Thanksgiving Beans with Oomph

Thanksgiving beans

Meat with rice and green beans

The green beans served at Thanksgiving dinner are often a maligned lot – ignored for the most part and eaten by children only after much cajoling. Here are some green bean recipes that will be more than the token vegetable during your holiday feast.

Green Beans with Cremini Mushroom Sauce

Mushrooms offer one of the best ways to transform beans from bland to tasty. Food and Wine’s Green Beans with Cremini Mushroom Sauce, a recipe by Marcia Kiesel, shows exactly how this happens. To prepare two and a half pounds of green beans, Kiesel’s recipe calls for a pound of thinly sliced shallots, 1/3 cup all-purpose flour, two tablespoons unsalted butter, a medium-sized onions (thinly sliced), half a teaspoon of paprika, a pound of cremini mushrooms (thinly sliced, stems discarded), two cups chicken stock, half a cup of crème fraîche, two tablespoons fresh lemon juice, a pinch of cayenne pepper, freshly ground pepper, salt, and oil for frying. [Read more…]

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The Essential Cranberry Sauce for Thanksgiving

Cranberry sauceNo matter how plump or well roasted the turkey is, your feast will not be complete without a bowl of cranberry sauce, an essential side dish for Thanksgiving. Although cranberry sauce is a relatively recent addition to the traditional Thanksgiving table, it is an offering that has been embraced as a fitting and indispensible contrast to the turkey and its usual trimmings.

How Cranberry Entered the Thanksgiving Picture

Cranberries are native to North America, predating the presence of the first Pilgrims who came aboard the Mayflower. Their availability in the New World, however, did not mean it was present during the first Thanksgiving meal. In The History Behind 5 Thanksgiving Traditions Americans Love of The Blaze, Billy Hallowell says while these fruits cranberries were very present in America and easy to access, “…The Pilgrims likely weren’t devouring the commodity. Considering that sugar — a key component of cranberry sauce — was a luxury item when the first Thanksgiving unfolded, making the jam was expensive. [Read more…]

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Unbelievably Delicious Yam Plah Duk Foo

Yam Plah Duk FooAmong Thai friends, the equivalent of “How are you doing?” seems to be “Have you eaten yet?” In many ways, this expresses the Thais deep love of food, and among their favorites is Yam Plah Duk Foo. The word yam in Thai means salad, the word duk refers to a type of fish, while fu and doo mean fluffy.  Sometimes this dish is simply called yam pla fu, but whatever the name, it is just as crunchy delicious.

Because it requires quite a bit of preparation, this culinary delight is not as readily available as it should be in Thai restaurants outside of Thailand. That is truly unfortunate because yam plah duh foo is definitely worth the effort expended to create it. [Read more…]

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Pumpkin Pie – The Classic Thanksgiving Dessert

Pumpkin PieIn Canada and the United States, most traditional Thanksgiving tables will include a pumpkin pie as dessert. Straight from the oven, the pie will give off the rich aroma of the spices in the pi. While beautiful pies are for sale in high end bakeries, nothing beats the homemade kind. However, for busy hosts, you can give your pie extra oomph by warming the pie in a 350 degree oven for five to ten minutes.

How the Pumpkin Pie Came to Be

In What’s Cooking America’s Pumpkin Pie – A History of Pumpkin Pie, Linda Stradley says, “Early American settlers of Plimoth Plantation (1620-1692), the first permanent European settlement in southern New England, might have made pumpkin pies (of sorts) by making stewed pumpkins or by filling a hollowed out shell with milk, honey and spices, and then baking it in hot ashes. An actual present-day pumpkin pie with crust is a myth, as ovens to bake pies were not available in the colony at that stage.

“Northeastern Native American tribes grew squash and pumpkins. They roasted or boiled them for eating. Historians think that the settlers were not very impressed by the Indians’ squash and/or pumpkins until they had to survive their first harsh winter when about half of the settlers died from scurvy and exposure. The Native Americans brought pumpkins as gifts to the first settlers, and taught them the many used for the pumpkin. This is what developed into pumpkin pie about 50 years after the first Thanksgiving in America…”

[Read more…]

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Turkey Can Be Served In Many Ways


Photo Credit: icoNYCa

The Thanksgiving dinner is usually attended by family and friends plus one regular guest: the Thanksgiving turkey. There are several theories about how this bird became a permanent fixture of Thanksgiving celebrations. Purists are careful to say this bird may or may not have been in the original menu when the Wampanoag Indians and the Colonists celebrated the year’s harvest. Despite this ambiguity, having this dish at the center of the table has been the quintessential culinary symbol of Thanksgiving through the centuries.

The time honored way of preparing this bird in the United States is to roast it in an oven and serve it with gravy, cranberry sauce, cornbread, and yams. Through the years, however, cooks all world have found new ways to give this dish their personal mark. You now have oven roasted, rotisserie broiled, barbecued, and deep fried. Moreover, even the usual side dishes have changed a bit in many homes. [Read more…]

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Flowers That Go Beyond the Vase

Flowers usually belong in a garden or in vases around the house, but there are blooms that can grace your dinner plate as well. Here are ten varieties of flowers that you can use for various purposes: as part of your salad, as an ingredient in your recipes, or just as added oomph to beautify the dishes on your menu.

In 42 Flowers You Can Eat, Melissa Breyer says, “The culinary use of flowers dates back thousands of years to the Chinese, Greek and Romans. Many cultures use flowers in their traditional cooking — think of squash blossoms in Italian food and rose petals in Indian food. Adding flowers to your food can be a nice way to add color, flavor and a little whimsy. Some are spicy, and some herbacious, while others are floral and fragrant. The range is surprising. 

“It’s not uncommon to see flower petals used in salads, teas, and as garnish for desserts, but they inspire creative uses as well — roll spicy ones (like chive blossoms) into handmade pasta dough, incorporate floral ones into homemade ice cream, pickle flower buds (like nasturtium) to make ersatz capers, use them to make a floral simple syrup for use in lemonade or cocktails. I once stuffed gladiolus following a recipe for stuffed squash blossoms — they were great. So many possibilities…”

[Read more…]

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Yorkshire Pudding: When Puddings are Not Always Dessert Food

Puddings are usually sweet and hearty creations served as dessert, but the Yorkshire pudding departs from this stereotype. It is more commonly served as an accompaniment to Sunday’s roast, and many cooks use beef drippings in their recipe to give the pudding a savory richness.

Video from: Jamie Oliver

A Pudding with History

Some food historians say that it originally came from Burgundy, France, but no one knows exactly who invented the Yorkshire pudding. Through the centuries, however, this hearty dish has become a favorite among people who like plain hearty dishes that go well with Sunday’s roast. [Read more…]

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Celebrating with Pozole


Photo Credit: Martha Silva

Pozole is a rich stew made with hominy and pork. It is one of those traditional foods that take a long time to make, and in pre-Columbian times, it was a ritually significant dish. Today, with the availability of pre-softened hominy and pressure cookers (or slow cookers), making this dish does not have to be the time-consuming process it used to be. However, many families consider it a celebratory dish and in Mexico and New Mexico, it will appear on many tables on special occasions such as weddings, birthdays, New Year’s dinners, and “quinceañeras”.

Video from The Bald Chef [Read more…]

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Spanakopita: More than Just a Pie


Photo Credit: Lokesh Dhakar

Spanakopita is one of the best finger foods you can serve for just about any occasion. This savory Greek pie traditionally comes in the shape of a small triangle, and it is a truly attractive, delicious, and welcome addition to any meal.

Food that Comes with Some History

In What is Spanakopita?, wiseGEEK provides an overview of spanakopita through the ages: “This tasty dish may have originated over 400 years ago, and may have been introduced during the Turkish occupation of Greece. A Turkish dish, ispanaki, is almost identical in presentation, though it sometimes has scallions added. Spanakopita is better known as a Greek food, however, and one will find it served in most Greek restaurants outside of Greece, as well as in virtually all restaurants in Greece. Chefs and food historians credit Epirus, Greece with the most delicious spanakopita. [Read more…]

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Ankimo: Beyond the Usual Raw Fish and Nori


Photo Credit: takaokun

Maki, California roll, Nigiri sushi, temaki, and uromaki are among the favorite items of sushi lovers whenever they visit a Japanese restaurant or a sushi bar, but not too many will order ankimo. Many call ankimo the foie gras of sushi, mainly because it is made from monkfish liver. This high end delight is creamy and light; it is Japanese food at gourmet levels.

What Ankimo is All About

Ankimo is not always available in sushi bars. In fact, it you want to be sure it will be served when you eat out, it would be best to inquire before you go. Ankimo is becoming progressively rare as a treat today because the population of monkfish or anglerfish has dwindled considerably. In World’s 50 Best Foods, CNN Travel says, “The monkfish/anglerfish that unknowingly bestows its liver upon upscale sushi fans is threatened by commercial fishing nets damaging its sea-floor habitat, so it’s possible ankimo won’t be around for much longer.

“If you do stumble across the creamy, yet oddly light delicacy anytime soon, consider a taste — you won’t regret trying one of the best foods in Japan.” [Read more…]

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