Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Spirited Thanksgiving

The flavors of autumn lend themselves so well to spirits. In this holiday of abundance, of coming to a new world full of promise, rich flavors enhanced by wine and cider make all the difference. To celebrate a melting pot where immigrants come to a new country in the hopes of sharing its bounty we set out to make a larger than life meal, with a larger than life bird. My mother in law is bringing the turkey and I'm making the rest. A word of caution, many people still put flour in their turkeys to keep them from bursting while cooking in a bag. If someone is bringing the turkey to your thanksgiving dinner, make sure to check they have not added some flour to the skin! I'm sharing some of the recipes with you that I am making this Thanksgiving because I love this holiday.

Bread Pudding Stuffing with Root Vegetables (2 days prep, 1 1/3 hours active)

This recipe includes a bottle of cider to the custard to imbue it with a lovely savory flavor. Prepare but do not bake the pudding the night before to assure that the bread has time to absorb all of the liquid before cooking. Otherwise, you will find yourself with a crouton stuffing. I went light on the onion to please my friends and family who hate onion, you can add more to your liking.

1 bottle of apple cider

Celery, onions, carrots, and apples give this dish the flavors of fall.
3 eggs
1 parsnip, diced to one inch cubes
3 carrots, diced to one inch cubes
1 granny smith apple
1/2 onion
1 large loaf of gluten free bread
1 small carton of cream
4 stalks of celery
1/2 stick of butter
1 bag of presilced mushrooms
10 fresh diced sage leaves
salt and pepper to taste

One day before dice up the bread, I like to use Kinnikinnick bread since the folks at my local gluten free market recommended it for its great texture and the fact that its one of the only enriched gluten free breads. It's equivalent in size to a regular loaf of bread which makes it easier to substitute into a regular recipe. Dry the diced bread overnight so that it can readily absorb the custard and stay moist during baking.

Begin by dicing the onions and celery and tossing them in an ovenproof pan with the butter. Saute the aromatic vegetables until they reach a golden brown color. Add the carrots and parsnips and saute until coated. Move the pan into an oven and roast for 15 minutes at 350.

While the vegetables roast, prepare the wet ingredients by mixing the bottle of cider, the three eggs, and the cream. Pour the wet ingredients over the dried bread to ensure that the liquid gets absorbed.

Once the vegetables finish cooking, remove them from the oven and add salt, pepper, and the diced sage. Mix in the presliced mushrooms. Add the bread and the vegetables to a large casserole dish and gently mix them together. Let all the flavors set overnight in the refridgerator.

The next morning, remove the dish from the refridgerator and cook at 350 for 15 minutes.

My Mom's Grean Beans (15 minutes prep, 20 minutes active)

This dish is truly the easist dish in the world and everyone always loves it! My mom uses fresh grean beans but in the interest of saving time I used canned grean beans.

5 cans of green beans
4 cloves of garlic

These quick and easy green beans taste so good you won't have leftovers.
5 tablespoons flavorless oil such as vegetable oil
salt and pepper to taste

Add the oil to a pan. While the oil heats, crush and chop the onions. Once the oil reaches the right temperature, drop the garlic in and brown them. This will happen quickly so keep an eye on it. Drain the grean beans, rinse them, and drain again thoroughly.

Fry the grean beans for fifteen minutes. Flavor them with the salt and pepper. When they take on the consistency and flavor you like, they are ready to eat!

Pecan Pumpkin Butter Sweet Pototoes (10 minuts prep, 40 minutes active)

This dish takes a becomes a cinch with a jar of gluten free pumpkin butter. Muirhead Foods makes a great one that adds so much flavor. I like to add a jar to something new every thanksgiving to see what delicious creations I can make. It adds so much flavor that you won't feel that this dish does not have any real butter!

You don't have to add any butter but I like a little bit for flavor.

1 jar of pumpkin butter
7 sweet potatos
20 pecan halves for garnish

Boil sweet potatoes with the skin on for 30 minutes. Remove the potatoes and wait until they cool down so they retain their starch and don't leave you with sweet potato soup. Skin the potatos and puree them in a food processor.

Add the pumpkin butter and stir well until evenly mixed. Place in a casserole dish and top with the pecan halves. I like to put a few pats of butter on top of the pecans to help them crisp up while they bake. You can also saute the pecan halves in butter and apple brandy for an extra kick before topping the dish.

Spiced Apple Cider (5 minutes active)

Fill the dutch oven with mulling spices and oranges and let the aromas warm your home!
Make this the day of Thanksgiving. This will scent your kitchen so that guests feel warm and welcome in your home. I use applejack brandy for an American flair, but you can substitute French calvados apple wine.

1 gallon apple juice
1 sliced orange
1/4 cup mulling spices
brandy for mixing

Bring the apple juice to a boil in a large dutch oven with the mulling spices. Add the orange slices on top. Leave the pot on the stove to keep the house smelleing great

Malbec Cranberry Sauce (10 minutes prep, 20 minutes active)

The fruits have so much pectin that this sauce has a nice thick consistency. I like to use lingonberry jam for this sauce because it goes well with my potato pancakes.  I use agave nectar since I prefer alternative and nonsynthetic sugar products, but you can use sugar if your prefer the flavor.

1 jar of lingonberry jam
2 bags of cranberries
2/3 bottle of red wine
orange zest to garnish
1 cup of agave nectar

Boil the red wine in a large pot to steam out some of the wine. Mix in the jar of lingonberry jam. Once the mixture boils, add the cranberries and boil until they burst. Mix in a cup of agave nectar. Garnish the top with some orange zest. Enjoy!

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