Thanksgiving Day! At our house it starts with the “girls” (whoever they are…be it daughters, mothers or grandmothers, or a combination of all three, whoever happens to be hanging around that morning) watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I LOVE the Thanksgiving Day Parade, but that is probably due to the fact that I was a Broadway Musical Theatre performer in a prior life. Oh yes, I was. I bet you didn’t know that about me; it’s not something I share with everyone. Anyway, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade telecast is the only window of time during the day where I can declare “dibs” on the television; the rest of the time it is dedicated to football.
Anyway, onto the really BIG Event; the feeding frenzy! Aren’t you glad that we, here at the Idiosyncrazies Test Kitchens, are sharing some of our favorite recipes with you?
My first recipe is dedicated to all of those who have never imagined, could never imagine, preparing cranberry sauce from :::GASP::: “scratch”! Believe me, all of you whole berry vs. jellied (comes out of the can in the exact shape of the can, with all of the ridges and everything) cranberry folks, YES! Even YOU can prepare cranberry sauce from scratch. Here’s a no-fail recipe, one of the best parts being that it can be, in fact, should be, made a day or so ahead of time.
Cranberry Sauce With Dried Cherries and Cloves
- 1 1/2 cup cherry cider
- 1 cup orange juice
- 1 Tbsp orange zest
- 1 8-ounce package dried tart cherries (about 2 cups)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 12-ounce package cranberries
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
Bring cider and orange juice to simmer in heavy, large saucepan. Remove from heat. Add cherries and let stand 8 minutes. Mix in sugar, then cranberries, orange zest and cloves. Cook over medium-high heat until cranberries burst, stirring occasionally, about 9 minutes. Refrigerate until cold, about 4 hours (sauce will thicken as it cools). Can be prepared 4 days ahead. Cover and keep refrigerated.
Believe me, once you realize how easy (and superior to canned) this cranberry sauce is, you’ll never go back. Really.
And my next recipe is a great kick start to the Grand Feast; it’s the First Course…you know, the first one served in a bowl placed on the fancy schmancy “charger” plates. I would love to say I fix this every Thanksgiving, however, “some” members of my immediate family (who will remain unnamed) do not have, what I like to refer to as, a “mature” palate. Therefore, I prepare this when we have enough guests who will “ooh” and “ahhh” and drown out the mumblings of the “not-yet-fully-evolved.” This was an always requested dish to be brought to the holiday celebration we had at my former place of employment. As with the Cranberry Sauce, this can be prepared a day or two in advance.
- 5 Tbsp butter
- 1/4 cup fresh white breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup minced shallots
- 6 cups canned vegetable broth
- 1 pound russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 8 ounces fresh horseradish, peeled, finely grated
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 4 ounces pumpernickle bread clices, cut into small cubes
- 4 ounces smoked turkey, cut into small cubes (for Thanksgiving, I suggest substituting 4 ounces of cooked crumbled bacon…you’ll be getting enough turkey later in the meal). Get this from the deli and have them cut it in a “slab” about 1/2 inch thick, that way you can cut “cubes.”
Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add breadcrumbs and shallots and saute 1 minute (do not brown). Add 6 cups broth, potatoes and horseradish. Cook over medium until potatoes and horseradish are very tender, about 1 hour. Puree soup in batches in blender. Return soup to saucepan. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.
Toss pumpernickel cubes with a drizzle of olive oil. Spread on a baking sheet and brown in oven at 325 for approximately 12-14 minutes, tossing occasionally. Keep an eye on them so that they brown but don’t burn.
If you are using smoked turkey, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add turkey and saute until turkey is heated through, approximately 6-8 minutes. If you are using bacon, fry until tender crisp. Crumble.
Bring soup to simmer, thinning with more vegetable broth if necessary. Ladle soup into bowls. Garnish with turkey or bacon and bread cubes.
And now, because THIS test kitchen is NOT doing a test for the above-mentioned recipes (they’ve been tested, and tried, and are, indeed, true) only for a photo op, AND because, prior to Idiosyncrazies, I haven’t taken pictures of these recipes in process, we don’t have any lovely photo journaling of the recommended dishes. However, I do have some photos of Thanksgivings gone by…
The first is of my OWN grandparents. My grandmother (Nanny) Phoebe Jones, was the queen of the kitchen. I have mentioned her before in a blog referencing her Olympic abilities when it comes to pie crusts. Many Thanksgivings were celebrated at the home of Nanny and Grandad. Here they are, back in all their glory, Thanksgiving 1972. Grandparents looked different then they do now, don’t you agree?
And next; this picture brings back fond memories. It reminds me of that Thanksgiving, 1988, when Mr. Fannie and I, along with the junior fannies, planned a (road) trip to Southern California for Thanksgiving. Yep, best laid plans. Mother Nature had something else in mind, like closing highways and dumping obscene amounts of snow on Reno and all reasonable passages OUT of Washoe Valley and surrounding areas. With not much but a “killer chocolate pecan pie” (recipe to be featured in another blog post) in hand, huddled and cold, we knocked on the door of some nice people who let us in. And, they fed us. And, they served us good wine.
And so, friends, this holiday season, we hope you are warm, safe, with those you love and remembering all that you have to be thankful for.