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Archive for November 2006

Shake Shack Burger Stuffing

Shack Burger photo by Adam Kuban
photo by Flickr user Slice

It occurred to me over the weekend, as I sat in Madison Square Park enjoying one of my last Shake Shack burgers of the season, that if you can make White Castle Stuffing for Thanksgiving, you can make Shake Shack Burger Stuffing! Though I haven't tried it, the recipe I'd propose is the same as the White Castle one, but substitute five Shake Shack burgers. Make sure the burgers are plain, with no lettuce or tomatoes or Shack Sauce. Then follow the directions. Somehow I think this could be really yummy. A new holiday tradition perhaps, for New Yorkers?

Alton Brown is witty, irreverent -- and the perfect person to take you step by step (from selecting to carving) to a delicious holiday bird. If somehow, after all the links and information from the Thanksgiving Spectacular, you still aren't sure how to proceed with Thanksgiving, this guide from Bon App├ętit will help. Honestly, if you can't figure out how to cook a turkey after everything I've linked in the past week, I think you're better off going out to eat. Or having someone else cook! :)

Oyster photo from GourmetAn oyster primer from Gourmet, including a list of some of the most reliable varieties. It's oyster season and now's the time to enjoy one of my favorite foods. Oysters contain more zinc per serving than any other food, and lots of B12. They don't have omega-3 fatty acids like fish though, so don't count them as part of your twice a week fish serving. My favorite way to eat them is raw, but fried oysters also have a special place in my heart.

Today I'll continue with a little more Thanksgiving information, but I'll also have some other links. My poor non-US readers have suffered the tyranny of this holiday enough! So less turkey, more fish. Despite the risk of consuming contaminants, eating fish is good for your health. More information has been released showing the benefits of fish outweigh the risks. "Two servings of different kinds of fish each week" is now recommended. After giving up on fish for a bit because I couldn't make sense of all the contradictory information, I am now eating it again. Yippee!

Wikipedia page for Hellmann's and Best Foods mayo, including the history of both products and why they have different names.

Indulgent family dinners, cookie parties, and holiday work celebrations present some tricky diabetes management problems. "The dLife Recipe Box is your secret weapon for the holiday season. Filled with over 1,100 recipes that are delicious, diabetes-friendly, and complete with nutritional analysis." Sounds like a good source to help if you need to make some less-sugary dishes for your family.

And so ends the Thanksgiving Spectacular of 2006. I didn't get in all the links I could have -- heck, I neglected nearly every major newspaper's coverage of the holiday! The New York Times will probably have more stuff tomorrow in their Dining & Wine section, to cap off three weeks of Thanksgiving coverage they're doing this year. And I didn't even discuss wine choices for your meal. But there's only so much one gal can do in a week. Next year I'll get started sooner (maybe) so that I can provide more coverage. I hope you found something useful in all of it.

I'll be off for the rest of the week, enjoying time with my family out in the country. I'll be making an apple pie and a pumpkin pie with my grandmother tomorrow. I'll be taking walks in the woods, and hopefully I'll make a nice wreath out of dried vines and berries. And I'll be eating turkey and stuffing and lots of tasty sides, and enjoying shrimp cocktail. That's our family's traditional appetizer on Thanksgiving, and boy am I look forward to it. I hope you have a wonderful day with your family and friends, and I'll see you back here next Monday. Safe travels to all.

I cooked the perfect turkey, now how do I carve it? Martha to the rescue with Turkey Carving 101! There's even a video, in case you're really stuck.

An Ex-Pat Thanksgiving

I've written a lot during this Thanksgiving Spectacular about cooking for yourself and your loved ones. But what if you find yourself in a far-off land for the holiday? How do you enjoy an ex-pat Thanksgiving? The much-loved and sorely-missed R.W. Apple, Jr. writes about Thanksgiving in Paris. I spent Thanksgiving in Paris in 2002, but now searching for my write-up, I discovered I never wrote about it. So you'll have to make due to with There is such a thing as too much of a good thing, or my Thanksgiving in Saigon last year.

If you find yourself far from home this Thursday, I hope you find a way to celebrate wherever you are. Usually an English-language bookstore will have information about ex-pat get-togethers and ways to celebrate the holidays. Of course, you don't need to eat turkey to be thankful. It's really about taking the time to pause and reflect, and you can do that just about anywhere in the world.

More about Martha's unstinky horses (okay, so this isn't Thanksgiving-related...). Via email from reader MaryLynn:

When she was profiled in Vanity Fair (about a year ago?) you may recall, if you read it, that she keeps her black Friesen's inside during the day and they only graze at night so their coats are not bleached by the sun and are, thus, impeccably maintained as a glossy black that matches the rest of her estate. Quite possibly the best thing I've ever seen in print. So sure, I can see that she's probably had a team of scientists working on making great strides in the area of horse excrement. Hell, I think SHE thinks her shit smells like roses, why shouldn't theirs?!

I couldn't possibly add anything more to this.

What did the Pilgrims really serve at the first Thanksgiving? Bread-based stuffing was also not made, though the Pilgrims may have used herbs or nuts to stuff birds. But did they use White Castle Hamburgers?

In case you've still got turkey questions, New York's How to Buy a Turkey, complete with some pictures, can help you figure out the proper bird.

And the New York Times concluded that temperature is nearly as important as breed. "When most turkeys are properly cooked, the differences diminish." I would not have suspected that.

White Castle SlyderWhite Castle is offering a new twist on traditional turkey stuffing that is made with that famous little burger, the Slyder. White Castle Turkey Stuffing is made with ten White Castle hamburgers, but hold the pickles. I guess it makes sense, since stuffing often has meat in it, but it seems a little odd. If anyone tries it, I'd love a report.

Roots Anna is a savory golden pie variation of pommes Anna.
Pommes Anna is usually made with potatoes alone. This is a combination of sliced rutabaga and potatoes, arranged in a skillet. A nice change from basic mashed potatoes.

The perfect pie crust smells like pig. That is, if it's made with rendered leaf lard. This New York Times article looks at various fats you can use to make a great pie crust, and not surprisingly, a combo of animal fat and butter comes out on top. I've used lard, butter, and shortening, and butter is my favorite, but it's more difficult to work with. This year I'll probably do a combo, and maybe even an animal fat combo after reading this.

There's a recent interview with me over at Associated Content. I talk about technology and food and past food-related jobs I've had, and why I dislike the term "foodie" and how to screw up a batch of fresh mint ice cream.

Thanksgiving Pies

Caramel Pumpkin Pie
Gourmet's Caramel Pumpkin Pie, photo by Roland Bello

Traditional pies didn't get as much coverage as turkeys in the magazines this month. Cook's Illustrated proposed an intriguing No-Bake Pumpkin Pie (reg. required), promising a "fresher, brighter pumpkin flavor."

Martha Stewart Living did a whole spread of "Great New Pies" (Mini Cranberry Meringue, anyone?) and instead of traditional pumpkin they offered Pumpkin Pie with Graham Crust & Candied Pepitas. "We spiced up the filling with a pinch of cayenne pepper." I'm not sure my grandfather would appreciate that!

Saveur created a Thanksgiving Twofer Pie (which doesn't seem to be online). The Twofer "bakes our two favorites into one delicious combo." It's a mix of pumpkin and pecan. Since my family doesn't ever have pecan pie at Thanksgiving, but rather apple, our "twofer" would be an apple/pumpkin mix. Hmmm...I'm not convinced that's better than two individual pies.

Food & Wine didn't offer a single traditional pie recipe, the closest they came was a Sweet Potato Tart with Red Wine Caramel.

And my choice for best new pie idea was Gourmet's Caramel Pumpkin Pie. Caramel sounds like a good addition to an old stand-by, but it's not getting very good reviews at Epicurious. One poster said, "The caramel dominated the other flavors. The recipe called for very small amounts of ground cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger, so the pie was very bland as a result." Another wrote, "The recipe was followed exactly, and it just didn't taste good." Drat!

So maybe this is the year to stick with your family pie recipes, and ensure that everyone will leave the table happy. What pies do you enjoy at Thanksgiving?

According to the American Pie Council, the pie-liking breakdown goes something like this: 65% Plain, 35% A La Mode. It seems to me that it depends fully on what type of pie one's eating. Ice cream on apple pie is excellent, but we always serve pumpkin pie with whipped cream from the can. And if I'm eating a clam pie, I sure don't want ice cream or whipped cream anywhere near that thing!

Some cooks think that because they throw a mean dinner party, they can run a restaurant. New York City chef (of Prune) Gabrielle Hamilton talks about what she's learned over the years, and how she started out drinking during service, changing the menu in the morning, and generally pissing off her staff. Great read. [via Gothamist]

More on Hellmann's

Hellmann'sTo get to the bottom of this terrible Hellmann's mayonnaise rumor, I called Hellmann's Consumer Services this morning. (The number's on the side of the mayo, how handy!) I spoke with a very nice woman who told me there was a "slight modification in the formula in March." But she stressed that it wasn't a significant change and that it shouldn't be noticeable. I asked how often such modifications are done, and she said not too often, about every couple of years, they'll make a minor change. So faithful readers and Hellmann's eaters, it's time for a taste test. Can you tell the difference? I don't want to call for a boycott yet, or start a movement to get the anything changed back, if it's only a minor flavor tweak. But my husband swears he can taste the difference. Can you?

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