Posts Tagged ‘Thanksgiving’

Homemade cranberry sauce in a white bowl with a vintage spoon surrounded by Christmas decor

I still remember, with some embarrassment, the first time I made homemade cranberry sauce. I was not yet engaged but having Christmas dinner, all the same, with my now husband’s parents and extended family. After Christmas morning mass, everyone descended on the home of my future in-laws, Dan and Mary Rose, for breakfast, present opening, and, much later in the day, supper. While the men watched the news and sport on T.V., the women retired to the kitchen to make the Christmas dinner {with much laughter and chat}.

Being a guest and wanting to make a good impression, I asked if there was anything I could do to help. Mary Rose replied, “you can make the cranberry sauce”.  In my innocence, I thought that’ll be an easy job. ThenI asked for a can opener. “Why would you need a can opener?”, she asked. “You know”, I said, “to make the cranberry sauce.”

For a moment the room went silent and I could feel my cheeks turn a funny shade of pink. Growing up, the only cranberry sauce I had ever eaten came from a tin can. It slid out nicely, if you opened the can at both ends. To serve, you sliced it neatly on the plate.

My future mother-in-law cocked her head and looked at me for a moment. Then, without missing a beat, she took a bag of Ocean Spray cranberries off the counter, a bag I had not seen, and handed them to me. In the nicest of ways she said, “we make them this way in Ireland”.

And with that, my future mother-in-law and my future sisters-in-law handed me a pot, a big spoon, the sugar, a weigh scale, and everything else I needed to turn American cranberries into an Irish side dish. Nary a word was said about my misstep. Those warm women took me into their hearts and homes that day. I am forever thankful for their love and gentle guidance through the years and for teaching me to make {from scratch!} this very delicious cranberry sauce. Enjoy!

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Makes about 2 cups


1 cup water

1 cup sugar

340g/12oz fresh cranberries


1. In a medium saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved.

2. Add the cranberries and bring everything back to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally. You can use the back of a spoon to pop the cranberries if you prefer your cranberry sauce smooth.

3. Remove from the heat and pour the sauce into a bowl, cover and allow to cool completely before putting into the refrigerator.

Additional Notes, Related Articles & Credits:

* For additional flavour, add a cinnamon stick or slices of fresh ginger to the water and simmer with the cranberries. Remove before serving.

** If you like your cranberry sauce boozy, stir in 1 tablespoon of rum, brandy, or whiskey to the cranberry sauce right after taking it off the hob {stove}.

*** For a citrusy zing, Add the peel of an orange to the water and simmer with the cranberries. Remove the peel before serving.

**** The American cranberry sauce I remember from my childhood from the good folks over at kitchn.com.

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DSC_0664 DSC_0666 DSC_0663There are many ways to cook a turkey but in our Irish home there is only one way to make stuffing…my mother-in-law’s way!

As a young bride, I tried for years {ten to be exact} to impress my lovely Irish husband with my stuffing recipes on Thanksgiving and Christmas day.

Despite his appreciation of my attempts, every year I knew that I had not achieved what I was hoping for…my husband’s nod of culinary approval. Somehow my mother-in-law’s recipe was always better than mine.

Finally, one year, I threw in the towel and quit trying. I called Mama, my husband’s mother, and asked her to teach me how to make her recipe.

I still remember the delight I felt when, at long last, my husband tasted “my stuffing” and declared, “It’s as good as my mum’s!”  So chuffed I was to have finally succeeded. That year, and every year since, I have told this story to everyone at our holiday table.

Today I share it, the story and the recipe, with you. Mama McGuire’s Irish Stuffing is so ridiculously simple…and so ridiculously good. I am sure you will thank me once you’ve tried it. Enjoy!

Mama McGuire’s Irish Stuffing

Serves Eight


32oz batch loaf bread (white sliced pan)

16 tablespoons diced cold butter

1 cup chopped parsley

2 tablespoons Italian herbs

3 small onions, chopped finely

Salt and pepper to taste


1. Pulse the bread finely in a food processor and pour into a large bowl.

2. Stir in the chopped onion, parsley, and Italian herbs.

3. With your fingertips, blend in the diced cold butter. Mix until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs.

4. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

5. Refrigerate until ready to stuff into turkey.

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Michael Chiarello's Apple ClafoutisThe holiday of Thanksgiving does not exist in Ireland. On what is the fourth Thursday in November, adults all across the country go to work, kids go to school, and homemakers go about the business of homemaking. But for those of us with American roots, Thanksgiving in Ireland is more than just a “regular day”…it is THE day we long to reach across the Atlantic and touch a bit of home.

Yesterday morning our little family began the day with a celebratory {but light} Apple Clafoutis for breakfast, courtesy of Michael Chiarello. For those not familiar with him, Michael is an award-winning American chef and restauranteur. His hugely popular Bottega Restaurant in Yountville, California (Napa Valley) serves up rustic, inventive, delicious food. The decor, which in my {humble} opinion is just as important as the food, is sexy and intimate, and not at all claustrophobic. Note to all you single-but-dating travel bugs…Bottega would be an ideal place to pop the question, if you can get a reservation!

Anyway, I digress, the point is yesterday morning I wanted to give my family something light with a bit of sweetness…something reflecting the mood of the holiday but not heavy. After all, we were going to eat a HUGE meal when everyone finally got home.

Michael Chiarello’s Apple Clafoutis, which is technically a dessert, was the perfect dish for our Thanksgiving breakfast. Michael says on his own website that this dish, “is a French-country farmers favorite”. True or not, it certainly will be in our Irish home for years to come. I hope you will enjoy it too. Belated Happy Thanksgiving to you.

Michael Chiarello’s Apple Clafoutis

Serves: 6



1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1/3 cup plus 2 teaspoons granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pinch of salt

3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk

1 cup milk


1/4 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups peeled and diced Granny Smith apple (1/2-inch dice; about 1 large apple)

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 teaspoon grappa, Calvados, or other fruit brandy (I substituted apple juice)

Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

1/3 cup crème fraîche


1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF.

2. Make the batter: Sift the flour, granulated sugar, cinnamon and salt into a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, egg yolk, and milk until well blended. Add about one-third of the egg mixture to the flour mixture and whisk to form a paste, then gradually incorporate the remaining egg mixture. Whisk until well blended.

3. Cook the apples: With the tip of a knife, scrape the vanilla bean seeds from the pod into an ovenproof 10-inch cast-iron or stainless-steel skillet. Add the pod and the butter and cook over moderately high heat until the butter turns nut brown. Add the apple and cook, stirring often, for about 3 minutes to soften them. Remove the vanilla bean pod and discard. Sprinkle the apples with the granulated sugar, reduce the heat to moderately low, and cook until the apples are about three-fourths done and the sugar has melted and is coating the apples in a light syrup. Add the grappa or other brandy, swirl the pan briefly, then spread the fruit evenly in the pan.

4. Remove the pan from the heat. Working quickly, pour the batter through a sieve evenly over the fruit. Bake until the edges of the clafoutis are puffed and browned and the center is set, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven.

5. Put some confectioners’ sugar in a sieve and generously dust the surface of the clafoutis. Serve warm directly from the pan with a dollop of crème fraîche.

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