22 November 2010

Cranberries and Brussels Sprouts

I know, most people think Thanksgiving is all about the turkey. And gravy. And mashed potatoes. And wet bread, also known as (yuck) stuffing.

Sure, a bit of turkey with a swath of perfectly cooked skin next to Julia's garlic mashed potatoes napped with my husband's gravy is a great thing. But to me, it's not Thanksgiving without cranberries in some form along with a cruciferous vegetable from the Brassica oleracea group.

I'm partial to the uncooked cranberry sauce where you fling an orange and a bag of cranberries into the Cuisinart, and add sugar to taste. But a beautifully simple way to get cranberries on the table is at dessert, in a "pie" that's really a cake. If you're having pumpkin pie, which you probably are, the cranberry cake makes a nice complementary dessert.

As for the cruciferous vegetable, it could be kale or broccoli or cauliflower (or collards or kohlrabi or cabbage). But some years back, I happened on a fine recipe for hashed brussels sprouts, the kind of preparation that is lightning fast and will make a convert out of almost any professed brussels sprouts hater.

The recipes follow - because although I've been making them for years, I've never passed them along to you.

What do you make, year in and year out?

Nantucket Cranberry Pie/Cake (adapted from Laurie Colwin's More Home Cooking)
2 cups chopped cranberries
½ cup chopped walnuts (optional; I never use them)
½ cup sugar
2 eggs
¾ cup melted butter (1 and a half sticks)
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1 t. vanilla extract (or almond, or ½ t. of Fiori Di Sicilia)
Gently mix the cranberries, walnuts and ½ cup sugar and spread in a 10-inch pie plate (without a crust - this is really a cake, not a pie).

Mix eggs, melted butter, 1 cup sugar, flour, and vanilla extract. Stir till smooth.

Pour over cranberry walnut mixture and bake for 40 minutes at 350 F.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Hashed Brussels Sprouts (adapted from the Union Square Cafe Cookbook)
1 lb Brussels sprouts
Juice of half a lemon
Zest of a lemon
2 T. olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 T. poppy seeds
1/4 cup dry white wine
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
Cut the stems off the sprouts and halve them lengthwise. Thinly slice each half and toss them in a big bowl with the lemon juice.

Heat the olive oil in a big skillet (or wok) over high heat, almost to the smoking point. Carefully add the sprouts, garlic and poppy seeds to the hot pan (it'll pop and splash - don't get burned) and stir for about 3 minutes, until the sprouts are bright green and barely crunchy. Add the wine, and salt and pepper to taste, reduce heat to low and cook for another minute. Transfer to a bowl, toss in the lemon zest, and serve.


Anonymous said...

What a year it has been for brussels sprouts recipes: my mouth hasn't stopped watering for days. Unfortunately, mine have been relegated to appetizer status because my husband wants the most boring and traditional menu I can possibly imagine. As he'll end up doing most of the work and I'll be doing most of the drinking, I'll allow it.

leanne said...

The pie/cake sounds delicious.

We usually go very traditional for Thanksgiving. I was thinking of trying new things this year... it's been that kind of year... wanting to cook and bake new things. But then new viruses have fallen upon our house. It's been that kind of year (or at least fall) also.

And how ironic that "baking" is the verification word.

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

I hope this isn't a foolish question -- the cranberry bit goes in a pie plate w/ pie crust in it, yes? This weekend I learned to make pie crust so I am all over pie recipes!

FreshHell said...

I'll have to try that pie for Christmas. Yum. As for thanksgiving, as a vegetarian I don't eat turkey or gravy. I hate brussel sprouts. We usually have fresh green beans, mashed potatoes, etc. I'm bringing a cranberry sauce made locally thru my co-op. I always make pumpkin pie and a birthday cake to celebrate Dusty's 10th birthday.

kathy a. said...

that pie/cake looks great!

we will not have a crowd this year, but still we require certain traditional dishes -- especially my son, who looks like a rebel but considers a thanksgiving dinner without turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, sweet potatos, and pumpkin pie to be pure heresy. [every holiday must also include black olives on the appetizer tray.]

Julia said...

For Halloween a woman in our building hauled out a big bowl of brussels sprouts and cheerfully said, "Ah! Here's your treat!" Mine were the only kids whose eyes glowed with joy. They each took one happily, and even bypassed the candy offered afterwards.

Go figure.

I wonder if I can get them to try your recipe.

Kyla said...

Thankfully, we get 2 meals with no cooking on Thanksgiving! My faves are rolls and mashed potatoes with bit of broccoli cheese rice casserole.

Suburban Correspondent said...

Oh, have you seen the "Cranberry" children's books? They're set on the Cape and they have titles such as Cranberry Birthday and Cranberry Valentine and so on. Each book has a recipe in the back, and this cake is one of them. I make it for my husband's birthday every year.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

We are Thanksgiving traditionalists and I will once again be cooking the same meal my mother cooked 40 years ago. Thankfully, my mother was a phenomenal cook and the meal is delish!

The Library Lady said...

I don't get to cook Thanksgiving dinner but I am thankful to have my mother here doing it.I think I will plan out my Thanksgiving menu on "The Library Lady Cooks" though--and it will include Brussels sprouts halved and roasted w/garlic and olive oil.

Unfortunately Mom will microwave the ones for tomorrow, and they will not get the lovely sweetness roasting provides.

On the bright side, she is even as I write this cooking the turkey giblets so that they can go into stuffing tomorrow. And you only hate stuffing because you've never tried my Grandma Eda's recipe for it--SC and I fight over the leftovers and I've been known to eat it cold from the fridge!

mayberry said...

I never cook Thanksgiving, but I'll come back to those Brussels sprouts for our vegan Christmas!