Thanksgiving

Cranberry Upside-Down Cake

by Anne Maxfield on December 3, 2018

Accidental Locavore Cranberry Upside Down CakeThis cranberry upside-down cake appeared on David Lebovitz’s website just before Thanksgiving.

It was just the dessert I needed to bring to friends. He says it’s best served warm, and made in a cast iron pan, so I tried to erase memories of one of my biggest cooking disasters ever (a tarte tartin made and cemented into a cast iron pan) and just go for it.

Cranberry Upside-Down Cake

Topping

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 cups fresh or frozen cranberries

Batter

  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup coarse cornmeal or polenta
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • grated zest of one lemon
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk, at room temperature

In a 9- to 10”cast iron skillet, melt the 4 tablespoons of butter and the brown sugar together, stirring frequently, until the sugar is moistened and liquefied. When the mixture starts to bubble, remove from heat and set the pan aside.

Accidental Locavore Cranberry Cake PrepPreheat the oven to 350º.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal or polenta, baking powder, and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, or by hand in a mixing bowl with a spatula, beat the ½ cup of butter, granulated sugar and lemon zest at medium high speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until very light and fluffy. Reduce the speed of the mixer to medium and add the eggs one at a time, stopping the mixer to scrape down the sides. Mix in the vanilla extract.

At low speed, add half of the flour mixture, then the milk, then the remaining dry ingredients, mixing just enough so that they’re all combined. Do not overmix.

Distribute the cranberries in the prepared pan over the brown sugar mixture and shake the pan so they are in a relatively even layer. Spoon the batter over the cranberries in four mounds, then use a spatula to spread the batter evenly over the fruit.

Bake the cake until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Remove from the oven, wait 10 minutes, then run a knife around the cake. Place a serving platter overturned on top of the cake in the skillet, then using oven mitts to cover your hands, flip the two over simultaneously, until the cake releases from the pan. Serve and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore CranberryMy Verdict: Phew! Came out of the pan beautifully and tasted great! Frank thought it could use a few more cranberries, so the next time I make it, I’ll just pour the whole bag in.

In a moment of pre-baking terror, I did give the cast iron pan a quick spray of butter, but I’m not sure if it needed it.

The only thing I wasn’t sure about was the cornmeal. It does add a crunch which Lebovitz says he likes in his baking, which Frank liked, but I’m not sure I was a huge fan. Maybe next time, I’ll try it with all flour.

The other thing I would probably do differently would be to cream the butter and sugar together using my stand mixer. I used a hand beater and while it worked fine, it took longer and was not as creamy as when I’ve pulled out the big mixer.

If cranberries aren’t in season, a mess of blueberries or other fruit would probably work just as well.

 

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What–No Turkey? My Top 6 Recipes for Thanksgiving

by Anne Maxfield on November 20, 2017

Accidental Locavore My Slow Roasted Duck for ThanksgivingThe other day, I was talking with a friend about Thanksgiving and comparing notes on what we were planning. Since there’s still time to add or subtract dishes, here are a few that have, or will, grace my table. Which ones look good to you?

  1. Slow Roasted Duck: As some of you know, this is not my favorite holiday, mostly because turkey is my least favorite poultry. Since it’s just the two of us (so far), we decided that duck was a much better choice. This one takes a while, but you only have to check it once an hour and it’s delicious! If you want to get fancy, you can make an orange sauce for it by melting some marmalade on low heat with a splash (or two) of orange vodka or Cointreau and another big splash of maple syrup.Accidental Locavore Orange Sauce for Duck
  2. Brussels Sprouts and Pearl Onions: my mother has always insisted on having creamed onions at Thanksgiving. This dish combines them in a great way and the added touch of horseradish makes it a big winner in my book! Unlike my friend Zhu Zhu, I have no problem buying frozen pearl onions. Life is too short to spend it peeling.Accidental Locavore Stalk of Brussels Sprouts
  3. Cranberry and Dried Apricot Confit: I’m a sucker for dried apricots—the slab ones from Trader Joe’s being my favorites, so if I can stop snacking on them long enough to cook with them, this is almost as good as eating them out of the package. If this is too tough, the recipe on the back of the cranberry bag works fine (add some orange or tangerine zest to make it special).Accidental Locavore Cranberry Confit
  4. Butternut Squash Soup: Not being a huge fan of winter squashes, I make an exception for this soup. It goes from pretty good to great with the addition of Gruyere-covered toasts. If you’re lazy or pressed for time, a slice of toasted baguette and some grated cheese will be just fine. If you’re super lazy pressed for time, forget the toasts and just sprinkle a little blue cheese on as a garnish. The saltiness of either cheese cuts the sweetness of the squash.
  5. The best mashed potatoes ever! This was billed as a recipe for potato salad, but take my word for it, they’re just amazing mashed potatoes. Cheese, butter and potatoes, what’s not to like? It does require use of the oven, but since it’s probably the same temp as your turkey, just sneak some ramekins in somewhere.Accidental Locavore Raclette Potatoes
  6. What, no desserts? Although my husband has asked for yet another batch of Nancy’s cookies, I think it’s time to turn traditional and was thinking either a pumpkin pie (which the paper of record says is better made with winter squash) for Frank, or an apple galette that caught my eye in Bon Appétit, but then I saw this recipe for a caramel and chocolate tart from Dorrie Greenspan’s new book and it was as good as it looked (maybe better)!Accidental Locavore Caramel Tart

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Six Tips For an Easy Thanksgiving

by Anne Maxfield on November 21, 2016

Accidental Locavore Thanksgiving Wild TurkeyYou may find it surprising that Thanksgiving is not the Accidental Locavore’s favorite holiday.

It’s not.

If I can avoid cooking turkey, I do.

How about a slow roast duck instead?

Accidental Locavore Thanksgivng DuckHowever, someone usually counts on a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

Here are my six tips for an easy Thanksgiving:

  1. Buy an instant read thermometer. You’ll never worry about cooking a big piece of meat, again. It’s a must-have. They’re inexpensive, under $10 and worth every penny. You don’t want to ruin the main course, do you? Accidental Locavore Thanksgiving Instant Read Thermometer
  2. Delegate. Everyone brings something. If you don’t trust their cooking skills, rolls, wine, soda, ice cream or salad are options that are hard to mess up. And there are very few people (although I’m probably related to all of them) who will turn up their noses at canned cranberry sauce. This is a great strategy if you’ve got vegetarians, or fussy eaters, ask them to bring their favorite dish. Just make a list of what you’ve assigned so you know where you have to fill in. I’ve actually given dinner parties where I haven’t cooked anything, but please don’t tell anyone!
  3. Forget the appetizers and serve soup as a first course. No one needs to fill up on finger food before the main event. I bet they won’t even notice it’s not there (and if they do, they’d better be too polite to mention it). The reason everyone tells you to drink a lot of water when you’re on a diet, is because it fills you up. Soup does the same thing. Here’s a recipe for winter squash soup that’s not too sweet. It’s easy, you can do it ahead of time and it’s inexpensive. While there’s a little cream in it, it’s only ¼ cup added in at the end to give it richness. If you want to make it vegan, use vegetable stock and olive oil and forget the croutons.Accidental Locavore Squash Soup
  4. My mother insists on creamed onions or it’s not Thanksgiving. However, she’s the only one who likes them. I have a great recipe for Brussels sprouts and pearl onions with a horseradish sauce that everyone loves and the veggies can be cooked ahead, then tossed in the sauce until warmed through. Think about other vegetables you can combine so you’re not cooking 400 side dishes.
  5. Stick to one, max two, desserts. No one has room for multiple pies. Add ice cream if you want but keep it simple. And without a lot of leftover desserts, you won’t be tempted to nibble every time you walk by them.
  6. Give everyone some leftovers to take home. If it’s not around, you won’t eat it. Use the turkey carcass to make soup. When you’re tired of sandwiches, how about a shepherd’s pie using the leftover turkey, gravy and mashed potatoes?

What are your best holiday tips?

Happy Thanksgiving! Since I’m going to be cooking something, no post on Thursday.

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Pearl Onions and Brussels Sprouts in Horseradish Cream Sauce

by Anne Maxfield on November 17, 2016

 Accidental Locavore Quartered Brussels SproutsThe Accidental Locavore’s mother always insisted on pearl onions for Thanksgiving.

No one really likes pearl onions “straight-up”.

When I found this recipe from Bon Appètit it seemed like a great combination.

Also perfect for Thanksgiving because you don’t need the oven.

Pearl Onions and Brussels Sprouts in Horseradish Cream

  • 1 bag frozen pearl onions thawed
  • 1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half the long way
  • 3 tablespoons horseradish (more to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice or nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

Cook the Brussels sprouts until just tender either in a microwave for 5 minutes, or boil them in salted water for about 6 minutes. Drain well and set aside.

Combine the horseradish, flour and allspice in a small bowl, mix well and whisk in the cream. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the thyme and stir 30 seconds. Add the onions and Brussels sprouts and saute until heated through, about 4 minutes.

Add the horseradish mixture, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cream is reduced to a glaze, coating the vegetables, about 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and more horseradish if you like. Serve and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Peeling HorseradishMy verdict: This is a tried and true Thanksgiving hit! Even the non-pearl onion and/or Brussels sprouts haters often find themselves surprised by how good this is!

Besides not needing an oven, you can precook the Brussels sprouts and onions and set them aside. Ditto for the horseradish sauce. Then, just finish them before you’re ready to serve (about 5 minutes or until they’re warm).

True confession, much to my friend Zhu Zhu’s disgust, I always buy frozen pearl onions. They’re such a pain to peel and at Thanksgiving the last thing you need is to spend an hour peeling tiny onions. If you want to go the fresh route, blanch them and peel them (you might want to cook them first for a couple of minutes before adding the sprouts to the pan).

What’s a family Thanksgiving food tradition you’d like to change?

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