Saturday, November 01, 2008

Thanksgiving Menus from Food Magazines, part 3

Bon Appetit
The November Bon Appetit contains a complete "Thanksgiving Almanac." Bon Appetit reached back in time in hopes of capturing the true spirit of Thanksgiving, including traditional/heirloom American foods. The Thanksgiving feature is divided into sections:

1. Menu for a Heritage Feast:
  • Crudites with green goddess dip
  • Dungeness crab and heirloom bean brandade
  • Roast heritage turkey with bacon-herb butter and cider gravy
  • Bacon, apple, and fennel stuffing
  • Wild rice with butternut squash, leeks, and corn
  • Shaved brussels sprouts with currants and chestnuts
  • Garnet yams with maple syrup and maple-sugar streusel
  • Cranberry and tart-cherry compote
  • Pear cobbler with dried blueberries and stone-ground corn biscuits
  • Caramelized apple and pecan pie
2. Turkey (Salt It, Don't Brine It):
  • Salted roast turkey with herbs and shallot dijon gravy
  • Salted roast turkey with orange, fall spices, and sherry gravy
  • Salted roast turkey with chipotle glaze and caramelized onion gravy
3. Stuffing (One Recipe, Four Ways):
  • Herb and onion stuffing
  • Sausage stuffing with fennel and roasted squash
  • Dried cranberry, apricot, and fig stuffing
  • Wild mushroom and spinach stuffing
4. Sides (Make Ahead Makes It Easy):
  • Monday: Cranberry relish with grapefruit and mint; cranberry, pomegranate, and meyer lemon relish
  • Tuesday: Glazed pearl onions in port with bay leaves
  • Wednesday: Citrus-glazed carrots; green beans with pickled onion relish; cauliflower and brussels sprout gratin with pine nut breadcrumb topping; roasted winter squash and parsnips with maple syrup glaze and marcona almonds; creamy corn and chestnut pudding; sweet potato and apple puree; and potato, zucchini, and tomato gratin
  • Thursday: Scalloped yukon gold and sweet potato gratin with fresh herbs; yukon gold and fennel puree with rosemary butter
5. Dessert (Purely Pumpkin):
  • Pumpkin butterscotch pie
  • Pumpkin and brown-sugar creme brulee
  • Pumpkin ice cream pie with chocolate-almond bark and toffee sauce
  • Pumpkin spice layer cake with caramel and cream cheese frosting
  • Pumpkin cheesecake with marshmallow-sour cream topping and gingersnap crust

Bonus: turkey carving guide; keeping food hot; other menu ideas based on the included recipes

Also: Fall fruit and vegetable guide; buttermilk biscuits with green onions, black pepper, and sea salt; pomegranates; and RSVP - readers' favorite restaurant recipes (one of my favorite sections of Bon Appetit).

My summary: I love Bon Appetit's simple approach to Thanksgiving. The feature has a nice layout, and the photos convey a sense of peace and calmness (they were shot on location in a Shaker village). There are some "gourmet" ingredients, but Bon Appetit does a good job of making the recipes approachable, and gives explanation of the less common ingredients. Lots of the dishes look delicious, but a few I am unsure of, for example: cooked pearl onions . . . yes, that is an entire dish. Maybe I'm missing out on something great, but I don't think it sounds good at all. Bon Appetit is one of my favorite food magazines; it has a nice mix of recipes and articles, most of which are reader friendly and not snobbish. My parents have been Bon Appetit readers since the 1970s; some of our family favorites are BA recipes from the late 70s and early 80s . . . I think the contents of the new issues are timely - but obviously many of their recipes are timeless as well. The November issue is a good one to add to your collection.
(No, I'm not a Bon Appetit spokesperson . . . I wish!)

Everyday with Rachael Ray
First, my disclaimer: I am not a fan of RR's 30-Minute Meals television show. I do sometimes like her magazine though, and I'd heard the Nov. issue had good ideas, so I picked it up to see for myself. In classic Rachael Ray style, this magazine promises to "Get the big meal on the table in 60 minutes (no joke!)." Yes, it actually says "no joke." Hmm . . . kind of makes me want to challenge it to see if it really can be done by the average home cook. Here is the Thanksgiving in 60 Minutes menu:
  • Early bird turkey (turkey breasts and thighs, not a whole bird)
  • Apple and date stuffing
  • Green bean casserole
  • Golden potato mash
  • Spiced pumpkin mousse trifle
  • Bonus: 101 Ways to Make Thanksgiving Easier - lots of random tips, some should be common sense . . . but some could be helpful: Clean out your fridge - purge shelves and inner doors of almost-empty jars and bottles and leftover takeout; and [Turkey] size matters - One pound raw weight per person is the rule of thumb, but when in doubt, buy up. Keep in mind larger birds have a higher proportion of dark meat, so if your family loves only white meat, consider an average-size turkey and roast a couple of extra turkey breasts on the side.
  • Also: election night parties; several twists on stuffed mushrooms; Italian lessons; Thanksgiving travel ideas; 30-minute meals; and a tear out weekly menu + planner.
My summary: It seems like this magazine actually contains Rachael Ray's energy . . . there is a lot going on, not only on the cover but inside the magazine as well. The 60-minute Thanksgiving meal doesn't have much appeal for me . . . you're supposed to cook all day (or all week) for T-Day, right? If you would answer "no" to that question, this menu could be a good fit. I could see this menu, the recipes, and the planner working for a group of college or grad students who aren't able to go home for the holiday, but want a semi-traditional holiday meal without all the work. I haven't tested any of the recipes from this issue yet, but there are several I've got flagged to try - if I can get past all the [annoying] inserts and tear out sections, that is.

Fine Cooking

Fine Cooking's All-Star Thanksgiving was created by notable chefs from NYC, San Francisco, and Seattle. The Ultimate Thanksgiving menu includes:
  • Roasted Turkey with Juniper-Ginger Butter & Pan Gravy
  • Rustic Bread Stuffing with Dried Cranberries, Hazelnuts, and Oyster Mushrooms
  • Mashed Potatoes with Caramelized Shallots
  • Maple-Tangerine Cranberry Sauce
  • Cauliflower with Brown Butter, Pears, Sage and Hazelnuts
  • Green Beans with Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette and Parmesan Breadcrumbs
  • Sugar and Spice Pumpkin Pie with Brandied Ginger Cream
  • Bonus: "The Whys of Pie" - troubleshooting common pie problems
  • Also: Testing stockpots; steak au poivre; features on squash, rosemary, and caramel
My summary: Fine Cooking's menu looks very versatile - as if it would satisfy everyone from the foodie to the picky eater. Fine Cooking is a little bit like Cook's Illustrated; it focuses on recipes, ingredients, and equipment (like Cook's Illustrated and Cook's Country), but it does include advertising and doesn't seem to be quite as obsessive when it comes to testing recipes. The T-day menu nicely balances traditional and new tastes - perfect for those who need a new spin on their traditional holiday staples. (Ahem . . . Dad . . . are you reading this???)
Like Bon Appetit, a good addition to the food magazine collection.

Whew . . . This wraps up my series of food magazine Thanksgiving menu reviews. Good thing, too, because I'm really, REALLY hungry for turkey now!

See my other Thanksgiving menu reviews here and here.


ask the booth said...

This is a great post! Thanks!

Mandy said...

I loved the RR mag too. It looks like I must pick up the other two also as I plan Thanksgiving this year.