Recipes for what’s likely to be a different holiday than we’re used to.
Thanksgiving is going to be different. So many people I talk to are hosting either just a few people, and some are going bigger with seating all over the house. Some are doing the Zoom. Some are cooking for a bunch and offering meals to go, bagged and ready for pick up. One thing is certain, everybody wants to be safe.
In the past, I would host up to 30 guests in my home. This year it’s going to be six. Only six.
All seated apart.
Still, I want all the usual foods — roast turkey, cranberry relish or sauce, mashed potatoes and vegetables, at least. I may add some of my other favorites, but the core options will be there for sure.
5 Ingredient Roast Turkey (Less than 15 pounds)
I cook turkey many different ways — sometimes I start with high heat and then cook slow and sometimes I use this easy method. No matter which way I cook a turkey, I watch carefully to not overcook. And I wait at least one hour after cooking before I cut it up. You may also stuff the turkey, but you’ll have to add some cooking time.
- 1 whole turkey (I always allot at least one pound of turkey per person and often 1½ pounds)
- ½ cup olive oil
- Kosher salt to taste
- Fresh ground black pepper to taste
- 6 cups chicken broth
Preheat oven to 325°F. Remove all the racks from the oven except the bottom one.
Remove the turkey neck and giblets (in the cavity and “rear” of turkey) and place the turkey, breast side up, on a rack in the roasting pan (if you have one) You may also make a “ring” of foil and cook the turkey in large disposable roasting pan. Place the neck bone into the pan as well. Save the giblets for another use or throw them in the pan as well (take them out of the bag!).
Rub the skin with oil and season well with salt and pepper (as you baste, the seasoning will drip in the pan juices).
Place turkey in the oven and pour 2 cups chicken broth into the bottom of the roasting pan. Cook for 30-minutes and baste with pan juices. As the juices evaporate, add more broth.
Cook for 1½ hours. Cover the turkey loosely with oil. Continue cooking until done. NOTE: Total cooking time is 15-minutes per pound (don’t worry if the pop-up time does not pop up), Roast until a meat thermometer inserted in the meaty part of the thigh reads 165°F. If you don’t have a thermometer, as long as you cook the turkey 15-minutes per pound, you should be good.
Let the turkey cool in the roasting pan for at least an hour before transferring to a serving platter or carving on a cutting board. (NOTE: The turkey will continue to cook (residual heat) as it cools.
To make a quick gravy, pour all the pan juices into a saucepan (ladle or spoon off or separate some of the oil that floats to the top — not all).
Make a “slurry” of flour and water or white wine (¼ cup flour, ½ cup water or wine).
Heat the drippings (you should have plenty) over medium heat until it begins to boil. Whisk in the flour mixture and cook, whisking often, until the gravy has a silky (not thick) texture.
Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
It’s a little tricky to give a definite recipe for this recipe because cooking time really depends on the vegetables you ultimately choose to roast. Some vegetables take a little longer because they are denser (carrots, brussels sprouts) and some cook quickly (zucchini, asparagus, bell peppers). So what I do is separate the vegetables by type and cook them together.
NOTE: Slice or cut veggies evenly to ensure even cooking. If you don’t mind some crunchier and crispier pieces, this is less important.
- 4 pounds vegetables, divided (brussels sprouts, carrots, bell peppers, green beans, asparagus, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.)
- Olive Oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Balsamic glaze or balsamic vinegar, garnish
Preheat oven to 400°F. Have 2 rimmed baking sheets ready to use.
Cut the vegetables into bite-sized pieces (keep asparagus and green beans whole — just trim the ends.)
Divide the vegetables into those that cook quickly and those that cook more slowly (generally, the harder the vegetable, the longer it takes for them to become tender. For example, asparagus only needs about 8 minutes to cook. Brussels sprouts require 20-30 minutes.
Again, group veggies by cooking time in separate pans so that they finish cooking at the same time.
Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper (you do NOT need a lot of oil).
Roast vegetables for 8-30 minutes depending on the “hardness” of the vegetables.
Serve the vegetables hot, warm or at room temperature, drizzled with balsamic glaze or balsamic vinegar, makes 6-8 servings.
Make-ahead Mashed Potatoes
The key to making these ahead is that they are fairly “loose” or soft. That’s because they get thicker when prepared a day before. When you reheat these potatoes, they will be perfect! I like to use gold potatoes because they have a delicious buttery flavor.
- 5 pounds peeled Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 2-inch chunks
- ¼ cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
- 1 cup sour cream or vegan sour cream
- ½ cup milk, unflavored almond or oat milk or nondairy creamer
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Ground black pepper to taste
- Olive oil for drizzling
Spray a casserole dish (a 2 quart or equivalent) or baking dish with nonstick cooking spray or brush with olive oil and set aside. NOTE: A larger, more shallow baking dish will result in a more golden, golden crust on top.
Place potatoes in a large pot of water. Bring to a boil, and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain well and transfer to a large bowl. DO NOT RINSE — these should be very hot.
Add butter, sour cream and milk, and mash or whip with an electric mixer. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
Transfer to the prepared casserole dish. Cover and chill until ready to reheat.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Drizzle or brush the top of the potatoes with olive oil and bake, uncovered for 30-45 minutes. Serve hot. Makes 8 servings.
Slow Cooker Applesauce
You can use this recipe for any fruit — pears, plums, even pineapple!
I like to “err” on the side of less sugar. While the applesauce is still hot after cooking, you can add more sugar to taste.
- 5 pounds peeled, cored, apples (your favorite variety), cut into 2-inch chunks
- ½ cup sugar (to taste), some apples are naturally sweeter than others
- 1-2 tsp. ground cinnamon (optional), to taste
- 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
Place apple chunks in a large bowl.
Toss with lemon juice and then add in sugar and cinnamon, stirring to combine.
Cover lid. Cook on HIGH for 3-4 hours, (harder apples take a little longer), until apples are very soft. Stir and adjust sugar and cinnamon to taste.
Eat hot, warm or cold. Freezes beautifully!
Makes 2 quarts.
Skinny Pumpkin Pie Cake
- 2 cups flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 3 cups pumpkin puree (I used canned)
- 2 tsp. Vanilla extract
- To serve: Fresh, lightly sweetened whipped cream (the canned is fine), optional
- Garnish: Powdered sugar and fresh cranberries
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9×13-inch baking pan or dish, with nonstick cooking spray or line with parchment.
Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice together in a large bowl. Set aside.
Whisk the oil, eggs, brown sugar, pumpkin and vanilla extract together until combined.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk and stir until combined (you may also use an electric mixer, but do not over mix — it will make the cake heavy).
Transfer into the prepared pan. Bake for 35 minutes or until the top is dry and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Remove the cake from the oven and set pan on a cooling rack (I place on my gas stove).
Run a knife around the edge of the pan and turn the cake over onto a cutting board (it will be upside down). Peel off the parchment, if using, and turn the cutting board onto a serving dish. Cut the cake into squares. Makes 20 servings.
Vegan (or not) Challah Stuffing or Dressing
If you cook this in the bird, it’s stuffing. If you cook it in a casserole dish, it’s dressing. I think this is the best “basic” stuffing, but you can dress it up with nuts, dried or fresh fruits, sauteed mushrooms, etc. To make this truly vegan, you need a vegan challah. If you can’t find that, use a good country bread.
- 1 pound good-quality challah or other bread (I like a crusty country loaf), cut into 1”-cubes (about 8-10 cups)
- ¼ cup olive or vegetable oil
- 2 cups chopped onions (any variety)
- 1 ½ cups chopped celery
- 1 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley or 2 Tbsp. dried parsley flakes
- 1-2 tsp. Salt, to taste
- ½-1 tsp. Fresh ground pepper, to taste
- 1½ – 2½ cups vegetable broth, as needed
- 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage or 1 tsp. dried
- 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary or ½ tsp. dried
- 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme or ½ tsp. dried
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a casserole dish (a 2 quart or equivalent) or baking dish with nonstick cooking spray or brush with olive oil and set aside.
Leave the bread cubes out overnight to dry out. Or bake (350°F) on a baking sheet for about 10-12 minutes. Add cubes to a large bowl. Set aside.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and celery and saute until beginning to color. Add to bowl. Stir in all remaining ingredients. Transfer to the prepared baking dish.
Bake for one hour until golden. If the stuffing is dry, add more broth. Adjust salt and pepper and serve. If making the day before, reheat at 225°F, covered with foil. Makes 6 servings.
Kale, Quinoa, Cranberry Almond and Feta Salad with Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette
- 1½ cups water
- ½ cup quinoa
- 1 bunch (about10 leaves kale) Chopped
- ½ cup toasted nuts (any variety)
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- ½ cup crumbled Feta cheese (optional)
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- ¼ cup olive oil (regular or extra-virgin)
- 3 Tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp. sugar
- ½tsp. minced garlic (optional
IMPORTANT TO COOK QUINOA THIS WAY! MUST BE AL DENTE!
Bring water and quinoa to a boil in a small saucepan. Cook for 1 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and allow it to sit in hot water for 5 minutes more — quinoa should not be “exploded.” Drain if necessary.
Combine dressing ingredients in a bowl and whisk well.
Combine hot quinoa, kale, nuts and cranberries and toss well. When cool, add feta and dressing and toss well. Makes 6 servings.
Mandarin Ginger Cranberry Relish
Cranberry sauce is typically cooked. Cranberry relish is made from raw cranberries. This uncooked version is tart and sweet with the bright flavor of ginger. Don’t like ginger? Leave it out.
- 2 UNPEELED mandarin oranges (such as Cuties), seeds removed if any
- 2 cups rinsed raw cranberries
- 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
- 1 Tbsp. fresh grated ginger
- ½ – 1 cup sugar, or more to taste
Cut the oranges into chunks. Place in the bowl of a food processor with a metal blade. Pulse (DO NOT PROCESS) until the mixture is ground. Do not over chop or the mixture will be mushy. Allow to sit for 1-hour before serving. Makes 6 servings.
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