Category Archives: Recipes

Cooking the Turkey – ‘Gangnam Style’ !

Now that your beautiful bird has been bathing in a knocked up version of saline solution, spices and herbs, it’s time to cook this bountiful wonder.

Remove the Turkey from the brine, pat dry and make sure to remove any excess liquid from the cavity.  Season lightly with black pepper and pre-heat your oven to 300 degrees for the first stage of the cooking. While preparing the next part of this recipe, I find that a good bourbon and some football make great companions in the kitchen.  Maybe a bottle of Van Winkle Special Reserve?  This sweet, full-bodied whiskey has been described by some as “Nectar”! The 12 years of aging and medium proof is just right in creating a very pleasant drink of whiskey.

And what would Thanksgiving be without a little football?  This year the NFL is offering up a feast of pigskin on Turkey Day. The classic rivalry between this years explosive Houston Texans and Megatrons’ Lions of Detroit, RGIII and the Washington Redskins against Tony Romos’ Dallas Cowboys, and the Mighty Pats without the Gronk and the NY Jets who may finally start Baby Jesus instead of Mark Sanchez.

All this provides the perfect backdrop to preparing a magnificent turkey. Follow my recipe below and your bird, just like The Florida Gators, will not disappoint.

Cooking Your Bird! 

  • 1 small onion
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 apple
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • 1 bunch sage
  • 1 bunch rosemary
  • 1 bunch thyme

Pre-Heat oven to 300 degrees

Combine the onion, celery, carrot, apple, herbs and spices in a bowl and lay around bird. Truss the legs of the turkey with twine and place on a roasting rack covered with aluminum foil and roast for 2 ½ hours.

Uncover the turkey and reserve the foil, increase the oven temperature to 375 brush the turkey with melted butter  and cook for 30 minutes. Baste the turkey every 15 minutes and remove when internal temperature reads 150 degrees.

Happy Thanksgiving from the DeRosa’s, Jamie, Amy, Isabela & Bentley


Thanksgiving “Happiness” is all about the Sides and Dessert

With Thanksgiving only four days away, odds are that you already have your Turkey Day menu set and are gearing up to hit Whole Foods some time tomorrow.  If you are more of a procrastinator, or just have not had the time to even think about what to put on your holiday table, here are some recipes for quick and delicious sides and a tasty dessert that I will be preparing for my family this Thanksgiving.

Roasted Beets, Pickled Red Onions, Hazelnuts and Goat Cheese (Serves 6)


  • 6 large red beets
  • 4 oz. aged goat cheese (Bucheron, cana, or Humbolt fog)
  • 2 oz. pickled red onions
  • 2 oz. hazelnuts, peeled, roasted
  • 1 orange
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 5 leaves chervil or taragon leaves

Picked Red Onions – Ingredients:

  • 2 large red onions
  • 1 1/2 c. red wine vinegar
  • 3/4 c. sugar

Bring vinegar and sugar to a boil in a small saucepot.  Make sure to dissolve the sugar.  Pour the hot vinegar over the onions in a a bowl, chill and reserve until ready to serve.


Place the beets, skin on, in a roasting pan with 1 cup of water, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and a good dusting of salt.Cover the pan with aluminum foil and place in a 350º oven for about 30 minutes or until the flesh of the beet is pierced easily with a knife.

Roast Hazelnuts in oven at 350 Degrees for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.  Chop hazelnuts with knife until coarse.Allow beets to cool and then peel the skin with the abrasion of a dish towel.Cut the beets in cubes about ½ inch square and place on a platter or plate. Meanwhile, combine the juice of 1 orange, shallots, salt and pepper in a small bowl, then slowly whisk in the olive oil until the mixture becomes emulsified.

In a medium mixing bowl toss the beats with orange dressing, check seasoning and then top with pieces of the cheese, hazelnuts and the pickled red onions.

Brussel Sprouts, Pancetta, Chestnuts and Lemon


  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 lbs Brussels sprouts, rinse, dry, cut in half
  • 3/4 lb. chestnuts, peeled, cut in half
  • ½ Lb. Pancetta, diced about ½ inch squares
  • 1 Lemon
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Chestnuts – How to roast and peel:

Chestnut season runs from early October through late December. Look for healthy, unwrinkled shells and a glossy brown surface. Dingy or mottled shells may indicate mold, and small pinholes likely indicate that worms have been drilling; avoid such nuts. Fresh chestnuts are firm to the touch and heavy in the hand, with no space between the shell and the meat of the nut inside.

First, using a sharp knife, make an incision about 1/8-inch deep through each chestnut shell, just into the flesh of the nut, and work your way almost around its circumference.  After slitting the shells, transfer the chestnuts to a chestnut roasting pan or a rimmed baking pan, and roast them in a 350-degree oven for about 35 minutes.  While the chestnuts are hot, remove and discard each shell and the papery skin. Reserve chestnuts for brussels sprouts.


In a large skillet or saute pan heat the pancetta on medium heat until golden brown. Reserve the fat and pancetta seperately for later. 

Heat butter and oil in a skillet over medium heat until butter is melted. Add Brussels sprouts, salt and pepper. Cook until golden (15-17 mins).  Add chestnuts and Cook for 20-25 mins. Raise heat to medium-high and add vinegar, chicken broth and sugar.  Cook until liquid is reduced to syrup (4-5 mins). Squeeze lemon over and zest on top. 

Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cakes


  • Cake:1 (18 1/4-ounce) package yellow cake mix
  • 1 egg
  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted


  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 (16-ounce) box powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the cake mix, egg, and butter and mix well with an electric mixer. Pat the mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 13 by 9-inch baking pan.

To make the filling: In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla, and butter, and beat together. Next, add the powdered sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and mix well. Spread pumpkin mixture over cake batter and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Make sure not to overbake as the center should be a little gooey.

Serve with fresh whipped cream.

Stay tuned as tomorrow I shop for the recipes that I have shared and prepare these dishes on Tuesday.

Stuffing vs. Dressing

Turkey Day Tip # 3- “When it comes to Turkey, stuffing is evil.” – Alton Brown

Although not likely on the menu of the Pilgrim’s first Thanksgiving Day feast in 1621, stuffing has become as ubiquitous as Tom Turkey himself.  Although a staple of Thanksgiving Day Dinner, it seems that no two families can agree on what goes into proper stuffing.  Even the name differs depending on where you are from.  Traditionally, the word “stuffing” was used when it was cooked inside the bird, whereas the word “dressing” was used when cooked outside of the bird.  Today, the terms “stuffing” and “dressing” are used interchangeably.  Although “stuffing” seems to be used more in the North and “dressing” in the South.

These regional differences, as well as one’s nationality, usually dictates what is in the stuffing on your Thanksgiving Day table.  For the traditionalist there is oyster stuffing.  Southerners often prefer cornbread stuffing while Italians like sausage in their stuffing. Dried fruit, potatoes, and apples make up stuffing traditionally prepared by Germans.

Whether you call it stuffing, dressing or even filling (as I have heard it referred to) or wether you include seafood, cornbread, sausage or fruit, nothing is more important than where you cook this concoction – inside or outside of the turkey.

I prefer to cook the stuffing in a casserole outside of the bird — no junk in the trunk here.  Then when the bird is done, drizzle the drippings of the turkey over the stuffing to give it added flavor and also help keep it nice and juicy.  My preference is not just based on taste but safety concerns as well.

Food safety requirements dictate that you should cook a turkey until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.  If the bird is filled with stuffing, it will take much longer to reach the recommended temperature.  Longer cooking time equals a greater chance that you will overcook the other parts of the bird.  More often than not, cooking the stuffing inside the bird results in either soggy, sticky, luke warm stuffing or an overcooked breast.  Not to mention, the possibility of samonila poisoning if the bird is not cooked through.

Rather than filling your turkey with stuffing try filling the cavity with something that will give it additional flavor such as fresh herbs, garlic or lemon.

Although my taste in stuffing (or dressing as I cook it outside the bird) is pretty diverse (cornbread, sausage, oyster, etc), this year I have decided to pay homage to my Italian roots and make my favorite – a sausage, apple and walnut stuffing.  Here is my recipe.

Sausage, Apple, and Walnut Stuffing

Extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
3 ribs celery, finely diced
Kosher salt
3 small cloves garlic, smashed and finely diced
1 Lb. Berkshire pork sausage,  casing removed, broken up into bite-size chunks – I prefer a “The Roman sausage” from our friends at Proper Sausages
3 apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch dice ( I prefer Granny Smith Apples)
1 cup apple cider
1/2 bunch sage, leaves finely chopped
3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
10 cups rustic bread, crusts discarded, cut into 1-inch cubes; or fresh bread slices toasted until crispy but no color, cut into 1-inch cubes (go see my friends at Acme Bakery for a variety of fresh baked bread) 
3 cups chicken stock


Coat a large saute pan, over medium heat, with olive oil and add the onions and celery. Season with salt and cook until the veggies start to become soft and are very aromatic. Add the garlic and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. Add the sausage and cook until the sausage browns. Stir in the apples and apple cider and cook until the apples start to soften, about 3 to 4 minutes. Sprinkle in the sage leaves and the walnuts and turn off the heat.

 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Add the diced bread and toss together. Pour in the chicken stock and knead with your hands until the bread is very moist, actually wet. Taste to check for seasoning and season with salt, if needed, (it does). Transfer to a large deep ovenproof dish (roughly 9 by 11 inches) and bake until it is hot all the way through and crusty on top.

Not Your Grandma’s Thanksgiving Menu

Turkey Day Tip # 2: Have some fun with the menu – add a twist to the traditional.

Of course the star of the show at Thanksgiving is the turkey.  I would never suggest replacing this staple of Thanksgiving Day dinner with some obscure centerpiece like a Tofurkey, Turducken or any other type of protein or obscure combination thereof.  However, the trimmings are where you can have some fun.  Even I have sat through many a Thanksgiving dinner where I was presented with the “standard” side dishes of mashed potatoes, some sort of green bean casserole, wonder bread stuffing, overly sweet pumpkin pie and, who can forget, the fresh from the can Ocean Spray cranberry sauce.  At best, any of this served warm would be an improvement. This year I say throw caution to the wind, mix it up a bit and have some fun with the fixins’.

Perhaps you could substitute Aunt Mary’s soggy green bean casserole for Brussels sprouts with roasted chestnuts, switch out Abuelas’ bland mashed potatoes for potato and cheese pie or potato soufflé and replace mom’s good ole’ pumpkin pie for pumpkin gooey butter cakes.  You may even get real crazy and make your own cranberry sauce from scratch.

I am excited this year to have the opportunity to spend the holiday with my entire family.  A welcomed break from the norm as most holidays I’m in the weeds at the restaurant cooking for other families.  This year I have been charged with the task of preparing the bird and drippins’, a few sides and something sweet.  I am taking my own advice and spicing it up a bit with these not so run of the mill Thanksgiving dishes.

Turkey brine with a mixture of spices and herbs *(and how to cook the bird day of)

Sausage, apple and walnut stuffing

Roasted beets with pickled onions, candied hazelnuts and goat cheese

Brussels sprouts with panchetta, roasted chestnuts and lemon

Pumpkin gooey butter cakes, yes Goo-ey!

Stay tuned in the days leading up to Thanksgiving as I will share these recipes and some photos of me preparing the dishes.  In the meantime, here is my recipe for turkey brine.


  • 2 Gal Water
  • 2 C. Kosher Salt
  • 1/3 C. Brown Sugar
  • ¼ C. Garlic, Whole
  • 1 ½ Tbsp. Whole Black Peppercorns
  • 1 ½ Tbsp. Juniper Berries
  • 3 Bay Leaves

In a large pot place turkey and combine all of the brine ingredients and stir.  Cover and refrigerate overnight. Remove the turkey from the pot, discard the brine, and rinse the turkey thoroughly under cold water, pat dry with cloth and set aside for seasoning and roasting.

**Note: I find using a cooler and submerging the bird in water and ice overnight is the easiest method for brining.


Eleven-Twelve: “A turkey never voted for an early Christmas.”

[Watch the video] One of my favorite classics…

Each year around holiday time, we chef’s get asked a variety of questions on how to prepare for this fowl full celebration.  These questions range from the basic such as “How long should I cook the turkey?” to the more advanced “How do you brine a turkey?” to the downright absurd “Do I have to thaw a frozen turkey before I put it in the oven?”   And the beat goes on…

With only 10-days until the big Thanksgiving Day feast, I’ve decided to countdown the days with my ten tips for your Thanksgiving dinner.

Tip #1: What’s the best Turkey to buy?
My favorite bird is the Heritage Turkey for 3-main reasons:

Heritage Turkey

1. Naturally mating: A Heritage Turkey must be reproduced and genetically maintained through natural mating. This means that turkeys marketed as “heritage” must be the result of naturally mating pairs of both grandparent and parent stock.  No arranged marriages here.

2. Long productive outdoor lifespan: In order to be considered a Heritage Turkey, the bird must have a long productive lifespan. Breeding hens are commonly productive for 5-7 years and breeding toms for 3-5 years. The Heritage Turkey must also have a genetic ability to withstand the environmental rigors of outdoor production systems.

3. Slow growth rate: A Heritage Turkey must have a slow to moderate rate of growth. Today’s heritage turkeys reach a marketable weight in about 28 weeks, giving the birds time to develop a strong skeletal structure and healthy organs prior to building muscle mass. Crossfit- devotees everywhere would be proud.

And let’s not forget the most important factor – TASTE.  Heritage birds, when brined and properly cooked, are one of the juiciest and tastiest birds I’ve ever had.  Cooked at the appropriate time and temperature – Juicy, Delicious and Crispy is how my birds roll!

Stay tuned each day as we count down my top ten tips, tomorrow: “How to write a Thanksgiving Menu?”

Eli…The Other White Meat

“Playing with Food”

The last couple of days have been filled with a flurry of activity that, while exciting and memorable, has actually been quite exhausting.  On Saturday, weary from our travels, we made the decision to stay put on Long Island with my grandparents and aunt and allow them to dote on Isabela a bit.  Having our fill of Southern food, and anxious to get my hands on some fall ingredients, I decided that I would cook dinner for the family.  My aunt suggested a market close by called Fairway.  This place was nothing short of amazing. It made Whole Foods look like a road side farm stand.  From the unbelievable selection of fresh produce, to the cured olive bar, to the handmade mozzarella station, I was enamoured with the possibilities of what I could create.  After perusing the offerings at the fish counter I decided on bouillabaisse, a traditional Provencal fish stew originating from the port city of Marseille. Fairway had a beautiful selection of cod filets, littleneck clams by the dozen and some sweet shrimp that were just the right thing for a brisk fall day.  These ingredients reminded me of a recipe I once made with Julia Child at Goose Cove Lodge in Maine where I worked one summer.  She taught me the importance of making the “Soupe de Poisson”  by sweating the shrimp shells, leeks, onions and tomatoes and simmering them for about an hour, straining and reserving the liquid to cook then cook the seafood (See recipe below). To accompany the bouillabaisse we found some freshly baked ciabatta and I decided to make a classic rouille.  Amy chose to make her “infamous” antipasti of olives, cured meats, peppers, artisan cheeses with Ligurian olive oil.

Back to my grandmothers we went and started preparing dinner.  Lisa, a chef friend of mine who was working in the Hamptons this summer, stopped by to meet Isabela and brought some Long Island sweets and a nice bottle of wine.  We all sat in the kitchen around the island and watched the Florida Gators win, laughed, reminisced and snacked as we prepared the evenings feast.  It’s days like this that remind me of how I was always in the kitchen with my grandmother as a child — listening to the elders tell stories and laugh all the while enjoying great food. Today, the torch had been past to us. This time my grandparents were the ones watching and enjoying our time together and I couldn’t be happier to be cooking for them.


Although I was raised in Central Florida, I was born in New York and will always be a New Yorker at heart.   The Mets, Nicks and the Giants are my teams.  A die-hard Giants fan since as long as I can remember, sadly I have never been to a Giants game in Giants Stadium, until now!  When I was plotting the course for our road trip, I purposely scheduled our stopover in NY to coincide with a Giants home game (the other option was to first stop in Rhode Island to see my wife’s team the New England Patriots .. sorry babe).  We awoke early, kissed Isabela goodbye, left her with my aunt and grandparents, drove through Manhattan to pick a few friends and headed to the Meadowlands.   As we exited the Lincoln Tunnel and were approaching the stadium my anticipation grew.  A short tailgate due to the chilly and rainy weather and we were at our seats for kickoff.  What a beautiful stadium, we had perfect seats located just in front of the VIP area that housed many bars, food stations and lounges.  Even though the stadium was packed this area seemed to have enough room for all to sit, relax and for the girls to stay warm. Although it was a shaky start, the GMEN pulled off a 41 to 27 win. Eli looked amazing, Bradshaw was a stud and Cruz hauled in 3 TD catches. A perfect Trifecta!

“Giants Stadium- House that Eli Built”

Still high from my excitement of my Giants game, duty called.  Apparently Isabela was running the show at my grandparents’  house and it was time to relieve the babysitters.

I am so thankful to have this time with my family here in New York and for everyone to see Isabela for the first time. Until next time I leave you with…

“True Giants Fans”

Julia says it best:

This is the kind of food I had fallen in love with: not trendy, souped-up fantasies, just something very good to eat….the ingredients have been carefully selected and beautifully and knowingly prepared. Or, in the words of the famous gastronome Curnonsky, “Food that tastes of what it is”. (from My Life in France)

Here’s to you, Julia!

Julia Child’s Bouillabaisse with Rouille

Inspired by Julia Child

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup each chopped onion and leek
  • 4 cloves mashed garlic
  • 2 or 3 large, ripe tomatoes
  • 2 1/2 quarts water
  • Fresh herb sprigs: thyme, parsley, fennel fronds and basil (in any combination)
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 3 – 4 pounds fish heads, bones, trimmings, shrimp shells
  • 1 1/2 pounds each peeled shrimp (use the shells for the stock); wild cod, halibut and/or sole cut into chunks, and debearded, scrubbed mussels or clams
  • Toasted rustic bread
  • Rouille sauce (recipe below)

Heat the oil in a tall pot (I used an 8 quart stockpot) over medium heat; add the onion and leek and cook gently until softened. Stir in the garlic and cook for a minute until fragrant, then add the tomatoes, water, herbs, saffron, salt and fish bones. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat so that the broth bubbles slowly without boiling. Cook 30 minutes, then strain the broth into a large bowl or another pot and discard the solids. Pour the broth back into the stockpot and bring to a boil. Add the shrimp and cook until they turn pink, a minute or two. Add the rest of the fish and shellfish, cover and simmer until the mussels or clams open. Taste the soup and add more salt and freshly ground pepper if needed. Serve the bouillabaisse with toasted bread and rouille on the side.


  • 1 roasted and peeled red bell pepper
  • 1 roasted hot red chile pepper or ground cayenne pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 small peeled garlic clove
  • 1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs or finely chopped almonds
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
  • Fine sea salt, about 1/2 teaspoon or to taste
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Puree everything except for the olive oil in a food processor until smooth. Slowly add the olive oil while processing to form a  paste.