Friday, April 18, 2014

Holiday memories and cranberries

Are you an entertainer? Like the dinner party host/hostess of a generation ago? I am. I love cooking for other people. LOVE putting together fabulous meals that require lots of prep and shopping and planning and time tables. Perfect place settings with real china and silver, crisp linens and starched napkins. Place cards. The whole bit. One year for Thanksgiving I did exactly that. The whole nine yards and then some. Oh the menu was fantastic. Rather than the usual family dinner of people swarming the kitchen plopping food on plates I recruited my daughters to help me serve the courses. What was the menu?

Trio of Appetizers:
Shrimp Martini
Mini Crab Quiche
Sweet Corn Madeleines with Creme Fraiche and Caviar
Cream of Asparagus Soup with Parmesan Custards
Baby Field Greens with Dijon Vinaigrette
Herbed Roast Turkey
Chestnut Stuffing
Rustic Mashed Potatoes with Pan Gravy
Green Beans Amandine
Cranberry Sauce with Roasted Shallots and Port
Pumpkin Pie
Caramel Apple Cheesecake
Nut Praline Tart

Ohhhhhh if only people had started taking food pictures all the time 12 years ago........

What does this menu have to do with anything? Nothing really and I am NOT sharing every recipe right now- good grief, this would be the longest blog post in the history of mankind. But I happen to have a freezer full of cranberries and a chicken to roast so I thought I'd dig out this cranberry sauce recipe and share. I did not write this recipe- it's from an old issue of Bon Appetit magazine from November, 2002. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Cranberry Sauce with Roasted Shallots and Port 

18 shallots, peeled and quartered lengthwise through root end
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
5 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 cup sugar

1 2/3 cups ruby port
1/3 packed brown sugar
12 oz bag fresh cranberries
1/4 cup dried currants or raisins
1 tablespoon chopped fresh marjoram

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss shallots with oil and 3 teaspoons of the thyme, spread onto rimmed baking sheet, season with salt and pepper. Bake until golden and caramelized, about 25 minutes. Mix 1 tablespoon of the vinegar with 1 tablespoon of sugar, drizzle over shallots.Continue roasting about 10 minutes. Remove from oven.

In saucepan bring port, brown sugar, remaining vinegar and 1/2 cup sugar to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add cranberries and currents, cook until berries pop, stirring occasionally. Mix in marjoram and remaining thyme. Stir in shallots. Transfer to bowl and chill overnight. Serve cold or at room temperature. Can be made ahead and refrigerated.

Of all the holidays our family has celebrated, this one was truly memorable. The food was divine, yes, A LOT of work and prep but so worth it. I hope that some day you and your family will give this one a try. It really is delicious. And just maybe I'll share a few more of these recipes in future posts.

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