Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving Countdown

I love the week of Thanksgiving because I devote the entire week to cooking.  The house smells great and the kitchen counters are overflowing with ingredients for all the dishes we will have on Thursday.  I start cooking on Monday and the first thing I make is Cranberry Chutney.  This is a dish I have been making forever, and it couldn't be easier.

Brown sugar, granulated sugar, apples, raisins and spices are added to the cranberries

Mixture simmers for 30 minutes

Here is the recipe for Cranberry Chutney

1 pound cranberries
1 cup chopped, cored, pared cooking apples
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup raisins
2 tsp.s cinnamon
1 & 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. allspice
1 cup water
1 Tb. butter
3/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery

Simmer cranberries, apples, sugars, raisins, spices and water uncovered in a saucepan over medium heat, until the juice is released from berries.
Cook onion and celery in butter until tender.
Add onion mixture to cranberries and simmer, uncovered, until thickened, stirring frequently.  This takes about 30 minutes.  Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

I also make my pie dough on Monday because it can be made two days before using it for my pies.  I make Martha Stewart's recipe.  She calls it "Pate Brisee" in her "Baking Handbook." 

  The dough is easy when you do it in the food processor.

Easy food processor method

Patting the dough into discs makes it easier to roll out later

What a comforting sight

I can't wait to turn these into apple, pumpkin, and pecan pies.  That will happen on Wednesday.

The last thing I do on this first day of cooking is make my croutons for my Chestnut and Apple stuffing.  I buy two big loaves of French bread, cut the bread into cubes and dry them in the oven.

Most of my Thanksgiving recipes come from a well-known Los Angeles cooking teacher, Carolyn Thacker, who taught for many years at Montana Mercantile cooking school (anyone remember that wonderful place?) and also at Santa Monica College.  I would be lost without her fabulous recipes and make them every year.

One of the joys of a week like this is looking at all the old recipes and cookbooks, with their handwritten notes and instructions.  It's a nostalgic week as well as a culinary one.

More to do in the days ahead...