What to do with the leftovers?

November 25, 2011 by · 2 Comments 

By Kathleen Nixon

November 25, 2011

Falls Church Times Staff

Now that the big food day is over, the question now is: what to do with all the leftovers? You have shopped, prepared and presented all of this glorious food, but how many times can you reheat and eat it? Don’t get me wrong I love turkey sandwiches and reheating gravy and mashed potatoes but after a day or so, you would like to see these great dishes take on a second act.

With this in mind, I asked two of our local phenomenal chef’s Tracy O’Grady of Willow and Steve Mannino of Rustico to share with me their ideas of what to do with our Thanksgiving leftovers. Tracy came up with Turkey Stuffing Shepherd’s Pie and Steve blew me away with his Mashed Potato Chocolate cake.  If you don’t feel so inclined to do either of these, please consider at least  making a broth out of your turkey carcass and use it for soup or stew with your remaining turkey meat.

Broth has seems to fallen out of favor in our society because it takes so long to prepare but I firmly believe there is nothing better for our cooking or health than homemade broths. When I am feeling particularly frazzled, I will set aside a day of the weekend to make a broth so that the house smells heavenly and I have quarts of great broth sitting in my freezer to add to any dish. Many of us grew up on broths from bouillon cubes or from a can, but these miss many of the minerals and nutrients that come from the bones that are part of any great broth. The critical component of making a broth is time – just letting the bones simmer in a pot on the stove for hours – preferably at least 6 hours but more like 8. This doesn’t mean you have to sit and watch it, just let it simmer while you do other things around the house. I really liked these two methods of making broth from Cooking for Engineers and Cheap Cooking.

Now if you want to use more of the leftovers, Tracy O’Grady Chef and Owner of Willow Restaurant created this recipe for us using many of the ingredients that we will have left over from our Thanksgiving meals.

Turkey Stuffing Sheppard’s Pie by Tracy O’Grady – Willow Restaurant

Serves 6

Bake in an 8”x10” earthenware dish, dimensions do not need to be exact


4 cups picked turkey meat, use both dark and white or whatever is leftover

2 cups leftover gravy

1-2 cups turkey broth made for another meal of turkey soup, cook the turkey carcass very slowly over night in water with mirepoix of celery, carrot and onion

½-1 cup left over mashed potatoes

1 cup leftover glazed or roasted carrots

1 small onion, diced and sautéed until tender

2 stalks of celery, diced and sautéed until tender

4 sage leaves, roughly chopped

3-4 cups leftover stuffing

Salt and cracked black pepper to taste

  • Use leftover cranberry sauce as an accompaniment
  • Use leftover green bean as an accompaniment


Heat the gravy and mashed potatoes together whisking until smooth, add in turkey stock to the desired consistency.  The gravy mixture can be as thick or brothy as desired.  Fold in the turkey meat, carrots, onions, celery, sage, salt and pepper and place in the earthenware dish.  Spread the leftover stuffing evenly over the top of the stew (if the stuffing is too dry add some of the turkey stock).  Cover the Sheppard’s pie with foil and place in a 350* preheated oven and bake for approximately 30 minutes or until fairly hot.  Remove the foil and cook for another 15-20 minutes or until the stuffing is crispy and the pie is hot and bubbly inside.

I had always tried to think of ways to recreate something with mashed potatoes so when Steve Mannino shared his family recipe of Mashed Potato Chocolate Cake I was overjoyed and intrigued. Caution: this is not a recipe to use with garlic or cheesy mashed potatoes.


Chocolate-Potato Cake by Steve Mannino of Rustico
Makes one Bundt cake.


2 cups sugar
2/3 cups butter, softened
2 eggs, separated
1 cup skinless mashed potatoes, such as peeled Idaho potatoes mashed with cream, butter, and salt
1 cup whole milk
½ cup cocoa powder (such as Hershey’s)
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Optional: 1 cup chopped nuts such as chopped pecans, walnuts, almonds (to be folded into the batter)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Using egg beaters or a stand mixer, cream together the sugar and butter on medium-high speed. Add the egg yolks and beat until incorporated, about a minute. Blend in the potatoes and then the milk until thoroughly mixed. The mixture should have a thin mashed potato consistency at this point.

In another bowl, combine the cocoa, flour, baking soda, and cinnamon (if using). Fold these dry ingredients into the batter. Add more flour if the batter seems too loose—it should be the consistency of regular cake or brownie batter.

Using egg beaters or a stand mixer beat the egg whites on high speed until they form stiff peaks. Fold into the cake batter. Beat in the vanilla, and then stir in the chopped nuts (if using).

Pour into a greased Bundt cake pan and bake approximately 20 to 30 minutes. Stick a toothpick in the cake and if it comes out clean, it’s ready to eat. Frost with the cream cheese icing.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 pound cream cheese, room temperature
1 pound butter, softened
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract


In a medium bowl, beat together the cream cheese and butter. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar until the mixture reaches desired sweetness and smoothness. Mix in the vanilla extract and set aside.

Rustico’s Fall Salad

November 18, 2011 by · 4 Comments 

By Kathleen Nixon
November 18, 2011
Falls Church Times Staff

As the leaves are turning their vibrant colors, we start to miss some of the colorful salads that enticed us during the summer months.  We still have many wonderful ingredients available to make salads to complement any meal we just have to bring a little imagination to them. Some of the best ingredients for fall salads include apples which are plentiful this time of year and will be so until early winter.  Steve Mannino of Rustico created this wonderful fall salad which is great for any meal or your special Thanksgiving meal next week.

Rustico’s Fall Chopped Salad

Serves: 4

Dressing Ingredients:

2 cups apple cider, reduced to 1 cup

1/3 cup apple cider vinaigrette

2 oz honey

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Juice of half a lemon

1 T whole grain mustard

1 cup canola oil


1. Combine all ingredients except oil in a blender and mix on high for 30 seconds

2. Put blender on low speed and slowly add oil until dressing is creamy in texture

3. Remove and store dressing in an air tight container for a week

Salad Ingredients:

2 heads romaine lettuce, chopped into 1/8 inch wide strips

1 red apple, small diced then put in water with lemon juice

1 green apple, small dice then put in water with lemon juice

12 leaves fresh parsley, chopped into fine strips

1 cups cheddar cheese, shredded

3 leaves fresh sage, cut into thin strips

½ cup carrots, shredded

¼ cup red onion, small dice

1 cup granola plus 1/4c for garnish

¼ cup celery leaves


  1. Toss together all salad the ingredients (except for 1/4c of granola and celery leaves) in a large bowl.
  2. Just before serving combine salad ingredients with dressing and serve immediately
  3. Divide salad among 4 bowls and garnish with granola and celery leaves

You can also add smoked turkey, grilled chicken, steak or even salmon to turn this salad into a full meal.

Happy Thanksgiving!

FOOD: Steve Mannino of Rustico

July 29, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

BY Kathleen Nixon

July 29, 2011

Falls Church Times Staff

This Saturday at the Falls Church Farmers Market Chef demonstration we will be featuring Steve Mannino of Rustico. Steve will be bringing his rustic creativity to dishes that will feature summer vegetable favorites.

Tell our readers a little about your background? I am the Executive Chef at Rustico which is a combination of rustic and sophisticated Italian cooking with an awesome array of 400 beers. We first opened on Slater’s Lane in Alexandria and we opened a second location in Ballston last year.  I was trained at the Culinary Institute in New York and have had the pleasure of working with some dynamite chefs over the years.  My passion is creating rustic dishes with innovate nuances.

Tell us a little about your restaurant, your staff and how you incorporate local producers into your restaurant purchasing? The restaurant is very rustic.  We try not to mask our food too much.  We try to keep it as local as possible which means we run a very seasonal menu that changes frequently with a lot of specials.  Often times, our specials are driven by day of phone calls about what is available.  I also have a chef du cuisine for both locations that understands how we plan and develop menus.  We use farmers from Loudoun to St. Mary’s Counties (and anywhere in between) to keep things fun and fresh.

You work with many of the local producers? Who do you work with? One of our biggest producers is Arcadia Farms which is our own in house nonprofit farm located on the historic Woodlawn Plantation. We are getting most of our vegetables from here as well as providing produce for a farmers market in Southwest DC. We also work with two farmers in Loudoun that are presently providing us with tomatoes and garlic as well – Shah alee Farms.  We also use Ayshire farms in Upperville for vegetables and occasional meats. We also are getting local corn, tomatoes and fish from Maryland, specifically Bartenfelder and Dragon Creek Farms.

As a customer, what changes have you seen in the local food landscape?

Availability of product.  People are beginning to grow more unique varieties at the request of restaurants.  For example, I’m working with a grower in VA to produce a local San Marzano variety of tomato.  When producers know there will be a demand, then they will work to grow it and are as excited as I am about creating something new and different.

When did you start using local ingredients in creating your menu and recipes?

I’ve always done it.  All of the chefs that I’ve worked for have believed in sourcing things locally to some degree.  It hasn’t always been 100% , but as diners’ expectations have become more in sync with local growing, it’s gotten a lot closer to it.

Do you think your customers understand and appreciate your incorporation of local food into your menus?

I hope so, but I’m realistic that some people want what they want even when things are drastically out of season.  Part of my job is to educate by keeping our menus as seasonal as possible and by communicating menu changes in a manner that both keeps our guests content as well as keeps the quality consistent with what Mother Nature allows.

What local ingredients are not yet available to the local economy that you would like to incorporate into your menu?

Being a very rustic and straight forward restaurant, really everything that we need is locally available.  We try not to over think our menu and for that reason, it stays local and approachable.

How long have you been part of the Farmers Market Chef series?

I started doing Farmers Market demonstrations in 1999 at the Dupont Fresh Farmers Market, but this is my first time at the Falls Church Farmers Market.

What do you like best about the Farmers Market demonstrations?

The most fun is honesty, meeting customers and sharing our philosophy of food and answering their questions.

What will you be preparing for your demonstration?

Panzanella Salad which is a Florentine salad made with tomato, bread, cucumber and fresh mozzarella salad which is a great meal starter and very popular in Italy in the summer. Highlighting all the beautiful corn available right now, we will also prepare a sweet corn and ricotta cannoli with pine nuts.

Be sure to stop by and see Steve at the Falls Church Farmers Market Chef demonstration on Saturday July 30th from 9am to 11am.