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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Everyday Should Be Thanksgiving Pt. 1

He who thanks but with the lips
Thanks but in part;
The full, the true Thanksgiving
Comes from the heart.
~J.A. Shedd

Brace yourselves, my pals, this is a loooong blog!!!

Last year at this time was a bittersweet one for me.

We sold our home.

While we were, of course, fortunate to sell it at a time when others could not sell theirs it did not make the leaving any easier. I was however bound and determined to make our last Thanksgiving in the house a memorable one, but wanted to keep the dinner a very intimate one.

So we invited our best "couple" over.
I say best couple because we happen to value both people as friends which is a rarity. You know how it is. Often you have a friend, like we do, and he changes life partners, like he did, and while you can tolerate them for your friend's sake, you don't really connect to them in a truly friendly way. But such was not the case with this couple, they are both truly our friends equally.

Here is something I wrote about that last Thanksgiving the day after along with the recipes I used. Although I did not take pics ... so Google pics, here I come...

Here are a couple of shots of the old homestead before the sale: front hall & living room.
What the hell, may as well share them with ya! Click the links to see the pics in my album

Living Room (view east)Dining Room cabinet detailMain HallDetail of 19th century  praying monkLiving Room (view west)Dining Room patio doors

Well, Thanksgiving has come & gone and as the Thanksgiving card that I gave my hubby exhaustively exclaims: "Days of chopping and shredding and baking and roasting, stuffing & serving, all for a half-hour turkey binge and a week's worth of dried out leftovers!"
Yep, that just about sums it up. Add flower arranging, dusting, table-setting, and apartment-hunting then you'll have an idea of the Thanksgiving 2007 experience for moi at the old household.
It's mostly a labor of love, anyway & a gift that I give to myself maybe even more than a gift to my guests. All except for the house-hunting part which I faced & face with dread & sadness. Dread because I know there is precious little in the way of housing in the rental market that I deem livable, spoiled brat that I've been so fortunate to become, & I dread how sad the lack of real prospects makes me.

Sad, too, to leave the beautiful home that we built with great care & love over several years. A love that resonates through every room, in every window, door, hinge & fixture; lovingly selected or designed with our collaboration and carefully constructed by warm-hearted artisans who poured their souls into their work giving this house a heartbeat, a real & palpable warmth felt by every sentient being who crossed over her magnificent threshold.

Like Pygmalion with Galatea, the feeling and reverence that went into making this house miraculously brought her to life. She was our creation, our child, an extension of union. Everyday we marveled at her beauty, her elegance, her grace. Everyday we discovered another angle to her lines, another aspect of her personality to delight us.

She is charming & big-hearted, trying always to accommodate her guests and make them feel welcome and comfortable; despite her seemingly formal facade, she is the opposite of cool & forbidding with her radiant light smiling upon you & her large rooms like arms wide open held out for a warm embrace. We loved her for her accessibility; all the more because, like all nobles with her beauty, structure and breeding, she could have been haughty & autocratic and, sadly, most people would have accepted her rebuffs as the natural course of things even as they were stung by them; but our girl was an egalitarian & knew to be grateful for her many gifts and not feel superior to those who were not as blessed.

Somehow, we sold her; because a house like this deserves a large family to shelter and succor; children running around inside her playing & dreaming, laughing & crying. We wouldn't provide that. We could use the money she brought us instead & finance the rest of our barren lives. (Excuse the melodrama but it is cathartic for me to write these words even if my depiction of our situation is skewed by my ridiculously emotional over-reaction to it.)

I think she is sad, too. I hear her groanings very late in the night but she'll soon get over her loss when the new owners arrive. I hope that we can do the same.

The fact remains that everyday we have an opportunity to enjoy our lives should we elect to do so. Life in of itself is a great blessing. What does not kill us makes us stronger & we should be grateful for that strength, however difficult it is to forge the iron that helps us survive. So, I offer up a Thanksgiving Menu even though it's official day of celebration was 6 days ago. Planning and preparing this meal for my husband & friends really helped me through this difficult time. With the mantra "Everyday should be Thanksgiving!" reverberating through this beautiful house, here is the Thanksgiving menu I served on 11/22/07 (recipes to follow when I have the strength to write them):

Everyday Should Be Thanksgiving Day Menu

Hors d'oeuvres

Smoked Salmon Bundles w/ Roasted Asparagus
Crudite with Mascarpone Pesto
California Nut Mix with Wasabi Peas
Camarones al Ajillo

The Main Event

Creamy Cauliflower Apple Soup with Dungeness Crab Crouton
Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast with Citrus Butter and Turkey Jus
Chanterelle Mushroom "Gravy" w/ Shallots & Vermouth

The Sides

Truffled Smashed Potatoes
Shitake & Sausage-Apple Stuffing
Wild Mushroom Bread Pudding with Roasted Chestnuts
Vanilla-scented Roasted Yams Gratin with Cinnamon
Sauteed Blue Lake Green Beans with Parmagiano-Reggiano, Meyer Lemon Oil & Tarragon
Triple Cranberry Sauce


The Ultimate Pumpkin Pie
with Cinnamon-dusted Vanilla Ice Cream


The Triple Cranberry Sauce and "The Ultimate Pumpkin Pie" that I usually make for dessert comes from the November 1993 issue of Bon Appetit magazine.

It was my first year in San Francisco which I moved to from Manhattan to live with my then boyfriend now husband. It was, also, my first attempt at making & shopping for a Thanksgiving Day meal. I had never really been that interested in cooking although I have always been interested in eating but the meal was a resounding success & started my long journey into the land of the culinary arts.

I still keep that copy of Bon Appetit. It is food-stained and dog-eared but it remains in my reference library; thumbing through its pages has become a fond part of my Thanksgiving Day tradition even though I have long since committed the recipes I use to memory and always improvise my own variations on them anyway. keeps a database filled with recipes from current & back-issues of Bon Appetit & Gourmet. It really is an online treasure trove for cooks; not because the recipes are so delicious or innovative but because it is a kind of archaeological record of our food & cultural trends. Fascinating stuff for geeks like me! Here is a link to it:

The theme is Cal/Italian this year.
I try to stay within a specific culinary cultural style when I make these large dinners.
Makes the whole meal more cohesive and flowing...
The entire menu should serve 4-6 people.

Asparagus and Smoked Salmon Bundles

This is super easy & courtesy of Giada Di Laurentis.
If you don't like smoked salmon, use prosciutto, or thinly
sliced ham

1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed (about 20 spears)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
Pinch kosher salt
Pinch freshly ground black pepper
4 to 6 ounces thinly sliced smoked salmon (1 slice per asparagus spear)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Lay the asparagus on a foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with rosemary, salt, and pepper. Roast until cooked and starting to brown around the edges, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to another baking sheet to cool.

Once the asparagus have cooled, wrap each spear in a slice of smoked salmon. Arrange on a serving platter and serve at room temperature.

Crudite with Mascarpone Pesto

Another supereasy dish to assemble quickly while your guests pile in...
The fish sauce gives the dish a little anchovy umami essence without the messiness of mashing
them. I try to save steps whenever possible when cooking in volume.
Just be sure to buy the best pesto you can.
It's very easy to make yourself, too, if you like
You can substitute equal parts sour cream & cream cheese for the mascarpone, if you can't find it at your grocers'.

  • 2 zucchini sliced in half lengthwise and cut into 4 inch batons (sticks)
  • 6 ribs celery cut in half lengthwise and into 4 inch batons
  • 2 cucumber cut in half lengthwise and cut into 4 inch batons
  • 20 baby carrot
  • 1 red pepper cut into2 inch thick strips
  • 1 yellow pepper cut into 2 inch thick strips
  • 1 head broccoli cut into small florets
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 10 crimini mushrooms sliced into quarters
  • 4 radishes cut into small batons
  • 1 package mascarpone, room temperature
  • 2 baguettes, brushed with olive oil, sliced into rounds & toasted in the oven until warm & crisp
  • 1/2 cup of fresh store-bought pesto
  • 1/2 teaspoon Thai Fish sauce (optional)

In a stainless steel bowl, mix pesto & mascarpone.
Add fish sauce, mix well.
Season with salt & pepper to taste.

Add to serving bowl.
Arrange raw veggies on a platter. Mangia.

California Nut Mix with Wasabi Peas

Like the others, not exactly a recipe.
But you have lots of cooking ahead so make these hors d'oeuvres mindless & easy.

  • Buy 1 lb. of your favorite dried fruit & nut mix.
  • Add 1 lb. of wasabi peas.
  • Add 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Place ingredients in a mixing bowl.
Mix thoroughly.
Throw it in a pretty bowl. Voila.

Camarones al Ajillo {Cuban Garlic Shrimp}

This comes courtesy of MySpaces's own residential Cuban cook, commenter extraordinaire & blogger, Tengo Wood. Visit his blog HERE for additional Cuban classics. It is truly a classic dish that is good served at room temperature or hot, your choice. You can make it the night before or early on the big day. It's grlic, chiles & olive oil still meld well with the Cal/Italian theme of this Thankgiving meal.

  • 1/2 cup pure Spanish olive oil or more to taste
  • 4 to 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2-1/2 to 3 pounds prawns or extra-large shrimp, shells and heads left on
  • juice of 2 limes
  • salt to taste
  • pinch of dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • dash of Tabasco sauce, optional *Trust me, it's not optional. Add two dashes, as a matter of fact*

  1. In a large skillet over low heat, heat the oil until it is fragrant, then cook the garlic, stirring, 1 to 2 minutes. Raise the heat to medium, add the shrimp, and cook, stirring, until they turn pink, 5 minutes. (If you prefer extra oil, add it along with shrimp.) Add the lime juice, salt, oregano, and parsley, and stir well. Correct seasonings and add Tabasco.
  2. Transfer to a heated serving platter and serve immediately, accompanied by crunchy bread to soak up the garlic-flavored oil.

Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Dungeness Crab Crouton

Another very simple but elegant dish that reflects the season. The creaminess comes from a small dollop of mascarpone at the end. There is no cream in this soup. You don't need it. The cauliflower when boiled & pureed has the creamiest texture all on its own. It really has a velvety mouthfeel. To make this more economical & vegan friendly omit the crab crouton & substitute vegetable stock for the chicken stock. It will still be yummy, I promise!

For the Crab Salad

Note: Keeping this recipe very casually written. That's how easy it is.


  • Buy 3/4 - 1 pound of the freshest meat you can find, make sure it includes lots of claw meat.
  • Take 1/3 cup of lowfat Best Foods mayo
  • add chopped fresh tarragon, chopped fresh chives; all to taste
  • the juice & zest from half a Meyers lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 sweet baguette, sliced on the bias, brushed with extra virgin olive oil & toasted in a 350 degree oven until golden brown. (about 5-7 minutes)
  1. Mix the dressing well.
  2. Fold the crabmeat in being careful not to break it up too much.
  3. Slice up a baguette, spoon the crab mayonnaise on top. Garnish with sprig of tarragon or chives or both. Place on top of soup. Serve, Eat. Voila!!!

For the soup

  • 3-4 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 leeks, white part only, washed well and chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small potato, peeled and chopped
  • 2 large sweet (Vidalia or Maui) onions, cut in half & sliced thinly
  • 1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced
  • 1 head of cauliflower, chopped roughly
  • 1 apple, cored , peeled & chopped roughly
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives, for garnish
  • add fresh lemon to taste as a garnish, too much lemon will make soup astringent
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of low sodium soy sauce

  1. Heat a large saute pan. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil & 1 tablespoon of butter to the saute pan. When butter melts & browns lightly, add the slices onions, stirring to coat with the fat. When onions soften, add the sugar, stir to combine well & lower the heat to low setting. Allow the onions to cook uncovered for 20 minutes, stirring once every 5 minutes or so until golden brown. Add the soy sauce & stir it in. Then turn off pan & set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil in a heavy, large pot over medium heat. Add the leeks, apples, fennel and the garlic and stir. Add the potatoes and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the cauliflower, stock, salt, and pepper and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.
  3. Using a handheld immersion blender, or in a blender in batches*, puree the soup. Add the 2 tablespoons mascarpone and blend again to combine. In a small bowl, stir the remaining 1/3 cup mascarpone to soften. Add to the mixture & blend, once again until well incorporated.
  4. Ladle the soup into serving bowls. Dollop the top of each of the soups with a dungeness crab crouton & sprinkle with chives.
  5. * When blending hot liquids: Remove liquid from the heat and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes. Transfer liquid to a blender or food processor and fill it no more than halfway. If using a blender, release one corner of the lid. This prevents the vacuum effect that creates heat explosions. Place a towel over the top of the machine, pulse a few times then process on high speed until smooth.

To Be Continued...

Everyday Should Be Thanksgiving Pt. 2

Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast with Citrus Butter and Turkey Jus

I chose to use a turkey breast because there were only four of us. When choosing a size appropriate for guests, allow about 1 pound of raw turkey per person. Sounds like a lot, I know, but you want to have leftovers, don't you? That's the best part. Frankly, hot turkey leaves me cold. I love the sandwiches later on Kaiser rolls or Dutch Crunch bread with stuffing, avocado, & cranberry sauce... Yummy, Yummy!!!

BTW, you can substitute any kind of mushroom you like for the gravy. Chanterelles are crazy expensive. I chose them because this meal is small in scale which meant I could spend more per person, but good old button mushrooms or criminis will work just fine. Hell, you don't even need any mushrooms.

The consistency of my gravy is much thinner than most. I prefer the good wholesome turkey flavor of the jus & stock not the taste of a floury pasty goopy gravy... yuk! I achieve the thickening with a minimum of starch & a maximum of reduction. I boil the hell out of the stock to reduce it to an almost gelatinous consistency which means you must minimize the use of any salt products until the gravy is made, then add the seasoning or else it will taste way salty.

For the turkey
  • 1 whole bone-in turkey breast, 6 1/2 to 7 pounds
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 onion, skin removed & cut in half
  • 1 leek, cleaned & sliced length-wise
  • 1 carrot, cut into quarters
  • 1 lemon, cut in quarters, juiced with juice reserved

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the turkey breast, skin side up, on a rack ( I use a trivet) in a roasting pan. Nestle the onion, leek, carrot & juiced lemon & place it inside the breast cavity. Be sure that you have cut the pieces in large enough sections so that they don't fall through your rack or trivet.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the garlic, mustard, herbs, salt, pepper, olive oil, and lemon juice to make a paste. Loosen the skin from the meat gently with your fingers and smear half of the paste directly on the meat. Spread the remaining paste evenly on the skin. Pour the wine into the bottom of the roasting pan.

  3. Heat up Citrus butter in small sauce pan until melted & keep warm.
  4. Roast turkey for 20 minutes at 450, then lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees.

  5. Baste with Citrus butter.
  6. Roast the turkey for 1 3/4 to 2 hours, until the skin is golden brown and an instant-read thermometer registers 165 degrees F when inserted into the thickest and meatiest areas of the breast. (I test in several places.) If the skin is over-browning, cover the breast loosely with aluminum foil. Occasionally basting with citrus butter.

  7. When the turkey is done, cover with foil and allow it to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes while you make the gravy. Slice and serve with the jus & gravy spooned over the turkey.

For the Citrus Butter:


  • 1 teaspoon grated lime rind
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange rind
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 1 shallot, finely minced
.. --> end class="rcpdetail" -->


  1. Stir rinds into boiling water; pour through a wire-mesh strainer. Drain on paper towels.
  2. Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer or by hand until creamy; gradually add juices, & shallot beating until blended. Stir in rinds. Chill. Can be made 3 days ahead or more if you freeze it.
For the Chanterelle Mushroom Gravy:

About the stock: make your own if you have the time, I'll leave a link; if not buy it frozen; you can substitute canned chicken stock, but make sure it has no or low-sodium both Pacific & Wolfgang Puck make good chickeny ones. This gravy will be dark , almost mahogany in color, if you take the time to roast your turkey giblets & wings first, really worth it. It's only once a year & a lot cheaper than buying canned, plus you can make extra & freeze until Christmas to use it then!
Cornstarch & arrowroot are almost flavorless & tend to dissolve more quickly than flour which is why I am using it here, but heat destroys it's coagulating properties so you must wait to add it until the last minute or so to the gravy. Do not boil the gravy after you add them. Then serve immediately.

  • 2 big handfuls (handfuls is an industry term ;P) of chanterelles or your mushrooms of choice, cleaned & sliced
  • 2 large shallots, sliced thinly
  • 6 sage leaves, in chiffonade (sliced very, very thinly length-wise)
  • half a handful of parsley, minced
  • 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups of fresh turkey stock
  • pan drippings from turkey
  • scant tablespoon of low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup of dry vermouth or any acidy, non-oaked wine such as sauvignon blanc
  • sea salt & fresh cracked pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbs. cornstarch or arrowroot

  1. Heat a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 Tbs. butter & olive oil, when butter is foamy & melted, add a tiny pinch of sea salt to the pan followed by the shallots. Saute until they just change color.
  2. Add the mushrooms, add the additional tablespoon of butter, if the mushrooms appear to absorb the fat in the pan. Saute until mushrooms are softened, lower heat to medium-low.
  3. Add the parsley and sage. Stir in & when the mushrooms appear to be slightly glazed, season lightly with salt & pepper. Turn off the heat & set aside in a warm place.
  4. Place roasting pan over medium heat on the range burners. When hot, deglaze pan with the wine or vermouth, being sure to scrape off all the pan fond (the stuck on brown bits) & incorporate into the wine.
  5. Add the stock to the pan & reduce by half; about 10 minutes. Reserve 1/4 cup of stock & mix that into a slurry with the cornstarch. Set aside.
  6. When stock, is reduced add the mushroom mixture, season with soy sauce; stirring well to incorporate it. Taste for seasoning & then add salt & pepper to taste.
  7. When everything is to your liking, turn the heat down to very low & add cornstarch mixture, stirring really rapidly to avoid making lumps.
  8. Heat for another minute or two over low heat until the cornstarch flavor is gone.
  9. Place in gravyboat. Serve immediately.
Here's a link for Turkey stock:

Truffled Smashed Potatoes

What can I say about smashed potatoes? Don't cut them too small, in fact if you use Yukon Golds, Baby Reds or Yellow Finns leave them whole, leave the skins on, boil them with salt until soft but not mushy, remove excess water by tossing them over heat in a dry, hot pan and heat up the cream & butter before adding them to the potatoes.

Put them through a ricer or food mill if you like a smoother, lighter texture or smash them like I do with an old fashioned masher if you like them with a heartier, more rustic style.

Just add lots of white truffle butter or truffle oil to it at the end to give them a luxe flavor. Add a few chives & Yaay!!!

If you can score fresh white truffles and shave them on top, all the better but good luck; they are as rare and as expensive as an F50 Ferrari.

Shitake and Sausage-Apple Stuffing

Be sure to cut all the aromatics the same size small dice. Makes a big difference in texture.

  • 16 ounces Challah bread or any brioche (use white bread if you can't find an egg bread), cut into 3/4-inch cubes (about 12 cups)
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausages, casings removed
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • 6 cups onions, about 2 large, finely chopped
  • 1 pound tart green apples, peeled, cored, diced small
  • 2 handfuls of shitake mushrooms (you can use oyster, button, whatever you like)
  • 1 large carrot, peeled & cut into small dice
  • 2 celery ribs with leaves, diced small
  • 4 teaspoons poultry seasoning
  • 1 cup dried cranberries (about 4 ounces, optional)
  • 4 sprigs of finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 8 sprigs of finely chooped fresh sage
  • 2/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 eggs, beaten to blend
  • 1 and 1/2 cups to 2 cups (about) fresh turkey stock or canned low-salt chicken broth

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Divide bread cubes between 2 large baking sheets. Bake until slightly dry, about 15 minutes. Cool completely.
  2. Sauté sausages in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat until cooked through, crumbling coarsely with back of spoon, about 10 minutes.
  3. Using slotted spoon, transfer sausage to large bowl. Pour off any drippings from skillet.
  4. Melt butter in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, carrots, apples, celery, mushrooms and poultry seasoning to skillet; sauté until onions soften, about 8 minutes. Mix in dried cranberries and rosemary & sage. Add mixture to sausage, then mix in bread and parsley. Season stuffing to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
  5. Mix eggs into stuffing just before baking.
  6. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 15x10x2-inch baking dish. Mix 1 1/3 cups broth into stuffing. Transfer to prepared dish. Cover with buttered foil and bake until heated through, about 45 minutes. Uncover and bake until top is golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Wild Mushroom Bread Pudding with Roasted Chestnuts
Recipe courtesy Tyler Florence

I just add roasted chestnuts to the hunky Tyler Florence's recipe for added depth of flavor, it's great for vegetarians, though not vegans.

  • 1 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 loaf crusty Italian bread, cubed
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for buttering baking dish
  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • 4 pounds mixed wild mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 1 package of roasted chestnuts, chopped roughly ( jarred is fine)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped chives
  • 3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 3 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves
  • 4 tablespoons grated Parmesan, plus more to top

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. On a sheet pan put cubed bread. Toast it in the oven until golden brown, about 5 minutes.
  3. In a large saute pan melt the butter and saute the shallots until just wilted. Add the mushrooms and saute until browned, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat and reserve.
  4. In a large bowl make custard, whisk together the cream with the eggs and season with the salt and pepper.
  5. Add toasted bread cubes along with the chives, thyme and rosemary to the egg mixture.
  6. Stir in the sauteed mushrooms and mix in the grated Parmesan.
  7. Transfer the mixture to a 9 by 13-inch baking dish, top with more grated Parmesan, to taste.
  8. Bake for 45 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the custard is set.

Vanilla -scented Roasted Yam Gratin with Cinnamon

This is pretty damn easy & super tasty. An Alsatian Riesling or Gewurtztraminer is the best bet for this entire meal. Just thought I'd mention it now before I forget. A ripe California Pinot Noir from Sonoma might work, too. I love the Central Valley Coast ones like Ambullneo, too.


  • 4 large garnet yams or Jewell sweet potatoes, roasted in a 450 degree oven for 1 hour, peeled , cooled and sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
  • 1/2 cup of heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean, split in half with seeds scraped & reserved or 1 teapsoon of good quality vanilla extract
  • ground cinnamon to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter plus more for topping gratin
  • sea salt & fresh cracked pepper to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Place yam slices in a gratin dish large enough to hold them all in a single layer, but do make sure they are overlapping slightly. Squash them together a bit, if necessary.
  3. In a medium sauce pan, heat the remaining ingredients over low heat; allowing them to steep for 15 minutes.
  4. Pour cream mixture over yams.
  5. Dot with additional butter.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes until top is caramelized & golden brown.

To be continued

Everyday Should Be Thanksgiving! PT. 3

What we're really talking about is a wonderful day
set aside on the fourth Thursday of November when no one diets.
I mean, why else would they call it Thanksgiving?
~Erma Bombeck, "No One Diets on Thanksgiving," 26 November 1981


Sauteed Green Beans with Parmiggiano-Reggiano, Meyer Lemon Oil & Tarragon

easy one to make. No recipe required. I'll just write it plainly.

  1. Get a pound or two of green beans, snap off the stem ends, add to a large boiling salted water to blanch for 3 minutes.
  2. Drain green beans well, towel off & stick in the freezer for 5 minutes (or you can prepare an ice bath, but frankly, these need to be prepared at the last minute & you will run out of counterspace, believe me)
  3. Heat some EVOO in the same pan you used to boil the green beans, just enough to coat the bottom of the pan. Add a two sliced shallots. Saute until softened. Add a pinch of salt.
  4. Remove green beans from the freezer & add to pan in a single layer. Do not touch them for 90 seconds, allowing them to get a bit of color on one side.
  5. Then stir them until fully coated in oil & shallots. Douse with a squeeze from half a Meyer's lemon (any lemon will do as long as it is fresh) & a bit of the lemon zest.
  6. Season with freshly cracked pepper, shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano if you like a sharper flavor. Serve.

Triple-Cranberry Sauce Bon Appétit | November 1993

"The Indians and English use them much," wrote one visitor to New England in 1663, "boyling them with Sugar for Sauce to eat with their Meat, and it is a delicate Sauce." Although there is little evidence that cranberry sauce was served at the first Thanksgiving, it is assumed that Indians brought it to the feast. This tangy version gets its intense flavor and color from a mixture of fresh and dried cranberries, along with frozen cranberry juice cocktail concentrate.

Yield: Makes about 2 1/2 cup

  • 1 cup frozen cranberry juice cocktail concentrate, thawed
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 12-ounce package fresh or frozen cranberries, rinsed, drained
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries (about 2 ounces)
  • 3 tablespoons orange marmalade
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons minced orange peel
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

  1. Combine cranberry juice concentrate and sugar in heavy medium saucepan.
  2. Bring to boil over high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves.
  3. Add fresh and dried cranberries and cook until dried berries begin to soften and fresh berries begin to pop, stirring often, about 7 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in orange marmalade, orange juice, orange peel and allspice. Cool completely. Cover; chill until cold, about 2 hours. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Keep refrigerated.)

The Ultimate Pumpkin Pie

Bon Appétit | November 1993

Pumpkin pie was introduced to the holiday table at the Pilgrim's second Thanksgiving in 1623. Decorate this American classic with some whipped cream, or serve the cream alongside. Add a little dusting of cinnamon or fresh grated nutmeg for extra oomph

Yield: Serves 8
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled butter, cut into pieces
3 tablespoons whipping cream

3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon packed golden brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon (generous) salt
1 16-ounce can solid pack pumpkin
3/4 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup sour cream
3 large eggs, beaten to blend

1/4 cup apricot preserves
For crust:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Blend first 3 ingredients in processor until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add cream and process until moist clumps form. Gather dough into ball, flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic; chill 15 minutes.

Roll out dough on floured surface to 14-inch round. Transfer dough to 9-inch glass pie dish. Trim overhang to 1 inch. Fold overhang under. Make cut in crust edge at 1/2 inch intervals. Bend alternate edge pieces inward. Freeze 15 minutes.

Line crust with foil, pressing firmly. Bake until sides are set, about 10 minutes. Remove foil. Bake crust until pale brown, about 10 minutes more. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.

Spread preserves over crust; pour in filling. Bake until filling puffs at edges and center is almost set, about 55 minutes. Cool on rack. Cover; chill until cold. (Can be made 1 day ahead.)

For filling:

Using whisk, mix first 6 ingredients in bowl until no lumps remain. Blend in pumpkin, whipping cream, sour cream and eggs.

Spread preserves over crust; pour in filling. Bake until filling puffs at edges and center is almost set, about 55 minutes. Cool on rack. Cover; chill until cold. (Can be made 1 day ahead.)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

It's the Fourth of July............. Let's Get Ready To G-RRRumble!!!

It's that time of year again, folks! 

The time to dust the cobwebs off that grill, if you haven't already started your official grilling season, what are you waiting for? If not now then when?

Yep, it is summertime & the living is easy.

I don't know about the jumping fish or how high the cotton is.
I mean I live in San Francisco, not in Scarlett O'Hara's beloved Tara. 
Hell, I doubt if the most devoted Atlantan could tell you anything about cotton these days other than what the bid is on the commodities market, and, even then, only if they were financially inclined.

Nope, the traditional lazy, hazy days of summer don't really apply here in Bagdhad by the Bay. It feels more like November than July, but I'll be darned if we are not just as patriotic as you guys that are sweltering in the heat of the dog days of summer.

Why July 4th is incredibly meaningful to us! Sure we grumble about the frozen tundra the city is in July & August. But, hey, we get out our down jackets, our gloves & scarves and excitedly gather around the beautiful Golden Gate to watch the fireworks reflect magnificent colors off the water. 

You may wonder why choose not to look up in the air when we view these pyrotechnic marvels.
Well, that's simple. It's a three letter word that really makes you want to use as many four letter words as possible when it is in our midst. Carl Sandburgh who was probably drunk off hid gourd when he composed this little ditty, says of it:

"The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on."

Doesn't that sound lovely?

Yeah right, until your fingers are blue from it while standing in 55 degree weather motionless while the city spends a gazillion dollars of tax payer money so you can ooohh & ahhhh at the colorful reflections in the bay's dark waters. 

To make it clear to the meanest intelligence: it is too damn foggy to ever see the fireworks in San Francisco!!!

But somehow, every year throngs of thousands clog the street arteries of the Northern waterfront of the city, expectantly & exuberantly hoping for a miracle. Yes, they fervently hope that whatever deity they pray to will see fit to allow the foggy equivalent of  parting of the Red Sea, just long enough for them to see flashes of light exploding in starriest climes. Never has 25 lousy minutes meant so much to so many. 

Lucky for us we don't have to join the huddled masses yearning to be free from fog to have a spectacular view of the display (if the weather ever permits it), we can watch from the comfort of our cosy little apartment. 

I do feel, however, a pang of pity for those who drive all the way over here from some godforsaken place just to spend their holiday with us. Thinking that somehow this is the place to be for the spectacle.

Silly rabbits, Trix are for kids!

Here's what the fireworks look like on a really good clear July 4th:

Now I know most of you are looking at the pretty bridge right now. 

I'm not talking about pretty lights on the bridge. 
It's the Fourth of July, people, I want to see a dazzling light extravaganza.
I can see the lights on the Bay Bridge every night.

No!!!! I'm talking about the puffs of smoke on the left side of the picture. 
That, my friends, is the 4th of July fireworks display in a good year!

So consider yourselves forewarned. 
Do not, I repeat, DO NOT, plan a trip into San Francisco for the fourth of July unless you are a blind Eskimo because then, at least, the 50 degree weather in July won't chill the marrow of your bones &  the fact that it's too foggy to see won't bother you either. I mean you'll be able to hear it, so if you're blind this is the perfect place to experience the fireworks because you know you won't be missing anything!

Well one way you can still celebrate the same way as the rest of the country is by grilling.
This July 4th weekend, I thought would be great to grill burgers but give them a slightly  healthier twist.


So the hubby & I will be making: 

Chicken Jalapeno Cheddar Burgers with Chipotle Mayo


For the burgers:
  • 1 lb. of ground chicken breast
  • 4 oz. of extra sharp white cheddar or Manchego Cheese, shredded or thinly sliced
  • 2 roasted jalapeno chilis, seeds & membrane removed and cut into small dice (blackened on the stove top or grill until blistered then cooled)
  • 2 whole scallions, lighter green parts only, finely minced
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 pickled jalapenos, sliced thinly (for garnish)
  • 4 slices of Brandywine or your favorite thick juicy tomato
  • 1/2  avocado, thinly sliced into eighths
  • 4 hamburger buns (I like to use brioche-like buns)

For the chipotle aioli:
  • 1 canned chipotle chili in adobo sauce, chopped into a paste
  • 4 tablespoons of Best Foods Low fat Mayo (aka Hellman's on the East Coast)
  • 1 teaspoon of lime juice
  • 1/2 garlic clove smashed & minced into a paste.
  • 1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • salt & fresh ground pepper to taste


  1. In a small bowl, whisk all the ingredients for the Chipotle Mayo in a bowl until well combined. Taste for seasonings & acidity. Adjust seasonings.
  2. Then place in a serving bowl & set aside.
  3. In a large stainless steel mixing bowl, add the ground chicken, scallions, roasted jalapenos, salt & fresh ground pepper & combine thoroughly but do not overmix.
  4. Divide the chicken evenly into four and, using your hands, shape them into round 1/2" thick patties. Remember the patties will swell in thickness & shrink in diameter as you cook them, so shape them accordingly.
  5. Set them aside until you are ready to cook them. Then prepare the shrimp & then the lamb burgers, if serving them as well.
  6. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap & water.
  7. Turn on your grill & preheat it for at least 20 minutes. Do the same with your broiler.
  8. When you are ready to cook the chicken burgers, place them over medium heat, & cook them on one side for 5 minutes without touching them. Then give them a 1/4 turn on your grill or griddle, leaving them to cook on the same side for an additional 3-4 minutes.
  9. Then flip the burgers over to the other side, cooking for an additional 3-4 minutes. After which, you will give them another 1/4 turn for the last 3-4 minutes. This will provide with pretty grill, crosshatched grill marks.
  10. The chicken needs to be cooked all the way through until well-done & there is no sign of pink. When it doubt, take a peek by cutting through the center of one.
  11. Remove from the heat, on a foil lined baking sheet, place your four buns, cut side up & top each half with cheddar. Broiling for 45 seconds or until the cheese is melted to your liking. Place a bottom half of the bun on a plate.
  12. Place a chicken burger on the bottom half of each bun. Garnish the burger with the tomato, pickled jalapeno & avocado slices. You may want to mash the avocado slightly with a fork if you couldn't cut it into thin fans.
  13. Serve with the Chipotle Aioli on the side. 
This recipe serves 4 independent-minded patriotic revelers.
You can serve with a simple mixed green salad or potato salad.
Keep it simple! 
A icy cold Corona goes well with this but so does a maragarita.
We'll be drinking a 2001 Leroy Auxey-Duresses, but it's your party & you can drink what you want to... drink what you want to.... drink what you want to...

Shrimp Scallion & Ginger Burgers with Sriracha Aioli

Lamb Black Olive & Feta Burgers with Tszatiki Sauce. 

All served on brioche buns & pitas with slices of Brandywine Heirloom tomatoes & slices of avocado.

Sounds weird & complicated, right?

Anything but!
BTW, all of the recipes are mine, but none of the photos are mine. 
I'll replace the food shots when I cook the burgers this weekend.
Thanks to Google images for providing a little color to the blog.
A food blog without the pics is like fireworks in the fog..... POINTLESS!

Happy Independence Day!
Long Live the Stars & Stripes!!!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Memorial Day Weekend Extravaganza For Everyone (A Redux)

Okay, maybe not EVERYONE!

I am reposting last year's Labor Day Menu because it is a classic & really great for everyone on your guest list from vegetarians to the most rabid carnivore. Not fab for vegans, I'm afraid, although you can always throw a couple of portabello mushrooms that have been marinated in a little Italian-style dressing on the grill & serve them up on great brioche with avocado & tomato for them. 

Here's a link  for the grilled portabello burger to a great food blog for vegetarians  from which the picture of this yummy portabello burger comes:  Just the 

Obviously, Labor Day and Memorial Day are three months apart and the produce for early September differs from the produce in late May, but surprisingly there are some decent Brandywine & Early Girls showing up in the Farmer's Market even this early. I was avoiding them like the plague until I could resist no more. They are not as sweet as they will be in 6 weeks but they are great for making the caponata recipe I include and will definitely work as oven-roasted tomatoes for the pizza.

To make your Memorial Day more reflective of the season:

Skip the cherry tomato/ boccaccino salad. Instead, you can add seasonal veggies like fava beans & English peas to any green salad or by themselves with a little olive oil, lemon juice, fresh cracked pepper, truffle salt & shaved pecorino romano or just parmiggiano-reggiano if you don't like the piquant flavor of the sheep's milk.

Make the ribs but replace the corn (which is definitely not edible yet) with thick fresh grilled asparagus spears.

The Warm Blackberry-Apricot Crumble with Mascarpone Ice Cream will work beautifully in May. Apricots are really yummy now. You can, as always, replace the blackberries & apricots with peaches & strawberries, if you rather. 

It's your party and you can eat want you want to... eat what you want to... eat what you want to...

Here's the link for my fabulous Labor Day Feast that will make your Memorial Day Barbecue a memorable one: 

Here's to all the men and women who have bravely served this country:

Monday, May 5, 2008

A Yummy Cinco de Mayo: Chipotle-Grilled Bone-in Beef Ribeye with Roasted Poblano & Vanilla-scented Smashed Sweet Potatoes, Chunky Mango-Feta Salsa

America is a great place!
Especially if you're a food lover. 
Because of our multi-cultural society, a smorgasbord of culinary verisimilitude from all over the world, there is always a reason to celebrate; always a day on the calendar that encourages us to partake in other countries' days of festivities and (more importantly for gluttons like moi)partake of their comestibles.

One of these days seems to be May 5th or Cinco de Mayo as guacamole lovers everywhere like to call it. Now why a minor battle for a pueblo in Mexico should capture the imagination of Corona lovers all across the good old United States of America might be an interesting story but I can't seem to find any real corroborative evidence, so, your guess is as good as mine! In fact, when I lived there a few years ago, one of the questions Mexican locals always asked me was why we Gringos in the U.S. celebrated it as a national holiday, when no one in Mexico did, outside of that one small pueblo which won its battle. I had no good answer for them.

You would think the date for Mexican Independence, September 16th, would be a more likely candidate for celebration but maybe it's too close to Labor Day & the beginning of the school term for parents who have small children & don't want two weekends of back to back hangovers. Don't know, maybe.

Maybe, too, it has become a rite of Spring. I mean, it falls after Easter (whose weather can still be pretty hairy depending on what part of the country you live in) and before Memorial Day and people may just be hankering for any excuse to finally get out into the lovely warm weather of early May, enjoy their gardens or patios and start to practice their grilling to be in good form for the big Memorial Day weekend!

Add a few margaritas, nachos & Pacificos into the mix &, baby, Cinco de Mayo seems like a godsend for those who have been couped up because of those April showers!

Fajitas & quesadillas are a nice way to go; but, nothing says celebration to me like a good steak dinner, ranchero-style!

See what I mean? Thick, juicy, steak... yum! yum!

So go grab a movie the hubby (mine) would recommend to inspire eating this meal like "The Good, The Bad & The Ugly!" with the iconic Clint Eastwood, (undisputed king of the great Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns) pull up a tree stump & picture yourself eating this steak dinner around the campfire with that man of mystery whose steely-eyed glint spawned a thousand imitations but none better than the original.

What a man!

My husband now wants me to prepare our steaks like this every time. The adobo -marinated chipotles provide a little heat & smokiness , not much but just enough to give the meat a real depth of flavor that no other seasonings ever have for me. It was a spur of the moment inspiration that is destined to become a classic in my home. My hubby does not like too much innovation where steak & potatoes are concerned but he flipped over this preparation which is really simple.

It really is a great meal for any time of the year!
Of course, the hubby gets the bone & meaty rib part (too fatty, I guess...) & I get the "eye" (much leaner); but I'm wondering.... am I getting hornswoggled? Help, Clint, help!!!!

Here are your ingredients, all assembled and ready:

For the Chipotle-marinated Ribeye:

For the Chunky Mango Salsa:

For the Roasted Poblano Vanilla scented Smashed Sweet Potatoes:

Here are the cutest little new baby sweet potatoes I found at the market. The scale is hard to really show, but you can see some of them are not too much larger than that tiny little lime. Since they are so small they roast in the same amount of time & in the same baking sheet as the poblano chile in a 450 degree oven for 15 minutes.

Let's Cook:

Chipotle-Grilled Bone in Ribeye with Poblano & Vanilla-scented Smashed Sweet Potatoes, Chunky Mango-Feta Salsa

Note: The recipe sounds impressive, but, in fact, it is just an assembly of ingredients that are key to the success of this dish. It's pretty typical of the kind of meal you'll find at one of the more exclusive high end luxury resort restaurants in Los Cabos like Las Ventanas Grille, Pitahayas, Palmilla. (Lived at Palmilla for 9 glorious months, a few years back, miss it!). All you need is a little chill-out music which were the tunes of choice there and a glass of rioja (or a frosty margarita on ice with good tequila & lots of lime) and you'll feel like you're sitting by the Sea of Cortez.

The chipotles are key & canned in adobo. Now, those of you have read this blog know that I am anti-processed foods and yes, you can take the dried chipotles and marinade them in your own tomatoey (is that a word??) adobo sauce BUTthis product, Embasa Chipotle Peppers in adobo sauce is pretty pure & free of the usual preservatives you find in canned goods but user beware a little goes a looong way. I've provided the link for you but you should be able to pick it up at Safeway or some other national grocery chain . Even Whole Foods carries it, occasionally (or am I dreaming that they will?).

The poblanos are easy to find, if you choose to substitute them with another chili remember this golden rule: the larger the chili the milder, the smaller the chili the hotter. Please don't use serranos or habaneros as a substitute but don't go the other way & use green peppers either. If you can't find the dark green poblanos then use Anaheims a.k.a. California chiles or, if you must, a very large jalapeno.We roast them in the same pan we roast the sweet potatoes.

Here's a great online resource for everything about substituting chiles (or any other ingredient):
The Cooks Thesaurus.

The grapeseed oil is a great neutral flavored oil for high heat cooking, if you don't have it, you can substitute other vegetable oil, BUT DO NOT USE extra-virgin olive oil. It will breakdown & burn in high heat which will ruin the flavor of your steak & waste your money & time, comprende amigos?

I also avoid the use of fresh garlic in the marinade for the same reason.
It will burn and add an unpleasant acrid taste to your dish.
If you NEED to add it, do so, but make sure you scrape every little bit of that garlic off before you grill the steak. Because of my kitchen's limitations, I use a Le Creuset grill pan to grill the steak. If you have a regular grill go for it. Just be sure to heat the grill, either way.

This recipe serves 2 Clint Eastwood wannabes.

For the Chipotle marinated ribeye:

1 whole chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, finely minced into a paste
1 teaspoon of adobo sauce
1 teaspoon of chili powder
1 Tablespoon of grapeseed oil, if you don't have grapeseed oil substitute another neutral flavored high flash point oil
1 2-inch thick bone-in ribeye about 1-1/4 lbs to 1-1/2 lbs (you'll have leftovers that will make a yummy fajita salad for lunch)freshly ground black pepper & sea salt to taste (go light on the salt, the adobo sauce has a good amount of sodium)
For the Roasted Poblano, Vanilla-scented Smashed Sweet Potatoes:

6 small whole baby yams, washed thoroughly dried, skin on, punctured with a knife to vent the steam

2 medium sized sweet potatoes, cut half length-wise & then into large chunks

1 large whole poblano chile, washed & thoroughly dried & left whole
1 teaspoon of high quality vanilla extract
2 stalks of green garlic, chopped (seasonal for Spring, substitute with scallions or green onions at other times of the year)
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter (Plugra rocks!)
1/4 cup skim milk
1/8 - 1/4 cup half & half
1/8 cup chicken of beef stock (optional)

For the chunky mango-feta salsa

1 large ripe mango, cut into large dice (remember we want this to be chunky)
1/2 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced length-wise or cut into roughly the same size as the mango dice
the juice from half a lime
a handful of fresh cilantro, leaves only, finely minced2 tablespoons of green garlic, finely minced (substitute with 1 scallion a.k.a. green onion & 1/2 a garlic clove, if green garlic is out of season)
2 inch chunk of feta, chopped


1) Preheat oven to 450 degrees (and the grill, if unlike me, you are using a gas grill). Make sure you have removed your steak from the refrigerator an hour before grilling it. It will make for faster, more even grilling. & allow you to marinate it.

2) Prepare the marinade for the steak:
In a small mixing bowl, combine all the marinade ingredients well with a whisk. Then place steal in a Ziploc bag large enough to hold the steak & pour the marinade on top of it, sealing the bag but removing as much of the air from it as you can. Use your hands to massage the marinade into the steak from the outside of the bag & set aside. Don't leave the steak in the marinade for longer than an hour; it will change the texture & flavor for the worst, making it more like a cured beef. Not what you want to do with an excellent cut of beef.

3) While the meat marinates, roast the whole baby (or the large chunks of  skin-on) sweet potatoes  & the poblano on a foil-lined baking sheet after seasoning them with a little salt & pepper and placing the baking sheet in the top rack of the oven for 15-18 minutes until poblano is charred (you may need to turn the poblano once half-way through the roasting process) and the baby (or cut) sweet potatoes are soft. Then remove from oven, place poblano in a  clean dish towel or wrapped in paper towels to allow the steam to soften the skin & make it easier to remove. Leave the oven on but lower it to 350 degrees. Set aside while you prepare the mango salsa.

4) Prepare the mango salsa by first preparing your ingredients then combining well all the prepared ingredients (except the feta) in a glass serving bowl. When you have combined all the veggies, add the feta and gently fold it in careful not to break the feta up into pieces that are too small. Season with a sprinkling of freshly cracked pepper & very judicious use of salt (the feta is really salty enough) &  toss gently. Set aside until ready to plate.

5) Heat the grill pan (which is hopefully a Le Creuset & no, they don't pay me a dime, dammit) over medium high heat. Turn on the range hood fan & open the windows, if you're cooking inside. While the pan heats up, remove the skin from your poblano chile & chop it into a fine almost, paste-like dice. Then be sure to prep all the ingredients for your smashed potatoes. Chop the green garlic (or regular garlic  & scallions, if substituting) & set aside the butter, half & half, skim milk, & stock if you're using it.

6) Cook steak: (now these directions are for a bone-in ribeye that weighs about 2 lbs. & is 2" thick, if you have a steak that is boneless and/or thinner then you have to adjust and cook the steak for less time per side for medium rare)
When the grill is hot, remove the steak from it's marinade, scraping off the excess & place in the center of the pan. Do not touch that steak for 5 minutes. Leave it alone. Take a sip of wine.
After 5 minutes, using heavy tongs, lift the steak & give it a 1/4 turn counter-clockwise, leaving it on the same side to give it those nice crosshatched  grill marks, you always admire in steak houses. allow the steak to cook for an additional 5 minutes without touching it, but do turn down the heat if it seems to be getting too smoky. Repeat process on other side.

**** Word to the wise**** 
The marinade makes the kitchen a bit toxic once the cooking starts so have those windows & doors wide open & ready, if you cook inside & don't want to set off the smoke detector. The steak will not taste too spicy, I assure you but smoky flavor will be imparted & is delish.

6) After 20 minutes, check steak for doneness by either using a food thermometer placed in the center of the steak in both depth & width, away from the bone (120-125 degrees for medium rare before resting) or by using the touch test if you are a more experienced cook (using your index finger to test the springyness of the meat, it should have the same feeling of resistance to prodding as the pad of skin on your palm beneath your thumb for medium rare).

If the steak is still underdone, place it  & the grill pan in the center rack of the oven, testing for doneness every few minutes until it is done to your liking.
There really is no other way. You can smell when it's done & feel when it's done but you cannot place a definitive time for cooking it. You just have to be vigilant & cook a lot of steaks. Not a bad way to practice!

After the steak is done, let it rest in a warm spot & prepare the smashed sweet potatoes.

7) Prepare sweet potatoes:
Place a medium-sized sauce pan over medium-high heat, add butter & green garlic (or garlic-scallion combo) with 1/8 teaspoon of salt heat until butter melts,  stirring occasionally until garlic wilts. Lower heat to medium low.
Then add poblano chile, stir it in to heat & release its aroma, add skim milk, stock and half & half until warm, then add vanilla; finally, add sweet potatoes & coarsely mash with a potato masher or large fork until potatoes reach your desired texture. 
Taste potato mixture & adjust for seasoning (salt & pepper) to taste. Add more butter or liquid as desired. You're in control of the texture & consistency. Turn off heat when potatoes are done to your liking.

8) Slice steak, carving out the bone, into portions for two. (You can fight over who gets the bone) 
Serve on warm plates (stick them in the microwave or oven for a minute) with potatoes & salsa.