Happy Thanksgiving

Thinking of you, as I get ready for Thanksgiving …

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One of my favorite recipes for Thanksgiving: Orange Carrot Soup.

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… and another Bordeaux Cranberry Compote.

 

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Don’t forget festive libations, including for designated drivers. This is my Black Tea Sangria, served over ice, with apple slices, mandarin orange slices, and frozen raspberries, then topped off with tonic water. I’m still looking for a good name for this mocktail. Have any suggestions?

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Don’t forget to spend a little time in nature to get away from the hustle and bustle for preparing for the holdiays…

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May everyone travel safely…

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Warmest wishes to you for a most lovely holiday season!

Thankful Past Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is over and December is here, so it is time to pack away the pilgrims and the pumpkins for another year and start preparing for Christmas festivities. We had a truly delightful extended family spend their Thanksgiving with us at The Morning Star – a family that we have know through the bed and breakfast for about 15 years. For them, and for the many, many wonderful guests that we have had stay at the B&B over the last 19 years, we are thankful.

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Wishing you the best as this holiday season continues …

And Now for a Change of Decorations

We had a very pleasant Thanksgiving at The Morning Star with good friends and delightful guests; and, of course, we had lots of delicious food. I hope that everyone else had a lovely day as well.

Now it is time to pack away the Thanksgiving decorations …

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… and start thinking about Christmas. We have several tubs worth of lights to string on the porch.

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I’m glad that’s not my job!

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Changing out the throw pillows is much easier to handle … but don’t think that I’ll be getting off easy! Anyhow, I think that’s enough Christmas decorating for today. After all, it has been a busy week. There is certainly a lot more holiday decorating to do and there will be more pictures to share.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Bordeaux Cranberry Compote

For as long as I have been cooking Thanksgiving dinner, I have been using the same delicious Cranberry Compote recipe. Obviously, I really, really like the recipe, otherwise I wouldn’t keeping making it. But I recently came across a recipe for Cabernet Cranberry and Blueberry Sauce from Avery Cooks that inspired me to make a few simple changes to my old standby … just to try something new.  So, I substituted a Bordeaux for the water in my recipe and blueberries for one cup of the cranberries, and made a few minor changes. As I expected, the compote was different, but still delicious. The wine and blueberries added nice, but subtle, background flavor and created a darker colored compote. (For a more pronounced wine flavor, one could cut back some on the spices or on the cranberries which are both still pretty prominent flavors.) This dish is fairly chunky and I like to add fresh fruit right before serving because its crisp texture and flavor provide a pleasing contrast when paired with the sweet and tangy cranberry mixture.

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Ingredients

1 c. granulated white sugar

1/2 c. red Bordeaux wine (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot or similar wine)

6 whole cloves

3 whole allspice

2 cinnamon sticks

1/2 t. ground mace

1/2 c. dried cranberries

2 T. dried blueberries

1 c. frozen blueberries

2. c fresh cranberries (washed and picked over)

1/2 c. finely chopped walnuts

zest from 1 fragrant orange

Optional, 1 1/2 c. chopped fresh apples, pears and/or oranges.

Directions

1. Combine sugar, wine and spices in a 2-quart non-stick pot. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Let simmer for 5 – 10 minutes, then remove cloves, allspice and cinnamon. (Count to make sure that you have all of them.)

2. Stir dried fruits into wine mixture. Allow dried fruits to simmer for about 5 minutes, then stir in frozen blueberries. When the mixture returns to a simmer, stir in fresh cranberries.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the cranberries have popped. Stir in walnuts and orange zest, then remove from heat.

3. Chill in a clean glass jar until serving. If desired, toss cranberry mixture with fresh apple, pear and/or orange chunks first right before serving.

Have fun getting ready for the holidays! I hope that you enjoy the recipe!

View my previous Thanksgiving-related posts:

Blood and Sand Cocktails

Black Tea Sangria (Mocktail)

Chanterelle Risotto with Truffle Butter

Little Apple Manhattan Cocktails

Chocolate Bourbon Pots de Creme with Orange Bourbon Cherries

Thanksgiving Wine Recommendations

Preparing for Thanksgiving (Bourbon Mashed Sweet Potatoes and the Original Cranberry Compote)

Chocolate Bourbon Pots de Creme With Orange Bourbon Cherries

I always need to get an early start on my Thanksgiving planning and preparations. In thinking about what desserts I might want to serve – a month from now – this is one that came to mind. Not only is it completely decadent, but it is also very easy to prepare … which is incredibly nice given all of the work that goes into the holidays. This dish requires only about 15 minutes of work, plus chilling time. The key to its success is the use of fine quality chocolate and bourbon.

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Chocolate Bourbon Pots de Creme

makes 8 servings

Ingredients

• 14 oz. best quality bittersweet chocolate (finely chopped)

I used Ghirardelli Twilight Delight Intense Dark 72% Cacao bars.

• 2 lg. eggs (beaten)

• 3 T. really good bourbon

I used Woodford Reserve Bourbon.

• 1 1/3 c. half-and-half

• Lightly sweetened whipped cream, for garnish

• Orange Bourbon Cherries, for garnish (recipe below)

• Gold-colored decorator’s sugar, for garnish (optional)

Directions

1.Place chocolate, eggs and bourbon in the bowl of a large food processor.

2. Scald half-and-half.

3. While running the food processor, pour hot half-and-half through the feed tube. Process until perfectly smooth. (If you don’t have a food processor, beat ingredients in a large mixing bowl.)

4. Ladle into serving cups. Chill for at least three hours before serving. Cover with plastic wrap if making Pots de Creme more than a few hours in advance.

5. Meanwhile, prepare cherries.

6. Just before serving, whip cream. Garnish Pots de Creme with whipped cream, 3 cherries each, and decorator’s sugar.  (The sugar adds a little sparkle and also a little crunch.)

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Orange Bourbon Cherries

Ingredients

• 1 1/4 c. frozen dark sweet cherries (at least 24 cherries)

• 1/4 maple syrup

• zest from one mandarin orange (or a fragrant-skinned orange), about 1 T.

• 1/4 c. really good bourbon

I used Woodford Reserve Bourbon.

Directions

Place all of the ingredients in a medium-sized saucepan. Gently stir. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Transfer to a clean glass jar. Refrigerate uncovered until cool, then tightly seal jar. Store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

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Enjoy! Happy Dining!

Thanksgiving Wine Recommendations: An Interview with Chad Lohman, C.S.

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    As I mentioned in my last post, Thanksgiving is a month away and already I am preparing our menu. I do love planning a holiday meal! Thinking ahead, I decided to go into Nespor’s Wine and Spirits to chat with Chad Lohman – owner of Nespor’s and Certified Sommelier – about his wine recommendations for Thanksgiving.

Our conversation went like this …

(Me) Hi, Chad, if you have time, I’d love to talk with you about your wine recommendations for Thanksgiving so that I can pass them along to my readers. I don’t want to take too much of your time, but I have a couple of specific topics on which I am hoping to pick your brain.

(Me) First of all, I think that Champagnes are great for serving with special meals because they go well with so many different types of food.

(Chad) I agree, but unfortunately a lot of people don’t realize that Champagnes, Proseccos, and Cavas – basically, any good sparkling wine – are great for serving at holidays because they do go so well with food. We have a Cava from Spain that we are recommending for Thanksgiving this year. Naveran Cava Brut 2010 ($16.99), which was given 90 points by Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, is a nice neutral sparkling wine for pairing with foods.

(Me) Since not everyone appreciates sparkling wines, what would you recommend for a white wine to serve with Thanksgiving dinner?

(Chad) For holiday meals where there are so many different flavors on the table, it is a good idea to have a wine that works well with a lot of foods rather than trying to pair a wine with every dish. Also, you want something that is accessible to different palates. An off-dry Riesling or Gewürztraminer – but not the sweeter varieties – would perform well in this role. You want something that is lightly sweet, but has good acidity. A couple of recommendations would be Alsace Willm Riesling and Hook & Ladder Gewürztraminer ($19.99).

(Me) Oh, yes, I purchased some of the Hook & Ladder around this time last year. It’s not too sweet and has a bite of grapefruit in the finish. I remember liking it with food, but that it wasn’t what I would consider a sipping wine.

(Chad) Right. For a sipping wine, I would go with a Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay.

(Me) … something like Rodney Strong Charlotte’s Home Sauvignon Blanc ($19.99)

(Chad) … which is a classic Sauvignon Blanc, or Honig from Napa Valley which is Cabernet country.

(Me)  Thanks. Sorry, I digressed. So, getting back on topic, I am quite happy to drink white wines with Thanksgiving dinner, but I know that we have some friends who don’t like white wines. I briefly considered serving a dry rosé from France, but thought that would be too light to hold up to most of the foods on the table; and someone who doesn’t like white wines, probably isn’t going to like a rosé anyway. Do you have any reds to recommend for me?

(Chad) A darker colored dry rosé – not a sweet White Zin – should hold up ok. Les Lauzeraies Tavel 2012 ($15.99) is a dry rosé with more body and would go with a Thanksgiving ham, for example. For reds, a Pinot Noir or Gamay Beaujolais would pair nicely with Thanksgiving dishes … and, of course, there is always Beaujolais Nouveau which comes out around the 3rd week of November.

(Me) Right. I usually have a Beaujolais Nouveau for one of our Thanksgiving selections. It is very light and as you put it, “accessible”; and also is a traditional selection for the time of year. But if I wanted to serve a Pinot Noir or Gamay Beaujolais, what would be your recommendation?

(Chad) We have two Pinot Noirs that we are recommending right now: Monte Degli Angeli 2012 ($12.99) and Lomas del Valle 2012 ($14.99).  The Monte del Angeli is more earthy and has a softer mouth feel. The Lomas del Valle ($14.99) has more of a big fruit, big (alcohol) mouth feel.

(Me) In my November (Thanksgiving) newsletter, I am including a recipe for Chanterelles Risotto with Truffle Butter.

(Chad) The Monte del Angelli should go nicely with the earthy flavors of the Chanterelles and truffles.

(Me) Now what about dessert? I’ve served dessert wines a few years and they don’t seem that popular at Thanksgiving. Everyone is pretty full by then, of course. I’m thinking about maybe having a brandy for after dinner instead.

(Chad) My recommendation would be a Ruby Port or a Tawny Port, but not a Vintage Port. Now with ports, you are going to want to avoid the inexpensive ones. Which do you think you would prefer? Tawny ports are going to have a little bit more of a nutty flavor. Ruby ports will be a little fruitier.

(Me) Let’s try a ruby.

(Chad) Nierpoort Ruby is actually not a bad price ($19.99) and would be nice for after dinner. Serve it at about 50 degrees Fahrenheit, around the same temperature that you would serve a rosé.

(Me) Great. Sounds like we have some good ideas. Thanks, Chad!

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Chanterelle Risotto with Truffle Butter

If you are like me, you start planning your Thanksgiving menu a month in advance. Chanterelle Risotto with Truffle Butter is a dish that I like to prepare around the holidays, because it is deliciously rich and decadent.  So I thought that I would post this recipe early to give you time to consider including it (or some variation) in your holiday planning. (In the U.S., Thanksgiving is one month from tomorrow – but no pressure!) Buon appetito! Image

Chanterelle Risotto with Truffle Butter

makes 6 first course servings

1 oz. dried Chanterelle mushrooms

hot water

1 1/2 T. extra virgin olive oil, divided

1 small yellow onion, diced

1 c. Arborio rice

2 oz. dry white wine or Scotch*

3 c. chicken or vegetable broth

crushed hot red pepper**

2 slices cooked duck bacon, chopped (omit for a vegetarian risotto)

1/3 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese (loose, not packed down)

2 – 3 T. truffle butter

1. Wipe or rinse any grit off the Chanterelles. Place mushrooms in a small bowl, cover with hot water and soak for about 20 minutes. Reserving the liquid, strain the mushrooms. Strain the reserved liquid into the chicken or vegetable broth. Chop mushrooms. Set aside.

2. Place a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1/2 T. of the olive oil, then swirl oil around pan. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently until tender and almost translucent. Remove onion from skillet. Add the remaining 1 T.  olive oil and rice to skillet. Stirring frequently, cook until the rice is evenly coated with oil and starts to turn golden. Stir in the wine or Scotch. Allow the rice to cook until the liquid is almost entirely absorbed. Meanwhile, in a medium pan, heat broth until simmering. Cover and keep it at a simmer until you have finished cooking risotto.

3. Raise the temperature under the skillet to about medium-high. Add enough broth (about 1/2 c.)  to cover bottom of skillet. The skillet should be hot enough to allow the broth to keep simmering. Stir occasionally.  Continue the process of adding small amounts of broth and letting the rice absorb the broth.  When rice is about half-cooked, stir in mushrooms and onions. Continue adding broth and cooking rice, until the rice is almost cooked and the broth is almost absorbed. (If you run out of broth, simmer a little water to finish recipe.)

4. Shortly before rice is done cooking, sprinkle lightly with hot pepper, then stir in duck bacon.*** Add a hunk of truffle butter to risotto. Stir vigorously to melt and to distribute evenly. Stir in freshly grated Parmesan cheese until melted. Taste. Adjust seasonings (salt, pepper, cheese) if necessary. Serve immediately.

Notes:

* Scotch is not traditionally used in making risottos, but the flavor blends well with the mushrooms and duck bacon and does not overwhelm the truffle butter. For a more traditional risotto, use white wine.

** How much pepper you should use depends on your pepper. I usually use crushed, dried Chenzo peppers from my garden,  which are very hot, and I only use about 1/8 t. You want to use enough so that there is just a faint heat to the flavor of the dish. Err on the side of adding too little pepper. You can always add more when you adjust the seasonings.

*** When the risotto is finished, the rice grains should be just somewhat tender but still distinct in shape and texture – and definitely not mushy. Recipes often call for risotto to be al dente, but I find that sometimes people undercook the rice in an effort not to overcook it. The rice should be creamy not crunchy. Keep in mind that for a short while, the rice will continue cooking from the heat of the risotto. Achieving the proper degree of doneness might take a little practice.  A finished risotto should be a bit loose and jiggly in consistency, but not runny or liquidy.