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MickeyChoate

 

It is with deep sadness that I share with you the loss of our son, Mickey. His joy and enthusiasm in the kitchen filled our lives with great meals, stimulating conversation, and engaging laughter. He was diagnosed with 4th stage lung cancer in June and passed away in February after a valiant struggle that he (and his family) thought he could win. He was a runner, life-time non-smoker, and in perfect health when the cancer struck. For those of you who have read our recent cookbook, An American Family Cooks, I hope that I was able to share his grace in the kitchen and his love of cooking in a way that will keep him alive for generations. He is deeply, deeply missed.

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AFC_Turkey

 

I send wishes that your Thanksgiving be filled with great food, loving family, and wonderful friends.  So many of us have so much and so many more have so little; this is the time to cherish our blessings and share our bounty.  Happy Thanksgiving from all of us!

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Multitasking_R0011740

 

Steve loves this photo of me – why I don’t know.  But it might be because it amuses him and everyone I know that I can wield a knife and talk on the phone at the same time.  Looks like – in this instance – that I was putting together one of my impromptu fried rice meals, but I really don’t remember what I was doing.  I was probably on the phone with one of the many health professionals that have recently been part of our lives, but I could just as easily been gossiping with a friend.  I hope the photo amuses you as much as it does my family and friends.

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Fresh Pea Soup_DSC_4303

 

You know I can’t really remember how I made this soup.  I believe that I had some well-flavored and leftover chunky potato soup in the fridge to start the recipe.  I had some fresh peas (in the pod) from which I removed the stem end and any strings that came along with the ends and a few pea shoots which I pureed together in the food processor fitted with the metal blade.  I added the pea puree to the potato soup (which already had onion, garlic, thyme and chicken stock and maybe something else) and just barely heated it up to keep the lovely soft green color.  I kept a few pea shoots for garnish along with some type of edible flower – again I don’t remember what it was.  I could have pressed the soup through a sieve or pureed in the blender, but I rather liked the gently lumpy look.  The soup had a lovely pea flavor and I stretched the original leftover potato soup into a very appealing first course for 6 people.  Waste not, want not I say.

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cranberries

 

At the beginning of the month we were in Provincetown out at the end of Cape Cod.  The stay is our most favorite fall get-away which we have been doing annually for over 10 years.  Not only is the fish and shellfish extraordinary, but the Saturday farmers market gives us all of the earthly goodness to accent it.  The last Saturday we were there brought the first cranberry harvest of the season.  I bought a few pounds which I’ve turned into spiced cranberry relish for the upcoming holiday tables.  Here’s the recipe, but you can find other cranberry recipes in my book, The Best Little Book of Preserves & Pickles, should you want further inspiration.  This recipe should make about 1 quart of relish.

4 ½ cups fresh cranberries
¼ cup each freshly grated orange and lemon zest
1 tablespoon minced fresh hot chile, such as jalapeño or Serrano
1 tablespoon mustard seed
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup light brown sugar
⅔ cup red wine vinegar

Combine the cranberries, citrus zest, chile, mustard seed, and pepper flakes in a large, nonreactive saucepan over medium heat.  Bring to a simmer and stir in the sugar and vinegar.  Bring to a boil; then, lower the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the berries have popped and the mixture has thickened slightly.
Remove from the heat and either spoon into clean containers and store, covered and refrigerated, for up to 2 weeks.  Or, pack the relish into clean, sterilized jars, cover tightly, and process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.  The latter method will allow you to store the relish at room temperature for up to 6 months.

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Sanditas

 

We came upon these beautiful tiny watermelon-looking things called sanditas at the Union Square Greenmarket.  I had never seen them before, but my culinarian son, Mickey, said “oh, yes, I’ve had them at Gramercy Tavern”.  Who knew???  Turns out sanditas are also known as sour Mexican gherkins, cucamelon, or, less-appetizingly, mouse melon and are a favorite Mexican vegetable.  When I bought mine, the vendor said “don’t pickle them, eat them”, so, of course, I had to pickle them.  Once I tasted the little guys I was sure that they would work best pickled to serve with patés or on meze platters.  I did leave a few to slice in salad, but the remainder went into the following recipe.  This recipe can also be used with any baby vegetable or pearl onions.

4 cups sanditas
¼ cup salt
3 cups white vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon sugar
One 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into slivers
1 green hot chile, cut, crosswise, into rounds

Place sanditas in a glass or ceramic bowl. Sprinkle in salt and add cold water to cover. Let stand in a cool place for 12 hours. Drain off salt water and rinse in colander under cold running water. Drain and dry.
Bring the vinegar, orange juice, and sugar to a boil in heavy saucepan over medium heat. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
While the vinegar mixture is cooking, pack the sanditas, ginger, and chile into hot sterilized jars. Pour the hot pickling syrup over the top, leaving ¼-inch head­space.
If you are going to refrigerate the pickles, cap the jars and turn upside-down on a wire rack and let stand until cool before refrigerating.  Or, to preserve for a long period of time, place the filled jars into a canning pot fitted with a rack with cold water to cover and place over high heat.  Bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes.  Remove from the boiling water and cool as directed for refrigerated pickles.

 

sanditas pickles OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Mussels cooking

 

Fortunately, our Union Square Green Market isn’t just vegetables and fruits – we have cheeses, meats, poultry, fish, plants, and cut flowers to complete the outdoor shopping experience.  I was looking for some inspiration on Saturday and found some merguez sausage at the Flying Pigs Farm (www.flyingpigsfarm.com) stall.  That purchase led to a couple of pounds of mussels at Seatuck Fish Company (www.seatuckfish.com) and the two of them led to dinner pulled together in my beautiful Scanpan covered chef’s pan.
Here’s how it came about:  I sautéed some onion and garlic in a bit of olive oil until just softened.  I sliced up the sausage and added it to the pan and cooked it until it had lost its color.  Then I added about 1 cup of dry white wine, brought the mix to a boil and then lowered the heat and simmered for about 4 or 5 minutes to evaporate the alcohol.  That was followed with ¾ cup of pureed fresh tomatoes, 1 cup of clam broth, and some basil and chile flakes.  I cooked the liquid for a bit to allow the flavors to blend.  Then I added the scrubbed mussels and covered the pan.  Since the lid is glass I could watch the mussels open so just as they began to open I added a big handful of yellow cherry tomatoes and another handful of sliced baby red, yellow, and orange bell peppers.  Again, I covered and watched the mussels finish popping open.  Voila! A one pot dinner came to the table, 1,2,3!

 

Mussels plated

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