Make-Ahead Feast Worthy Cranberry Pear Compote! 


This recipe has been in my culinary repertoire for over two decades. It’s my absolute favorite! Loose the canned cranberry sauce- trust me on this one.

Just like everything Thanksgiving– it’s better the next day; especially smothered all over your leftover turkey sammy! There is quite a bit of sugar in the recipe because the natural flavor of cranberry is very, very tart so it’s ok to substitute with honey or your favorite sweetener.

Oh, sure to call your order in using discount code : “Chef Gigi” when ordering the wine from RiverStar Vineyards and secure 20% off you entire holiday purchase!

You’ll Need:

2 pounds fresh or frozen whole cranberries 

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar, or your choice of alternitive

3 tablespoons brown sugar, packed

3 Bosch pears, peeled, cored and chopped in large one inch chunks 

2 wide strips of lemon zest

1 lemon juiced, seeds removed

1 orange zested and juiced

1 bottle RiverStar Vineyards Sauvagnon Blanc

1-2 small cinnamon sticks

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg 

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 large sprig fresh thyme

1/4 teaspoon salt 

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper 

Fresh red forest cranberries

Here’s How:

In a medium high-sided saucepan, combine the cranberries, sugar, lemon zest, wine and spices including salt and pepper. 

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat then reduce to a simmer. Cook until you begin to hear the cranberries begin to pop open. Add the pears cook an additional 8-10 minutes until the pears are soft but still holding shape. Once the cranberries pop the sauce will begin to thicken. Continue to cook until a knife will gently slide through the pears. Taste, and adjust seasoning.

Remove from heat, cool and store air tight in glass jars. Can be made up to a week in advance. 

Makes a great hostess gift when packed in a fancy glass container with a fresh sprig of thyme and orange peel! 


Yields approximately 20 -25 servings 

Drunken Squash with Forbidden Black Rice and Dried Fruit! 

Black Rice also known as Forbidden Rice

Once Reserved Only for the Noble. 

The health benefits of black rice are so powerful, this ingredient earned its name. Highly prized by noblemen and once forbidden amongst the common in ancient China. 

Black rice, was first introduced to the United States just recently, in 1995. Today it’s gaining popularity. Forbidden black rice is delicious, and has an amazingly chewy bite. It can be purchased at natural grocery stores, specialty markets and through your favorite on-line store. 

You’ll Need:

2-4 golden acorn squash, small sugar pumpkins or your fav squash

2 cups black forbidden rice, thoroughly washed

1 pound ground sausage

3 1/2 cups good quality chicken or vegetable stock

1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt, plus more to adjust seasoning 

Fresh ground black pepper, to taste 

1 teaspoon, plus 1/2 tablespoon good quality California olive oil, divided

1 cup celery, small dice

1 yellow onion, cleaned peeled and small diced

1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

1/2 teaspoon dried sage 

1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped fine 

Pinch of ground nutmeg

Pinch of ground cloves

1 red bellpepper cored and cut small dice

1/4 cup dried apricots, small dice

1/4 cup golden raisins 

1/4 cup pecans rough chopped

1/4 cup chopped pistachios

1/2 cup Grand Mariner or good quality brandy (optional) 

1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped fine 

Squash seeds, roasted for garnish

 

Here’s How:

Preheat the oven to 375′ F degrees, prepare a high-sided cookie sheet with olive oil and set aside. 

In a small bowl, soak dried apricots and golden raisins in Grand Mariner. Set aside.

Wash and dry the squash and cut the stem to remove. Cut the squash in half horizontally. Careful not to cut yourself. Place the round squash on a folded kitchen towel, to prevent from rolling. With a serrated bread knife-using a sawing motion, cut through the firm flesh. 

On each halve- carefully cut a very straight silver dollar sized piece off the backs of each halve. This will ensure each piece will sit upright at service time. With a spoon, gently scrape interior to remove seeds. Set aside to roast. ( See my seed roasting recipe ) or discard.

Lightly coat the flesh of the squash with some of the olive oil. Season generously with salt and fresh cracked pepper. Sprinkle lightly with ground nutmeg and ground clove.

Place flesh side down on the prepared baking sheet. Put into a pre-heated oven for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the flesh is soft- but stable when pierced with a knife.

Meanwhile, while squash is roasting, prepare the remainder of the recipe by rinsing the black rice thoroughly in a sieve under cold running water. Shake rice until water begins to runs clear, removing much of its starch.

In a medium sized, 6-8 quart sauce pan with fitted lid- bring rice, chicken stock, olive oil, salt, and pepper to a roaring boil – uncovered, over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cover tightly. Continue to cook rice until tender and most of water has been absorbed, about 35 – 40 minutes. Remove from heat, and let stand covered, about 10 minutes undisturbed. After rest period, reveal and fluff with a fork. Black rice is naturally chewy when done. Test for doneness. 

About 15 minutes before the squash and the rice are expected to finish cooking, begin to prepare the stuffing. In a large 10-12 inch skillet over medium heat add 1/2 teaspoon of oil add ground pork, season with salt and pepper and additional 1/4 teaspoon ground sage. Sauté until slightly brown. About 2 minutes. 

Add the diced celery and onion. Continue to sauté an additional 3-4 minutes until celery is cooked through, but still firm to the bite. Add fresh chopped herbs and small diced apples to the pan. Cook for an additional 2 minutes. Remove the from the pan away from any heat, stain liquid off dried fruit and add to the pan. Stir to combine. Return to heat and fold in the cooked rice, and pecans. Cook an additional 1 minute to combine flavors. Add a good pinch of chopped parsley reserving additional for garnish. Stir. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Place cooked squash skin side up in a baking dish. Generously spoon the rice stuffing into the cooked acorn squash so that they are piled high. Cover “tent like” with foil and return to the oven for 5-8 minutes or until heated through. If holding any longer in the oven, add a few tablespoons of chicken stock or water to keep moist. 

Remove from the oven, and finish with finely chopped flat leaf parsley- serve immediately! 

Variations

Remove pork sausage and replace with bacon or omit all together. 

If you want a sweeter flavor sprinkle acorn squash with a pinch of brown sugar or maple syrup and cinnamon before stuffing. 

Makes approximately 4-6 servings depending on size of squash.

Fresh Basil and Kale Pesto Zoodles

pesto-zoodles_720

Some think I’ve lost my noodle, because I put kale in my zoodles. I’ll let you be the judge.

This recipe is a variation of the classic basil pesto. It’s fresh, flavorful, easy and healthy. Kale is really good for you. Contains a high concentration of vitamins K, A, C, and antioxidants.  Chefs Secret: Blanching helps reduce the bitterness in kale. For an even creamier recipe– add an avocado to the blend.

Special Equipment: Food Processor, Nutri bullet or standing blender that can liquify.

Ingredients: 

10 leaves fresh curly kale, stem removed

20 fresh roasted almonds

1-2 cloves garlic, cleaned

1/4 teaspoon salt ( optional)

3 -4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or extra virgin coconut oil in a liquid state

1 tablespoon freshly grated parmesan cheese ( optional )

1 bunch basil leaves, stems removed

Salt and pepper to taste

Ice

Method:

Step 1: Shock kale. (blanch) Bring a large pot of water to the boil. While waiting for water to boil, set a medium sized mixing bowl in the sink with a few cups of ice. Fill with cold water and leave inside the sink.

Step 2: After removing the thick central stalk from the kale leaves, plunge the kale into the boiling water. Boil the leaves for about 2 minutes, quickly drain and plunge into the cold water to stop the cooking process. Remove from ice bath and drain again, on paper towels. Blot away any additional moisture. Dry thoroughly. The kale should be bright and rich in color.

Step 3: In the bowl of a food processor, add the blanched kale, garlic, nuts, parmesan ( optional)  and pulse until coarsely chopped.

Step 4: Add the extra virgin olive oil and continue to pulse until the kale pesto reaches the desired consistency. Taste , adjust seasoning or extra virgin olive oil if necessary.

Step 5: Toss with zoodles and serve Immediately. Kale pesto will keep for 1 week ( without the avocado ) sealed airtight and held in the refrigerator.

Nutrition Information: Makes 2-1/2 cups, Servings: 2.5 ounces, Calories: 67, Total Fat 8g, Carbohydrates: 3g, Fiber: 1g, Protein: 1g,  Sugar: 4 g, Sodium: 170 mg

 

 

Photo credit : The Dr Oz show.