Monday, November 26, 2007

How'd It Go?

Well, we made it. We made it through the fuss and muss in the kitchen, the cleanup, the…ugh, leftovers. We made it through the “fun” in dysfunctional family members, Black Friday, and “The After Thanksgiving 5” (the five pounds you inevitably gain). Whew!

As I mentioned earlier, hubby and I had the day all to ourselves. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t feel your pain. I knew you were working hard, dear readers, and I was there with you in thought and prayer. I’ve been there too. Oh yes. I have.

This past year has been more than hectic for both of us, so we just thought we’d pull into ourselves and stay close to home. It was worth it and quite a treat. But since Thanksgiving is the Holy Grail of holidays for us foodies, I couldn’t let the day pass without putting in some effort.

Now, some people are pretty much forced to stay within the comfort zone of cuisine for Turkey Day. Heaven forbid you don’t make the dreaded Green Bean Casserole, or Aunt So-and-So’s favorite dressing. But I think that’s comfort in itself. There is comfort in tradition, and it’s one of the few things we can rely on and look forward to each year. I usually make a big batch of brandied cherries every year. Last year I didn’t and I thought there was going to be a mutiny. “Ye’ will walk the plank for such insufferable grog! Arrrgh!”

I think they just wanted the booze.

Others like to experiment and try new things. I’m in that camp for sure. Whether it’s a new appetizer or side dish, Thanksgiving is the one time I’m pretty much guaranteed to have a captive audience and honest feedback. So true to form, I tried two new dishes, even if it was just the two of us. The first was a Potato and Gruyere casserole; sort of like a grown-up scalloped potatoes. Second was a Tried-and-True goodie that’s been haunting The Cooking Forum for several years and I just never got around to making it. It’s called Cranberry Jezebel and I could have eaten a whole bowl by myself. Where have I been?

Potato and Gruyere Casserole
Recipe Source: Southern Living

Note: The jury is still out on this dish. I can’t decide if this was “special” or if it was a waste of a healthy wedge of gruyere. Try it; you might like it.

12 med Yukon gold potatoes
2 tsps salt, divided
2 T butter
1 large sweet onion, chopped
½ teaspoon pepper
2 cups shredded Gruyere (may sub Swiss or Cheddar)
Cream sauce

Peel and thinly slice pototoes. Bring potatoes, 1 tsp salt, and water to cover to a boil in a large saucepan. Cook 8-10 minutes; remove from heat; drain and set aside.

Melt butter in a large skillet over med-high heat, add chopped onion and sauté 12-15 minutes until golden brown. Layer half the potatoes in a large 13x9-inch greased baking dish, sprinkle with ¼ tsp of salt & ¼ tsp pepper. Top with half each of the onions, Gruyere, and cream sauce. Repeat layers once, ending with cream sauce. Bake at 350 for 1 hours and 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Cream Sauce

¼ cup butter
1/3 cup all purp flour
2 ½ cups milk
1 cup dry white whine
¼ tsp salt

Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat; whisk in flour until smooth. Cook, whisking constantly, 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk and wine; cook over med heat, whisking constantly, 18-20 minutes or until mixture is thickened and bubbly. Stir in salt.

Cranberry Jezebel

Note: This was SOOO good!

12 oz bag fresh or frozen cranberries
1 c. water
3/4 c. white sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
3 Tablespoons horseradish
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard

Wash and pick over the berries. Put water and sugars in saucepan (large enough to prevent boil over) and bring to a boil, add berries and return to a boil, cook on medium for 15 to 20 minutes from the time it returns to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cool to lukewarm then stir in horseradish and Dijon mustard. Refrigerate for a few hours at least and enjoy!

Additional Notes from others: Reduce the amount of white sugar and substitute some fresh-squeezed orange juice for some, or all of the water. I also like to add a couple tablespoons of Cointreau. Sometimes I'll stir in a little orange zest along with the horseradish and Dijon.

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