By Robert Ramsey — Director of Advanced Culinary Center

Searching for inspiration for your holiday table? ICE Chef Robert Ramsey, a specialist in Southern cuisine, is sharing three sides so good it almost hurts to call them “sides” — because, really, any one of these could easily steal the show: creamy sweet potato soup with brown butter, sorghum syrup and sage croutons, Southern-style collard greens with black-eyed peas, grilled Chesapeake Bay oysters smothered in garlicky, bacon-y butter… hungry yet? Keep reading to get the recipes. Your holiday guests will thank you.

Creamy Sweet Potato Soup

Creamy Sweet Potato Soup With Brown Butter, Sorghum Syrup and Sage Croutons
Servings: 8

This soup is luxuriously smooth and creamy without being overly sweet. It’s the garnish, however, that really sets it apart. When I was living in Tennessee, I discovered sorghum syrup — it’s maple syrup for Southerners. The taste is fantastic and it’s an authentic Southern specialty. There are a lot of brands out there, but I prefer the sorghum syrup from Muddy Pond (about halfway between Knoxville and Nashville). Like its cousin, maple, it’s a perfect complement to the sweet potatoes.

For the soup

Ingredients:

2 ounces unsalted butter
3-4 sweet potatoes, totaling about 2.5 pounds, peeled and chopped
1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
⅓ cup apple cider vinegar
1 quart whole milk
1 pint vegetable or chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
Pinch nutmeg
Salt to taste

Preparation:

  • In a large stockpot melt the butter over medium heat.
  • Add the onion, celery and carrot and season with a good pinch of salt.
  • Cook, stirring often, until the onions turn translucent, about 5-8 minutes.
  • Add the nutmeg, brown sugar and sweet potatoes and continue to cook until the sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes.
  • Add the vinegar and cook about 3-4 minutes to reduce.
  • Add the milk, stock and cream and bring to boil.
  • Immediately reduce to a low, gentle simmer and allow everything to cook until tender, stirring often, about 30-40 minutes.
  • When all vegetables are tender, carefully transfer the soup to a Vitamix blender and purée until completely smooth, working in batches. Reserve.

Note: It’s best to make the soup 24 hours in advance and chill it overnight to allow the flavors to come together.

 

For the garnish

Ingredients:

½ bunch sage, leaves picked from stems, minced
4 ounces butter
½ loaf stale sliced bread, crusts removed, diced
1 cup sorghum syrup
Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

  • Preheat oven to 275°F.
  • In a small sauté pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter until it begins to foam and turn brown. Turn off the heat immediately and reserve.
  • Add sage to the butter while it is still hot — it should sizzle and pop a little.
  • In a large mixing bowl, add stale bread, browned butter, sage and a little salt and pepper to coat. Transfer to a baking sheet and cook the croutons until dry and crisp. Reserve.

 

To serve

Preparation:

  • Reheat the soup gently, stirring often to prevent scorching. If the soup is too thick, adjust with a touch of milk and taste for seasoning.
  • Ladle the soup into warm bowls and top with croutons. Drizzle some sorghum syrup (and crème fraîche if desired) on top of each and serve.

Creamy Sweet Potato Soup

Southern-style Collard Greens with Black-Eyed Peas
Servings: about 6-8

This dish is a classic for a reason and one of my favorite ways to enjoy greens in the cold weather months. Other greens like mustard, turnip and kale will work just as well in this recipe, though they each have a distinct flavor.

Ingredients:

2 bunches collard greens, washed thoroughly, stems removed, chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 quart chicken stock or low sodium chicken broth
¾ cup apple cider vinegar
6 ounces salt-cured country ham, diced
2 ounces unsalted butter
3 springs fresh thyme, leaves stripped from the stems
2 medium Spanish onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup dried black-eyed peas, soaked overnight
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
Salt to taste

Preparation

  • In a large stockpot over medium heat, melt the butter.
  • Add the diced country ham and the onions and cook until the onions turn translucent, stirring often, about 5-8 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and thyme and cook one more minute.
  • Pour apple cider into the pot to deglaze the mixture, scraping the bottom of the pan, then increase heat to medium-high and reduce the liquid by about three-quarters.
  • Add the collard greens, black-eyed peas, chicken stock and smoked paprika and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and allow to cook until the beans and greens are tender, about one hour.
  • During the simmering process, the beans may absorb a lot of liquid. If this happens, add warm water, about ½ cup at a time, to keep the consistency of a stew.
  • The finished dish should not be dry, nor thin like a soup, but somewhere in between.
  • Season to taste with a pinch or two of salt.

Note: This dish is best made a day or two ahead, chilled and reheated gently before serving. This will allow the flavors to come together. Be careful not to scorch the bottom when reheating by stirring often.    

 

Grilled Chesapeake Bay Oysters
Servings: a dozen oysters

Big, plump, sweet Chesapeake Bay oysters are at their best during the holiday season, when the water is cooler. Specifically, I prefer Rappahannock, Stingray Point or Olde Salt oysters. At ICE, we pile them with smoky compound butter flavored with bacon and garlic. If you put just too much butter on top, don’t worry — the butter will drip over the shell into the flames below, creating a lot of smoke and flavor — and this is a very good thing.

Ingredients:

12 Chesapeake Bay oysters
4 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
1 small bunch chives, thinly sliced into rounds
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Fresh juice from ½ lemon
4 strips of bacon, cooked until crisp
1 small pinch of salt
1 dash Tabasco sauce

Preparation:

  • Shuck the oysters, being careful to retain as much of the oyster liquid as possible. Leave the oysters in the cupped half of the shell and discard the flat half of the shell. Reserve.
  • Mince the cooked bacon until it resembles bacon bits you would use on a salad.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the minced bacon with all the remaining ingredients except the oysters. Beat the mixture together using the paddle attachment until well-combined, about one minute on medium speed.
  • Spoon the butter mixture onto the oysters, dividing evenly.
  • Place the oysters in the shells directly on a preheated grill, using tongs to move them to the hottest parts.
  • Cook 4-6 minutes or until the butter is melted and bubbling and the oysters have plumped. Serve immediately.

Vitamix is now offering special discounts on their popular Vitamix models: C- and G- Series, Certified Reconditioned S30, and Certified Reconditioned Standard Programs Machine. Use the URL and discount code below and find your culinary voice with Vitamix. Vitamix is now offering special discounts on their popular Vitamix models: C- and G- Series, Certified Reconditioned S30, and Certified Reconditioned Standard Programs Machine. Use the URL and discount code below and find your culinary voice with Vitamix.
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Expires: December 31, 2017

Want to master these Southern specialties and more with Chef Robert? Click here to learn about ICE’s Culinary Arts program.

No New Year’s celebration is complete without good friends and great (bubbly) cocktails. That’s why ICE and People Food teamed up to bring you these three Champagne-based drinks: the classic Champagne Cocktail, a French 75 and a Rosemary-Infused Pomegranate Sparkler. Watch below to learn from ICE’s Director of Beverage Studies Anthony Caporale how to prepare each one — then put a few bottles of bub on ice and watch your party go from festive to fantastic.

*Bubbly tips from ICE Beverage Director Anthony Caporale

  • Never shake a drink that contains Champagne or any carbonated beverage, as the mixing glass may explode out of the cocktail shaker.
  • Pour Champagne down the side of the glass to decrease the amount of head; pour it into the center of the glass to increase the amount of head.
  • Liquids lose carbonation as they warm up, so keep your Champagne bottle on ice after opening to help maintain the bubbles.

The Champagne Cocktail
Servings: Makes 1 cocktail

Ingredients:

1 sugar cube
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Champagne
Strawberry or lemon

Preparation:

  1. Place a sugar cube into a Champagne coupe.
  2. Add 2 dashes of Angostura bitters to the sugar cube.
  3. Fill glass with Champagne.
  4. Garnish with a sliced strawberry or lemon twist.

French 75
Servings: Makes 1 cocktail

Ingredients:

Ice
1 ounce gin
1/2 ounce simple syrup
1/2 ounce lemon juice (or, juice of 1 lemon)
Champagne
Lemon twist

Preparation:

  1. Fill cocktail shaker with ice.
  2. Add gin, simple syrup and lemon juice, and shake.
  3. Pour mixture into a champagne flute.
  4. Top with Champagne.
  5. Garnish with a twist of lemon.

Rosemary-Infused Pomegranate Sparkler

Servings: Makes 1 cocktail

Ingredients:

2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups boiling hot water
1 bunch fresh rosemary
1 ounce pomegranate juice
Champagne
Pomegranate seeds

Preparation:

  1. Add sugar and water together in a pitcher.
  2. Add rosemary and stir; allow to infuse for one hour.
  3. To a glass, add pomegranate juice and 1 ounce of the rosemary-infused simple syrup.
  4. Top with Champagne.
  5. Garnish with pomegranate seeds.

 Want to learn to mix cocktails like a pro? Check out ICE’s wine and beverage programs.

By James Briscione, Director of Culinary Development 

Gifts are the best and worst part about the holiday season. Receiving = the best. Finding that perfect something-they-don’t-already-have gift for the special person on your list = the worst. For the foodie on your shopping list, we’re here to make your gift search a painless victory. Though stores and online catalogs are filled with hundreds of “must-have” kitchen gadgets, only some of them are actually worth it — others not so much. To help you cut through the clutter and find the best of the best, the following is my list of recommended essential kitchen gifts.

sous_vide_cooking_steak_bacon_10-14-16_edited-7

Anova Precision Cooker

For the foodie who has (almost) everything: Sous vide

Sous vide has long been a favorite technique of top chefs across the globe. Sous vide helps chefs prepare Michelin-quality meals night after night. At home, the sous vide method delivers the most perfectly cooked steaks, chicken, veggies, eggs and more, and with much less effort than you’d expect. For years, sophisticated sous vide equipment carried a price tag that made it inaccessible to home cooks, but today they’re less expensive than a stand mixer. There are many options out there for sous vide cooking, but my favorite is the Anova Precision Cooker. It is literally plug and play (or rather, plug and cook) and you can even control it with an app on your phone.

Bonus gift: Should you or your special someone want a little extra info on the art of sous vide cooking, register for Intro to Sous Vide taught by yours truly at ICE!

sous vide steak sandwiches

Sandwiches with Juicy, Sous Vide Steak

The whipping canister: It’s for more than just dessert

You might know the iSi Whipping Canister as a whipped cream maker, but it is oh-so-much more! In the kitchens at ICE, we use whipping canisters to turn silky vegetable purées into delicate mousses in professional plating classes. It can also be used to create rapid infusions like instant pickling or to make your own customized gin (combine vodka in a canister with juniper, rosemary and coriander, and infuse). They can even be used to make a cake in under a minute.

This is the piece of equipment that pro chefs are freaking out about right now.

For the exhibitionist

Polyscience is the first name in modern cuisine equipment. Venture into any top kitchen in the U.S. and you’re likely to find a piece of their equipment occupying prime real estate. One of my favorites is their Smoking Gun. It’s the perfect way to add a subtle, smoky flavor to nearly any food — from meats to vegetables to cheese. Plus, the smoking gun creates smoke with “generating,” heat, so it can be used to smoke delicate items like lettuce, chilled seafood, even chocolate or cocktails. It takes seconds to set up and produce smoke and fits into a space smaller than a shoebox. The smoking gun can also be used to create dramatic presentations — simply place an upside-down bowl over your plate, pipe a little smoke into the bowl and carry it to the table. When you lift the bowl, your food will be revealed from under a puff of smoke — foodie magic!

Because everyone loves a sharp knife

A knife might be the oldest of cooking tools, but one company is taking a modern approach to the craft. After raising over $1 million on Kickstarter, Misen is one of the hottest new knife makers. Their knives are praised for their perfect design, with balance that makes them both easy to use and beautiful to admire. Misen knives are made with high-quality steel, meaning a sharper, harder edge so this blade can be a kitchen workhorse. Not to mention, they’re priced well below any other quality knife on the market.

The splurge: The Control Freak

The Control Freak is the latest and greatest development from the folks at Polyscience. This is the piece of equipment that pro chefs are freaking out about right now. It combines the precision of sous vide temperature control with the convenience of an induction cooktop — truly remarkable. The Control Freak simplifies the process for nearly every complicated kitchen process, from poaching eggs and making hollandaise to tempering chocolate and perfectly searing a steak. It’s the top item on my list this year — I hope Santa takes note!

Want to get into the kitchen with Chef James? Click here to learn more about ICE’s Culinary Arts program.

By Emily Peck

Emily is a nutritionist, personal chef, Kitchen Assistant at the Institute of Culinary Education, and the blogger behind The Greener Palate. She’s been a vegetarian for over a decade and is passionate about plant-based, whole-food cooking.

Vegan Thanksgiving fans, anyone? From the sausage stuffing to the gravy to the big ol’ turkey, it’s hard to imagine a meatless Thanksgiving that’s still mouth-watering and traditional. If you’re someone who’s inclined to save a bird this year, you might worry that all the tofurkeys and lentil loafs in the world won’t convince your family that eating plant-based foods is in any way comparable to a juicy turkey. But it’s our duty, my fellow plant lovers, to find ways to persuade the skeptics in our lives that we can enjoy the fruits of the earth in so many unique and appetizing ways, while staying true to some of the classic holiday recipes. That’s why, when I was given the opportunity to take Vegan Thanksgiving, a course taught by Chef Peter Berley at the Institute of Culinary Education, I jumped at the chance. He shared a handful of recipes plus ideas for modifying any dish to make it both delicious and entirely plant-based. The following are some tips I took away from the course.

almond-cake1

  1. Innovate with herbs. Cooking with herbs has the double benefit of adding fresh flavors and nutritional benefits to any dish. You can innovate with herbs for interesting new flavors, like we did with the Roasted Vegetable Pâté recipe. The recipe called for chopped rosemary, thyme and sage, but we had a lot of basil too, so I added a handful of that plus some leftover celery leaves — the final product had a complex (and delicious) flavor.
  1. Lighten up. You can substitute heavy ingredients like cream and butter for healthy alternatives. The traditional recipe for candied yams calls for butter, but we used extra-virgin olive oil (a heart-healthy dietary fat) instead. Coconut oil is another alternative fat source that adds some nutty sweetness to the dish as well. Bonus: coconut oil contains medium chain triglycerides, or “MCTs,” which have been found to boost HDL or “good cholesterol.”
  1. Nix the gluten. One recipe that I particularly enjoyed was the Stuffed Dumpling Squash with Kamut, Spelt Berry and Wild Rice. The kamut and spelt berry, however, are gluten-ful grains, and while wild rice is gluten-free, store-bought mixes are often made in facilities that also make products containing gluten — which can be problematic for those with gluten sensitivities. If you’re looking for gluten-free options, opt for a gluten-free grain such as quinoa — a hearty and healthy complex carbohydrate with a low glycemic index.
  1. Swap out refined sugars. Many candied yam and sweet potato dishes call for refined white sugar, a processed simple carbohydrate. Instead, try substituting maple syrup, agave or even coconut sugar for a natural, less-processed sweetener.
  1. Swap in Flavorful Cooking Methods (Like Caramelizing). Roasting your veggies for a half hour or more will caramelize them and bring out their natural sweetness. Chef Peter’s Caramelized Onion Gravy was impressive — it had a delicious sweet and savory component due to the slow cooking of the onions. The gravy was a rich topping for the squash dumplings (mentioned above), creating a unique twist on a classic dish without using a meat base.

Many families rely on their collective traditions when choosing Thanksgiving dishes. I like to create my own traditions while paying homage to the long-standing ones of my family — my aunt’s irresistible Pecan Squares and my mom’s Creamy Zesty Carrots, both recipes handed down from their mom, my grandmother. This year, I plan to recreate these dishes by substituting the dairy and any highly processed ingredients with plant-based, fresh ones. My uncle, who finds great value in keeping things simple and classic, probably won’t admit that he likes Chef Peter’s Maple Tofu Whipped Cream that I’m going to pile on top of my Vegan Almond-Raspberry Cake. But the proof will be in the pudding — or on his empty dessert plate when he’s asking for seconds. Aside from being delicious, cooking plant-based foods provides the freedom to eat more (within reason), while taking advantage of many benefits, including improved digestion due to high amounts of fiber, minerals, vitamins, healthy fats and plant-based proteins. All of this creates healthy and happy bellies on Thanksgiving.

Emily’s Vegan Almond-Raspberry Cake
Servings: 8

Ingredients:

2 cups almond flour, firmly packed
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup coconut- or almond-milk dairy-free yogurt
⅔ cup honey
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 ounces raspberries, preferably organic
Zest of 1 lemon

Optional:

Sprinkle of powdered sugar
½ cup chopped raw pistachios, almonds or pecans

Preparation:

  • Preheat oven to 325º F. Lightly grease a 9-inch pan (I used a spring form pan) with vegan butter or spray and lightly dust with almond flour.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the almond meal, baking powder, baking soda, ginger and sea salt.
  • In small bowl, combine the yogurt, honey, vanilla extract, olive oil and lemon zest. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry. Mix well and fold in the raspberries. Pour the mixture into the pan.
  • Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the cake is golden brown. Test with a toothpick to make sure it comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.
  • Once cooled, slice into 8 pieces. Top with Maple Tofu Whipped Cream (recipe below). Optional: Sprinkle with chopped nuts and powdered sugar.

 

Chef Peter’s Maple Tofu Whipped Cream
Servings: Makes about 2 ½ cups

Ingredients:

½ pound soft tofu, drained
¼ cup maple syrup
¼ cup canola oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 ½ teaspoon lemon juice
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons agar flakes
½ cup cold water
1 tablespoon arrowroot or cornstarch
½ cup plain soy or almond milk

Preparation:

  • Combine tofu, maple syrup, oil, vanilla extract, lemon juice and salt in food processor.
  • Place the agar flakes and cup of cold water in sauce pan over medium heat. Stirring continuously, cook until the mixture reaches a boil. Then reduce the heat to simmer.
  • In a bowl, whisk the arrowroot powder (or cornstarch) and soy milk (or almond milk) and add to the simmering liquid. Raise the heat and whisk continually until the mixture begins to bubble. Remove from heat.
  • Slowly pour the hot mixture into the food processor and process until smooth. Stop the motor and scrape down the sides of the bowl to incorporate all of the ingredients.
  • Transfer the tofu cream to a clean container and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
  • Process the tofu cream again briefly just before serving

Want to expand your healthy-cooking repertoire? Click here to check out upcoming recreational cooking courses.

By Robert Ramsey — Director of Advanced Culinary Center

Searching for inspiration for your holiday table? ICE Chef Robert Ramsey, a specialist in Southern cuisine, is sharing three sides so good it almost hurts to call them “sides” — because, really, any one of these could easily steal the show: creamy sweet potato soup with brown butter, sorghum syrup and sage croutons, Southern-style collard greens with black-eyed peas, grilled Chesapeake Bay oysters smothered in garlicky, bacon-y butter… hungry yet? Keep reading to get the recipes. Your holiday guests will thank you.

Creamy Sweet Potato Soup

Creamy Sweet Potato Soup With Brown Butter, Sorghum Syrup and Sage Croutons
Servings: 8

This soup is luxuriously smooth and creamy without being overly sweet. It’s the garnish, however, that really sets it apart. When I was living in Tennessee, I discovered sorghum syrup — it’s maple syrup for Southerners. The taste is fantastic and it’s an authentic Southern specialty. There are a lot of brands out there, but I prefer the sorghum syrup from Muddy Pond (about halfway between Knoxville and Nashville). Like its cousin, maple, it’s a perfect complement to the sweet potatoes.

For the soup

Ingredients:

2 ounces unsalted butter
3-4 sweet potatoes, totaling about 2.5 pounds, peeled and chopped
1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
⅓ cup apple cider vinegar
1 quart whole milk
1 pint vegetable or chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
Pinch nutmeg
Salt to taste

Preparation:

  • In a large stockpot melt the butter over medium heat.
  • Add the onion, celery and carrot and season with a good pinch of salt.
  • Cook, stirring often, until the onions turn translucent, about 5-8 minutes.
  • Add the nutmeg, brown sugar and sweet potatoes and continue to cook until the sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes.
  • Add the vinegar and cook about 3-4 minutes to reduce.
  • Add the milk, stock and cream and bring to boil.
  • Immediately reduce to a low, gentle simmer and allow everything to cook until tender, stirring often, about 30-40 minutes.
  • When all vegetables are tender, carefully transfer the soup to a blender and purée until completely smooth, working in batches. Reserve.

Note: It’s best to make the soup 24 hours in advance and chill it overnight to allow the flavors to come together.

 

For the garnish

Ingredients:

½ bunch sage, leaves picked from stems, minced
4 ounces butter
½ loaf stale sliced bread, crusts removed, diced
1 cup sorghum syrup
Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

  • Preheat oven to 275°F.
  • In a small sauté pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter until it begins to foam and turn brown. Turn off the heat immediately and reserve.
  • Add sage to the butter while it is still hot — it should sizzle and pop a little.
  • In a large mixing bowl, add stale bread, browned butter, sage and a little salt and pepper to coat. Transfer to a baking sheet and cook the croutons until dry and crisp. Reserve.

 

To serve

Preparation:

  • Reheat the soup gently, stirring often to prevent scorching. If the soup is too thick, adjust with a touch of milk and taste for seasoning.
  • Ladle the soup into warm bowls and top with croutons. Drizzle some sorghum syrup (and crème fraîche if desired) on top of each and serve.

Creamy Sweet Potato Soup

Southern-style Collard Greens with Black-Eyed Peas
Servings: about 6-8

This dish is a classic for a reason and one of my favorite ways to enjoy greens in the cold weather months. Other greens like mustard, turnip and kale will work just as well in this recipe, though they each have a distinct flavor.

Ingredients:

2 bunches collard greens, washed thoroughly, stems removed, chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 quart chicken stock or low sodium chicken broth
¾ cup apple cider vinegar
6 ounces salt-cured country ham, diced
2 ounces unsalted butter
3 springs fresh thyme, leaves stripped from the stems
2 medium Spanish onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup dried black-eyed peas, soaked overnight
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
Salt to taste

Preparation

  • In a large stockpot over medium heat, melt the butter.
  • Add the diced country ham and the onions and cook until the onions turn translucent, stirring often, about 5-8 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and thyme and cook one more minute.
  • Pour apple cider into the pot to deglaze the mixture, scraping the bottom of the pan, then increase heat to medium-high and reduce the liquid by about three-quarters.
  • Add the collard greens, black-eyed peas, chicken stock and smoked paprika and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and allow to cook until the beans and greens are tender, about one hour.
  • During the simmering process, the beans may absorb a lot of liquid. If this happens, add warm water, about ½ cup at a time, to keep the consistency of a stew.
  • The finished dish should not be dry, nor thin like a soup, but somewhere in between.
  • Season to taste with a pinch or two of salt.

Note: This dish is best made a day or two ahead, chilled and reheated gently before serving. This will allow the flavors to come together. Be careful not to scorch the bottom when reheating by stirring often.    

 

Grilled Chesapeake Bay Oysters
Servings: a dozen oysters

Big, plump, sweet Chesapeake Bay oysters are at their best during the holiday season, when the water is cooler. Specifically, I prefer Rappahannock, Stingray Point or Olde Salt oysters. At ICE, we pile them with smoky compound butter flavored with bacon and garlic. If you put just too much butter on top, don’t worry — the butter will drip over the shell into the flames below, creating a lot of smoke and flavor — and this is a very good thing.

Ingredients:

12 Chesapeake Bay oysters
4 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
1 small bunch chives, thinly sliced into rounds
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Fresh juice from ½ lemon
4 strips of bacon, cooked until crisp
1 small pinch of salt
1 dash Tabasco sauce

Preparation:

  • Shuck the oysters, being careful to retain as much of the oyster liquid as possible. Leave the oysters in the cupped half of the shell and discard the flat half of the shell. Reserve.
  • Mince the cooked bacon until it resembles bacon bits you would use on a salad.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the minced bacon with all the remaining ingredients except the oysters. Beat the mixture together using the paddle attachment until well-combined, about one minute on medium speed.
  • Spoon the butter mixture onto the oysters, dividing evenly.
  • Place the oysters in the shells directly on a preheated grill, using tongs to move them to the hottest parts.
  • Cook 4-6 minutes or until the butter is melted and bubbling and the oysters have plumped. Serve immediately.

Want to master these Southern specialties and more with Chef Robert? Click here to learn about ICE’s Culinary Arts program.

Recipe by Jenny McCoy — Chef Instructor, School of Pastry & Baking Arts

So your sister-in-law likes it sweet but your uncle loves a tart dessert and the rest of the family just wants something delicious to end their holiday meal— what’s a baker to do!? Chef Jenny has the perfect pie-idea for you: a flaky double-crust apple-cranberry pie that’s the perfect mix of tart and sweet — the best of both worlds. Bake, serve (preferably warm and with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a spoonful of crème fraîche) and let the compliments roll in.

Double-Crust Cranberry Apple Pie

Double-Crust Apple-Cranberry Pie

For the Flaky Pie Dough
Yield: Makes 1 double-crust pie or 2 (9-inch) pie crusts

Ingredients:

3¼ cups (450 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1¼ teaspoons (6 grams) granulated sugar
1¼ teaspoons (8 grams) salt
2¼ sticks (252 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
¾ cup (175 grams) ice-cold water, plus more if needed

Preparation:

  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk the flour, sugar and salt together for a few seconds. Add the butter all at once, and rub into the dry ingredients to mix until the butter is reduced to small pieces about the size of peas. Slowly add the water and stir until the dough just comes together, yet lumps of butter remain in the dough.
  • Divide the dough in half, and flatten each piece into a 1-inch thick disk. Wrap dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, one to two hours.

 

For the Sauteed Apple-Cranberry Pie Filling
Yield: Makes 6 cups

Ingredients:

8 medium Gala or Pink Lady apples
¼ cup (50 grams) light brown sugar
¼ cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
Ground cinnamon, to taste
¼ teaspoon (1 gram) salt
4 to 6 tablespoons (56 to 84 grams) unsalted butter
¼ cup (56 grams) brandy (optional)
1 cup (130 grams) cranberries

Preparation:

  • Peel, core and slice apples into ¾-inch slices. Gently toss sliced fruit, brown sugar, sugar, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl.
  • In a large saute pan, melt half of the butter over medium-high heat. Add half of the sliced fruit and sauté until light golden and caramelized, turning fruit as needed. Add half of the brandy and cook until alcohol has reduced, tossing fruit in pan to coat.
  • Spread the cooked fruit in a shallow baking dish or on a baking sheet and repeat with remaining butter, fruit and brandy. Add the cranberries, stir and let cool to room temperature.

 

For The Double-Crust Apple-Cranberry Pie
Yield: Makes 1 (9-inch) pie

Ingredients:

Unbleached all-purpose flour, for rolling
1 recipe Flaky Pie Dough
1 recipe Sautéed Apple-Cranberry Pie Filling
1 large (50 grams) egg, lightly beaten

Preparation:

  • Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Lightly coat a 9-inch pie plate with nonstick cooking spray. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll one disk of dough into a circle about 12 inches in diameter by starting at the center of the disk and rolling away from you. Use additional flour and give the dough a quarter turn between each roll to prevent it from sticking to the table. Continue rolling until the dough is an even ⅛ inch thick. Repeat with the second disk of dough.
  • Carefully roll one circle of the dough around the rolling pin and unroll over the pie plate. Fit the dough into the plate by gently pressing it into the corners and against the base and sides of the plate. Trim the excess dough, leaving about a 1-inch overhang. Place the lined pie plate in the freezer for about 15 minutes to chill slightly. Roll the second piece of dough onto the rolling pin and unroll onto the parchment paper-lined baking sheet and place in refrigerator until ready to use.
  • Spread the Sauteed Apple-Cranberry Pie Filling into the prepared pie shell. Remove the sheet of rolled pie dough from the refrigerator and lay over the pie filling (if the sheet is stiff, just give it a few minutes to soften), reserving the parchment-lined baking sheet for later use. Trim the excess from the top sheet of dough to line up with the overhang of the shell. Fold the overhang in half, tucking the cut edge between the shell and the pie plate. Using your fingertips, decoratively crimp the edges together to seal. Cut a few decorative slits in the top of the pie crust to allow for steam from the fruit to vent. Place the pie in the freezer for 10 minutes to chill the dough slightly.
  • Lightly brush the entire surface of the dough with the beaten egg. Place the pie on the baking sheet and bake for one hour to one hour and 15 minutes, or until the crust is deep golden brown, the filling bubbles and the liquid has just thickened.
  • Cool on a wire rack until just warm before serving.

Double-Crust Cranberry Apple Pie

Want to learn pro-level baking with Chef Jenny? Click here for information on ICE’s Pastry & Baking Arts program.

Recipes by Ted Siegel — Chef Instructor, School of Culinary Arts

On Thanksgiving, turkey is always in style. A juicy bird with salty, crunchy skin is the pièce de résistance of this highly anticipated meal. But if you’re looking to shake up your usual turkey prep method — add some spice or brine to the table — ICE Chef Instructor Ted Siegel has some ideas for you. Below, Chef Ted shares two different methods for preparing your turkey when it’s time to give thanks this year, plus his expert roasting tips.

Thanksgiving Turkey

1) A Caribbean kick: try a Jamaican jerk turkey marinade.

Marinating delivers the double benefit of infusing meat with flavor and keeping it tender.

Ingredients:

6 scallions
6 habanero or scotch bonnet chiles
2 medium onions
6 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon tamarind paste
½ cup Worcestershire sauce
½ cup fish sauce
1 cup fresh lime juice
1 cup fresh orange juice
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup brown sugar
1 bunch dried thyme leaves, minced
1 bunch dried oregano leaves, minced
1 bunch fresh cilantro leaves and stems, minced
½ cup butter

Preparation:

  • For the marinade, finely chop and combine: scallions, habanero or scotch bonnet chiles, onions and garlic. Add tamarind paste, Worcestershire sauce, fish sauce, fresh lime juice, fresh orange juice, olive oil, brown sugar, dried thyme leaves, dried oregano leaves and fresh cilantro leaves and stems.
  • Prepare the marinade, dividing into two halves: 1/2 for the turkey and 1/2 to make a compound butter. Marinate the turkey for two to four days, depending on its weight (two days for an 8-12 pound turkey, three to four days for a 13-30 pound turkey). Remove turkey from marinade. Make the compound butter by mixing remaining marinade with butter. Separate the skin from the breast and thighs and gently rub the compound butter onto the flesh without ripping the skin. Roast immediately.

 

2) Brine time: give your turkey a multiday brine bath.

Like marinating, brining will add flavor to your turkey, and make it exceptionally juicy and tender. Here’s how to brine.

Ingredients:

1 pound kosher salt
2/3 pounds sugar (granulated, brown, molasses, maple syrup, agave syrup, honey or any other kind of solid sugar or syrup will work)
2-3 gallons water
25 juniper berries
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon white peppercorns
1 teaspoon star anise pods
2 tablespoons dried thyme
½ cup liquid smoke (which you can find at most grocery stores)

 Preparation:

  • To make the brine, combine kosher salt, sugar, water. Add the juniper berries, dried herbs and liquid smoke.
  • Brine your turkey for two to four days by either submerging the entire bird or injecting it with brine. If you choose the latter, do not brine the turkey for more than two days.

 

Roasting tips

For roasting, I always begin by browning the turkey. In an oven preheated to 450°F, cook the turkey for about half an hour or until golden brown. Then, turn the heat down to 325°F and roast about 18-20 minutes per pound until the internal temperature reaches 160°F.

Want to sharpen your culinary skills with Chef Ted? Click here to learn more about ICE’s Culinary Arts program.


By Richard Vayda — Director of Wine & Beverage Studies

To ensure that you make the best “pour” decisions this holiday season, I’ve put together a list of picks that will fit any festive feast. Below are my recommendations, choices that are built on conventional wine wisdom but vary depending on your personal preference.

The recommended wine for Thanksgiving turkey seems to always be Beaujolais, a wine region in eastern France. Like liquid cranberry sauce, wines from Beaujolais exhibit tart strawberry and other fruity notes — plus the acidity balances with rich sauces that often accompany our sacred bird. Instead of buying a simple Beaujolais, why not try a Cru Beaujolais (“Cru” meaning a vineyard or group of vineyards of recognized quality) from one of the northern villages of the region, such as Broilly or Juliénas.

Recommended:

  • Michel Tête Domaine du Clos du Fief Cuvée Tradition, Juliénas, France

Recommended Wines

Prefer something a bit richer or more savory? Try a Pinot Noir, which happens to be a perfect match for heartier stuffings. To keep it American, head to Oregon for lighter, earthier versions. If you prefer more ripe fruit flavors, a northern California Pinot would be a better choice.

Recommended:

  • Montinore Estate Reserve Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, OR

While rich and buttery foods pair well with Chardonnay, salty foods also love a touch of sweetness. Why not try a local Riesling from the Finger Lakes? Personally, my holiday meal plans features goose, so for a little more richness and spice, I might jump to a Finger Lakes Gewurztraminer.

Recommended:

  • Grgich Hills Chardonnay, Napa, CA
  • Frank Konstantin Semi-Dry Riesling, Finger Lakes, NY
  • Eminence Road Farm Winery Elizabeth’s Vineyard Dry Gewurztraminer, Finger Lakes, NY

Lest we forget: celebrations call for bubbles. Sparklers — especially rosés, are flexible wines that pair with a variety of foods. Champagne, of course, is a reliable choice, but U.S. winemakers are producing fine sparkling wines all around the country.

Recommended:

  • Gruet Brut Rosé, Albuquerque, NM
  • Domaine Carneros Cuvée de la Pompadour Brut Rosé, Napa, CA

Don’t let dessert stand alone — a semi-sweet or sweet bubbly wine always works, but for something richer, a ripe Muscat would be a nice choice. The stone fruits, orange and floral notes of a California Muscat might just be the perfect cap to your meal.

Recommended:

  • Quady Essensia Orange Muscat, San Joaquin Valley, Madera, CA

The reality is that the Thanksgiving spread contains dishes with a multitude of tastes and flavors, so a selection of wines might be required. Let your guests have fun making their own match — after all, what could be more fun than sipping your perfect pairing surrounded by the ones you love?

Want to order wine like a pro? Click here to check out ICE’s wine and beverage courses.

By Carly DeFilippo

When we think of margaritas and guacamole, the chill of December doesn’t exactly come to mind. But seasonally motivated chef Rick Bayless – a veritable authority on authentic Mexican cooking – enjoys the challenge of adapting these beloved classics year-round. Last week, he gave ICE an inside look at his winter spin on summer dishes.

The concept of celebrating both traditional recipes and modern adaptations is the driving philosophy behind Bayless’ latest cookbook, Frontera. For colder months, he warms the flavor of margaritas with the addition of ginger and tops things off with a bit of festive bubbly. When it comes to guacamole, he trades out tasteless winter tomatoes for apples, onion for roasted fennel, and cilantro for thyme. The result is a distinct deviation from these summertime favorites and might just inspire you to test out your own seasonal twists.

 

Chef Bayless’ expert tips:

Margaritas

  • Different tequilas for different margaritas. Since it takes 8-10 years for a tequila plant to mature, aging is less a question of quality than of taste. A blanco tequila works well for a classic 1:1:1 (tequila, lime juice, orange liqueur), but for something smoother, he’ll choose a reposado.
  • He often prefers “fresh” lime juice one day later. To mellow lime’s bite, squeeze one day ahead and refrigerate, tightly sealed.
  • Salt isn’t an offense to margarita “purists”. Like most food, margaritas reach their full flavor potential when a few flakes are allowed to mix into the drink.
  • Be careful in choosing your orange liqueur. There are two primary types: triple secs and orange-infused brandies. When it comes to triple sec, he tends towards Cointreau, but with the brandies, he often opts for Torres Orange, a lesser known, lighter cousin of the caramely Grand Marnier.
Guacamole
  • “Deflame” your onions. Bayless explained that chopping onions releases sulfurous compounds, which is why they burn our eyes. Rinse cut onions under cold water for thirty seconds, and voila – a milder, less aggressive onion.
  • Don’t buy a molcajete. Chef Bayless doesn’t appreciate table-side guacamole service, not only because few waiters are adept at preparing this dish, but also because the grinding of mortar and pestle leads to the aforementioned offensive onion flavor.
  • Try a potato masher instead. It may not be high-tech, but it helps achieve a perfectly chunky texture.
  • Keep the pit out of the bowl. The only thing that keeps guacamole from oxidizing is cold. For large events where guacamole risks to brown in the sun, Chef Bayless and his team use refrigerated terracotta flower pots to help keep guacamole cool.

 

By Carly DeFilippo

Whether you’re spending the holidays in New York City or simply searching for the perfect gift, ICE has a range of end-of-December classes to please all kinds of aspiring chefs.

The Out-of-Towner
If you’re new to NYC or playing host to a few culinary junkies, our three day tour of New York’s global food scene has got you covered. Delve into interactive cooking classes, discover famous and “underground” markets and purveyors, and enjoy a range of meals at the city’s best ethnic eateries.

The Skill Seeker
Know a home cook who “nerds-out” over technique? Treat them to a pan-frying, roasting or braising course from our Back-to-Basics series.

The Sweet Tooth
Satisfy the sugar cravings of aspiring bakers and chocolate makers with our Cake Decorating and Chocolate Truffle courses. They’re sure to thank you with your just desserts.

The New Year’s Eve Host
It’s hard to block out time to prepare cocktail snacks, even if your New Year’s party has long been on the calendar. Pencil in some hors d’oeuvres prep on the morning of December 30th, so you and your guests can celebrate with more than the customary “pigs in a blanket”.

The Ultimate Enthusiast
If you or your loved ones enjoy nothing more than time in the kitchen, why not test out one of our 3-day Boot Camps? Explore the Flavors of Asia, stir up Classic and Contemporary Sauces or get your hands dirty with Dough Essentials: Croissant and Brioche. For a full list of holiday Boot Camp classes, click here.

Interested in taking classes in 2013? The full recreational class schedule will be published in mid-December.