Friday, December 11, 2009

Twas the Night before Christmas at the Harvest Moon!

You know, my family says that I am a bit of a nut when it comes to Christmas. I guess I just really like everything about it. When we moved to Lancaster County to open up our own Bed and Breakfast, little did I know that I would be in such a great area for antique Christmas collecting. I would like to say it is the capitol. Just ask Jim Morrison at the National Christmas Center. So when it comes to the holidays, one of our traditions with the children is to read The Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve. The kids would laugh when I would mix the words up a bit; it made for a lot of laughs before bed time, ( In hindsight, I think I was contributing to getting them all wound up before bed ) It is my favorite holiday poem. The poem which is also called a visit from St. Nicholas was written by Clement C. Moore. Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia that gives the history.

A Visit from St. Nicholas" (also known as "The Night Before Christmas" and "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" from its first line) is a poem written by Clement Clarke Moore, first published anonymously in 1823. It is largely responsible for the conception of Santa Claus from the mid-nineteenth century to today, including his physical appearance, the night of his visit, his mode of transportation, the number and names of his reindeer, and the tradition that he brings toys to children. Prior to the poem, American ideas about St. Nicholas and other Christmastide visitors varied considerably. The poem has influenced ideas about St. Nicholas and Santa Claus beyond the United States to the rest of the Anglosphere and the world.

And here is the poem it's self. Enjoy and above all Merry Christmas!

'Twas the Night before Christmas' Poem

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the houseNot a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.

And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snowGave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,But a miniature sleigh, and eight tinny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

"Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!

To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.

So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roofThe prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

As I drew in my head, and was turning around,Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.

A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.

He had a broad face and a little round belly,That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.

And laying his finger aside of his nose,And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.

But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Clipper a Lobster and a Chef

Let's face it... I enjoy food! I enjoy everything about it. Looking at it, smelling it, cooking it and of course eating it. There is a family joke; My mom was... well how should I say it with out sounding mean... well she was an awful cook. She is actually the first to admit it and often laughs about it. So I guess growing up, I needed to fend for myself at times.

Therefore the interest in becoming a chef was strong. I really do enjoy what I do. What makes it special, is when I have guest that say something, write something or somehow describe their experience. It is wonderful to hear what was special about the food I created.

Just a couple of weeks ago, I received an email from someone connected to me from the past. Apparently her parents were at the Yankee Clipper Inn; my first job out of Culinary school back in 1998. What she was looking for was a recipe from something I cooked 11 years ago. Needless to say that special feeling that a chef gets when food is loved increased ten fold.

I am adding her email to this post for you to see. Also the recipe... Enjoy and Thank you Margo... you have brightened my day.

The letter I received:

Carl, Hello there! This might sound odd but I've been on a search and I was wondering if you could help me. My parents stayed at the Yankee Clipper Inn in 1998. Since their visit, they've talked about this restaurant, and their "favorite chef", and the lobster bisque soup appetizer that they had. They've wanted to recreate this bisque ever since their visit and talk about it all the time. They don't have internet at their home, so I thought I'd take on the challenge of finding what they were looking for.

So I emailed the Yankee Clipper and they said that since then, the
y've changed owners and chefs and wouldn't have the recipe.

So then my mother calls me yesterda
y and says that she found the receipts, info, and even menu from their trip there. She said there were 2 different chefs but the food was so much better the first night, and the chef that night was Carl Kosko.

And that is what brings me to this email. I googled your name and found this B&B and am hoping you might be the same chef fro
m the restaurant at the Yankee Clipper. And if by chance you are, if there would be any way that you would have a recipe for lobster bisque. I would love to print it out and give it to my parents on Christmas as a surprise!

I love to cook and find that memories are in every dish. I know that this recipe would make them so happy. If you are indeed the chef that I've been looking for, if you can help me I would truly appreciate it.
. Evanston IL

The Recipe:

Yankee Clipper Style Lobster Bisque

1/4 c. minced onion

3 tbsp. butter
3/4 lb. lobster, cooked and cubed

2 plus cups of heavy cream (may have to adjust after simmering bisque)
½ tsp paprika
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. white pepper

1/4 c. sherry or brandy

My days at the “Clipper” (as only we in the know once called it) were special. Who would complain? I had the best employers, great creative freedom, a top notch staff, met great people from all over the world, (including one very special person… my wife) and the view was, well how do I describe it… I guess priceless. The Yankee Clipper Inn was the perfect place for a young Chef to grow.

Here magic was fashioned, with the creative freedom that I spoke of; our work in the kitchen became…art! My goal was to take Yankee Tradition and twist it just enough to bring in the ever changing demands of “gourmet”. All the while keeping the menus geared to that of Coastal New England. The mix… spectacular!

Below you will find one of our recipes. This recipe is an easy one. The flavors are captured from the simplest of ingredients. Be careful though, not to over brown the onion or over cook the lobster. Always save half the lobster and incorporate towards the end of cooking as mentioned in recipe.

Sauté onion in butter in a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat until onion has a golden color. Add ½ of lobster chopped up and sauté for just a minute. Add sherry and deglaze the pan to round the flavors off and reduce sherry to about half.

Then add cream and heat till the stock is bubbly and a bit thickened. You should have at this point captured some of the lobster flavor. If need be, you can adjust cream to your needs. If too thin let reduce if too thick add a drop of water or more cream.

Taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed. Add paprika for color and then the remaining lobster meat, I do not like to cut this lobster meat up too fine; I like the rough look of it… more natural when the whole meat from a lobster claw is used as a garnish in your bisque. Make sure the lobster garnish is hot. To further adjust flavor, instead of adding salt, add a bit of chicken bouillon.

This was a simple recipe that we made to order. With this particular recipe, I have loaded the bisque up with lobster; the amount is adjustable to your needs as long as you have enough in the beginning to draw some of the flavor out. As long as you have all ingredients ready, the whole cooking time should take no longer than 10-15 minutes. If you feel that your lobster meat is getting over cooked, you can remove it and place back in at the end.