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Welcome to delicious Destinations, a GourmetStation blog. Through the charater of T.Alexander and occasional real-life guests, our aim is to share with you light-hearted fun ideas about food, gift giving, entertaining and culture. At the same time we would love you hear from you. Please share your experiences from home or abroad.
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Ginger’s Rhubarb Pie
Posted: September 3, 2009
Rhubarb Barb and Mark Stine have some competition! I’ve heard about Rhubarb Pie for years, but never thought much about it until Mark Stine wrote about his friend’s pie. Then, low and behold, my friend, Ginger, insisted on whipping up a Rhubarb Pie during a recent visit to Nashville.
First, let me say that Ginger and her husband Bill know the art of entertaining. From the moment you arrive at their cottage-like home on the Cumberland River, you feel as if you are truly welcomed and are at total ease. Of course, since I’ve been privileged to be their houseguest from time to time for over 20 years, I suppose it is natural to feel “at home.”
Ginger has a way of entertaining with simplicity and elegance. Her meals are always refreshing, healthy and delicious. Her presentation is original and with the dining room facing the rolling river, dinner at the time the sun sets is…well, surreal.
So here is this Rhubarb Pie. Looks like something off the cover of Good Housekeeping, doesn’t it. Oh, I forgot to mention that our main dish was GourmetStation’s ocean sparkling seafood dinners. We tried a sampling of red snapper, salmon, sea bass, mahi mahi, sword fish and tuna steaks. Delicious.
Thanks Ginger and Bill, for another wonderful weekend!
Sweet Potato Cooler - Great Summer Treat
Posted: June 20, 2009
It's summer. You're active. Very active. Sports, gardening, whatever - there comes a time when you need a pick me up treat. Do you go for the processed candy bars? Here's an alternative:
Sweet Potato Cooler
Cook 1 large sweet potato at 400 degrees F for 1.5 hours
Mash leaving skin in mixture
Add your favorite fruit like pineapple chunks or blueberries
Top with nuts - Chill 1 hours before eating - Keep a batch in the frig for just the right moment!
Are "Convenience Foods" always that Convenient?
Posted: August 16, 2008
As you may be aware, I am a great believer in making life easy in the kitchen. Indeed, my website Gourmet Food Revolution is in fact dedicated to proving that cooking really excellent food at home can be done without causing too much exhaustion or stress and without the necessity for culinary training! So I am always on the lookout for new ideas and tips and was intrigued, even excited a little when Delia Smith, the doyenne of Britain's celebrity cooks launched her latest book "How to Cheat at Cooking".
Valentine’s Day…..a Restauranteur’s Delight!
Posted: January 23, 2008
For many years, I enjoyed the pleasure of owning and managing my own very successful restaurant. It was extremely hard work though and terribly long hours, but it was very fulfilling and a wonderful challenge. Indeed, one of the greatest challenges is to cope with the peaks and troughs of the business which are at least (largely!) predictable. Once Christmas & New Year have gone, we would take a deep breath, and get ready for the next major promotion – Valentine’s Day.
Valentine’s is ALLWAYS one of the biggest days of the year, particularly when it falls on a mid week (less busy) night. Planning begins in earnest well before the Christmas rush gets under way. I would always have my menus and promotional activities mapped out before the end of November. In this business (as indeed in most others), planning is everything.
But regardless of how meticulous I was with the planning, the unforeseen inevitably occurred! Like the time that instead of 6 dozen read roses being delivered (a gift for the ladies), white lilies turned up instead! How did that happen?
Or on another occasion when plump juicy strawberries had been ordered (for a rather sensual offering of Chocolate Dipped Strawberries, a tray of very tired and slightly over-ripened raspberries were delivered instead. Quick, re-write the menu…..again!!
Due to the popularity of the event, we would offer a choice of either an early service (6.30 to 7pm arrival) or a late service (8.30 to 9pm arrival). Needless to say, there would always be a few couples who would arrive late for the early service, and a number of other couples arriving early for the late service. Collision course! Successfully juggling tables and bookings, without upsetting customers is a true sign of a slick and professional Restauranteur.
And then there was always the sticky question of just how many tables of two it was physically possible to provide! The table arrangements in most restaurants are a mix of fours and twos which can be combined for different configurations. But on Valentine’s night, who wants a table for four? Nobody of course! Plus it’s not just about how many tables you can squeeze in, it’s also about giving enough “private”, personal space where lovers can talk, intimately. Yes, Valentine’s always was quite a challenge.
But there is something incredibly satisfying about saying farewell to one hundred or so (largely!) very satisfied couples, linked hand in hand, all gooey-eyed and feeling really, really good about life! And it’s that sort of great experience that makes all of the hard work and stress worthwhile!
And so now, I would like to share with you a recipe for one of my all-time favorite appetisers, perfect for a romantic evening for two……Oysters Rockefeller. This is one of the truly great, American classics. A dish so famous worldwide that chefs still go to incredible lengths to encapsulate the original dish as produced by the chefs of Antoine’s in New Orleans.
(This recipe features as part of my gourmet Valentine’s Menu.
Ingredients - Serves 2 as a 1st course or 6 for appetizers:
2oz (50g) unsalted butter
1 small stick of celery, finely sliced
2 spring onions finely sliced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped (optional)
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Handful of watercress leaves, finely chopped
Dash of Pernod or other anise-flavored liquor
Salt and Tabasco sauce, to taste
2 slices white bread, crusts removed
Rock salt for cooking
Lemon wedges & parsley sprigs to serve
1. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the celery, spring onions, garlic, parsley, watercress and Pernod. Season to taste with salt and Tabasco sauce.
2. Tip the mix into a food processor or blender, add the bread and process for 30 seconds to produce "green breadcrumbs". This mix can now be put into a bowl, covered and refrigerated up to 2 days in advance.
3. Using an oyster knife, twist open the oyster shells and remove the oysters and liquor into a bowl. Discard the top shells and scrub and dry the bottom shells. Drain the oysters and check for shell fragments.
4. Preheat the broiler (grill) to maximum.
5. Line a baking tray with rock salt and place the oyster shells on it.
6. Place an oyster in each shell and spoon over a little of the reserved oyster liquor.
7. Spoon the crumb mixture over each oyster to cover them completely.
8. Finally, broil (grill) the oysters for about 1 to 2 minutes or until the topping is bubbling and nicely colored.
Arrange the oysters on a serving dish and garnish with sprigs of parsley and lemon wedges.
Courtesy of Gourmet Food Revolution.com
Bygone Christmas Memories
Posted: December 12, 2007
With the Christmas season well & truly upon us again, I find my mind taking me back to a treasure trove of very fond memories of my earlier, childhood years. Yes, I am at a certain age now where it’s only too easy to forget, but happily, for now at least, such memories are there to be called upon!
I’m sure it’s a fact that Christmastime in those days was always much colder than it is now….the effects of global warming I guess. Here in the UK, it’s becoming increasingly unusual for snow to fall at any time, let alone Christmastime! Yet the picture scene depicted on cards, gift wrapping, TV commercials and newspaper advertisements still has us virtually up to our waste in crisp white snow. Lovely to dream of, but (in our climate at least), a thing of the past!
Similarly many of the traditions of Christmas past are now so rarely seen. As a child, how we enjoyed our Christmas stockings bulging with mandarin oranges, chocolates and nuts. And oh the excitement of waking up early on Christmas morning to open presents. The traditional festive family dinner was somehow, a rather more special occasion then. But hardly any wonder with standards of living in the western world being so much higher now than they were. Plus the fact that we can now so easily buy almost ANY food at ANY time of the year…….no longer do we have to wait for Christmas for such a special treat!
But despite the commercialism of Christmas, most of us still look forward to it with a passion! A time to “eat, drink and be merry”…….with gusto! So if you haven’t done it already, then I would suggest that now might be a good time to plan your menu!
And with that in mind, I want to share with you a family recipe for one of my all-time favorite festive dishes – Roast Goose Stuffed with Spiced Apples and Prunes. This traditional European dish was a very great favourite of my mom’s who was a remarkable cook and always roasted it to perfection.
Whatever your plans, and wherever you are in the world, I wish you health, wealth and happiness for Christmas and the New Year.
Roast Goose Stuffed with Spiced Apples and Prunes
1 12 to 13lb (5.4kg to 5.9kg) goose
For the Apple & Prune Stuffing:
1 1/2lb (700g) cooking apples, peeled, core and roughly chopped
8oz (225g) ready to eat, stoned prunes
1 large onion, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons Armagnac (or other brandy)
1/8 level teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 level teaspoon ground cinnamon
salt and freshly milled black pepper
For the Pork Stuffing:
1 dessert apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
10oz (275g) good quality pork sausage meat or minced pork
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2oz (50g) fresh white breadcrumbs
2 level teaspoons dried sage
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
salt and freshly milled black pepper
1. Prepare the apple and prune stuffing by mixing all of the ingredients together.
2. Prepare the pork stuffing by mixing all of the ingredients together.
3. Wash the goose inside and out under cold running water. Shake off excess water and then pat dry with paper towel. Prick it all over with a skewer or small, sharp knife (this allows the fat to drain away and will prevent the bird from being greasy).
4. Place the pork stuffing into the neck flap end of the goose. Tuck the flap back down and pat back into shape. Secure the flap with a small skewer or cocktail stick.
5. Place the apple and prune stuffing into the body cavity of the goose.
6. Preheat the oven to 425F, 220C or gas mark 7.
7. Season the goose well all over with salt and freshly milled black pepper. Place on a wire rack in a large roasting tin.
8. Roast the goose for 30 minutes at the high temperature, and then reduce it to 350F, 180C or gas mark 4. Now leave it to roast for 3 1/4 hours for a 12lb bird or 3 1/2 hours for a 13lb bird. Do not baste the goose whatsoever, otherwise it will become greasy. Pour off the excess fat occasionally.
9. When the goose is cooked, the juice will run clear when the thickest part of the thigh is pierced with the point of a knife or skewer. If using a meat thermometer, it should reach 175C when inserted into the thickest part of the thigh.
10. Once cooked, transfer the goose to a warm serving platter and allow it to rest for 20 minutes while you make the gravy.
Snap off the wing tips, and carve the goose.
Serve the goose with both of the stuffings and a good, rich giblet brown gravy. For a truly festive flavor, I like to serve it with a dish of home made apple sauce or cranberry and orange relish.
To save time on the day, the goose can be stuffed the night before, cling wrapped and then refrigerated overnight. Just remember though to remove it from the refrigerator a couple of hours before roasting to allow it to just come up to room temperature.
Although the stuffing recipe calls for Armagnac (a brandy produced in south western France), any good quality brandy will suffice. Alternatively, you could substitute the alcohol for fruit juice.
Goose fat is excellent for making the best, crispiest roast potatoes.....ever! Simply pour the goose fat into a suitable container and refrigerate when cool.
This recipe is just one of the many recipes taken from my Traditional Christmas Dinner Menu - Bon Appetit!
Real-Restaurant-Recipes.com - The Secret Is Out!
Posted: November 10, 2007
Donna Hager initially learned many of her skills while cooking beside her mother and other family members and then honed those skills cooking for family, friends and relatives for years. She so loved to entertain and cook and try new recipes, in 1983 she did a "foolish thing." She started her own restaurant in a small town in Washington State.
Donna already knew a great deal about food but she brought one more element to her restaurant business that was equally important. She knew, and loved, people. The food she prepared was exactly as advertised and, coupled with the quality and accommodating service her restaurant provided, the business became very successful.
So successful was the restaurant, soon regionally known (greater Seattle area) chefs and souse chefs from other restaurants were working with her. She "went to school" with them on a daily basis almost since the time she opened the restaurant. The menu expanded to include foods the locals were not familiar with.
Because the customers trusted the food and service so much, they began broadening their culinary choices when ordering to include new international cuisine offered on the daily fresh sheets. As the reputation of the restaurant grew, Donna was asked more and more - almost daily - for the recipes. Regionally read newspapers requested the recipes and then still more and more people wanted these recipes. She was asked about writing a cookbook but simply did not have the time. Then, an idea came to her. She decided to share her "real restaurant recipes" by publishing them on the Internet.
So in her spirit of wanting to share and accommodate her "guests," a new venture was born - her website called Real-Restaurant-Recipes.com. The website is now on its way to becoming so successful in terms of traffic and online visitors she is almost overwhelmed by the response. But instead of feeling over-worked by this additional task, she is totally exhilarated, adding to the site on a daily basis.
Real-Restaurant-Recipes offers quality breakfast recipes, lunch and dinner recipes and everything in between including appetizer recipes, dessert recipes, recipes for soups, fabulous salads, salsas, sauces and gravies and so much more.
"What! No time to cook? Friends and relatives too far away to join you on special occasions?" Donna discovered GourmetStation when she was in a bind to send a quality food gift to some relatives. She ordered a dinner gift from us and waited for the "reviews." The relatives were jubilant! So - then she agreed to become a GourmetStation author to share information and recipes with you. No formal culinary schooling - only mom and grandmom and other family members and then over two decades of hands-on experience with a number of quality chefs. This background provided Donna with the culinary skills she needed for her restaurant and her successful Real-Restaurant-Recipes.com.
Please take a moment to visit Donna at Real-Restaurant-Recipes.com. You'll be glad you did! And when you do visit Donna, don't forget to subscribe to her free electronic newsletter appropriately titled "What's Cookin."
Awesome Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe……..and a chef’s little “secret”!
Posted: November 1, 2007
Have you ever ordered roast turkey when dining in a really good restaurant with a great chef? If you have, then you’ve probably wondered how they manage to keep the meat so tender and moist. Is it a secret ingredient, or perhaps some amazing piece of hugely expensive, professional cooking equipment? Actually, it’s neither, and I am going to share their little secret with you…..it’s all down to BRINING!
Brining is the very simple and inexpensive process of “marinating” the bird in a salt solution infused with aromatic herbs, spices, fruits and vegetables. The salting process encourages very deep, cellular moisture penetration, which basically means less drying out during roasting…..resulting in a moister bird.
But before the recipe, let me explain a few basics:
1. Begin the process the day or night before as the turkey needs to soak for at least 10 hours.
2. You will need a container large enough to hold the turkey with enough brine to cover it.
3. If you are using a frozen turkey, it must be fully defrosted before the brining process begins. Do not use a self-basting or Kosher turkey as both already have salt added.
4. One way of telling if you have enough salt in your brine, is that a raw egg will float in it.
5. The turkey must be COMPLETELY submerged in the brine.
6. Ideally, the turkey should be kept refrigerated during the brining. If that isn't possible, keep the container (a cooler box is perfect for the job) somewhere cool such as in a basement. Ice packs or reusable gel packs may be used to maintain the temperature (but do not put ice directly into the brine as this will dilute the solution). The turkey and brine solution must be kept below 40° F /4° C.
7. You can vary the spices and seasonings according to your own preferences and availability. You can even substitute some of the water with cold tea, fruit or vegetable juices, stock, cider, wine or even light beer. The choice is yours! Just have fun….and experiment!
8. Remove the turkey from the brine about an hour before you plan to roast in order for it to reach room temperature.
Spiced and Super-Moist Roast Turkey
1. Begin the day before by dissolving the salt and brown sugar in the boiling water. Allow to cool and then refrigerate overnight.
2. Add the brine solution, the water and all of the other brining ingredients to the container you are using. Mix well to dissolve the, sugar, honey & maple syrup.
3. Add the water and all of the other brining ingredients to the container you are using. Mix well.
4. Untie and remove any string or trussing that is attached to the turkey and then wash inside and out under cold water. Now sink the bird into the liquid adding more water if necessary to completely submerge it. Refrigerate or put into a cool place (see notes above) and leave it for at least 10 hours. Turn the turkey over at least once during this time.
5. Remove the turkey from the brine and rinse inside and out under cold water. Dry thoroughly using kitchen towel. Allow to come up to room temperature (this helps to ensure proper and safe heat penetration).
7. Put the butter and maple syrup into a saucepan together and place over a low heat. Stir until the butter is completely melted and the two ingredients are combined.
8. Generously brush the maple butter glaze all over the turkey and season with freshly milled black pepper.
9. In a large roasting tin, place two long lengths of kitchen foil, one widthways and the other lengthways (forming a rather large "cross"). Place the turkey on top of the foil. Now fold the closest piece upwards and form a pleat where the ends meet above the breast. Then fold the other piece of foil upwards and crimp and fold to create a loose parcel that allows air to circulate around the breast.
10. Put the turkey into the oven and cook for 40 minutes before lowering the temperature to 350F/180C/gas mark 4 (fan oven 160C). Now continue to roast for about another 2 hours.
11. Remove the turkey from the oven and carefully peel back the foil to expose the breast. Baste with some of the juices from the pan. Turn the heat back up to 425F/220C/gas mark 7 (fan oven 200C) and roast for about another 20 minutes until the breast is golden brown.
12. Testing if the turkey is cooked: Turkey is safe when cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165°F/74°C as measured with a food thermometer. Check the internal temperature in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast. At this temperature, the turkey will be cooked perfectly and safely yet remain beautifully moist.
If you do not have a meat thermometer, you can test for doneness by piercing the thickest part of the leg with a skewer or sharp knife. If the juices run perfectly clear, it's cooked. If the juices show any sign of pinkness, return to the oven for another 15 minutes and test again.
Once fully cooked, very carefully lift the turkey from the pan and place on a cutting board. Leave to rest for at least 30 minutes loosely covered with foil.
CARVE, EAT & ENJOY!
New Recipe Program At Gourmet Food Revolution
Posted: September 19, 2007
The most influential ways in which we use the Internet are called "killer applications". Email has been called a killer application and let’s faces it; it has changed the way we live, work and communicate. I think there is another killer application and that is recipe sharing. It’s never been so easy to dream up a fascinating themed dinner party and find your menus and recipes on the web. I remember the days when I first started kitchen keeping – Betty Crocker was about it unless I wanted to purchase a library of recipe books.
There are lots of recipe sites out there, but I don’t necessarily trust all of them. Many are quick recipes placed on sites with the primary aim of selling advertising. I want a recipe that comes from someone’s heart. Maybe a recipe passed on through many generations with a good story behind it. I’ve found a place where you can take your story along with your recipe and enter it in an interactive environment. It’s the most novel and original way of collecting authentic recipes I’ve found. We need your help in populating the site. Our very own guest writer, Robert Jackson with Gourmet Food Revolution, brought the idea to me. Robert’s great site is dedicated to helping us with our entertainment needs including dinner party planning, etiquette, hiring a butler or personal chef. Some of us may be more inclined to “do it youself” and if you do, the recipe system will be perfect for you. Just click on this link and follow the easy instructions. Robert was kind enough to allow me to be one of the 1st submitters so I learned a couple of lessons I’ll share with you. If you have a back-story, like how the recipe was developed, who handed it down to you, etc. collect your thoughts & write them in Word of Notepad. Below your story write the recipe. Make sure you have included everything. A quick copy/paste will allow you to transfer the information to Robert’s recipe file. If you have a picture, make sure to include it. A picture is worth 1000 words!
Readers will be able to comment on your recipe, rate it – and you can share information back & forth. You can also categorize your recipes under headings like Thanksgiving, or just general. Go ahead. Here is the link again.
Don’t miss out on the fun!
World's Best Grilled Hamburger
Posted: August 19, 2007
Summer is still in full swing and outdoor grilling is a passionate hobby pursued by many foodies. The fierce competitiveness of who has the best barbecue sauce or which family or church can produce the best baked bean recipe amazes me. So I decided to do a little research & come up with my own suggestions of who’s who in outdoor grilling.
Time, heritage and proven recipes are part of winning formula. And while meat quality is an important factor, the secret is in the sauce. Take Country Bob’s grilling sauces for example. Bob Edson first developed is steak sauce in 1968 and has since grown a thriving business. The nice people at Country Bob’s were generous enough to supply us with samples and recipes and here is out pick.
Honolulu Bob Burgers
2 lbs. Ground beef
Country Bob’s All Purpose Sauce
4 well drained fresh (or canned) pineapple slices
4 slices Cheddar cheese
Divide beef into 4 portions and shape into patty.
Grill one side over hot coals & turn patties.
Spread Country Bob’s sauce
Grill until desired doneness is achieved
Place pineapples slices on burgers
Grill a minute or so more & apply cheese slices
When cheese melts, you’re ready to assemble your Honolulu burger
Sounds simple – well it is, but the secret is in the sauce & the sauce will make you a hero at your next grilling event. There are many more recipes on Country Bob’s web site & you can ever purchase his cookbook. Happy grilling!
A Personal Tribute to the late, HRH The Princess of Wales….our Queen of Hearts!
Posted: August 4, 2007
This year marks the tenth anniversary of the untimely death of Diana Princess of Wales. Here in the United Kingdom, the occasion has so far been officially commemorated by a glorious tribute of music and dance hosted by Princes William & Harry. Although unable to attend the concert in person, I enjoyed every moment of it on television…….it was incredibly moving and a perfect way to remember our beloved and sadly missed, Diana, Queen of Hearts. This event is to be followed by a formal Service of Remembrance in London on August 31st which will be attended by senior members of the Royal family.
It’s interesting to reflect ten years on from the event on just how Diana is perceived and remembered now. For many of us, it’s as though she never really left us! She lives on in hearts, spirits and minds. If ever we needed evidence of the power of LOVE, then this must be precisely that phenomenon! Most of us never met her, yet somehow, we feel as though she was, and still IS a part of OUR lives. She was indeed unique, and quite, irreplaceable!
I for one will never forget her. I watched her grow from a sweet and charming, somewhat innocent young lady to an iconic Princess able to hold her own on the world stage (with or without the support of the Royal Family!). Her grace, elegance, sense of style and genuine sensitivity made her stand out from any other member of the Royal Family, past or present. If she had lived on, who knows what she may have achieved. Perhaps as many suggest, she may indeed have gone on to cause some (minor) “embarrassment” to the establishment; but there is no doubt that more importantly she would also have gone on and fostered worthy humanitarian and social causes on a personal, sensitive and influential level that no other world leader seems capable of. She is, truly missed.
And so as the anniversary of her tragic death approaches, I prefer not to mourn her passing, but instead CELEBRATE her life. Short it may have been, but Diana lived life to the full and made every moment count. Let her legacy to us all be one of hope……and of dreams for a better future.
To mark this special occasion, I want to share with you a favourite dessert of the Princess….Tiramisu Hearts. According to her butler, Paul Burrell, this dish was introduced to her by a chef from world famous Cipriani Hotel in Venice. It then appeared regularly (and perhaps all too frequently!) on lunch menus at Kensington Palace.
Tiramisu Hearts, for the Queen of Hearts!
7oz/200g piece chocolate marble cake
1 tablespoon cold, strong black coffee
4 tablespoons brandy
7oz/200g mascarpone or medium-fat soft cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 tablespoon icing sugar, sifted
1 ripe, small mango
2 teaspoons cocoa powder
white chocolate shavings & cape gooseberries to decorate
Eat and enjoy!