thanksgiving appetizers

Christmas Breakfast

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carole stands as one of the principal tomes on Christmas tradition.  The imagery of the Cratchit home a glow with candles and mistletoe, packed to the gills with family and friends donning their Sunday best all to enjoy a traditional Christmas feast.  Those traditional English foods litter the table like figgy pudding and the turkey provided by miser-turned philanthropist Ebenezer Scrooge.

For my own part I don’t know of a single human being that has ever had such a Christmas feast.  I remember my family trying once or twice but it never seemed to work out.  My mother was already exhausted from preparing victuals for my grandfather’s Christmas Eve gathering which usually hosted nearly a hundred friends and family from all over the country.  The effort of getting up the next morning to cook a Thanksgiving-like meal for a dozen or so was daunting.  My siblings, all three married and one with two kids, had in-laws to visit which often lead to unpredictable arrival times.  That is the typical American Christmas Day.

Healthy Southern BiscuitsMy mother decided that Christmas feast was retired, unless someone else wanted to do all of the cooking.  We replaced it with Christmas breakfast.  Some years it little more than left over pie with a glass of egg nog.  Don’t knock it.  Usually, however, Christmas breakfast was biscuits and gravy.  Sometimes we would have scrambled eggs and bacon or sausage with our biscuits and gravy but the most memorable accompaniment was fried quail.

I have never been much of a hunter but I sure enjoy the bounty of those who’ll kill a day tromping around the woods in search of game, especially quail.  I don’t know why but gravy made from fried quail is so much tastier than gravy made from fried chicken or bacon or sausage.  Luckily today you don’t have attack a covey of little birds with a scatter gun to enjoy quail.  They are farm raised and available in the frozen food section of most grocery stores.  And this is how you cook them:

Fried Quail

  • 12 quail, cleaned and dressed (frozen quail come this way)
  • 1 quart buttermilk
  • 2 cups flour (either 1½ cup AP & 1/2 cup rice or 2 cups AP)
  • Coconut oil
  • Salt and pepper

In a large airtight container place the quail and cover with quart of buttermilk.  Marinate for 4 – 24 hours.  When you are ready to cook heat a large cast iron skillet (cast iron really is the best for this) at medium high heat filled with 4 or 5 large scoops of coconut oil (may use canola oil 3/4” deep).  Mix flour and salt and pepper to taste then place into a large deep walled bowl.  Shake extra buttermilk from the quail then dredge in the flour, finally shake off excess flour and place into the skillet.  When the skillet is full (but the quail should not touch) cook at medium high covered for roughly 7 minutes.  Flip over and cook another 5 – 7 minutes covered or until all sides are brown then drain by placing quail onto a cooling rack over paper towels, lightly season at this point.  Serve with your favorite biscuits and pan gravy.

Pan Gravy

  • 1/3 cup AP flour
  • 1/3 cup oil from frying the quail
  • 1 – 2 quarts water
  • Salt & pepper or Cajun Seasoning

Heat the oil in the same iron skillet.  Add flour and stir constantly to make a roux, cooking for 5 – 7 minutes, season to taste.  Bit by bit add water stirring constantly.  Once the gravy thickens add the remaining water and allow to thicken slightly, stirring constantly.  Taste and season.

Holiday Sides From the Nation’s Best Chefs

Gobble, gobble is just a few weeks away. Now is the time to finalize your plans for cooking your Thanksgiving dinner. Some of the country’s best chefs go together at the Aspen Food and Wine Festival and literally talked turkey. Check it out:




Food Network Presents ‘Thanksgiving Live!’

Food Network Helps Viewers Avert Turkey-Day Disasters First-Ever, Two Hour, Interactive ‘Thanksgiving Live!’ Special

Hosted by Alton Brown and Featuring Bobby Flay, Rachael Ray and More
‘Thanksgiving Live!’ Airs Sunday, November 20th from NOON-2pm ET
Viewers Submit Questions Live via Facebook, Twitter and Skype

Alton Brown host Thanksgiving LiveNEW YORK – October 17, 2011 – Home cooks—and their Thanksgiving dinner guests—have another reason to be thankful this year! The experts at Food Network come together to  answer viewers toughest questions about holiday meal-making on Thanksgiving Live!, a two-hour, interactive show hosted by famed Turkey-master Alton Brown, airing Sunday, November 20 from 12 pm to 2 pm EST/PST (west coast airing will be taped).  On hand to address perennial problems from dry turkey to lumpy gravy, as well as demonstrate helpful tips and delicious recipes will be Ted Allen, Sunny Anderson, Anne Burrell, Melissa d’Arabian, Bobby Flay, Alex Guarnaschelli and Rachael Ray.

“Thanksgiving Live! is a unique opportunity for home cooks to get expert holiday meal preparation advice from the television chefs they love and trust on the Sunday before the big day,” said Bob Tuschman, General Manager and Senior Vice President of Food Network. “We’re excited to offer this one-of-a-kind television experience, in addition to our other media platforms,  to make Food Network the go-to resource for Thanksgiving food programming and instruction.”

In this first-ever Food Network live event, Alton will field viewers’ Thanksgiving meal preparation questions and refer them to an all-star cast of celebrity chefs. Viewers will not only have the opportunity to submit questions ahead of time via Facebook, Twitter (use #FNThanksgiving) but can also simultaneously submit questions during the broadcast.  Skype submissions (Username: FoodNetworkThanksgiving) will be exclusive to the two-hour broadcast.

As a side dish to the on-air broadcast, the network’s website ( will serve up a three-hour Thanksgiving Live webcast. Starting a half-hour before airtime, the site will stream a preshow featuring celebrity chef interviews and behind-the-scenes footage of Alton and the cast preparing for the live television event. During the show, viewers can participate in a unique, co-viewing social experience implemented on, and A mix of real-time conversation including video, photos, Facebook and Twitter posts, all seamlessly integrated into the live video stream, it will allow chefs and viewers to share tips, recipes and commentary. After the on-air broadcast concludes as the cast sit down to enjoy the Thanksgiving feast they prepared during the show, the online streaming video will continue with post-show coverage. Each guest will contribute a signature dish, covering everything from starters to desserts—and Alton Brown will carve the turkey!

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Stuart in 80 Words or Less

Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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Stuart’s Honors & Awards

2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up


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