Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Butter

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by Megan Martin

butter5Lately, we have spent a lot of time contemplating the ways to explain Thanksgiving to Dane. We are diving into the stories of Pilgrims and Indians, but what I deeply want to convey to her this year, are the two sides of thankfulness - to give thanks for what we receive, while also finding joy in giving, so that we may create thankfulness in the hearts of others. I tend to teach her in ways that are tangible, so when I thought of our activities this week, the Thanksgiving feast came to mind. 

"Would you like to make something for our Thanksgiving feast? Something all your own, that you can share with everyone?"  I asked her. 

To which she replied with excitement, "Of course! What can I make?"

"Butter!" I told her.

After all, butter is the binding creaminess passed from hand to hand and across the table with love. With each lick of butter shared, Dane may understand the heart-swell that comes with bringing contentment to others. Can't you just see hand-fulls of children shaking jars of fresh butter together on Thanksgiving Day!?

Thomas Keller explores Thanksgiving leftovers

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by Thomas Keller

From the LA Times

stuffingThe annual Thanksgiving feast is a time when home cooks enjoy pulling out all the stops and preparing copious amounts of tradition-loaded dishes to share with friends and loved ones. This excitement often leads to preparing enough food to satisfy roughly twice the number of guests you plan on hosting. But that's not necessarily bad, because it has spawned another equally beloved culinary tradition: Thanksgiving leftovers.

If the traditional Thanksgiving feast is inherently American, then the ongoing use of the surplus it generates is really a nod to the custom universal to good cooks, of making the most out of each ingredient's every part.

Experimentation and exploration are the true loves of any successful cook. This year I challenge you to move beyond your typical leftover-based dishes and to consider broader possibilities. Don't let anything go to waste, not the vegetables or the stuffing or the bones and trimmings of leftover turkey. This doesn't mean repeating the same old things over and over. Use this as an opportunity to push yourself beyond comfortable dishes and explore new flavors. And look afresh at the familiar and see what new forms it might take.

These recipes provide you with a starting point. They are ideas that take into consideration what kinds of leftovers you might have on hand and what kinds of meals you plan to serve.

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Make Ahead Turkey (Thanksgiving) Gravy

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by Cathy Pollak

easygravyContrary to popular belief, you don't need a whole turkey to make gravy. However, you must slow-roast turkey to get good gravy.

I have to admit I have witnessed some pretty seasoned cooks have complete breakdowns at Thanksgiving when it comes time to gravy making. There is just too much going on at that moment; the bird is out of the oven, they are trying to deglaze the pan, the side dishes are almost ready or are getting cold, there are too many people around...let's face it, gravy anxiety is real.

However, all of this pandemonium can be eliminated with a little planning. The secret is turkey wings from the grocery store. Every store has them and they are so cheap. When you roast the wings with celery, onions and garlic, you have the makings of a perfect turkey stock which you will make into the perfect gravy. This can be done months ahead and frozen, taking out the stock when you need it.

On Thanksgiving you can make the gravy while the bird is in the oven as opposed to when it's out, which many of you know is a very stressful activity.

Classic Sage Bread Stuffing for a Crowd

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by James Moore

classicstuffingThis recipe is a combination of technique and ingredients from Cook’s Illustrated and Joy of Cooking, which I suppose now makes it my own. There are tons of recipes with exotic flavors and ingredients, but if you’re looking for that classic Thanksgiving stuffing, this is the recipe to use. Drying the bread before making the stuffing is an important step for texture and flavor.

If you plan ahead, you can just leave the bread cubes out on the counter for a few days to become stale. I usually just spread them out on baking sheets and dry in a 300-degree oven for 30 to 60 minutes. Let the bread cool before using in the stuffing. You can substitute three 14-ounce bags of plain dried bread cubes for the homemade dried bread cubes, but you'll need to increase the amount of broth to 7-8 cups.

This recipe can easily be halved and baked in a 13 by 9-inch baking dish for a smaller crowd.

Thanksgiving with Stuffing

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by Kitty Kaufman

stuffingNo matter what you say, my mother made the best Thanksgiving. It was not at noon or at four; we ate at dinner time when it was dark. Stuffing was my favorite part and still is unless you make creamed onions. When it's my assignment I use this recipe. One reason it doesn't taste quite like hers is that I don't have old bread. She calls it turkey stuffing but that can't be right because she never made turkey, only capon. My father did not eat turkey and nobody knew from brine.

Esther Kaufman's Long Island Simple Stuffing: 8 cups stale white bread cubed, no crusts; 1 cup minced onion, 1 tablespoon salt, ½ cup butter, 1 cup diced celery with leaves; parsley, sage, thyme and pepper. Dry out the bread at 325°F but don't let it brown. Cook the onion in butter, add the seasonings. Add the celery, cook 3-5 minutes. Pour over the bread, mixing well, and stuff the bird. It was perfectly okay to stuff . . . then (after seat belts and before helmets were fitted at birth).

Thanksgiving for Two

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by Lisa Dinsmore

thanksgiving tableDon't feel sorry for us. We prefer it this way. My husband and I are both transplants. He's from Chicago. I'm from Massachusetts. Not Boston. Yes, there is a state beyond the Beantown borders. We have both lived in Los Angeles for over 20-years, longer than either of us lived in our home states. We think that makes us honorary Californians, but am not sure these days that's something to brag about. At least we still have the best weather, great wine and the option to go from surfing to skiing in the same day. Well, not for us in particular, but it's still a cool thing to be able to say.

Neither of us has blood relatives here. We are what we like to call "child-free." However, we do have family. Friends who mean just as much because we've shared each other's lives for the past 20 years. Kids we've watched grow up who call us Aunt and Uncle, which is a role we can handle. Some years they take us in, allowing us to bask in the glow of the holidays without all the strum and drang that would accompany actually spending time with our own parents and siblings. Even when there's drama, since it has nothing to do with us, it's more amusing than annoying and certainly never affects our ability to put away more than our caloric share of the meal.

We are in demand because we bring good wine, eat everything - if you're not cooking you can't complain about other people's holiday traditions - and don't expect to be entertained. We are boring, which is just what those who are dealing with family want at the holiday table. We are the Thanksgiving equivalent of the bomb-squad, the guests whose mere presence diffuses the tension for another day. It's much harder to fight in front of guests. God forbid there's a scene at the table. How embarrassing would that be?

Butternut Squash Bread Pudding with Dried Cranberries

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by Joseph Erdos

breadpuddingEver since I first tried it, bread pudding has become one of my favorite homey desserts. Growing up I never knew it even existed. In my household, old bread was made into breadcrumbs not dessert (blame it on eastern European frugality). If you like French toast then there's no reason you wouldn't like bread pudding—they have similar preparations but with different cooking methods. I actually love it more than French toast, which is hard to say for someone who, as a kid, demanded his mom make French toast for breakfast every Saturday morning.

There's something special about the soft, moist cubes of bread in this dessert that makes me go weak in the knees. When I traveled through England during college, I couldn't help noticing bread and butter pudding (or spotted dick as they commonly call it) on almost every restaurant menu—and I always ordered it without restraint. It always came drenched in custard, which is the traditional way to serve it.

World's Best Pumpkin Pie

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by James Moore

bestpumpkinpie2There are tons of pumpkin pie recipes, and in November all of the food shows and magazines are filled with both classic and innovative recipes. I think I’ve tried all of them – most started with canned pumpkin, and then the ingredients vary - some use heavy cream, others swear by evaporated milk, some are heavily spiced with cinnamon and cloves.

I love pumpkin pie, but have never found what I would call the BEST pumpkin pie until recently. I was watching an episode of America’s Test Kitchen (the leader in test perfected recipes) called “An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving”. The ingredients and the method were quite original and I couldn’t wait to try it.

There are a few extra steps, but well worth it. If you don’t want to make your own crust, you can use a Pillsbury Ready Made crust. Feel free to alter the amount of cinnamon (I used Penzey's Extra Fancy Vietnamese Cassia Cinnamon Click here for Penzey's), but the fresh ginger is key to the pie’s flavor.

Traditional Pecan Pie with a Gluten Free Pie Crust

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by Susan Salzman

pie pecan smI have been an avid reader of Cooks Illustrated Magazine since 1980. In the November/December 1995 issue they had Perfect Pecan Pie – 3 ways. A traditional, a triple chocolate chunk, and a maple-pecan.

Of course, I had to try each version. The chocolate, although good, it was too sweet. The traditional was my favorite and remains my favorite to this day.  The original recipe calls for corn syrup. Over the last few years I have become hyper aware of what is going in not only my body, but my kids bodies as well. Soda is off limits, as are “air heads” or any other type of candy of that nature, no pre-packaged cookies, and making my own condiments, sauces, and marinades is a weekly activity.

Thanksgiving is upon us and Thanksgiving isn’t Thanksgiving without my pecan pie. Yet, how was I going to avoid using corn syurp in this dessert? Then I remembered a conversation I had had with my friend Carrie and she discovered that if one cooks maple syrup to 225°F, it becomes a good alternative to corn syrup. I gave it a try.

Thanksgiving Tips

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by Amy Sherman

turkeyLast month I cooked a Thanksgiving dinner and a Christmas dinner. The only thing missing was a crowd around the table. Why the feast? I was developing recipes for Roast Turkey, Brown Sugar and Mustard Baked Ham, Maple Mashed Sweet Potatoes, Lightened Green Bean Casserole, a Holiday Salad (with pomegranate seeds and pepitas) and Harvest Apple Stuffing. I also created some recipes using leftover ham and turkey and for a few fun things you can make for the holidays to give as gifts like Peppermint Bark and Chocolate Chip Cookies in a Jar. The recipes were for Grocery Outlet and will be featured in a brochure for customers. 

Having never hosted my own holiday dinners for 10+ people, I learned a lot! I shopped for as much of the dishes as possible at Grocery Outlet, after doing my planning and creating shopping lists. Of course making lists of what you need to buy is important, but being open to swapping out ingredients if you find something delicious and on sale is a good idea too. I was planning to use dried cranberries in the salad but found pomegranates were a better choice at the time. 

When it comes to holiday meals, the main thing is to have an enjoyable time with your family and guests. If that means buying a pie instead of baking one, so be it! Concentrate on putting your energy into the things that matter most to you don't make yourself crazy trying to do everything. Most importantly? Have fun!

Beautify the Bird: Perfect Roast Turkey

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by Lisa McRee

russparsons.jpgI’m grateful for many things at Thanksgiving– family, friends, health, light traffic on the 405…all the usual suspects.  But as the person who hosts that gathering year after year, I am also grateful for this technique for a perfect dry-brine roast turkey that makes my old wet-brine birds seem spongy, bland and far too much work by comparison.

The method was developed by one of my favorite San Francisco chefs, Judy Rodgers. In her 2002 The Zuni Cafe Cookbook, Rodgers goes into great detail on why salting meats and poultry days ahead of the actual cooking promotes juiciness, texture and enhances flavor…flying in the face of what, until then, had been the conventional wisdom that the salting of meats should be done only at the last minute. Per her instruction, I tried it with dozens of dishes–from chickens to chops to pot roasts–and, in every instance, the technique worked beautifully.  But it never occurred to me to use it on the all important Thanksgiving turkey until The Los Angeles Times’ Russ Parson, one of my favorite food writers, declared it the definitive way to beautify the bird. And, boy, was Russ right.

Recipe of the Week: Cranberry Chutney Recipe

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by Marie Coolman
 

cranberry-apple-chutney.jpg2 golden delicious apples chopped (2 1/2 cups)
1½ cups cranberries, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 medium onion, minced
1 tablespoon crystalized ginger
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Mix all ingredients in medium saucepan.  Bring to boil. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally until apples tender and most liquid absorbed (about 30 minutes).

Cool to room temperature. Jar, and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

 

The Best Post-Thanksgiving Comfort Food: Turkey Dumpling Stew

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by David Latt

turkeystew.jpgUsually on Thanksgiving between 20-25 people come over for dinner. This year we had a smaller group. With 10, we had time to talk and there wasn't quite as much work getting the meal ready. Out of habit, though, we bought the same size turkey we always buy, a 25 pounder. So we assumed we'd have a lot of food left over, enough for several days of sandwiches.

When we looked in the refrigerator on Friday, we were surprised that we had very little cranberry sauce, almost no stuffing, and only enough white meat for a couple of sandwiches. But, happily, we did have a lot of dark meat and almost a gallon of turkey stock we'd made Thanksgiving night.

For our day after Thanksgiving dinner, I didn't want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen and I wanted a good comfort meal. Dumplings with anything is always great, but with richly flavored turkey stew, there's nothing more satisfying.

Would You Like Beetroot with That?

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by Alison Grambs

texting.jpg“WHAT DO YOU MEAN, NO TURKEY???” I have never sent an angrier text in my life. Ping!

“We are having my famous Native American pumpkin chili,” Mother just texted back. “You liked it last year.”

No. I did not like it last year!   In fact, I did not like her famous Native American pumpkin chili soooo much last year that I had politely excused myself from the table, raced into the kitchen under the guise of needing a glass of water, and promptly shoveled the chili into the family dog’s bowl. If I recall correctly, even the family dog, who eats her own poop, wanted nothing to do with Mother’s famous Native American pumpkin chili. She wanted turkey.

“But it won’t be Thanksgiving w/o turkey!” I am texting back to my mom now with trembling hands.

Ping! Snotty response? “Check your history. Turkey has very little to do with the “First Thanksgiving.”

Top Ten Ways to Not Lose Your Mind on Thanksgiving Day

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by Alison Wonderland Tucker

funny-thanksgiving-clipart-4.jpg10. Brine the bird. It’s easy to do and can metamorphose your turkey from tasteless and dry to juicy and scrumptious.  For an 18-20 pound bird, line very large (about 16-quart) bowl with two 30-gallon plastic bags, one inside the other. Rinse turkey inside and out. Place turkey in plastic-lined bowl. Combine 7 quarts water, 2 cups coarse salt, 1 cup packed brown sugar, 1 cup mild molasses, 1 bunch thyme, and 1/2 bunch sage in large bowl or pot. Stir until salt and sugar dissolve. Mix in ice cubes. Pour brine over turkey in plastic bags. Gather tops of bags together, eliminating air space above brine; seal bags. Refrigerate turkey in brine 18 to 20 hours. But WAIT! Whatever you do, don’t brine a Kosher bird for he has already been brined and will become too salty if you do it again.

9. If your husband, father, brother, uncle or neighbor wants to fry the turkey, let him. Nothing makes a man happier than to wrestle a turkey into submission via hot oil. I couldn’t care less if the bird was fried or roasted as long as the turkey tastes good and stays moist. If it keeps them out of the kitchen for a while, they should absolutely be encouraged to fry, fry, fry.

 

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