There is just something about the holidays. Family gathers around a dinner table with mouth-watering dishes, ready to stuff their faces. It’s about ‘slaving’ in a kitchen for hours upon hours, the way your grandma used to do it. It’s about putting your love into the food, awaiting that moment when the first forkful hits their palate. And then you feel this sigh of relief when you hear “Ooooooh, this is so good” or “Wow, how’d you make this, again??”
A dear friend of mine hosted a dinner party recently inspired by the holidays. I was the cook for the evening, of course, and a few of us just got together for some food, wine & laughs. Since we had just gained 10lbs. due to Thanksgiving, I decided to still keep the hearty flavors and dishes, but portioned it all just right.
For appetizer we had Truffle Macaroni & Cheese balls. There were very delicious. Wonderfully crunchy on the outside, light and cheesy on the inside. My only complaint would be that I might have enjoyed some sort of dipping sauce on the side, but I can always consider that in the future.
For entree, we had a Oven-Roasted chicken breast. Simply seasoned with Sea Salt & Black Peppercorn Medley (I really love that stuff. Black, White, Green & Pink Peppercorns. Coriander & Allspice), and rubbed with a little unsalted butter :: The sauce on top is a Basil-Mint Cranberry sauce (my very own recipe). Ridiculously good. Recipe for it will follow at the end of post :: As a side dish, I baked some Puff Pastry, hollowed out the middle of them with a spoon, and piped in some velvety Sweet Potato mash with hints of Cinnamon, Nutmeg, & Allspice. SO SO good.
And because we cannot leave out dessert, I made a very creamy Pumpkin Pie with chopped walnuts under the filling for texture. Served a la mode, of course! Mmm..
Basil-Mint Cranberry Sauce
1 Package DRIED Cranberries
1/2 cup Orange Juice
1/2 cup Water
1/3 cup Red Wine
4oz. Apricot Apple sauce (apple alone is fine!)
Pinch of Cinnamon
Pinch of Nutmeg
Pinch of Allspice
Sea Salt, to taste
Black Peppercorn Medley, to taste
Fresh Basil, chopped
Fresh Mint, chopped
Place the dried cranberries in a sauce pan, cover with the Orange Juice, Water, & Red Wine. Turn the stove on and bring to a boil (this will help reconstitute the dried berries). Stir in the Apricot Apple sauce. Add all your dry seasonings, let simmer for a few minutes to let all the flavors come together. Right before turning off the stove, add the fresh basil & mint and stir. Then, ready to serve. Enjoy! :)