We are thankful for our family, friends and clients – and for this wonderful guest blog post, courtesy of Chef Jenny at Léman Manhattan Preparatory School. We hope you enjoy her holiday tips and easy-to-follow recipes as much as we do! Best wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving with your loved ones! By: Jenny Gensterblum
When you think about all of the good times you’ve had in life – whether it’s hanging out with friends, celebrating a special occasion, or getting together with family during the holidays, food is almost always an important component of the story. There is a great power in the comfort food can provide, and we all have a dish or flavor that reminds us of a specific moment in time. Being able to help create these memories is a huge reason that I am a chef.
Furthermore, giving, eating, and sharing food with others is an inherently social activity. Mealtime is also one of the only times people can sit down and relax together, making it the perfect time to communicate with friends and family. The preparation of a meal also helps bring people together, even having the power to create traditions and bind generations together. I’ll never forget making hundreds of egg rolls with my mom when I was a child, just as her mother taught her, and just as her grandmother taught her mother.
The holidays, and especially Thanksgiving, are very food-centric celebrations. While a bountiful Thanksgiving spread is a beautiful site, we should all be responsible eaters this holiday season – our bodies will thank us! Here are some tips to help you avoid overindulgence this season:
Get Moving! Organize a fun activity for after dinner – like a card game, a game of football, or a walk in the park. If you take the focus off food for a little bit, you are less likely to nibble and nosh post-dinner.
Be a Mindful Eater. Thanksgiving is about gratitude. For every bite you take, you should be thankful for every person that was responsible for the meal: the Earth for providing the means to grow food, the farmer who tends to the fields, the parent who works hard every day so your family can afford to buy the ingredients, and the family members who toiled all night and day to prepare the meal. Being a mindful eater is also about listening to your body. It will tell you when you are full, so listen closely! Besides, there is such a thing called palate fatigue. Your taste buds get tired if you eat too much of one thing. In other words, the first bite will always taste infinitely better than the last. Savor every bite!
Chef Jenny’s Recipes:
PAN-ROASTED BRUSSEL SPROUTS WITH PANCETTA, MAPLE SYRUP & CHILIES Serves 6
Ingredients: 3 ounces pancetta, cut into small cubes 1 ½ pounds brussel sprouts, ends trimmed and halved 1 thai chili, thinly sliced (optional) 1 tablespoon maple syrup 1 teaspoon smoked paprika Salt & Pepper to taste 1 teaspoon vegetable oil 2 tablespoon water
Heat a large non-stick skillet or cast iron pan on medium-high heat. Sauté the pancetta cubes until crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper-towel line plate. Set aside.
Add vegetable oil to the rendered fat from the pancetta in the pan. Turn heat to high. Add the brussel sprouts, cut side down, in a single layer. Sprinkle sliced chilis, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper on the brussel sprouts. Once the cut side is golden brown, stir the brussel sprouts and reduce the heat to medium-high.
Add the water and cover the pan for approximately 2 minutes. Remove cover and continue cooking until brussel sprouts are tender and the water has evaporated. Stir in the pancetta and serve immediately.
CARAMELIZED ONION AND CAULIFLOWER CASSEROLE Serves 6
Ingredients: 2 heads of cauliflower, cut into small florets 3 tablespoons olive oil 1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced Salt & Pepper 3/4 cup grated Gruyere cheese ½ cup seasoned breadcrumbs
Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss the cauliflower in 1 ½ TBSP oil. Season with salt & pepper. Spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet and roast in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender and golden brown. Let cool slightly.
In a skillet over medium-high heat, add the remainder of the oil. Cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until translucent (about 10 minutes). Turn the heat to high, and continue stirring until caramelized (approximately 10-15 minutes). Let cool slightly.
Lower oven to 350°F. With your hands, mix together the onions and cauliflower. No need to be too careful, mashing some of the cauliflower is ideal. Spread the mixture into a baking dish coated with non-stick cooking spray. Top with cheese and then breadcrumbs. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the breadcrumbs are golden brown.