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Posts Tagged ‘thanksgiving ideas’

©Steve Pool Photography

          I don’t know when I first discovered pomegranates but it was sometime in my early teens.  I was hooked!  I loved their color, the piquancy of the arils, the messiness of pulling the fruit apart (I know, I know, there are some tidy methods of doing this but I like what I like!), the stains on my fingertips.  To this day, nothing can dissuade me from the thrill I feel when I first discover them arriving in the market…..usually long about now!  And the first thing I do is lean over my kitchen sink and begin pulling my purchase apart, almost slurping up the juicy arils as the colorful juice runs down my chin. 

          I rarely use them in cooking or baking — I just love pulling them apart and popping the arils – seeds, to me — between my teeth and feeling the juice explode on my tongue.  However, once in awhile I will patiently extract the arils and pile them up in a bowl to use in a salad, as a garnish or even in a stew.  Here is a salad in which they can shine.  It is perfect for fall.  It can stand on its own or be a side kick to almost any meat or game.

Wild Rice Salad

Serves 6

1 cup wild rice

Salt

½ cup low-fat plain yogurt

¼ cup hazelnut or walnut oil

¼ cup rice wine vinegar, preferably Japanese rice wine

½ teaspoon curry powder

¼ teaspoon minced ginger

1 cup julienned snow peas

¾ cup pomegranate arils plus more for garnishing if you like

½ cup julienned yellow bell pepper

½ cup chopped toasted hazelnuts

Pepper

          Rinse the wild rice and place in a bowl with cold water to cover for about 30 minutes or up to 1 hour.  Drain well and transfer to a medium saucepan.  Add 4 cups of cold water and season with salt.  Place over high heat and bring to a boil. 

          Lower the heat, cover and cook at a gentle simmer for about 45 minutes or until the rice is tender, but a bit chewy.  Remove from the heat and spoon into a colander.  Set aside to drain thoroughly.

          While the rice is cooking, prepare the dressing.

          Combine the yogurt with the hazelnut oil in a small mixing bowl.  Whisk in the vinegar.  When blended, whisk in the curry powder, and ginger.  Season with salt and pepper and set aside to allow the flavors to blend.

          When the rice is well drained, transfer to a serving bowl.  Toss in the snow peas, pomegranate, bell pepper and hazelnuts.  When well-blended, drizzle in the dressing, tossing to distribute evenly.

          Taste and, if necessary, season with salt and pepper. 

          Serve, as is, or with pomegranate sprinkled over the top or on a bed of greens.

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cranberries-cooking_pb239355ranberry-chutney-pb239361

The winter holidays always mean cranberries to me – cranberry relish or chutney alongside the bird (whether turkey or something more exotic) is at the top of my list. My mom always served Cranberry Ice as an accompaniment to our Thanksgiving turkey so I’ve given you a bonus recipe here for it just because it is not a recipe I’ve seen much and I thought you might like it. Cranberry Ice never appeared any other time of the year – a reasonable guess would be because you couldn’t get cranberries at any other time in those days. As a child, the most amazing thing was that she served it at the middle of the meal in her mother’s coupe glasses. Only when I was very much an adult did I learn that this course is called an intermezzo, a term I’m sure my mom had never heard nor did she know the culinary etiquette that covered it. Just in case you’ve never heard the term it simply translates to a palate cleanser between courses – often a refreshing, not-at-all- sweet, sorbet. It is rarely served anymore, even in the fanciest of fancy restaurants.   How she came to do this I, regretfully, never asked. (As for the coupes they were slightly iridescent; the luminescent colors fascinated me, but not enough as an adult to keep the glasses after my mom passed away. Of course, this is a decision I now rue.)   The ice is refreshingly delicious and works just as well as a dessert, particularly with a bit of dark chocolate on the side. My mom’s recipe calls for 1 bag of cranberries which, I bet, in her day weighed 1 pound. However, the current 12 ounce weight seems to work just fine. Since you can now buy pure, unsweetened cranberry juice, you can probably use that also.

Makes about 3 pounds

1 large tart green apple, peeled, cored, and chopped

6 cups chopped fresh cranberries

1 cup chopped red onion

1 cup dried currants

½ cup chopped celery

¼ cup finely chopped preserved lemon, skin only

2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

1½ tablespoons minced garlic

2 cups light brown sugar

¾ cup dry red wine or any fruit juice you prefer (each one will add a different flavor)

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon mustard seed

½ teaspoon ground cloves

½ teaspoon ground cardamom

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

 

Combine the apple, cranberries, onion, currants, celery, preserved lemon, ginger, and garlic in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar. When blended, add the wine, cinnamon, mustard seed, cloves, cardamom, and cayenne, stirring to blend well. Bring to a boil; then, immediately lower the heat and cook at a very gentle simmer for about 30 minutes or until the mixture has thickened and is very flavorful.

Remove from the heat and pack into sterilized jars and tightly cover, if canning, or into nonreactive containers with lids for refrigerating. If canning, place the sealed jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Remove from the bath and set on wire racks to cool before storing. If refrigerated, set on wire racks to cool before transferring to the refrigerator. Canned, the chutney will last for a year; refrigerated for 6 weeks.

Cranberry Ice

Makes about 1 quart

1 package fresh cranberries

3 to 4 cups sugar, depending on how sweet you want the ice to be

Juice of 6 lemons, strained

 

Place the cranberries in a large saucepan with cold water to cover over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil; then, lower the heat and simmer, stirring frequently, for about 20 minutes or until all of the cranberries have popped and are soft.

Remove from the heat and pour through a fine mesh sieve into a large, heatproof mixing bowl, pressing lightly on the pulp. You do not want to push any seeds through; the liquid should be clear. Discard the solids.

Add the sugar to the hot juice, stirring until dissolved. Add the strained lemon juice (the straining is important as you want the juice to be completely clear). Measure the juice and add enough water to make 1 gallon of liquid.

Pour the liquid into shallow 1 quart containers or into ice cube trays and place in the freezer. Freeze for about 2 hours or until almost completely frozen.

Remove from the freezer and place in the bowl of a heavy-duty standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle (or a food processor fitted with the metal blade). Chop into chunks to facilitate beating. Beat or process until the consistency of sherbet.

Use immediately or return to the freezer for no more than an hour or it will get too hard to serve easily. If it does get too hard, beat or process again. You can also freeze the mixture in an ice cream maker following manufacturer’s directions for freezing sorbets.

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Cranberry beans_DSC_4815

When I first started cooking, unless you had a garden it was rare to see any fresh beans other than green and wax beans in the market.  Nowadays, particularly if you shop the farmers market or at farm stands you will find all types of beans from fresh fava to lima to cannellini to soy to —well, you get the idea.  Among our favorite fresh (and dried) beans speckled cranberry beans stand out.  Zingone’s, my trusted neighborhood market (which I glory in my most recent book, An American Family Cooks), always has them beginning in the early fall so they are frequently on our menu.  Sometimes I just cook them in a little water or stock with some aromatics and herbs and use them to make salads.  Other times I mix them up into a great baked bean dish as in the following recipe (which should easily serve 6).  When the fresh ones are no longer on the market, I switch to dried beans from Rancho Gordo (www.ranchogordo.com) in Napa, California.

 

4 to 5 cups fresh cranberry beans

3 ripe tomatoes, peeled, cored, and quartered

2 tablespoons chopped sun-dried tomatoes

1 tablespoons minced garlic

1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage

⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil plus more to season after cooking

Salt and pepper to taste

 Preheat the oven to 375°F.

 Lightly coat the interior of a 2 quart casserole with olive oil.

Combine the beans, tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, and sage in a large mixing bowl.  Add the ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole and then add cold water to just barely cover the beans.

Cover the entire casserole with aluminum foil to tightly seal.  Poke a small hole in the center of the top to allow steam to escape.

Transfer to the preheated oven and bake for about 1 hour or until the liquid has evaporated and the beans are very soft.

Remove from the oven, uncover, and serve drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.  The beans are also delicious served at room temperature with some balsamic vinegar added to the drizzle.

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