Last week I attended a Fresh & Easy Holiday Party at Sur La Table

We enjoyed delicious appetizers and wine (from Fresh & Easy of course), had cooking lessons with Chef Cynthia, ate a delicious Thanksgiving dinner, made our way through dessert, then rolled ourselves home.

Seriously I ate so much I don’t think I ate again until the afternoon the next day. It was all so yummy, and I cannot wait to try out a few new dishes next week for Thanksgiving.

Don’t these appetizers look delicious. 

Fresh and easy appetizers


Fresh and easy appetizer tray
After enjoying our appetizers and listening to an introduction from Chef Cynthia she showed us how to make the perfect roast turkey gravy. She had cooked the turkey and roast vegetables before we had arrived to make things run a bit quicker.

Chef Cynthia
Here’s the recipe:

Roast Turkey Gravy

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients: 

  • 6 cups pan juices from turkey (or low sodium
    chicken stock)
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Cooking Directions:

  1. Remove turkey from roasting pan and pour juices through
    a fine mesh into a bowl. If liquids don’t measure 6 cups, supplement with
    chicken stock.
  2. Let the juices sit in the bowl until the fat rises
    to the top. Spoon out the fat and discard.
  3. Using two burners on medium-high heat, place
    roasting pan on the stove top.  Carefully
    pour 1 ½ cups of juices into the roasting pan. As soon as juices come to a
    boil, scrape the brown bits with a wooden spoon until clean of any caramelized
    bits.
  4. In a jar, combine 1 cup of juices with
    flour. Shake vigorously until fully combined.  This is called a slurry.
  5. Pour slurry into the roasting pan and stir constantly
    until incorporated, about 2 minutes.
  6. Add remaining 3 ½ cups of juices into roasting pan
    and continue cooking for about 10 minutes until thickened. Remember, gravy will
    thicken even more once cooled.
  7. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve
    warm.

Note: For smoother gravy, strain before serving.

Then Cynthia showed us how to make a delicious (seriously this really was amazing) cauliflower gratin.

Cooking at Sur La Table
Here’s the recipe:

Cauliflower Gratin

Serves 4 

Ingredients:

  • 1 large head cauliflower, cored and cut into florets
  • 5 oz. diced pancetta
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup grated Gruyere cheese, divided
  • 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • Salt and pepper to taste

 Cooking Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook pancetta until browned and
    crispy. Drain and pat dry.
  3. In a large bowl, combine cauliflower, heavy
    cream, flour, and ¾ cup grated Gruyere and pancetta. Season with salt and pepper and toss to
    combine.
  4. Transfer mixture to a 2 quart baking dish, cover
    tightly with foil, and bake for 30 minutes.
  5. In a small bowl, combine ¼ cup grated Gruyere and
    breadcrumbs.
  6. Carefully remove baking dish from oven and sprinkle
    breadcrumb mix over cauliflower. Dot with butter and bake, uncovered, until
    topping is golden brown and cauliflower is tender when pierced with a knife, about
    10 to 15 minutes.
  7. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

While she was showing us how to do this we were set up at tables in pairs making a variety of salads. Nicole and I paired up and made a roasted butternut squash salad with pumpkin vinaigrette dressing.

How to make a butternut squash salad
Thanksgiving recipes from Fresh and Easy
Of course I have the recipe for that too.

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Pumpkin Vinaigrette Dressing

Serves 4

Ingredients:

Salad

  • 16 oz. package fresh&easy butternut squash,
    cubed
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 6 oz. bag romaine and radicchio salad
  • ½ cup pomegranate seeds
  • ¼ cup toasted pepitas
  • ¼ cup goat cheese, crumbled

Dressing

  • 3 tablespoons pumpkin seed oil
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Cooking Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. In a lined baking sheet, toss butternut squash with olive oil, salt
    and pepper. Roast for about 30 minutes,
    until brown. Remove from oven; allow to cool.
  3. In a jar, add pumpkin seed oil, white wine vinegar, orange juice,
    Dijon mustard, shallots, honey, salt and pepper. Seal jar with a tightly fitting lid and shake
    until all ingredients are combined.
  4. In a large bowl, place romaine and radicchio salad, butternut squash, pomegranate
    seeds, pepitas and goat cheese.
  5. Pour dressing over salad and toss lightly.

We then enjoyed a big Thanksgiving dinner together.

Thanksgiving dinner ideas from Fresh and Easy
Thanksgiving salads
After dinner it was time for dessert, of course. Cynthia had pre-made éclairs but we made the pastry cream filling and chocolate ganache for them. You have no idea how happy I am that I now know how to make delicious éclairs at home. I grew up eating éclairs in Australia, it was one of the staple items I would purchase when I went to bakeries.

How to make chocolate ganache

Chocolate eclairs
Of course I have the recipe for these to share as well.

Pate a Choux

Makes 24 éclairs

Ingredients:

  • ½  cup (1 stick) unsalted butter,
    cubed
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½  teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 ¼  cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs

Cooking Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F
  2. Place butter, sugar, salt and 1 cup water in a medium sauce pan and bring
    to a boil.  Immediately remove from heat,
    add flour and quickly stir with a wooden spoon.
  3. Place back over medium heat and continue stirring until the mixture pulls
    away from sides; approximately 3 minutes.
  4. Transfer dough to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle
    attachment. Mix on low speed for 1 minute until dough starts to cool. Raise
    speed to medium and add eggs, one at a time, until a soft peak forms when
    batter is touched with your finger.
  5. Add dough to a pastry bag fitted with a ½-inch tip. Line two baking sheets
    with parchment paper.
  6. Pipe dough into 3-inch oblong shapes, making sure to leave space between
    each éclair.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes. Turn oven down to 350 F and bake for another 25
    minutes until golden brown.
  8. Fill éclairs while still warm. This allows for easier piping.

Pastry Cream

Makes 2 Cups

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • ½ cup sugar, separated
  • ½  vanilla bean, split and seeds
    scraped
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Cooking Directions:

  1. Place milk, ¼ cup sugar and vanilla bean in a medium saucepan over high
    heat; cook until it comes to a simmer.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks with remaining ¼ cup sugar and
    cornstarch until thickened.
  3. While whisking constantly, slowly pour heated-milk mixture in a thin stream
    into egg-yolk mixture. Pour mixture through a fine mesh sieve back into
    saucepan over medium heat and whisk constantly until mixture thickens, about 2
    minutes.
  4. Transfer to a large bowl over an ice bath and whisk in butter until melted.
    Once pastry cream slightly cools, cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly
    on the surface of the pastry cream, and refrigerate until completely cooled.
  5. To fill éclairs, add pastry cream into a piping bag fitted with a coupler
    and filling tip. Insert tip into one side of the éclair squeezing pastry cream
    slowly to fill. Remove tip and insert into the opposite side of éclair and
    repeat. Do not apply too much pressure as it will rupture the éclair.

Chocolate Ganache

Makes 1 Cup

Ingredients:

  • ½  cup heavy cream
  • 3 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

Cooking Directions:

  1. Bring cream to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Place chocolate in a bowl and pour hot cream on top. Slowly whisk until
    smooth and all chocolate has melted.

Let
cool slightly and drizzle over éclairs.

You didn’t think we just ate éclairs for dessert do you?

Fresh and Easy cookies
Fresh and Easy holiday treats
Fresh & Easy make holidays easy. You can order your Thanksgiving dinner on-line by November 18th and pick-up in store between November 20-22nd. They have a great selection of dishes you can order from a turkey, ham, or beef dinner to side dishes including mashed potatoes, squash risotto, vegetable medley, stuffing, and cranberry sauce. Plus you get a free 11″ Fresh & Easy pumpkin pie with every order.

Follow Fresh & Easy on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest for more great Holiday ideas.

Disclosure:  The recipes above were provided by Fresh & Easy. We were treated to a complimentary cooking class at Sur La Table and received a big bag of Fresh & Easy goodies to bring home to help us prepare our own Thanksgiving dinners.

1 comment

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1 comment

Katherinemarie November 15, 2012 - 5:34 pm

Awesomeness! The photos! The food! WOWEE!!!!

Reply

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