Thanksgiving–what’s not to love? A weekday off revolving around family, friends and comfort food. No presents to fixate on, minimal decorating is required and oh, those leftovers. What’s more, the feasting takes place during prime running season; often culminating here in the Philadelphia Marathon. Is there any better excuse to enjoy every morsel of Thanksgiving dinner?
Our menu, which varies little over the years, could be described as traditional with an edge. Turkey (cooked in a 1950’s style black, speckled (covered) roasting pan), Laurie Colwin’s cornbread stuffing, sweet potatoes with bourbon and pecans, brussel sprouts with pancetta and balsamic vinegar, white potatoes with sage and cheddar cheese and pumpkin pie with a dash of black pepper and bourbon (sensing a theme here?)
The cranberry sauce is from Bobby Flay. Bursting with apricots, ginger and curry; it is sweet, spicy and just the ticket for those leftover turkey sandwiches. Runner friendly, the cranberry sauce is replete with antioxidants, Vitamin C and Vitamin A.
We often begin our meal with the dearly departed Shelia Lukins’ (of The Silver Palate fame) recipe for Roasted Winter Vegetable soup. It too is sweet, velvety and the most divine color (the essence of autumn.) It provides antioxidants, Vitamins A, D and potassium. Both recipes can be made well ahead of time and frozen.
Cranberry-Apricot Relish (slightly adapted)
Recipe By : Bobby Flay
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup onion — finely diced
2 tablespoons ginger — finely minced
4 cups fresh cranberries
2 cups orange juice — fresh
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
8 ounces dried apricot halves — quartered
1 tablespoon curry powder
salt and pepper
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the jalapenos, onion, ginger, and 2 cups of the cranberries and cook for 5 minutes, or until the cranberries have popped.
Increase the heat to high, add the orange juice, brown sugar, and honey, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the remaining 2 cups of cranberries and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the apricots, curry powder, salt, and pepper. Mix well and remove the pan from heat. Pour the relish into a shallow non-aluminum container and let cool at room temperature. Pour the mixture into a bowl, cover and refrigerate (or freeze.)
Roasted Winter Vegetable Soup (slightly adapted)
Recipe By: Shelia Lukins
2 butternut squash (about 2 lbs each)
4 carrots, peeled
½ pound parsnips, peeled
1 onion, thinly sliced
¼ cup (packed) light brown sugar
3/4 stick butter
9 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
2-3 teaspoons finely chopped crystallized ginger
Pitch of cayenne pepper
Sea salt, to taste
Preheat the oven to 350.
Halve the squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Place the squash, cut side up, in a large roasting pan. Cut the carrots and parsnips into small pieces, and scatter them, along with the onion, around the squash. Sprinkle the cut surfaces of the squash with the brown sugar and dot all over with the butter. Pour 2 1/2 cups of the broth into the pan and cover it tightly with aluminum foil. Bake until all the vegetables are very soft, about 2 hours.
Carefully remove the foil and let the vegetables cool slightly. Scoop the squash out of the skins and place it in heavy soup pot. Add the other vegetables, juice from the pan and the remaining 6 ½ cups of broth. Season with the nutmeg, crystallized ginger, cayenne and salt. Stir together and bring to a boil. Reduce the hat to a simmer and cook, covered for 10 minutes.
Puree the soup with an immersion blender (love those things!) or by batches in a blender or food processor until it is very smooth. Return the soup to the pot and add extra broth, if necessary, to thin it to the desired consistency. Heat it through. This soup can be refrigerated or frozen to very good effect.