Hi My Name is Tom and I’m a Carb-o-holic!!

Whipped Potatoes 2Mashed potatoes and stuffing!! Are you freaking kidding me?? Why are we not eating these with every meal??

oh . . .  :-(

Copycat StuffingAh the heck with it, it’s Thanksgiving and I for one, like every good American, plan to overindulge this holiday season. This means that multiple helpings of mashed potatoes and stuffing will make it off of my plate, on to my fork and into my head. Fork one, napkin two, fork one, napkin two.

I won’t dilly dally any longer as the DAY is nearly upon us.  Here are my tried and true,

Damn Tom, these are great, how much butter did you say was in them, Mashed Potatoes.

Serves 1 or 4 depending on personal greed

3           Russet potatoes, large, peel, large dice
1/8+      Butter stick, unsalted, soft.   p.s. I have been known to add more ;-)
1/4 c     Sour cream
salt & white pepper to taste

Diced PotatoesPlace diced potatoes in a sauce pan with enough cold water to cover.  Add 1 tablespoon salt, place on high heat and bring to a gentle boil.  Cook for about 15 minutes checking with a fork for doneness regularly. (Yes, doneness is a word.) Place a clean colander in an empty sink.

Potato ForkThe potatoes should just yield to the pressure of a fork. Take the pot off of the heat and pour potatoes and water through the colander. Return the potatoes and place back on the stove on high heat for one minute to boil off any excess fluid.

Mashing PotatoesTurn the heat off and with a mashing tool mash the potatoes until the lumps are gone.  With a whisk begin whipping the potatoes.  Add the sour cream and butter and whip until the potatoes are smooth in texture.  Do not over whip. This will make the potatoes gluey.

\Whipped PotatoesAdd salt and white pepper and extra butter to taste.  Place in an oven proof dish, cover and place in warm oven to keep while your turkey is standing.

My preference is to serve with them with a tab of butter on top, then smother with gravy. Yum!!  Fork one, napkin two, . . .


This stuffing recipe I created while working on the set of Copycat with Holly Hunter and Sigourney Weaver.  One of the stage hands wanted a good fresh recipe for stuffing so I made this one up on the fly.  He reported back a few years later that my stuffing recipe has become the family favorite and that each year he has to make extra croutons so that there is enough to snack on as well as make in to stuffing.

Copycat Stuffing

Serves 1 to 4, (yadda, yadda, yadda)

1          English Muffin package, small dice
6          Garlic cloves, diced fine
1/4       Butter stick
3T        Olive oil

Garlic ButterIn a sauce pan place butter, olive oil and garlic.  Heat over medium heat until butter starts to bubble.  In a large bowl toss garlic butter and diced English Muffins. Place onto a baking sheet and place baking sheet in to a preheated 350° F oven. Bake until browned about 30 minutes. (This part can be done the day before with no loss of quality.) (You might want to double this part of the recipe and put the croutons out for snacks . . . damn good!!)

Chopped Herbs

1/4 c + 2 T     Olive oil
2 c       Mushrooms, brown, sliced
salt and pepper to taste

1          Onion, white or yellow, small dice
4          Celery ribs, small dice
1          Marjoram, Thyme & Sage, bunch each, stripped of stems and chopped.
2 c       Chicken broth

In a saute’ pan place 1/4 c olive oil and turn on medium heat.   Have a large soon for stirring handy.  When the oil just begins to shimmer add the slice mushrooms. Caution!! The mushrooms will splatter. I recommend wearing long sleeves.  Stir and/or toss to saute all sides of the mushroom slices.  Add a pinch of salt and pepper during this process to heighten flavor. Cook for about 5 minutes then pour out on to a paper towel and let sit undisturbed.

Broth and VeggiesIn a clean saute’ pan place 2 T of olive oil and place on medium high heat. When the oil begins to shimmer add the diced onion and celery. Stir and/or toss to cook slightly. After about 5 minutes add the mushrooms and the herbs and stir.  Let cook for one minute then add the chicken broth.  Simmer over medium heat for about 5 minutes then remove from heat.

Mixed StuffingIn a large mixing bowl mix the croutons and the vegetable mixture with broth.  Place the moistened croutons in to a baking dish and bake for 1 hour at 350° F.  Serve and enjoy!!


I hope that you found my Thanksgiving day recipes helpful.  They are a great part of the holiday, but the best part is sharing them with friends and family.  Have a Happy Thanksgiving!!


Eat Well and Smile Often,




p.s. Fork one, fork two, fork three . . . (belch.)  Begin again!!

Mashed Potatoes & Gravy!!

Mashed Potatoes and GravyAh! The magic of Thanksgiving lies not in the gratitude we openly express for life’s gifts, large or small.  No, no, no . . . the magic lies in the GRAVY!!

Pan Gravy!!  Just the way my mother used to make it; and her mother before her and her mother . . .  I came from a large household with lots of cousins with assorted and attached aunts and uncles.  Often times there would be 13 kids and 10 adults sharing turkey dinner each year.  It was great fun playing with my cousins and watching the Wizard of Oz. But the best fun for me was enjoying the ample amounts of mashed potatoes and gravy. They had the best of love and experience that mom and grandma could mix in.  But it wasn’t until I started having my own Thanksgiving dinners that I discovered leftovers!  Turkey sandwiches with cranberry sauce and stuffing for lunch.  Yum!!  But I must confess, I still rush home every day just for mashed potatoes with gravy as a snack.  Hits the spot like no candy bar ever could.

Over the years I have played with my mashed potato recipe by adding garlic, milk, cream, butter, sour cream and potato cooking water. Each one by themselves was fine but never quite right.  This year I concentrated on cooking the potatoes just right and added butter, sour cream, salt and white pepper to taste.  They are wonderful.  Light, fluffy, full bodied, great creamy texture and a perfect foil for the gravy. (Check back Wednesday for the recipe.)

Gra-a-a-a-a-v-y-y-y-y!  The best way to say gravy is the way Homer Simpson says it.  Gra-a-a-a-a-v-y-y-y-y!  Now I learned a thing or two at the CCA and sauces was chief among the finer points of my education.  There is a step by step process for every sauce with patience being the key factor for every preparation.  Each step must be executed perfectly or a substandard sauce will result.  Not so much with Pan Gravy.

Pan Gravy is very straight forward to make.  Some cooks choose to roast the neck separately and then simmer it in water while the turkey is roasting using this liquid to add flavor to the gravy.  Others cook the giblets, grind them and toss them in the pan to add flavor as well.  I can certainly recommend both of these approaches but I have a far simpler recipe, one that will reduce the level of stress in the kitchen while providing an excellent sauce for your bird, stuffing, potatoes and tongue!

Flour and DrippingsAfter you have taken the bird from the oven, remove it to a dish or cutting board to stand for about 15 – 20 minutes before carving.  This is the time to knock out ‘Le Piece de Resistance’ of the meal: the pan gravy.  Start by placing the pan across one or two burners of your stove and turn them on low.  Just enough that the fat and juices begin to bubble.  For my 13lb turkey recipe there were enough drippings from the bird and the herbed butter to need about 2/3 cup of flour to thicken.  This is a judgment call on the cook’s part.

Cooking the Roux

While the measurement is not critical, a sharp eye should be kept to monitor the consistency of the roux you are making. If the roux is too stiff do not worry, it will just take a little more broth to get the right consistency.  If it is a little runny then add more flour a tablespoon at a time until it just holds together.

Gently Boiling BrothWhisk the flour and all of the drippings together over the low heat and cook the roux until it bubbles and gets a little fluffy, stirring occasionally to even out the cooking. This process literally opens up the starch in the flour and allows it to absorb more liquid than when it is raw. While the roux is cooking, place some chicken broth in a separate saucepan and bring it to a gentle boil. If I could find a commercial source for turkey broth I would have used that. In the restaurant there were always turkeys being roasted for sandwiches and we would save the bones and make a stock from them. Chicken or turkey, both add great flavor.  I used a 32 oz container of unsalted broth and made one quart of gravy . . . almost enough!

Ladling Hot BrothAfter the roux has cooked sufficiently, about 5 minutes, turn off the heat and let it cool for about one minute.  Then gently ladle in one-ladle-full of boiling broth and whisk together well.  After it has fully incorporated repeat this step 3 or 4 more times. Turn the heat back on low under the pan to cook the gravy while whisking. Having hot broth and a little bit of patience whisking it in will give you a smooth gravy, the envy of every wanna-be sauce make out there.  Turn the heat off under the broth and now you can start pouring it in to the pan in greater volumes whisking until fully incorporated each time. Heat the gravy for about 2 minutes while whisking then turn the heat off under the pan and serve.

Whisking for Smooth GravySince I used a brined turkey my drippings were already salted.  My mother would add some Worcestershire sauce for extra spice. (Fair Notice: I had to grab a bottle from the refrigerator in order to spell it correctly.) I simply stuck a spoon into the gravy then into my head and tasted it.  Lovely!! As you see in the picture above it went extremely well with my snack of mashed potatoes.

Bowl of GravyCheck back Wednesday for the final installment of Thanksgiving recipes.

TIP: Buy your bird today,if you haven’t already done so.  A fresh bird will last in the refrigerator until Thursday.  A frozen bird needs 2 to 3 days to fully thaw before preparation.

Enjoy and feel free to visit my Facebook page to leave any questions or comments.

Eat Well and Smile Often.




p.s. My first turkey is already gone.  Time for Tom Turkey Two!!

The Tale of Tom Turkey: An American Story!!

Turkey“Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.”

(I guess it’s not enough to be Tom-Fool but now I am Tom-Turkey too!!)

So says,Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin a lawyer and magistrate in France during the late 18th and early 19th century.  A prolific author, he is most known for his work Physiologie du Goût (The Physiology of Taste.)  This treatise of observations and meditations surrounding food and all things related had a tremendous impact on my education when I attended the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco.  His work was quoted often and shortly after graduation I was thrilled to read M.F.K. Fisher’s translation while touring France in, what was by all definition, the world’s smallest car with my best friend Dale Hill. (A story for another time.)  So subtle are his observations that they easily insinuate themselves into my everyday life.  My favorite quote of his is, “It is the responsibility of the host to provide for all of his guest’s needs while they are under his roof.”  This is the philosophy with which I govern my household and the foundation of my culinary style.

This writing also included more than a few anecdotes, which brings me to the point of this story: The preparation of Thanksgiving dinner.  Brillat-Savarin tells the tale of a man traveling the countryside in France stopping at an inn for the night.  Upon entering he notices 5 large turkeys being roasted in the hearth.  He asks the innkeeper for wine and turkey and in return receives this reply.

“I am sorry sir, I have no turkey to offer you.”

“I see 5 turkeys on the spit right now.” open hearth cooking

“Sir, these birds have been purchased by another gentleman.  He is due to return shortly, perhaps he will share them with you.”

Some time later the man’s son walks into the inn and the innkeeper says, “This is the gentleman who purchased all of my turkeys.”

“Son, what do you need with 5 turkeys?”

“Father, you have always told me the most flavorful part of the turkey is the oyster. Since they are so small, I needed 5 birds to make a full meal!”

Turkey OysterThe oyster meat, for those of you who are unfamiliar with it, is located at the point where the thigh connects to the body of the turkey.  I recommend removing the legs and thighs first by cutting through the joints.  Flip the bird gently on to its breast and just above the point where the thighbone was connected to the body, there will be a small ‘oyster’ shaped piece of flesh that is very flavorful.  My suggestion: Don’t tell any of your guests and save it for leftovers.

But Tom, you said this was An American Story!!

It is.  Turkeys were known in Europe but they were a much smaller bird.  It was not until the New World was discovered that American turkeys became all the rage. Brillat-Savarin became especially fond of them after he spent 3 years in Boston during the French Revolution.  This is one dish the we Americans have proudly given to the world. You may remember that Benjamin Franklin wanted to make the turkey our national bird! Take that bald eagle!!

Over the course of this week I will be posting recipes for preparing Thanksgiving dinner using simple, traditional French cooking techniques I learned, the way I learned them.  Please bookmark this page and keep your eyes open for how to roast a Thanksgiving turkey, prepare whipped potatoes, maple candied yams, traditional stuffing and more!!

I am looking forward to seeing you back soon.


Eat Well and Smile Often!!




p.s. Gobble, gobble . . . Cluck??


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The Perfect Food?? – Twice Baked Potatoes!!

Twiced Baked PotoatoMy mother, rest her soul, was a lovely, giving woman generous with her time, love and affection.  She could burn water.  Did it! Saw her!  Boiled that pan dry.

I remember one holiday dinner  as a young man when I offered to help in the kitchen. She asked me to please cook the green beans.  Of course, says I and troddled off to the freezer I did. Fresh and local were not watchwords of the 70’s.  A box of frozen green beans in hand, I prepared a pan of boiling water and placed the frozen brick gently amongst the bubbles. After a few minutes the block had thawed and the green beans were heated through and through.  “Mom, I think the green beans are done.” Their pale green pallor being a dead giveaway. “Let’s give them a few more minutes just to be sure.” came the loving, generous reply.  My career path was set that day – Learn to cook – by people who know how to cook.

Now please don’t think of me as an uncharitable son. I loved my mother mightily and miss her to this day.  I have a great many reasons to thank her and my father.  One of those reasons is Twice Baked Potatoes!!

As a family we would often have regular baked potatoes.  They were easy for mom to make, just through them in the oven for and hour and put some margarine, salt and pepper on the table.  Feeding five rambunctious little monsters was no mean feat but my mother pulled it off every night.  One night in particular I noticed that the baked potatoes looked a little different.   As soon as the blessing was said I tucked right in and was pleasantly surprised.  If mothers receive validation for the efforts in the kitchen, from the praise of the family, my mother got free parking for a year that night. “Twice baked potatoes, Tom, that’s what they are.”  Yummmitty, yum yum.  All filled with cheese and bacon bits and  . . .  YUM!!

In honor and memory of my loving mother I share with you my approach at:

Twice Baked Potatoes

2  each       Large Russet Potatoes, bake at 350F for 1 hour

1/2 cup      Small Onion, diced and tossed into a saute’ pan with a little olive oil
3  each      Cloves of Garlic, smashed and minced – toss into saute’ with onions
1/2 cup      Diced Prosciutto – toss into saute’
1/4 cup      Dried Figs, diced – toss into saute’

Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes then deglaze with

1/2 cup     Dry white wine

Reduce about 1 minute then add

1/2 cup      Sour Cream

Grate and add

1/2 cup      Manchego cheese – add to mix
1/4 cup      Parmesan cheese – add to mix

Cook for 1 minute then remove from heat

Salt and pepper as desired

When potatoes are done baking remove from oven and set a side to cool.  When cool split open tops and remove the flesh into a bowl. Reserve the skins intact. Add the contents of the saute’ pan to bowl and mix.  Spoon mixture into reserved potato skins and bake at 350 until brown on top – about 15 minutes.

Serve hot!!

Eat well and Smile Often,



p.s. I believe that was the night I uttered those now infamous words, “Food is my habitat!”

p.p.s. Well it is!!