Tag Archives: home cooking

Viva Italia – Clan Gordon Family Dinner 2012

Every year the young members of the Gordon family, K and her siblings and all the significant others, eagerly await Christmas time. Not only do we get to spend a lot of time together during the holidays, we also have the Clan Gordon dinner to look forward to. K’s dad and stepmom schedule a serious family dinner within a week or so of Christmas, so that we can have a big event for a small group of family. It really is one of the highlights of the year.

If you’d like a primer on why it has been so awesome in the past, take a look at the last couple of Clan Gordons:

2010 – The Clan Gordon English Dinner

2011 – The New Orleans Clan Gordon Dinner

Enough with the past, let’s get on with it.

CG 1 aprons

Preppy Kitchen

Clan Gordon officially started on Christmas morning when everyone got their own custom family aprons with the really awesome Gordon family crest. Since K’s dad really goes to extreme lengths to make this incredible dinner, the kids will try to get over to his house to serve as line chefs during the process. K and I went over early on the afternoon of the dinner to lend a couple of hands.

CG 1 bechemal sauce

We jumped right in by helping with the stuffed mushrooms with the bechamel sauce.

CG 1 bechemal sauce 2

Smooth, slow stirring as it thickens up.

CG 4 Cooking

Team work.

CG 1 Mushrooms

Almost ready. Check out that bechamel now mixed with all the delicious chopped prosciutto.

CG 1 Mushrooms 2

Here they are, ready to go into the oven. We helped out with a few other final details before heading home.

CG 2 cannelloni

Cannelloni waiting to go into the oven. This would turn out amazing, more details when we get to dinner…

CG 3 Quail

The stuffed quail wrapped in speck waiting for cooking. Beautiful.

CG 5 cheesecake

Here’s Ks stepmom’s amazing cheesecake hot right out of the oven. I will explain later, but I’m normally not a huge cheesecake guy, but I guess that is just because I have never had a cheesecake that was this good. It was light, airy and amazing.

CG 6

Table is set and ready for action.

Dinner Time

Later that evening, we all arrived at the Gordon house and got started.

Cocktail, Canapes, and Company

For these family dinners, we go back to dressing up for dinner and starting the evening with a cocktail hour. Every course during dinner would have a dedicated wine pairing, but this was a good chance for people to start with some sparkling wine or cocktails of their choosing.

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Always room for for a White Russian, even during the Italian dinner. If you’re wondering, bydand is the Gordon clan motto, meaning steadfast. Party cup roadies elevate any party, just sayin’.

CG Meal Course 1

During cocktail hour, we got the first taste of K’s dad’s masterpiece dinner. He baked some fresh tuscan bread and made two variations of this amazing liver pate. I could have eaten all of it. It was insanely rich and awesome. The only thing holding me back from killing the whole ramikan was my experience at previous Clan Gordon dinners. One must pace oneself, lest he run out of room before the end of the meal.

Belly in our Bellies

The antipasti course at the table was the product of a serious long-term planning. In February of 2012, we all went over to the Gordon house to make homemade bacon, and while doing that K’s dad started some pork belly confit, so after 10 months it was time to bust it out.

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Here’s the belly out of the skillet before getting plated. So good.

CG meal course 2

Here it is served up with polenta and a cherry reduction. This combination of sweet and salty was awesome with the polenta. Also, it was pretty darn awesome to eat something that we had put together so long ago.

Primi – Can I Canneloni

Next up was a serious Italian masterclass. While researching the menu, K’s dad found this recipe, and it was described as only being made on the most special family occasions, so it was perfect for this event. After hearing about how much work it takes to make the cannelloni and then to make the tortellini that goes inside it, I can see why it is such a rare treat.

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Here it is baked up after being covered in more bechamel sauce. Inside is the tortellini and prosciutto. This was unreal.

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Look at that. Tortellini stuffed with spiced chicken in side a prosciutto wrap inside a spinach cannelloni topped with bechamel. Gimme a break.

Secondi – Stuffed Quail Stuffed Me

So, after the pasta course, you naturally have a meat course. This one was incredible. K’s younger brother delivered the speck from a recent trip to New York, and it served as the outer layer around some de-boned quail and provolone cheese. It was topped with a little honey, and it was insane. The quail was so tender. I know it is related to chicken, but it had so much flavor. Really speaks to the benefits of branching out in the poultry family.

CG meal course 4

 

Plated up with them were the decadent stuffed mushrooms that we had worked on earlier in the afternoon. Find a recipe for them online and make them, serve them at a party or at lunch or whenever. Dang Gina.

Just Desserts

 

Every dinner must come to a close at some point, and this one closed with the light, airy ricotta cheesecake that you saw come out of the oven earlier. So many cheesecakes seem too dense and too smooth, and it is like they loose something in the translation.

CG meal course 4 2

This was cheesecake like you would imagine it should be. Served with this potent raspberry vinegar, which was so good that you could probably have sipped on a shots worth, it was a delightful end to such an awesome dinner.

Bydand

So, I mentioned that the clan motto meant steadfast earlier. What I like so much about these dinners is the coming together of a family that holds on to that ideally dearly. They are steadfast and supportive of each other, and it is truly a blessing to be involved with such a good group. That each year that passes ends in an amazing dinner is a bonus, like a celebration that this family is and will continue to be. Cheers to Clan Gordon and here’s to an awesome 2013 for the whole family. And cheers to you and your family in 2013. Hope it is an awesome one. See you out there!

-Thomas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Easter

How do a couple of 30 year olds combine the joys of Easter as a child with the responsibilities of bringing food to Easter brunch?

This is how.

Easter-style deviled eggs. You should have seen the chickens that laid those eggs! Not really, we just dyed the egg whites while we made the filling. All in all, K came up with a good plan and it was executed perfectly!

And really, what has more irony than making deviled eggs on Easter?

Hope you had a great Easter weekend, ours was a fantastic one with a beautiful Easter Vigil on Saturday night at St. Mary’s Cathedral (I recommend going next year if you haven’t been before), a Easter party after that and more family, food, pastel ties, seersucker, and egg hunting on Sunday. Alleluia!

-Thomas

One more thing. I can’t neglect to mention the Tradition Unlike Any Other, skip ahead to 6:30.

Incredible.

2nd Annual Clan Gordon Dinner

So, last year K’s father and stepmother hosted a Christmas family dinner, which became an instant tradition. It was so good that we gave it an official name, the 1st Annual Clan Gordon English Dinner. It went down as one of my favorite 10 meals of the year, and it was really a huge hit. Well, this year was no different, and we set up on January 1. Prepare to witness the early frontrunner for best meal of 2012, the 2nd Annual Clan Gordon Dinner (New Orleans edition).

There are a lot of photos, so I’ll mainly let them do the talking.

Crab cakes and biscuits mingle before getting cooked.

Crab cakes sizzling. There was much rejoicing.

A well thought out table setting.  The hosts had a wine pairing for every dish. Those glasses would not be empty for long (or stay full for long).

These crab cakes were seriously delicious. It was like Baltimore meets New Orleans meets my belly. Ohhh yeeaaaaahh.

Herb biscuits. Every meal needs a good platform.

Duck breasts with a Steen’s cane syrup and molasses glaze.

Sidenote, I ran into Kelly English (he cooks pretty good) recently, and I asked him about Steen’s, and he said it is one of the 4 things that Louisianians take very seriously in terms of food. The other three were boudin, andouille sausage, and white rice. Get some if you haven’t had it before End Sidenote.

This duck ended up being one of the most delicious things I have ever eaten. It was sweet and tender, kind of like me.

This spoon bread was made with the home-made andouille sausage that K’s dad made a month earlier. That’s a wholenother (isn’t that such a Southern word) blog post, but basically, K’s dad taught me, K, K’s brothers and their lady friends how to make country pate, andouille, chaurice, and plain ol’ breakfast sausage. It was a total sausage fest (yeah, yeah, I could see that one coming). Back to the spoon bread, it was awesome, and it was definitely cool that it was made with the sausage that we had all made.

Sidenote. In a similar activity, last week the same group got together to turn about 30 pounds of pork belly into various bacons, pancettas, salt porks, and the early stages of some pork confit. That is foreshadowing for a future blog post. End Sidenote.

OK, I started to get really hungry at this point and quit taking photos of all the individual items. On my plate, you see the previously referenced duck, biscuits, and spoon bread. What is new is the black-eyed-peas that were also cooked with the andouille sausage and the turnip greens that were cooked with sausage and ham hock. Greens are my favorite vegetable, and these were as good as any I’ve had.

Here’s another view of the two latecomers.

Here is the chocolate bread pudding that was baking up a storm while we sat at the dinner table. It is hard to get great photos of things that are basically solid colors, so I settled for an action shot with the knife and the bread having a little post-slice conversation.

Here’s the bread pudding with some spiced whipped cream that one of the lovely ladies put together. It just melted right into the hot bread pudding. This was decadence, overkill, and insane, but oh so necessary, and oh so good.

Recap

The 1st Annual Clan Gordon Christmas Dinner went down in the books as one of the best meals of 2011, and I can say pretty easily that the first dinner of 2012 is firmly locked in place on the list for 2012. There are few things in life that are as good as a family dinner done right. When done like this, it creates the perfect combination of excellent food, flowing beverages, conversation, comfort, familiarity, and to me, the best part, is the mutual care and affection that is the basis for the whole thing.

The title of this blog is Eat Local Memphis, and all of those words are important to me. Of course, and obviously, I love eating and all the community and fellowship and fun that comes with it. I love local, because I really want to support those that are making this a unique place and that have decided to share their passions, talents, and ultimately take a risk to do that. And I love Memphis. I know some people, maybe even some of you, give it a bad rap some times, but I love this place, and I wouldn’t trade it for anywhere else.

Do something cool soon. Invite some friends or some family over for dinner. Have some music, some drinks, and maybe even give them a little job in the kitchen when they get there. It is a good reminder that no matter how many awesome restaurants (a lot) we have, it is important to use your home for some of the festivities! Hell, invite me over if you need an extra to fill out the table and you have a weird desire to have your food photographed and publicly commented on!

-Thomas

PS. Thanks also to Emeril. All the recipes came from one of his cookbooks. I’ll pass on that info when I get it. Ironically, it was a cookbook where he was skinny on the cover.

 

Christmas Eve Came Early

Some people have one primary activity during the Christmas holidays, and some people, like me, have about 4-5 major events. I’ve got multiple family units that all live in Memphis, so I basically bounce between Midtown and East Memphis (primarily the Old Dutchtown region around Goodlett and Walnut Grove). The best part is that I get to spend time with my whole family over Christmas, but an added bonus is that most of them are really good cooks and put together some serious holiday feasts.

As long as I can remember, I’ve been eating Christmas Eve dinner at my mom’s house. This year, we changed the plans so that Christmas Eve would actually fall on December 22, so that everyone that had to travel could be there for our key event. Here is a visual run down of what happened.

Folk’s Folly filets waiting to get cooked (but not cooked very much).

Brussells sprouts waiting to get cooked up. Inspiration? Kelly English’s sprouts at Iris.

My brother and his lovely lady prepped these taters for their trip to the oven.

Oysters on the half shell is the traditional starter at Christmas Eve. We get ours at The Cove. You can too.

The full oyster set up.

Pistachio brittle, courtesy of K. There is probably a whole other blog post about this stuff…

 

I caught a glimpse of the steaks after they cooked while filling up my beverage in the kitchen.

Those stuffed taters, ready for action.

Sprouts and bacon.

Steaks cooked (the Thomas Kellar way). This was maybe the best combination of quality meat and perfect cooking I have ever had. Artichoke hearts also from Folk’s Folly.

The plate.

After dinner, we retired for coffee, pie, and some gift exchanging by the fire. Here’s Muddy’s pecan pie and cranberry apple pie served with some awesome vanilla bean gelato.

Have a happy Christmas Eve and a merry Christmas!

The early Christmas Eve meal was a huge success. Great to spend time with friends and family and sit by the fire. There isn’t much better than time spent with the people that we love. Well, I’m off to church and to Christmas Eve dinner at my sister’s. Enjoy whatever it is that you’ve got planned, and enjoy the people that you spend it with.

-Thomas

PS. Don’t forget the real meaning of Christmas!

Leave a Gift for Santa

When I’m not working on my own blog (or doing all the other stuff that I do), I like to use the old interwebs to see what other people are writing about. And the other day, I came across an awesome image and recipe from Perre Magnes’s blog The Runaway Spoon.

Milk Punch and Cookies - from The Runaway Spoon

Perre explains that milk punch comes to us via New Orleans, which shouldn’t be a big surprise, as many things that are worth eating and drinking have their roots in the Big Easy.

So, why not give Santa an extra treat when he wiggles down your chimney early Sunday morning? Check out Perre’s recipe for milk punch and fudge cookies here.

I know what I’ll be leaving for Santa!

-Thomas

My German Staycation

Unfortunately a trip to Germany was not in the cards for this weekend. So, without the opportunity to see Die Mannschaft,  the German National Soccer team, or the chance to visit the Rhine River, I chose the next best thing, a German staycation.

None of this.

None of this.

Bringing Germany to Me

One of K and I’s recent discoveries has been the German Pancake. So, this weekend, we raised our glasses to the East and decided to skip breakfast and brunch out on the town in order to focus on the GP. The is made by baking a batter in the oven, and it yields an incredible, popover-like pancake that is perfect when served with fruit.

Here is the pancake right out of the oven. Next step is to fill it up with whatever you want. For the first GP of the weekend, we went with figs and strawberries. Continue reading

Strawberry Tarts and Gigawatts

So, I share a house with a mad scientist. No, not the kind that steals plutonium from the Libyians, pimps out a Deloreon, and sends Michael J. Fox back to 1955.

Thankfully, the mad scientist I’ve got is younger, better looking, and more interested in creating a brand new cake recipe than building a time machine. Well, the other day she donned her goggles and got into the kitchen laboratory to work on something new.

Here are the results of her efforts. This strawberry, basil, and goat cheese tart was a major hit around our house. Continue reading

Belly Up

Somehow I walked away from the Memphis Farmers Market, and Newman Farm in particular, with an 8lb slab of pork belly. So, now I’m pumped to learn what to do with it. First things first, I took a hunk of it over to a family party, and we tossed it on the smoker. Turns out smoked pork belly is the perfect accompaniment to bacon wrapped duck poppers, bacon wrapped figs, and ribs. Who knew?

A couple of people sent me some links over the weekend to help me get started with this belly:

There will be some follow up posts to detail my experience with the belly. Until the…

Can’t argue with that…

-Thomas

Heeeellllooooooooo Newman…

If you spend even a little time in the local restaurants that place a premium on sourcing local ingredients, you have probably come across the words Newman Farm. The Newman Farm Heritage Berkshire Pork is a major hit across town, popping up on a lot of menus. I remember Felicia Willett (Felicia Suzanne’s) explaining that not only was their Berkshire pork delicious but the Newmans are awesome people to work with and get to know.

So armed with this info, I was very excited when I made my first purchase from them at the Downtown Memphis Farmers Market the other day. While I was too late for pork belly (get there before 9am if you want some, or call in advance), I was not too late to pick up a pack of pork chops and a pack of bacon. I’m making the pork chops tonight, so I’ll talk about the bacon today.

B is for bacon. B is for best.

I got a beautiful package of sliced bacon that was just waiting to be cooked up.

Continue reading

I Scream.

From the future

I recently was faxed a copy of the Commercial Appeal dated July 10, 2012. The headline read, “Eat Local Memphis Writer Gains Readers and Weight in Last Year.” The whole thing reminded me of an office episode…

In Unrelated News

K got me the ice cream maker attachment for our Kitchen-Aid mixer for my birthday.I’ve been hoping to get one of these for a while, especially since I head that Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams had released a cookbook. Jeni’s is one of my favorite Someone Else’s Local establishments. These are places that are loved in their hometown the way our local places are loved by us. Even though Jeni’s is local to Columbus, OH, I will tell you that you can order their ice cream online. I will not judge you if you do so, lest I then have to judge myself for the pint of backyard mint in our freezer…

Continue reading