My Monday thus far has consisted of laundry, vacuuming, and leftover Indian food. There may also be some Harry Potter DVDs involved, but let's be real, that can happen at any point between early November and late January. For some odd reason, my twisted movie-obsessed mind thinks Harry Potter is a Christmas story. Think about it - they all span one full school year, so they all have at least one winter/Christmas/Holiday scene! It's perfect! And there are seven of them. Well, eight movies. Anyway.
I've been to two Friendsgivings in the past week, and have had to bring three different dishes in exchange for eating delicious meals with my delicious friends. Unfortunately I didn't take step by step pictures of the cooking process (are you shocked? I am shocked. What was I thinking!) but I have some snapshots and can give you a general idea of what I did in case you want to recreate these incredibly complex meals. That was sarcasm, by the way.
To drink: Mulled Wine
I was going to use a from-scratch recipe such as this one, but when it came down to it I ended up using some of my friend Evan's mulling spices from Williams-Sonoma and they worked wonderfully. Maybe some night this winter I'll try the real deal. My mom and I have gone to a family friend's Christmas party in Palo Alto for the past few years, and since she is of Swedish heritage she always serves traditional mulled wine. It has the warmth and comfort of hot cocoa, the spicy flavor of a winter drink, with some of the strong bitterness of a cocktail. I love it!
Two bottles Chianti or another red wine
1/3-1/2 cup sugar for each bottle
Pre-made mulling spices or individual spice ingredients according to recipe
Orange zest (optional)
Directions: (keep in mind, I cheated and used mulling spices)
Heat wine and sugar until sugar is fully dissolved.
Mull spices (if called for by recipe) in cheesecloth or tea strainer for up to 20 minutes.
Remove spices, add orange zest if desired, serve while still hot.
Can also add cinnamon sticks for extra OOMPH.
On the side: Chestnut Stuffing with Thyme, Sage, and Rosemary
Stuffing is my favorite dish of the traditional Thanksgiving meal. I love that it can be warm and comforting on its own, but most recipes leave enough solidity to the ingredients that it can be eaten alongside mashed potatoes and sauces without losing all structure and flavor.
My mom gave me her mostly-memorized recipe and, with a little help from the back of the bread bag, we worked out a satisfying side dish.
Unflavored stuffing cubes or dried bread cubes
Celery, about 3 stalks per bread bag
2 large white onions
Pre-cooked and peeled chestnuts (can be bought at most grocery stores)
Fresh Rosemary, Thyme, and Sage
Cut up celery and onion, sauté in large pan until translucent. Add chestnuts, salt, and pepper.
Finely chop herbs. Finely. Very finely! Add to sauté pan.
Mix sauté mixture with bread cubes in large roasting pan. Add 1-2 cups chicken broth per bread bag over the stuffing mixture and toss with spoons to evenly distribute. Special Chef's note: My stuffing was a tiny bit drier than I'd have liked, so a little extra chicken broth won't hurt if you're unsure about the amounts.
Cover with aluminum foil. Cook at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes with foil on. Remove foil and continue cooking 10-15 more minute to brown the top. Serve!
For saucing: Cranberry Sauce with Orange Zest
Alright, when I said stuffing was my favorite dish? I was wrong. Cranberry sauce is MY FAVORITE DISH. And, yes, that statement warranted all caps.
Two bags fresh cranberries
3/4 cup sugar per bag
1 cup water per bag
Boil the sugar and water until evenly dissolved.
Carefully add cranberries to the mixture and stir.
Wait about 5-10 minutes as cranberries pop open. Keep stirring but try not to overcook.
Add orange zest and stir in completely.
Remove from heat and allow to thicken as it cools.
Hope these recipes add to your holiday celebrations as they did to mine. Thanks for the help Mom!
xo // Madeleine