Dinner, Fall, Holiday

Thanksgiving 2009 Part 2

The table was full.

With Family, Friends and Food.
(the most important “F’s” in the world)

OK-You’ve no doubt read all about the dangers of baking in an unfamiliar oven from my last post. If you haven’t, click here.
The desserts emerged beautifully, despite the early trouble with a flaming oven, and knowing that the oven was going to be difficult, I approached my next task with wisdom and patience.

Well, I tried.

Once dessert was prepped, the tarts were set aside to cool so I could wrap them and slide their lovely buns in the freezer to hang out for a few days. This meant I could get to work on my Holiday Spiced Nuts. If you haven’t checked out the Renegade Spiced Nuts yet, you should, they are delicious.  But I wanted to make something different for the holiday so I started to brainstorm.

The storm was barely a drizzle until I was shopping with my sister (at the Park Slope Food Co-op) and happened to find whole candied oranges and lemons from Spain.  I know I should have shunned something flown in across the ocean in favor of a locally produced delicacy BUT I AM LIKE A RACCOON AND INEFFABLY DRAWN TO SHINY PRETTY THINGS.

Really though, as soon as I saw the candied citrus, my brain drizzle upgraded to a full blown brain tropical storm and I knew how I’d update my Spiced Nuts for Thanksgiving.  To balance the sweetness of the oranges I punched up my usual spice mixture with extra paprika, loads of cumin, fresh shallots and sesame seeds.  And then, just to beat a dead horse and proclaim yet again that it was Thanksgiving, I added dried cranberries and pepitas to the mix.

Alright, table snack done, time to move onto my experimental relish.  This is the dish I know my sister was least interested in seeing on the final table, and the dish I was most unabashedly looking forward to trying.

I vaguely like cranberry sauce.  I refuse to eat it from a can, but as long as it’s homemade, I generally like it.
I also generally want to alter it in some way that is blasphemous to traditionalists like my sister.  Which is why I promised her that the cranberry relish I would be making was not a replacement to her sauce, but rather, an addition to the condiment table for then night.
I toyed with various spiced cranberry sauces in my head, and then realized that what I really wanted was something cold. Yes, I did not want warm jam-like sauce on my turkey, I wanted something crisp, cold and biting.

I wanted a pickle.

I pickled red onions and cranberries in cider vinegar and spiced it with cumin, cinnamon, clove and celery seed.

And I love it.  The relish is certainly not for the feint of heart.  But it is the most beautiful color and cuts through Turkey like a chainsaw in butter.

After that I moved to my sister’s place (everything above was prepared at my parent’s apartment).  I loaded up two mega shopping bags (the kind you really only find in New York) and trekked my gear over to Terri’s place in Park Slope. At her place I really only had one task-make stuffing.

Yes, this year would mark a first for our family, we’d have our stuffing and eat it too.  I had super bizarro plans for my stuffing, which I gladly put aside to make a traditional stuffing my sister would love. In fact, that was the main goal. I like stuffing and was looking forward to eating it, but it would mean nothing if my sister did not enjoy it.

I will preface the rest of the story with the fact that she did indeed enjoy the stuffing.

I had made two loaves of bread back in Colorado which I froze and flew with me to New York.  Yes, I flew with two loaves of bread.  I wasn’t going to make this with boring GF bread from the market. I wanted to use my lovely egg bread.  Recipe coming.  Duh.

The stuffing was uber traditional, celery, onion, mushroom, bread and a ton of carmelized onions, which I must say, were my favorite part.

Ah, I almost forgot-

There were potatoes.
My sister made whipped sweet potatoes with maple and I worked on the white potato for the evening.
Now, I’m sure you will agree with me that there is no better white potato than the Yukon Gold.  I decided to smash them with an herb infused oil and gobs of roasted garlic. The result was a bowl full of pale green potatoes spiked with caramelly garlic.  I loved it.
(side note, the potatoes were amazing fried the next morning underneath some eggs over easy)

From here I turned the stage over to my sister, who prepares a most beautiful bird, if I do say so myself.  She seasoned it with garlic and sage, stuffed with an orange, roasted and basted over carrots and parsnips.  My sister’s turkey was everything I look forward to on Thanksgiving.

We rounded out the meal with some roasted brussels sprouts and some sauteed green beans with lemon and pinenuts, set everything on the table and prepared to give thanks.

I hope your Thanksgiving left you full to the brim with Family, Friends and Food, thanks for reading!

Holiday, Fall, Dinner

Thanksgiving 2009 Part 1


The biggest American gustatory holiday.


So what happens when we take Renegade Kitchen out of Colorado and drop it in New York?

This is what happens.

Now in addition to making everything free of gluten, dairy and processed sugar, this meal had to be prepped between two different kitchens. Yeah. And we’re not talking large, modern, crisp kitchens.

These are New York kitchens.

Small, cramped, old appliances, older smells.

But that’s what makes this a Renegade Thanksgiving, right?

The prep. began in Manhattan, where my parents have a place. I tried to get as much done there as possible, because the final destination (my sister’s apt.) is even smaller in the kitchen. Working in a different kitchen was like wearing someone else’s dress to prom. Everything turned out fine, but “getting dressed” was a trip.

With the prep. list split between two kitchens (one in Brooklyn, one in Manhattan), my sister and I had the Herculean task of synchronizing shopping lists.

Which mostly worked.

And also made for days of two and three trips to Fairway.


Plan of action?

Anything that can be made ahead of time MUST be made ahead of time.

I started with dessert (it should always come first). Our menu planning had determined we’d definitely be needing multiples of everything. 13 people were coming to this feast. With that in mind I knew one tart would never be enough (is it ever?). The Caramelized Apple Tart would be lovely and seasonal and someone was bringing a pumpkin pie, which really just left a gaping hole in the dessert train that could only be plugged with chocolate.

Thinking it would be easiest to double the tart crust recipe and figure out another fruit filling, I set to work.

And this is what happens when you work in a tiny kitchen with ovens made in 1965.

Everything started out perfectly.

And then the crusts went in the oven.

It seems that the oven in my parent’s apartment is fueled by neither electricity nor gas, but rather, the raging fires of Hades. The tart shells burned from raw to ash in about 7 minutes (they normally cook for 15-20).

Obviously there was no way I could serve tart crusts forged in the Inferno, so I started over, scrapping the ash and moving forward with a wary eye on my new friend, the ancient, uncalibrated oven. Next up? Duh. Filling. The apple tart was set, frangipane, caramelized apples, beautiful.

But what to do with the other tart shell?

Obviously it needed chocolate, but what else?

I pretended I’d be seasonal for a hot second and then, after debates with my mother, realized that I wanted little more than chocolate and bananas (dressed up of course, this is a holiday). So, I took my regular frangipane recipe and replaced the almonds with hazelnuts, and added dark chocolate to the mix, blending together a heavenly spread to fill the other tart shell.

I topped the chocolate hazelnut tart with sauteed bananas. It was spectacular. You’ll get the recipe soon enough.

Want to see more? Check back for the next installation of our Thanksgiving Special. I’m hungry now. So I’m turning off the computer and turning on the stove.

I’ll try not to burn anything.