Thanksgiving Traditions…The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

 

Homemade Jellied Cranberry Sauce | Dear Martini

Thanksgiving is all about tradition… good and bad.  In Chef Mia’s house we have the Dilemma of the Cranberries.  Artist husband grew up on canned cranberry sauce and loves it like nobody’s business.  He even claims it is an essential part of the Norman Rockwell painting.  Chef Mia thinks otherwise.  How to keep peace in the family? Compromise solution: Homemade Jellied Cranberry Sauce

Ingredients for Cranberry Sauce | Dear Martini

What she came up with is a delicious compromise.   A recipe catering to his tastes and still beautiful enough and made with simple fresh ingredients for her.  Sometimes it’s time to adopt new traditions.

Jellied Cranberry Sauce

Makes 4 cups

2 packets unflavored gelatin

2 (12-ounce bags) fresh or frozen cranberries, washed and sorted

1 Granny Smith apple, small diced

1 navel orange, zest removed in strips and juiced

1 cup granulated sugar

Special Equipment: Food mill and 4 cup decorative mold

Place cranberry juice in a small bowl; sprinkle the gelatin over the surface of the juice and let sit for at least 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a deep saucepan, combine the cranberries, apple, orange zest & juice, and sugar. Bring to a boil; reduce the heat and simmer stirring often until the cranberries begin to pop about 5 minutes. Continue cooking an additional 3 to 5 minutes until the mixture begins to thicken. Turn off the heat and stir in the softened gelatin.

Transfer the berry mixture to a food mill and pass through the finest holes into a bowl. (Discard the solids in your compost) Transfer the berry mixture to a lightly oiled mold. Top with a piece of oiled plastic wrap placed directly on top of the jelly. Refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours. (Can be made several days ahead)

To unmold, dip briefly in a bowl of hot water. Using a spatula, press gently on one side of the jelly (placing the spatula between the side of the mold and the jelly) to release the vacuum seal. Then turn out onto a plate. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Cranberry Sauce Recipe | Dear Martini

Dearest Readers, We are so very thankful for each and every one of you who have supported us all year.  We love hearing from you and when you share with us.  Please share your favorite dish with us here or on Facebook!  We’d love to hear from you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

xxoo Mia and Terri

 

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Company’s Coming: Crème Fraîche Mashed Potatoes

Creme Fraiche Mashed Potato Recipe | Dear Martini

When company’s coming we pull out all the stops and make the creamiest and smoothest potatoes we know how!  The secret is…our mashed potatoes aren’t mashed at all, but put through a ricer or food mill. Instead of a rustic mash the texture is smooth and perfect for making a “gravy lake” in the center.  We know, we know, there are purists who will say you can’t call it mashed if it’s not mashed but potato puree sounds scary so we’ve agreed to call it an elegant mash!

Creme Fraiche Mashed Potatoes | Dear Martini

Call them what you will, this is not the recipe to skimp on the fat and cream.  This dish is all about the little details… The butter, crème fraîche, and heavy cream all play an important role in the richness and texture of the final dish.  If you can’t find crème fraîche in your area you can substitute with a really good quality sour cream or full fat Fage plain yogurt.

Don’t forget to infuse the cream with the aromatics — it’s an extra step but adds depth to the flavors. And, pop the drained potatoes back into the hot pot for at least 30 seconds to dry out the potatoes which makes them even fluffier.

Watch for the tip at the end of the video on how to keep the potatoes warm — it’s worth the price of admission we promise! Happy Start-to-the-Holiday Season!

 

Crème Fraîche Mashed Potatoes

Serves 4

 2 pounds (about 3 large) russet potatoes

Handful of kosher salt

½ cup heavy whipping cream

4 to 5 peppercorns

1 bay leaf

1 clove garlic, peeled and mashed

½ stick unsalted butter, cubed and room temperature

½ cup crème fraîche

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

 

Peel and cut the potatoes into quarters and place in a large saucepan. Cover the potatoes with at least an inch of cold water. Add the salt and bring the potatoes to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer potatoes until tender when pierced with a knife, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Heat cream in a small saucepan over medium heat with peppercorns, bay leaf, and garlic to a simmer. Remove from heat, cover and set aside.

Drain the potatoes in a colander and return potatoes to the pot to allow the potatoes to dry.Process the potatoes through a food mill or ricer. Toss in the butter to the hot potatoes as you work. Fold in the crème fraîche and heavy cream and gently fold until the potatoes are thick and creamy. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Aromatics and Cream Infusion | Dear Martini

The Plentiful Pumpkin

The Vegetarian Thanksgiving —  it’s a topic that’s coming up more often now.  Years ago, if a vegetarian came to Thanksgiving dinner, all he or she could hope for was to enjoy some of the meatless side dishes, salads and of course pumpkin pie.  In more recent years, folks are becoming more health-conscious and in general adopting a meat-free lifestyle.  A happy consequence:  dinner hosts are also becoming more conscientious and planning for more meatless options for the Thanksgiving Table.

I originally developed this for my sister, Alex.  I wanted to make something unforgettably special for her that was filling, delicious and healthy… something that would be so special, she wouldn’t miss having turkey at all.

As I heartily encourage you to make this recipe, I am obligated to warn you:  it’s not something that can be quickly thrown together.  This recipe is for a very special occasion, so please take the necessary time and steps to prepare.  Cook and season each component before it gets mixed together as the filling – by doing so, each component has its own flavor.  The whole thing will become greater than the sum of its parts!  (and consequently, that’s why it’s so darn complicated to make this dish).

I serve this pumpkin with onion gravy (it looks and tastes like turkey gravy but it’s vegan) and a side of cranberry sauce!

* Be sure to click on the blue links to see all the helpful videos we’ve prepared to guide you along!  Subscribe to our YouTube Channel!  

Stuffed Thanksgiving Pumpkin

Serves 4

4 sugar pumpkins, about 6 to 8-inches in diameter

Olive oil

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 cups cooked Israeli couscous (or wild rice)

1 cup cooked quinoa (red looks better)

1 cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped

1 cup hazelnuts, toasted and skinned

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Sub-recipes:

Sautéed Dino Kale w chopped garlic and red pepper flakes

Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with shallots and garlic (thinly slice the shallots and garlic)

Sautéed chickpeas with diced carrots, minced garlic and olive oil (optional)

Roast the pumpkins by first cutting their tops off and scooping out their seeds and strings.  Prick all over the inside of the pumpkins with a fork and brush with olive oil.  Season the insides with salt and pepper.  Place the pumpkins cut-side down on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast in the oven for 35 min at 350.  Remove and set aside to cool.

Prepare the filling:  In a large bowl mix together the cooked couscous, quinoa, cranberries, nuts, parsley and any of the prepared sub-recipe components (mix 1 – 1 ½ cups of each component).  Season with salt and pepper and moisten with vegetable stock.

Stuff each pumpkin with the filling – making sure you’ve firmly (but not compressed) packed it in.  Make sure it comes over the top.  Return the stuffed pumpkins to the foil-lined baking sheet and bake until heated through, about 45 minutes.  You can roast the tops of the pumpkins, too and place on top for presentation.  Bake any leftover filling in a baking dish to serve along side.

Serve hot with lots of onion gravy and cranberry sauce.

Onion gravy:

Makes 2 ½ cups

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

One large yellow onion, diced 

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 cups water

2 tablespoons Tamari sauce (or low-sodium soy sauce)

1 vegetable boullion cube

2 teaspoons cornstarch, mixed w cold water to create a slurry

In a medium-sized saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high flame and sauté the onions until soft, about 7 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add the water, tamari, and boullion cube.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to simmer and simmer for 25 minutes, or until the onion is clear.  Mix together the cornstarch slurry and pour in.  Bring to a boil, stir a few times until the gravy thickens and turn off the heat.  Set aside for a few minutes to cool slightly, then puree with a stick blender.  If you are using a traditional blender, cool the gravy down completely before blending (you’ll have to heat the gravy back up).  Strain the gravy into a clean saucepan, taste and season with salt and pepper if needed and keep warm until ready to use.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Pumpkin Soup

This recipe comes with a very personal story.  And I dedicate this post to my lovely cousin, Sandra Bignardi who asked so nice and sweetly for the recipe.

Pumpkin is one of my favorite fall vegetables.  Ten years ago, when my husband and I were planning our wedding, I wanted to do something special and personal for our guests.  While discussing the reception dinner menu with our wedding planner, I spontaneously asked if the chef wouldn’t mind making my pumpkin soup recipe as the first course.  The chef happily agreed and the rest is history.  It warms my heart whenever relatives speak so fondly of that soup… even 10 years later.

*Be sure to hit the blue links to see the helpful videos we’ve made to guide you through the recipe.  As always, check us out on Vimeo or subscribe to our YouTube channel!

Chef Terri’s Pumpkin Soup

Serves 12

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2  large yellow onions, diced

3 large carrots, peeled and diced

1 cup dry sherry

8 cups chicken stock (or vegetable broth for a vegetarian recipe)

4 1-pound sugar pumpkins, roasted (yields about 3 pounds of roasted pumpkin)

1 cinnamon stick

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon chopped thyme leaves

½ tsp ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon sherry vinegar

Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/2 cup pomegranate seeds, for garnish

2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish

To prepare the pumpkin:  Cut open the top of each pumpkin and scrape out the seeds and stringy pulp.  Prick the insides of the pumpkins with a fork and brush with canola oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place cut-side down on a baking sheet and roast in a 350℉ oven.  Roast for about 40 minutes or until soft.  Peel the skin off and then cube, or scoop out with a spoon and set aside.

In a large soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onions and carrots.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, but not browned, 10-12 minutes.   Add sherry and cook until liquid evaporates, 3-5 minutes.  Add chicken broth, pumpkin, cinnamon stick, bay leaves and thyme.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until veggies are tender, 35 – 45 minutes.  Remove bay leaves and cinnamon stick.

In a blender or food processor, puree vegetable mixture in 4 batches. To achieve that velvety, silky texture, strain the soup through a fine-mesh sieve or chinois.  Return to the soup pot and warm over low heat.  Add nutmeg, vinegar and season with salt and pepper.

Ladle soup into warmed bowls and garnish with pomegranate seeds and parsley.