Savory Cranberry Sauce

I have a strong affinity for can-shapped cranberry sauce. The log of congealed super-sweetened cranberry juice, laid out on a plate, the ridges from the can intact, is a memory from my childhood that holds a special place for me. As I’ve grown older though I’ve learned that there can be more flavor in something made fresh, even if you use a frozen ingredient.

Savory Cranberry Sauce
Servings: about 3 cups of sauce
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cups roughly chopped red onion (about 1 1/2 onions)
  • 1 lb. cranberries (fresh or frozen, either is fine)
  • 1/2 cup honey.
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • kosher salt and black pepper

Directions:

  1. Add olive oil to a large sauce pan and place over medium-low heat. Add the onions and a generous pinch of salt. Stir to coat the onions with the oil. Cook for about 10minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions have softened. Lower heat if the onions start to brown.
  2. Add the cranberries, honey and lemon zest. Stir until everything is combined, raise the heat to medium and bring to a simmer. Cook for ~20 minutes, again stirring occasionally. As the cranberries cook they will burst, releasing pectin into the sauce, which will help it thicken..
  3. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Taste and add salt and/or pepper to your liking. As it cools the sauce will thicken. Serve warm or chilled; either works.

Notes:
You can use still frozen cranberries in this dish though it will likely take 5-10 minutes longer.

This will keep for about a week in the refrigerator.

Saturday night – 09/24/2016

Our vegetarian friend was away and so I made something I’ve been craving. All homemade, no cans of condensed soup or cardboard cylinders of stuffing crumbles allowed. What I had in mind didn’t match my online search capabilities, as in, I couldn’t find a single recipe that matched what I wanted so I made it up.

Menu
Chicken and Stuffing Bake
Sauteed Carrots
Savory Cranberry Sauce
Homemade Rolls

Apple Pie

Notes under the cut

Grilled Green Beans with Sesame

This recipe was inspired by a search for some kind of grilled vegetable to go along with some oven-barbecued pork. I originally thought I’d make a summer squash sort of thing however my search results were unwhelming. When I expanded the search to just grilled vegetables I found one reference to grill green beans. I used the basic technique from that recipe, adding the sesame rather than their overcomplicated onion/garlic/rosemary mash-up. I enjoyed the charred beans, which were a bit smoky ‘cuase grilling.

Grilled Green Beans with Sesame
Servings: 8-10
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2″ pieces
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. white sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp. toasted sesame oil

Special Equipment:

Directions:

  1. Heat your gas grill to medium high for 10-15 minutes. Once the grill is started I trim the green beans.
  2. Combine the prepped green beans, vegetable oil, a generous pinch of kosher salt and a dozen grinds of black pepper in a large bowl. Toss the beans until well coated with oil.
  3. Place the grill pan over 2 active burners on the grill. Transfer the oiled green beans onto the grill pan and spread the beans across the pan. Close the cover and ignore for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Stir the green beans, spread across the pan once again and cook for another 3-4 minutes, cover up this time. While the green beans cook toast the sesame seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat for a minute or so. You want the sesame seeds to be lightly browned. Once toasted transfer the sesame seeds to a small bowl to prevent burning in the hot pan.
  5. Check a green bean; if it is not done to your liking then toss, spread and cook for another minute at a time until you are happy with the doneness. When done remove the grill pan from the heat.
  6. Transfer the grilled green beans to a bowl. Add the toasted sesame seeds and toasted sesame oil. Toss, adjust salt and pepper if necessary and serve.

Notes:
Green beans can be prepped up to 2 hours in advance. Cover with a barely-damp paper towel and stash in the fridge.

Buttermilk Chocolate Chip Cake

We celebrated a birthday at a recent Saturday night gathering and, for me, birthdays need cake. The birthday boy’s mom mentioned chocolate chip pancakes as something the 8 year old was asking for so I set out to make a cake that might, in some small way, match the flavor of the griddle cooked treats.

I leveraged this recipe from Jen’s Favorite Cookies and then ended up improvising after I realized I had doubled the butter.

The birthday boy liked the cake well enough that I hastily scribbled down some notes in the hopes of being able to produce something similar in the future.
Servings: 12
Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Total time: 1 hour plus time for the cake to cool

Ingredients:

  • 405 grams (3 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. table salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (that’s 2 sticks), softened
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 12 oz. dark chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Greased the bottom and sides of 2 9″ cake pans. If you have parchment you can also place a parchment round in the bottom of the pan.
  2. Whisk together the flour, salt, soda, powder, and cinnamon in a bowl. Set aside.
  3. Crack the eggs into a bowl, add the vanilla and whisk until the eggs and vanilla are well combined.
  4. Add butter and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Start out on low until the sugar is mushed into the butter then increase the speed to medium-high for 3 minutes until the butter has lightened in color.
  5. Add the egg/vanilla mixture to the creamed butter/sugar and mix well.
  6. Add a third of the dry ingredients to the mix followed by a third of the buttermilk. Mix on medium-low until combined then add the next third of both flour and buttermilk. Mix again and add the last of the flour and buttermilk.
  7. Remove the bowl from the mixer, scrape the paddle and set aside. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, add the chocolate chips and mix to combine.
  8. Split the batter between the prepared pans (a scale help). Use your spatula to spread the batter evenly across each pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes, rotating the pans half way through cooking.
  9. Before removing the pan make sure it is cooked through by either checking the temp. (it should be 210°F in the center) or, if you lack an instant read thermometer, the toothpick method (a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake should come out clean).
  10. Move cake pans to a rack and cool for 10 minutes. Run a knife between the pan and the cake, remove each cake from it’s pan and return the cake to the rack until completely cool.
  11. Frost with your choice of frosting, icing or whipped topping. I made a chocolate version of my regular buttercream frosting.

Notes:
I suspect this could be made in an 13″x9″ pan with little change to the baking time. I haven’t tried it yet. When I do give it a go I’ll probably skip frosting, serve it in the pan and simply dust it with a couple of tablespoons powdered sugar.

Cucumber and Bean Salad with Citrus Dressing

I wanted a side dish that would combine some fresh vegetables (cukes/peppers) with some easy protein (canned beans). The dressing is based on one from FoodTV; they used it on a different salad however I liked the sound of it and it worked out well.

Cucumber and Bean Salad with citrus dressing
Servings: 8-12
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 14.5 oz. can chickpeas
  • 1 14.5 oz. can black beans
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, quartered, seeded and cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and cut into 2″ pieces
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

  1. Rinse the chickpeas and black beans, add to a bowl with the cucumbers and red peppers.
  2. In a jar combine the remaining ingredients, shake well. Pour about half of the dressing over the vegetables, toss to combine. Taste and adjust salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Serve with remaining dressing available for those who want it.

Notes:
The vegetables can be combined up to 2 hours in advance and the the dressing can similarly be made up to a day in advance. Store both in the refrigerator until 30 minutes before serving.

I used Goya low-sodium chickpeas and black beans in this dish. If you aren’t using low-sodium beans then you might want to cut the kosher salt by half in the dressing.

Saturday night – 09/03/2016

The weather took a thankful dip toward coolness this weekend with highs today in the low 70s. It allowed me to make use of the oven in a meaningful way. We made use of the grill as well however it’s nice to have multiple cooking methods at my disposal again.

Menu
Oven-Barbecued Country-Style Pork
Roasted Red Potatoes
Grilled Green Beans with Sesame Seeds
Green Salad with Cucumbers, Chickpeas and Kalamata Olives

Raspberry Wheat Bars

Notes under the cut

Saturday night – 08/27/2016

As August wanes summer weather remains firmly in place over Central Massachusetts. This week’s Saturday Night menu features an aversion to heating up the kitchen anymore than necessary and an opportunity to make sure of the bounty of summer produce. Plus we celebrated G’s 8th birthday with cake.

Menu
Grilled Chicken Thighs with Romesco
Tabouleh
Cucumber and Bean Salad with a citrus dressing

Chocolate Chip Cake with Chocolate Frosting

Notes under the cut