Sides and Appetizers
Here’s my third post from my “holiday menu“. To be honest, I think “cranberry compote” is just a fancy term for a cranberry sauce. But again, alliteration is always a nice thing! In case you’re wondering, a compote is basically fruit stewed in some kind of syrup. It can serve as a topping for ice cream or just served on its own. I did use some of this to make a cheesecake for my Winter Feast. Of course, that’s going to be the next post. Exciting stuff!
- 1 1/2 c. water
- 1 1/2 c. sugar
- 2 – 3 cinnamon sticks, depending on strength
- 2 whole star anise
- 6 green cardamom pods
- 1 orange, juice and zest
- 4 c. cranberries, divided
- 1/2 c. cognac
1. In a medium saucepan, combine water and sugar. Bring to a gentle boil until the sugar has dissolved. Reduce by about 1/4.
2. Add the orange juice and cook for 1 minute. Add the cinnamon, anise, cardamom, and 3 c. of the cranberries. Bring to a boil. Once you start to hear some of the cranberries pop, reduce the heat and allow to stew for about 10 – 15 minutes.
3. After the mixture has thickened, add the remaining cranberries. Once the cranberries have started to pop, reduce heat to low and cook for another 3 – 5 minutes.
4. Remove from the heat and stir in the cognac. Let sit for about 30 minutes. Can be served warm or at room temperature.
Notes — theoretically, this should last for at least a week, but it usually gets used up quickly in my house. . . you could try brown sugar which might be a nice change. . . I have seen some recipes that use maple syrup. . . another thing to try would be to add some ginger. . . I did make a double batch and just reused the whole spices. It worked out fine. You could cut down the amount of spices if it might be too much for you. . . Adding cognac is optional, but I think it helps round everything out. But of course, I don’t need an excuse to booze something up!
I know I did this a little bit backward, but here is my Smoked Fish Dip #1. Sure, I posted to #2 recipe first, but like I said before, that one isn’t as strong with the “tang”. This one is my favorite of the two just because the flavors are bigger — the ratio of smoked fish:cream cheese is higher, there’s some tang from the sour cream, lemon juice, and capers; and there’s some heat from the horseradish. The instructions are pretty much the same as the other recipe.
Here’s what you need:
- 6 oz. smoked fish
- 8 oz. cream cheese
- 1/2 c. sour cream
- 1 T. lemon juice
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 t. horseradish
- 1 T. capers
- fresh dill, to taste
Coarsely chop the fish; if you like a smoother dip, chop the fish into smaller bits. In a bowl, beat the cheese until nice and creamy. Mix in the sour cream, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Add the horseradish, capers, dill and mix well. Fold in the fish. You can let this sit for an hour or so if you like, but it is ready to serve.
If you’re looking for something to serve as a side for the upcoming holidays, give this recipe a try. It’s rich and creamy without using any cream at all, so it’s a little bit more waistline friendly. This was taken from the cookbook An American Bounty from The Culinary Institute of America. What’s nice about this cookbook is that it gives you some nutritional information with each recipe. And this recipe is healthier than you think — 180 calories, 4 g protein, 10 g fat, 18 g carbohydrates, 285 mg sodium, and 40 mg cholesterol per 6 oz. serving. It will serve 4 – 6 people.
I did try my best at making some fancy design like those baristas at those fancy coffee houses. It almost worked, but since the densities of the soup and the cream were so different, designs really didn’t want to stay put. I eventually settled on swirling everything together, which I liked. It kinda looks like Jupiter. . . kinda. . . well, not really. But I digress, here’s what you need:
- 1 T. unsalted butter
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 carrot, diced
- 1 celery stalk, trimmed and diced
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 t. ground ginger
- 3-4 c. chicken broth
- 2 c. butternut squash, cubed
- 1 c. acorn squash, cubed
- 1/2 potato, peeled and sliced
- 1/2 t. salt, or to taste
- 1/4 t. freshly ground pepper, or to taste
- 1 t. julienned orange zest
2. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic. Sauté, stirring frequently, until the onion is tender and translucent, about 5-6 minutes.
3. Add the ginger and sauté for another minute.
4. Add the broth, squashes, and potato. Bring the broth to a full boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat to low. Simmer until the squashes are tender enough to pierce easily with a fork, about 20 minutes.
5. Remove the soup from the heat and allow it to cool briefly. Purée the soup with an immersion blender, food processor, or run it through a food mill.
6. Return the soup to the pot and bring to a simmer. Adjust the consistency, if necessary, by adding additional broth or water. Taste the soup and add salt, pepper, and orange zest.
7. Serve the soup in a heated tureen or individual bowls.
Notes — If you wanted to make this vegan, just substitute the butter with some olive oil and switch the chicken broth with some vegetable broth. . . add a few drops of lemon or lime juice to brighten the flavor. . . you can add a T. of orange juice concentration with the final flavor adjustment. . . if you wanted to make this in advance, complete up to step 5, cool the soup to room temperature, and refrigerate or freeze. Before serving, return the soup to a full boil, and make final adjustments. . . can be served chilled. . . whip a little heavy cream to soft peaks, fold in an equal amount of sour cream, and add freshly grated ginger, to taste. add a dollop to each portion. . .
Here is one use of all that smoke fish I got in the UP (Upper Peninsula of Michigan, if you haven’t been following my most recent posts). Now this is called “Smoked Fish Dip #2” because it is my second favorite. But it’s the one that we made and it’s still very good. This recipe is a lot milder than my #1, which may appeal to more folks, especially if you don’t eat a lot of smoked fish. The flavor can be a little intense, but I love that smokey goodness. And what’s nice is that this is quick and easy to make, although you may want to let the dip sit for a little bit so that the flavors can marry a little bit.
Here’s what you need:
- 8 oz. smoked fish (this recipe used whitefish, but use what you like)
- 16 oz. cream cheese, softened
- salt and pepper, to taste
- a couple of dashes of Worcestershire sauce
- a couple of dashes of hot sauce, to taste
- 2 T. chopped chives
Coarsely chop the fish; if you like a smoother dip, chop the fish into smaller bits. In a bowl, beat the cheese until nice and creamy. Add the fish, salt, pepper, hot sauce, Worcestershire and mix well. Fold in the chives. You can let this sit for an hour if you like, but it is ready to serve!