Sunday, November 30, 2008

Fresh Cranberry Relish from Grandma S.

We hope you had a great Thanksgiving! We had such a wonderful dinner with lots of things to post about...edible bacon bowls for spinach salad, a meyer lemon drop with a lemon foam, heritage and heirloom turkeys, the best mashed potatoes I have ever made, and more...We will be posting all week about these delicious dishes.

Today I wanted to share an easy recipe for the most delicious fresh cranberry relish from Justin's grandma. We have never been cranberry jelly people and once I had this relish, I knew it would be a tradition on the table. This can be made the night before or a few hours before...

1. Start by washing and coring an unpeeled red delicious apple and washing and cutting one half of an orange with the peel on. Then, put them in the food processor until chopped. You want them to be somewhat coarse but not too chunky.

2. Add 2 cups of fresh cranberries and pulse until incorporated. Again, don't overprocess.

3. Now transfer to a bowl and stir in 1 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts. Let it sit in the fridge overnight or for a few hours for the flavors to blend.

Grandma says you can freeze this as well. It is wonderfully fresh and delicious!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Setting the table...

It's Tuesday night before Thanksgiving and I have already set the table! One of my favorite parts of hosting Thanksgiving dinner is setting the table and by doing it the night or two before, I can take my time. For the centerpiece this year, I decided to use some mini-pumpkins that I had left over from Halloween with some traditional candlesticks.

I traced a foil tealight holder onto the pumpkin and carved out the pumpkin to hold the candle. It was really easy! I am not even bothering to really scoop out the center and I am keeping these in the refrigerator until Thursday- I don't trust the neighborhood squirrels to leave them alone.

As you can see, these are darling!! I might even make these for Halloween to put on our steps next year. I also debated spray painting these pumpkins a metallic copper.

I decided to keep the table ones in their natural state and go for a "less is more" theme. We have the maximum people at the table this year: twelve.

...and the one I spray painted will go in our guest bathroom during the dinner. I really like the way it turned out!

Thanks to my Great Aunt Enie, I have this napkin folding book by Irena Chalmers and this year the napkins are folded in "the rose" which are then placed in the wine glasses.

Our china is Wedgewood India which I absolutely love! We don't have silver but instead use our everyday stainless which is Reed & Barton Country French. We chose this as our everyday flatware but decided because of the salad fork, that it is formal enough for holidays. I have a few pieces of really neat 1910 antique WM Rogers La Concorde tableware from my great grandmother but only a few pieces. It's a common set and someday I'll put in the effort to complete the set on ebay.

I also am a big fan of table cards as it makes it easy for everyone to take their seats. I made these paper turkey cards 2 years ago and decided to use them again. They are a bit cheesy but they add a bit of whimsy to the table.

Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. We will be posting about the turkeys, the pies, the edible bacon salad bowls that we will be having and more...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Let's Talk Turkey.

Well it is almost that time again...turkey time! Last year we started our tradition of preparing turkey two ways and this year we're taking it to the next level and will be preparing both a heritage and and heirloom turkey. But to whet your appetite, first a word about last year . . .

Preparing the oven turkey, slipping the butter and sage under the skin before massaging it in.

The typical grocery store turkey, broad-breasted white, has been bred to enhance the size of the breast meat and these turkeys have lost their original proportions. Last year, we bought two heirloom turkeys from Diestel Family Turkey Ranch (Sonora, CA). We prepared one turkey in the oven using bacon, sage and maple syrup -- see the recipe here.

Thanksgiving Turkey 2007
Top: Cooking in the Big Green Egg ceramic cooker,
Bottom: off the BGE and ready to carve

The second turkey was prepared on the Big Green Egg. It's a ceramic cooker that burns lump charcoal and really holds the heat, which gives it the flexibility to go low and slow or hot and heavy.

The terms heirloom and heritage can be confusing when it comes to turkey. Heirloom turkeys from Diestel are from a" Bronze and an Auburn male line turkey gene pool sourced from the Nicholas Turkey Breeding Farm" and are not to be confused with heritage turkeys, which are described later in this post and have specific breeds and standards. Heirloom turkeys do not appear to have the same set of standards. Diestel also raises these birds with traditional early 20th century practices, in open, outdoor pens, and processes their birds themselves.

And as a result, they are considerably more expensive. We felt good about the conditions at which our turkey was raised. The turkey looked and tasted great.

But this year, we are going to try a heritage turkey. Heritage turkeys are ancestors of the broad-breasted white breeds. They are identified in the American Poultry Association's turkey Standard of Perfection of 1874 and include the Standard Bronze, Bourbon Red, Narragansett, Jersey Buff, Slate, Black Spanish, and White Holland. Later added to the standard were the Royal Palm, White Midget and Beltsville Small White. Check out the Heritage Turkey Foundation website here. Three defining characteristics of heritage turkeys are
naturally mating, long productive outdoor lifespan, and slow growth rate. We can't wait to try a heritage turkey this year!

We are buying this year's heirloom turkey from Diestel through Lunardi's and the heritage turkey from Wind Dancer Ranch via our Capay Valley Farmshare. How different will they be? Will we notice a difference other than the price (yikes, they are expensive)?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Lazy Saturday Eggs and Potatoes 2.0

Our friend Dinner Boy and his wife Amy were in SF this week for the Web 2.0 Summit, so we broke bread at Zuni Cafe on Thursday. While the conversation was fantastic, the food rated a B+ (we'd go back, but not rush back given the bounty of alternatives). However, this morning when I peered into the fridge I recalled taste of the red peppers that came along with the grouper I ordered and realized I wanted more (peppers not grouper). So I sauteed a few diced fingerling potatoes and red peppers from the farm share and put them next to scrambled eggs with pepperoncini and cheddar. With the fall season upon us and some more free time I am looking forward to the start of another season of cooking (maybe Foodspiration 2.0? :-).