Sunday, November 22, 2009

getting ready

The countdown has begun for what many consider to be the biggest cooking holiday of the year. Everyone is thinking about food right now, from what to cook to what to eat (and what not to eat), how to organize everything and to how to afford it all.  Here are a few finds I would love to share with you to keep your holiday smooth and happy.

Michael Natkin has done it again. I came across his recipe for Pan Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Candied Pepitas and Cider Vinegar and I think it is perfect for the holiday. I featured Michael's recipe for leek fritters a while back. He is a regular contributer to the web site Serious Eats and he has his own blog Herbivoracious. His Brussels sprouts recipe looks easy and delish and I think it is worth a try.

Katie at Party in my Pantry offers up a great cranberry sauce (she is calling her recipe chutney) that is also simple and delicious. Cranberry sauce is really so easy to make. I urge you, if you have any doubts, to try making it yourself rather than from a can. You will NEVER go back, I promise you.

I am stocking up on all sorts of ingredients right now:

Patel Brothers supermarket in Jackson Heights, Queens sells nuts by the pound at VERY reasonable prices. Can you see the price tag on these pecans? $5.99 per pound!! My local supermarket is selling them for $9. I will be making pecan pies with them. I made the dough today, rolled it out and put it in a pie tin and stuck it in the freezer till I am ready to bake.
Butternut squash will store in a cool dry place for weeks. I am going to braise them with apple cider . Don't get discouraged with the peeling. Cut the squash into smaller chunks before you peel,  they will be easier to handle that way.

Speaking of peeling. My family insists on mass quantities of mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving. Normally I would leave the skin on the potato for a rough mash with herbs, but that would be rejected by the familial purists on this occasion. SO, I peel and quarter the potatoes the day before and store them covered in water in the fridge overnight. Drain and refresh with clean water on the day of and cook as you would. I put my cooked potatoes through a hand cranked food mill for a really nice texture.

Small pearl onions baked in cream look especially pretty in three colors. Don't be afraid to mix things up a bit. I got these as a trio at B.J.s. I use the same mustard cream sauce for them as I use on my baked leeks.
Don't forget to combine varieties of apples when making a pie or apple sauce for a more complex apple flavor. These are macs and granny smith, a classic combo.

For a really pretty garnish I love to use pomegranate seeds. These were 2 for $5, not exactly a bargain, but a nice treat. Put the seeds in salads, or over rice pilaf, squash gratin, mixed with green vegetables or even piled up on the turkey platter. They are as colorful as gems and give a wonderful tart burst of juice.
These pistachio nuts were a reasonable buy at both B.J.s and my local supermarket at $10 for a two pound bag. I use them in my green bean dish as follows:

Green Beans with Pistachio Nuts
Blanch one pound of trimmed green beans in boiling salted water for 5 minutes or until the beans are tender. Drain beans and wrap in a damp paper towel and store in a plastic bag in the fridge overnight.

Before serving remove beans from fridge and allow to come to room temp (or use beans right after blanching), heat olive oil in a pan and saute a finely minced shallot. Cook about 10 minutes till shallot is soft and golden and a little crispy, then add 1/2 cup chopped pistachio nuts and the beans to the pan and toss to coat until beans are warmed through and the nuts are lightly toasted.
serves 6-8 as a side dish

Happy happy happy Thanksgiving !!!


  1. Happy Thanksgiving to you too! Just waiting for my brussels sprouts to get just a bit bigger. Michael's recipe looks delish.

  2. Here's an update on the shopping: Trader Joe's was featuring pecans at $5.49 per lb. today.

    Also- consider buying organic apples and potatoes if you can.

    The supermarkets (three in all) I shopped today were MOBBED, as if a snow storm had been announced. There were plenty of items in stock so don't worry, just plan your time accordingly.

    all the best!

  3. Yep, the big week is here! Thanks for the tips and inspiration. I braved TJs on Court St. this afternoon, and it was, surprisingly, not bad. Shop soon, though. A mob scene could erupt around the cranberry display at any moment!

    I'm sampling the Beaujolais Nouveau 2009 in about an hour. I hope it's good! Amanda, would you please let us know what you think of it if you get a chance? Happy, Happy! xxx

  4. I tried the Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau 2009 last week when it arrived. I thought it was nice. The 2009 is supposed to be one of the best vintages for the wine in a long time. The wine has a bit more concentration and depth than in previous years. What did you think of it? I am going to mention this wine in a post later today. Have a great holiday!!


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