Holidays

Cranberry and Kumquat Sauce and A Thanksgiving Cocktail

Cranberry Sauce 1

Cranberry Sauce 1

You know those foods that leave a lasting impression?  The ones where you remember your first introduction... the exact place and time you had your first bite and exactly how it tasted and smelled?  Well, I had this with kumquats. Yes... kumquats. It was at the office of a documentary production company I had just started interning with (and would later work for) and one of my fellow interns was always bringing in foods I'd never heard of.  One day she brought in a bag of kumquats and I was amused by their shape.  What are those? What do they taste like?  She was quick to offer me one, explaining to slowly sink my teeth into the peel before continuing into the flesh. I did as instructed. Oh, it's sweet. Oh, it's tart! Oh, I want another!

This may or may not come as a surprise, but the inspiration for this sauce stemmed from a cocktail recipe I started working on a few weeks ago.  My mother in law, a cranberry sauce lover (she makes it all year long... not just around the holidays), left a container of her's at our apartment and, after tasting a spoon, I thought it'd be fun to incorporate it into a drink.  I wanted to keep it refreshing, so I went with gin, a bit of Aperol, some lemon juice and a little simple syrup to sweeten it up (despite what many cranberry sauce recipes say, the less sugar you add the better. Tart is the way to go).

I made this sauce for our Friendsgiving dinner last weekend and it was a huge hit... not as a side dish, but in the drink we served with appetizers.  Either way, folks will be pleased.  I mean, how can you go wrong with booze?

IMG_5394

IMG_5394

Cranberry and Kumquat Sauce - A Thought For Food

Cranberry and Kumquat Sauce - A Thought For Food

Cranberry and Kumquat Sauce - A Thought For Food

Cranberry and Kumquat Sauce - A Thought For Food

Cranberry and Kumquat Sauce - A Thought For Food

Cranberry and Kumquat Sauce - A Thought For Food

Cranberry and Kumquat Sauce - A Thought For Food

Cranberry and Kumquat Sauce - A Thought For Food

Cranberry and Kumquat Sauce

Yield Approx. 1.5 cups

Ingredients 16 oz kumquats, seeds removed and quartered. 12 oz cranberries 1/2 cup fresh orange juice 1/4 cup sugar 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise

Instructions

1. In a saucepan, place the the kumquats, cranberries, orange juice, cinnamon and sugar and set over medium heat.  Stir and bring to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and let cook until the cranberries burst.

2. Add the vanilla bean.  Stir sauce. Once it thickens a bit, turn off the burner and let cool.

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IMG_2060

IMG_2060

Cranberry and Kumquat Libation - A Thought For Food

Cranberry and Kumquat Libation - A Thought For Food

Cranberry and Kumquat Libation

Ingredients 1 tablespoon cranberry-kumquat sauce (see recipe above) 2 oz gin 1 oz lemon juice 1/2 oz Aperol 1/4 oz simple syrup 1/2 oz lemon-lime seltzer

Instructions

1. With the exception of the seltzer, place all of the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with three ice cubes.  Shake for 10-15 seconds to chill the drink.  Pour all contents, including ice, into a rocks glass.

2. Add another ice cube if preferred.

3. Add with lemon-lime seltzer and give the drink a stir with a spoon.

Cranberry and Kumquat Sauce and A Thanksgiving Cocktail

You know those foods that leave a lasting impression?  The ones where you remember your first introduction... the exact place and time you had your first bite and exactly how it tasted and smelled?  Well, I had this with kumquats. Yes... kumquats. It was at the office of a documentary production company I had just started interning with (and would later work for) and one of my fellow interns was always bringing in foods I'd never heard of.  One day she brought in a bag of kumquats and I was amused by their shape.  What are those? What do they taste like?  She was quick to offer me one, explaining to slowly sink my teeth into the peel before continuing into the flesh. I did as instructed. Oh, it's sweet. Oh, it's tart! Oh, I want another!

This may or may not come as a surprise, but the inspiration for this sauce stemmed from a cocktail recipe I started working on a few weeks ago.  My mother in law, a cranberry sauce lover (she makes it all year long... not just around the holidays), left a container of her's at our apartment and, after tasting a spoon, I thought it'd be fun to incorporate it into a drink.  I wanted to keep it refreshing, so I went with gin, a bit of Aperol, some lemon juice and a little simple syrup to sweeten it up (despite what many cranberry sauce recipes say, the less sugar you add the better. Tart is the way to go).

I made this sauce for our Friendsgiving dinner last weekend and it was a huge hit... not as a side dish, but in the drink we served with appetizers.  Either way, folks will be pleased.  I mean, how can you go wrong with booze?

Cranberry and Kumquat Sauce

Yield Approx. 1.5 cups

Ingredients 16 oz kumquats, seeds removed and quartered. 12 oz cranberries 1/2 cup fresh orange juice 1/4 cup sugar 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise

Instructions

1. In a saucepan, place the the kumquats, cranberries, orange juice, cinnamon and sugar and set over medium heat.  Stir and bring to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and let cook until the cranberries burst.

2. Add the vanilla bean.  Stir sauce. Once it thickens a bit, turn off the burner and let cool.

[/print_this]

Cranberry and Kumquat Libation

Ingredients 1 tablespoon cranberry-kumquat sauce (see recipe above) 2 oz gin 1 oz lemon juice 1/2 oz Aperol 1/4 oz simple syrup 1/2 oz lemon-lime seltzer

Instructions

1. With the exception of the seltzer, place all of the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with three ice cubes.  Shake for 10-15 seconds to chill the drink.  Pour all contents, including ice, into a rocks glass.

2. Add another ice cube if preferred.

3. Add with lemon-lime seltzer and give the drink a stir with a spoon.

Kale and Shiitake Mushroom Bread Pudding

ShiitakeMushroomBreadPudding7
ShiitakeMushroomBreadPudding7

I'm not a stuffing fan. I mean, I don't find it offensive or anything, but it's not what I go for first. I'm much more into cranberry sauce and green beans and sweet potato casserole (who can resist those crispy marshmallows on top?). As I make my rounds at the Thanksgiving buffet, I'll load up my plate with every other side, leaving only a small corner for stuffing.  I've just never been blown away.  But bread pudding... that I can get behind.  Something about the addition of heavy cream and eggs and cheese makes it more appealing.  The idea came to me as I sat down to develop a recipe for the McCormick Go4Gourmet campaign, in which I was asked to prepare something that included ground ginger, kale, shiitake mushrooms, and vegetable stock. You'd think coming up with a dish with those ingredients would be easy... but it wasn't. I struggled for weeks.  It wasn't until I brainstormed some ideas with Eric that this popped into my noggin.  And thank goodness... because it's changed my view of what stuffing can be.

If I don't see y'all before then, I want to wish you a happy Thanksgiving.  We'll be staying in Massachusetts this year, which I'm kind of excited about. It's exhausting traveling during the holidays... I'm looking forward to staying put for a few days.  Of course, I'll miss my parents and sister and my nieces.  But I'm sure I'll make it down there soon.

IMG_4949
IMG_4949

Kale and Shiitake Mushroom Bread Pudding

Ingredients
1 lb shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1 large bunch of kale, stems removed, leaves chopped
8 cups, cubed (3/4-inch) day-old baguette or French bread
1 large fennel bulb (or two smaller bulbs), trimmed and white and green parts thinly sliced
2 large shallots, minced
1/4 cup veggie broth
2 cups shredded gruyere
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 cups whole milk
3 tablespoons butter
Salt
Black pepper

Instructions

1. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat.  Once melted, add the shallot and cook for 30 seconds.  Add the shiitake mushrooms and fennel and cook for 5 minutes, or until it begins to brown.  Add the kale and vegetable broth.  Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the kale has wilted and most of the liquid has evaporated.   Stir in the gruyere.  Remove from heat.

2. In a bowl, whisk the eggs, ground ginger, and cayenne pepper for 30 seconds.  Add the heavy cream and whole milk and whisk until combined.  Pour the egg mixture over the cubed baguette. Mix to coat all the bread. Let sit for 15 minutes or until the bread has absorbed a lot of the egg mixture.

3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 2 quart baking dish with 1 tablespoon of butter.

4. In a bowl, combine the bread/egg mixture and the cooked vegetables.  The mixture should be pretty moist.

5. Transfer to the baking dish and, using a spoon, spread the mixture out across the dish.

6. Bake until firm and the top has lightly browned, about 45 minutes.

Disclosure:  McCormick Gourmet provided me with compensation for this post.  All opinions in this post about McCormick’s products and this recipe are my own.