Thanksgiving Menu Plan

19 11 2009

I was in a bit of a funk earlier this week.  I wasn’t even excited about Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday.  But last night, Nick suggested we get our menu plan written down, and all of a sudden the excitement showed up.

The Menu:

Roast turkey
Turkey gravy (Remember the velouté? That’s pretty much it, with pan drippings added at the end.)
Wild mushroom bread pudding (Original recipe from this book, but now I wing it.)
Kick-Ass Cranberry Sauce (recipe below)
Sour cream and green onion mashed potatoes
Brussels sprouts with caramelized onions
Potimarron pie with (time willing) pine nut-sage brittle

Pop!

So enthused was I that I took a long detour on the way home from work today to pick up a bag of overpriced cranberries.  Last year I was unable to find fresh cranberries, and made do with a jar of Ocean Spray, but I missed the homemade stuff.  My recipe, for cranberry-orange-ginger sauce, has been a hit since its inception five years ago, and since I get to have it this year, I figure you should, too, if you want.

Just right

This year I was low on granulated sugar, so I used cassonade, aka raw sugar.  I think it’s made the sauce especially delicious, but I know from experience that it is just fine made with white sugar.  I also saw the bottle of Cointreau looking lonely on the shelf, and thought it might want to join in the fun.  I think some people like having whole cranberries in their homemade sauce, but I can’t help popping them.  Cranberry sauce is like the culinary equivalent of bubble wrap.  Once those little red jewels heat up, all it takes is a bit of pressure from the wooden spoon, and pop!  It is so intensely satisfying, and I can’t stop myself.  Before I know it, all the lovely berries are gone, and I’m left with a gorgeous, garnet-red, jammy sauce.  Still tastes good, though.

Jewel-toned and super tasty!

Before I get to the cranberry recipe, I’d like to give you a few more ideas for your Thanksgiving spread this year.  I think any of these would be welcome additions to the holiday table.

Balsamic roasted beets with bacon and chestnuts
Potimarron-fingerling gratin with cider-braised leeks
Roast parsnips and apples
Cumin-maple sweet potatoes with spiced pecans
Date crumble bars
Brown butter ice cream (try it with apple pie!)

And now, the cranberry sauce…

Kick-Ass Cranberry Sauce

The first year I hosted my own Thanksgiving dinner, I had a grand total of three people at the table.  That didn’t stop me from going all out.  (Needless to say, we had leftovers for days.)  I wanted to give the cranberry sauce a bit of a kick, and I thought orange and ginger would do the job nicely.  They did – to quote my friend who shall remain nameless “Wow, Camille, you kicked my mom’s ass!” – and I’ve never since gone back to plain cranberry sauce.

1 bag (340 g) fresh cranberries, rinsed and drained
1 cup / 250ml water
1 cup / 200g granulated sugar or cassonade (raw or turbinado sugar)
A pinch of salt
Juice and zest of 1 orange
2 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
A splash of Cointreau (optional)

  1. Bring the water and sugar to a boil. You don’t have to do this first, but I like to hear the cranberries pop when they hit the pan.
  2. Add the cranberries, orange juice and zest, salt, ginger, and Cointreau (if using).  Return to a boil and reduce heat to medium-low.  Simmer until thickened and a deep garnet color, about 25 minutes.
  3. Transfer to a serving vessel and cool.  Chill, covered in plastic wrap, until needed.  (The sauce will keep for up to two weeks in the fridge.)

Makes about a pint – more than enough to accompany a turkey dinner for eight.

Originally published on Croque-Camille.





Energy Food Challenge

20 11 2008

Hopie, a fellow American-in-Paris-food-blogger, is hosting an event in an effort to support her mom, who is training for a 109-mile bike ride.  But this isn’t any ordinary bike ride, it’s also a fundraiser for research on blood cancers.  So Hopie has asked the food blogging community to help out by offering up their best energy food recipes.

Energy Food Challenge

I immediately thought of granola, high in energy and fiber, and low in fat (at least the way I make it).  I could have gone the lazy route and reposted this old recipe, but that didn’t really seem to be in the spirit of the event (the laziness, I mean, not the recipe).  Plus, I thought a seasonally appropriate update was in order.  Be warned, however, once you get hooked on homemade granola, you may never go back to the pre-packaged stuff!  Without further ado, here is my dream recipe for Fall granola – most of the ingredients are horrendously expensive here in France, so eat it up, Americans!

Cranberry-Pecan Granola

A great snack or breakfast for fall, you could even use this to top an apple or pear crisp!

500 g/ 1 lb. rolled oats
150 g/ 5 oz. pecan pieces
100 g/ 3½ oz. pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds)(optional)
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. fresh grated nutmeg (about ½ pod – if all you have is dried nutmeg, leave it out)

300 ml/ 10 oz. apple juice concentrate

200 g/ 7 oz. dried cranberries
60 ml/ 4½ Tbsp. maple syrup (the real stuff, no corn syrup allowed!)

1. Preheat oven to 175 C/ 350 F.
2. Combine the oats, pecans, pepitas, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Drizzle the apple juice concentrate over the oat mixture and toss gently to evenly moisten the oats.
3. Spread the granola mixture on a sheet pan and place in the oven. Bake, stirring every 10 minutes or so until the oats are uniformly toasted to a nice terra cotta shade. This should take 45 minutes to an hour, depending on your oven.
4. During the last 5-10 minutes of toasting, heat up the maple syrup in the microwave. 20-30 seconds will suffice; you just want it to be fluid and easily pourable.
5. Carefully transfer the hot granola to a large bowl and toss with the dried cranberries. Drizzle the warm syrup over the granola and toss gently to coat.
6. Spread the granola back out on the sheet pan to cool. Once cooled, it will keep in an airtight container up to 6 weeks.

Makes approximately 1 kg/ 2 lbs.  (Enough to fuel many, many bike rides.)

Originally published on Croque-Camille.








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