Happy Thanksgiving! Does your association with Thanksgiving tend more towards family reunions, being a couch potato (or in this case, a yam!) watching all-day football, nap-inducing turkeys, and a much-needed day off? While stuffing our faces however, it's important to actually stop and give thanks for what we have, and to remember the sacrifices many people have made along the way so that we could join together in celebrating this day.
For many Americans, keeping the Thanksgiving tradition alive is very important. It may even be the single most important dinner of the year. For us cooks, it's a day we really get to shine! (Isn't 'shine' a happy, positive word compared with 'work'?!) The success of the Thanksgiving feast depends a great deal on organization and preparation. Make lists and do as much as you can in advance. (Carving the turkey, finishing the gravy, and serving the meal is enough to do at the last minute!) Remember, because Thanksgiving is a time for us to really enjoy some time away from work, the more prepared you are, the more fun you, the cook, will have. My favorite tip is to hire someone (who doesn't celebrate the holiday) to come in and do all the clean up work. This is something my four sisters and I have done for years, and it's the best $10. (each) investment we've ever made! Over on the Prodigy Internet Food Community, we've put together a great list of Thanksgiving links, Thanksgiving humor, editorials and more. (See URL at the bottom.)
Of course it wouldn't be a food newsletter without recipes. The first recipe is a sneak preview from the book I wrote all about the wonderful dessert, crème brulee (February '98). And for those of you in Los Angeles, if you hurry, you can see me (with my partner Jill Freedman Gorelick) prepare this recipe on the TV show "The Amateur Gourmet" on Century Cable, channel 3 at 5:30 PM Friday.
Pumpkin and Spice Crème Brulee
2 cups heavy cream
2 teaspoons rum or vanilla
8 egg yolks
1/3 cup granulated white sugar
1 cup puréed pumpkin
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 cup granulated sugar (for the caramelized tops)
Preheat oven to 300 F. In a large bowl, whisk together the cream, rum or vanilla, yolks, sugar, pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Blend well. Strain into a large bowl, skimming off any foam or bubbles. Divide mixture among 6 ramekins or custard cups. Place in a water bath, and bake until set around the edges, but still loose in the center, about 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven and leave in the water bath until cooled. Remove cups from water bath and chill for at least 2 hours, or up to 2 days. When ready to serve, sprinkle about 2 teaspoons of sugar over each custard. Caramelize by using a small hand-held torch. After caramelizing, re-chill custards for a few minutes before serving.
We've all had that old standby onion dip, right? Well, REAL onion dip, made not with the dry Knorr, or Lipton mixes, but with roasted onions, fresh cooked bacon, and fresh chives, is so much better, you may never go back to the old way again. Serve with chips, or fresh veggies such as broccoli florets, carrot sticks, or celery.
6 yellow onions, cut in half
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper
Heat oven to 400 F. Place onions, cut side down, on a non-stick-baking sheet that has been coated with the olive oil. Roast until dark brown around the bottom edge and tender when pierced with a knife tip, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste
Chop the onions very fine. Mix with the following:
6-8 slices bacon, cooked crisp and drained, crumbled
2 cups sour cream
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
3 tablespoons snipped fresh chives
Adjust seasonings to taste.
THE GREEN SHACK - Not your typical Las Vegas restaurant
When you think about dining out in Las Vegas, I'd bet (no pun intended) a homestyle restaurant, serving hearty, genuine Americana, wouldn't come to mind. Well, that's just what we discovered on our last trip to the buffet capital of the world. Who needs a buffet when the portions served are so huge, that the largest men at our table, (and there were some very big ones!) had to ask for a doggie bag? The Green Shack offers warm and friendly service, cozy lodge-like décor, and terrific fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy. The chicken is made to order, so expect a 30-minute wait. Don't panic though, because your salad will come quickly. The homemade ranch dressing was excellent, as were the biscuits. I asked for extra gravy and had it, hot as can be, within two minutes. The chicken arrived in perfect condition! It was piping hot and golden brown. I had ordered the Southern Pan-Fried Chicken, ($10.75 for adults, $6.00 for kids 10 and under) and as hungry as I was, I could only eat about half of it. After dinner I was given a tour of the spotless kitchen, and learned the secret of this most delicious, crispy, and very flavorful chicken. It's all in those extremely well-seasoned cast iron skillets, some over 20 years old. The tour was very informative! In a matter of about 10 minutes I learned all about Jimmie Jones and her mother, who started the place in 1929, selling chicken to workers building Hoover dam. The Green Shack is still run by the same family, and it really is very "family!"
The Green Shack is located at 2504 East Fremont. (702) 383-0007Saloon opens at 4:00 PM, dining room at 5:00. They take all major credit cards.
It's easy to transport cookies or muffins. Just pop them in a basket, cover with a pretty kitchen towel and you're off. But what about cakes, cupcakes, quiches, tarts, and pies? The Piatto Bakery Box comes to the rescue. This elegant looking bakery box comes with an optional center shelf that doubles the storage capacity. There is enough room to hold a double layer 10" round cake, two dozen cupcakes, or two 10" pies, tarts, or quiches. These boxes are indispensable to those of us who love to present our party hosts with homemade goodies. When not in use, this lightweight box folds flat for easy storage. Order by calling QVC at 800 345-1515. The item # is K52362.
The Three-Way Timer is a very cool gadget for a very busy cook. This digital timer tracks three tasks simultaneously, in minutes and seconds, and displays all three at once. When time is up, each signals with a different beep. Magnet, belt/pocket clip and stand provide three ways to place it where it's handiest. It also gives the date and time and functions as a 12 or 24-hour alarm clock, complete with snooze button. Battery included. From Williams-Sonoma 800 541-2233. The item # is 54-1062843. $24.00
QUICK BYTES: COMPUTER LOVER'S COOKBOOK by Diane Pfeifer. This is the perfect gift for the computer lover in your life. (Or maybe you are the computer lover in someone else's life?) 135 quick, user-friendly recipes including "Guaca-Modem Dip" and "Enchil-Load-Dos." The tongue-in-cheek glossary will put a smile on your face. Call 800 875-7242 to order. $9.95
WHOP BISCUITS & FRIED APPLE PIE: COOKING WITH GATLINBURG'S GREAT SMOKEY ARTS & CRAFTS COMMUNITY by Kathy Shields Guttman. What kind of biscuits? (I won't ruin the "surprise!") This book has a friendly feel and an ample measure of whimsy- mountain anecdotes, recipe histories, and terrific recipes. The book arrived just as I was in a New Orleans mood, so of course I couldn't resist making the Jambalaya. Like all the other 200-plus recipes in the book, it was extremely simple, and very tasty. Call 800 356-9315 to order. $15.95
In closing, I'd just like to say that the response to Foodstuff has been positively overwhelming. In just three issues, the subscriptions have tripled! A special thanks those of you who forwarded Foodstuff to your Internet buddies.
Next issue: inexpensive but charming gifts from the kitchen for Hanukah and Christmas, great holiday recipes and more.