As the holiday season approaches, we all start to wonder how we are going to whip up a fabulous feast for the many festive holiday season get-togethers.These meals can be elaborate affairs that take hours to prepare, from planning and picking out recipes to actually cooking the food. To make things a bit easier, we turned to Jane Green, Westport resident and author of twelve best-selling books. This prolific writer has just completed a 5,000-word prequel to her upcoming novel Family Pictures. Please visit Biore's Facebook page to download the story.
Though she's famous as a novelist, Jane is also a passionate cook and wonderful hostess. Her latest book, Promises to Keep, features recipes that are incredibly easy but, she notes, "look as if you have slaved over a hot stove for hours.” Luckily for us, Jane graciously shared some her favorite holiday recipes—exclusively and handpicked for Westport magazine readers. Enjoy, and with all the time you save, don't forget to read Jane's prequel!
Cauliflower Soup with Pecorino Romano & Truffle oil
2 ½ slices apple wood-smoked bacon, chopped
1 cup chopped onion
¾ cup chopped celery
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cauliflower head, chopped
3 ½ cups chicken broth
1 ¾” size cube of Pecorino Romano cheese, plus addition shavings for servings
½ cup heavy cream truffle oil, white or black to drizzle.
Saute bacon until golden brown, add onion, celery, then garlic. Cover and cook gentle until all is soft, around 7 minutes. Add cauliflower, broth, cheese. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer and cook until tender, around 20 minutes.
Puree soup in batches. Add cream and salt and pepper. If too thick, add more broth to thin. Sprinkle with cheese shavings and drizzle with truffle oil to serve.
Roasted Tenderloin of Pork with Fig, Prosciutto and Sage Stuffing
1 pork loin, around 1 ½ lbs
½ stick butter
6 dried figs
4 slices prosciutto
1 clove garlic
8 fresh sage leaves or about 1 teaspoon if dried seasoning
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons honey
Preheat oven to 350.
Cut a pocket along the length of the pork loin, almost going through to the other side, but being careful not to (think of the Muppets and you will get the idea).
In a processor pulse the butter, figs, prosciutto, garlic, sage, salt and pepper until a paste forms. Stuff the cut loin with the paste, and tie string around to keep it together.
Mix mustard honey and salt and pepper into a paste, spread over the meat. Drizzle with oil and cook until tender, approximately 45minutes.
Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle.
Frankly, I usually use a mix for the gingerbread which makes the whole thing easier and is still utterly and sinfully delicious. Should you wish to make gingerbread from scratch, ingredients are as follows:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup dark molasses
1/2 cup apple juice
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 cup chopped crystallized ginger
Butter and flour a 10" Springform pan. Heat oven to 350°.
Stir together flour, cinnamon, cloves, ground ginger, baking soda, and salt in a container.
In a large bowl, mix sugar with oil, juice, molasses, eggs, and fresh ginger in a large bowl. Mix in crystallized ginger. Stir in flour mixture. Pour into prepared pan. Then bake for an hour. Cool this for ten minutes, then remove from the pan and cool completely.
Pumpkin Custard Ingredients
3 cups half-and-half
6 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup molasses
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
½ cup crushed gingersnaps
3 cups puréed pumpkin, or about 1 1/2 cans
Scald the half & half in a heavy saucepan (which means take it to the edge of boiling, them remove from heat).
Beat eggs, sugar, molasses, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Mix in pumpkin and half-and-half.
When it is smooth put in buttered baking dish which you then put into a bain-marie: put dish into larger baking dish, and fill larger dish with hot water to about 1" below the rim of the custard dish. Bake this at 325° for 50 minutes and start to check it. You want a set, firm custard and a knife inserted into the center should come out clean. Cool and refrigerate overnight.
To assemble your trifle whip:
One quart heavy cream with 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, then fold in 1/4 cup crystallized ginger, ½ cup of crushed gingersnaps, and set aside.
Spoon 1/2 of the Pumpkin Custard into a glass or crystal trifle bowl and layer 1/2 of the gingerbread over that and 1/2 of the whipped cream over that. Do it again. Top the final layer of whipped cream gingersnaps, or gingersnap crumbs, and, if you like, drizzle with Calvados.