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
Happy summertime! It has been hot hot hot here – too hot to do much of anything besides lie around on the couch complaining about the heat. I decided we needed to get the kids out of the house Saturday, so we made a trip to the library and then discovered a local ice cream parlor that makes its own fresh fruit frozen yogurt. I also discovered the joys of raspados – shaved ice layered with fresh fruits and condensed milk – SO refreshing on a hot day! It’s fortunately cooling down going into the fourth of July, so we’ll be able to get our celebration on! If you’re planning for parties this week or next weekend, here are some of my favorite summer recipes to share!
Continue reading Fourth of July Summer Recipe Round Up
I must have missed out on the “party planning gene” that every other person in the world seems to have, or at least other moms. I look at Pinterest, with the decorations and the tablescapes and the elaborate menus – and break out into a cold sweat. The theme for my kids’ birthday parties is “birthday party.” Or really, “Come to our house and eat some cake.”
But I LOVE to have people over. My idea of the perfect summer evening is sitting on our back deck with some good friends while our kids run wild in the back yard, chatting over a glass of wine or a margarita and eating yummy food. The key is relaxing and having fun, not throwing a fit over a menu. So I’m always looking for low-key, low-stress recipes to feed a crowd. Things that I can make that don’t require a lot of last minute preparation (to allow for appropriate amounts of yapping and wine-drinking) but that are delicious enough that people want to come back and hang out some more.
Continue reading Crockpot Mexican Pork Carnitas