Friday, November 26, 2010


Happy Thanksgiving from Dave Stanek, Sydney, Dave Weissman, Sabrina, and Dave Mohl! 
Who doesn't love a holiday centered around food?! As a law student, breaks are so few that when you get one, you really have to cherish it. Thanksgiving is the perfect time to reflect on your life (yes cheesy I know), but it's a day where the only thing you have to stress about is how to not dry out/overcook your turkey...the best kind of stress there is. I had Thanksgiving at the Mohl's house along with some of my other law school friends, and it was quite an epic feast. Instead of the normal Thanksgiving dinner (the only normal part of this Thanksgiving was the bird), we had sort of a "deconstructed" dinner...complete with our favorite amouse bouche: apple pillows (molecular gastronomy part 2!)

Because you can't have a Thanksgiving dinner without the traditional accoutrements.
The Mohl Thanksgiving menu consisted of the following:
Amouse bouche: apple pillows [explosion, balsamic, cider]
Starter: "green bean casserole" [tomato tartar, mushroom cream sauce, crispy shallots, bacon...oh...and green beans...fresh ones]
Dinner: tradition [bird, berries, bread]
Dessert: pumpkin trio [cupcakes, ice cream, cookies]
The pumpkin trio in all its glory!

We obviously also had turkey, cranberries, roasted vegetables, and a different kind of stuffing (Parsnip Brioche Bread Pudding) but those are fairly traditional and many recipes can be found for them on the web including this. And please stay committed to scrolling the's a little long, but if there's any time to have an epic post its gotta be Thanksgiving! Enjoy! Then hug your family, friends, and loved ones, and be thankful for how amazing life is :) And if you really love them...share this food with them.

The 18-pound bird that cooked suspiciously fast...two and a half hours is record time!

The Mohl Family Thanksgiving
Apple Pillows

yields: 8-10 apple pillows
now playing: The Bad Plus - Suspicious Activity
now drinking: Kir Royale
inspired loosely by Ferrán Adriá

1 cup apple cider
1/2 teaspoon Sodium Alginate
1/8 teaspoon Baking Soda
4 cups water
1 teaspoon Calcium Chloride
Lemon zest to garnish
Optional: Balsamic Vinegar and Apple Cider reductions

1. Dissolve the calcium chloride in water and reserve.
2. Warm apple cider and then mix with Sodium Alginate and baking soda, and then blend with stick blender until dissolved. Strain and cool to room temperature.
3. With a rounded tablespoon, carefully drop one spoon full of the mixture into the calcium chloride bath, and as you place half the spoon into the bath, assist the formation of the sphere with your finger (use your finger to coax the mixture out of the spoon) to help keep shape. This part is kind of difficult and takes practice. 
4. Looks like an egg yolk doesn't it? Cool huh? Serve on spoon and top with lemon zest and a drop of each reduction. 

"Green Bean Casserole"
yields: 7 "salads"
now playing: Miles Davis - Round About Midnight
now drinking: 2009 White Bordeaux
inspired by a mutual hatred for canned green bean casserole

7-8 Roma tomatoes
8-10 baby bella mushrooms
8 slabs (1/2 pound) fatty bacon
2 cups heavy cream
1 pound green beans
2 tablespoons cognac
5 large shallots sliced
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
4 cups oil to fry
Optional: pine nuts

1. Cut bacon into lardons and cook in a large skillet to render out fat. When bacon is crispy, remove and place on paper towel, but reserve fat.
2. Slice mushrooms and cook in bacon fat; add salt and pepper to taste but be careful about the salt because bacon fat is kind of salty. Add cognac and flambée. 
3. Once the mushrooms have fully cooked add 1 cup of cream and allow the flavors to mingle for about 10-15 minutes, making sure the mixture doesn't over-reduce. Taste and adjust seasoning.
4. Quarter, de-seed, and de-vein tomatoes. Julienne tomatoes, and then using two knives continue to mince over and over until very, very, very fine, resembling finely minced ground beef. Place the tartar in a strainer over a bowl, refrigerated, so that some of the excess water may drip out.
5. Heat oil on medium-heat until it's frying temperature. Take sliced shallots, dredge in cream and panko, and fry until crispy.
6. Sautée green beans in olive oil and butter, until just tender, being sure not to overcook. Add pine nuts to mixture if you choose.
7. To assemble, use a ring mold to form the tartar on one side of the plate. On the other side of the plate, place greens beans, mushroom "soup," bacon, and crispy fried shallots on top, in that order. Drizzle the tartar with balsamic reduction if you so choose. Add seasoning (salt and pepper and any other herbs you see fit) to any section of the dish according to your taste.

Sweet Potato Brulée

yields: about 16 ramekins worth, be prepared to have leftovers
now playing:
now drinking: 2002 Rioja Reserva
inspired by Dave's hatred for marshmallowed sweet potato pie

4-5 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
2 butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks
1 bunch sage
2 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 leek, washed and thinly sliced
1 cup orange juice
sea salt to taste
brown sugar

1. Melt butter in pan, and add sage. Sautee leek in butter for about two minutes, and then add the first batch of sweet potatoes. Cook, tossing frequently, making sure pieces don't burn, until firm. Add seasoning to taste.
2. Repeat process with remaining sweet potatoes and squash. 
3. Add softened squash and potatoes to a food processor, and add chicken stock, orange juice, vanilla, and spices (this probably should be done in batches if your food processor isn't big enough to hold all of it). Blend until smooth and velvety, adding seasoning as you please.
4. Place puree into ramekins until full, top with brown sugar (enough to cover the top but not too thick) and then torch until bruleed. You can also do this under the broiler if you don't have a torch, but everyone knows that playing with a torch is so much cooler. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Cheesecake Cupcakes

yields: 16 cupcakes
now playing: Passion Pit - Manners
now drinking: Coffee, Whiskey, or Cognac...whatever your poison.
inspired by and adapted from this


For the graham cracker crust:
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the pumpkin pie frosting:
2 large eggs, beaten
1 can (16 oz.) pureed pumpkin
2 tablespoon organic agave syrup
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon. ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon all spice
1 tablespoon flour
1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk

For the cheesecake:
4 oz. white chocolate, chopped
16 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
a little less than 3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon flour
2 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat oven to 350
1. Make the pumpkin pie filling first because it takes the longest to bake and the longest to cool. In a medium bowl, mix together all the ingredients for the pumpkin pie and place into a 9-inch pie round. Bake for 1 hour, if you think the consistency is too runny (a toothpick doesn't come out quite as clean) then bake for an additional 15 minutes. 
2. Make the graham cracker crust by mixing the melted butter, brown sugar, and graham cracker crumbs together until well-mixed. 
3. For the cheesecake, melt the white chocolate and keep separate to cool. In a bowl with an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth and creamy. Add sugar and mix slowly until smooth again. Scrape down sides of batter with a rubber spatula. Add flour and mix well. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again. Add one egg at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla and cream and combine until smooth and creamy. Stir in the white chocolate until all of it is incorporated.
4. Place cupcake liners in a muffin tin (I only had a 12-count muffin tin so I put cupcake liners into ramekins to keep shape...great idea Dave). Add graham cracker crust and then top full with cheesecake. 

5. When the pie filling and cupcakes are cool, pipe pumpkin pie frosting onto cupcakes, and enjoy! Serve with ice cream (see below). 

White Chocolate Pumpkin Ice Cream
yields: about a quart, maybe more
now playing: The Simpsons playing in the background
now serving: Fair Oaks Ranch 2005 Zinfandel
inspired by a desire for really rich, really seasonal ice cream

2/3 cup sugar
1 cup 2% milk
2 cups heavy cream (about 500 ml)
8 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
5 large egg yolks
7 tablespoons pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon allspice
1 tablespoon cinnamon
pinch salt

1. Warm the milk, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. In a separate medium bowl whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm milk into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.
2. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Don't let the mix curdle. Pour the custard through the strainer over the white chocolate. Stir until white chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth, then add pumpkin and spices. Stir in the cream and mix until cool over an ice bath. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator overnight for flavors to meld.
3. Pour the chilled mixture into your ice cream maker and churn for 30 minutes. After the ice cream has churned, then remove from ice cream maker and place the ice cream into freezer container and freeze overnight. Let sit out a little bit before serving. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Nutella Macarons
yields: 15-20 macaroons
now playing: The Brazilian Girls - Self-Titled Album 
now serving: Zinfandel
inspired by Pierre Hermes (although, mine weren't nearly as beautiful), adapted from here

1 1/4 cups plus 1 teaspoon confectioners’ sugar
1 cup (4 ounces) finely ground sliced, blanched almonds
6 tablespoons fresh egg whites (from about 3 extra-large eggs)
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Pumpkin pie filling (see above)
Preheat oven to 350℉
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together confectioners' sugar and ground almonds. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip egg whites with salt on medium speed until foamy. Increase speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar. Continue to whip until stiff glossy peaks form. With a rubber spatula, gently fold in the confectioners' sugar mixture until completely incorporated.
2. Line baking sheet with silpat. Fit a pastry bag with a 3/8-inch round tip, and fill with batter. Pipe 1-inch disks onto silpat, leaving 2 inches between cookies. The batter will spread a little. Let stand at room temperature until dry, and a soft skin forms on the tops of the macaroons and the shiny surface turns dull, about 15 minutes.
3. Bake, with the door of the oven slightly ajar, until the surface of the macaroons is completely dry, about 15 minutes. Remove baking sheet to a wire rack and let the macaroons cool completely on the baking sheet. Gently peel off the parchment. Their tops are easily crushed, so take care when removing the macaroons from the parchment. Use immediately or store in an airtight container, refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 1 month.
4. To fill the macaroons: fill a pastry bag with the pumpkin pie filling. Turn macaroons so their flat bottoms face up. On half of them, spread nutella, and then pipe about 1 teaspoon of the pumpkin pie filling on top in a dollop. Sandwich these with the remaining macaroons, flat-side down, pressing slightly to spread the filling to the edges. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

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