Thanksgiving flavors – Cranberry/Apple Chutney and Cranberry Sauce

Thanksgiving at the Scully household of my youth was always a time with so many people running around; so much food cooking and for some reason lots of loud music. My mom was always considered the best cook in her family so her family was usually at our house in force. She made everything from scratch, so I didn’t know any better. I thought everyone made a pan gravy and au gratin onions. I thought it was normal to make a pate from the Turkey liver.

However, I gradually became aware of the way other folks “celebrated” culinary feasts. That was for the most part, very disappointing. When I met the mother of my two kids, I found someone who rivaled my mom. She was interested in doing everything the best she could, including Thanksgiving! So good in fact, that I was compelled to have two versions of many Thanksgiving staples. I am going to print the two Cranberry sauces and let you be the judge(s) of which was best. It wasn’t easy for me to decide…

Cranberry/Apple Chutney

Ingredients:

1.5 cups                                water

1.5 cups                                sugar

3/4 cups                               onion (finely chopped)

1 tbs                                        garlic

2 tsp                                       cinnamon

3/4 tsp                                  ground cloves

1/2 tsp                                  salt

1/2 cup                                 apple cider vinegar

1/4 tsp                                  cayenne pepper

1 ea.                                      12 oz. bag cranberries

1 cup                                     white raisins

1 cup                                     apples (peeled and diced)

1/2 tsp                                  ground ginger

1/2 cup                                 brown sugar

Method: Sauté the onions  in a little oil, add the first nine ingredients and simmer for 5 minutes.  Add everything else and simmer for 15 minutes. Cool.

Cranberry Sauce

Ingredients:

1 cups                                   water

1.5 cups                                sugar

1/2 tsp                                  salt

1 ea.                                      12 oz. bag cranberries

4 each                                   cinnamon sticks

1 each                                   orange (navel) quartered and sliced thin)

Method: Combine all items and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes and cool. Serve.

As you might be able to observe, the two recipes are VERY different. So were the two women, each great in her way as are these distinctive Thanksgiving Sauces.

The truth is out OR Things just don’t taste the same outside the restaurant

I recently received my first piece of “fan mail” for my monthly diatribe in the Fairview Town Crier. I was gratified because I really don’t think of myself as any kind of writer. We have people in our community that are writers and I have neither the education nor the talent to consider myself one of them.  It was, however a stroke to the old ego.

“Dear Chef Joe Scully;

I just have to tell you how much I enjoy your monthly column in the Fairview Town Crier…”

Now here comes the inspiring part of the letter, “But I have a bone to pick with you…”  Oh, God, I thought, what now.  “It is concerning the recipe for Vegetarian Lentil Soup… You list all the ingredients except for the real flavoring (her italics) part of the soup,  you simply say “various herbs”. Come on now, you and I both well know that the differences between your Vegetarian Lentil Soup and mine are just that; which and how much of those “various herbs”.  I’ve eaten at your restaurant often enough to know that to be true. Otherwise, I’d just eat at home…”

So, I stand accused of omitting key ingredients!  It seems that I am afraid to reveal all of what I know in order to keep my place as “Chef”!  Not true, I say, not true. I am totally willing to divulge all of what I know. It is not a secret, but time and print place limitations on what I actually include in whatever I say or write.  There are many factors that go into creating a truly great bit of cooking. Usually is it method, but just as often it is an ingredient. Let me set the record straight, the “various herbs” are what we call the “Herb Mix”.  This is a grouping of chopped herbs that define a lot of our style and taste at the Corner Kitchen.

Lavender Herb Mix

Ingredients:

½ cup               Lavender (picked)

½ cup               Rosemary (picked)

½ cup              Thyme (picked)

½ cup              Oregano (picked)

¼ cup              Sage (if available)

1 cup               Parsley

Method:  Combine and chop all.

For that particular soup, it is just as important to use WAY too much olive oil, and the tomato product, oh yes, and don’t forget the Balsamic Vinegar… There are so many variables. Like this one:  you should caramelize the onions to get extra flavor. Then it is a good practice to make a bouquet of herbs “en branche” like those listed above (tie them with twine and pick them out when the soup is complete).

You get the idea. I love to give my recipes away. Mostly because it is fun to see the surprise on the face of the recipient, but also because I like to give things. I do have to admit though, that in the back of my mind I am secure in the knowledge that most folks won’t be able to make the item taste as good as it tasted in the restaurant. There; more confessions…

Here is one of my favorites:

White Chocolate Mac-nut Blondie

Oven to 325f

Ingredients:

Dry Mix:

5.5 cups                                Pecans, toasted and fine chop

5.5 cups                                AP Flour                                                   Combine

1 tsp                                        Baking Soda

1 tsp.                                       Salt

Wet Mix:

1.5 lbs.                                  Butter (soft)

1lb cups                                Lt. Brown Sugar (packed)                 Cream

1.5  cup                                 Sugar

Then Add:

6 each                                   Eggs

6 each                                   Yolks

1 cup                                     Lt. Corn Syrup

3 Tbsp.                                  Vanilla

Add Dry Mix and then mix in “garnish”:

4 cups                                   White Chocolate Chips

3 cups                                   Crystallized Ginger

and  top with :

1 cup                                      Chopped Mac-nuts

Method:  Bake for 25 minutes on a full greased parchment lined sheet pan cool and cut into squares (5×8)

Cranberry/Apple Chutney

If you would like to try an unusual approach to cranberry “sauce” give this recipe a whirl.

Cranberry/Apple Chutney

Ingredients:

1.5 cups water

1.5 cups sugar

3/4 cups onion (finely chopped)

1 tbs garlic

2 tsp  cinnamon

3/4 tsp  ground cloves

1/2 tsp   salt

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1 ea.   12 oz. bag cranberries

1 cup white raisins

1 cup apples (peeled and diced)

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 cup brown sugar

Method: Sauté the onions  in a little oil, add the first nine ingredients and simmer for 5 minutes.  Add everything else and simmer for 15 minutes. Cool.

What’s the difference between soup and chowder? / Corn and Crab Chowder, Tomato Basil Bisque

Have you ever wondered why some soups are classified as “chowders”?

Chowder is a rather loose category, but usually indicates a soup that is rich and creamy with chunks of seafood and vegetables. The most famous, of course, is New England Clam Chowder. The word “chowder” evolved from the French word “chaudiere,” the name of the pot in which French fisherman would boil samples of their catches with potatoes and other vegetables. French settlers in the New England colonies introduced the culinary tradition to America. “Chowder” first appeared in a written recipe in 1751. By the 1800s, American cooks started to use mostly clams instead of fish because of the abundance of shellfish in the northeast.

(Source: http://www.souphoopla.com/chowder-soups.html)

If you feel inspired to connect with our colonial roots, try out our Corn and Crab Chowder recipe. Or, whip up our Tomato Basil Bisque too– just for comparison’s sake.

Corn and Crab Chowder

For the “Base”

Ingredients:

1 each   Red Peppers

1 each   Green Peppers

1 each   Small Jalapeno peppers

1 stalks  Celery, chopped

1 each    Yellow Onion

½  tbsp.  Garlic, minced

¼  lbs.   Butter

½  cups     A.P. Flour

2 lbs.   Frozen Corn

1 qt.     Clam Juice

2 qt.   Water

1 lbs.   Crab Claw meat

Method: Sauté all the vegetables (except corn) in the Butter. Add the Flour and cook for a minute (scrape the bottom of the pot!!!) Add clam juice, Water and Simmer for 20 minutes and remove from heat, Add Corn and Crab, cool and store in a labeled, dated plastic container.

For service

2 qt.   Corn and Crab Chowder base

2 cups   Half and Half

1 cup    Heavy Cream

To taste   Lime Juice

To taste    Salt and Pepper mix

As needed   Cornstarch Slurry

Method: Combine, base, and dairy products. Bring the soup to a simmer, season to taste and thicken if necessary.

Note: This soup should have a “slow burn” and be relatively thick. The Lime juice is used to keep it from being too flat and/or heavy

Tomato Basil Bisque

Yield: 10 portions

Ingredients:

2 quarts     Diced Tomatoes in Juice

1 each         Yellow Onion, small, chopped

½   tbsp.    Garlic, minced

1 Tbsp.      Fresh basil, chopped

¼  cup     Extra Virgin Olive Oil

½  each   6 ounce can Tomato paste

1 each    Bay Leaves

1 qt    Heavy Cream and Half & Half

to taste     Salt & Pepper

Method: Sauté onions in olive oil, add garlic, tomato paste. Add Diced tomatoes, bay and basil, Simmer for fifteen minutes. Puree, add cream and season to taste.

Chocolate and Almond Biscotti

As the air gets cooler in the mountains, consider using this recipe to make your own biscotti to dip in your hot coffee or tea.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups blanched whole almonds
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 7/8 cup white sugar
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons whiskey

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Toast the almonds in a shallow pan for 12 to 15 minutes, shaking the pan a few times, until almonds are lightly colored. Set aside to cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Line 2 or 3 cookie sheets with aluminum foil, shiny side up.
  3. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar. Place 1/2 cup of these dry ingredients into the bowl of a food processor. Add about a half cup of the toasted almonds and process for about 30 seconds.
  4. Return the mixture to the bowl of dry ingredients and stir in the remaining almonds and chocolate chips. In a large measuring cup, beat the eggs, vanilla and whiskey with a fork to blend. Stir into the dry ingredients until moistened. Wet your hands and divide the dough into four portions. Keeping hands wet, form each quarter into strips about 9 inches long, 2 inches wide and 1/2 inch high. Round the ends. Place two strips crosswise on each of the cookie sheets.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes in the preheated oven. If baking more that one sheet at a time, reverse the sheets top to bottom halfway through cooking time.
  6. Using a metal spatula remove the slabs from cookie sheets and let cool for 20 minutes on cutting board. Reduce oven temperature to 275 degrees F.
  7. With a serrated knife, carefully cut at an angle into slices about 1/2 inch wide. Place the slices, cut side down, onto cookie sheets.
  8. Bake 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until the biscotti is crispy and lightly toasted.
  9. Turn oven off and open the oven door, allowing the biscotti to cool in the oven. When cool, store in an airtight container.

Asian Vinaigrette Dressing

Ingredients:

½ Cup    Sweet Thai Chili sauce

1 Cup      Rice vinegar

1 Cup       Sugar

½  Cup    Soy Sauce

2 Tbsp.   Chopped Cilantro

2 tsp.    Sesame Oil

¼  cup   Lime Juice

¾ Quart  Vegetable Oil

Method: Combine all.

This is a very easy to love salad dressing to be used in any number of dishes.

Ginger Sweet Potato Soup

Ingredients:

2 #      Sweet Potatoes, peeled and diced

1 each    Yellow Onion, chopped

1/4 cup    Ginger, peeled and chopped

2 ounce     Olive Oil

1/2 Gallon     Water

1 each     Bay Leaf

1 qt.     Half & Half

1 qt.     Heavy Cream

1 tsp.    Tabasco.

to taste    Salt & Pepper

Method: Sauté onions and ginger in olive oil, get them transparent but not very much color. Add Potatoes , water, and bay. Simmer until potatoes are fully cooked. Pull bay leaves, puree, and season to taste.

Note: A savory topping enhances this soup. Our favorite is to whip 1 cup of cream with the addition of a good sprinkle of cinnamon. Before it is too stiff add salt and white pepper to taste. Dollop this into the soup

Grits, Basic and Beyond

Stick with the classic Southern style, or spice it up!

Ingredients:

1 part    Stone Ground Grits

3 parts     Water

to taste    Heavy Cream

to taste    Salt and pepper

optional      Cheddar Cheese

optional      Jalapenos (chopped)

Method: Bring the water to the boil. WHILE BOILING, Sprinkle in the grits. Keep stirring until thoroughly combined. Simmer for around twenty-five minutes. Season and cream. Add the cheddar and/or jalapenos.

Gaspacho

Ingredients:

1 Cup      Yellow or red onion (diced 1/4 inch)

2 each     Celery stalks (diced 1/4 inch)

1/2 cup     Red peppers  (diced 1/4 inch)

1/2 cup   Green Peppers    (diced ¼ inch)

1/8 cup    Jalapenos

1 each    Euro Cucumbers

1 Tbsp.    Garlic (minced)

4 slices    White bread (trimmed and fine chopped in the cuisinart)

1 quart     Tomato Juice

1 quart     Bloody Mary Mix

1/4 cup    Lime Juice

to taste    Cilantro

to taste    Salt & Pepper

to taste    Tabasco

to taste    Sugar

Method:  Combine and Puree about ¼ of the mix.

Lavender Chicken

Ingredients:

2 ½ lbs.    Chicken (marinated, grilled and fully cooked)

1 each     Red Onion (1/4 moon slice)

¼ bunch     Celery (cut the same shape as the onions)

½  cups     Toasted Pinenuts

2 Tbsp.    Lavender herb mix (see recipe)

2 each    Lemons (filleted and tossed in sugar and salt & pepper)

¾  cups     Apple cider vinegar

½  cups     Olive oil

To taste   Salt & Pepper

Method:

Method:  Cut the chicken in fine strips.  Toss with all other ingredients.

Lavender Herb Mix:

Ingredients:

¼  cup     Lavender (picked)

¼  cup      Rosemary (picked)

1/8  cup    Thyme (picked)

1/8 cup      Oregano (picked)

1/8 cup      Sage (if available)

¼  cup      Parsley

Method:  Combine and chop all.

Marinade for Lavender Chicken:

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp.    Lavender (chopped measure)

1 Tbsp.    Rosemary (chopped)

1 Tbsp.    Garlic (puree)

2Tbsp.    Honey

1 ounce    Lemon Juice

¼  cup     Olive Oil

to taste    Salt & Pepper

Method:  Combine all.