How to make a small, easy feast this Thanksgiving
The COVID-19 virus has changed how most of us think about Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday by the way.
We are told we shouldn’t gather in large nonfamilial groups, should avoid the classic buffet and should use our own disposable utensils. I’m bummed.
But as I thought about it, I realized a scaled-down (since we aren’t supposed to have big gatherings), easier-to-prepare Thanksgiving seems in order.
That said, here are some recipes that are pretty easy to make, for a gathering of a few related folks.
This fresh, uncooked relish is excellent with roast turkey and ham, pork and game. Try it with smoked meats and sausages, too. Forget about the canned stuff.
Fresh Cranberry Relish with Tangerine and Mint
Makes about 3 cups
12 ounces (3 heaping cups, usually 1 bag) fresh or frozen cranberries
2 unpeeled mandarins or tangerines, scrubbed
¼ cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
1¼ cups sugar, or to taste
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1-2 tablespoons Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur (optional)
¼ cup chopped, lightly toasted walnuts (optional)
Fresh mint sprigs
Wash and pick over the cranberries. Cut the tangerines into eighths, peel and all, and remove and discard any seeds. Place all the ingredients (except walnuts) in a food processor and chop relatively finely in short bursts. Be careful not to over-process; you still want some texture. Taste for sweetness and add more sugar if desired. Stir in walnuts, if using, just before serving. You also can sprinkle the walnuts on top. Garnish with mint sprigs. Store covered in refrigerator for up to 5 days. Can also be frozen.
This makes a wonderful appetizer on its own or served as a side for grilled meats or butterflied poultry.
Salt-crusted Potatoes with Salsa Verde
For Salt-Crusted Potatoes:
2¼ pounds evenly sized waxy new potatoes, such as fingerling, scrubbed but unpeeled
Sea salt flakes
Salsa verde (recipe follows)
Put the potatoes into a wide, shallow pan in which they fit in a single layer. Add 2 tablespoons salt and 1 quart cold water (just enough to cover the potatoes). Bring to a boil and leave to boil rapidly until the water has evaporated. Then turn the heat to low and continue to cook for a few minutes, gently turning over the potatoes occasionally until they are dry and the skins are wrinkled and covered in a thin crust of salt.
Pile the hot potatoes on a plate and serve with the salsa, instructing your guests to rub off as much salt from the potatoes as they wish before dipping them in the sauce.
Makes about 1 cup
2 cups coarsely chopped parsley
½ cup chopped fresh basil or mint
4 (or more) anchovy fillets in oil
2 tablespoons drained capers
2 tablespoons blanched or roasted garlic (see note below)
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
⅔ cup or so fruity extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Add the parsley, anchovies, capers, garlic, basil and zest to a food processor or blender. With machine running, slowly add the oil until just blended. Sauce should still have a little texture. Season with salt and pepper. Can be stored covered and refrigerated for a day.
Red Cabbage Gratin
3 tablespoons softened butter
9 cups thinly shredded red cabbage (1 small head)
2½ cups heavy cream
½ cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon freshly ground fennel seed
1 teaspoon sugar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
¾ cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
¾ cup finely chopped almonds
¾ cup panko breadcrumbs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 3-quart oval baking dish with 1 tablespoon of butter, add cabbage and set aside. Combine cream, stock, paprika, fennel, sugar, salt and pepper in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Do not boil. Pour cream mixture over cabbage and stir to combine.
In a medium bowl, toss together Parmesan, almonds and breadcrumbs. Sprinkle evenly over cabbage and dot the top with remaining butter. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake until cream is absorbed and cabbage is tender, about 45 minutes. Remove foil, increase oven heat to 400 degrees and continue baking until topping is browned and crisp, about 15 minutes more. Cool for 10 minutes or so before serving.
Slightly Spicy and Seductive Tomato Soup
Serves 6-8, Makes 7 cups or so
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups white onion, cut into small dice (1 medium)
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 teaspoon each whole fennel and cumin seeds
1 tablespoon pure medium chile powder, such as ancho
2 tablespoons medium- or short-grained white rice
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes with basil
4 cups or so vegetable or chicken stock
⅛ teaspoon crushed red chile flakes, or to taste