Guide to a Flawless Feast: Recipes & Tips from El Dorado County & Foothill Experts
● By David Norby
Photography by Dante Fontana © Style Media Group
When it comes to holiday feasting, we all crave the classics—buttery mashed potatoes, moist turkey, tart cranberry sauce with a hint of sweetness, and decadent desserts that’ll put the entire family into a food coma—but sometimes Stove Top doesn’t cut it. To ensure this year’s meal is a megahit, Style went straight to the experts—local chefs—to ask for the recipes that have their guests asking for seconds. Warning: Leftovers not guaranteed.
Appetizer: Tomato TartsSubmitted by Pearl Yoshitomi, Shingle Springs-based food blogger at Big Bang Bites
- 2 sheets of puff pastry, thawed
- 4 tomatoes
- 1/2 cup of pesto (from a jar or homemade)
- 1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
- Dried parsley for sprinkling
Cut tomatoes into 1/4-inch slices. Push out most of the seeds and pulp. Set aside. Open up the puff pastry sheet. Cut into three pieces along the fold lines. Cut each strip into four pieces. On a floured cutting board, roll each piece to make a square. Place the squares of puff pastry on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Spread about a teaspoon of pesto on the pastry. Put a slice of tomato on the pesto and sprinkle with a dash of salt, pepper and sugar. Top with the Parmesan and pinches of dried parsley. Bake at 400-degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes until golden. Serve warm. Variations: Put a thin slice of pepperoni or sausage on the tomato before baking. Serves 24.
Cocktail: Cranberry Gingersnap
Submitted by Jason Anderson, manager at Sauce’d Cocktail House 879 Embarcadero Drive, El Dorado Hills, 916-933-3729
- 2 oz. vodka
- 2 oz. ginger beer
- Cranberry juice
- Lemon juice
- Grounded ginger
- Gingersnap cookie, to garnish
- White chocolate shavings, to garnish
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake and strain into a glass. Garnish with white chocolate shavings and a gingersnap cookie.
Q: Being forced to spend Thanksgiving with my relatives makes me want to do the opposite of give thanks. What are some easy tips to dealing with family members who I particularly clash with?
A: To establish good intentions and a grateful attitude for the holidays, consider your values as a guide for coping with challenging family members. By modeling your values, you’ll shift your perspective in a positive direction, which may influence other family members to do the same. Be careful with assumptions. Anticipating what might happen this year based on the past may cause excessive worry that will do more harm than good. Differentiate between venting and complaining. Make conversations about preparing for family situations constructive; consider talking to your partner before the holidays so you’ll be on the same page. Be attentive to how you’re managing conflict in front of your children and be careful not to burden them with adult issues. Bringing up problems at family functions is not likely to be productive; while appropriately addressing conflict is healthy, Thanksgiving dinner is not the best place or time.
Mosaic Therapy and Wellness
507 Natoma Street, Folsom
Side: Cheesy Green Bean and Bacon Casserole
Submitted by 36 Handles Pub & Eatery, 1010 White Rock Road, El Dorado Hills, 916-941-3606
- 5 strips applewood smoked bacon, chopped
- 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp. garlic, minced
- 4 tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 10 oz. whole milk
- 3 tbsp. sour cream
- 1.5 pounds fresh green beans
- 1 pound fresh mushrooms
- 2 cups white cheddar cheese, grated
- 2 cups freshly fried onions
Render chopped bacon in a pan; set aside once crispy. Add onion and garlic to bacon fat. Cook until translucent then add flour to make a roux. Add milk to roux and slowly mix. Once incorporated, add sour cream until gravy consistency. Toss green beans, mushrooms and bacon into mix and fully coat. Top with shredded cheese and fried onions, and bake at 350-degress Fahrenheit for 45 minutes or until beans are tender.
Main: Brined Roasted Turkey and Pan GravySubmitted by Walter Hahn, executive chef at Red Hawk Casino,
1 Red Hawk Parkway, Placerville, 530-677-7000
- Brine Tea
- 4 cups water
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 tsp. black peppercorns
- 1 tsp. juniper berries
Bring this mix to a boil and set aside for 15 minutes
- 8 garlic cloves
- 6 sprigs thyme
- 6 sprigs rosemary
- 1 gallon ice
In a large pot or food-grade bucket, mix these whole ingredients, stems and all. Pour brine tea over ice. Keep the liquid cool, and place the whole defrosted turkey in this mix completely submerged for 36 hours.
Chef’s note: Use caution in this stage of preparation. The turkey is uncooked and any surface or utensil that comes in contact with the raw, defrosted bird will need to be cleaned and sanitized. Remove the turkey from the brine—placing it on a clean rag or paper towel. Pat dry all skin surfaces.
In a large roasting pan place the following cleaned and rough-chopped produce:
- 1 bunch celery
- 2 yellow onions
- 6 medium carrots
Place the brined turkey on top of the chopped vegetables. Stuff the cavities with the following cleaned herbs:
- 1 bunch parsley
- 1 bunch thyme
- 1/2 bunch rosemary
Season the skin all around the turkey with kosher or sea salt and fresh ground black pepper. Place the turkey in a 375-degree Fahrenheit oven on a rack that centers the turkey in the cooking chamber; if convection is an option, turn it on. Remove the turkey every hour and rotate it one full turn, checking the temperature at the thigh using a bi-metallic steamed, food-grade thermometer (insert the thermometer probe in the thigh until the tip of the probe is in the thickest portion of the meat).
Once the internal temperature reaches 165-degrees Fahrenheit, remove from the oven. Transfer to a resting place, carefully reserving all of the liquid that drains from the cavities. Cover with a blanket of aluminum foil and let rest at least 30 minutes.
Place the roasting pan with all of the vegetables and liquids from the cooking process on the stovetop under low heat. Add 1 quart of water, and bring the mixture to a simmer for 15 minutes. This liquid will be the base for the gravy.
- 1 stick butter
- 8 oz. all-purpose flour
- Liquids from turkey roasting pan
In a separate saucepan, place butter on medium heat until it melts. Slowly whisk in flour and continue to whisk the mixture until it starts to lightly brown and creates a roux. Add the strained gravy base (liquids only). It will take a few minutes of simmering and whisking for the sauce to set, and the liquids to thicken; the longer it cooks, the less the sauce will taste like flour and transform into a velvety rich turkey gravy. Some chefs like to add the chopped cooked giblets before serving; taste the sauce often, adjusting the seasoning with salt and pepper.
Chef’s Note: Why brine the turkey? It helps it stay moist! The science behind brining meats is that the increased salinity of the cell fluid causes the cell to absorb water from the brine via osmosis. The salt introduced into the cell also denatures its proteins. The proteins coagulate, forming a matrix that traps water molecules and holds them during cooking, thus preventing the meat from dehydrating.
Side: Balsamic Brussels Sprouts
Submitted by Bricks Eats & Drinks, 482 Main Street, Placerville, 530-303-3480
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 pound Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed and cut in half
- 1/2 cup onions, chopped
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 lemon, squeezed
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp. toasted slivered almonds
Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add Brussels sprouts, onions, salt and pepper and sauté until Brussels sprouts are browned and onions caramelized. Add balsamic vinegar and cook until reduced by half. Squeeze lemon over sprouts and cook another 30 seconds. Transfer to a serving plate and sprinkle with toasted almonds.
5 Tips for a Healthier Thanksgiving
Submitted by Dr. Kristi Tompkins, ND, at El Dorado Naturopathic Medicine, 7563 Green Valley Road Placerville, 530-622-2323; 512 Riley Street, Folsom, 916-985-4516
1. Prepare ahead for pre-dinner snacks. Cut out the high-calorie chips and cheese, and create a nutritious and colorful veggie tray with dips like guacamole and hummus.
2. Go green. Skip the heavier salads and sides, and instead choose a dark, leafy green salad using nourishing and low-calorie greens like kale, arugula, chard and spinach.
3. Pass the potatoes. Mashed “potatoes” made with 1/2 sweet potatoes, 1/2 cauliflower and coconut oil contains more vitamins, fiber and flavor than the standard white potato recipes.
4. Let the dinner rolls roll by. Instead of carb loading on bread, opt out. You’ll make room in your belly for tastier and leaner foods like turkey.
5. Save room for dessert. No need to deprive yourself from the coveted pumpkin pie. Indulge in the filling, which is the best part anyway, and toss the crust.
Side: Gruyére Mac and Cheese
Submitted by The Farm Table, 311 Main Street, Placerville, 530-295-8140
- 6 tbsp. butter
- 6 tbsp. flour
- 1 quart milk
- 1 cups grated gruyére
- 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp. ground pepper
- 1 onion
- Thyme sprigs
- 1 cup crème fraiche
- 1 pound cooked pasta
- Breadcrumbs (tossed in oil, melted butter, duck fat or bacon fat)
Make a roux with the butter and flour. Gradually whisk in the milk. Add the onion, thyme (a couple sprigs), pepper and nutmeg, and bring to a boil. Whisk until smooth. Remove from heat and add the cheese a little at a time, stirring until all is dissolved. Add crème fraiche. Toss with cooked pasta. Transfer to an ovenproof baking dish. Top with breadcrumbs, and bake at 375-degrees Fahrenheit until hot and breadcrumbs are toasted, about 15-20 minutes.
3 Turkey Day Tablescape Ideas
Submitted by Tami Teel, owner of Tami Teel Designs, 224 Vernon Street, Suite 203, Roseville, 916-677-7021
Take a moment to envision your personal style and how you want your table to look and feel.
1. Will you be using an inspirational piece to design around? Perhaps you prefer a Traditional Table—centerpiece, candles, china atop a decorative charger, with cloth napkins and table linens. If so, adding pheasant feathers brings in an interesting texture, along with height and drama. Using metallic bronze gives an elegant feel, and finding accords or candleholders is easy this time of year.
2. If you enjoy making personal pieces from items in your yard or gathered on a fall walk, then a “characteristic” design that’s Imaginative-Artistic is your style. Using pumpkins, burlap, corn and written messages or name tags, this style is appreciated by all and especially fun for children to participate in. Tip: Find a fallen log or buy a birch piece and drill out a space for several tea lights.
3. Keep it simple with a Farmhouse Modern feel, which allows for plenty of food and drink to be placed on the table. Incorporate autumn hues and a pop of color in the plates and napkins, or add simple nametags for a personal touch. The use of gourds, artichokes, pears and apples bring a food-focused harvest essence.
First photo © 2014 Arina Photography/fotolia.com; middle photo © Vitalina Rybakova/fotolia.com; last photo © ehaurylik/fotolia.com.
Side: Sweet Potatoes
Submitted by Back Forty Texas BBQ, 3977 Durock Road, Shingle Springs, 530-676-4040
- 6 cups sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
- 1/2 cup butter, melted
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 pinch nutmeg
- 1 cup pecans, chopped
Boil potatoes until tender; let cool. Mix remaining ingredients in bowl. Spray 9 x 13 casserole dish with nonstick spray and add butter slices to bottom. Add sweet potatoes; pour other ingredients on top. Place in a preheated 350-degree Fahrenheit oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.
8 Thanksgiving Foods NOT to Feed Fido
Submitted by Dr. Brad Cahoon, owner of Veterinary Healing Center, 120 Blue Ravine Road, Suite 4, Folsom, 916-889-7387, vethealingfolsom.com 2222 Francisco Drive, Suite 150, 916-933-6030, vethealingeldoradohills.com
Eating turkey skin can lead to gastroenteritis and pancreatitis, which are harmful (and sometimes deadly) inflammatory conditions of the digestive system.
When ingested, bones can splinter off inside the digestive tract. Minimally, they can cause digestive upsets; more seriously, they can cause life-threatening punctures or blockages in the stomach and intestines.
Nutmeg causes central nervous system concerns such as seizures (or worse)—even in very small amounts.
An oil found in this herb that’s commonly used in turkey marinades and stuffing is known to cause stomach upset in pets.
5/Onions and Garlic
Both of these foods contain sulfides, which can cause blood disorders that lead to anemia in pets. Note: Cooking does not decrease their toxicity.
Macadamia nuts and walnuts can cause a toxicity known as “macadamia nut toxicosis,” a condition that can lead to shock and potential death.
7/Chocolate, dough and batter
You’ve likely already heard that chocolate is “paws off,” but dough and batter are also concerns, due to the risk of salmonella from raw eggs. Dough even has the potential to rise inside your pet’s stomach causing pain and bloating.
Alcohol in any form is toxic, but the hops in beer are particularly toxic. Ingesting them can cause a condition called malignant hyperthermia, in which the body temperature rises uncontrollably.
Dessert: Chocolate Mousse for Adults Only
- 5 oz. dark Belgium chocolate, broken into pieces
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tbsp. Amaretto
- 1 tbsp. Grand Marnier
- 1 tbsp. coffee liqueur
- 3/4 cup whipping cream
Melt chocolate in the top of a double boiler, stirring until smooth. Set aside to cool. Separate the eggs. Put the egg whites in a Kitchen Aid; whip until stiff. Add the sugar to the yolks and stir; add all the liqueurs. Set bowl over—but not in—a pan of simmering water. Beat with whisk for 5 minutes or until mixture is foamy. Remove bowl from heat and beat 5 minutes until the mixture is thick. Fold the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Whip the cream in until soft peaks form. Fold the yolk mixture into the chocolate. Fold the whipping cream into the chocolate. Spoon into individual dessert dishes, and refrigerate overnight. Serves 4-6.
Chef’s Note: If you want to share with kids, use chilled coffee instead of liqueurs.