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Posts Tagged ‘thanksgiving recipes’

I’ve discovered that Thanksgiving cranberry sauce is a deeply personal thing. As a kid, it was the jellied canned type; the ridges and distinctive sound of the jelly releasing from the can were as much a part my Thanksgiving tradition as turkey and stuffing. Around 12 years old, I got snooty and insisted on whole berry cranberry sauce, ironically also from a can. Alas, my true snootiness had yet to be refined. That came in my twenties, as I became a more involved cook and hosted my first Thanksgiving. Because I am an absurd overachiever and apparently hadn’t taken on enough for my first attempt, I made a sauce with whole, fresh berries from the recipe on the back of the bag. While I haven’t hosted many Thanksgivings of my own, I’ve discovered that offering to make the sauce is easy and happily accepted by harried hosts. For years, I used this triple berry sauce and while it remains my ideal of a classic cranberry sauce, I’m always open to new ideas. This is where my friend Maurine stepped in.

I met Maurine through my friend Kate Hill in their beautiful corner of Southwest France. She is a delightful woman, a California transplant full of energy and light and ideas with a big laugh and incredible blue eyes that sparkle. I swear, her eyes truly sparkle. I just adore her. She has a great blog full of stories of her life in Southwest France and has been doing really fun French cooking classes on Facebook throughout the pandemic. Check her out! Several years ago, she posted a picture on Instagram of her cranberry chutney, a tradition in her house. I was intrigued and she generously shared her recipe; a mix of fresh cranberries, whole orange, dried fruits and spices. Let me make this abundantly clear: it is delicious. Incredibly delicious. A wonderful mix of sweet and tangy, a little spicy; full of bright flavors and interesting textures. It is great as a turkey accompaniment but really shines on a leftovers sandwich. Don’t limit yourself to Thanksgiving and Christmas, it works wonders on a cheese plate any time of the year and is wonderful with goat cheese and cheddar in particular. One Christmas I got really crafty and molded a cheeseball around it so there was a cranberry chutney surprise center. Delightful! 

This is one of those dump it all in a pot and let ‘er rip kind of recipes that I really appreciate. It starts with fresh cranberries and is enhanced with a variety of fresh and dried ingredients, spices and just enough vinegar to give it that tangy chutney hit. The orange – I used clementines – is chopped whole, rind and all, and thrown into the pot. As a lover of candied rind, this absolutely delights me. The dried fruit – cranberries, figs, raisins, cherries – can be varied to your tastes. I really like the addition of dried figs but I didn’t have any so I threw in a few prunes, purchased from a village near Maurine so it felt perfectly appropriate. I also switched out the raisins for currants. Hard, dry little unattractive nuggets. (FYI, chutneys are great uses for those dried fruits that maybe don’t look so hot but still have great flavor. The heat/moisture combo revives them quite nicely.)  I would also encourage you to not skip the nuts as they add a nice texture to the finished chutney; the recipe calls for pistachios but any nut will do. Whatever your ingredient mix, bring it all to a boil until the cranberries pop, about 3-4 minutes, and it’s done. It will take you longer to round up the ingredients than it will to cook.

I don’t know what your Thanksgiving plans are under these new covid surges but I urge you to be smart and be careful. As much as we absolutely hate it, in person indoor gatherings are risky so it’s time to think differently. My friends are planning a Friendsgiving potluck where we each claim a dish and portion it out. We’ll meet up somewhere for an exchange, each person going home with a full dinner. A few hours later, we’ll reheat, regroup and dine together via zoom call. It’s not traditional or what any of us would choose given the option but we’re adapting. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate these people. I’m planning on making this chutney and raising a glass in Maurine’s general direction.

STRESS THERAPY BAKING FACTOR: EASE INTO IT. Maurine likes to make a double batch and gift it to friends and I think that might be a wonderful thing to do in these weird times. I’ve made smaller ½ batches, often in the offseason with frozen cranberries that work perfectly. It’s a great thing to have on hand as it really elevates deli counter turkey sandwiches. And here’s a hot tip – spread some on the bread before making a grilled cheese. Swoon.

Some other great Thanksgiving recipes

appetizers – Bacon Cheddar GougeresSouthern Cheese StrawsBaked Brie with Savory Fig JamPort Wine Cheese LogSpicy Seeded Parmesan StrawsSausage Stuffed MushroomsAntipasto SquaresFrench Onion Stuffed MushroomsBacon Wrapped DatesSpiced PecansParmesan Black Pepper Crackers Mustard Puff Pastry Bâtons

starters & side dishes – Maple Bourbon CarrotsRoasted Delicata Squash – 4 WaysMaple Mustard Glazed Delicata, Brussels Sprouts & ShallotsBaked Corn PuddingThanksgiving Stuffing Stuffed SquashRoasted Stuffed SquashEasy Squash Carrot SoupSherry Candied Walnut SaladThe Original Kale SaladKale Salad with Crispy Salami & Chickpeas

dessertsFrench Apple TartFrench Apple Tart for a CrowdFrench Apple PieSalted Caramel Apple PieCider Apple PieClassic Apple PieSimple Apple TartsGingerbread with Bourbon SauceClassic Pumpkin PiePumpkin RouladeSweet Pumpkin EmpanadasPumpkin Bundt CakeCranberry Crumble Tart

eleven years agoCider Donuts

ten years agoClassic Wedge Salad with Homemade Blue Cheese Dressing

nine years agoMaple Buttermilk Spoonbread with Glazed Pears

eight years agoKale & Squash SaladLemon Slice Cookies

seven years agoSunday Lunch RamenApple Cider RollsPumpkin Spice Granola

six years agoFrom Scratch Rum Cake

five years ago: Caldo Verde (Portugese Kale Soup)

four years agoCreamy Steel Cut Oats with Roasted Pumpkin and Pumpkinseed CrumbleTurkey Egg Drop Soup,  

three years agoChunky Applesauce CakeCrispy Squash SandwichDairyland Sour Cream Apple Bars

two years agoCreamy Spinach Artichoke Dip

last yearDate Bundt Cake with Brown Sugar Caramel Glaze

MAURINE’S CRANBERRY CHUTNEY – from Maurine’s recipe

Makes about 2 cups

12 ounces fresh cranberries (1 bag)

1 ½ cups sugar

1 medium orange or 2 clementines, chopped 

½ onion, finely chopped

½ cup raisins (I used currants)

¼ cup pistachio nuts, chopped

6 dried figs, chopped (I used prunes)

½ cup dried cherries

½ cup dried cranberries

¼ cup white vinegar (I used cider vinegar)

1 Tablespoons fresh ginger, finely chopped

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 ½ teaspoons mustard seed

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large, heavy, nonreactive saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. 
  2. Increase the heat and let the mixture boil until the fresh cranberries pop, about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Let sit, covered, off the heat for 30-60 minutes to allow the dried fruit to fully plump.
  4. Transfer to a clean jar and refrigerate. I like to let it sit for a few days before using to let the flavors fully meld but have been known to make a sandwich and spoon some right out of the pot too. Will keep refrigerated for months.

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I have a thing about squash this time of year. I see big gorgeous piles at the farmers markets or pass picturesque farm stands on country roads and it’s hard to resist the urge to pull over and throw a bunch in the car. I actually did this very thing a few weeks ago. A farmer down the street from some Wisconsin dwelling friends had quite the selection in the front yard of his farm. My wheels skidded a bit in the gravel as I pulled over with the intention of picking out a nice Halloween pumpkin. He had hundreds, sorted into various groupings of sizes and shapes as well as all the multicolored heirloom varieties. It was a fantastic selection. I settled on an absolutely gorgeous pumpkin with a long tapered stem for 5 bucks. I had a 10 or a 20 in my wallet and it wasn’t the kind of situation that bodes well for change so I picked up a few additional things to round it up. This is how I ended up with two small pie pumpkins and two acorn like squashes in the trunk next to my big orange beauty. It was a good day.

The two squashes I grabbed were lovely; acorn-like but yellow with dark green and orange splotches. Some image googling determined they were carnival squash, a cross between acorn and dumpling squash. Well, alrighty. I’d never had that variety but I read they’re similar in flavor to acorn but a bit sweeter so I treated them accordingly. (If you pick up an interesting squash on a whim and are not too sure what it is, this guide is very helpful.) I enjoy roasted squash of all kinds but there’s something you have to take into consideration: they can be rather bland. This is why it’s important to use a flavorful glaze or stuffing to amp up that flavor. Today, I used both.

It started with a jar of spicy harissa sauce, leftover from some past project. Harissa is a spicy aromatic chile paste that’s a widely used staple in North African and Middle Eastern cooking and this jar had been sitting in my refrigerator for a while. It needed a purpose. For years I’d bought my harissa as a paste in a tube so this jarred “sauce” was new to me. From what I can tell, this was just a looser version than the tubed paste and with a bit less concentrated heat. I saw one particular brand of this sauce in every grocery store – from Whole Foods to WalMart – so it’s readily available and though I looked, I never did find the tube type so I just went with what I had. As I said, it needed a purpose. Harissa – both tubes and sauces – vary wildly in terms of spice so use your best judgement as to the heat levels you desire. Mixed with some honey and roasted at a high temperature, it works quite nicely. (psssst – here’s a tip. I often use Mike’s Hot Honey to drizzle on the squash before roasting. It’s wonderful stuff.)

I filled the cavities with a stuffing to make it heartier and a bit more interesting, following a basic formula: grains for the bulk, nuts for crunch, dried fruit for sweetness, herbs for freshness and cheese for a little salty/savory punch. Anything goes and this is the perfect recipe for using whatever is in your pantry. I give several suggestions in the recipe header; switch it up as you wish. Todays mix took the lead of the harissa for a Middle Eastern twist: red quinoa, dates, dried apricots, walnuts, parsley and feta. The combination of salty/sweet with crunchy bites is irresistible and rather pretty too. It is a terrific fall dish and something to think about with Thanksgiving coming up if you have any vegetarian guests. It would be just perfect.

STRESS THERAPY BAKING FACTOR: SEASONALLY APPROPRIATE. Pumpkins, gourds, squash. I can’t help myself, I buy more than I can possibly eat this time of year. Sometimes they just sit on the table and look pretty, to be honest. But I do eat my fair share and I learned long ago to doctor those suckers up so they actually taste like something. Sweetness works well, spicy is delicious and a little salt never hurt anything. This one works particularly well because it’s a mix and match situation; you can be very intentional or you can use what you got.

other squash recipes: Baked Squash Bread Pudding,Kale & Squash SaladPumpkin HummusEasy Squash Carrot SoupSquash & Onion TartRoasted Delicata Squash – 4 WaysCrispy Squash SandwichThanksgiving Stuffing Stuffed Squash

eleven years ago: ChocoflanSour Cream CoffeecakeApple Pear Crisp,  Peach CrostadaRatatouilleClassic Apple Pie

ten years ago: Peach Frozen CustardChocolate Raspberry Cream Cheese TurnoversChicken Sour Cream EnchiladasBangkok World Gourmet Festival

nine years ago: Blueberry Raspberry CobblerPlum KuchenPB&J Bars

eight years ago: Kale & Squash Salad

seven years ago: Roasted Ratatouille with Sweet Corn PolentaSpiced Honey Maple Roasted PearsMuhammara – the best sauce you’ve never heard of

six years ago: Aunt Patti’s CornbreadPumpkin HummusWhole Wheat English Muffins

five years ago: Machaca – Mexican Shredded BeefMachaca EnchiladasSmall Batch Spiced Plum ButterCotija Cumin ShortbreadSimple Pear Tart

four years ago: German Apple Cheese TorteChicken Wing Friday – Miso Honey Butter Chicken Wings

three years ago: Miso Butterscotch BlondiesRosemary White Beans with Toasted BreadcrumbsTabbouleh SaladOttolenghi and Buttermilk Garlic SauceYemen Schug (chili herb sauce)Easy Squash Carrot Soup

two years ago: Asian Flavored Pickled Watermelon Rind

last year: Minestrone

ROASTED STUFFED SQUASHserves 4

Keep in mind, you can vary the stuffing an infinite number of ways. Rather than quinoa, use any grain or rice – wild or brown rice, wheat berries, millet, farro, kamut, etc. – and alter cooking times accordingly. You have to have a crunchy element so use any nuts or seeds you like or have on hand – pumpkin, sunflower, pine nuts, almonds. A few flax or chia seeds wouldn’t hurt. For the dried fruit, anything works – raisins, currants, cherries, cranberries, figs, blueberries, what have you. Fresh apple would be nice too. Fresh parsley is easy but dill, tarragon or a bit of rosemary would be nice. Don’t rule out leftover chicken or beef, diced or shredded fine, or a handful of cooked chickpeas, lentils or whatnot to make it a bit heartier. And while I call for acorn squash, any smaller variety will work – delicata, dumpling, small pumpkins, spaghetti, etc. Use the base recipe as a guide and take it any direction you wish. 

for the squash:

2 medium acorn squash

2 Tablespoons olive oil

4 teaspoons harissa sauce (use a bit less if using harissa paste)

4 teaspoons honey

kosher salt

for the quinoa stuffing:

½ cup quinoa, rinsed (any color is fine)

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1 ¼ cups water

3-4 dates, pitted & chopped, about 2 Tablespoons

6-8 dried apricots, chopped, about 2 Tablespoons

2 garlic cloves, peeled & finely chopped

1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

¼ cup chopped walnuts or pecans, toasted

¼ cup chopped scallion

¼ cup chopped parsley

½ teaspoon harissa sauce, optional

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

1 ½ teaspoons olive oil

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.
  2. for the squash: use a sharp chef’s knife to slice cut in half from the tip to the stem. It’s easiest to work along the depressions, easing the knife carefully around the perimeter. With a spoon, scoop out and discard the seeds and stringy bits.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, harissa sauce and honey.
  4. Drizzle half of this mixture on the cut side of each squash, rubbing into the cut sides and reserving the rest for later.
  5. Season each squash with a good pinch of salt.
  6. Place cut side down on the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes. 
  7. Turn the squash cut side up, spread the remaining harissa/honey mixure all over the cut surfaces.
  8. Bake for an additional 15-20 minutes until tender. Leave the oven on. There may be a pool of liquid in the squash centers; this is fine.
  9. While the squash is roasting, place the nuts on a small sheet pan and toast for 5 minutes. Alternatively, you can do this in a small pan on the stovetop over medium.
  10. For the stuffing: in a medium saucepan, combine the rinsed quinoa, salt and water. 
  11. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer. 
  12. Simmer, uncovered, until all of the water is absorbed, 12-18 minutes. You may have to add a few additional Tablespoons of water if the quinoa isn’t fully cooked. Just keep an eye on it.
  13. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the dates, apricots, garlic and lemon juice. 
  14. Cover, and let the mixture steam for 5 minutes. Uncover and fluff the quinoa with a fork.
  15. Pour the quinoa mixture into a medium bowl; add the toasted nuts, scallion, parsley, pepper, olive oil and additional harissa sauce if using. 
  16. Let cool before adding the feta, so it doesn’t overly melt. Gently stir to combine. Taste and add additional salt, if needed.
  17. Evenly divide the stuffing between the squash cavities. 
  18. Return to the oven and bake for 15-18 minutes, until the stuffing is golden brown and dry on top.
  19. Garnish with chopped parsley and/or scallion and serve warm or room temperature.
  20. To do ahead: you can roast the squash and make the stuffing up to 1 day ahead. Let both come to room temperature, then stuff and roast as directed.

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Back in the day, when I was a corporate young’un, I would often meet a friend for lunch at a nearby restaurant where we would commiserate about our horrible clients and general misery. She’d call me from her office with urgency – “11:30. Houston’s.” This was usually around 11:15 so I would run the few blocks over to the restaurant to get a big cozy booth just before the lunch rush. We always ordered the same thing: hot spinach artichoke dip and off-the-menu chicken club salads, easily the two best things on (or off) the menu. Then one day the restaurant closed, replaced with a fancy boutique hotel and it’s corresponding hip restaurant serving $29 burgers. We found other lunch mainstays but none had spinach dip like that. I miss that spinach dip.

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Oh Thanksgiving! I love Thanksgiving. It’s the only holiday that is solely dedicated to eating. How great is that? Secondarily, I would say enjoying time with family is maybe a bit more important and watching a few football games is up there too but no other holiday has such focus on food. It is the best day of the year for that very reason. The menu is fairly set – turkey and stuffing of course and cranberries, mashed potatoes and gravy. From there we’ve got some leeway – sweet potatoes probably, some kind of green vegetable is nice and then probably pumpkin pie for dessert. Anything beyond that is up for discussion but we all pretty much know. Where there is really room to stretch is with the appetizers. With the exception of family traditions, there’s no set ideas here. You need something to start the day, welcome your guests, take the edge off and lay a base for the delights to come. Appetizers.

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Try as I might to resist, I’m getting twitchy for pumpkin. The amount of pumpkin/pumpkin spice products in the grocery stores is obnoxious and some things just have no business living in the pumpkin spice realm – check this list out. While I roll my eyes at the vast majority, there are a few things that I do love. The original, OG pumpkin spice donuts from my youth (still working on recreating those). My pumpkin bundt cake. A slice of a good pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving. They’re delicious and invoke feelings of nostalgia in a way that pumpkin spice Cheerios or Oreos do not. Inevitably, as I pass the cans of pumpkin puree on the grocery display, one will go in my cart. Maybe two. Which is exactly what happened last week.

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