This is the first year in more then I can recall that I am not cooking for Thanksgiving. Every year I reach for new heights and usually a food theme for the menu. A few of my favorites from last year were the two recipes below. Both are simple but HUGE on flavor and leave a lasting impression on guests. The cranberry sauce is great after the big day spread on nut bread with cream cheese or served along side a cheese plate. The candied onions I developed originally as rings for a roasted vegetable salad, but they were to intense. I ended up serving them as a condiment with a cheese tray. They were very well received and were excellent with both triple creams and blues.
Spiced Cranberry Sauce
Besides traditional uses at Thanksgiving, I use this sauce for many dishes. It is great spread on cornbread in the morning with cream cheese, whipped into butter and put on sweet potatoes or as a base for interesting vinaigrette. It will last in a covered container in the refrigerator for at least a month. I usually end up tweaking the recipe with more ginger and sugar and usually finishing with fresh herbs or either basil or mint.
- 2 cups fresh or frozen whole cranberries
- 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger root
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil (grapeseed oil)
- 2 cups Pinot Noir or other dry red
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons crystallized ginger, minced
- ½ teaspoon curry powder
- Pinch 5 spice powder
- 1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped (optional)
Heat oil in a sauce pan over medium heat. Add cranberries and fresh ginger and sauté 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cranberries are beginning to burst. Add wine and sugar and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15-20 minutes stirring occasionally. Add crystallized ginger, curry powder and 5 spice and cook for another 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. If using mint add after removing from heat.
*How to make your own Chinese five-spice powder
Chinese five-spice powder Ingredients:
1 teaspoon peppercorns
4 star anise
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
In a dry skillet, roast peppercorns by shaking the pan over low to medium heat until the aroma of the peppercorns is released (about three minutes). Grind the roasted peppercorns and 4 star anise in a blender or pepper mill. Strain the blended seasonings. Mix in ground cloves, ground cinnamon, and ground fennel seeds. Grind the seasonings until very fine. Store in an airtight container.
These will hold as well for at least 30 days refrigerated.
2 cups diced red onion, 3/4” dice
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup water
Mix all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook at a slow boil, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced to a thick syrup. Watch it carefully at the end and stir regularly; once most of the liquid is gone, sugar syrup can burn easily. It takes 30 – 45 minutes for the syrup to reduce.