My story in this month's Orange County Jewish Life magazine discusses the weird convergence of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah this year with lots of suggestions for celebration.
Here are some other ideas for your holiday feast.
I’m scared. I’ve been toying with the idea of making all new dishes for Thanksgiving this year, but I keep hearing that old mantra in my head: “You don’t mess with Thanksgiving!” Why fix something that’s not broken?
Former long-time Fullerton resident, Linda Gomberg, seconds the notion. The five Gomberg children and their four spouses, plus 12 grandchildren, will gather in the Gomberg home, as they do every year, to enjoy a menu that seldom varies.
“One time I switched out and bought a different kind of squash for my apple stuffed squash, and they went crazy,” she recalled. “I have so many people, and they all know what to expect.”
Daughter-in-law Glenda will bring the mashed potatoes. Daughter-in-law Carolyn will make her fat-free, sugar-free pumpkin pie. Linda will serve two kinds of stuffing with homemade croutons.
“I stuff the bird with giblet stuffing and make an extra vegetable stuffing with no drippings for my vegetarian granddaughter,” she added.
“(Husband) Ray likes candied sweet potatoes, and I love turkey, especially the wings. I buy extra wings and legs and have been making it the same way for forty years.” Green beans with almonds rounds out the menu.
“We’ve got one diabetic, one fat-watcher, various weight-conscious people and a vegetarian,” Linda noted.
The weight-conscious will need all their will power to resist the desserts: “I’ll make a chocolate fudge pie, pecan pie, key lime pie, and I always do a chocolate chip bundt cake. I buy a sugar-free apple or cherry pie.”
But Thanksgiving dinner is just the beginning of the Gomberg celebration. On Friday the whole gang (all 23 of them) will take off for Desert Springs, leftovers in coolers, as they have been doing for years, for a weekend of family fun. Full story with recipe
Okay I lied. I did make one new dish and it is in the freezer as we speak. I didn't add the pistachios - I will do that last minute.
The original recipe was from Julie Sahni, but I combined it with a bunch of things I saw in other recipes. Julie called for a whole teaspoon of cayenne. I used 1/4 teaspoon and it still has quite a kick, so I'm suggesting you start with 1/8. I added the lemon juice, honey, pomegranate molasses, preserves and cumin and substituted apricots for the raisins. Sahni has you cook the pistachios in the chutney but I like the crunch of adding them last minute. Also, it was my idea to saute the shallots first. That little bit of margarine gives a nice flavor. Anyway, I thought it was delicious!
Here's the recipe:
Cranberry-Fig Chutney with Cinnamon and Pistachios
makes about 7 cups
Thanksgiving is around the corner, and even those who count the can opener as their favorite (and only) kitchen tool are planning to pull out all the stops for this feeding frenzy of a holiday. Decisions, decisions, decisions. Fresh turkey or frozen. Free range or…not. To brine or not to brine. And that’s just the main dish. Come to the side of the plate, and the real confusion begins. What on earth is the difference between sweet potatoes and yams? Well, when it comes to potatoes I know whom to turn to.
Distinguished cookbook editor Roy Finamore, with Fine Cooking magazine's Molly Stevens, offers 300 exciting, spud-studded recipes from appetizers, soups and salads through main courses, breads and even desserts in One Potato, Two Potato (Houghton Mifflin), an encyclopedic, lavishly photographed guide to everything you ever wanted to know about this humble vegetable.
Sweet potatoes, botanically unrelated to the potato, but included in the book nonetheless, are often mislabeled as "yams," Finamore explains. The true yam is more like the potato and not nearly as sweet as the sweet potato. Its texture upon cooking is also more like that of the potato, rather than the custardy texture of the sweet potato. Chances are your candied “yams” are really candied sweet potatoes.
“It’s an American thing, this confusion,” writes Finamore, who credits vegetable authority Elizabeth Schneider for tracing the mix-up to the African slaves, who began calling the American sweet potato “yams” because of their resemblance to the yams they remembered back home. “But the resemblance ends there,” continues Finamore. “Yams and sweet potatoes come from different families and have different flavors and different uses.” Full story with recipe
If you’re reading this on an empty stomach, go get a snack. Prepare to salivate!
My friend Gloria Kremer is a divine cook who loves to try new recipes while maintaining family traditions. And from the sound of her menu…well, talk about a groaning board!
“For Thanksgiving I like abundance,” she said when I called to ask what’s cooking. “Our Thanksgiving menu is very traditional. Many of the recipes are from my Italian mother’s wonderful cooking.”
Planned so far are mashed potatoes, herb stuffing, corn, glazed sweet potatoes, carrots with caramelized pearl onions, Brussels sprouts with Hollandaise sauce, green salad with mesclun mix, thin apple slices, caramelized walnuts, feta cheese and raspberry dressing, another salad she calls “simple” Caesar salad… “and for good measure a frozen fruit salad the little ones love with banana slices, fresh pineapple, cherries, sour cream, sugar and lemon juice that I freeze in paper-lined muffin tins.”
And let’s not forget the appetizers. Daughter-in-law Amy’s sister will make a wonderful layered spread with goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and pine nuts. “I’ll probably do a hot artichoke dip or maybe caponata, plus crudités and dip,” Gloria added.
Then of course there’s the turkey. “I always use a big Butterball,” she told me, “although my mother preferred a hen. I think years ago the Toms really were tough, but I don’t think that’s true anymore. And besides, hens are smaller, which means I’d have to get two, and I don’t want to tie up two ovens.”
A delightful Internet urban legend concerns a diner who supposedly tasted this scrumptious cookie at the Neiman-Marcus Cafe and asked for the recipe. When her request was denied, she asked if she could purchase it, and the waitress quoted her two-fifty. When she got her monthly statement, the store had charged her $250! She tried to return it, but was again denied, so she vowed to get even by faxing and emailing this recipe to everyone she knew and asking them to pass it on to others. (A lovely hoax, but at least this one isn’t scaring the bejeebies out of us about carjackings and exploding cell phones.)
Years ago I saw the same recipe touted as Mrs. Fields' classic, although Mrs. Fields too has denied it. But everyone I've ever served them to says who cares if it's the original. It's just as good or better!
5 cups rolled oats
4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups brown sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
24 ounces chocolate chips
1 Hershey chocolate bar (8 ounces), grated
3 cups chopped walnuts
1. Preheat the oven to 375° F. Have ready several ungreased baking sheets.
2. Process the oatmeal in a blender to a fine powder and place in a large bowl. Stir in the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda and set aside.
3. Cream the butter and both sugars with an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 90 seconds. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until combined, about 1 minute more. Reduce the speed to low and blend in the flour mixture just until incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips, grated chocolate, and walnuts.
My column on OU's website, Shabbat Shalom includes recipes for My Chicken Marbella from "Cooking Jewish," Orange Beets with Almonds from "The Healthy Jewish Cookbook by Michael van Straten and Apricot Jelly Roll from Joan Kekst's "Passover Cookery"
Passover is the most observed Jewish holiday of the year. Even those who never step inside a synagogue pull out all the stops for this one. With our celebratory meal, the Seder, we retell the 3500-year-old story of our ancestors' flight to freedom from the land of Egypt. And everything on the table is laden with meaning.
The centerpiece is the Seder plate, holding the traditional symbols. On every Seder plate sits karpas (a green vegetable), the symbol of spring, which we dip into salt water as we remember the tears shed by our ancestors. Actually for Jews in the shtetls (little villages) in Eastern Europe, spring arrived late, and greens were rare at Passover time. "My father's family always used potato," suggested my friend Yiddish songstress Lori Cahan-Simon, "but added parsley as karpas in the new country, so we have, in effect, parsley potatoes!" Read the whole story.