Monday, November 23, 2009

a JOYful thanksgiving

If you are anything like me you haven't even started planning your Thanksgiving I called upon the one girl I know who can handle a last minute foodie emergency, my friend and impeccable cook Joy Stark.  I have to gush a bit...she is the perfect combination old school & new school girl..she knits, rows, sews, cycles, has style to spare and is amazing in the kitchen.  I only wish we lived in the same city so she could invite me over for dinner...Here are her picks for a fabulous holiday meal! Bon Appetit!

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because it’s the only one that’s completely about food. There’s something about eating a bountiful, rich meal with family and friends that inspires warmth and gratitude. Because my family is not nearby, I’ll be spending the holiday with my friend who lives in Brooklyn. We’ve agreed that I’ll coordinate and cook the tasty gourmet meal, and she’ll supply the cool loft and stylish people.

This fall winter, I’ve subscribed to a winter CSA share from Drumlin Farm in Lincoln, MA. Aside from a light snowfall in mid-October, we’ve been blessed with a very mild fall in New England, which has made the first two farm share distributions especially abundant. I’ve planned my Thanksgiving menu to make use of much of the wonderful, fresh produce I’ve received.

Although the turkey is often the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving meal, it’s actually the easiest part of the meal to cook. Consider buying a locally-grown, chemical-free, pastured bird which should need no adornment to taste great. The most important thing in cooking a turkey is to not overcook it. Invest in a good digital thermometer and check the temperature often toward the end of the roasting time.

Of course, you could have Thanksgiving without the turkey. Gourmet has some great recipes for impressive vegetarian mains that would rival a cooked bird any day. My favorites are the Shepherd’s Pie with seitan and the Pumpkin Stuffed Vegetable Stew.

I prefer not to stuff my bird because I like the flavor of the stuffing to stand on its own without tasting too birdy. This year, I’m making a Chestnut, Prune, and Pancetta stuffing that seems to add a flavorful twist on a traditional bread stuffing. Since my CSA distribution has given me more potatoes than I know what to do with and a sizable celery root, I’m serving the Celery Root and Potato Puree from Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse Vegetables Cookbook. And for greens, this recipe for Kale with Garlic and Cranberries sounds delicious and healthy.

It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without cranberries. Fresh cranberry sauce and relish is so easy to make and tastes infinitely better than the canned. Last week I purchased a pound of fresh, organically grown cranberries from Cranberry Hill Farm to make Orangette’s Cranberry Chutney with Crystallized Ginger and Dried Cherries.

Last, but certainly not least, are the pies. Here I pretty much stick to tradition. People feel strongly about their Thanksgiving desserts and don’t want them tinkered with. My favorite recipe for pie crust is from Julia Child’s Baking with Julia, which is absolutely foolproof. I took home a bushel (35 lbs) of locally-grown apples last week, some of which will end up in a classic, double-crust apple pie. I think the pure flavor of the apples really shines through in Cooks Illustrated’s recipe (via smitten kitchen). My pumpkin pie will put to use the pie pumpkins I received from the farm last week. If I were going to dress up my pumpkin pie a bit, I would make this Caramel Pumpkin Pie from Gourmet. It pains me that I don’t have enough people to feed to warrant making a third pie because I love pecan pie. As I’m from Texas, I’m very opinionated about how pecan pie should taste. My “secret” recipe, which has a splash of bourbon in it, is from Thanksgiving 101, which is a fantastic primer on holiday cooking.

As a final touch to your holiday meal preparations, I hope you’ll help the 1 billion malnourished people in this world by making a donation to a local or international food bank. You can find one near you through the Feeding America web site.
Joy Stark

1 comment:

  1. I would like to immediately make the pumpkin stuffed vegetable stew!


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