Sunday, December 6, 2009

Home Sweet Holidays (The Petaluma Post)

I've started writing a regular column for The Petaluma Post.  You can find the Post at shops all around town, and (of course) at my place when you pick up your daily cookie and coffee.  Here is a copy of this month's, I hope you enjoy it.

To me Sonoma County is one of the most beautiful places on earth, our rolling hills, the pacific ocean and green pastures make it a great place to live. I am lucky to have been born and raised right here in Petaluma, though my feet have wandered and I have cooked around the world, I still came home to stay.

Even when you live in such a great place there is nothing like the holidays to make you think of where you come from. When planning your holiday meal why not bring your longing to the table and add a regional flare to mix?

My husband’s family is from the east coast, they moved here 40 years ago, he loves to tell me that even though he is a transplant he has been her longer than I have, one month before I was born. One of my favorite recipes his mom does is a French stuffing reaching back to the French Canadian Border Area. It is made with Potatoes instead of bread. For the first few years I was hesitant, but I love it now. However I still want the stuffing from my family’s tradition, so Mom B knows that she has to make two kinds of stuffing; one just for me . Thanks Jan.

For an Elegant New England Starter why not try a soup course of New England Corn and Lobster Chowder

10 ounces cooked lobster tails, thawed
4 cups frozen yellow corn kernels (about 2¼ pounds), thawed
3 cups low-salt chicken broth
8 bacon slices, chopped
2 cups chopped onions
1 tablespoon fresh chopped thyme
2/3 cup finely diced celery
3 cups bottled clam juice
1 ½ cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons (¼ stick) butter
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Place Bacon, thyme, onion and cerely in a heavy bottomed pot, saute till tender and translucent.
Add in the corn chicken broth and clam juice, bring up to a boil.
In a separate bowl combine vegetable oil and flour to create a slurry. Turn the soup down to a simmer and whisk in the slurry. Continue to stir as it will thicken quickly
Finish with heavy cream, slat and pepper to taste
Just before serving sauté the lobster in 2 T aof butter and top each dish
Garnish with chives

How many great things can we pull from the southern states?! Greens, peas, great desserts? One that has been a hit at my house is a Turducken. This creation has gained in popularity over the last several years. It is a turkey that is stuffed with a duck and a chicken. When done in proper southern style it should have 3 different stuffings layered in. The key to this dinner is lots of guests, the average Turducken weighs in at approximately 25 pounds, that is all meat and stuffing as all but the leg bones and the wings are removed. Jim, my husband, had always wanted me to make one, so one year of course I did. Being lucky enough to have a commercial kitchen I boned each of the birds and layered them with just the traditional celery and sage stuffing and tied and trussed it just like a traditional turkey. Taking it home the day before thanksgiving I put it in the over 18 hours – yes 18 hours before dinner. It cooks at a very low heat for a long time to get all the way through. As the family arrived I pulled it out and with a bit of help got it to the table, even I don’t have a tray that big. The breast of the turkey sinks a bit without the breast bone but it looked beautiful. The awe moment came when you cut across the whole bird to reveal the layers. If you are a good cook and want to try to make your own there are great directions on the web, if you just want to each you can order them too.

Do you miss seeing the pueblos lined with luminaries? Then I suspect that your thanksgiving dinner might also include some Chiles. A great addition to any table would be a Pablano Chile Born Bread to a bit of spice to the table.
1 medium Pablano Chile, roasted, skinned and chopped
2 cup yellow corn meal
1½ cup flour
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 eggs
1 cup milk
¼ cup sour cream

To char Pablano chile, place over an open flame or broiler until all sides are blackened, turning often. Enclose in a paper bag for 15 minutes, the skin should just slide off, remove seeds and chop.
Combine dry ingredients, add wet ingredients, mix well, and last add the chile. Place in a 10” oven proof pan. Bake at 350 degree for about 15 minutes till a skewer comes out clean.

Well, I’ve exceeded my allotted words, but from Hazelnuts in Oregon to cherries from Wisconsin , just remember to bring those tastes to your holiday table. For more regional holiday ideas see my blog ( Have happy and delicious holidays!


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