Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving Yummy

My Mom has posted a couple of good Thanksgiving recipes over at her blog: Apple Pie and Cracked Wheat Dinner Rolls. They're excellent!

I'm making Thanksgiving dinner for 14 this year. I'm planning to do Mom's apple pie tomorrow, and probably a pumpkin pie or two as well. I always make those dinner rolls as well because they really are extraordinary. I was toying with the idea of a sourdough version of them this year, though. But the fact is... I'm tired. Really, really tired. Besides pregnancy fatigue, there's insomnia to compound it. I've always been an insomniac in the first trimester... so I'm tired.

So this morning, when a lady from church called to confirm that she and her granddaughter will be coming for Thanksgiving dinner and she asked what she could bring, I took a deep breath --deeper, deeper-- and asked her to take care of dinner rolls. Make them or buy them, I said, just so I don't have to do them. That took courage, people. I mean... I make bread. It's what I do. Always. I made sourdough hamburger buns for Nathan's birthday supper last night.

I make bread.

How could I not make the dinner rolls for Thanksgiving dinner? Well, this year I'm not. And it'll be fine, of course.

Thanksgiving is the one big family/friend dinner party that I do every year, and usually, I like to make everything from scratch myself because I enjoy it. It's fun, really! I like to feed people yummy food. But now I am tired. I'm going to allow it and not make myself do everything.

So several dishes are being brought by guests, including the signature, but time-consuming, dinner rolls. But I have freshly butchered, 26-pound turkey cooling it's heals in my spare fridge, a house waiting to be cleaned, and plenty of food to make myself, including the most wonderful stuffing ever, if-I-do-say-so-myself.

But for today, I thought I would share this which I made yesterday: Sweet and Spicy Cranberry Compote. I've developed this over the last couple of years and I always like to make it a couple days ahead to get it out of the way allow the flavors to meld for a while before serving.

The cast of characters:

Fresh cranberries, pears, oranges, a chunk of ginger root, Sucanat (or brown sugar-- use what you have. And what's pictured, by the way, is not nearly enough), cinnamon, cloves, salt and the "secret" ingredient--Jalapeno peppers. Normally, I would use fresh peppers, but when I got out the peppers I knew I had in my vegetable drawer, I found they were... less than appetizing. So I broke out the peppers I had canned in the summer.

The "recipe" is pretty flexible and I always just make it to taste (I go through a whole pile of spoons--tasting all along.) and you could vary it according to what fruits and peppers you have available. I really like the particular flavor of Jalapenos in this dish, but Serranos might be good as well.

So, on to the destructions!

Break open the bag of gorgeous fresh cranberries and bask in their lovely redness.

Wow, those things are beautiful. Have I told you that that is my favorite color? Yes, that right there. The color of bright, fresh cranberries. I just love it and could feast my eyes on it all day.

Pick through them for bad berries, rinse them off, and toss them in a pot with some water, maybe about a cup.

Ugh. Lovely. Did I mention how much I love the color?

Cook them over medium heat until they soften and pop open.

Cranberries are very high in pectin, so the sauce will thicken very quickly. Watch carefully through the cooking and be ready to add more water so it doesn't scorch.

Add Sucanat (can get it at a health-food store-- it adds a lovely flavor and is higher in minerals than sugar) or sugar to taste. I think I used about a cup and a half. I don't like it to be overly sweet --it should be tart-- but it does take quite a bit of sugar to offset the sour cranberries. Minus 100 points to me for forgetting a picture of the sugar-adding. Lower the heat and allow it to gently simmer with some frequent stirring while you prepare the fruit.

Chop or dice the pears. I used two Bosc pears, which stay somewhat firm and keep their shape in the sauce. I had intended to peel them, but I forgot, and these pears are unsprayed anyway.

Remove the zest from the oranges (and if you want to be like the cool people, you'll use one of these awesome zesters that makes the oranges look all impressionistic), and then peel and chop the oranges.

Toss all the chopped fruit and zest into the sauce to start cooking. (And excuse the blown-out pictures-- my camera just doesn't always understand light.)

Usually, I like to put in a handful of raisins. I forgot to order raisins with my co-op order, so I don't have very many on hand and I need what I have for my stuffing. But that's just indicative of the flexibility of this sauce-- use what you have!

Add some cinnamon and cloves, to taste. I used probably a teaspoon of cinnamon and an 1/8th teaspoon of cloves. You can use more or less according to what you like. I add just a little shake of salt to bring out the sweetness as well.

Peel and grate the ginger root and stir it in. This works best if the root is frozen-- the grating will break up all those little fibers and prevent people from thinking there's hair in their cranberry sauce.

At this point, I just allow the sauce to slowly simmer until everything is cooked and well-blended. I added a little water once or twice to keep it from getting scorched.

After it's all cooked, I take out some of the sauce and put it in a separate jar. I have a lot of kids coming to my Thanksgiving dinner who don't appreciate their cranberry sauce causing them pain.

To the remaining sauce, I add some chopped Jalapenos. Like I said, I had to use canned, so they weren't quite as good as fresh, but they still brought the flavor and heat I was looking for.

I allow the peppers to cook in a for a while, and then put the sauce in a jar, labeled "Hot!".

Mmmm... yummy.

I make sure and make it clear to my guests which bowl of sauce is spicy and which is not. No need to cause unintended injury. Last year, however, the "hot" bowl was empty long before the mild.

It's just a condiment, so a quart of sauce should be plenty, but I'm actually considering making a little more. I like to spread it on my turkey sandwiches for the three or four days following thanksgiving.

Mmmm... I'm already craving those sandwiches. I think they might be my favorite part of Thanksgiving.


  1. Another great recipe! I bought a bag of fresh cranberries yesterday to do "something." This is it!

    I'm glad to hear you are delegating. This is the year to do it. Very wise!

    Wish we we there...

  2. I stumbled on your blog today and have been enjoying myself! I am in love with your Sweet and Spicy Cranberry Compote! I have a weakness for cranberry sauces, chutneys and compotes! This sounds marvelous!

    Stop by and visit if you have a chance!

  3. Thanks for stopping by! Enjoy the compote!