Monday, November 24, 2014

Dress Rehersal

A few days before your holiday event gather all you dishes, platters and linens.  What ever you will use to make your holiday special.

Prep Ahead
Prepare anything that can be done in advance.  This includes food, cleaning and dress the table.
Add post it notes to platters and beverage dispensers so on the day of the event you have everything in its place and a place for everything.  Post notes also help you be able to direct others to help you. You may not want help cooking but it sure is nice to pass along other duties.

Almost all food can be made 1-3 days in advance and heated on the day of the event.

Don't be afraid to ask others to bring a dish.  Be specific so that you don't have too much of the same thing or simple write a menu and have people sign up for what they want to bring.

Sample Menu
Roasted Turkey and Mashed Potatoes-Host
Green Salad-Aunt Faith
Pumpkin Pie-Aunt Kim
Rolls-Uncle Rob
Vegetable Side Dish-Nana
Other Dessert-Aunt Tina

Many guest appreciate being guided what to bring.

Take it One Prep at a Time,
Chef Jackie

Sunday, November 23, 2014

One Sweet Side Dish

This sweet potato crisp is different yet traditional enough for everyone to enjoy.  It may become your own holiday classic. It can be made with gluten free oats and almond flour or pecan meal for those of you with grain sensitivities.  Yes you can put mini marshmallows on top if you can't live without them!

Savory Sweet Potato Crisp

3     Tbsp.        extra-virgin olive oil (save 1 Tb to sauté onions)
4     pounds  sweet potatoes peeled and cut into medium 1 inch chunks
1                   onion diced
¼    cup        dried cherries
4     Tbsp.      REAL maple syrup
1/4   cup        coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2   cup        homemade or organic chicken or vegetable stock
Crisp Topping:
3/4   cup        (1 1/2 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, plus 1 extra tablespoon to grease baking dish
1         cup  flour or almond flour or pecan meal
½        cup  oatmeal or gluten free oats
2         Tbsp.  dark brown sugar
2         Tbsp.  fresh thyme
1         tsp.   sea salt
2                 large egg yolks
                   Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
3 to 4   Tbsp.  ice water
¼        cup  chopped pecans


1   Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Generously butter a 10-inch round gratin dish; set aside.

2   Take chunky diced sweet potatoes, toss with olive oil, sea salt and pepper Roast on cookie sheet for about 15 minutes until browned a little and FIRM to touch.

3   In small sauté pan ; sauté onion in a little butter or oil until caramel in color.

4   Combine; potatoes, parsley, sauté onions, dried cranberries, salt and pepper. Place in prepared baking dish, add stock.

5   Place flour, oats, sugar, thyme, and sea salt in a bowl; toss to combine. Add butter and rub into dry ingredients until mixture resembles coarse meal. Whisk together the yolks and 3 tablespoons ice water in a small bowl; add to flour mixture. Rub together until it just comes together. If crumble is too dry, add remaining tablespoon ice water.

6   Arrange the crumble on top of potatoes. Sprinkle nuts on top.  Bake until the topping is golden brown and sweet potatoes are very tender, about 12-15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Yield: 12 servings
Oats may be omitted and substitute with coarse ground pecans.
Take it One Prep at a Time,
Chef Jackie

Copyright: Prep Like a Chef

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Holiday Appetizer -Crab Cakes

Crab cakes make a great addition any holiday party.  They can be made ahead and heated right before serving.  This is a basic crab cake recipe with excellent corn fondue.  If you have issues with gluten: grated unsweetened coconut may be used instead of bread crumbs.


Crab Cakes with Corn Fondue

1     pound         crab meat
½    cup              mayonnaise
4                         scallions chopped
1/2  Tbsp.           lemon juice
½    tsp.               hot pepper sauce
¼    tsp.               sea salt
¼    tsp.               fresh ground pepper
1     Tbsp.           Old Bay seasoning
1     cup               Panko bread crumbs or grated coconut, unsweetened
2                         whole eggs
¾    cup              Panko style bread crumbs or grated coconut
¼    cup              olive oil
Corn Fondue:
1     large      leek, rinsed and chopped small
1     Tbsp.     butter
3/4   cup       corn kernels fresh or frozen
1     tsp.        fresh garlic minced
1/2   cup        white wine
3/4   cup        heavy cream
5     ounces  Boursin or cream cheese
1/4   tsp.        sea salt
       pinch     cayenne


1   In a large bowl combine crab meat, mayonnaise, scallions, lemon  juice,  hot pepper sauce, 1 cup bread crumbs,  salt and pepper.  Shape into 24 1-inch patties.

2   In shallow bowl lightly beat eggs. Place 3/4 cubread crumbs on another shallow bowl or pie tin.

3   Dip patties in egg then bread crumbs.  If needed add a little water to the eggs.

4   Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in large skillet over medium heat.

5   Cook crab cakes in 2-3 batches adding oil as needed.

6   Cook till crisp on each side.  Serve with cheese fondue.

Corn Fondue:

1   Melt butter in heavy bottom sauté pan.

2   Sauté leeks over medium heat until they start to caramelize add garlic and continue to cook for another minutes.

3   Add corn and then deglaze with white wine, simmer until wine has cooked off and then add heavy cream, continue to simmer until cream has reduced by half, add Boursin cheese and season with salt and pepper.

4   Serve with petite crab cakes.

Yield: 24 pieces
Take it One Prep at a Time,
Chef Jackie

Friday, November 21, 2014

"Who's a Little Piggy!"

I love this classic line from the movie A Christmas story. The mother is simply trying to get her son to eat.  If he was offered this yummy pork loin stuffed with apples and wrapped in bacon she wouldn't have to ask twice.

 Adding the apples and onions
 Securing the bacon with skewers
Ready to slice

Bacon Wrapped Maple Pork Loin with Pumpkin Grits

3         lbs.      pork loin
4                    apples - 2 red and 2 green, cored and sliced thin
1                    large sweet onion slice thinly and cut into half
4         Tbsp.   maple syrup
2         Tbsp.   cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
12-16   strips   bacon
Pumpkin Grits:
6         cups    vegetable stock or water
1 1/2    cups    white grits
11/2     Tbsp.   salt
2        tsp     fresh cracked black pepper
3/4      tsp     cinnamon
1/3      cup    heavy cream
1/2      cup    fresh shaved parmesan cheese
½       tsp     fresh cracked black pepper
1 1/2   cups  pumpkin puree
3        Tbsp. shaved parmesan cheese
1/3      cup    Mascarpone cheese
2        Tbsp. chopped sage


1   Season meat with salt and pepper.

2   Make slits 3/4 the way through the pork loin in 3/4 inch intervals.

3   Season with salt and pepper between the slits. Drizzle some maple syrup into the slits. Place 1/2 slice onion and 1 apple slice between each slit.

4   Lay bacon strips on pork and wrap around so that they are overlapping.  Secure with bamboo or wooden skewers.

5   Place any leftover apples and onions in the bottom of a roasting pan to make a vegetable rack. Sprinkle with cinnamon.  Place pork roast on top. Roast at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until an internal temperature reads 135 degrees on a probe thermometer.

6   Remove from oven and let rest 10 minutes before slicing.

7   Serve with Pumpkin Grits.

Pumpkin Grits:

1   In heavy bottom rondo style pan bring stock or water to a simmer and add grits in a slow stream (known as raining in), whisking until completely incorporated. Add salt, cinnamon and pepper.

2   Continue to stir with wooden spoon occasionally until all the liquid is absorbed and the polenta is thick and soft about 25-30 minutes.

3   Add pumpkin puree and continue to cook another few minutes.

4   Add cream and Parmesan cheese, simmer for an additional minute until combine.

5   Mound grits onto platter in big spoonful’s and arrange pork next to grits; sprinkle with sage.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Old School Style Gravy

I use a roux all the time to thicken soups, stews and gravies.  If you have made chicken pot pie you probably have made a roux without knowing it.  Roux is equal parts fat and flour cooked together then added to liquid to thicken.  The longer you cook a roux the darker it gets.  Most recipes call for a blonde or a white roux like the one below.


4   Tbsp. pan drippings and/or butter
6   Tbsp. flour brown rice flour
2   cups  turkey or chicken stock


1   Melt fat or over medium high heat in a sauce pan. Add flour all at once whisking vigorously. When mixture starts to bubble, reduce heat to low and reduce whisking. Cook until you smell a toasty aroma then cook 2 minutes more, stirring occasionally.

2   Add 2 cups turkey or chicken stock to the roux in the pan.  Whisk until smooth.  Bring to a boil and simmer 2 minutes.  Serve immediately.

3   To thicken a hot liquid, allow roux to cool to room temperature add to hot liquid.

4   Store roux in a jar. Refrigerate up to a month. Simply break off pieces and use as needed.

Yield: 1/3 cup roux, 2 cups gravy
You can make this gravy!  It is buttery, rich and delicious.
Take it One Prep at a Time,
Chef Jackie

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Winner Winner Turkey Dinner!!!!

This is my all time favorite roasted turkey recipe. The turkey is first marinated overnight in a brine to add flavor and moisture.  Then it is seasoned and placed on a rack of vegetables.  Citrus butter is smeared under the skin to keep the breast moist.  As it cook it is basted with Cider Maple Glaze.  If your mouth isn't already watering imagine roasted root vegetables piled high around this gorgeous golden bird.

Northern Michigan Maple Glazed Turkey Breast

                        Brine; see sub recipe
1   8-10 pound   turkey breast
2                      oranges
1                      lemon
1   Tbsp.           maple syrup
1   tbsp.            Dijon mustard
                        Celtic sea salt and fresh ground pepper
4   Tbsp.           butter
Vegetable Rack:
2                      carrot peeled and large diced
2               celery stalks large diced
1               onion diced
Cider Maple Glaze:
3/4   cups  apple cider
3     tbsp.  pure maple syrup
1     tbsp.  orange juice concentrate
1/4   tsp.     dried thyme
1/4   tsp.     dried marjoram
1     tsp.     lemon zest
6     tbsp.  butter


1   Brine turkey breast overnight or up to 24 hours.

2   Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Rinse  turkey and pat dry with a paper towel. Generously salt and pepper turkey inside and out.

3   Zest lemon and oranges and place zest in a bowl. Reserve 1 teaspoon zests for Cider Maple Glaze. Combine zest , mustard and butter. Cut oranges and lemons into edges. Insert oranges and lemon halves into cavity of the turkey.

4   Lift up the skin and smear citrus butter onto breast.

5   Line roasting pan with carrots, celery and onion (vegetable rack). Place turkey on top of vegetable rack and brush with cider maple glaze. Glaze 3 more times during the cooking process. Roast turkey  for 1½ to 2 hours or until an instant read thermometer reads 160 when placed in the thickest meat and juices run clear. If skin darkens to quickly; tent with foil.

6   Let turkey rest for 20 minutes before carving.

Cider Maple Glaze:

1   In a medium sauce pan combine apple cider, maple syrup, zest and orange juice concentrate. Boil until liquid is reduced by half.

2   Remove from heat, add fresh herbs and butter; whisk thoroughly.

Servings: 10
Copyright-Prep Like a Chef

1     cup      kosher salt
1/2   cup      light brown sugar
1     gallon  vegetable stock
1     Tbsp.   black peppercorns
1 1/2   tsp.       allspice berries
1 1/2   tsp.       chopped candied ginger
1        gallon  water


1   Combine all ingredients.

2   Submerge large cuts of meat in brine overnight or up to 24 hours.  Weight down the meat if necessary to keep it submerged.
Copyright-Prep Like a Chef

Cider Maple Roasted Root Vegetables

Cider Maple Rub
1 ½   cups  apple cider
1/3    cup    pure maple syrup
2      tbsp.  OJ concentrate
1      tsp.     fresh or ½ tsp. dried thyme
1      tsp.     fresh or ½ tsp. dried marjoram
1 ½   tsp.     lemon zest
1 ½            sticks butter (room temp)
Glazed Root Vegetables
6           carrots (halved and bias cut)
6           parsnips (halved and bias cut)
3           turnips, chopped
1           small rutabaga, chopped
3           Sweet potatoes, chopped
1   tbsp.            fresh herbs
            Salt and pepper


Cider Maple Rub

1   Mix apple cider, maple syrup, and oj concentrate.  Boil in saucepan over medium heat until reduced by half.

2   Remove from heat, add fresh herbs and butter whisk thoroughly and refrigerate.

Glazed Root Vegetables

1   Season vegetables with salt and pepper.

2   Coat veggies in cider glaze and roast 375 degrees on sheet tray 25- 30 minutes until tender crisp and golden in color.
Copyright-Prep Like a Chef
Take it one Prep at a Time,
Chef Jackie