Soup up those holiday sides

(BETH SCHLANKER/Standard-Examiner) Jaime Richardson, knows as the 'Sophistimom,' makes Cranberry Sauce with Maple and Orange Zes
Story by Becky Wright
(Standard-Examiner staff)
Sun, Nov 15, 2009
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A Thanksgiving meal can be very traditional, without tasting like the same old thing.
"You can always make whatever it is you're cooking into something special," said Jaime Richardson, who offers cooking tips and recipes on her Web site
She recently offered a cooking class at Ogden's For Your Kitchen store. The class, "Brighten Up Your Table: New Twists on Your Old Favorites," featured five Thanksgiving side dishes created by Richardson, who lives in Mapleton.
"They're mostly just new ideas to replace some of your old recipes, and get away from canned cranberry sauce and do something a little bit nicer," she said. "Thanksgiving is really a special time."
Cranberry Sauce with Maple and Orange Zest
12-ounce bag (3 cups) cranberries
Juice and zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup real maple syrup
Put all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring just to a boil, lower heat and cook on a very low simmer for 15 minutes. Cranberries should pop. Transfer to a bowl to cool completely, then refrigerate.
Sophistimom's tip: Simmering at a very low temperature is key to maintaining the cranberries' beautiful color.
Baguette Stuffing With Sausage and Apricots
1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage
1/2 pound hot Italian sausage
1 onion, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 cup dried apricots, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
1 baguette, torn in pieces
3 cups homemade chicken stock, or low sodium canned
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning (optional)
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons butter
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large skillet set over low heat, break up sausage. Add onion and celery, and cook until sausage is cooked through and vegetables are tender. Stir in apricots. Stir in herbs and cook until fragrant.
In a large bowl, combine cooked onion mixture, torn baguette, salt, pepper and poultry seasoning. Stir in egg. Place in a 13-by-9-inch baking pan, dot with butter, and bake for 25 minutes, or until heated through and golden brown on the edges.
If you're going to make this stuffing ahead of time, all ingredients must be at room temperature or cold before stirring in the egg.
Sophistimom's trick for stuffing that tastes like it was cooked in the bird: When the turkey comes out of the oven and is resting, pour 1/2 cup (or more) of the basting liquid over the top of the stuffing, then bake.
Winter Squash Bisque
2 tablespoons butter
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Two 14-ounce cans winter squash puree (butternut squash or pumpkin)
1/2 large ripe pear, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup apple cider or white grape juice
2 cups homemade chicken stock
1 large sprig of fresh sage
Salt to taste
2-4 tablespoons heavy cream
Over low heat, melt butter in the bottom of a large pot. Saute shallot in butter until tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in spices and cook for a minute more.
Stir in squash, pear pieces, juice and chicken stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and toss in sage. Simmer for 10 minutes, or until the pear pieces are tender.
Remove sprig of sage. Add salt (about 1/2 teaspoon, but amount varies depending on the stock used). Stir in cream. Serve.
Pumpkin Crîme Brêlée
1 1/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
5 egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated or superfine sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons superfine sugar
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. In a medium saucepan, set over medium heat, bring cream, milk, spices, and vanilla to almost boiling. Reduce heat to very low.
In a tea kettle or medium saucepan, start heating about a quart of water to boil.
In a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip egg yolks, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, and brown sugar until thick and light yellow.
With mixer on low speed, slowly pour a cup of the hot cream mixture into the egg mixture. Mix until well incorporated, then add back into the cream mixture. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Stir in pumpkin puree.
Place a strainer over a large bowl and strain mixture. Use a wooden spoon to press it through.
Pour custard into a 9-inch ceramic dish. Place dish into a roasting pan lined with a kitchen towel. Place in oven, and carefully pour boiling water into the roasting pan until it comes about halfway up the sides of the baking dish. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes, or until the custard looks almost set. There will be some movement when you jiggle the pan, but it should not be liquid in the middle.
Remove from oven, and allow to cool in the roasting pan for 30 minutes. Remove custard from the roasting pan, and let cool completely on a cooling rack. Refrigerate until well-chilled, about 2-3 hours.
Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of superfine sugar evenly over the surface of the custard. Using a kitchen torch, or a propane blow torch from the hardware store, carefully melt the sugar until it caramelizes and hardens into candy. Refrigerate for 30 minutes more. Serve.
Sophistimom's tip: Don't heat the egg mixture too quickly, or the eggs will take on a scrambled consistency.
Cornbread Pudding
This recipe is based on a traditional dish, but Richardson says it's especially good because it's simple and gluten-free.
1 1/2 cups water
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup heavy cream
5 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium saucepan, boil 1 1/2 cups of water. Take off heat. Whisk in cornmeal, salt, butter and sugar.
In a separate bowl, whisk together cream, eggs and nutmeg. Add cream mixture to cornmeal and whisk until smooth. Pour into buttered soufflé dish or deep pie plate. Bake 60 to 80 minutes, until golden brown.
Jaime Richardson will return to Ogden in December with a new set of ideas.
"Streamline Your Holiday Baking With Icebox and Bar Cookies" starts at 12:30 p.m. Dec. 12 at For Your Kitchen in the Newgate Mall, at 3651 Wall Ave., Ogden. There is a $20 class fee; preregistration is required. For more information, call (801) 866-1111.

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