Thanksgiving

How to Handle the Sticky Situations and Prickly Guests at the Holiday Table

Thanksgiving etiquette tips. Who needs 'em? We all do! Whether you're hosting or joining someone else for Hanukkah, Thanksgiving or other big event types of dinners, it is that time of year when nerves can be sensitive and tempers sometimes short. Couple that with free-flowing booze and the potential for fireworks increases. We've all endured the rude comments, bad behavior, and even shouting matches that can ruin the dinner for everyone.

The best cure is a little preventive medicine. Here are some tips to help you avoid the dyspeptic dinner disasters. Whether you're a host or a guest, a brief review might help everyone relax and enjoy. Here are some tips for being a good guest, being a smart host.

"The more wine you drink, the more interesting your relatives become."  Josh Wesson on Talking with My Mouth Full 

1. If you are invited: Offer to bring something. If your host does not want additions to the menu, offer to bring wine, flowers or offer to help clean up after. Marron Glacé are lovely and won't ruin anyone's menu. Especially if you have dietary restrictions, offer to bring a dish that will be safe for you to eat and good enough for all to enjoy. More tips on handling food allergy issues here.

2. During the Thanksgiving day of feasting: Offer to pick up empty glasses or refresh people's drinks. Little things like that can help a lot when your host is probably minding the timing of all the last minute food preparations. If you're hosting and people want to help, let them. Even kids can help with things like offering ice to grown ups, tearing lettuce.

3. What to do if you're served or offered something that you really dislike? A gracious way to turn it down, instead of saying "I don't like brussels sprouts" is to say "I've had so much good food I couldn't possibly eat another bite, thank you so much. They look lovely, though!"

4. How to handle the family members that you know are going to get into a heated argument? Try the preemptive strike:  take whichever of the pair that is more reasonable take them aside ahead of time and appeal to their good nature beforehand. Say "Listen, I know that you and Dad don't agree on healthcare and we know how he gets when he had a few, so I'm gonna count on you being the more reasonable one. Help me sidestep an argument at dinner by changing the subject or not taking the bait? Thanks so much for being reasonable and helping out that way I really appreciate it."

5. Include, don't exclude: I like Thanksgiving because it's a nondenominational day of gratitude, rather than greed disguised as religion. And, it's all about abundance, friends, and football. Try to include everyone in that good feeling of gratitude. Rather than a prayer which might feel exclusive two people don't share the religion, why not start with going to run the table and everybody sharing something they're grateful for?

6. Be calm, make like a duck. Serene on top, even if you're paddling madly under the surface. If you're hosting, remember that guests will take their cue from you. If you're hassled and snippy they won't relax. Try to do ahead, plan and let go. If it won't be the perfect Norman Rockwell painting you have in your head, remember that a good time can still be had by all. Your attitude will set the mood. Pour another round and enjoy what worked, be thankful for the friends and family you have to share the day with. Laugh off the disasters and invite others to join you in good humor. (And make notes while they're fresh in your head what worked and didn't for next year.)

Today is the day to set yourself up for a good tomorrow. Plan a walk in the fresh air first thing in the morning, get a good night's rest.  Chop the veggies that you can for stuffing, make a butter for gravy (1:1 flour and butter) or make the gravy now and just add pan drippings later. Ditch the extra cleaning or extra dishes you won't need to make. No one will notice that you dusted every shelf if you're frazzled.

Jack’s Killer Sweets - Orange, Bourbon Sweet Potatoes

As a former editor of mine once said, “who doesn’t need more Bourbon around the holidays?”  These sweet potatoes are a standard item on our Thanksgiving menu, one that I'm told cannot go away. This year, I modified it for a Kitchen Confidence client who needed a non-alcoholic version for kiddos. This would pair equally well with roast chicken or pork.

Ingredients:

  • 3 lbs sweet potatoes
  • 1 C light brown sugar
  • 1/2 stick (4 TBSP) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 C fresh squeezed OJ + zest
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 C maple syrup
  • 1 tsp orange flower water

This is the safe-for-everyone version of my “killer sweets” which include Bourbon. The original includes 1/3- 1/2 C Bourbon and a drizzle of maple syrup to taste.

Directions:

1. Peel sweet potatoes and cut into chunks. 2. Place over boiling water, steam till nearly tender. 3. Place in buttered baking dish. 4. Simmer sugar, butter, OJ, salt until sugar is dissolved and syrup thickens. Stir in Bourbon. (alternately: stir in maple syrup and orange flower water) 5. Drizzle over potatoes. 6. Bake about an hour, baste occasionally. 7. Top with a swirl of maple syrup. (omit if doing Bourbon-free version)

Can be made ahead. Make some double fluffy biscuits to dip in the syrup!

 

 

Fresh, Tart, Salad - Perfect Foil to all the Buttery, Braised and Roasted Thanksgiving Foods

I realize some people don't love fennel as much as I do. But I think even more have simply never had it. Pity. Maybe I can persuade you to try it? FenneCollage

When we're preparing a meal that has so many rich, baked, braised, roasted, covered-in-gravy type components, a nice tart, crunchy salad is perfectly refreshing to have as a mid-course or you could serve it at the end before dessert and coffee.

This combination of green apple, fennel and celery wakes up your palate and gets it ready for seconds or dessert. The combination of the licorice flavor of the fennel, tart apples and juicy celery is tough to beat.

Shaved Salad of Fennel, Apple, Celery

A mandoline is handy but you can make this with a good chef's knife or even cut in dice if you'd like.

To serve four:

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium fennel bulb (pick one that's snowy white and heavy for its size)
  • 3 ribs of organic celery
  • 1 large or two small Granny Smith or RI Greening apples - (tart)
  • 1 medium to large shallot

Directions:

  1. Shave or slice thin, or even simply chop all ingredients. Save some fennel fronds for garnish.
  2. Toss with bright fruity vinegar - favorite here is Katz' Gravenstein or Sauvignon Blanc vinegar and a drizzle of best olive oil you've got.
  3. Plate and garnish with the feathery fronds.

Optional:

  • Garnish with little apple cut-outs using small decorative cutter.
  • Zest organic orange and add fresh orange juice to dressing. Fennel and orange are fast friends.
  • You could add supremes of orange or even sliced kumquats.

 

 

 

 

Four Thanksgiving Dishes to Please Any Crowd

If you want something as a "ta- da" dish -- a centerpiece that's not meat, I've got some dishes to consider. First, think of the all the sides that we love. Many or most of them don't require any meat or meat stock to be crowd pleasing. People love stuffing and gravy. Why not do leek-mushroom-herb stuffing in muffin tins and a mushroom gravy? No bones and no griping.

The Main Dish

For an elegant centerpiece dish: try the Kale Butternut Squash Phyllo Pie made in a springform pan. Elegant and beautiful with bright colors and crispy phyllo.

Try cashew cheese and skip pancetta (or use porcinis for umami), use Earth Balance butter substitute and you're meat-free, dairy-free.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another of Kim's recipes that even carnivores have asked for in subsequent meals: the Lentil-Chard Shepherd's Pie.

 

 

 

Sides that Wow

The sage butter sweet potato- white potato casserole (below)  is easy to make dairy-free and if you use gluten-free bread, it can be GF, too. Again, your potato ricer is your friend. Light fluffy potatoes get mixed with browned sage butter and topped off with fresh breadcrumbs. I modify Martha's recipe and make it dairy-free and delicious.

Sage_butter_potato_casserole Another dish that is a real favorite, I've taught it to Kitchen Confidence clients and they adored it. I love it. Red rice pilaf stuffed Delicata squash. The recipe is from Kim O'Donnel's Meatless Celebrations. It's colorful, delicious and substantial enough to use as a vegetarian/vegan main course.

 

Both of these could certainly be main courses for a meat-free meal that won't leave you wanting.

 

 

 

Recipes, Tips, and One Unique Turkey Roasting Technique - from Friends Old and New

Gathered from friends old and new, these recipes are going to make you and yours very happy. Promise. And having recipes borrowed from friends makes me feel connected, even while we're apart.

An Interesting Option

First I invite you to join me in one of my most precious holiday traditions: the reading of the turkey-in-a-hole pictorial essay. If you are not dying from laughter by the middle of this, there is no hope for you. Poor Girl Gourmet is written by my friend Amy who is a solid friend, talented and hysterical writer, producer, recipe developer and cookbook author. Several of her dishes are in our regular rotation.

While you're there, poke around Amy's site and you'll find much to inspire - and on a budget! Always good. Thanks Amy! (and if you're interested in travel, check out the Tiny Farmhouse Tours.)

 

Other Dishes to Try

Lots to like here: sides, rolls, desserts, vegetarian friendly dishes. We want everyone to feel welcomed, don't we?

Pumpkin rolls06Delicata Squash Boats Stuffed with Red Rice Pilaf - courtesy of my friend Kim O'Donnel. This recipe has become one of my all time favorites and has made me such a fan of Delicata squash. Can't get enough. I recently taught a Kitchen Confidence group how to make these.

I'm pretty sure when someone takes a bite, closes their eyes and says "I just need a moment..." You've got a winner. I have added a tiny bit of orange flower water, but it doesn't need it, we just had it on hand for some sweet potatoes. You'll get the same reaction with the straight ahead version.

delicata boats

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Latkes - In case you're not aware what this "Thanksgivvukah" holiday is all about, it so happens this year Thanksgiving falls on the first night of Hannukah. I think this is like a Haley's comet, once-in-a-lifetime situation.

I tested this Sweet Potato- Apple Latke recipe from the terrific Amy Traverso, author of The Apple Lover's Cookbook for all of us who may want a Thanksgivvukah option. I'd heard Amy on David Leite's Podcast "Talking with my Mouth Full" describing these and let's just say there was some swooning involved.

That was all the convincing I needed.

latkes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rolls, Dessert

These gorgeous pumpkin "cozy" rolls (above) are indeed comforting. I had made these Golden Pumpkin Spice Dinner rolls the last year but really loved the look of these Pumpkin Cozy Rolls and my friend Carolyn Jung has never steered me wrong. Hers take a longer (overnight) rise (but no longer hands on time) and make a smaller batch. Mine take a couple hours and produce a larger batch. [Here I must share a reminder to read through your recipe before beginning or else you're leaving your husband notes that read "4 am take rolls out of fridge, 5 am when you're back from gym, please preheat oven. 6 am please put coffee on and try to wake me..."]

I love the texture and color of Carolyn's rolls, Adapted from “Choosing Sides” by Tara Mataraza Desmond, and especially if you want variety at the table, some gorgeous color and are hosting a smaller crowd, I'd go with that one. By the way, if you're a fan of San Francisco, and good food, check out Carolyn's debut book: The San Francisco Chef's Table. It would make a great hostess or holiday gift!

These Gluten-free (or not, your choice) Pecan Pie Bars look like the perfect solution for adding some variety without another pie. In years past I've had two or three pies, which is fine, (what's "too much" when it comes to pie?) but I'm going to have to try these soon. We're going light on dessert this Thanksgiving for us, but if you've got enough people, and/or a gluten-free guest, wouldn't it be lovely to have this easy to make ahead, gluten-free treat to share?

Jane Evans Bonacci, AKA The Heritage Cook is a new Facebook friend who's always ready with a supportive word and delicious often gluten-free recipe. I like that she gives you both the gf and regular option in the recipe. If you're cooking for someone with celiac or gluten intolerance please refresh your knowledge here with some tips on How to Host a Food-Allergic Guest (includes tips on GF).

 

Do Ahead Tips

It's not too soon to do some prep.

  1. If you're going to need/use linens iron them now while you're watching a show.
  2. Make some spiced nuts to have with cocktails.
  3. Finalize your grocery lists - what you'll need for baking, from the last Farmers' Market, from the liquor store.
  4. Stock up on garbage bags, zip top bags/containers.
  5. Make stock for gravy.

 

 

Be happy while you're living, for you're a long time dead.  Scottish Proverb

Bookmark This: Thanksgiving 2013 Roundup - Recipes, Tips, Posts, Pins

I'll be posting something here every day between now and Thanksgiving so bookmark this now and you can check back at your leisure. roast turkey

 Are you wondering about a new side dish or maybe ready to try a new dessert? If you're like me, this is the best and most insane time of year. So much to cook. To taste. To try.

 So here we go, it's turkey time!

- Marron Glacé - kicks off holidays and makes a great hostess gift.

- Perfect Mashed Potatoes - an instructographic

- Potato Ricer - for light and fluffy mashed potatoes and perfect gnocchi

- Strata - perfect for a houseful of guests, savory bread pudding

- Stock tips - how to make turkey stock for perfect gravy

- Snappy Ginger Snaps - fill the house with good smells and never have a soggy pumpkin pie again

- Thanksgiving Spice Blend - a DIY spice mix to make fragrant turkey, delicious uses for many fall dishes

- Cranberry Persimmon Sauce - a new favorite

- Recipes from friends old and new - plus a crazy story that's become a traditional holiday kickoff.

- Four Thanksgiving Dishes to Please Any Crowd - Elegant or comfy, delicious recipes all and each one is either vegan or vegetarian, or are easily modified to be gluten-free, dairy-free.

- Shaved Fennel Salad - bright, crunchy and lightly licoricey. Perfect foil to the rich baked and roasted menu.

- Orange Bourbon Sweet Potatoes - aka "Jack's Killer Sweets"

- Prickly Guests, Sticky Situations - etiquette tips

Check out my Thanksgiving Ideas board on Pinterest, too.

Whether your hosting or visiting someone else, if food allergies or intolerances are part of the picture, you'll want to review these tips (with advice from Allergic Girl and the Gluten Free Girl) as well as my own. How to Host a Food-Allergic Friend, and How to be a Good Guest.

Thanksgiving Spice Blend

This fragrant blend of herbs and spices is perfect on roast turkey, roast chicken, pork. I'd even try it on Irvin's Homemade Potato Chips. I mix this DIY spice blend into softened butter and roll up in a log. Pats of fragrant butter goes in butterflake bread, between the turkey breast meat and skin, all over the bird. It's not only for Thanksgiving: roasted potaoes (white or sweet), roasted root veg, and beans all love this blend.

spice blend

This basic formula has fennel, sage, rosemary and marjoram as the dominant scents. I recommend you measure out one batch with these proportions, and see how you like it. Then add what you’d like more of.

  • I use my spice grinder, but you can also use a coffee grinder. (Tip: a torn up piece of soft bread in the coffee grinder, before and after, then your coffee won’t taste like Thanksgiving turkey or vice versa.)
  • This blend is great on roast chicken or pork roasts, too.
  • It's lovely in a pot of white beans, too. Serve over soft polenta. Fried sage leaves on top.
  • If you’re brining the meat, you should omit the salt.

Basic Thanksgiving Spice Blend

  • Fennel seed (2 TBSP)
  • Dried Sage (2-3 tsp)
  • Dried Rosemary (2-3 tsp)
  • Marjoram (2 tsp)
  • Coriander seed (1-2 tsp)
  • White pepper (2 tsp)
  • Powdered ginger (1/4 tsp)
  • Cayenne pepper (1/4 tsp)
  • Powdered allspice (1/4 tsp)
  • Kosher salt (optional, do not use if brining)

Measure all ingredients but salt into spice grinder, coffee grinder, molcajete. Buzz up. Taste a bit, add salt if you like but I prefer to add salt at time of use.

Perfect stocking stuffer for cooks on your list, and a fun hostess gift.

Tday Spice blend

 

 

Strata - Savory Bread Pudding Perfect for Feeding Holiday Guests

When you've got a house full of guests, making breakfast or brunch can be daunting. This Strata is easy to prep, in fact it must rest overnight before baking so it leaves you free to mix Mimosas or enjoy a leisurely cuppa while it bakes. It's also one of the recipes that's handy for eating down the fridge. Since Thanksgivikkuh is very soon upon us, we all have major shopping to do and food prep ahead. That means we need room in the fridge and freezer. For many of us, it also means house guests, perhaps a day of people arriving at different times with everyone on different schedules.

Strata, all prepped the night before, is ready to pop in the oven once guests arrive. Just have snacks on hand (Spiced Nuts, cheese board, fruit) and when you're close to a full house -- in it goes.

strata

 

Savory Fall Strata

This strata is vegetarian, dairy-free, and flexible. It can be varied according to what you need to use up, just pick things that complement each other. You could add cheese but it doesn't really need it. I sprinkle my own DIY dairy-free parmesan on top, true Parmigiano-Reggiano would be great. Depending on how you want to layer it (hence the name "strata") you can build it as you would a lasagna, or you can simply mix all the veg and bread cubes together, toss in a buttered pan then pour on the custard mixture.

Ingredients:

  • 2 C  thinly sliced leeks
  • 2 C thinly sliced mushrooms
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 large roasted red bell peppers, sliced
  • 4 C julienned greens (I had spinach and large brussels sprout leaves)
  • 1/2 C minced celery
  • 1/4 C vermouth, wine, stock or water to deglaze
  • 9 C cubed bread
  • 1 1/2 tsp Thanksgiving spice blend (alt use 1 tsp thyme, 1/2 tsp sage)
  • 6 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 C soy milk
  • 1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
  • Parmesan or Parmigiano Reggiano

 

Directions:

  1. Slice leeks, mushrooms, spinach/greens.
  2. Mince celery, garlic
  3. Cube bread, enough to fill the pan you are using. Place in very large mixing bowl.
  4. Add a couple glugs of olive oil to a large pan, sauté mushrooms and leeks until they're wilted, add celery, garlic, and greens. Sauté and just as things are beginning to brown, deglaze with some wine, dry vermouth, stock or water.
  5. Add veg, spice, S&P to bread cubes toss.
  6. In a large mixing cup or small bowl, break eggs and mix lightly with milk. Add grated nutmeg.
  7. Place bread veg mix in buttered 13 x 9 pan and cover with egg-milk mix.
  8. Cover and place in fridge overnight.
  9. The next day, remove from fridge 30 minutes before you're baking. Preheat oven to 350.
  10. Sprinkle Parmesan and Pimenton or Paprika, bake for 45-50 minutes - knife inserted in center should come out clean.
  11. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Serves 4 -8 depending on if you're serving as main or side.

 

strata serving

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check out Brian Samuels' gorgeous  Kale and Shiitake Mushroom Bread Pudding. A rich version laced with cream and cheese.

Essential Kitchen Equipment for Perfect Simple Mashed Potatoes: a Potato Ricer

In my Essential Kitchen Equipment series, I’m going to share overviews of what I consider to be the items no kitchen should be without. I’m not talking about the latest gadget. I’m talking about maybe a dozen or so simple items you must have to make your kitchen hum.

Of course one could spend endless amounts on all sorts of fancy equipment and gadgets. Most of those will not make you a better cook, these will: The Sharpest Knife in the Block.

A Stock Pot 

 

I'm putting an asterisk next to "essential" here. I know, I know, that's not what "essential" means, so this qualified "essential" what are we saying exactly?

  • Does every kitchen need to have a potato ricer? No.
  • Do you need a potato ricer to make very good mashed potatoes? No.
  • If you're a slightly food-obsessed Thanksgiving-lover with a husband for whom no amount of potatoes are ever "enough" - is a potato ricer really essential? You bet.

So, if you're in that latter category with me, this is definitely something you should acquire and I guarantee you'll be glad you did.

ricer3_OPT

Like a giant garlic press (thanks Carrie!), the ricer is a levered squeezer that allows you to force the hot, boiled potatoes through the holes.

ricer1_OPT

 

 

Recipe for Perfect Mashed Potatoes

Here's an instructographic for Perfect, Simple Mashed Potatoes, if you're more visual.

  1. First, choose your potatoes. I prefer Yukon Gold, they have a yellow flesh that is already flavorful. Second best, Russets. Also choose organic if at all possible. Potatoes are one of those items that are often sprayed with fungicides, and they grow entirely in the soil which can include an accumulation of herbicides, fungicides, pesticides.
  2. Next, peel the potatoes, cut into chunks and place in the pot, big enough to hold them with some room at the top.
  3. Cover with chicken stock or water. If gluten is an issue use water or carefully read the label. Chicken stock (low sodium, organic) lends a nice subtle flavor to the potatoes.
  4. Boil till a knife gently pierces the potatoes.
  5. Heat a small amount of milk, soy milk or coconut milk substitute and soften some butter. These amounts are to taste and I find I can almost eliminate butter altogether by choosing buttery potatoes like Yukon Golds and cooking in chicken stock.
  6. Once the potatoes are done, drain the stock off completely. Return the potato chunks to the hot pot to dry off any remaining liquid.
  7. Place your ricer over your warmed serving bowl, and begin forcing chunks of potato through the ricer.
  8. When all the potatoes are "riced" add hot milk and soft butter to taste, salt and white pepper.

That is it. Easy, perfect mashed potatoes.

Without a ricer, a simple masher will do, or a hand mixer, or even a large fork.

 

potatoes4

 

Common problems to avoid:

  • trying to mash cold potatoes - won't work.
  • using a food processor or blender - no! - you want to eat glue?
  • adding too much extra stuff - good potatoes should taste like potatoes. Not cream cheese, not sour cream, not garlic, not parmesan....In my house we always have delicious homemade gravy and the simplicity of that with simple potatoes is one of the true comforts of Thanksgiving.

 

Don't forget to check with Kitchenwares, our sponsor and our favorite Kitchen supplies store for helpful Thanksgiving prep tools and tips. Their new store Reflections is perfect for tableware for the holiday, too.

How to Host a Guest with Food Allergies and How to be a Good Guest

With Thanksgiving just a couple weeks away, I thought it was a good time to pull this post together. I've been asked for sometime to offer tips to friends who would like to have us over but perhaps are afraid of feeding us due to my allergies. Misinformation is rampant including two national posts this past week, one listing the "7 major food allergies" (there are 8) and another that purported to debunk myths but did a poor job of it.

Even professional chefs get it wrong sometimes. (e.g. 33% thought frying would destroy the allergens, 25% thought removing nuts from a salad would make it safe to serve to a nut-allergic diner.)

roast turkey

roast turkey

Current estimates are that 15 million Americans have food allergies.

While the "why" of it is still debated and being explored, there's wide agreement that the incidence of food allergies is on the rise. There is no cure, no pill. The only safe course is strict avoidance.

Since getting my own diagnosis, I've researched a great deal on the topic. I've written this piece on dining out with food allergies for the Washington Post. I've developed and delivered training for restaurant staff on safely serving food allergic diners and I try to stay on top of news, research insights, and what's happening with restaurants and allergies.

I started compiling my own list of Do's and Don'ts and have also reached out to friends in the field to see what they'd want to share.

How to host a food-allergic guest

  1. Understand what you're dealing with - have a direct conversation with your guest to get clear. Ask what your guest can and cannot eat. Guessing is dangerous.

  2. Does your guest wish to bring a dish or help out? Maybe cooking together would be fun and enlightening.

  3. Perhaps you can share recipes so your guest can check for problematic ingredients?

  4. Don't announce to the party that someone's allergic, unless they themselves have asked you to share that info.

  5. Don't make substitutions without checking in with your allergic guest. Or at least, alerting them to it.

  6. Understand cross-contact. A large ice bin or buffet style service are opportunities for cross-contact.

How to be a good guest, even with allergies

I'm so grateful when someone is willing to go the extra mile (or seven) to accommodate my food allergies. Often, I will suggest I could just come for drinks or I will bring something delicious to share.

  1. Offer to go over recipes, ingredients. You may wish to bring something that is a good substitute, but which may be unfamiliar to your hosts.

  2. Offer to bring something to share that everyone can safely enjoy. Ask if there are any other intolerances or allergies you need to be aware of.

  3. Bring something extra (wine, flowers, something that can be shared either before or after the meal) for the host to show your appreciation. They have brought you into their home, and probably worried and fussed a little extra about serving you.

  4. Don't play games. If you just don't like something, don't lie and say you're allergic. This serves no one well.

Tips from Allergic Girl, Sloane Miller

Sloane Miller, MSW, LMSW - Author and coach. www.allergicgirl.com "Just because you have a restricted diet, doesn't mean you have a restricted life."

1. Honest communication / conversation about your (the host's) abilities, understanding or knowledge of food allergies is a great place to start. For example: Ask about your guest's specific dietary needs in advance, what is cross contact, and how to protect against cross contact and how or if even you can accommodate them safely to their specifications.

2. When cooking remember: even the tiniest bit can hurt your severely food allergic guest. If there are mistakes or errors or cross contact (and it happens), be honest with your guest about the errors.

3. If you are using prepared foods, keep all labels of any prepared foods to show your guest and let them make an informed choice.

4. Ask your guest what substitutions work for them or if they have a brand that is safe for them. But even so, keep all labels even of a trusted brand as formulations change without notice.

5. Don't be offended if they want or need to bring their own food or want to only join for cocktails or nightcaps.  Sometimes that is the easiest option for everyone.

6. Do your best but know mistakes happen and your guest may need a few visits without dining before they feel safe enough to trust/try dining.

7. Remember: the focus of a get together is to get together; food is merely a vehicle. So enjoy your guest's company with or without food.

Thanks Sloane! Good advice.

What about Gluten-Intolerance and Celiac disease?

I also checked in with the Gluten-Free Girl herself, Shauna Ahern. She's busy testing recipes but offered this excellent post on the specifics of hosting a gluten-free or celiac friend.

The full post is well worth a read, here are some tips I culled from it:

  • Make everything from scratch. I know this sounds daunting to many of you, but I'm here to help! Many things can be done ahead of time and in stages. (Chopping up veggies for stuffing, making pie dough, making stock or gravy, etc.)

  • Only use a packaged product if it says "Gluten Free". This is a big surprise to many people. The way that gluten can sneak into many products you'd never imagine had gluten in them...it's something that trips-up even well-meaning restaurants, too. Modified food starches are quite common and quite often contain gluten. Barley - not wheat but often contains gluten. Barley malt.

  • Be mindful. This is good advice for everyone. We can get so caught up we forget that simple is often better and how satisfying it can be just to stop and smell the roses, or the turkey.

  • Include us. In the planning, in the cooking. We can learn so much from each other. Celebrating each other through and with food is one of life's great pleasures.

I love the post and so much of the do's and don'ts are familiar to me, like when Doc has a bit of cheese and I move in for a smooch. I get the cheek. Lucky for me he's both irresistible and thoughtful. I often think as I'm cooking about all the ways cross-contact can happen, even in my own kitchen sometimes I forget!

  • What are your tips, concerns or questions about holidays and food allergies?

Cranberry-Persimmon Sauce and Creating New Traditions

Two days after Thanksgiving, just a cup and a half left of my cranberry sauce. I started with three 12 oz bags of cranberries. That's a statement.  

Cranberry Persimmon Sauce

 

This cranberry sauce began years ago with some fairly common components: whole fresh cranberries, orange juice, sugar. This year I realized that the sauce is a good example of the evolution of traditions. Food, even traditional foods, evolve. Just as we do.

I used to have a friend that always called me last minute to fill in when he had an extra ticket to something. When I protested, he countered with the argument that he was the kind of friend I could call any time of day or night whatever the issue might be, he'd be there. The reality was that I had long since moved past needing that sort of rescue. What I wanted was the steady, reliable kind of friend. Not the swoop down in a crisis kind. My needs had changed (and really that was more his fantasy, not my my need anyway.) The point is that people change, lives change, and we evolve. Even when most of us stick to "traditions" at Thanksgiving; traditions themselves, evolve.

From 'Fugees Forward

For years I hosted the "Orphans, Refugees, and Procrastinators" Thanksgivings. For many of us in the post-college, pre-marriage years, we felt the need to develop our own Thanksgiving. Some wanted to avoid the family drama. Some were in relationships too new, or too rocky to build plans around. Some years it was me and a couple of single friends, others it was a raucus forty person we'll-clean-that-rug-tomorrow affair.

In recent years, I've cooked for 24, and I've cooked for 12. I think, like my cranberry sauce and that earlier friendship, my Thanksgiving has evolved. I'm feeling like my new tradition is going to be something like this: a few of us, and a few seats for new guests. We have some friends with little ones now, another with one on the way, and I've begun to think about a kiddie table, or at least, child-friendly games or traditions we can build.

We no longer feel like a rag-tag blend of orphans, but a chosen group of friends. People in this group relax and enjoy each other, they pitch in and wash dishes, we pass the babies around, we holler at the football games. I replay the stolen glimpses over in my mind. One of several people lying nearly prone, satisfied, rubbing bellies as I make coffee, slice pies. Another of two people who just met, sharing a conversation at one corner of the kitchen island. Another of the grandpa cutting food for the grandma, holding the little one on her lap.

I stopped putting out a can of  jellied cranberry sauce years ago now. Many guests have declared this their favorite cranberry sauce. People asked to take some home. I do believe a new tradition has taken root.

New Traditional Cranberry Persimmon Sauce

Note: there are two types of persimmons most widely available in the US, usually appearing in early to mid- November. The Hachiya are elongated, sort of acorn-shaped. Deep orange, they are bitter and highly astringent when not perfectly ripe. They are delicious when ripe, and they freeze well.

This recipe calls for the Fuyu persimmon which is flattish and paler in color, usually. They resemble a sort of orange tomato. Fuyu persimmons are crunchy and not astringent. They are wonderful in salads, pairing especially well with dark greens like spinach or arugula. They cook well, retaining their shape where Hachiyas would melt into nothing.

Look for persimmons in Chinese groceries. Here in Boston, Sun-Sun is the only one that sells Fuyus by the piece. At C-Mart you must by the whole flat of them.

This is very good to add to the make-ahead list, for a holiday. Easy to use up after.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 C chopped shallots
  • 2 TBSP butter or soy butter substitute
  • 3 bags of whole fresh cranberries (12 oz each)  (rinse, stem, pick over for any badly bruised ones)
  • Juice and zest of one or two organic oranges (only organic for zest)
  • 4 Fuyu persimmons (peeled, chopped)
  • 1 1/2 C sugar (I like raw for this)
  • 1 1/2 - 2 TBSP Dijon mustard
  • 1 C dry red wine
  • 3 whole star anise
  • 8 whole cloves
  • ~ 2 TBSP Orange liqueur (I prefer Combier but it's hard to find, Cointreau is good. Can be omitted altogether to keep alcohol-free.)
  • 2 TBSP pomegranate molasses (find in the International section of some large grocers or in Mediterranean or Halal markets)

Directions:

  1. Sweat shallots in ~ 2 TBSP butter or soy butter. Don’t brown, just soften.
  2. Add rinsed and stemmed cranberries, persimmons, sugar, mustard, wine. Simmer over medium heat until cranberries begin popping and breaking down. Stir to ensure even cooking and no sticking.
  3. Add spices, molasses, orange zest, orange liqueur, orange juice. Simmer a few minutes more, stirring over low heat to meld flavors.

Can be made and chilled for up to a week before Thanksgiving. Sauce may appear loose at first. Cranberries are very high in pectin (the thing that binds jellies and pies) so it will firm up as it sets. Can be thinned as needed with orange juice.

 

This goes really well with turkey, as well as chicken and pork. Not bad stirred into plain yogurt, either.

 

Stock Tips of the Culinary Kind - Wonderful Thanksgiving Gravy Begins Here

Here's a lesson for all you new writers out there. When you work for a new site (or anyone) please save a version of your finished work. You may think once it's published you'll always be able to get your hands on a copy. Not so. Have you begun your Thanksgiving preparations yet? It's about two weeks four days away. I just realized this today the other day and thought I should offer you some make-ahead advice and recipes. Then the Wordpress text editor decided to hide my publish button, then I got busy with life...So here we are, looking down the barrel at THURSDAY.

Here's one thing you can do now and throw in the freezer, it will save you time, money and add incredible flavor to your Thanksgiving table. Bookmark this for next year, if you're too stressed to add one more thing.

Turkey Gravy Stock

Turkey Gravy Stock

Homemade Turkey Stock

For those who are scared of gravy there are some easy shortcuts, some passable substitutions but really good from-scratch gravy isn’t so very hard. You can make turkey stock well-ahead of time, freeze it and be way ahead of the game by the time Thanksgiving rolls around. It’s great for basting dressing baked outside the turkey, basting the bird and of course, for gravy.

DIY Turkey Stock - you won't believe how easy and how rich this is.

Ingredients:

  • Four turkey wings, ask your butcher to chop into pieces (about three pieces per wing)

  • 2-3 TBSP vegetable oil

  • 2 carrots, two celery stalks with leaves, two onions, rough chopped, divided

  • 6-10 fresh parsley sprigs

  • bay leaves

  • whole peppercorns, whole allspice, cloves.

  • 3-4 fresh sage sprigs

  • 2 TBSP butter

  • Thanksgiving Spice, optional

Directions:

  1. Order 4 turkey wings from a good family farm. Whole Foods Market is where we got our stock wings. They're raised humanely on a local farm. (We like Bob’s in Lancaster for the turkeys. Broad breasted white but naturally raised on pasture with only minimal antibiotic in first few weeks of life.) Have the wings cut in about 2” pieces, or use a sturdy cleaver and mallet to do so at home. This releases collagen from the bones and produces a rich stock.

  2. Coat a large, sturdy roasting pan lightly with about 2 TBSP vegetable oil. Roast in hot oven (450 degrees) the chopped turkey wing pieces, a rough chop of large onion, large carrot, large celery stalk. Turn after about 20-30 minutes to evenly brown the turkey, add herbs and spices: 6-10 sprigs of fresh parsley; teaspoon of dried thyme, 1/4 tsp whole black peppercorns, 2 dried bay leaves, 4 whole cloves, 2 allspice berries.

  3. Remove the roasting pan from the oven, remove the turkey to a large stockpot.

  4. Place the roasting pan on two burners on med-high heat.

  5. Add one cup of dry sherry and one cup of cold water to pan. Scrape up all the browned bits in the pan.

  6. In stock pot, saute reserved mirepoix in a little butter or glug of vegetable oil, sprinkle with kosher salt. Once veggies begin to soften, add all the contents of the roasting pan and get every last bit of goodness in the pan.

  7. Add enough water to the stock pot to cover the wing pieces, plus 2-3 inches. Bring to a boil skim off any foam that accumulates.

  8. Reduce to simmer, add 3-4 sprigs of fresh sage, and let stock bubble gently until the meat is falling of the bone about 3-5 hours.

  9. Strain the stock, and refrigerate. You can remove some fat from the surface of the chilled stock if you like. (Reserving it for gravy, of course.) Then freeze the stock until Thanksgiving.

To make gravy: simply start with a roux (1:1 butter:flour) then add one cup of hot stock, 1/4 C at a time. I keep stock simmering on the stove and use to baste and to add to dressing. I use Madeira to deglaze the turkey roasting pan, then add that to your roux and stock. Finish with fresh thyme leaves. Heaven!

Alternately, I sauté turkey gizzard, heart, neck and fresh mirepoix, add flour, deglaze with Madeira, then add stock. Add fresh thyme at the very end, just before serving. White pepper is key.

Should I do a Thanksgiving newsletter in October 2013 to get you (and me) in the groove?

Thanksgiving 2011 and other recipes to inspire you

Thanksgiving 2011 has come and gone, even the leftovers have been consumed, repurposed, or frozen. And Christmas is just five days away.

We had a giant group this year and hosted buffet style. Did a couple things differently, including allowing others to help. I refined a few things, added an item or two and of course, we had spreadsheets. It's all about project management skills, and for me, that admission does nothing to diminish my joy. I just love to feed family and friends.

We borrowed tables, chairs and service ware from a restaurant manager friend, Jesse, who cheerfully coordinated and schlepped a half dozen tables, couple dozen chairs, etc. with Nehal's help. We were honored that Zander has spent his first and his second Thanksgiving with us.

We ran tables diagonally through the loft, here you can see the trays of homemade bread cubes drying. Trifle dish and vases repurposed for silverware rolls.

At some point, I'll have some video to load, so you can get a taste of what the night was really like. For now, a few photos that I remembered to take, a recipe or two and the menu.

(I had a timeline, plus diagrams of what went into which ovens, and where, when the turkeys came out to rest. It almost happened the way I imagined it should. Almost.)

 

The Menu

  • Lisa & Nehal's Red sangria, White sangria
  • Hot apple cider from the Pioneer Valley (Thanks David & Stephanie)

 

Apps:

 

The dinner:

roast turkey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Bob’s Turkeys 2, 16 lb birds this year, Thanksgiving spice-rubbed
  • Kristen’s Ham - (D'Artagnan, too!) & cheddar chive biscuits
  • Kristen's truffled wild mushrooms casserole
  • Butternut Squash Soup (v, gf)
  • Kim’s Chard & Lentil Shepherd’s Pie w/ no bones gravy (v, gf)
  • Madeira gravy made from homemade turkey stock
  • Mushroom-herb-leek stuffing
  • Sausage-apple dressing
  • Killer sweets (Bourbon-orange sweet potatoes) (v)
  • Cranberry Sauce w/pomegranate, orange (v)
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Martha's Sweet & White potato casserole
  • Green beans w/shallots, lemon (v)
  • Roasted root vegetables w/balsamic glaze (v)
  • Shaved fennel, celery, green apple (v, gf)
  • Arugula, Asian Pear, Pomegranate salad
  • Black quinoa with golden beets (v, gf) recipe below
  • Lauren’s squash casserole (v)
  • Butterflake bread, Golden Pumpkin Spice rolls

Kim O'Donnel's Meatless dishes are definitely not old school boring hippie veg. This Shepherd's Pie is proof! Look for Kim's second book in 2012...

turkeyout

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the two ready to be carved. (See my giant new carving board? Love it!)

Dessert:

  • Pumpkin Pie (one w/lard +soybutter crust; one with soy butter, coconut shortening crust)
  • Apple Crisp
  • Pecan Maple pie (variation on Melissa Clark's hot recipe of the year)
  • Snappy Gingersnaps
  • Chocolate truffles (oops)
  • Maria's dried pineapple & coconut cake
  • Anouschka's vodka spiked gummie bears

The gingersnap-pecan bottom keeps the pie bottom from getting soggy, tastes good, too! BlackQuinoaGoldBeets

Recipe: Black Quinoa with Golden Beets and Caraway

Inspired by a gift of black quinoa from my friend and restaurateur Mary Reilly, I turned to my friend Maria's beautiful Ancient Grains for Modern Meals book. Page 95 Cumin-scented Quinoa with Red Beets is a crunchy salad I'll try soon, loving all the flavors in it as I do. I was smitten with these golden beets at the Dewey Square market so this recipe came together. Beets love caraway. They also pair beautifully with cumin. Sumac is a middle eastern spice that has a beautiful red color and a lemony flavor.

Ingredients:

  • 1 C black quinoa (rinse to remove soapy saponin that coats the quinoa, I put them in a fine mesh sieve and run under cold water grabbing with my hand and squeezing, almost as if you're kneading bread)
  • 2 golden beets (steam in microwave or roast in oven while you have it on for holiday baking - wrapped in foil the beets will steam till tender then you can easily slip off the skins)
  • 1/3 C onion
  • parsley
  • lemon juice
  • pomegranate seeds (remember how easily you can seed these)
  • 1/2 tsp sumac
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne (if you don't like spice, cut back to 1/4 tsp or omit altogether if you wish)
  • 1 tsp each cumin seeds and caraway seeds

 

Assemble:

 

  1. Rinse quinoa (you may use any quinoa here, but I love the black or red for the dramatic color contrast on the table)
  2. Sauté onion in a little of the olive oil, add cumin seeds and caraway
  3. Add rinsed quinoa and about 1 3/4 C water, let it come to a gentle boil, reduce heat and cover. Liquid will be absorbed in about 15 minutes and you'll see the little germs of the seed unfurl like tiny little flags. That is when your quinoa is done.
  4. Toss scented quinoa with cubes of golden beets, chopped parsley and a handful of pomegranate seeds.
  5. Sprinkle with sumac, cayenne, lemon juice, best quality olive oil. Taste and adjust if needed - salt, lemon juice, more toasted cumin seed or caraway if you like.
Enjoy!

 

As is my tradition, I forgot these in the freezer:

choctruffles

Thanksgiving Cookies: Snappy Gingersnaps

The perfect pumpkin pie begins with a good crust, lined with a combination of crushed gingersnaps and pecans. These Snappy Gingersnaps are SUPER easy to make and can be made ahead frozen, made partially (wrap the dough in a log and freeze or refrigerate) and they go so well with cider, milk, coffee. I modified a King Arthur recipe to make them dairy free.

One thing I love about these, is how spicy and crisp they are. If you wanted to fill them with something like pumpkin cream, then substitute butter for the shortening and bake for slightly less time. That should do the trick, but I have to admit, since my dairy allergy, I've stopped baking with butter.

I love this idea though. Won't someone try it and let me know?

snappy gingersnaps

Snappy Gingersnaps

Dairy-free and dead easy, these are delicious all year-round but are particularly welcome when there’s a cold snap in the air.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 C  soy butter substitute - for baking (I like Earth Balance)
  • 1/4 C coconut shortening
  • 1/4 tsp 5 spice powder
  • 3 generous tsp of ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 heaping tsp ground cinnamon
  • a few grinds of white pepper, to taste
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 lg egg
  • 1/3 C molasses
  • 2 1/3 C All Purpose flour (This recipe is easy to sub in some healthier flour, try 1/3 C white wheat or sprouted spelt)

Coating sugar:

  • 1/4 C sugar (turbinado is great)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375, line two baking sheets with parchment. If you don’t have parchment paper, do get some. It makes clean up a breeze and who likes to “grease a cookie sheet” anyway? Yuck.
  2. Bloom spices with 1/4 cup of the butter substitute in a small shallow pan.
  3. Pour fragrant, spicy melted shortening into solid shortening/butter substitute in a medium to large mixing bowl.
  4. Beat shortening with sugar, salt, baking soda.
  5. Beat in egg, then molasses.
  6. Add flour, beat to incorporate fully, into a stiff dough.
  7. Drop teaspoon size balls of cookie dough into cinnamon-sugar mix, roll to cover.
  8. Then, space onto prepared baking sheet and bake for 11-13 minutes - (13 will produce a nice snappy snap.)
  9. Cool on pans, on racks then store in airtight container when fully cooled.

Thanksgiving Tips and To Do Items:

  • Do your last big housecleaning, put away things you won't need out, like that stack of magazines on the coffee table. Take out your platters and bowls and platters, clean. Label with sticky notes so you know what is going to go in what.
  • Pie doughs, cookies, breads can all be pulled together and baked or frozen today.
  • Make a Thanksgiving Spice Blend and mix with butter for bird.

 

Why not try these Golden Pumpkin Spice Rolls?

Recipe for a New Golden Age of Patronage and Some Golden Pumpkin Spice Rolls

This did not come easy, but then, life is not easy. While the downward compression of pay for writers continues, our costs go up. I'm offered fifteen cents a word for a job that last year might have been $1 a word. My hosting service and my newsletter service both cost real money and those costs increase. In fact, the newsletter which has won the All Star award, costs me more as more people subscribe! When I started this writing thing, I resisted adding a "donate" button to the site. "I'm not a charity, I'm a business!" I protested. I'm a freelance writer, published in great places like The Washington Post. I've gotten numerous small awards and much-appreciated nods from editors and writers I admire. Even better, my readers have written me lovely emails indicating how my writing has educated them as well as entertained them. These emails and comments, and the professional recognition, mean a lot.

A better experience for you, costs me

I do a few things differently from other writers and bloggers. You will never see a product advertised here that I don't believe in. I know other writers that make different choices and honestly, I understand why. But do the pennies they earn from those ads, mean more to them than my experience on their site? Maybe they haven't thought of it that way.

I also don't enjoy reading good writing about nourishing our families, while having belly fat or mortgage re-fi ads in my face. I don't like reading about supporting local family family farms and seeing Big Ag ads like Kraft Singles or Hamburger Helper, interspersed in the post.

These choices I make to improve my readers' experience and are a reflection of my desire to publish this blog consistent with my values. But it comes at a cost. As I continue to seek new sponsors, and to be grateful for those I've got, I'm experimenting with a donate button here on the sidebar.

A new Golden Age of Patronage?

I hope you might donate through that button and support my work.  I want to make improvements that I cannot now afford. I know my comment module sucks. I am sorry, but it costs real money to hire a developer to do that work. I'd like to migrate back to Wordpress so I can make changes like this, myself but that site migration costs, too. And it costs a lot.

I hope that the way people have embraced crowd-sourced funding like Kickstarter campaigns and Awesome grants, means that people will not be offended. Maybe we are in a new Golden Age of Patronage? Similar to various Renaissance patrons who supported artists and composers, we now see the growth in opportunities to support artists in various ways. Think of this as a virtual upturned hat and me as a busker playing a really good cover of your favorite song. If 50 people find a post here as valuable as their morning latte, and donate that $3.00 I could pay for the next couple email newsletters. If 500 did, I could fix that damn comment module.

I believe people value good writing, compelling story telling, well-researched information.

I am proud that my readership has reached a level where potential advertisers have contacted me to inquire about ad space here. I am confident that turning down those ads -- ads for products and services that have nothing to do with my core values or my "brand", nothing to do with the things I care about and the things you like to read about -- I believe saying no to them is the right decision. But maybe I'm wrong.

Please tell me I am not by kicking in a few bucks to my upturned PayPal hat. I care deeply about your experience here. I appreciate all the support I've gotten via sponsors and readers, via Tweets and Facebook shares. Keep it up as long as you think I'm holding up my end of the bargain and producing good content. Forward the newsletter to your friends, forward this post to them, especially. Encourage them to read me, too.

And do let me know what you think I'm getting right, what I could do better, and how you feel about the dreaded (maybe only by me?) "Donate" button.

Giving thanks to you, I now share a recipe for your Thanksgiving table:

 

pumpkinrolls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GOLDEN PUMPKIN SPICE DINNER ROLLS

The golden color fairly screams Autumn harvest. I think it's perfect to break bread and open this discussion of the new Golden Age of Patronage.

The flavor is pretty subtle, and the texture is definitely dinner roll, not sweet, nor muffiny, nor too flaky, like a Southern biscuit. I've modified this from an old recipe, I think it was in Gourmet. The recipe is pretty simple, not too time consuming, and best of all you can make them now and freeze them. One less thing to do just before the big meal. Take them out the morning of or night before. Warm them in the leftover heat of the oven as your turkey rests or if you have a warming drawer, pop them in there.

This recipe was modified to make it dairy free. You can substitute real dairy if you like. For those with egg allergy, you could brush with milk, soy milk, or just thinned honey.

Ingredients:

 

  • one package active dry yeast
  • 1/3 C sugar
  • 3/4 C So Delicious Coconut Milk or Earth Balance Soy Milk
  • 5 C All Purpose Flour
  • 2 C Organic Pastry Flour
  • 1 generous teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg (throw out that old tin in your cupboard that has long since lost its oomph. Get whole nutmeg, grate as needed. You will thank me.)
  • 1 teaspoon Chai spice (I love Arvinda's if you're in the Greater Toronto area. Or try my friend Raghavan Iyer's new Chai Masala. Alternately, you could add some Chinese Five Spice powder.)
  • 1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt or sea salt
  • 3/4 C Earth Balance Soy butter or baking bars
  • 1 large egg lightly beaten
  • 1 can of organic pumpkin puree (not the pie filling; alternatively you may make your own puree, but various pumpkins and squashes have different sugar levels and moisture levels, I find the good canned variety of puree easier)
  • egg wash: one egg yolk or one whole egg beaten with a TBSP of warm water and 1-2 tsp of honey

 

 

Directions:

 

  1. Butter a 13x9x2 metal baking pan.
  2. Warm milk to about 110, in a small bowl place one tsp of the sugar, the yeast and the milk. Whisk it with a fork to unclump the yeast. In a few minutes it should look frothy. This is "proof" the yeast is indeed, "active." Hence the term "proofing the yeast." (Don't ask me why it's not "proving the yeast.")
  3. In a large bowl measure the flours, spices, salt, remaining sugar.
  4. Use a pastry blender or two knives to cut in the shortening or butter or butter substitute.
  5. Add the whole egg, pumpkin puree, yeasty milk and stir until it's all well-mixed.
  1. Here is where that tea-ball duster idea comes in handy. Sprinkle a fine layer of flour on that cool counter, then turn dough, wet and dry bits together onto the counter.
  2. Knead about ten minutes until the whole thing comes together in a springy, golden ball. Only dust a little flour if it's really too sticky but if you're not worried about the whole thing, trust me the dough will come together without much more flour. A bench scraper works well here. Scrape the counter to gather all the dough bits together and knead it all into a ball.
  3. Clean out your big bowl, butter it, then turn the springy golden dough ball into the bowl, turning to coat it.
  4. Place the bowl in a warm spot or in the oven on proofing temp if you have that (85-100 degrees)
  5. After about an hour, the dough should have risen to about double in size.
  6. Turn onto that lightly dusted counter, and roll out into a fat log, divide in half.
  7. Roll log out to about 1 1/2 to 2" in diameter. Use your bench scraper or a butter knife to divide in half, then into balls about the size of a lemon.
  8. Do the same with the other log.
  9. Place the balls into the prepared pan, you should have about four rows of seven.
  10. Second rise, cover lightly and return to warm spot for another rise ~ 45 minutes. They'll puff up a bit and fill in any gaps.
  11. Preheat oven to 350.
  12. Brush the rolls lightly with the egg-honey wash. Don't let them get soggy.
  13. Bake about 30-35 minutes. The house will be fragrant enough that your snoozing spouse will lift his head and say "something smells good."
Cool in the pan, then on a rack to cool completely. Wrap tightly and freeze until the day before the big feast. To reheat frozen and thawed rolls wrap tightly in foil and warm in your 350 degree oven about 20 minutes.
These are really good at dinner or for next day leftover turkey, cranberry sandwiches, or in a leftover bread pudding or strada. Most likely, you won't have that many leftover though!
Here's to a new Golden Age of Patronage. Thank you for your readership and your support!

 

Indispensible Kitchen Tools for Thanksgiving Prep

Despite what every email and newsletter will tell you this time of year, you don't really have to buy a whole bunch of new gadgets and gizmos to make a good Thanksgiving meal. What you may already have, and how it helps:

1. A tea infuser, like this one, doubles as a shaker to sprinkle flour on the counter or confectioner's sugar on desserts.

2. A melon baller - makes coring apples a breeze.

3. A grapefruit knife scoops seeds and membranes from squash.

4. A good Oxo vegetable peeler can even handle squash peels. It will give you nice zest from citrus without pith, and it will shave cloves of garlic for some lovely side dishes.

5. Zip top bags and sharpie pens. Make ahead and freeze is great but don't forget to label what's what. teaball trick

My Tea Ball Flour-er also works well to dust confectioner's sugar or cocoa.

What you should get:

1. A scale. Once you cook with one, you'll be amazed at how much easier it makes baking. Scoop everything into one bowl instead of dirtying measuring cups and spoons, multiple bowls. Who needs more dishes now?

 

What you can do without:

1. A baster. Really, all basting does is lower the temperature and lengthen the cooking time. Rub your turkey with your Thanksgiving spice rub and some butter, soy butter or oil, and you can co without basting.

2. Injectors. Ick. Brining will do much more for the overall juiciness than going all Nip/Tuck on your bird.

 

And, one or two crazy gadgets I love:

1. The roasting wand. This allows you to safely roast a stuffed bird. The metal tube is inserted through the stuffed cavity and circulates hot air through the stuffing to safely roast it while achieving the proper internal temp.

2. The sugar bear. These little terra cotta bears get soaked in water then placed in your bag of brown sugar, keeping it moist. No more whacking a brick of brown sugar to measure it.