Thanksgiving, 2012

Some notes from this year’s Thanksgiving festivities.

Willie Bird Turkey

Regarding the Turkey, for the last couple years I bought heritage breed turkeys. While these were tasty, I found the cost/benefit for them didn’t really work out. They are very, very expensive for a Turkey that pretty much tastes like any other Turkey. So this year, I went with an Organic, free range, plain old, Willie Bird from Santa Rosa.

For all of my adult life, I have approached the turkey by separating the leg/thigh half from the breast and cooking them separately, a trick I learned from Julia Child’s The Way To Cook. For some, I guess there is a little disappointment in not presenting a whole bird to the table, but for me the benefit of being able to cook the dark and white meat separately has always outweighed that. It also significantly reduces the cooking time of both halves.

However, this year I took this a step further. Mrs. Flannestad found a recipe in Parade Magazine, of all places, from Mr Mario Batali:

Mario Batali’s Stuffed Turkey

Tacchino Ripieno — for non-Italians, that means turkey stuffed with chestnuts and prunes — is chef Mario Batali’s favorite way to cook turkey because, he says, it never comes out dry. It features a crisp-well-seasoned skin, can be baked in an hour, and may be cut straight through, just like a regular roast.

Turkey Breast stuffed with Prunes, Chestnuts, and pancetta! How could we NOT make this recipe?

I more or less followed the recipe, though I did buy a whole turkey and bone it out myself. What can I say, I like dark meat.

Boned Out Turkey Pieces

I found I really only needed about half the amount of stuffing which the recipe made. I also didn’t quite pay attention, that Mr Batali instructs you to separate the two breast lobes and stuff them separately. Stuffing the whole breast added a little time to the roasting. One big advantage to this recipe, is you can use most of the bones and giblets to make turkey stock before thanksgiving day and have it ready to go for gravy.


For the Leg/Thighs, I took out the thigh bones and cured them overnight in a mix of sugar, salt, and ground porcini mushrooms. Then the next day, I stuffed the thigh cavities with some of the prune stuffing and tied them up.

For dressing, I bought a rustic sourdough loaf a couple days before and cut it into cubes. I sauteed maitake and cremini mushrooms and also some mirepoix. Then mixed them with the cubed bread, moistened with stock and cooked the leg/thighs on top of the dressing.

Sweet Potatoe Pecan Pie

This year’s pie came from Alton Brown: Sweet Potato Pie with Pecans The only liberty I took with Alton’s recipe was roasting the sweet potatoes and to use Goat Yoghurt, instead of cow.

Strange, how dogs seem more attracted to raw Turkey than cooked…

Monty, Paying Attention

Turkey Divan

One of the traditional day after thanksgiving meals in the Flannery house is always Turkey Divan.

Here is my version…

Turkey Divan

Turkey Divan
1 Bunch Broccoli, cut into spears, stem skinned and sliced
Roast Turkey, Sliced
Mornay Sauce*

METHOD: Preheat oven to 350F. Blanch or steam Broccoli and stem slices until nearly cooked. Line roasting pan with spears and stem pieces. Place roast turkey in the middle and cover with mornay sauce. Heat in oven until turkey is heated through. Serve with leftover dressing or mashed potatoes.

I know you can buy Mornay Sauce in packets, but it’s really one of those things you should know how to make, forms the basis of so many American classic casseroles, like Mac & Cheese and Turkey Tetrazzini.

*Mornay Sauce
1 Cup Milk (warmed)
1 Cup Turkey Stock (warmed)
2 Tablespoons Butter
2+ Tablespoons Flour
1 Cup Shredded Cheese
1/2 Teaspoon Paprika
1/2 Teaspoon Nutmeg
1 pinch Cayenne Pepper
1 Bay Leaf

METHOD: Melt butter in small sauce pan. Whisk in flour to form stiff roux and cook over low heat until the flour is toasted smelling. Remove from heat. Whisk in Turkey Stock and Milk. Return to heat and warm quickly to a near simmer. When thick enough to coat the back of spoon, reduce heat. Stir in cheese and spices, adjusting salt level. Remove from heat and keep warm.

Girl Music Geeks

As anyone who has worked in food service will tell you, oft times you get pressed into service making Food and/or drinks for your significant other and their friends.

Mrs Flannestad has a group of friends who also are really into music, and they get together from time to time to listen to music or watch concert videos.

This time they came over to our house, so I made dinner.


One of my favorite winter vegetables, Beets, are great, and tomatero farms had some that were so great looking at the Alemany Farmers’ Market Saturday that I couldn’t resist. Though, it is good to float them past the attendees to make sure no one has had bad experiences in the past. Like cilantro, people often have strong opinions about beets. My favorite way to deal with them is just to wash them, wrap them whole in foil, and throw them in the oven until they are cooked through. When they are done, it is very easy to rinse them under running water and just slide the outside skin off the beets.


I wanted to make Israeli Cous Cous, but our local grocery doesn’t carry it, so I opted for a type of italian pasta called riso instead. It is about the size and shape of rice and can be braised, just like arborio rice.


I can’t remember what magazine I got this chicken recipe from. It’s kind of a ‘wet rub’, not dissimilar to some Mexican preparations for grilling. You roughly chop an onion and a couple cloves of garlic. Throw them in a blender with a couple tablespoons of olive oil, salt, a couple tablespoons of vinegar, fresh Marjoram, and a generous helping of good paprika. I like to use a mix of regular and smoked paprika. Then rub this over your whole, or Spatchcocked, chicken and let it stand. Grill or roast in a hot oven. Super tasty and super easy.


For the riso dish, you basically do it like risotto. Put some stock on a low heat. Toast the riso in a pan with olive oil. Add some mirepoix and saute. Add stock to just cover and continue to cook until it is al dente. I added some saffron to the stock and cooked some thinly sliced collard greens to add later.

Roasted Beets

When the beets are tender, and you have skinned them, you can do whatever you like with them. I tossed them with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper. I made a simple sauce of yoghurt, lemon juice, lemon zest, dill, and scallions to serve with them.

Roasted Chicken

The marinade does get a little dark, but it is super tasty, the onions become sweet and really tasty.


Deglaze the roasting pan, add some flour and cook. Stir in some chicken stock and you’ve got pan gravy. Cut your chicken into serving pieces.


I’ve been into fuyu persimmons lately, often serving them with salads. This time I opted for dessert. Before dinner, I tossed them with sugar and balsamic vinegar and left them to macerate. To serve, I put a shortbread cooking into a bowl, a spoonful of Cowgirl fromage blanc with a drizzle of San Francisco Beekeepers’ Mission Honey, and then added the persimmons with the juice that had accumulated. Super easy and super tasty.

Then we all popped some beers, sat down, and watched the new Jonathan Demme Neil Young concert film ‘Journeys’.

A great night of music geekery, food, and beer.

Pere Cecchini’s Gin & Tonic

I’m currently reading, “Cosmopolitan: A Bartender’s Life,” by Toby Cecchini.

While a lot of the passages are entertaining and interesting, the following regarding his father’s gin & tonic ritual was one of the most vivid.

“One of my fondest running memories I have of growing up is arrival in his kitchen after the long, stuffy Greyhound bus ride from Madison and sitting to chat with him while he prepared drinks. He would take down a tall crystal pitcher and pour it almost a quarter full of gin. For years we had an ongoing polemic about which gin to use. He used to claim all gin was simply grain neutral spirits spiked with juniper and that it made no difference which one you used. One visit, then, I brought up a bottle of Tanqueray and won that argument handily. Taking fat limes at room temperature, he would need them in the ball of his hand against the cutting board, setting the intoxicating aroma tumbling through the room. This brings the citrus oil to the surface, he explained, and allows the gin to act as a solvent, removing and incorporating it into the drink. He He would cut them in half, juice them, and set the juice aside. He would slice the rinds into thin strips, which he then dumped into the gin and pummeled a bit with a pestle. The juice was added to cause further extraction. At this point he would invariably swirl the pitcher under my nose and declare solemnly, ‘You could wear this as cologne!’

“While that marriage was left to macerate for a few minutes, he would then take large ice cubes and, palming them lightly, thwack them expertly with the back of a heavy spoon, just once, whereupon they would obediently crumble into perfect shards, which he would scatter into the pitcher until it was half full or so with aromatic lime granita. I always marveled at the elan with which he pulled off that simple action; my efforts at duplicating this maneuver always end with me bludgeoning the recalcitrant glacier mercilessly as chips fly helter skelter.

“He would remove the tonic from its chilling and pour it gingerly, on a slant, down the side of the pitcher, stirring it cursorily with a tall glass want, just so the gin, which rises to the top, gets distributed; you don’t want to jostle that life-giving fizz out of it. We would take glasses from the freezer, garnished with fresh lime rounds for aesthetics, and carry the whole works like an Easter processional on a try out to the front porch. In the late-norther twilight with my first drink as a young man, chatting with my dad, I could feel the tie to civilization, the history in this lovely laying down of one’s burdens at the day’s close.”

Who could read that and NOT desire a Gin & Tonic?

The Gin & Tonic is an interesting bird. You’ll never really find a recipe or method for making one in a cocktail book. Like the Pimm’s Cup, I guess it is just too simple to be included with more complicated cocktails.

On the other hand…

When we were in Spain a few years ago, we were trying to get in to the Dry Martini Bar. Unfortunately, they had a private event, so we went across the Street to Peter’s Tavern and ordered Gin & Tonics. The ritual with which the bartender prepared 4 Gin & Tonics rivaled the Sazerac in its complexity. I was totally blown away by the grace and elegance with which he prepared the seemingly ‘simple’ drink. First the frilled beverage napkins were placed upon the bar in front of us. Then the bartender pulled out chilled glasses and hand selected cubes with tongs to fill each glass. Placing the glasses in front of him, he first poured the gin. A lot of Gin. Then he gently poured the tonic (Schweppe’s Indian) down the side. He stirred each gently, then, using tongs added the straws and lemon garnish. Finally he placed each glass in front of us to enjoy.

So let’s try and translate Mr Cecchini, the younger’s, rather large block of text into a recipe.

First, there are four components in a Gin and Tonic.

Gin: Other types of Gin are interesting, but when making a Gin & Tonic, I’m afraid I have to insist on a stiff, Juniper forward, traditional London Dry Gin, made in England. In the US, your choices of traditional London Dry Gin made in England are basically Beefeater, Plymouth, and Tanqueray. As we can see above, Mr Cecchini, the younger, favors Tanqueray, and I do not disagree. (If you must use an American Gin, about the only two, (I’ve tried,) which hew fairly closely to the London Dry blueprint are Anchor’s Junipero and Death’s Door Gin.) Regarding the amount of Gin, you will often find people rather overpour the Gin & Tonic. I prefer to stick to 1 1/2 oz per person and a highball glass on the smaller size. Otherwise, the drink waters down before you finish.

Tonic: The classic Tonic is Schweppes Indian Tonic, but it is rather hard to come by in the US and also tends to be priced at a premium. As a rule, when possible, I avoid anything with High Fructose Corn Syrup or Agave Nectar, so this leaves me with Fever Tree or Stirrings, which are also not cheap. I personally prefer Fever Tree, but your mileage may vary.

Ice: As Mr Cecchini, senior, cracked his ice, so shall we. I make cubes in my Tovolo King Cube Ice trays and then crack them into shards and cubes with a lovely japanese ice pick, purchased from Cocktail Kingdom.

Citrus Garnish: In some parts of Europe, you are far more likely to find your Gin & Tonic garnished with lemon than the lime more common in America. I prefer lime, I guess because it is what I am used to, though lemon is ok in a pinch. Mr Cecchini, senior’s, recipe is the first I’ve seen where the juice is quite literally separated from the skins in the drink. Interesting, I’ll give it a try. Also, do note you will get more juice out of a lime if it is at room temperature.

Gin & Tonic for Two

Gin & Tonic for Two a la pere Cecchini

3 oz London Dry Gin
1 Lime
about 7 oz Tonic (or one 200ml bottle)
Lime Wheel for Garnish (optional)

METHOD: Peel limes longitudinally (from top to bottom). Squeeze peels into a mixing glass or pitcher and drop in. Add Gin to mixing glass. Juice lime and add to mixing glass, should be between 1/2 to 3/4 oz lime juice. If your limes are sad and dry, you may need more than 1. Crack ice and add to mixing glass. Ice two collins glasses, no more than 12 oz. Stir gin and lime juice briefly and strain into two glasses. Pour tonic down the side of the glasses to nearly fill and stir gently. Garnish with lime wheels and serve immediately.

To be honest, one of my favorite things about this recipe is that it is for two. Individual cocktails are cool, but making pitchers of cocktails is even better, especially for loved ones and friends. And this is quite delicious, almost more like a Gin Rickey with Tonic than what I usually associate with GNT. However, I’m not going to be a stickler when the results are this appealing.

Arborio with Winter Squash, Salad and Sausage

Especially when served as an aperitif before a classic Flannestad fall dinner for two like: Arborio Rice with Butternut Squash and Mushrooms. Grilled Sausages. Red Romaine salad with Fuyu Persimmon in a white wine, sage, and scallion dressing.

Bonus picture of Monty the Dog at Fort Funston! Ball!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

I can’t resist fall flavors.

When I read David Tanis’ article, A Taste of Fall in a Bottle of Hard Cider, I knew I would be making the accompanying recipe, (more or less,) Pork Chops with Apples and Cider.

“But now, with piles of new-crop apples at the greenmarket and a stand selling local handmade cider, too, dinner seems practically predestined. I’ll pan-fry boneless pork chops and serve them with butter-browned apples and a Normandy-style sauce made with cider and cream. And to drink, a chilled bottle of sparkling New York hard cider.”

Sutton Cellars Gravenstein Cider

Sutton Cellars Gravenstein Cider

Since we’re on the West Coast, I am using Sutton Cellars delicious Gravenstein Sonoma Apple Cider for this dish!

Rub the chops with the spice mix and allow to stand at room temperature.

Saute apples until tender.

Flour chops and brown on both sides.

Remove chopes and drain excess oil from pan. Add cider to deglaze pan. Reduce until syrupy. Add Chicken Stock and thicken slightly using corn, potato, or arrowroot starch. Check seasoning and strain out any undesirable solids. Return sauce to pan and add (IMHO not optional) Calvados. Cook off excess alcohol then add apples, chops, and fresh sage (I left out the cream in the original) and place in a hot oven until desired degree of doneness is achieved. I served the chops with some roasted winter squash and a braise of dino kale and abalone mushrooms.

You’re not going to make me get up, are you?

Bonus Monty picture!

(Not) Borscht

This week, it was me who was sick and needed chicken soup.

Well, sometimes you have to make your own chicken soup…

From Sep 27, 2012

Chicken Soup with Beets

1 Bunch of Beets, Skinned and Chopped. Stems and leaves reserved
6 Red Potatoes, skinned and Chopped.
Broth, see below.

1 TBSP Olive Oil
Beet Stems, finely diced.
1 Onion, finely diced.
1 Carrot, finely diced.
1 Celery Rib, finely diced.
1 tsp Whole Dry Marjoram.
1 tsp Whole Dry Thyme.
Dry Vermouth or dry white wine.

Beet Greens, Sliced finely.
Chicken meat, from broth below.
Salt and Pepper, to taste.

Cucumber and Dill Raita, see below.
Dill Sprigs.

Add Potatoes and Beets to Chicken Broth and salt generously. Bring to a simmer and cook until beets are tender. Puree soup with a hand blender, in a blender, or food processor, adding more chicken broth or water as necessary. Rinse the heavy cooking pot, or a separate one and heat. Add Olive oil and saute diced onions, celery, and beet stems with herbs until tender. Deglaze pan with Dry Vermouth. Add pureed soup to pot and add chicken meat and Beet Greens. Cook until Beet Greens are tender. Check seasonings, and serve with a spoonful of Raita in each bowl and top with a dill sprig.

Chicken Broth

1 Chicken, Quartered
1 Rib Celery, chopped
1 Onion Chopped
1 Carrot, Sliced thinly
3 Whole Cloves
1 tsp Whole Black Peppercorns
1 Bay Leaf
1 tsp Whole Dry Thyme

Cover chicken, vegetables, and spices with cold water and bring to a low simmer. Continue cooking over low heat until chicken is cooked through. Remove Chicken from water and reserve. When chicken is cool enough to handle, remove meat from bones and add bones and skin back to water. Continue cooking as time allows, at least an hour. Strain solids from Broth and return to heat.

Cucumber and Dill Raita

1 Cucumber, peeled, seeded and sliced.
Tops of 3 Green Onions, thinly sliced.
2 TBSP Dill Leaves, thinly sliced.
1 Cup Yoghurt.
Salt, to taste.

Toss Cucumber with salt and let stand in a colander for an hour or two. Rinse Cucumber and pat dry with towels. Chop Cucumber and combine with other ingredients. Thin slightly with water, add salt to taste and chill.

From Sep 27, 2012

Curry Chicken Soup with Sweet Potatoes and Chard

Probably not your Grandmother’s Chicken Soup, but nice all the same…

From Curry Chicken Soup with Sweet Potatoes

Curry Chicken Soup with Sweet Potatoes

3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
Broth, see below.
Chicken meat, from broth below
Curry Powder, below
1 bunch Chard, stemmed and sliced thin.
Salt and Pepper, to taste.
Cucumber and Basil Raita, see below.

Add Potatoes to Chicken Broth and salt generously. Bring to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender. Puree soup with a hand blender, in a blender, or food processor. Return to pot, add chicken meat, Curry Powder, and Chard. Cook until Chard is tender. Check seasonings, and serve with a spoonful of Basil Raita in each bowl.

Curry Powder

1 tsp Whole Coriander Seed
1 tsp Whole Cumin Seed
1 tsp Whole Fennel Seed
1 tsp Whole Fenugreek
1 tsp Whole Brown Mustard Seed
4 Whole Cloves
1 Small Stick Cinnamon, Broken
1/2 tsp White Peppercorns
1/2 tsp Black Peppercorns
3 Whole Chili de Arbol
1 tsp Ground Tumeric

Toast whole spices in a dry pan until fragrant. Grind in Coffee Mill or Spice Grinder. Add Tumeric.

Chicken Broth

1 Chicken, Quartered
1 inch piece Ginger, sliced thinly
1 Onion Chopped
1 Carrot, Sliced thinly
3 Garlic Cloves, Smashed

Cover chicken and vegetables with water and bring to a low simmer. Continue cooking over low heat until chicken is cooked through. Remove Chicken from water and reserve. When chicken is cool enough to handle, remove meat from bones and add bones and skin back to water. Continue cooking as time allows, in my case 2 episodes of Samurai Champloo. Strain solids from Broth and return to heat.

Cucumber and Basil Raita

1 Cucumber, peeled, seeded and sliced
Tops of 3 Green Onions, thinly sliced
2 TBSP Basil Leaves, thinly sliced
1 Cup Yoghurt
Salt, to taste

Toss Cucumber with salt and let stand in a colander for an hour or two. Rinse Cucumber and pat dry with towels. Chop Cucumber and combine with other ingredients. Thin slightly with water, add salt to taste and chill.

Dinner 07212012

Everyone has been talking about State Bird Provisions‘ interesting idea for table service. Essentially, they have copped the Dim Sum house idea of small plates being circulated by servers on trays and carts for the guests perusal and potential purchase. The big difference being that the servers in Dim Sum houses don’t have to explain every course to every table, the dim sum repertoire of dishes being a fairly stable set of dishes. Not only do the servers have to carry heavy trays around the dining room all night, but they have to go through the same explanation of each dish to every table, over and over. Whew, seems exhausting to me.

From Jul 23, 2012

Also, that 24 bus ride from Bernal Heights to the Fillmore sure is a long one! Thank goodness Fat Angel is on the other end and Wild Side West on ours. Otherwise, that trip might be a bit much, especially late at night. You certainly get to experience a whole spectrum of San Francisco’s colors on the ride.

From Jul 23, 2012

Dinner 07-11-2012

Very successful weeknight dinner, just putting it up so I don’t forget the dishes, mostly.

Roasted Bone in chicken breasts marinated in Lemon, Marjoram, and Thyme. Bulgur cooked in a weak chicken broth with Garlic, Bay Leaf, and Thyme. Finished with roasted pecans and pan drippings. Watermelon, Arugula, Roasted Pistachios, Feta, and Basil in a White Wine Vinegar and chile vinaigrette.