11.8.13 Prep Talk

Beignets1 790 xxx
photos from here and there
In some situations, preparation is everything. Well, maybe not everything, but it can make the difference between an occasion that is relaxing and fun and one that is borderline hysteria. Yes, I'm talking about Thanksgiving, which is less than 3 weeks away. My sister-in-law and I got on the phone earlier in the week to plan our menu. Every year we do our best to inject a bit of newness into the proceedings. Some years we succeed more than others. It's now part of our tradition to make two turkeys—one roasted and one deep-fried. This way, we are not challenged for the all-important leftovers.

Since we're going to have a king's ransom's worth of hot peanut oil on hand, I though I would take advantage of it to make David Kinch's drool-worthy herb beignets to amuse our bouches. I've been reading about them for a couple of years now, and finally have the recipe from his newly published Manresa cookbook. Don't roll your eyes at me. I'll also be making some easy standards and—new this year—a ginger pumpkin cheesecake. More highlights follow...
Yams 790 xxx
sweet and spicy
My roasted garnet yams with pancetta, maple syrup and red chile flakes are a sweet and spicy cinch. Far be it from me to suggest you abandon that marshmallow-laden casserole, but should you decided to shake things up this year, this is the way to go.
Stuffing 790 xxx
stuff it
I'll also be reprising my gluten-free cornbread stuffing with mushrooms and celery root. It involves making my own gluten-free cornbread, but I happen to have the simplest and most delicious recipe that's great to have in your arsenal, even when it's not stuffing time.
Cranberry2 790 xxx
jam session
My sister-in-law and I attended Kevin West's demo at Haven's Kitchen the other week and thought his simple cranberry jam looked wonderful. It won't replace mother's time-honored booze-laden sauce but will make a nice option. More is not always better, but what the hell.
Pie 790 xxx
say cheesecake
For the first time in 7 years, I won't be making my smooth and rich pumpkin custard with candied pumpkin seeds and crème fraîche. Even though I dream about it all year long and love to eat the leftovers for breakfast, I have decided to try a pumpkin-ginger cheesecake. I'm still looking for the perfect recipe, but I know it will have to involve gluten-free gingersnaps. Hopefully I won't also have to make those myself. But I would. It's Thanksgiving, after all. And with a little vision and planning, it will be a feast to remember.

Are you with me? Recipes forthcoming.


I am with your picks. For my own dinner? Haven't even ordered the turkey. I'll have to change that!
Julia on November 8, 2013 at 9:28 am —
Get on it, sister! Those heritage birds go fast!
laura on November 8, 2013 at 7:20 pm —
Hell yes, I'm with you. Pumpkin - Ginger Cheesecake! I was thinking of making a pumpkin cheesecake with hazelnut crust.. ginger would be a swell addition. I'm glad to know you xo
tamika on November 8, 2013 at 3:40 pm —
Doesn't it sound divine? xo
laura on November 8, 2013 at 7:20 pm —
With you? Absolutely, even though our Canadian Thanksgiving is a distant memory. Looking forward to reading about your booze-laden cranberry sauce and your cornbread stuffing. Christmas is, after all, just around the corner.
Elaine on November 8, 2013 at 7:52 pm —
Hell, yeah. I'm in. Are there team jerseys?
Janet on November 8, 2013 at 9:50 pm —
Will a cranberry-splattered apron do?
laura on November 9, 2013 at 9:07 am —
This got me excited.... Being in London we don't get the usual build up for Thanksgiving (or reminders) maybe this is the year to celebrate again, giving thanks for many things, not least that pumpkin cheesecake recipe!
Kristin on November 9, 2013 at 9:02 am —
One again Laura, I rediscovered your blog and spent hours reading previous posts! I visited Judi, Max, and Nell this week and Judi made an incredible meal Thursday night serving cheese and nuts in those sweet little dishes your friend made. We would love to visit you soon and cook up a feast!
Hannah on November 10, 2013 at 10:06 am —
Welcome back, Hannah! Would be great to cook up a feast together. xo
laura on November 11, 2013 at 12:17 pm —
Pumpkin and ginger are fabulous friends. The ginger bites back at the pumpkin's slightly cloying side. I'm looking forward to seeing your recipe!
alwayshungry on November 12, 2013 at 1:44 am —
Yes to this wonderful menu, though I think we would have to squeeze in a pie of some sort. And what do you think about subbing something else for the turkey....plump whole chickens maybe?
Kristin on November 12, 2013 at 5:31 pm —
That's very punk rock to dispense with the turkey! As for pie, pumpkin is my personal favorite but I used to make the sour cream-apple version from the old Silver Palate (check Epicurious) and it's a spectacular splurge...
laura on November 12, 2013 at 5:36 pm —
Happy cooking, and Happy Thanksgiving, Laura!
Maria on November 26, 2013 at 11:49 am —