Thanksgiving – Zester Daily Zester Daily Fri, 05 Jan 2018 10:00:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Festive Pot Pies Celebrate Thanksgiving Leftovers /chefs-wrecipe/festive-pot-pies-celebrate-thanksgiving-leftovers/ /chefs-wrecipe/festive-pot-pies-celebrate-thanksgiving-leftovers/#respond Thu, 23 Nov 2017 10:00:41 +0000 /?p=75913 Main photo: Turkey pot pies by chef Andrew Pastore at Clifton’s Cafeteria in Los Angeles. Credit: Copyright 2016 David Latt

The only part of Thanksgiving better than the dinner itself is the next day, when we feast on leftovers. Sandwiches made with sliced turkey and cranberry sauce. Turkey soup. Turkey salad. When I was in his kitchen at Clifton’s Cafeteria in downtown Los Angeles, chef Andrew Pastore showed me how to make my new favorite after-Thanksgiving dish: elegant, individual turkey pot pies.

Reopened in 2010 after extensive remodeling, Clifton’s remained true to its historical soul as a cafeteria. In the street-level dining hall, customers carry their trays between stations as they collect beverages, salads, entrees, sides and desserts.

Clifton’s takes a page from big-idea theme restaurants. Remodeled dining rooms on all four floors reflect the heyday of the 1930s when there were worlds to be explored and swank nightclubs to attend.

Pastore’s task was to provide a through line for the varied environments of the restaurant. Relaunching Clifton’s meant creating a menu that included old favorites as well as popular modern dishes, which explains why the turkey pot pies share counter space with freshly made sushi and vegan meatloaf.

You might think that a cafeteria would skimp on quality when the kitchen has to prepare as many as 1,000 meals a day. Not so at Clifton’s. Pastore sources quality ingredients that would be at home in any fine dining restaurant. He supervises every detail of preparation. He innovates familiar dishes.

Take his roast beef sandwich, for example. The pink-in the middle beef is moist and flavorful. To add kick, he smears a bit of horseradish sauce on the freshly baked bread. Another chef would layer on tomatoes. That’s where Pastore shows his inventiveness.

Instead of fresh tomatoes, he uses slow roasted Roma tomatoes. Seasoned with dried herbs, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, the tomatoes are halved and roasted in a 200 F oven for up to eight hours.  They give up their water and collapse on themselves. The result is a blast of melt-in-your-mouth tomato flavor.

It is that attention to detail and creativity that Pastore brought to updating his version of Clifton’s classic turkey pot pie.

At Clifton’s, every day is Thanksgiving

Executive Chef Andrew Pastore in a kitchen at Clifton's Cafeteria. Credit: Copyright 2016 David Latt

Executive Chef Andrew Pastore at Clifton’s Cafeteria. Credit: Copyright 2017 David Latt

Pastore cooks 40 turkeys every day. Roasted turkeys are served at the carving station. He uses the carcasses to make stock.

For his pot pies, Pastore doesn’t have leftover Thanksgiving turkey so he brines, poaches and shreds turkey breasts. For the poaching liquid he uses homemade stock, made with turkey or chicken carcasses. He would never use commercially produced stocks. They are too expensive and salty.

At our home, while the Thanksgiving turkey is in the oven, we put a gallon of water into a large stock pot. As the turkey is carved, the bones and carcass go into the stock pot, which simmers uncovered for an hour.

With the table cleared, we strain and reserve the liquid. After refrigerating overnight, the stock is portioned into pint- and quart-sized airtight containers. The stock that isn’t used to make pot pies can be frozen for up to six months.

Clifton’s Turkey Pot Pies

A 6-inch round of pastry dough used as a lid on chef Andrew Pastore's turkey pot pie. Credit: Copyright 2016 David Latt

A 6-inch round of pastry dough used as a lid on chef Andrew Pastore’s turkey pot pie. Credit: Copyright 2017 David Latt

Pastore serves his individual pot pies in wide mouth, 16-ounce glass canning jars. If those are not available, use individual-sized bake-proof bowls and adjust the diameter of the puff pastry rounds accordingly. The rounds should be 3 inches larger than the top diameter of the jar or bowl.

Prepared puff pastry can be purchased in most supermarket refrigerated or frozen food sections.

To create a gluten-free pot pie, omit the puff pastry topping and substitute a corn starch slurry for the roux. Easy to make, corn starch and water are mixed together in equal parts without heating. Add the slurry instead of the flour-based roux as directed below.

Use a vegetable oil such as canola, but not pure olive oil, which is too dominating a flavor.

Only use kosher salt in the brine. Iodized salt has a metallic aftertaste.

All vegetables should be cut the same size to promote even cooking. For added flavors, toss vegetables in a small amount of vegetable oil, spread on a baking sheet and roast in a 350 F for 10 minutes before putting them into the pot.

The roux and the filling can be prepared as much as a day ahead of the meal. Just before serving, reheat the filling and add English peas and the finishing seasonings before topping the jar with the puff pastry round.

Prep time if using leftover turkey breast: 20 minutes

Cook time if using leftover turkey breast: 45 minutes

Total time if using leftover turkey breast: 65 minutes

Prep time if brining and poaching uncooked turkey breast: 60 minutes plus 8 hours overnight

Cook time if poaching uncooked turkey breast: 90 minutes

Total time if brining and poaching uncooked turkey breast: 2 1/2 hours plus 8 hours overnight

Yield: 8 individual 16-ounce pot pies

Ingredients to brine and poach uncooked turkey breast

1/2 cup kosher salt

2 cups brown sugar

1 gallon water

8 sprigs fresh thyme, washed, finely chopped (optional)

1 clove garlic (optional)

1/2 orange (optional)

8 sprigs fresh sage (optional)

1 raw turkey breast, 3 to 4 pounds

1 gallon turkey stock, preferably homemade

Directions for poaching uncooked turkey breast

1. Place salt, sugar, seasonings (optional) and water in a large plastic bag or container. Mix well. Submerge raw turkey breast in seasoned water. Seal. Place in large bowl and refrigerate a minimum of 8 hours, preferably overnight.

2. Place plastic bag in sink. Remove turkey breast. Discard seasoned water. Rinse turkey breast with fresh water. Pat dry.

3. Place turkey stock in large stock pot. Simmer. Add brined turkey breast. Cook 1 1/2 hours or until breast reaches an internal temperature of 155 F.

4. Remove breast from stock. Allow to rest 20 minutes. Reserve stock to use for pot pies and refrigerate or freeze for later use.

5. Use or refrigerate poached breast in airtight container.

Ingredients for turkey pot pie

11 ounces unsalted butter

11 ounces all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

4 cups yellow onions, medium dice

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 cups celery stalks, medium dice

2 cups peeled carrots, medium dice

1 cup Portobello or shiitake mushrooms, washed, thin sliced (optional)

4 cups shredded turkey breast

3 to 4 cups turkey stock, homemade

1 cup English peas, shelled, washed, fresh or frozen

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley

1 teaspoon truffle oil (optional)

1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)

4 sheets puff pastry, cut into 6” rounds to cover eight 16-ounce glass canning jars

2 eggs

8 rosemary sprigs (optional)


1. To make roux, melt butter over low heat in a saucepan. Sprinkle flour in small amounts to avoid creating clumps. Whisk to incorporate flour into melted butter. Add more flour. Continue whisking until all flour is added. Be careful to keep the roux out of the corners of the pan where it can burn. For added flavor, create a “blond roux” by stirring over medium-low heat until flour is light golden brown. Remove from heat and reserve.

2. In a medium saucepan, heat vegetable oil. Add onions. Season with a pinch of salt. Cook until lightly transparent. Toss to stir. Add celery, carrots and mushrooms (optional). Season in layers with another pinch of salt. Stir well. Sweat vegetables 4 to 5 minutes, being careful not to brown.

3. Add shredded turkey meat and stock.

4. Bring to simmer. Add roux in stages, a small amount each time. Stir well to incorporate. Simmer 15 to 20 minutes. If gravy becomes too thick, add small amounts of heated stock.

5. Add peas, salt and pepper to taste and truffle oil (optional). Stir well.

6. Add thyme and parsley. Stir well.

7. Add heavy cream (optional).

8. Preheat oven to 350 F.

9. Arrange glass canning jars on baking tray. Spoon filling into each jar. Fill to top. Carefully lay a piece of puff pastry over the top of each jar. Gently shape the dough onto the top and down the sides of the jar to create a “lid” that will seal in the filling.

10. Whisk eggs together. Use a pastry brush to paint puff pastry lid on top and sides.

11. Place filled canning jars on a baking sheet and place in preheated oven.

12. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until puff pastry is golden brown. Garnish each pot pie with a rosemary sprig (optional). Serve hot.

Main photo: Turkey pot pies by chef Andrew Pastore at Clifton’s Cafeteria in Los Angeles. Credit: Copyright 2017 David Latt

Click here to view the video on YouTube.

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Rich, Out-Of-The-Bird Chestnut And Sausage Stuffing /thanksgiving-wrecipe/rich-out-of-the-bird-chestnut-and-sausage-stuffing/ /thanksgiving-wrecipe/rich-out-of-the-bird-chestnut-and-sausage-stuffing/#respond Fri, 17 Nov 2017 10:00:17 +0000 /?p=76051 Bread crumbs and chestnuts for Thanksgiving stuffing. Credit: Copyright 2016 cislander/iStock

Our family’s Thanksgiving dinner, including the stuffing, is heavily inflected with New England themes. That’s because two of my children were born in Boston and we lived in Massachusetts for 14 years when the children were young. Once we moved to California, we kept those foods for Thanksgiving that are not only delicious but also nostalgic.

The stuffing for our turkey is bread-based and seasoned with herbs, onions, sausage and chestnuts. I am always asked to make a huge amount, and there is enough stuffing to fill a 20-pound bird plus enough left over to bake in a 12-by-9-inch casserole filled to the brim separately. It is often considered the best dish of Thanksgiving. We eat too much, so maybe this year I’ll cut the recipe in half.

New England-Style Bread, Sausage, and Chestnut Stuffing for Turkey

Remember that this recipe must be started three to four days before Thanksgiving because the bread must dry. Never use store-bought bread croutons for this preparation. It will be easiest to finish this the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving and keep it refrigerated until needed to stuff the turkey.

The stuffing should look pretty well coated with herbs, chestnuts and sausage and be ever so slightly moist. The best way to keep the bread somewhat moist is by reserving some turkey stock to pour on it. The nonstuffed stuffing can be cooked the previous evening or Thanksgiving morning if you don’t have two ovens, then reheated at 475 F for 20 to 30 minutes while the turkey is resting and being carved.

The stuffing in a 16-pound-plus turkey should be sufficient for eight to 10 diners, and the nonstuffed stuffing is extra that you probably will not need. The recipe can be halved easily and still feed 10 people with a little bit of leftover.

Another tip: You may be tempted to use a food processor for all the chopping, but in order to have the right size of chopped vegetables it’s best to do the chopping by hand.

Prep time: 1 hour

Cooking time: 40 minutes

Total time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

Yield: Enough stuffing for one 25-pound turkey plus extra


4 loaves French baguette bread

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

2 cups chopped shallots

2 cups chopped celery

2 pounds mild Italian sausage, casing removed, meat crumbled

6 tablespoons finely chopped fresh tarragon leaves

1 tablespoon ground dried sage

1 tablespoon dried thyme

1 tablespoon dried summer savory

1 1/2 tablespoons salt

2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper

2 cups chopped fresh roasted and shelled chestnuts (see note)

3/4 cup Jack Daniels or Jim Beam bourbon

2 tablespoons unsalted butter or turkey, goose or duck fat

Turkey stock as needed


1. Three days before Thanksgiving dinner, cut the baguettes into 1/2-inch cubes and leave to dry for 3 days on trays in the open air.

2. In a large stock pot, melt the butter over medium heat, then cook the shallots and celery, stirring, until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the sausage and cook until it has turned color, breaking up the larger bits with a wooden spoon, about 12 minutes. Add the tarragon, sage, thyme and savory and cook until the fresh herbs wilt, about 1 minute, then season with salt and pepper, stir, and add the chestnuts. Mix in the bread crumbs. Toss and stir so that the bread is well coated.

3. Transfer the bread crumbs to a large mixing bowl and set aside. Correct the seasoning and toss. Sprinkle the bourbon all over and toss again. The stuffing can be made up to this point and refrigerated overnight. The stuffing should be very moist but not wet or soaking. If it is not, pour in some turkey stock, maybe a cup or 2, and toss again.

4. Stuff the turkey with this stuffing. Place the remaining stuffing in a large casserole greased with the butter or turkey, goose or duck fat. Press down and sprinkle the top with some turkey stock. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 F until crispy brown on top, about 1 1/2 hours, moistening every 15 minutes with turkey drippings once the turkey is roasting.

Note: To roast chestnuts, preheat the oven to 425 F. Cut a not-too-deep “X” in the convex side of the chestnut with a paring knife and lay them in a baking pan, “X” side up. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool, then remove the shell.

Variation: You can add 2 cups of shucked oysters to the dressing. I made it that way once many years ago, but it’s labor-intensive.

Bread crumbs and chestnuts for Thanksgiving stuffing. Credit: Copyright 2017 cislander/iStock

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Tips For Buying A Healthier Holiday Turkey /agriculture/poultry/tips-for-buying-a-healthier-holiday-turkey/ /agriculture/poultry/tips-for-buying-a-healthier-holiday-turkey/#respond Tue, 14 Nov 2017 10:00:12 +0000 /?p=76154 The heritage turkeys at Good Shepherd Poultry Ranch live much like their wild ancestors on the Kansas prairie. Credit: Copyright 2016 Jim Turner, Turner Photography, Lindsborg, KS

Before deciding whether to brine, deep-fry or spatchcock the Thanksgiving turkey, more Americans than ever are puzzling over a pressing ethical question: “Which type of bird should I buy?”

The majority of the estimated 68 million turkeys sold between Thanksgiving and Christmas come from giant industrial producers like Butterball and Jennie-O. But consumers’ growing preference for meats that meet better standards for animal welfare, along with better nutritional and environmental impacts, is shifting the market toward niche alternatives. Though national statistics are scant, data from industry and retail groups show sales of non-GMO, organic, free-range and heritage turkeys (see definitions in sidebar) growing sharply. With more options in supermarkets and online, choosing a bird for the holiday table is weightier than ever.

Here’s a rundown of the top considerations for choosing a holiday turkey that’s palatable in more ways than one.

Hormones and antibiotics in turkeys

Federal law bans the use of hormones in poultry products. So don’t be fooled by a label claiming “no added hormones.” When a company touts the fact that it is merely complying with legal regulations, consider it a red flag for misleading practices, advises the Animal Welfare Institute.

While the chicken industry, led by Purdue, is stepping back from the routine use of antibiotics, most large turkey producers still administer them in the feed to prevent disease, according to Food Safety News. Bear in mind that all meat must be free of antibiotic residues before sale (beware the label reading “antibiotic-free” — another meaningless label). Still, there is still good reason for caution. Several studies, including this 2015 Consumer Reports study, have found turkey to have the highest incidence of superbugs — drug-resistant bacteria — of any meat. It advised consumers to buy organic turkey or products labeled “no antibiotics administered.”

Fast-growing hybrids and heritage breeds

Mary’s free-range turkeys live in open pens on pasture with access to shelter and shade. Credit: Copyright 2016 Mary's Turkey Farm

Mary’s free-range turkeys live in open pens on pasture with access to shelter and shade. Credit: Copyright 2017 Mary’s Turkey Farm

The modern-day turkey is a broad-breasted, white-feathered bird that grows twice as fast as its native ancestors. It cannot mate, fly or engage in any other natural turkey behaviors. What it can do — thanks to the genetic selection that suits the industrialized food-production system’s demand for high efficiency and food safety at the lowest cost per unit — is eat a lot. Selected for hypothyroidism, conventional turkeys have a metabolic rate that’s 300 times faster than that of heritage turkeys, according to breeder Frank Reese of Good Shepherd Poultry Ranch in Lindsborg, Kansas. An insatiable hunger ensures that hens gain 26 pounds and toms 40 pounds in just 12 weeks — a rate double that of Reese’s heritage birds.

Modern genetics has succeeded in creating the ample white breast meat many people love, but it has “deformed” the bird’s natural anatomy. With a shortened breast bone, the muscle grows broader, which in turn affects the hip-bone and leg attachments, causing turkeys to wobble instead of walk, according to Reese. The industrial turkey suffers from a range of health problems — from joint pain to diabetes to congestive heart failure — that alarm animal-welfare advocates.

Niche Turkey Options For Conscious Consumers

Non-GMO turkey is fed a mixture of Non-GMO Project Verified corn and soy along with vitamins and minerals. This designation does not eliminate pesticides or stipulate higher animal welfare.

Organic turkey is free of GMOs, antibiotics and synthetic pesticides and is raised according to strict certified-organic standards mandated by the USDA and verified by independent audit. Organically raised turkeys must have year-round access to the outdoors, but they can legally be confined to barns with enclosed porches, so they are not necessarily pasture-raised or free-range.

Pasture-raised turkey is an unverified term for any turkey with access to outdoor habitat, also called free-range, free-ranging or free-roaming. The USDA does not define a minimum amount of time or outdoors conditions; therefore, this claim should be validated by a third-party certifier.

Local turkey is raised within a certain market region. There is no regulation for feed or animal welfare, although local turkeys are generally raised without antibiotics on small farms with access to pasture. They may be either fast-growing, slower-growing hybrids or heritage breeds.

Heritage turkey comprises eight historic breeds listed by the Livestock Conservancy and other naturally mating varieties. Breeds like Bronze, Narragansett and Bourbon grow at half the rate of their modern counterparts; are raised outdoors with sufficient space and natural enhancements to express their natural behaviors; and represent the highest standard for animal welfare.

Non-meat alternatives are any number of commercial or homemade turkey substitutes made from soy, seitan, grains and/or vegetables. Animal-welfare activists argue that they are the most ethical, humane and sustainable choice.

The push toward healthier turkeys is also driving the heritage market, the best option for animal welfare. Between 1997, when the first turkey census was conducted by the Livestock Conservancy, and 2015, the number of breeding heritage turkeys increased 90 percent. Sales of Reese’s turkeys — with less white and more dark meat — through Heritage Foods USA have doubled every year over the past four years, according to owner Patrick Martins. Denver-based Natural Grocers, with 126 stores in 19 states, sells out of Mary’s heritage turkeys every year.

Turkey raised on pasture

Mary’s is a poultry farm established by the Pitman family in 1954 in Fresno, California. Hailed as a model of sustainable production, it raises three types of turkey — non-GMO, organic and heritage (see definitions in sidebar) — all of which are GAP-certified for level 3 and above, verifying a high standard of animal care that includes genuinely free-range conditions.

“In a lot of ways, we’re circling back to the way we did it in the ’50s and ’60s,” said third-generation farmer David Pitman. “The breeds were slower-growing. There weren’t antibiotics, there wasn’t GMO — the birds were organic.”

Mary’s processes 8,000 turkeys a day to meet the Thanksgiving demand while striving to balance customer expectations with cost. At Natural Grocers, Mary’s non-GMO free-range turkey costs $2.69 per pound, the organic free-range bird $3.99 per pound and the heritage breed $6.99 per pound.

Is a healthier turkey worth the price? Heritage Foods USA’s Martins asserts that spending more per person, especially on a special occasion, is key to both humane treatment and better-quality meat. “The huge change is that people are starting to ask the question ‘Where is this meat from?’ the same way they ask about heirloom seeds and vegetables,” he said.

“The more questions that are asked, the better.”

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Mashed Butternut Squash Keeps Thanksgiving Sides Simple, Elegant /cooking/75977/ /cooking/75977/#respond Fri, 10 Nov 2017 10:00:45 +0000 /?p=75977 Butternut squash and pumpkins make a perfect Thanksgiving side dish. Credit: Copyright 2016 Wynne Everett

Thanksgiving side dishes can be a challenge for the host who wants to serve an impressive meal. It’s tempting to get carried away and choose something too complicated when a simple dish, such as a straightforward mashed butternut squash, can make a Thanksgiving dinner elegant.

Sometimes the too-complicated culprits are regional specialties such as the western favorite, frog eye salad, or the Midwestern Snicker salad. New Englanders turn each year, though, to mashed butternut squash to make a Thanksgiving dinner complete.

Frog eye salad, popular in Nevada, Idaho, Wyoming and Colorado, is a kind of pudding-based sweet pasta fruit salad made with the small soup pasta known as acini di pepe, pineapple chunks, orange pieces, sugar, mini marshmallows, milk and cornstarch. A Snicker salad is, you guessed it, a mix of Snickers bars, Granny Smith apples, whipped cream and often pudding or whipped topping served in a bowl as a potluck and party staple in Iowa. If these two dishes are an indication of anything, it seems that these Midwesterners retain a fondness for 1950s-style sweet sides.

A mashed butternut squash dish seems like a less-sugary and simple side perfect for Thanksgiving. It also is so easy you can have a 5-year-old child make it or at least do the mashing part.

For a little extra I suppose you could sprinkle some walnuts and maple syrup on top, but even that isn’t necessary. There’s a great temptation for even moderately experienced cooks to want to try something fancier on Thanksgiving, something more involved and appealing sounding. Trust me, simple is the way to go, and this is as simple as it gets.

Mashed pumpkin side dish. Credit: Copyright 2016 Clifford A. Wright

Mashed pumpkin side dish. Credit: Copyright 2017 Clifford A. Wright

Massachusetts-style Mashed Butternut Squash

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 1 hour

Total time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Yield: 4 servings


2 pounds butternut squash or pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch squares

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/4 cup unsalted butter


1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

2. Place the squash cubes in a 12 x 9 x 2-inch or similarly sized baking casserole. Season with salt and pepper. Pour water in to a depth of about 1 inch. Dot the surface with butter and cover the casserole tightly with foil.

3. Bake until tender, about 1 hour. Crush the squash to a chunky consistency with a potato masher or wooden spoon. Stir and taste to check seasoning.

Main photo: Butternut squash and pumpkins make a perfect Thanksgiving side dish. Credit: Copyright 2017 Wynne Everett

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Easy Pairings: 7 Winning Thanksgiving Wines /thanksgiving/easy-pairings-7-winning-thanksgiving-wines/ /thanksgiving/easy-pairings-7-winning-thanksgiving-wines/#respond Wed, 16 Nov 2016 10:00:52 +0000 /?p=76082 Fraga do Corvo. Credit: Copyright 2016 Sue Style

Choosing wines for the Thanksgiving meal is a joyous task, calling for flexibility and creativity in equal measure. This is a time to bend the rules, forgetting any traditional meat-and-red-wine mantras. Turkey feels quite at ease in the company of full-bodied white wines, especially those with a thrilling backbone of acidity to balance the fruitiness and help them cope with a blizzard of sides — Alsace Riesling, Galician Godello and alpine whites from Switzerland all come to mind.

If you’re more of a red person, forget those muscular, fruit-bombing kinds that will monopolize the party and instead focus on wines that will listen politely to the food while still keeping up their own end of the conversation. (I’m thinking of Pinot Noir, Grenache-dominated Rhone reds or Garnachas from Spain.) Or be creative: Offer a sparkling wine that will accompany the feast from start to finish.

And remember that much as you love wine, this is not the moment for geeky choices — that recently unearthed funky, natural wine should probably stay in the cellar. What’s needed are wines that are not overly demanding, yet interesting and original enough to make them a talking point without boring the non-wine geeks in the family.

Here’s my Euro-centric pick of wines that I’ve especially enjoyed this year, with one sparkling and a creative/flexible choice of still wines, both white and red.

Check Wine Searcher for your nearest stockists. For readers based in Europe, GrauOnline and Decántalo are good online sources for Spanish wines.

Fraga do Corvo, Godello, Galicia, Spain

Godello is grown in tiny quantities in Galicia in northwest Spain, but it’s steadily gaining ground and gathering a faithful band of followers. Fruitier and fleshier than its better-known cousin Albariño — more mezzo than soprano — it’s a better bet for the Thanksgiving meal. This one comes from DO Monterrei, one of Galicia’s most dynamic designated regions, which hugs the Portuguese border. Made from low-yielding, 20-year-old vines grown on granite soils, it’s zesty, lively and packed with personality — a white wine for folks who think they only drink red.

Gusborne Blanc de Blancs, Gusborne Estate, Kent, England

Gusborne Blanc de Blancs. Credit: Copyright 2016 Sue Style

Gusborne Blanc de Blancs. Credit: Copyright 2016 Sue Style

English sparkling wine is having a moment, and the best estates, based mainly in the south of England with soils comparable to parts of Champagne, France, and blessed with an even longer growing season, are producing bubblies that are more than holding their own. You’ll be in good company if you serve up this buttery, baked-appley, fine-bubbled, Chardonnay-based beauty at your Thanksgiving table — its most recent outing was at Buckingham Palace, served at a reception for President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia.

Riesling Grand Cru Pfersigberg, Emile Beyer, Eguisheim, Alsace

Riesling Grand Cru Pfersigberg. Credit: Copyright 2016 Sue Style

Riesling Grand Cru Pfersigberg. Credit: Copyright 2016 Sue Style

Alsace Riesling is a different animal altogether from its cousins from across the Rhine, meatier with more mouthfeel, slightly higher alcohol levels and a pronounced sense of place that reflects where it is grown. This one, from one of Alsace’s top Grand Cru vineyards, comes from a small family winery that’s in the process of converting to biodynamics and making waves with its range of elegant wines. (Its Pinot Gris Hohrain would be my other Thanksgiving candidate.) The Grand Cru name (meaning Peach Hill) suggests peachiness, but in fact it’s the bolder citrus and quince aromas and flavors that dominate, balanced by a beautiful backbone of acidity — a perfect poultry wine.

Ambassadeur des Domaines Diego Mathier Réserve, Cave Nouveau Salquenen, Valais, Switzerland

Ambassadeur des Domaines Diego Mathier Réserve. Credit: Copyright 2016 Sue Style

Ambassadeur des Domaines Diego Mathier Réserve. Credit: Copyright 2016 Sue Style

This is a big, white, Swiss alpine blend of Savagnin (think Jura), Marsanne (think Rhone) and Petite Arvine (pure Valais) recently introduced by star winemakers Adrien and Diego Mathier and a worthy winner of a Platinum (Best in Show) award at this year’s Decanter World Wine Awards. With its citrus aromas and discreet oaky tones, great body and spicy fruit balanced by thrilling acidity, it has all that’s needed to counteract and complement big, rich, salty-sweet foods.

Pinot Noir Passion, Donatsch, Malans, Graubünden, Switzerland

Pinot Noir Passion. Credit: Copyright 2016 Sue Style

Pinot Noir Passion. Credit: Copyright 2016 Sue Style

With steadily warming temperatures, even Switzerland’s more northerly cantons are producing some stunning Pinot Noirs today. Some of the finest have always come from the Bündner Herrschaft villages of Canton Graubünden in the east of the country, as this one from the Donatsch family, Pinot-Meisters in the village of Malans. Classic, perfumed Pinot nose, masterfully oaked with rounded tannins, it’s a lovely, lively mouthful that will complement but not overpower a turkey feast with all the trimmings.

Domaine Saint Amant, Grangeneuve, Suzette, Rhone, France

Domaine Saint Amant. Credit: Copyright 2016 Sue Style

Domaine Saint Amant. Credit: Copyright 2016 Sue Style

Most people associate Beaumes-de-Venise with sweet Muscat, but the appellation also covers red wines (of which this is an example), all of them blends. This sunny, southern Rhone red combines old-vine Grenache, Carignan and Syrah with a smidgen of the white grape Viognier. It is grown at 1,500 feet (500 meters) altitude, which gives it welcome freshness and bite to cut through the rich meal. Serve it slightly chilled for best effect.

Teixar, Vinyes Domenech, Montsant, Catalunya, Spain

Teixar. Credit: Copyright 2016 Sue Style

Teixar. Credit: Copyright 2016 Sue Style

Montsant, the Catalan, Spain, region that encircles Priorat, turns out some terrific wines at more approachable prices than its better-known neighbor. This distinguished red from Vinyes Domenech, from 100 percent old-vine Garnacha Peluda (one of Garnacha’s many mutations), is grown with love and huge respect for the environment in a nature reserve in a hidden corner of Montsant. Beautifully spicy with red fruit and berry aromas, it’s smooth as velvet with a long finish that will enable it to hold its own with whatever the festive meal can throw at it.

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Go Green With 3 Bright, Simple Thanksgiving Sides /cooking/go-green-3-bright-simple-thanksgiving-sides/ /cooking/go-green-3-bright-simple-thanksgiving-sides/#respond Fri, 13 Nov 2015 10:00:30 +0000 /?p=70370 Griddled Brussels sprouts. Credit: Copyright 2015 Clifford A. Wright

Thanksgiving is surely a time for gastronomic excess, but at the same time, unless your children are adult cooks as mine are and the work is joyfully parceled out, the task of cooking Thanksgiving dinner can become burdensome and stressful. But dinner, especially the Thanksgiving sides, shouldn’t be stressful.

When I was a kid, I remember it was my aunt or my mom cooking and we kids played football in the cold late November air. Entering the house to the aroma of that roasting turkey is as indelible a memory as any.

Simple, satisfying green Thanksgiving sides

Boiling broccoli for broiled broccoli. Credit: Copyright 2015 Clifford A. Wright

Boiling broccoli for broiled broccoli. Credit: Copyright 2015 Clifford A. Wright

These days we all cook, and there is much hilarity as we cook and eat all day. We gather about 11 a.m. and shoot for the turkey carving around 4:30 p.m.

I can’t say our food is simple — it’s mostly labor-intensive — but there are three wonderful Thanksgiving side dishes that can fit right into the program of a too-tired cook or a teeny kitchen. I call them the three B’s, three vegetable recipes that are perfect for Thanksgiving, easy to do, more-or-less traditional and all begin with the letter B: broccoli, beans and Brussels sprouts.

Broiled Broccoli

Broiled broccoli. Credit: Copyright 2015 Clifford A. Wright

Broiled broccoli. Credit: Copyright 2015 Clifford A. Wright

I like to make this preparation when I’ve cooked something else in the oven that is either richer or more complex and has taken more of my time, such as a roast turkey. It seems almost no one has had broiled broccoli, so you’ll get positive comments. And it’s so simple it barely needs a recipe. The turkey is going to rest for 20 minutes, so that’s the perfect time to raise the oven to “broil” and cook this.

Prep time: 15 minutes to preheat broiler

Cook time: 10 to 15 minutes.

Yield: 6 servings


3 pounds broccoli

Extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


1. Preheat the broiler.

2. Bring a large pot of water to a vigorous boil and plunge the broccoli in, stems first. Boil until the broccoli is still bright green and slightly tender when skewered into the stem portion, 6 minutes, but not more. Drain well.

3. Slice the stem at a sharp diagonal, then slice the florets in half. Toss the broccoli in a large bowl with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Arrange the broccoli, cut side up, on a broiler tray. Broil until blackened on the edges, 5 to 10 minutes. Serve hot.

Green Beans with Pine Nuts

Green beans with pine nuts. Credit: Copyright 2015Clifford A. Wright

Green beans with pine nuts. Credit: Copyright 2015 Clifford A. Wright

This is about the easiest way to make green beans sparkle in taste and color. This preparation occasionally appears on our Thanksgiving table as it can be assigned to someone who feels they are not a good cook and they won’t mess it up. It makes a nice room-temperature antipasto the day after.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 12 minutes

Yield: 8 servings


2 pounds green beans, trimmed

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

4 to 6 tablespoons pine nuts


1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the green beans until no longer crunchy, about 10 minutes. Drain the beans and cool quickly under cold running water so that they stop cooking, and then let drain further.

2. In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, then cook the pine nuts until golden, about 1 minute. Add the green beans. When the pine nuts begin to brown, take the pan off the heat and serve.

Griddled Brussels Sprouts

Griddled Brussels sprouts. Credit: Copyright 2015 Clifford A. Wright

Griddled Brussels sprouts. Credit: Copyright 2015 Clifford A. Wright

This is as simple as it gets. Typically we serve this preparation as a kind of appetizer, as it’s easy to cook, easy to eat and tossed with salt — just perfect with a pre-turkey drink.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 8 minutes

Yield: 4 to 6 servings


Extra virgin olive oil

1 pound fresh Brussels sprouts, cut in half lengthwise

Coarse sea salt


Preheat a cast-iron skillet or griddle over medium heat for 10 minutes. Pour oil into the skillet or griddle until slightly thicker than a film of oil. Place the Brussels sprouts in the skillet, cut side down. Cook until blackened golden brown, then turn with tongs and cook until the convex side is also browned, 5 to 8 minutes in all. Sprinkle with sea salt, drizzle with more olive oil, if desired, and serve hot.

Note: By the time you place the last cut Brussels sprout down, you will probably need to begin turning the first.

Main photo: Griddled Brussels sprouts. Credit: Copyright 2015 Clifford A. Wright

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Adding Mexican Spice To Thanksgiving Succotash /cooking/adding-mexican-spice-to-thanksgiving-succotash/ /cooking/adding-mexican-spice-to-thanksgiving-succotash/#respond Thu, 12 Nov 2015 10:00:33 +0000 /?p=70410 Red O Restaurant Thanksgiving succotash made with corn, poblano chilies, butternut squash, onion, cotija cheese, cilantro. Credit: Copyright 2015 David Latt

Thanksgiving is the best of times. Friends and family gather together to celebrate one another and the season. And yet there is the nagging problem of devising a menu that protects tradition but still surprises. Chef Keith Stich has an answer. Use the flavors of Mexico. In his kitchen at Red O Restaurant in Santa Monica, California, Stich demonstrated how to spice up a traditional succotash by adding Mexican ingredients.

The Santa Monica restaurant is one of a dozen restaurants and bistros opened by chef Rick Bayless, well known for his many awards, cookbooks and television appearances. When Bayless was looking for a chef to help him expand his Southern California operation, he searched for chefs who shared his passion for Mexican cooking. Stich was selected for a cook-off in Chicago at Bayless’ Frontera Grill.

Inspired for succotash fusion

Chef Keith Stich, Red O Restaurant Santa Monica with his Thanksgiving succotash. Credit: Copyright 2015 David Latt

Chef Keith Stich of Red O Restaurant Santa Monica, with his Thanksgiving succotash. Credit: Copyright 2015 David Latt

Growing up, Stich loved eating Mexican food. As a young chef, he specialized in the preparation of steak and seafood in restaurants in Colorado and California. He learned to cook dishes with strong, clean flavors. For the competition at Frontera Grill, Stich had to prepare one entrée. Four chefs competed. Stich would win or lose the job based on whether Bayless liked his lobster enchiladas.

The competition among the chefs was tough. But Bayless was impressed. He hired Stich to open Red O in Newport Beach. In a competitive setting, the restaurant did very well. After Newport Beach, Stich was asked to open the restaurant across from the Santa Monica pier, a prime tourist destination, and as corporate executive chef to oversee all three of the Southern California restaurants with more planned in the future.

Celebrating fresh, seasonal ingredients

Boiled and grilled corn kernels are used to make chef Keith Stich's Thanksgiving succotash at Red O Restaurant Santa Monica. Credit: Copyright 2015 David Latt

Boiled and grilled corn kernels are used to make chef Keith Stich’s Thanksgiving succotash at Red O Restaurant Santa Monica. Credit: Copyright 2015 David Latt

As the seasons change and the cooks come up with innovations, Stich proposes new dishes to Bayless either over the phone or in person. Sometimes he’ll fly to Chicago and prepare the dishes in the Frontera Grill kitchen. Once Bayless signs off on the new dishes, Stich updates the Red O menus on the West Coast.

Making everything from scratch is an essential part of the Red O identity. Fresh limes and oranges are juiced in-house. All the salsas and sauces are made fresh. The produce comes from local purveyors and the farmers markets. In that sense, the West Coast cooks have a distinct advantage over their Midwestern colleagues. Leafy greens are available in abundance in January at the farmers markets in Los Angeles long before they appear in the Chicago markets.

Adding a Mexican twist to a classic

Chopped butternut squash and grated cotija cheese go into chef Keith Stich's Thanksgiving succotash at Red O Restaurant Santa Monica. Credit: Copyright 2015 David Latt

Chopped butternut squash and grated cotija cheese go into chef Keith Stich’s Thanksgiving succotash at Red O Restaurant Santa Monica. Credit: Copyright 2015 David Latt

To create a flavorful side dish that would go well with traditional Thanksgiving dishes, Stich used butternut squash, the quintessential fall vegetable, as a substitute for beans in succotash. He gave the dish a flavor boost by adapting the restaurant’s street corn side dish. To the squash he added dry-salty cotija cheese, earthy poblano peppers and spicy cilantro.

So this Thanksgiving as you help yourself to slices of turkey, Brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, roasted sweet potatoes and green bean casserole, now you can add spice to tradition with a large serving of Mexican succotash.

Street Corn and Butternut Squash Succotash

Thanksgiving Succotash, poblano chilies, butternut squash, corn, onion, cotija cheese. Credit: Copyright 2015 David Latt

Thanksgiving succotash features poblano chilies, butternut squash, corn, onion, cotija cheese. Credit: Copyright 2015 David Latt

Given how busy Thanksgiving Day can be, an advantage of Stich’s succotash is that all the elements can be cooked the day ahead and refrigerated in airtight containers. Just before serving, when the turkey is resting and the gravy is simmering, the succotash can be given a final sauté on the stove and served with the other dishes.

Poblano chilies and cotija cheese are available in Latin markets. In order to achieve the Mexican flavor profile, the chilies cannot be substituted with green bell peppers; nor can the cotija cheese be replaced with feta cheese.

Because corn season is ending, Stich suggests buying fresh corn now if possible, boiling the cobs as directed, cutting off the kernels and freezing in corn stock, which is made as described below. Cover the kernels with the stock, seal and freeze. The stock will protect the kernels from freezer burn. The day before using, defrost the containers. Strain out the kernels and use them as indicated in the recipe. Reserve and refreeze the corn stock to use in soups and stocks.

When fresh corn is not available in the markets, frozen corn may be substituted, but not canned corn.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 40 minutes

Final assembly time: 5 minutes

Total time: 60 minutes

Yield: 4 servings


3 ears of yellow corn, shucked, washed

1 small butternut squash, washed, seeded, diced, yielding 1½ cups

1 small red onion, washed, peeled, trimmed, diced, yielding ½ cup

1 roasted large poblano chili, washed, charred, seeded, cleaned, yielding ¾ cup cooked

2 tablespoon grated cotija cheese plus ½ tablespoon as garnish

½ tablespoon fresh cilantro, washed, leaves only, finely chopped

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon canola oil

Sea salt to taste

1 tablespoon micro cilantro (optional)

2 tablespoons sour cream or Mexican creama (optional)


1. Preheat a grill.

2. Boil the corn on the cobs in water uncovered for 30 minutes.

3. Remove the corn from the water. Using tongs, place the corn on the hot grill. Turn frequently until the outside is slightly charred.

4. Place the grilled ears of corn into a bowl of water with two cups of ice cubes.

5. Once the corn is chilled, use a sharp knife and cut off the kernels. As much as possible, keep the kernels together in slabs. Set aside and if not using until the next day, place in an airtight container and refrigerate.

6. If the kernels are to be frozen, place the cobs back in the hot water. Boil another 30 minutes or until the liquid is reduced by half. Set aside to cool. Then place the cooked kernels in an airtight container and cover with the corn stock. Seal and freeze.

7. Peel the butternut squash, removing the outer skin, seeds and fibers inside. Discard. Using a sharp knife, cut the squash into ¼-inch dice.

8. Add the kosher salt to a pot of water. Bring to a boil. Add the diced squash and cook quickly, approximately 45 to 60 seconds or until fork tender.

9. Prepare an ice bath. Strain the cooked squash and place into the ice bath to chill. Set aside and if not using until the next day, refrigerate in an airtight container.

10. Place the poblano chili over a high flame on the stove burner. Char the outside, turning often to evenly blister the skin. Remove and place under running water. Rinse off the blackened skin. Cut open the chili. Remove the stem and all the seeds and discard. Cut the poblano into ¼-inch dice.

11. Finely grate the cotija cheese. Set aside and if not using until the next day, refrigerate in an airtight container.

12. With all the elements cooked and prepped, all that is needed is to combine and lightly sauté the ingredients. Heat a large saucepan. Add the canola oil.

13. Sauté the diced red onion until translucent and lightly browned. Add the poblano chili, stir well to heat, then add butternut squash and corn kernels until all ingredients are hot.

14. Sprinkle the cotija cheese on top and heat until the cheese melts. Mix in the chopped cilantro.

15. Transfer the succotash to a serving bowl. Garnish with more grated cotija. Decorate with dollops of sour cream or Mexican creama (optional) and micro cilantro (optional). Serve hot.

Click here to view the video on YouTube.

Main photo: Red O Restaurant Thanksgiving succotash made with corn, poblano chilies, butternut squash, onion, cotija cheese and cilantro. Credit: Copyright 2015 David Latt

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8 Simple Salads To Kick Off Your Thanksgiving Feast /cooking/8-simple-salads-kick-off-thanksgiving-feast/ /cooking/8-simple-salads-kick-off-thanksgiving-feast/#respond Wed, 11 Nov 2015 10:00:53 +0000 /?p=70532 An endive and baby arugula salad with pears and toasted hazelnuts. Credit: Copyright 2015 Martha Rose Shulman

Salads are the last thing we think about when we’re planning a Thanksgiving menu, but they are a great way to begin the feast. We like to serve this course before people sit down to dinner. We’ll plate them in the kitchen, then pass them around while the crowd sips champagne before the meal. Or we’ll place them on a buffet along with other hors d’oeuvres, a stack of salad plates and forks close by.

Here are some of my favorite choices for this holiday meal, salads that show off fall produce, feel autumnal, but won’t fill you up too much before the main event.

Endive and Baby Arugula with Pears and Toasted Hazelnuts

Toast about 1/4 cup hazelnuts, set aside. Combine baby arugula, endive, a sliced ripe pear or two, some chopped fresh tarragon and parsley and toss with a lemon vinaigrette made with lemon juice, mustard, a little garlic, hazelnut oil, olive oil, salt, pepper and some shaved Parmesan. Add hazelnuts just before serving.

Marinated Vegetables with Coriander Seeds and Herbs

Marinated vegetables are paired with coriander seeds and herbs. Credit: Copyright 2015 Martha Rose Shulman

Marinated vegetables are paired with coriander seeds and herbs. Credit: Copyright 2015 Martha Rose Shulman

Simmer 3 cups water, 1/3 cup vinegar, 1/2 cup dry white wine, 1/2 cup olive oil, a few crushed garlic cloves and chopped shallots, a bouquet garni made with parsley sprigs, bay leaf and thyme sprigs, 1 1/2 tablespoons coriander seeds, 2 teaspoons fennel seeds, a teaspoon of peppercorns and salt to taste in a large saucepan or soup pot 15 to 30 minutes. Remove vegetables to a bowl. Reduce marinade by half and add lemon juice to taste, and pour over vegetables. Refrigerate for a few hours. Garnish with chopped fresh herbs such as parsley, tarragon or chervil.

Baby Spinach Salad with Balsamic Roasted Turnips or Beets

Add balsamic roasted turnips or beets to a baby spinach salad. Credit: Copyright 2015 Martha Rose Shulman

Add balsamic roasted turnips or beets to a baby spinach salad. Credit: Copyright 2015 Martha Rose Shulman

Cut peeled turnips or beets in wedges and toss with a few tablespoons olive oil and a tablespoon or two of balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes at 425 F. Stir and bake for another 10 minutes, until tender. Remove from heat and allow to cool, then toss with baby greens and vinaigrette. Walnuts, blue cheese or feta, fresh herbs all welcome.

Turkey Waldorf

Make a turkey waldorf with shredded turkey, chopped apples, diced celery, chopped walnuts and chopped radicchio or endive. Credit: Copyright 2015 Martha Rose Shulman

Make a turkey Waldorf with shredded turkey, chopped apples, diced celery, chopped walnuts and chopped radicchio or endive. Credit: Copyright 2015 Martha Rose Shulman

Make a creamy dressing with 3 tablespoons mayonnaise, 1/4 cup plain yogurt, 1 teaspoon curry powder, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, a little honey, 2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice, salt and 2 tablespoons walnut oil or grapeseed oil and toss with shredded turkey, chopped apples, diced celery, chopped walnuts and chopped radicchio or endive.

Broccoli, Baby Arugula and Purslane with Quinoa

broccoli salad

Mix together broccoli, baby arugula and purslane with quinoa. Credit: Copyright 2015 Martha Rose Shulman

Slice broccoli crowns as thin as possible. Toss with a vinaigrette and marinate 10 minutes. Add baby arugula and purslane and toss together. Add just a little quinoa, about 1/4 cup, and toss again.

Marinated Carrot and Cauliflower Salad

Marinated carrots and cauliflower make for an easy salad. Credit: Copyright 2015 Martha Rose Shulman

Marinated carrots and cauliflower make for an easy salad. Credit: Copyright 2015 Martha Rose Shulman

Cut carrots into 2-inch sticks and break cauliflower into florets. Steam carrots 5 minutes. Steam cauliflower 5 to 8 minutes, until just tender. Toss at once with coarse sea salt and equal parts sherry vinegar and olive oil. Before serving, toss with a few tablespoons chopped fresh mint.

Radish and Orange Salad

Radishes and oranges create a colorful salad. Credit: Copyright 2015 Martha Rose Shulman

Radishes and oranges create a colorful salad. Credit: Copyright 2015 Martha Rose Shulman

Cut navel and blood oranges into rounds or sections. Cut radishes and daikon radishes into thin rounds. Make a dressing with lemon juice, a little agave syrup or honey, cinnamon, cayenne and pistachio oil. Toss radishes and citrus with dressing in separate bowls and arrange on a platter or on plates. Garnish with pistachios and fresh mint.

Romaine and Couscous Salad

Add couscous, peppers and herbs to this salad. Credit: Copyright 2015 Martha Rose Shulman

Add couscous, peppers and herbs to this salad. Credit: Copyright 2015 Martha Rose Shulman

Toss romaine (broken into small pieces), diced red and yellow peppers, and abundant fresh herbs with a lemon vinaigrette.

More from Zester Daily:

» Roasted tomato and corn salad for Thanksgiving

» 9 fresh ideas for Thanksgiving leftovers

» Brussels sprouts that can convert even the haters

» Game plan for a perfect last-minute Thanksgiving

Main photo: An endive and baby arugula salad with pears and toasted hazelnuts makes a perfect Thanksgiving salad. Credit: Copyright 2015 Martha Rose Shulman

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Pumpkin’s Pride: 7 Recipes For Fall Holiday Feasts /cooking/tradition-cooking/pumpkins-pride-7-recipes-for-fall-holiday-feasts/ /cooking/tradition-cooking/pumpkins-pride-7-recipes-for-fall-holiday-feasts/#respond Tue, 29 Sep 2015 09:00:31 +0000 /?p=69591 This lovely Peruvian- Inspired Pumpkin and Rice Tower, courtesy of Peruvian healthy food writer Morena Escardo, is perfect for a dinner party. Credit: Copyright 2015 Morena Escardo/ TheWeiserKitchen

Everyone is always shocked when I use pumpkin in Latino or Middle Eastern foods. But it’s nothing new. Not for Jews and not for me.

For Jews of Sephardic or Mizrachi backgrounds, edible gourds — pumpkins and thick-skinned squashes (which I often think of as winter squashes) — are everyday foods. Pumpkin is also a vital part of the Jewish New Year’s feast. The pumpkin, or k’raa in Hebrew, is a symbolic food connected to the wish that evil decrees be torn, squashed, quashed, vacated or otherwise gone. Why so many possibilities? The meaning varies from community to community, and the way those edicts are dissolved is a source of fun and global creative wordplay. But the pumpkin, no matter the variety, is always on the table.

My paternal roots as an Ashkenazi Northeasterner run for four generations, and pumpkin simply meant fall and Thanksgiving. It was ubiquitous, and came in cans aplenty. For me it was all-American food all the way growing up, but until I started traveling the world, tasting and cooking along the way, I didn’t realize that it was global. Or in any way Jewish-esque.

So when it comes to fall and the multitude of Jewish and American holidays, pumpkin reigns supreme in my kitchen. Here are some dishes that feature this versatile squash:

Main photo: This lovely vegetable dish called Pumpkin Arroz Tapado, courtesy of Peruvian healthy-food writer Morena Escardo, is perfect for a dinner party. Credit: Copyright 2015 Morena Escardo/TheWeiserKitchen

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9 Fresh Ideas For Memorable Thanksgiving Leftovers /recipe/nine-fresh-ideas-for-memorable-thanksgiving-leftovers/ /recipe/nine-fresh-ideas-for-memorable-thanksgiving-leftovers/#comments Thu, 27 Nov 2014 10:00:25 +0000 /?p=55921 Red turkey enchiladas. Credit: Brooke Jackson

It’s the morning after Thanksgiving. Bleary-eyed you stumble to the refrigerator to get some milk for your first cup of coffee. You open the fridge door and there is a monster inside, or possibly a monster with babies — a large lump wrapped in foil along with hundreds of little foil packages and plastic containers. You are hard-pressed to find the milk and suddenly feel overwhelmed by the prospect of dealing with all that food.

After years of feeling this way post-turkey day, I’ve come up with a method to deal with the leftovers and leave behind that overwhelmed feeling.

First, have some plans for the leftovers so you can craft your turkey day dinner accordingly. For example, if you plan to make turkey pot pie (see recipe below), be sure to make extra gravy so you’ll have enough left for this pie. Second, pick all the meat off the turkey carcass and get stock going after the holiday meal — otherwise the big lump wrapped in foil in the fridge will be easy to avoid and end up going to waste.

Making stock is an easy exercise and will really pay off in the days and months ahead. It freezes well and can be used in any recipe calling for poultry stock or as a base for soup during the winter.

Wrap all the turkey meat carefully in plastic wrap or foil and then seal the packet inside a plastic bag. If you don’t plan to use the meat within three days, then make several meal-sized packets and put them into the freezer.

Of the following recipes, the enchiladas and the minestrone soup both freeze well if you would like to make them now and freeze them for another time. Here are some other tips for using up the turkey day meal parts:

For sweet potato casserole

Leftover sweet potatoes can be made into patties and fried, then served alongside sausages. Credit: Brooke Jackson

Leftover sweet potatoes can be made into patties and fried, then served alongside sausages. Credit: Brooke Jackson

Scrape off any marshmallows and swirl in a teaspoon of chipotle purée (purée a can of chipotles in adobo and store in a ziplock bag in your freezer — this makes it easy to use a little of this spicy condiment at a time) for every 2 cups of sweet potatoes. Make patties using about 1/2 cup potatoes per patty and then fry in butter in a sauté pan until golden on each side. Serve with grilled sausages and leftover cranberry sauce.

For mashed potatoes

Use them as a topping for shepherd’s pie. Brown 1 pound ground beef with half a chopped onion; add 1/2 cup of frozen peas. Put all this in a shallow baking dish and cover the top with mashed potatoes. Grate on a little cheddar cheese and bake at 350 F for a half-hour until cheese is melted and potatoes are a little crusty on top.

For stuffing/gravy/turkey

Make hot turkey sandwiches by placing a slice of bread on a plate and topping it with a scoop of heated stuffing and a couple slices of turkey. Cover the whole thing with piping-hot gravy and you have Thanksgiving revisited.

For vegetables

Use cooked vegetables in the pot pie or soup recipes below. You could also use them in the shepherd’s pie or slip them into a frittata for weekend brunch.

Turkey Stock

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 2 hours

Total time: 2 hours 20 minutes

Yield: 6 quarts

There are more complicated recipes for making stock involving roasting bones, but you’ve already cooked enough. This recipe will yield a flavorful stock suitable for soups, risotto, sauces or anything else calling for poultry stock.


Turkey carcass

2 medium onions, quartered

2 carrots, cut in large pieces

2 celery stalks, cut in large pieces

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon whole peppercorns

1/4 cup fresh parsley sprigs


1. Break the carcass into 2 or 3 pieces with a cleaver, large knife or your hands.

2. Put turkey into a large (8-quart) pot with the other ingredients and cover with water.

3. Simmer 2 hours. Do not bring to a hard boil.

4. Strain into another pot and refrigerate overnight.

5. Before using, skim the fat from the surface.

6. Use within 4 days or freeze in 3- to 4-cup containers.

No Stress Minestrone

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

Total time: 1 hour

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

I don’t put turkey meat in this soup, but you could if you like. A steaming bowl will ward off the chill of a November day. It’s also good as a remedy for colds and the flu.

No Stress Minestrone. Credit: Brooke Jackson

No Stress Minestrone. Credit: Brooke Jackson



2 cups coarsely chopped onion

1 cup coarsely chopped carrot

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup medium-diced potatoes

7 cups turkey stock

2 cups medium-diced zucchini

1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained

1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, undrained

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup uncooked medium- or small-shaped pasta, such as corkscrews, elbows or gemelli

1/3 cup sliced fresh basil leaves


1. Sweat the onion and carrot in olive oil in a covered soup pot for 10 minutes over low heat.

2. Add potatoes and stock and cook until potatoes are barely tender.

3. Add zucchini, tomatoes and cannellini beans and cook another 5 minutes. Taste and add 1 teaspoon of salt and a few grindings of black pepper.

4. Bring mixture to a boil and add pasta. Cook until pasta is al dente, about 7 minutes.

5. Taste again and adjust seasonings. Stir in sliced basil and ladle into bowls.

6. Top with grated Parmesan if you wish.

Note: Add enough pasta only for the portion of soup to be consumed right away. The pasta with swell and fall apart if not eaten.

Red Turkey Enchiladas

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 40 minutes

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Enchiladas can dry out easily, so have extra sauce on hand just in case.


2 cups cooked turkey, cut into bite-size pieces

2 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese, divided

1/2 cup mild onion, finely chopped

1 dozen corn tortillas

Two (15-ounce) cans of mild enchilada sauce


1. Preheat oven to 350 F.

2. Mix onion, turkey and 1 1/2 cups cheddar in a bowl. Set aside.

3. Wrap tortillas in paper towels. Microwave until pliable, about 50 seconds, stopping to turn over the packet after 25 seconds.

4. Cover the bottom of a 9-inch-by-11-inch baking dish with sauce, about half a can.

5. Lay a tortilla on a plate and put 3 tablespoons of turkey mixture on one end. Roll up tightly and place in casserole. Continue in this manner until all the filling and tortillas are used.

6. Pour enough remaining sauce over the enchiladas to amply cover them.

7. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese over the top and bake covered with foil for 10 minutes.

8. Remove foil and finish baking for another 10 minutes until sauce is bubbly and cheese is melted.

Wild Rice Salad With Turkey, Dried Cherries and Pecans

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cook time: 45 minutes

Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Here is a light lunch or supper dish perfect for the days after Thanksgiving. The chewy texture of the wild rice is complemented by the earthy flavor of the turkey, the tartness of the cherries and the crunch of the pecans. This recipe was inspired by one in the first “Greens” cookbook by Zester Daily contributor Deborah Madison.


For the salad:

3/4 cup wild rice

4 cups water

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup dried cherries

1/2 cup coarsely chopped fennel bulb

1 large crisp apple

1/2 cup toasted pecans, broken into pieces

For the dressing:

Zest of one orange

4 tablespoons orange juice

4 teaspoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon crushed fennel seeds

6 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon finely chopped fennel leaves, (from the bulb in the salad)

1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley


1. Rinse wild rice then place into a pot with 4 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

2. Bring to a boil, cover and turn temperature to low.

3. Simmer until rice grains have popped and texture is chewy and tender, 35 to 45 minutes.

4. While rice cooks, make the dressing. Put the orange zest, orange juice, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, salt and fennel seeds in a small mixing bowl.Whisk in the oil and then the herbs. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.

5. Once rice is done, drain in a colander briefly.

6. Add the cherries and fennel to the warm rice and toss with enough dressing to moisten all the ingredients. Let cool to room temperature.

7. Just before serving, cut the apple into a medium dice and mix into the salad along with the pecans.

8. Add some ground black pepper. Taste and add more salt, if necessary, before serving.

Turkey Pot Pie

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

Total time: 45 minutes

Yield: 4 servings


2 cups leftover gravy

Turkey stock

1 tablespoon white wine

2 cups mixed cooked vegetables, such as peas, carrots, green beans and pearl onions

1 cup peeled, diced cooked potatoes

2 cups cooked turkey in bite-size pieces

Salt and pepper to taste

1 sheet puff pastry


1. Preheat oven to 425 F.

2. Heat gravy in a large saucepot and thin with a little stock and 1 tablespoon of white wine.

3. Add all the other ingredients except the puff pastry.

4. Taste the mixture and adjust the seasoning as necessary.

5. Pour into a 3- or 4-quart casserole dish.

6. Top with a sheet of puff pastry and trim to fit the top.

7. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the puff pastry is golden and flaky and the turkey mixture is bubbling.

Main photo: Red turkey enchiladas. Credit: Brooke Jackson

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