Here are a few recipes that Chef Jason Campbell, at the Whole Foods Market Plano culinary center, generously shared in preparation for holiday get-togethers. Campbell regularly teaches hands-on cooking classes on food and meal preparation ranging from vegetarian to French cuisine, knife skills, preparing sushi and more.
Smoked Salt and Molasses Glazed Game Hens
Yield: one bird per guest for big eaters or one-half for smaller appetites
2 Cornish game hens each
1 1/2 Tbsp smoked salt
1 oz molasses
2/3 cup water
Cut the game hens in half by first removing the backbone with a pair of kitchen shears, then cut the bird down the middle of the breast with a sharp knife. Place the 4 game hen halves on a cookie sheet with a roasting rack on top, and then pat the birds dry on both sides with a clean paper towel.
Bring the water to a simmer in a small sauce pan on the stovetop, then whisk in the smoked salt and molasses and move the pan to a cold burner. Let the mixture cool until you cannot see any steam releasing from the liquid.
Brush the birds on both sides with the liquid and bake in a pre-heated 400-de- gree oven for 18 minutes then remove and re-brush with liquid on both sides. Place back in the oven and cook until the thickest part of the breast reaches 165 degrees on your meat thermometer. Remove from the oven and let hens rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Sweet Potato and Butternut Squash Gratin with Blue Cheese and Walnuts
Yield: four to six servings
1 butternut squash (peeled)
1 large sweet potato or 2 regular, peeled
1 container blue cheese crumbles
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 Tbsp salt
1 large bowl ice water
When slicing the butternut squash cut off the bulb, remove seeds and dice, saving or freezing for another recipe. Using a good knife, mandolin or vegetable slicer, slice the butternut squash neck and sweet potatoes; 1/8 inch thick is ideal, but just cut them as thin as you can and still feel comfortable not any thinner than 1/8 inch.
Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil in 3 quart-plus sauce pan and add 1 tablespoon of salt to the water then add the squash and reduce heat to a simmer.
Blanch the squash slices for about 3 minutes or longer, depending on the thickness, but cooked al-dente. Remove from the water and place in the ice water. Repeat the process with the sweet potatoes, keeping both vegetables separated. Drain the vegetables and pat dry.
In a small greased baking square or rectangle dish, layer all of the butternut squash evenly. Place half of the blue cheese on top of the squash, then layer the sweet potatoes on top. Top the dish with the blue cheese and place in a 400-degree preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until cheese is melted and hot in the middle.
In a hot small sauté pan on the stove, toast the walnuts over medium high heat for 2 minutes. Remove the gratin, top with walnuts and cut into triangles then serve.
Green Beans and Thyme Butter Mushroom Sauté
Yield: four servings
6 oz haricot vert green beans
6 oz baby bella mushrooms (cut into 4 triangular pieces)
2 Tbsp salted butter
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp fresh chopped thyme
Blanch the green beans in large pot of salted water on the stove for 2 minutes or until you hear them start to pop. Shock the green beans in a bowl of ice water, then cut them in half and hold. Melt the butter in a large sauté pan (you want enough surface area that the mushrooms do not touch) when the butter starts to sizzle add the mushrooms to the pan spaced so they are not touching. Season with salt and pepper, then add thyme to the pan.
Cook mushrooms until nicely browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Add green beans to the pan and cook just until the beans are heated through then season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
Fontina Cheese Toast with Cottage Bacon, Baby Greens and Poached Eggs
Yield: four servings
2 slices large Italian bread, 1-inch thick
4 sandwich slices fontina cheese each
4 slices Canadian, cottage or Irish bacon
8 large eggs
1 Tbsp vinegar
1 tsp salt
3 Tbsp balsamic glaze
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups baby greens
3 Tbsp salted butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Toast the bread until cheese is melted and the bottom side is toasted. Remove from the toast from the pan and sear the bacon until heated slightly browned on both sides. Turn the oven off and place the toast and bacon in a heat safe dish and place in the oven to stay warm. Whisk 2 tablespoons of olive oil and balsamic glaze together then toss with the greens.
To poach eggs, work in groups of four eggs at a time. Use the freshest eggs that you can find. You will need a large slotted spoon. Crack four eggs into a four small bowls.
Bring 2 quarts of water to boil in a 3 quart pot. Stir in vinegar and salt until dissolved and whisk in one direction so that the water forms a slight tunnel in the middle of the pot, add eggs one at a time pouring them in to pot very carefully not to break them. Turn the heat of the pot to medium or lower as needed so that the water does not come to simmer but stays hot, Cook the eggs until the whites are cooked but the yolks are still runny.
Remove the eggs from the pan carefully and set on a plate to drain. Bring the water back to a boil and poach the other four eggs.
To assemble, pick the four eggs that are not perfect and pierce the yolk and drizzle one yolk on the bottom of each of four plates. Take the remaining balsamic glaze and drizzle it on each of the plates. Cut the toast in half and place one half on each plate. Top the toast with the greens then the bacon. Top each with an egg and season the egg with salt and pepper.
To learn more about events at the Whole Foods Market Plano culinary center, visit bit.ly/WF-Plano-Events.