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Gathered together for good taste

November 6, 2013 by  
Filed under Food

Gathered together for good taste

Chef Jay Jones offers tips for putting a twist on Thanksgiving dinner

Chef Jay Jones with Lil Kim (left) and Megan Goode.

With two years in Las Vegas under his belt, New York native Chef Jay Jones is already making quite a splash in the local culinary scene: In addition to working as a private chef, he teaches classes for those who want to sharpen their cooking skills.

“When I first arrived to Las Vegas, I worked as a culinary instructor at Le Cordon Bleu,” he said. “I am currently working on a cookbook, and serve as a mentor to high school students and talk to them about the culinary industry.”

With the holidays fast approaching, Jones was kind enough to reveal some of his secrets to making the season’s celebratory meals more memorable than ever:

  • It is important to keep with tradition for the holidays because it is a time that friends and family like familiarity. People want to come back to something they have enjoyed
  • The only thing that makes a holiday dish different is a variation on a familiar recipe.  For example put a new twist on a traditional holiday favorite by making a sweet potato mousse. Take all of your original ingredients for sweet potato pie, and mix them all together with a cream. It’s very light, and not as thick and rich as the pie.
  • Instead of using canned cranberry sauce, try making a homemade version by putting fresh cranberries into a pot and cooking them until they burst. It is a completely  different taste from canned cranberry sauce, and keeps with your holiday meal tradition.
  • Rather than use stuffing mix from a box, make your own — with original flavored spices, sage and hot and spicy sausages.
  • Consider adding another protein to your holiday meal. Instead of sticking to turkey and ham, think about making a large salmon and adding familiar spices for extra flavor.
  • Brine your holiday turkey instead of using a turkey injector to put flavor inside the bird. The brine process consists of submerging your turkey in seasoned water for 24 or 48 hours, then covering and refrigerating it before cooking.
  • Utilize the places you have traveled to create a holiday atmosphere and environment.  If you are not afraid of flavors, you can transform an entire traditional holiday meal into a Caribbean feast by adding jerk seasoning to your turkey.
  • Braise your greens. Instead of submerging them in a pot of water, fill the pot two to three inches from the bottom with seasoning, cover and let your greens steam. It’s about cooking them slowly and on a low temperature.
  • For a healthier choice, put smoked turkey in your greens for flavor.
  • Herbs can create flavor for your meals in different ways. For a longer cooking taste, use dry herbs; for a burst of color and flavor, use fresh herbs on the top of a meal after cooking.
  • Enhance your macaroni and cheese by adding seven different kinds of cheese.
  • Instead of boiling your potatoes when making potato salad, try roasting red potatoes until they are tender, then adding your favorite potato salad ingredients.

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