Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Witches of Quogue Return - Part Three - Iron Chef Hamptons

Three weeks prior to the trip my niece emailed us a MEAL itinerary. When we visit her "HOTEL", there is always a masterplan. One part of the plan is to COOK and subsequently to consume the FOOD that is prepared. There was also a request to recreate some of my mother's famous recipes. My mother is an old fashioned type of cook. There are no precise recipes associated with her food. A Yiddish word that describes this type of cooking?

"SHITTERYNE"  (pronounced SHIT- ER-EYEN) - To cook without a recipe and yes it's okay to say SHIT in the Yiddish language.  Add a little of this, a little of that, a little of something else, without measuring. That does not in any way mean that your cooking is SHITTY it just means that you are in a culinary class on it's own. To make a recipe without precise measurements means that you are more than a CHEF it means that you are a SUPERIOR COOK OF THE WORLD.

The problem with these types of recipes is that you must learn them practically. You need to stand by the curator of these guarded secrets to watch, learn and listen. Closely paying attention to technique while having the stamina to deal with failure should you reach the point of no return when the result is disasterous. So when Anita and I arrived at our destination we knew that we were in for a good time. First thing on the agenda was a trip to a roadside produce stand and next we made our way to the Stop and Shop. I call it a Groceria without all the essential groceries. There are missing food items on shelves........not that the shelves are empty.....they just don't carry the same products that they do in Canada. Strange but true.

I always thought we had less food options than our American cousins but I was wrong. I had to bring a few things with me in order to recreate the intricate recipes we were about to embark on. One of which was Dr. Oetker's Vanilla Sugar. I soon learned that there are other grocery items that are only available in Canada. Here's a list:

Ketchup, Dill Pickle and All Dressed Chips
Lipton Vegetable Soup
Telma - Chicken Soup Powder
Mushroom Soup mix
Coleslaw Salad Dressing
Walnut Crumbs
VH Honey Garlic Sauce
Kraft Poppyseed Dressing
Neal Brother's Mango Poppyseed Dressing
Diana Sauces
Areo, Coffee Crisp & Smarties???? Yes...Smarties !

G-d Bless America and the Shipping and Handling costs associated with bringing in these goods online from us Canucks.

So we began our Iron Chef Hamptons journey with a series of cooking lessons. I was taught how to make "no knead" bread in a few simple steps and my niece was taught how to make Apple Strudel, Chicken Soup, Homemade Egg Noodles and Matzo Balls. Instructional videos available upon request.
Our taste tester was none other then Mr. G. who couldn't wait to try our homemade goodies. The true compliment was....he didn't throw it on the floor and better yet....didn't spit it out. He also tends to "wear" his food beautifully.

My days were filled with anticipation as Thanksgiving approached. I was not experienced in celebrating this holiday over the border. It is held on the 4th Thursday in November in the United States and commemorates a feast held in 1621 by the Pilgrims. Any excuse to have a feast is fine by me. My niece on the other hand (Born in Canada but an American Immigrant) looks at this holiday as a time to showcase her culinary skills. Each year we receive pictures of her Thanksgiving Turkey. It is truly the most beautiful bird I have ever seen. Her tablescape is always magnificent. Her side dishes adorn the main featherless attraction and her goal is to make it the best Thanksgiving meal EVER. Our invitation to participate was extended in the Summer when we were visiting her for the first time in her new home. "YOU MUST COME FOR THANKSGIVING, I HAVE TO MAKE YOU A TURKEY", she said excitedly! So we booked the Turkey Run back to the Hamptons and counted the days until November 25th.

The day began with preparations. Please note: My niece weighs less then the Turkey so lifting and handling that sucker is more than a feat for someone who is a size double zero. She began by performing a standard medical procedure - a TURKEYLOSCOPY. This entails removing the entrails from the turkey's tuchas (bum). Once the entrails are removed and examined for good measure I noticed that she was discarding the Turkey's neck. "What are you doing with that neck"!, I asked. "Uh, throwing it away", she answered. I then informed her that turkey necks are a delicacy and that she should consider cooking it with the turkey. "Are you going to eat it", she asked? "Hell ya", I told her. So she appeased me by placing it in the roasting pan with the giant bird. A turkey is not much different than a small child. It needs to be washed, dressed and babysat for at least 4 to 5 hours at a given time.
Once your turkey baby is basted over and over it is time for the bird to be lifted out of the oven and plated....then you have to dress it up as if it is going down the Red Carpet or in this case the Green Carpet. This is the stage where the incredible double zero Hulk grabs the roasting pan and hoists it from the oven onto the counter top. We stare at it in awe as my nephew then runs to his computer to Google " 100 Ways to Carve a Turkey Without Dropping it on The Floor" (while your guests are starving). In the meantime, the Iron Chefs, Grandparents and main attraction (Tilly the Turkey) get dressed for the event. We quickly changed from our "cooking clothes" to our "eating clothes". The Red Carpet was rolled out and we readied ourselves for a photo-op with the leading actors in the show. The Turkey AND The Turkey Neck. 
I title this grouping of pictures: A Rockwell Thanksgiving - Turkeys with Turkey

Hamptons Style Turkey
Homemade Cranberry Sauce
Cranberry Sausage Stuffing
Scalloped Potatoes
Cornbread Pudding
Green Bean Casserole
Pumpkin Cheescake
Apple Strudel
Tablescape by Little Miss Party Planner
Napkins folded by your truly (another video is availabe upon request for this too)


Twas the night of Thanksgiving
It was time for some living
The Table was set
With a meal we could not forget
We changed our clothes
For the opportunity to pose
When candles were lit
We were told where to sit
We all had to wait
While Grandpa Stu licked his plate

Once the dishes were done
There was a football game to be won.
We lit the fire and together sat back
Waiting for the gas pains to attack
When there were none to be had
We were all really glad
With leftovers galore
and family out the door....
our hostess naturally hit the floor.
Please stay tuned for Part Four.

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