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Bringing new dishes to Thanksgiving table

Roberta DesBouillons
Submitted to The Union

Dear Roberta: Unbelievably enough, Thanksgiving is upon us, and I would like to spice up my table with a few new dishes, any ideas? Also, what are your thoughts on brining vs. not brining the turkey?

Well, somehow the holiday sneaks up every year, and this year, it feels like it really found the back door with the weather we have had. Here are a few dishes that my family enjoys, and hopefully yours will too.



When it comes to brining, I say absolutely YES! Brining adds flavor, but more importantly, it adds moisture to your bird.




Spiced Cranberries with Star Anise

4 whole allspice berries

2 whole star anise

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup (about 1 orange) orange juice

12 ounces fresh cranberries, rinsed

Zest strips from 1/2 orange

Gather allspice and star anise in a 4-inch square of cheesecloth and tie into a sachet.

In a medium pot over medium heat, combine sugar, orange juice, and 1/4 cup water.

Add sachet and cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar melts and liquid begins to bubble, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let steep for 10 minutes.

Return pot to stove over medium-high heat and add cranberries and zest. Cook until cranberries just begin to pop, about 7 minutes. Discard sachet. Transfer sauce to a medium serving container and refrigerate until chilled, 1 hour or up to three days

Pumpkin Soup

2 tablespoons canola or other mild-flavored vegetable oil

1 medium onion, coarsely chopped

4 cups homemade or low-sodium store-bought chicken or vegetable stock, plus more if needed

4 cups roasted pumpkin cubes (from about 2 pounds of raw pumpkin)

3 (about 3 1/2 pounds) sweet potatoes or jewel yams, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

1(15-ounce) jar whole peeled chestnuts, optional

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

3/4 teaspoons freshly ground white pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

1 1/2 cups half and half or milk, or more as needed

Roasted Pumpkin seeds, for garnish, optional

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.

Add onions and cook, stirring, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the stock, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, chestnuts (if using), salt, pepper and spices; simmer over medium heat until vegetables are tender, about 45 minutes.

Let cool slightly, add the half and half.

In batches, process mixture in a food processor or blender until very smooth (if soup is too thick, gradually add more half and half as needed).

Adjust seasoning if necessary. Just before serving, garnish with pumpkin seeds, if desired.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

California Cornbread

1 1/2 cup cornmeal

1/2 cup flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

3 eggs, well beaten

1 1/4 cup milk

1/3 cup melted butter

1/4 cup honey

1/2 cup currants

3 cloves minced garlic

1 teaspoon grated orange peel

1 cup corn

1/4 cup minced cilantro

Combine dry ingredients. Mix wet ingredients well and add to dry mix until moistened, lumps are OK.

Grease 10-inch cast iron skillet and bake at 400 for about 30 minutes or until firm in center.

Roberta DesBouillons is the in-house chef at Tess’ Kitchen Store in Grass Valley. Email questions to roberta.tesskitchen@gmail.com.


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