Tag: Thanksgiving

Cranberry Sauce with Bourbon and Orange

bourbon cranberry sauce in a jarWe’re friends right? And friends would never lead each other astray, would they? In fact friends should look out for one another’s best interests. So in that vein, as your friend and food blogger, I want to steer you away from canned cranberry sauce.

Like, forever. Permanently. No turning back.

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Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts

balsamic roasted Brussels sprouts

Now, before you say that you don’t like Brussels sprouts, hear me out about these little beauties: they just might change your mind. If you are among the approximately 50% of people who are predisposed to like Brussels sprouts (yup, you read that right), you will definitely be into these tangy little morsels. Honestly, nothing could be simpler, and in a sea of mashed potatoes and turkey, you need a bright bite here and there to punctuate the richness of tradition (and gravy) at your Thanksgiving table. (more…)

Rolled Turkey Breast with Sausage and Mushrooms

turkey roulade with sausage and mushroomsI really, really love Fall. It’s my favourite. I love the crispness in the air, the changing leaves and the cooler, darker weather with the promise of the holidays and then shortly after, spring. Mostly though, I love cooking in the fall. I love the farm to table inspiration of the harvest, I also love slow cooking where the bulk of the work is done by the oven or a heavy, simmering pot. For me, Fall and Winter are the most ‘traditional’ seasons for cooking, not surprisingly because of the holidays and the ideas of big family meals garnished with tradition and steeped in expectation. Hmmm, there’s good stuff there, but also, a colossal amount of pressure. Shouldn’t cooking be a fun and rewarding activity? I tend to think so. We have to do it, so we may as well make the most of it. If the prospect of a ‘traditional’ family meal centers around a turkey, (not everyone’s traditions are the same, I realize), then I might have just the thing for you: a departure from what Thanksgiving or Christmas dinners of yore may have looked like, but also a nod to the classic turkey and every good feeling that comes from slow roasting meat with herbs and serving it with finesse.

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Cabbage and Leeks in Grainy Mustard Sauce

As autumn turns into winter, I think our tastes change. Mine do, at least. Shorter, colder, wetter days mean heartier, more warming foods. The problem with so many of the wintry comfort foods is that they are not great for us – so often they are full of condensed soups, cream and inordinate amounts of cheese, so much so that they are best relegated to special occasions and holiday dinners. The rest of the time, we count on slow cooking, long roasting techniques to build flavour and round out dishes to turn them into mouth watering cold weather staples.

This particular dish feels rich and satisfying but is not the devil it appears to be. Yes, it has a cup of Parmesan in it, but the volume of vegetables is such that this casserole will feed 6-8 people, so your cheese consumption is well within reason. Nutritional pros and cons aside, it’s a nice change of pace from many of the usual fall and winter side dishes. The cabbage is not overwhelming, but it gives a nice sturdiness to the dish, while the leeks, with all their gentle onion-y aroma, become meltingly soft and will make you wonder why you don’t serve leeks more often. For me, the magic of this dish is in the mustard because it lends a great flavour, and I love the look of the little seeds, not to mention the texture that they contribute.

Unlike the heavier casseroles, this one could become a regular part of your fall and winter menu but despite it’s humble ingredients, it is elegant enough for holiday dinner parties, even for pride-of-place beside The Bird at Thanksgiving or Christmas. I’m glad to say that it will be on our table all winter long.

Cabbage and Leeks in Grainy Mustard Sauce

preheat the oven to 375°

3 large leeks, washed and sliced

1/2 medium green cabbage (about 3 lb total)

1 Tbsp butter

1 Tbsp flour

1 C milk

1 Tbsp grainy Dijon mustard

1/2 cup light sour cream (you could use full fat, but you don’t need to)

1/4 tsp grated nutmeg

1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

Trim leeks by removing the root end and cutting off any hard, or rough looking green parts. Slice the trimmed leeks in half lengthwise and then cut cross wise. Place cut leeks in 2.5 L casserole dish.

Halve a medium cabbage. Reserve 1/2 for another recipe. Remove the core and slice the cabbage half crosswise into thin shreds, as if you were making coleslaw.

Mix the leeks and cabbage together in the casserole. Set aside.

For the sauce:

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once it is melted, add the butter to make a roux. Stir constantly as the butter and flour mix. When the roux becomes a pale golden colour and smells nutty and toasted, add the milk, stirring to incorporate. Cook the sauce for about 3 minutes, until thickened. While still on the heat, stir in the nutmeg, sour cream and cheese. The sauce should be creamy and pourable but not too thick. Add a touch of milk if you feel it needs it.

Pour the sauce over the reserved cabbage and leeks. Cook in a preheated 375° oven for 45 minutes until the edges are golden and the sauce is bubbling. The cabbage and leeks will have reduced in volume by about 1/3. Garnish with extra grated Parmesan cheese if desired.

Yams with Maple and Ginger

The humble yam. There isn’t much to say about a yam. It is one of those vegetables that serves it’s utilitarian nutritional purpose but doesn’t exactly cry out for applause. Perhaps it’s the simplicity of yams that compels so many people to mash and whip them within an inch of their lives , adorn them with marshmallows, or turn them into golden souffles. The other option seems to be to boil or steam them and serve them plain. Personally, I’m not a great fan of the yam, so no way is the “right”  or “wrong” way to prepare them for me. I do, however, live with some committed yam fiends who like them just about anyway that they can get them. So which way do yams manifest on our plates? More often than not, especially when prepared alongside turkey or chicken, I roast them with maple syrup and ginger. Not wholly unique or original, but as a potential yam convert I appreciate the balance of sweet and spicy, and in general, almost anything is good or better with maple syrup.

It all starts with fresh yams, peeled and chopped.

Then fresh ginger makes its entrance, grated. If you’re clever, do as I say and not as I do and grate the ginger right over the dish you will roast the yams in to collect all the gingery juice that you’ll get from grating it.

Toss the cubed yams in the rest of the ingredients and pop them in the oven. Less than an hour later you’ll be enjoying spicy-sweet, earthy roasted yams …and not a marshmallow in sight!

Roasted Yams with Maple and Ginger

preheat the oven to 375

3 medium yams, peeled and chopped into 1 inch cubes

2 teaspoons olive oil

3 tablespoons pure maple syrup

1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Toss yam cubes in maple syrup and oil, sprinkle spices in, mix well to coat.

Roast at 375 for 30-40 mins or until the yams are tender and have begun to caramelize.