The Cookstr 10: Ten Recipes for Thanksgiving
Let’s talk turkey…and stuffing, and gravy, and sweet potatoes and pies. Is there any holiday that’s more about the food than Thanksgiving? Many people spend more time planning this particular dinner than any other meal of the year. Perhaps you are one of those people who obsessively focus on roasting the perfect turkey: moist meat, crisp skin, and of course the smoothest, lushest gravy to top it off. Or you might be in the camp that feels like turkey is kind of the backdrop–the real show is the side dishes. Or maybe the meal itself is just an elaborate prelude to the true moment of glory: the pies and other desserts. For us it’s like a game of Twister, with hands and feet planted firmly in all of the camps (left foot: mashed potatoes!).
A word about thanks. Guess what yesterday was? Our first birthday! Cookstr went live on November 18, 2008, and we wish we could thank each and every one of you individually for visiting us, cooking from the recipes, reading the newsletters, making comments, chiming in on Facebook, and just being one of our early card-carrying members. We couldn’t have done it without you!
But wait, there’s more! Guess what we got you for Thanksgiving? Your very own Cookstr experts to answer all of your Thanksgiving cooking and baking questions! That’s right. From now until Thanksgiving, if you have a question just post it to the comments section of the Thanksgiving post on The Cookstr Blog; renowned cookbook authors Mary Goodbody, Mollie Katzen, Diane Morgan, Rick Rodgers, and Chris Styler are all on deck to answer your holiday head-scratchers. From brining to pie crusts, bring on your dilemmas.
SHARING YOUR STRENGTH
This is always a great time of year to take a moment, reflect upon what we have, and do something to make sure that everyone’s table has something good to eat. Share Our Strength, the nation’s largest hunger relief organization, is working all year round to help solve the problem of hunger in America, and are committed to ending childhood hunger by 2015. We can all help. Please consider clicking here to donate a dollar (or more), and making a difference in someone’s life this Thanksgiving.
1. Dave Lieberman Butternut Squash and Pear Soup. Either served in bowls at the table, or passed around in mugs while people hang out in the living room, a soup is a nice way to start your feast. It also keeps your hungry relatives from continuously asking when dinner is going to be ready. Make this ahead, and reheat (add the pear garnish at the end).
2. Diane Morgan’s Brined Turkey. Why brine? Because it produces, without fail, a moist and flavorful turkey every time. Most of us are intimidated by the concept, but brining requires nothing more than boiling water with salt, sugar, and spices; cooling the mixture; then soaking the turkey in the brine for 12 to 24 hours before cooking it.
3. Myra Goodman’s Make Ahead Gravy. Getting a turkey dinner on the table can be stressful enough without having to make gravy at the last minute. Even though this gravy can be prepared in advance, it’s deeply colored and full of flavor, thanks to the roasted vegetables and stock that form the gravy base. For even more flavor, reduce the pan drippings from the turkey and add them to the gravy just before serving.
4. Rick Rodgers’ Cornbread Stuffing with Dried Fruits and Hazelnuts. You can get all jiggy with your stuffing…or you can stick to the basic flavors that really hit those holiday notes. Cranberry and sage in the cornbread provide the foundation, the toasted hazelnuts add nuttiness and crunch, and chopped dried fruit provides sweetness, texture, and a bit of tanginess.
5. Sarah Leah-Chase’s Whole Cranberry Sauce. This cooked, tart version of the quintessential Thanksgiving condiment is laced with port and crunchy toasted pecan halves.
6. Barbara Kafka and Chris Styler’s Creamy Brussels Sprouts and Pearl Onions. Are you still feeling hesitant about Brussels sprouts? Are you really going to let a childhood memory of an overcooked vegetable prevent you from rediscovering these cabbagey little bites? These are a lovely way to introduce a little green to a meal that threatens to become very, well, beige.
7. Patricia Wells’ Potato and Celeriac Gratin. Celeriac, also called celery root, has a mild celery-like flavor and elevates this potato gratin into something a little more sophisticated, but no less comforting. A touch of cream, a hint of garlic, and a healthy dose of freshly grated cheese will make this casserole one of the most popular offerings on the buffet table.
8. Sheila Lukins’ Whipped Sweet Potatoes. Pretty, fluffy whipped sweet potatoes. And, wonderfully, they can easily be prepared ahead and reheated. A bit of brown sugar, some fresh orange juice and nutmeg round out the flavors.
9. Jerry Traunfield’s Mushroom Marjoram Bread Pudding. This is like a glorious stuffing and savory mushroom custard in one. It is perfect if you’re looking for an out-of-the-ordinary side dish, and it’s also totally vegetarian, so for those skipping the bird it serves nicely as a main dish. To make it ahead, bake the casserole when you first mix the ingredients together and reheat it before serving.
10. Jean Anderson Old-Fashioned Southern Pecan Pie. We’re bonkers for pie. As you probably know, the last newsletter was devoted to pies. But this being Thanksgiving and all, there is always room for one more.