There are many delicious recipes that I, and you, have made over the years but we all have a few that we make over and over. Many special occasions are associated with memories of the foods served – pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, grilled burgers on the 4th of July, ham at Easter. Here are five more (plus a couple of bonus recipes) that I make frequently and have become part of my tradition.
Cranberry Chutney. This is a recipe that was given to me by a friend some forty years ago. The dish has gone on to be a family favorite. Being fond of cranberries I try new cranberry relish dishes all the time but this is the one I, and the rest of my family, return to time after time. Sweet spices like cinnamon and ginger, pineapple, raisins, and crunchy walnuts pleasantly compliment the unique flavor of the cranberries. This dish is simple to assemble and looks beautiful on the table. The recipe calls for a pound of cranberries, and in a sneaky way to raise prices, Ocean Spray, et al., have started packaging cranberries in twelve ounce packages. Don’t stint on the amount of cranberries – buy two or more bags – the amount of tart cranberries needs to balance the sweet ingredients. But take heart, with extra cranberries you can make Fantastic Raw Cranberry Relish. This is a relish that can, and should be, served year-round. I have made the dish using both fresh and frozen cranberries and it comes out delicious every time. This is a more savory dish than the chutney and works well whenever you want an acidic component with your meal. It is so good, I have been known to sneak spoonfuls of it from the fridge, late at night.
Lemon Pannacotta with Lemon Marmalade. Panna cottas are part of the custard family but are thickened with gelatin rather than egg. This makes for a somewhat lighter dessert and good for people wishing to avoid eggs. With the intense lemon flavor of the marmalade and the sweeter, but lemony, panna cotta you get a double dose of lemon and vanilla that make people say, wow, when they first taste it. This is not a difficult dish to make but requires making the marmalade a few hours or days ahead so that it can chill. And then the panna cotta needs several hours in the fridge as well so this is really a dessert that benefits from being made the day or evening before you intend to serve it. The recipe suggests that you invert and serve the panna cotta on a plate but I usually just serve it in the custard cups with a dollop of marmalade on top.
Smoked Salmon Hash with Chive Sour Cream – This is one of our all-time favorite dishes from Fine Cooking. We have served this dish for breakfasts, brunches, and even dinner. Make your Chive Sour Cream first (even the day before), so it has time for the flavors to blend. Take your time cutting the vegetables into a small dice, you want the ingredients to cook uniformly. Use a non-stick pan if available since the mixture tends to stick to the bottom of a conventional pan. Meanwhile, for a decadent addition to this dish, have a pot of water simmering and poach an egg or two to place on top of the finished hash. Wonderful!
Grilled Turkey Burgers. Here is a recipe that is healthy, tasty and kids love them. My brother says this is the best turkey burger he has ever eaten and specifically requests that I make them when I come to visit. Stay away from the low-fat, ground breast meat – it just doesn’t have enough flavor to stand up to the caramelized onion and other condiments. The burgers are topped with caramelized red onion that is sauteed in a little balsamic vinaigrette. You can, of course, use store-bought vinaigrette but if you want to make your own, here is an outstanding Balsamic Vinaigrette from Chef Bev Gannon’s, Hali’imaile General Store restaurant on Maui.
Ritz-Carlton Creamed Corn – Humble creamed corn rounds out my top ten. With cream, butter, and a little Parmesan cheese this dish tastes nothing like the stuff that comes out of a can. I cannot prepare a holiday meal without a specific request for creamed corn. This is prepared in a sauce pan on the stove, it can be done ahead of time and kept warm, and then placed into a serving dish and browned under the broiler for a few seconds. It’s absolutely addictive.