Friday, November 6, 2009

Three Excellent Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Brussels Sprout Chiffonade
Brussels sprouts have grown on me over the years. This one is just great. The slicing takes some time, so if you are doing these for a crowd, get some help.

1 pound Brussels sprouts
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (½ stick)
½ teaspoon cumin seeds, optional
Note: If the rest of your dinner has a lot of strong flavors, you might make your sprouts without the cumin. If it is pretty bland (like roast chicken and mashed potatoes), you might increase the cumin seeds to 1 teaspoon.
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1. Trim Brussels sprouts and halve lengthwise; slice crosswise into very thin slices.
2. Heat the butter in a large sauté pan over moderately high heat until the foam subsides. Add the sprouts, cumin seeds, salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, until the sprouts are tender, 3 to 5 minutes. You may want to add 1-2 tablespoons of water to hasten the cooking. The water will disappear and the sprouts will be done.
3. Transfer to a serving bowl. Stir in the lime juice and taste for seasonings, adding more salt and pepper if necessary.

4-6 servings
Adapted from Ruth Reichl’s The Gourmet Cookbook

Six-Spice Squash Purée
This is just incredibly good when the squashes are tender, flavorful, and moist.

1 large (or 2 small to medium) butternut squash, about 2 pounds
Note: The most recent time I used a mix of delicata, butternut, and kabocha.
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons salt or more to taste
1½ teaspoons Spice Mixture (see recipe below)

1. Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Lightly oil a baking sheet with olive oil or line with parchment paper.
2. Halve the squash lengthwise and remove and discard the seeds. Place the squash cut-side down on the baking sheet and roast until it is soft and easily pierced with a knife, 40-50 minutes. While it is roasting, make the Spice Mixture.
3. Cool the squash for 15 minutes. If the squash looks watery after roasting, squeeze as much of the juice out of it as you can. If it is very dry, be prepared to add a lot more liquid to the mixture (orange or apple juice, stock, even water).
4. Using a large spoon, scoop out the flesh and transfer to a food processor. While the squash is still warm, add the butter, maple syrup, and salt and process until smooth. Add the spice mixture and blend.
Add additional salt or spice mixture to taste.

Spice Mixture

1 tablespoon fennel seed
5 or 6 whole star anise
1 tablespoon aniseed
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon ground cloves

1. Grind the fennel seed, star anise and aniseed in a coffee or spice grinder.
2. Combine with the cinnamon, pepper, and cloves and set aside. You will have about 1/3 cup. Store the leftovers in a spice jar; label the jar so you don’t forget the contents.

6 servings
Adapted from Matthew Kenney’s Big City Cooking

Cranberry-Walnut Relish with Grappa
There are many wonderful cranberry relishes. I like this one a lot. You can make this ahead of time and add the walnuts a little before serving.

½ cup walnuts
1 tablespoon finely chopped orange zest
Juice of 1 orange and enough water or apple juice to equal 3/4 cup
1 cup sugar
1 12-ounce bag fresh or frozen cranberries
1 tablespoon grappa, optional
½ teaspoon salt or to taste

1. Preheat your oven or toaster oven to 400ºF.
2. Spread the walnuts in a single layer in a shallow metal pan and toast, stirring once, until crisp and lightly browned, about 3 minutes in the toaster oven, 5 to 8 minutes in the big one. Watch the nuts carefully. They can burn in an instant. Cool and coarsely chop.
3. In a medium non-reactive pan, combine the orange juice/water combination and sugar. Set over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the cranberries and simmer, uncovered, stirring once or twice until about half the cranberries have burst, 6 to 8 minutes. Frozen berries will take longer. Transfer to a glass or ceramic container.
4. Stir in the zest, grappa, if using, and salt. Cool to room temperature. The relish will thicken up as it cools.
5. Add the walnuts just before serving. The relish can be used immediately or covered and refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Makes about 2 cups
Adapted from Carrie Brown’s The Jimtown Store Cookbook

1 comment:

Cathleen said...

If you want to have your squash dish be silky smooth, add a can of coconut milk when you puree it. Yum!