Holiday Guide Web Extras - How To: Celebrate with Seasonal Foods

Of course, you could just wing it. But it’s the holidays, and you want to do something special. This is it. Filled with seasonal ingredients, Matthew Anderson of Chesterland’s International culinary Arts & Sciences Institute has come up with an inspired menu to serve your guests (it’s even largely vegeterian friendly). Here’s the dish:

The Menu:
Winter Squash Soup with Maple Butter
Fennel and Frisee Salad with Dried Cranberries, Feta, Citrus and Balsamic Vinaigrette
Herb- and Garlic-crusted Turkey Breast and Herb Turkey Velouté
Sweet Potato Chestnut Risotto
Seared Brussels Sprouts
Roasted Root Vegetables
Caramel Pumpkin Flan

The Recipes:

Roasted Winter Squash Soup with Maple Butter (10 servings)
4-pound winter squash, halved lengthwise, seeded
2 onions, small-diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 Granny Smith apples, peeled and small-diced
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup dry Riesling wine
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
2 cups apple cider
6 cups vegetable stock
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375. Spray a 13-by-9-inch baking pan with vegetable spray. Place squash cut side down in the prepared dish. Bake until tender, about 45 minutes.

Using a large spoon, scoop the meat out of the squash and discard the peel.

In a large, heavy-bottom soup pot, sauté onion, garlic, and apple in vegetable oil until tender. Add wine and cook until dry. Add the squash and cook for 10 more minutes. Add vegetable stock, apple cider and nutmeg. Over low heat, cook until all the ingredients are soft, about 10 to 20 minutes. Purée soup in small batches in a blender until smooth. Season to taste.

Garnish with a small dollop of maple butter.

Maple Butter

1/4 cup maple syrup (yes, the real deal)
2 sticks of butter, unsalted

Using a mixer, mix the ingredients together until they are smooth. Use to garnish soup, but it’s also really great on your morning toast.

Roasted Root Vegetable Medley

8 to 12 slender carrots, peeled and trimmed
8 to 12 baby turnips, peeled
6 to 8 fingerling potatoes, scrubbed and cut in half lengthwise
1 to 2 large parsnips, peeled, trimmed and cut diagonally into 1-inch-thick slices
1 to 2 medium onions, trimmed, peeled and halved, each half cut into quarters
1 to 2 large beets, peeled and cut into thick wedges
1 celery root, trimmed and halved, halves cut crosswise into 1-inch-thick slices
1 whole head of garlic, separated into cloves, unpeeled
2 or 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary, sage and thyme
Fresh ground black pepper
Olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.Put all the vegetables and the herb sprigs in a large baking dish. Season well with salt and black pepper, drizzle generously with olive oil, and toss them with your hands to coat them evenly. Put the baking dish in the preheated oven and cook, stirring the vegetables occasionally, until they are tender and golden brown, about 45 minutes. Serve the vegetables from their baking dish.

Fennel and Frisee Salad with Dried Cranberries, Feta, Citrus and Balsamic Vinaigrett
1 head fennel, sliced very thin
3 heads frisee, washed and pulled apart (romaine can be used as substitute)
1/4 cup dried cranberries
One 6-ounce can mandarin orange slices
One 4-ounce package feta cheese

Balsamic Vinaigrette
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 shallot, diced
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 cup olive oil
Fresh-ground black pepper

Whisk together the above ingredients. Chill and use as needed. This vinaigrette will last up to two weeks once made.

In a large bowl, toss the fennel with a few tablespoons of the vinaigrette. Allow to marinate for 30 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and toss well to coat with the vinaigrette.

Herb- and Garlic-crusted Turkey Breast and Herb Turkey Velouté

For the turkey:
Two 3 1/2- to 4-pound bone-out turkey breasts
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
6-8 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped herbs (parsley, thyme, sage, chives)
2 tablespoons prepared mustard
2 onions, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 bunch celery, chopped
Kosher salt and fresh-ground pepper

For the velouté:
Two 12-ounce cans of chicken stock
2 tablespoons brandy
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup fresh chopped herbs (parsley, thyme, sage, chives)

To make turkey:
Rinse breast halves and pat dry. Combine the garlic, herbs, mustard and oil in a small bowl. Lift the skin of the breast and rub the mixture on, being careful not to rip the skin. Lay the skin back down and season well with kosher salt and fresh-ground pepper.

Mound the carrots, celery and onions in the center of a roasting pan and arrange the turkey breasts on top, making sure the halves aren’t touching. Roast until the thermometer inserted into thickest part of turkey registers 170 degrees and juices run clear when pierced with a fork, 45 to 55 minutes.

To make the velouté:
Once the breasts are done, transfer them to a serving platter and cover with foil to keep them warm. Keep the veggies in the pan. Place the roasting pan on top of the stove and turn the heat to medium under the pan. Scrape the pan with a wooden spoon to get up all the yummy bits. Once all the bits are up, sprinkle in the flour, stir to coat all the veggies with the flour, turn the heat to low and cook for 5 minutes, stirring the whole time. Add the brandy and cook until it evaporates. Change to a whisk to stir and slowly add the stock to prevent lumps. Adjust the heat to low and continue cooking the velouté until thick and no more flour taste is present. Add the heavy cream and cook for 5 more minutes. Strain out the veggies, add the herbs and you’re ready.

• It’s easiest and fastest to ask your butcher to split the turkey breast in half for you. But this can also be done at home: Use a heavy, sharp knife and don’t be afraid to whack the breast at the wishbone several times until it comes apart. Slicing the skin along the breastbone before you start cutting is also helpful.
• In the gravy, bourbon, whiskey, wine, Port or vermouth can be used instead of brandy.

Sweet Potato and Chestnut Risotto (10 servings)

1 stick butter
1 pound yams (red-skinned sweet potatoes), peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
2 cups arborio rice
6 to 8 cups hot chicken stock (homemade is best, but in a pinch a can is just fine)
1 cup dry Riesling wine
2/3 cup mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup chestnuts, toasted and chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Melt the butter in heavy, large skillet over medium-high heat. Add yams, onion, chestnuts and ginger; sauté until yams are just tender, about 10 minutes. Add the rice and stir until the rice is well coated in the butter. Add the wine and cook until all the wine has evaporated. Add the hot stock a cup at a time, Do not add the next cup of stock until the last one has absorbed, stirring the whole time. This process should take 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Add mascarpone and the parsley. Serve at once.

• Mascarpone cheese is a soft Italian cream cheese; you could also use 1/4 cup goat cheese mixed with 1/2 cup heavy cream.
• Chestnuts come fresh in the shell, canned or in a tube as a paste. All of them will work. If you use fresh they will need to be roasted and shelled before you add them to the risotto. Pecans and/or walnuts are a fine substitute.

Seared Brussels Sprouts
1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise
1/2 cup chicken stock (homemade is best, but canned will do just fine)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Salt and pepper

In a large, bottom-heavy pan and over high heat, melt the butter, add the Brussels sprouts and sauté until they are just brown. Once brown, add the stock and cover. Cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Once they are tender, remove the lid and cook until all the liquid has evaporated. Season and serve.

Caramel Pumpkin Flan (10 servings)
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
One 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons (packed) dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon mace
4 large eggs
4 large egg yolks
2 cups heavy whipping cream

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine sugar and water in small saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and bring to a boil, brushing down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush. Boil without stirring until syrup is a deep amber color, occasionally brushing down sides and swirling pan, about 12 minutes. Immediately pour caramel into a 7- to 8-cup baking dish (7 1/2 by 3 1/2 inches), tilting and rotating dish to thickly coat bottom and 2 inches up sides. Place dish in 13-by-9-by-2-inch metal baking pan.

Whisk pumpkin, condensed milk, sugar and spices in large bowl to blend. Whisk in eggs and yolks, then cream and vanilla. Pour custard into prepared dish. Pour enough hot water into baking pan to come 1 1/2 inches up sides of dish. This will give you a really nice consistency with your custard.

Bake flan until deep brown on top and firmly set in the center, about 2 hours 10 minutes. A blade of a small, sharp knife inserted into the center should come out clean. Remove flan from water; cool 1 hour. Refrigerate uncovered until very cold, at least 6 hours. (Yes, I know you are a procrastinator, so do this before anything else or just buy some extra wine and drink that before you serve dessert.)

Cut around flan to loosen. Place the platter on the flan dish. Holding platter and flan dish together, invert, allowing flan to settle onto platter. Scrape out any caramel syrup remaining in dish and drizzle over flan.

• Be careful with the caramel. The burn that it could give you is not a nice thing, but if you treat it with respect you will be fine.
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