I think of Thanksgiving dinner as existing in tiers of necessity. First, there must be a turkey. That’s non-negotiable (unless you’re a vegetarian, of course, but we’re talking Norman Rockwell here). Turkey is a core necessity. Next tier: gravy, cranberry sauce, stuffing, mashed potatoes, pie. Some variation is allowed there, giving allowance to individual preference (I MUST have sage stuffing, my husband MUST have pumpkin pie.) After that some green vegetable (probably green beans or brussels sprouts), some orange vegetable (probably sweet potatoes). Preparation can vary widely. And finally, other assorted side dishes, where the variety is unlimited and depends on your family tradition – tomato aspic, cottage cheese jello “salad”, braised endives, parsnip gratin … the list is endless.
Our family is big enough that we get lots of variation in Thanksgiving dinner. After the first couple tiers, we tend to go a little crazy with trying new recipes, and throwing weird vegetables into the mix. Last year my mom brought this roasted green bean dish, and it was one of my favorite things on the table. With all the richness on the Thanksgiving table – stuffings and gravies and gratins – a lighter, simpler vegetable dish can be a real relief.
Continue reading Roasted Green Beans with Herbs and Scallions
You guys! I made this pie because I was looking for a double crust pie so I could revisit my pie crust tutorial (a few things have changed in my go-to technique since the last one I posted), and most of my fruit pie fruits are not in season, but now I’m kind of obsessed. Fresh cranberries! In pie! Why is this not a thing? Cranberries might be the perfect pie fruit — they’re tart and juicy, but have a pretty high pectin content, so your pie filling doesn’t run all over the place. The flavor is a lot like fresh sour cherry pie, but fresh sour cherries are only available one week of the year, in very small parts of the US, and cranberries can be gotten EVERYWHERE for at least two months when most pie fruits are out of commission. And just LOOK at the color:
It’s great, is all I’m saying.
Now on to pie crust. I like to walk my readers through making pie crust, because I feel like so many people are like “Pie crust? Who has the time for that! It’s too hard!” and I want to pat your head and say, “No, it’s OK – you can do it.” You don’t have to own a walk in freezer or live in the arctic to make your pie dough (though it is a bit tougher on a warm day.) You don’t have to source special kinds of lard or NOT TOUCH IT OR IT WILL BE OVERWORKED. Pie crust is pretty forgiving. If it cracks? Patch it. If you can’t roll it out in a perfect circle? Nobody cares. At the end of the day you will have pie, and people will love you. This is the way I’ve been making my pie crusts, and it works pretty darn well.
Continue reading Fresh Cranberry Pie with Marzipan and How to Make Pie Crust
Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that can be hidebound by tradition. Even the most adventurous eater has certain holiday rules that make Thanksgiving dinner more than just a lot of food. For some, jellied canned cranberry sauce is required. For others, they have to have grandma’s sweet potato casserole. My husband has to have pumpkin pie. My parents once shared Thanksgiving dinner with otherwise reasonable people who insisted on green bean casserole with condensed cream of mushroom soup and canned fried onions (I actually love the stuff, but it’s not part of our family’s Thanksgiving tradition. Which mostly involves making everything from scratch.)
I consider myself pretty open minded with regards to Thanksgiving. Obviously – turkey. And cranberry sauce in some form. Some vegetables are nice. Some form of pie. I don’t even need rolls. There is one dish, however, without which Thanksgiving is just not worth celebrating – and that’s my dad’s old-fashioned fresh sage stuffing (Coincidentally, today is my dad’s birthday. Happy birthday, dad. I miss you). This is not that.
Continue reading Sourdough Stuffing with Caramelized Onions and Chard
I have resisted pasta for many years. Other people can’t get enough of it – I could take it or leave it. But life in our household has been pretty crazy lately, and I have been embracing pasta as a way to get dinner on the table relatively quickly instead of having to resort to eating crackers. (It’s happened.)
I think the problem is I’m not really a fan of traditional spaghetti sauce. My husband has taken to complaining that we never have a jar of spaghetti sauce in the house (he asked if we could make a bid for normalcy and just have a jar of Prego), while I’ve never felt the lack. Once I started to move away from the tomato sauces, pasta got a lot more interesting.
This one was inspired by a gorgeous wheel of Irish Cashel Blue cheese that the kind folks at Kerrygold USA sent me. I’ve been a fan of their grass fed butter for years, but I won a year’s supply of butter and cheese at the Big Traveling Potluck and that has made be a convert to their amazing Irish cheeses. They have several cheddar and cheddar type cheeses that are amazing, but my favorite is probably the Cashel Blue. I shared the wheel with family members but immediately regretted it – I wanted more blue cheese for myself! Even my mom, who has been a diehard French Roquefort snob for years said this is her new favorite blue.
Continue reading Pasta with Butternut Squash, Spinach and Cashel Blue Cheese
When I talk family traditions and family recipes on Savour Fare, I’m usually talking about my family – the family I was born into, or the family I’ve made with Ken and Nuni and Boo. My family is close (now that my cousin has moved back to LA from NYC, the farthest away anyone lives is about 2 hours), and we are all food people, so it’s natural to write about our places and recipes and stories. Ken’s family is harder — for one thing, they’re geographically scattered all over the midwest, the east and west coasts, and for another, most of their traditions center around things other than food (like golf. They play a lot of golf.) My mother-in-law is a born and bred southerner, from the hotbed of American regional cuisine, but she’s also a wanderer, and would be perfectly happy to live on seaweed and lentils.
There has only been one major food figure in Ken’s family since I’ve known him (which is why he eats what I cook so happily), and that is Quincey. Quincey was a substitute grandfather to Ken, whose own grandfathers both died rather young. He was a true Southerner, who lived his whole life along the Virginia North Carolina border – he was also a musician, and a storyteller, a former tobacco farmer, a general handyman, and a damn good cook. He taught Ken to play the mandolin, spent hours fixing up my mother-in-law’s house, and, the few times I met him, taught me a thing or two about cooking. Collards with fatback, corn pudding, sweet potato pie, and the best fried apple pies I’ve ever tasted. Quincey’s recipes were inexact — he measured with his fingers, adding a pinch of salt, a joint of butter. I always meant to get them down on paper, in a form that could be reproduced, but Quincey died last year, and I never did.
Continue reading Fried Dried-Apple Hand Pies