Monday, November 21, 2011

Here are a few of my favorite holiday recipes. All of them are appropriate for any of the upcoming holidays. Enjoy.

Cranberry Salsa

Serves 10

1 (12 oz) package fresh cranberries
3 tangerines, peeled, seeded, and sectioned
1/2 small red onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
2 jalapenos, seeded
1/2 cup honey
3 T freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 t ground cinnamon
Freshly ground pepper

Pulse cranberries in a food processor until minced. Transfer to a medium bowl.

Pulse tangerines, red onion, cilantro, and jalapenos in the food processor until finely chopped. Stir into cranberries.

In a small bowl, whisk together honey, lime juice, and cinnamon. Drizzle over cranberry mixture and toss to coat. Season the salsa to taste with salt and pepper and toss again. Cover and chill at least one hour.

Cook's Notes:
Garnish with a spring of cilantro and/or tangerine zest. It can be served in place of traditional cranberry sauce with corn tortilla chips as a festive appetizer.

Balsamic Glazed Acorn Squash

Serves 6

1 large acorn squash, cut into wedges
4 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 shallots, sliced
8 sage leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons honey
Freshly ground pepper
¼ cup pine nuts

Heat the oven to 450 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine the squash wedges, butter, vinegar, shallots, sage, and honey. Season them with salt and pepper. Toss again.

Transfer the squash mixture into a roasting pan. Add ¾ cup of water and roast for about 20 minutes. Turn the wedges over, sprinkle with pinenuts, and roast about 20 minutes more, until the squash is soft.

Gratineed Cauliflower

Serves 8

2 whole heads of cauliflower, cut into florets
1 stick butter, diced
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 1/2 cups whole milk
16 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
Ground white pepper
Pinch of nutmeg
2 tablespoons Italian flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped

Place the florets in a pot and fill with cold water. Place over high heat and bring a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-high and cook the cauliflower for about 15-20 minutes, until fork-tender (but not mushy). They should remain firm. Strain and let cool slightly.

In a saucepan over medium low heat, melt all of the butter. Don't allow the butter to burn. It should be hot and golden. Raise the heat to medium-high and immediately add the flour, stirring continuously for approximately 2-3 minutes. The flour should absorb the butter instantly and form a paste (roux). Add the milk in 3 stages and whisk constantly for about 5 minutes until smooth and slight thickened. Reduce the heat to low. Add half of the mozzarella to the sauce. When the cheese is melted, add half of the parsley. Season the sauce with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir well, and then let the sauce rest until it's time to assemble the dish.

Butter a 9x13 baking dish/casserole and spread the florets evenly in the prepared dish. Ladle the sauce over the cauliflower to cover. Top with a layer of mozzarella cheese.

Bake in the oven for 10 minutes at 400°F and broil for about 2-3 minutes to get a nice golden top. Remove from the oven and let it rest for 15 minutes. Garnish with the remaining parsley and serve warm.