Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Cranberry 101

Cranberry Thanksgiving  By Wende and Harry Devlin
Growing up I loved reading mystery books and devoured every single one I could get my hands on. Nancy Drew was my hero. Imagine my delight when one Thanksgiving, my mom came home with a library book about a Thanksgiving mystery caper and a stolen recipe! To make it better, the cranberry bread recipe (that the grandmother keeps hidden behind a loose brick in the mantle) is printed on the last page of the book so you can make it when you're finished reading. Pure childhood heaven. Mom must have known she was raising the future *Girl From Scratch.

I had long since forgotten about A Cranberry Thanksgiving, until a few years ago when I saw it on a friend's bookshelf at a party. Before I could even think, I audibly squealed with delight, pulled the book off the shelf, and then sat on the couch being anti-social for the next 20 minutes relishing every page.

A few months later during Christmas, that same dear friend gave me the book as a gift, saying he would  never forget how my eyes had lit up when I saw the book on his bookshelf.

Today's post is my ode to cranberries. Instead of making the cranberry bread on the last page, this is my first attempt at homemade cranberry sauce. There really is no recipe to talk about, just flip over the Ocean Spray bag of cranberries and follow the simple steps. Cranberries, sugar, water that's it. So simple and yet, why is this the first year I've done it? I've also posted ideas and thoughts on how to serve.

Homemade Cranberry Sauce
Bring cranberries, water and sugar to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Stir continually. ( I added a dash of ginger and cinnamon, and the zest and juice of an entire orange. Of course I couldn't stick to the recipe.)

Instead of dirtying another serving dish, load your fresh cranberry sauce into jars of all sizes. Not only is it super cute, but when the meal is finished you just screw on the lid and pop into the fridge.

For a creative place setting, fill up individual baby food jars and finish with a bow and name-card. That way, everyone has their own little portion!

To make the name-cards I re-purposed shopping bags, string and ribbons. I'm in an especially thrifty mood this month.

Taking a break from the kitchen and a trip down memory lane.

The Secret Cranberry Bread Recipe on the last page. I love that it says "Get Mother to help."
When the Thanksgiving festivities are done, you will inevitably have extra cranberry sauce. Here are the top 5 things I plan to do with mine;

-A Cranberry Cocktail: muddle POM juice and cranberry sauce, add vodka and Sprite. Shake with ice.

-A Cranberry Quesadilla: Spread cranberry sauce on 2 tortillas, layer slices of Camembert cheese. Heat.

-A Cranberry Appetizer: Pour cranberry sauce on a baked wheel of Brie. Yum!

-A Cranberry Condiment: Mix cranberry sauce with mayo and a spritz of fresh lemon juice for turkey sandwiches the next day.

-A Cranberry Tart: Mix cranberry sauce with applesauce and sugar, pour in pie shell. Bake.

Any other ideas? Happy Thanksgiving!

*Devlin, Wende and Harry. Cranberry Thanksgiving, Parents' Magazine Press, New York, 1971

Friday, November 18, 2011

Weekend Whoopie

Ginger Whoopie Pies
Before you think I'm getting R-rated with my food blogging, today's post is my version of a Whoopie Pie. Being a midwest girl from Ohio, I had never heard of these things until recently, when I began to notice several Food Network chefs featuring Whoopie Pies on their shows. Cupcakes have been, and still are, all the rage here in NYC with specialty bakeries popping up all over the city and intense competition shows like Cupcake Wars gaining popularity. This sweet-sandwiched confection, a cupcake "cousin," if-you-will, is similarly decorative and portable, and has me wondering: are Whoopie Pies the new cupcake? (In my best Carrie Bradshaw voice.)

Ginger Whoopie Pies with Orange Cream are packed with tons on aromatic spices and then filled with a subtle, sweet, creamy filling and finished with notes of citrus. Ginger and orange are fantastic bed-fellows (get your mind out of the gutter!) in this perfect, whimsical weekend recipe.

Ginger Whoopie Pies with Orange-Cream Filling
Cast of Characters for Cookies: flour, sugar, molasses, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, butter, eggs, baking soda, salt and Orange Juice (although recipe calls for just water-I subbed).

Cast of Characters for filling: whipping cream, mascarpone cheese, orange zest, sugar and orange extract (optional).

Mix dry ingredients.

Mix wet ingredients.

Combine together.

Roll into balls and flatten, sprinkle with sugar. (Recipe says to roll them in sugar, but I don't like them to be too sweet.)

Combine filling ingredients and whip together.
Zest the orange into the whipped cream-mascarpone filling.
Let cool. Aren't they gorgeous?!

Below is the recipe for these cookies. This is hands-down the best cookie recipe I have ever made. I make these every year and they never disappoint. This is the recipe I will pass down to Junior *From Scratch one day. If the Pope paid us a visit, I would serve these cookies. They are real, real good.

Ginger Cookie Recipe: Big Soft Ginger Cookies from All Recipes.

The filling has no real recipe and is based more on preference. Some use marshmallow fluff or cream cheese in their Whoopie Pie filling, but I l fell in love with mascarpone in a similar recipe that I did here.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Hot Buns

Easy Homemade Rolls
I am giddy to announce my first ever guest blogger today! My good friend Marty from Marty Andry's Blogspot (who's culinary skills put mine to shame) will be sharing a tried and true family recipe that is a real stunner. I love having a guest blogger on because it gives you readers a chance to see a recipe that I wouldn't normally gravitate towards. This recipe comes just in time for Thanksgiving (I thought I would just be making Pillsbury Crescents...not anymore!). So without further ado, here's Marty:

Thank you, Girl from Scratch, for liking my food enough to give me a guest spot!

I love the recipes here because they don’t require a lot of special ingredients or a degree from a culinary school.

Today I’m offering the dinner roll recipe that has been in my family for years.  I learned to make bread from my grandma (still alive at 101!) who made bread every morning.  I used to think it was magic and that some people just can’t make bread. I don’t believe that anymore and this recipe will prove it.  It's easy, requires minimal ingredients and you don’t need any magic for this.  You don’t even need to knead it.  Here goes and I hope you enjoy my family recipe!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Liquid Gold

Broccoli Cheddar Soup with Mini Bread Bowls
The season for making soup is here! Nothing calls for cozy, belly-warming soup quite like a premature snow storm in October. Snowtober? Snoctober? Octosnow? ( Me and Mr. *From Scratch have way. too. much. time. on. our. hands. )

I'm so excited that this recipe crossed my path. Did you know that I have magical powers for finding recipes when I need them most? When I'm not even looking, a fabulous recipe always falls into my lap at the 11th hour, right when I'm starting to stress that I'm running out of blog posts. This has happened often enough, I can only conclude I have a magical power. Or maybe there are little recipe fairies working on my behalf. Or maybe I have an overactive imagination.