Thanksgiving 2010 Holiday recipe round-up

Barefoot Contessa's Roasted Shrimp Cocktail We're moving the week before Thanksgiving, so I anticipate the first meals in our new home to be served on paper plates atop cardboard boxes.

I could care less!

We're moving into a great little house with a spacious backyard, an adorable side porch, and a fireplace! As long as the fireplace is crackling, I'm good. 

But, I realize the rest of the world is scrambling for menu ideas. 

Me too, even if I'm not going to go crazy trying to have everything in place day of.

Still, a woman can dream about the next big meal, the one where she's made that fab recycled wood table from ReadyMade, and everyone is gathered together to count their blessings.   And on the table a beautiful glistening browned bird. 

Oh, the sumptuous sides. Oh, the delicious desserts. Oh the stories we'll tell. 

Heres'a holiday recipe round-up for making your own nostalgic moments.

Photo courtesy of The Food Network

Flourless Chocolate Cake recipe makes go-to holiday cake

Simple yet sensationalThis is my go-to holiday and special occasion cake - Flourless Chocolate Cake made with a recipe first introduced by Gourmet magazine in November 1997.

The recipe is simple enough for a novice cook, yet special enough, with all its gooey, chocolate-y goodness, for experienced cooks to bake it again and again.

This chocolate all-star is a fixture of my son's birthday parties as well as Thanksgiving and Christmas dessert menus. If I want to make the chocolate lovers in my life delirious with bliss, this is the cake I bake to up their serotonin levels dramatically.

There is nothing not to love about a cake that looks this good, tastes this good and is done, ready to serve in under an hour - including clean up.

I prefer to serve it with vanilla ice cream or freshly whipped cream or seasonal fruits.

Flourless Chocolate Cake Gourmet | November 1997

Can be prepared in 45 minutes or less.

Yield: Makes one 8-inch cake


4 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened)
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder plus additional for sprinkling

Accompaniment if desired: Coconut Lime Sorbet


Preheat oven to 375°F and butter an 8-inch round baking pan. Line bottom with a round of wax paper and butter paper.

Chop chocolate into small pieces. In a double boiler or metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water melt chocolate with butter, stirring, until smooth.

Remove top of double boiler or bowl from heat and whisk sugar into chocolate mixture. Add eggs and whisk well. Sift 1/2 cup cocoa powder over chocolate mixture and whisk until just combined.

Pour batter into pan and bake in middle of oven 25 minutes, or until top has formed a thin crust. Cool cake in pan on a rack 5 minutes and invert onto a serving plate.

Dust cake with additional cocoa powder and serve with sorbet if desired. (Cake keeps, after being cooled completely, in an airtight container, 1 week.)

Italian Notebook brings the best of Italy for holidays

We at Eat. Drink. Memory. love Italian Notebook, the daily scoop on all things fabulously Italian for the holidays and every day.

Get the Italian insider's information direct to your inbox with a subscription.

Meanwhile, check out what Italian Notebook has to say about the tradition of the Christkindlmarkt.

Bolzano/Bozen, Alto-Adige - It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Bolzano/Bozen as tourists arrive from all over Italy for our traditional Christmas market, the Christkindlmarkt, a German-style Christmas market that isn’t typical elsewhere in Italy.

Towering above the market stalls is a giant Christmas tree with plenty of twinkling lights. There's a diverse selection of holiday ornaments to buy, including stars, gnomes and even some skiing reindeer as a little reminder that we’re in the Alps.

And then there are the sweets. There’s plenty to munch: cookies, lebkuchen (chocolate-covered gingerbread), Christmas stollen, and the local Bozner cake, dark and moist with nuts and candied fruit. Additional flavors of the local strudel make an appearance, too — try some tasty apricot along with the always-reliable apple.

To keep warm when the snow starts falling, sample the glühwein (mulled wine) or the Tyrolean hot orange punch (a personal favorite!), with or without added rum. The festivities run until December 23rd.

Buon Natale and Fröhliche Weihnachten from Bolzano/Bozen!

-- Contributed by Lee McIntyre (see bio), Freelance writer and photographer. Author of the book A Year of One a Days.

il Buco celebrates all things pig with Sagra del Maiale, Festival of the Pig

Infiernito-cooked pig & Chef Mattos (center)

il Buco restaurant celebrates its 15th anniversary on Sunday, September 20, 2009, during its sixth annual Sagra del Maiale (Festival of the Pig).

The event, an outdoor pig and apple festival marks the Autumnal Equinox (when day and night are of equal length).

The celebration will take place outside il Buco on Bond Street between Lafayette and Bowery from 1:00 - 8:00pm. Chef Ignacio Mattos and staff will rise before the sun and start a bonfire on Bond Street, where they will slow-roast a 200 pound heritage breed Crossabaw Pig.

Cooked on an infiernillo (literally "little inferno" but more commonly known as "little hell"), the pig slowly roasts between two large iron griddles with an intense wood fire above and below, a method developed by Chef Mattos' South American Mentor, Chef Francis Mallmann.

Throughout the night, Chef Mattos will tend to the flames while encountering late-night passersby for an incredibly fun New York night.

Starting at 1pm, friends and family alike will line up early for a convivial feast of all things pig.

Tickets will be available on-site for $20 per plate. Red and white Wine, Prosecco, Lambrusco, and Wolffer Estates Apple Wine will be $10 per beverage. Beer will be $8.

il Buco works extensively with the Crossabaw Pig, a special hybrid of the a rare breed Ossabaw, a pig from Georgia's coast on Ossabaw Island. The Ossabaw, left by the Spaniards more than a century ago, is a direct descendant of the "Pata Negra", or black-footed pig so treasured for its flavorful meat.

These Ossabaw pigs are raised in the open woods in North Carolina, on a diet of acorns and peanuts, both extremely high in oleic acid, the same fats that make olive oil so healthy. So pig is, indeed, good for you!

Executive Chef Mattos is from Santa Lucia, Uruguay. A protégé of the renowned South American Chef, Francis Mallmann, Ignacio has also worked with Alice Waters at Chez Panisse, Spain's Martín Berasategui, and with Judy Rodgers at Zuni Café.

As Executive Chef of il Buco, a beloved NYC establishment that has been open for 15 years, Ignacio has had the honor of cooking at the James Beard Foundation, has taught cooking classes with the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE), the French Culinary Institute (FCI), DeGustibus and The New School and has participated in numerous food events in and around New York City.


Spiegelau decanters dress up any event

Decanter Make  any outdoor fete stylish with Spiegelau’s beautiful Siena and Riva decanters.

These visually stunning decanters from Spiegelau, whose strong tradition of craftsmanship and quality dates back to their start in a Bavarian forest factory in 1521, will lend a touch of class to any celebration.

And in this economy, it’s important to spend money wisely not only on products that will stand the test of time, but also will prove versatile.

At just under $100 each, these decanters might be designed with wine in mind, but their shapes also lend them to serving carafes of your favorite cocktail.

Perfect for summer sangria too!

Summer Sangria

4 oranges: 2 juiced, 2 halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
1/3 to 1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brandy
1 bottle dry red wine, chilled
2 lemons, thinly sliced
2 cups seltzer or club soda
Chilled ice cubes, for serving

In a large pitcher, combine orange juice, sugar, and brandy; stir well to dissolve sugar. Add wine, orange slices, lemon slices, and seltzer; stir to combine. Fill glasses with ice before serving. Serves 8. (Martha Stewart)

Get the grill out: it's burger time on Fourth of July

 Usually when I grill, I get this overwhelming desire to throw every meat imaginable on the fire.

Lately, however, I've taken a more single-minded approach.  I'm thinking about simplicity, about the beauty of a classic: the burger.

It's better burger time! (photo by Ian Brittan, FreeFoto.com) For the Fourth of July, when the skies cloud with blue and aromatic smoke all across these United States, I wanted to share a few burger recipes that I'll be sampling in my quest for the perfect juicy all-meat patty.

I love the rich flavor of lamb and what could be cooler and fresher than a chutney of English cucumber, yogurt and mint. (Epicurious)

Leave it to Emeril to kick it up a notch.  Here's Lagasse's Tuna Burger for the seafood lovers in your crowd.

Of course, the doyenne of domesticity, Martha Stewart, weighs in with this big Best Beef Burger packing little more than the ground chuck. This all-beef biggie is the one for the purists.

Finally, for the artist lurking in the dark heart of my little kitchen, the Scratch Burger. Labor intensive, this recipe takes on every tiny detail from grinding the beef fresh to making the perfect bun. (The Washington Post).

Picholine is perfect for special occasions

The classically elegant dining room at Picholine There is a reason Terrance Brennan's Picholine (35 W. 64th Street, NY, NY 212-724-8585) was nominated for a James Beard Foundation award for the country's Outstanding Restaurant in 2007.

Actually, there are many reasons - superior food and service, classic decor, an amazing wine list, and attention to detail.  One can't forget the cheese cart - homage to silky, stinky and savory fromage. 

I was treated by a wonderful friend to birthday dinner recently at Brennan's NY Times three-star rated restaurant.

The way to my heart is clearly through my palate.

From my first birthday when I dived face first into my cake, I've loved celebrating my day.  Opening the menu at Picholine, I was delighted to see it had been customized with a birthday greeting to yours truly.

The flute of Taittinger Prestige Rosé ($24), aromatic with berry flavors and full of crisp, tiny bubbles, set the tone for the celebration. Service was seamless and subtly attentive, although our server seemed to suffer ever so slightly from ennui.

Nevertheless, nothing detracted from Chef Brennan's menu, a $98 three-course prix fixe menu.

Brennan, a New York culinary fixture, opened Picholine 15 years ago. The restaurant and menu was redesigned in 2007.

Brennan introduced diners to the bliss of cheese after dinner with his amazing artisanal cheese service featuring an array of goat, sheep and cow's milk cheeses in textures ranging from hard to runny and flavors from mild to pungent.

With brief stints at Daniel and Cipriani, Chef de Cuisine Carmine DiGiovanni, has been a presence at Picholine and Brennan's other restaurants since 2001.  He made a brief appearance in the dining room to chat with guests the evening we dined.

I started with the Chef's signature prelude, Sea Urchin Panna Cotta, richly flavored with the tastes and textures of the ocean. Sea urchin roe and lobster stock anchor the silken chilled panna cotta, topped with a lavish dollop of farm-raised oestra caviar and delicately wreathed with nori for a lovely contrast in texture. 

My dinner companion selected the Soft Shell Frites served with Chickpea Fries and Cucumber-Mint Glass. The softshell crab was delicately and lightly fried, a perfect blend of tastes and textures.

My friend and I both adore rabbit. We each happily ordered the Hudson Valley Rabbit with fresh tagliatelle, and wild burgundy snails. The immensely earthy snails and the tender game were sublime; each bite of the  tagliatelle was lush perfection. I accompanied my rabbit with a glass of Dashe's 2007 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel ($14), a voluptuous and velvety mouthful bursting with fruit.

For dessert, my companion opted for savory, choosing three very different artisanal cheeses from the fabled fromage cart, while I succumbed to my sweet tooth with the Tiramisu Napoleon with Marsala Ice Cream, White Coffee Sabayon, and Coffee Glass.

As impressive as the cuisine is, the meticulous attention to detail is stunning. At the end of the meal, we were presented petit fours as well as a simple and elegant chocolate cake garnished with a white chocolate oval and enscribed in dark chocolate with the salutation Happy Birthday. I was sent home with a souvenir menu exactly like the one I'd ordered from too - a nice touch for a foodie.

I couldn't have been more thrilled.