage lemon  etc.  Whatever will compliment the meal

Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Perfect Turkey

Today's class was a big hit!  I brined the turkey and cooked it so that it was done just before the class started.  That gave me time to let the bird rest.  Whenever you roast any meat, always let it rest at least 20 minutes or longer so the juices can stabilize.  That makes for a much more juicy and tender dinner.

For those who have never used a brine for a turkey, try it.  The results are very worthwhile.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Time for Turkey

If you are planing a big feast on Thanksgiving now is the time to think about your turkey. This is especially true if you want a fresh turkey. Most of the fresh turkeys need to be ordered ahead of time. You can pick the date you want it delivered.  Just remember that a fresh Turkey should only be held for no more than three days before it is cooked.  Also some stores sell "Fresh Turkeys" that are somewhat frozen. That is due to the FDA definition that a fresh turkey is held between 28 and 38 degrees. That is a good thing as you do not want any chance of spoilage. 

If you are using a frozen turkey, allow for four (4) days to defrost in your refrigerator.   DO NOT THAW YOUR TURKEY AT ROOM TEMP EVER!!  If you do the outside will get warm enough to promote bacterial growth.  Use the fridge!!

Brinning the turkey is a great way to add flavor.  I will go into more detail on that tomorrow.  Sunday's Technique Class at William Sonoma is all about Turkeys. Come by and see how we do it.

Check the blog for Brine recipes on Sunday.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Tip on Cranberries

I love a good Cranberry sauce with my turkey! I always make it rather than use the jellied in the can stuff. Did you know that Cranberries can be frozen in the bag? I  try to buy at least one or two extra as soon as they come in the market and throw then in freezer. That way I have some for later in the year. Here is my recipe for Cranberry Orange relish.


1 bag of fresh Cranberries
juice an zest from one large Orange
1 oz Orange liqour'
1/2 cup of sugar or more to taste
1/3 cup of water

Combine all ingredients and cook over medium heat until the Cranberries start to pop.  Be ensure to cover the saucepan with lid or mesh cover to eliminate extra splatters.  Once the majority of berries have popped, take the pan off the heat and mash the berries with a potato masher.  Put in a non reactive bowl, cover and chill for at least 2 hours.  The addition of the orange juice and zest will make a big difference.   This can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. However it never last that long at my house.

You can adjust the consistency by adding more water while cooking.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Getting Ready for the Holidays

I am sure that many people are already planning their menus and wondering if Uncle Fred will fall asleep at the table again.  What many people over look are the tools that you use on the holidays.  I know some who have a special carving set just for the turkey or other meats that we consume at this time.  However, how many of those special sets are really sharp? Do you know the difference between honing and sharpening? A steel is used for honing the blade.  Basically when you use a knife, small bits of the blade turn against the blade as it wears.  These small bits of steel keep the blade from cutting at those points.  It makes the blade dull.  Using a steel knocks those off making the blade cut true again.  Sharpening puts a new edge on the blade.   I recommend that you SHARPEN the blade on that carving set and HONE the blade while using.

Also if you do not have a Roasting Pan - get one.  The Aluminum ones just don't cut it when it comes to things like making gravy or browning your bird before roasting.  I can tell you that when they collapse it can be very devastating!! The investment in a good roasting pan is paid back many times.

Over the next few weeks I will have more tips on holiday cooking.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

POT ROAST

YUP  It is turning cold here in the Southwest!!  Time for some Comfort Food. Nothing says comfort like a smell of a Pot Roast when you come in on a cold Fall day.  Here is what I am going to make for dinner on Wed.

Chuck roast or other roast that is cut thick and has a lot marbling.

Onions - rough cut
Carrots - about four peeled and cut in thick pieces
Celery - Two ribs sliced thin
Garlic - Three to four cloves - chopped or pressed.
Beef Stock - enough to cover the roast in the pan

Heat a Dutch Oven or heavy bottom roasting pan on the stove until hot.  Add 2 tablespoons of EVOO.  Salt and pepper one side of the roast and put the seasoned side down into the hot pan and oil.  Then season the the other side.  Brown the roast until it is ready to release then turn the meat over and brown the second side. (NOTE: if the pan is not hot or the meat is wet you will not have a good outcome!! Brown means Brown! Your gravy and the meat will taste much better if the meat is browned before you put in the oven.)  Add the onions and garlic so they can be flavoring the meat too.

pour hot beef stock over the roast. The liquid should boil.  If the liquid is cold the meat will be tough. Add the veggies and cover the pan and put in a 250 degree oven for at least 4 hours.  Longer is better especially if the roast is large.   The point here is that once the meat is browned and in the oven you are done until it is time to eat.  Once the roast is done you can take it and the veggies out and make gravy. I use a good roux = I think it works better and has great texture.  You can use cornstarch.  I also make mashed potatoes to serve with this. 

It is really easy to make an outstanding Pot Roast.  Try it.  Let me know any questions!  I will post some pictures tomorrow time permitting.