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]

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!

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?

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.

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.

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.

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?

Choose your Thanksgiving pie recipe from among the 2006 Great American Pie Festival winning recipes. There's the traditionals like apple and pumpkin, cream and nut if you want a change, and even something called "Favorite Thanksgiving." I don't know what kind of pie that is, but it seems timely!

Which roasting pan is best for your Thanksgiving turkey? We've talked roasting techniques and turkey breed types, but haven't yet examined which pan is best. This article examines a variety of pans, in case you don't have one yet.

Hellman's MayonnaiseBREAKING: Hellmann's has changed their mayonnaise! "Yes, we have changed the formula of Hellmann's Real Mayonnaise" reports Hellmann's owner Unilever, via email with The Kitchen. This is tragic! The Kitchen talks about the alternative of making your own mayo, but that's not a great solution. Homemade mayo doesn't keep and each batch requires a lot of ingredients (at least a cup of oil). I know we don't use that much mayo in a week in our house. Honestly, I'm freaking out. Hellmann's is the only mayo I like! And what will become of our post-Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches if we have to use the new "sweeter with a chemically tangy aftertaste" version?! Please oh please don't let this be true.

Vegetarian Thanksgiving

TofurkyDay four of our Thanksgiving Spectacular continues, and with it, some tips for our vegetarian and vegan friends looking for holiday alternatives to turkey. Tofurky is the most popular meat alternative. Made from organic tofu, beans, and "natural vegetarian flavor", it looks like a boneless breast of turkey roulade, complete with stuffing. I've never tried one, but I can imagine it could be a nice change for folks tired of making do with side dishes.

Cooking with Tofurky for the Holidays offers various recipes for tofurky, including a Glazed Tofurky. Martha Stewart Living (November 2006) has four holiday dishes for vegetarians, including a Quinoa Pie with Butternut Squash that sounds excellent, but I cannot seem to locate the recipe online. Very few other magazines offered much in the way of vegetarian dishes.

If you want to make your own tofu turkey, All Recipes has a Tofu Turkey I that sounds pretty good (it calls for mushrooms, dried sage, tamari, and miso paste, among other ingredients). Over at the Washington Post, a discussion of vegetarian Thanksgiving options, including suggestions for winter squash lasagna and mushroom risotto as vegetarian main courses.

And for those hosting Thanksgiving, a gentle reminder: something cooked with chicken stock is usually not okay for vegetarians. Just because there are no chunks of meat present doesn't mean it's "vegetarian." It's nice to offer a dish or two that are completely free of animal products, especially if you know you'll have vegetarians or vegans in attendance. [Thanks Rebecca!]

Yesterday I asked you about your favorite pies, then forgot to turn on comments. So please share your pie thoughts and tips here, if you're inclined. I used to work at a pie shop, so I'm always interested in hearing how other people prepare their pies.

Choire's turkey fire
The flames were four feet high at times. I think at one point we had to dump a ton of rock salt into the grill and slam the cover shut. Heh. Near the surface, it tasted a bit like a Smithfield ham. I loved it, but I might have been the only one.

My friend Choire had some trouble last year, as you can see. Cooking a turkey on the grill is a popular alternative to using the oven, but you need to avoid serious fire. It's important to put a pan beneath the bird to catch the drippings, otherwise you could end up with turkey conflagration for Thanksgiving.

Detailed information about Grilling A Turkey on the Barbecue. They recommend a gas grill because the author's not sure how to get the coals to last. That's silly, add more charcoal as it's going! My uncle does a turkey on my grandparents' charcoal grill every year, and it's delicious.

We're still talking turkey tips over here, for those that want to join in.

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.

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?

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