Thanksgiving is in just a few days so here are some Thanksgiving cooking columns and recipes, for one person, a few people or even a bevy.

There are three recipes here: spicy cranberry sauce, make-ahead giblet gravy and sage-sausage stuffing with sourdough bread.

First, the spicy cranberry sauce. Try it; it’s usually a hit.

Next up is the gravy. I like to make my gravy ahead of time, and add in the pan drippings, because there’s nothing worse than not having enough gravy on Thanksgiving. Then again, I love gravy.

Finally, my favorite recipe and a must-have at any Thanksgiving I host: sage-sausage stuffing made with sourdough bread. This is something I’ve developed over time, starting with the sage sausage, and ending up with sourdough bread instruction. The combination of good bread and sage sausage, along with some bok choy instead of celery, puts it over the top for me.

Spicy cranberry sauce

See the spicy cranberry sauce column by itself or see just the recipe

It’s mostly about the taste, but somewhat about the presentation.

Cranberry sauce (or relish) is usually a dish reserved for Thanksgiving, Christmas and any other time you’re serving a turkey.

Whatever the occasion, cranberry sauce is one of the dishes you should make before before roasting the turkey, along with stuffing and most of the gravy.

Now, before you entirely discount this recipe, being spicy, I can attest that it was one of the biggest hits from Thanksgiving 2017. The fact that spice is a part of what would normally be a sweet dish adds some to the allure.

It’s also very easy, although how cheap depends on if you can get cranberries on sale.

It’s essentially your regular cranberry sauce recipe (which will gel in the refrigerator) with the addition of lemon and lime juice, a little ginger and some jalapeños.

The biggest pain in the recipe is making sure to keep mixing the ingredients, while they are on the stove, to keep them from burning.

See just the recipe here

Spicy cranberry sauce/relish

A spicy cranberry sauce that goes well with turkey.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Course: Side Dish
Keyword: sauce
Servings: 6 people
Author: Wheeler Cowperthwaite
Cost: $5

Equipment

  • Medium-sized sauce pan

Ingredients

  • 1 ¼ cups sugar
  • 2 jalapenos finely diced
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp chile powder
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger can substitute powdered ginger
  • 12 ounces cranberries
  • 1/2 cup water

Instructions

  • Combine the sugar, jalapeños, lemon and lime juice, salt, chile powder and water in a medium sauce pan and put over medium-high heat. Stir, as it simmers, until the sugar dissolves, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Add the ginger and cranberries and bring the combination to a boil.
  • Once it boils, reduce the heat to medium and stir enough so the cranberries do not burn on the bottom of the pot. Continue to simmer (and periodically stir) until the cranberries soften and there is no liquid remaining in the pot, between 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Allow to cool and refrigerate until it’s ready to be used. It will store for two weeks.

Notes

Recipe adapted from David Tanis.

Make-ahead turkey giblet gravy

This make-ahead gravy assures there will be plenty for the meal and beyond
Course: Side Dish
Servings: 1 quart
Author: Wheeler Cowperthwaite

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter More as required
  • 1/2 cup flour More as required
  • 5-6 cups water
  • Turkey giblets heart, liver, gizzard (Chicken giblets work also)
  • 6-10 pepper corns
  • 1 Turkey neck
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 onion
  • Salt to taste
  • Turkey pan drippings
  • 1-2 cups Optional: 1-2 cups white or red wine More as required for deglazing
  • 1-2 cups Optional: Chicken or beef broth
  • Optional: 1 celery stick

Instructions

  • Put the water in a medium pot on high heat and set to boil.
  • Add the turkey neck, all giblets (chicken giblets also work), bay leaves and pepper corns to the pot of water.
  • While the water comes to a boil, cut the carrot and onion into quarters and add to the pot.
  • When water boils, cover, turn heat on low and simmer for at least 1 hour but preferably for 2 and 1/2 hours or longer. The longer the simmer, the better the stock.
  • While the stock simmers, either combine the butter and flour in a small bowl or put a skillet on medium heat, put the butter in the skillet and slowly whisk in the flour. Continue to whisk until it begins to turn golden brown. Remove to a separate bowl. This is the roux.
  • When the stock is done simmering, strain the stock and return to the pot it was simmered in. Add chicken or beef stock, if using.
  • Remove the turkey neck, heart and liver from the strainer. Remove the meat from the neck and finely mince. Finely mince the heart and liver. Add back to the stock and throw the rest of the material in the strainer away.
  • Add the roux to the stock. Stir until well combined. Add wine, if desired. Put on low heat and simmer if the gravy is too thin or make and add more roux.
  • If using turkey and pan drippings: Once the turkey has been removed from the pan, add a little water or wine, depending on how much liquid is in the pan, and deglaze over a medium-high heat, scraping the browned bits from the bottom.
  • Add the pan drippings to the gravy and stir until well combined. A little more flour may be required to be added.
  • Freeze or put in the refrigerator if being made significantly ahead of the serving time.

Sage sausage and sourdough stuffing

Sourdough, sage sausage and bok choy are the keys to this simple but delicious stuffing.
Course: Side Dish
Author: Wheeler Cowperthwaite

Ingredients

  • 8 cups sourdough bread cubes dime to quarter sized pieces, which is a little under a pound and half. Rye or whole wheat also make for good stuffing
  • 1 lb. sage sausage
  • 1 cup bok choy, chopped or other vegetable of one’s choosing, such as celery
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1-2 cups minced parsley

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees if any of the stuffing is to be baked.
  • In a large skillet (12 inches), cook the sausage, separating it into quarter-sized pieces. Once it is almost done cooking, remove the sausage into a bowl.
  • Brown the onions and bok choy (or other vegetables as desired).
  • Add the sausage back into the skillet, as well as the cubed bread and parsley. Mix and continue to cook over medium-high to medium heat, until the bread begins to heat through.
  • Stuff the turkey with the stuffing or put the stuffing into baking dishes.
  • If baking the stuffing alone, bake at 350 Fahrenheit for 40 minutes with a tinfoil covering.
  • Remove the tinfoil covering and continue to bake for 20 minutes.

Cranberry sauce (or relish) is usually a dish reserved for Thanksgiving, Christmas and any other time you’re serving a turkey.

Whatever the occasion, cranberry sauce is one of the dishes you should make before before roasting the turkey, along with stuffing and most of the gravy.

Now, before you entirely discount this recipe, I can attest that it was one of the biggest hits from Thanksgiving 2017. The fact that spice is a part of what would normally be a sweet dish adds some to the allure.

It’s also very easy, although how cheap depends on if you can get cranberries on sale.

It’s mostly about the taste, but somewhat about the presentation.

It’s essentially your regular cranberry sauce recipe (which will gel in the refrigerator) with the addition of lemon and lime juice, a little ginger and some jalapeños.

(more…)

In New Mexico, Chile is king. No questions. No debate. Red, or green? Christmas? (Christmas is both red and green.)

(If you want just the recipe, see it here.)

Zhug, after the cilantro and jalapenos and citrus and salt have been blended together. Ready for some fiery consumption.

Cilantro certainly plays a second fiddle, in salsa, as do tomatoes, but still: chile, cilantro, these are the building blocks of many New Mexican meals. So, what does that have to do with zhug? Well, combine those two things into one dish. Blew your mind, didn’t it?

Chile and cilantro are not the sole property of New Mexican cuisine and lots of other cultures do complimentary things with them that I think we should all copy, or at least, pay attention to.

That New Mexico can learn a lot from other parts of the world, including from the middle-east, where zhug originated.

What is zhug, anyway?

It can either be described as a cilantro-based hot sauce (and, depending on how you make it, I mean Hot) or as chile and cilantro pesto. Take your pick. I prefer the former, partially because I make mine scalding.

It’s a very simple sauce. Put cilantro, lemon juice, lime juice and, important here, peppers, into a blender. Blend. Blend, blend, blend.

That’s it. Maybe add some salt, to taste. And you’re done. It’s a pesto-like hot sauce or a hot pesto. Either way, zhug goes well with pita bread and tabbouleh, with some hummus. Maybe you’re going to make zucchini fritters. Add some on the side, along with tzatziki.

I should add, this sauce is very dear to my heart. Being such a fan of cilantro, even naming my blog after a proclivity for it, I gotta say. We all should love zhug.

Zhug

This Yemeni/Somali hot sauce goes great on most things, including rice, fritters and in conjunction with hummus.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Total Time20 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Somali, Yemeni
Keyword: hot sauce, sauce
Servings: 4 people
Author: Wheeler Cowperthwaite
Cost: $5

Equipment

  • Blender or food processor

Ingredients

  • 10-20 hot peppers (jalapeno) rinsed and chopped (de-seed if heat is an issue)
  • 1-3 bunches of cilantro washed and chopped
  • 3-6 garlic cloves chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom or seeds from 6 cardamom pods crushed
  • ¼ teaspoon ground coriander (cilantro seeds)
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp lime juice more to taste
  • ¼ to ½ cup lemon juice more or less to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup Chopped mint optional

Instructions

  • Chop the cilantro, peppers and garlic.
  • Put all the ingredients, sans salt, in a food processor or blender. Blend until it reaches desired consistency.
  • Add a small amount of salt, to taste.

 

If you want the full gallery of full-quality photos, they are licensed under a Creative Commons 2.0 Attribution-only license. See them here.

 

Jalapenos in a blender, before being blended, to make Zhug. Add liquid (lemon/lime juice) to aid in the blending process.

Cilantro, being being chopped up and put in a blender to make Zhug.

Tzatziki, a yogurt sauce made with lemon juice, dill, and a few other ingredients, is a fantastic side to a variety of dishes, including zucchini fritters, curry fried rice and hummus, especially when paired with pita bread.

(Skip to just the recipe)

It also goes very well as a compliment to zhug (a hot sauce made of cilantro, peppers and lemon/lime juice) creating what for me is the ultimate quadfecta in pita and falafel sides: zhug, Tzatzikihummus and tabbouleh.

Tzatziki poured over curry fried rice makes an easy and delicious meal. All this is missing is some zhug.

There are a couple of things to consider when making tzatziki, aside from how to spell it.

The first is what kind of yogurt to use. I use full-fat plain yogurt or, if I’m going through a DIY phase, I use yogurt I’ve made from whole milk.

Plain full-fat yogurt is superior (in my opinion) to the more popular and prevalent fat-free and 99 percent fat free options because it has less sugar.

Yogurt makers add sugar to make up for the taste of the lost fat. Naturally occurring fat is a lot more healthy than artificially added sugar. Less sugar, less problems.

Dill piles up in a container of yogurt being used to mix the tzatziki.

Second,  good dill, which can be surprisingly hard to find. When I find it, I buy a large bunch. You can also add some chopped mint to the batch, if you’re feeling a little adventerous or have mint on hand. If I have it, I add it. If I don’t have any available, then it doesn’t go in.

Tzatziki is more like art than science. The amount of lemon juice used, of dill, of lime juice, of salt, of garlic, everything is up for interpretation.

For just the recipe, see the page here.

Wheeler's Dill-icious tzatziki

This yogurt staple is heavy on the dill, lemon, and lime and offsets the saltiness in many foods.
Prep Time30 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Servings: 2 cups
Author: Wheeler Cowperthwaite

Ingredients

  • 2 cups plain yogurt
  • 2+ tbsp finely chopped fresh dill more as desired/to taste
  • 2+ tbsp lemon juice more to taste
  • 1-2 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 pinch black pepper
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped (optional)

Instructions

  • If thicker tzatziki is desired, either buy “Greek” yogurt or strain regular yogurt by placing a cheesecloth in a strainer, and the strainer in a bowl, and pouring the unstrained yogurt into the cheesecloth lining. Cover and let sit in the refrigerator overnight or for 8 hours.
  • Chop garlic, dill and, it if is being used, mint.
  • Mix yogurt in a medium bowl with all of the ingredients except for salt, until will combined.
  • Salt to taste immediately and use or refrigerate for 8+ hours and then salt to taste.

Thanksgiving is tomorrow, which means you need recipes! I am here to provide a few. Click the links for the recipes.

Alternately, all the recipes are listed here.

The sides

Sage sausage stuffing with sourdough bread.

Tastes fantastic.

Stuffing before being placed in the oven. Although cast iron is great for baking, it tends to burn the bottom of the stuffing. Glass is preferred.

Stuffing before being placed in the oven. Although cast iron is great for baking, it tends to burn the bottom of the stuffing. Glass is preferred.

Bacon Brussels sprouts

If the skillet isn't large enough do it in batches.

If the skillet isn’t large, cook the sprouts in batches.

Ugly beans

The gravy

Make-ahead turkey giblet gravy

Make-ahead turkey giblet gravy infused with port

Dessert

Pumpkin dump cake

pumpkin-dump-cake-with-cool-whip-900x600-3

Dump cake with non-dairy whipped topping, which looks like ice cream.

Cobbled pumpkin pie

For this dish, consider using the pumpkin mixture recipe in the dump cake.

Pumpkin pie after being baked.

Pumpkin pie after being baked.

Key lime pie (needs to be frozen)

It's the pie! Pre-freezer, though.

It’s the pie! Pre-freezer, though.

Boozy apple crisp

The boozy apple crisp is good. Not amazing, but good.

Really, just choose any dessert.

Drinks

The Holiday Mule

Sparkling Wine and Cranberry Cocktail

sparking-wine-cocktail-4-of-9-900x600

Cranberry juice and sparkling wine make a great combination for those who do not like the bubbly by itself.

The Ginger Beer Shandy

The ginger beer shandy casts a pretty shadow.

The ginger beer shandy casts a pretty shadow.

Glühwein

Way too hot. My bad! No boiling allowed!

Way too hot. My bad! No boiling allowed!

Two Recipes for Some Thanksgiving help

Thanksgiving is right around the corner which means, if you have to cook any part of the meal, you’re scrambling for ideas, for  ingredients, for menu planning, for drinks, for the whole shebang.

I’ve been there before and I’m going to be there again this year which means I’m scrambling as well.

I know a few parts of the meal ‘m going to be making already. Obviously, there’s the turkey. That’s a given. Then there’s the gravy. (Here’s the full recipe.) That’s something where the majority can be made ahead of time.

Then there’s the stuffing which I rarely stuff inside of the turkey. (I like to put a few lemons, maybe a lime, some apples, maybe an orange, in the bird’s cavity.)

I personally make a sage sausage stuffing with sourdough bread and bake it in the oven. This makes it toasty and more delicious.

There’re two options for the sage sausage. Either, make it yourself or just buy it. When it’s on sale, I buy it. When it’s not, I make it myself with fresh sage which I then dry in the oven.

There you go. Two great options.

I highly suggest you take my advice on the gravy.

Either use the links above or see the recipes below.

Make-ahead turkey giblet gravy

This make-ahead gravy assures there will be plenty for the meal and beyond
Course: Side Dish
Servings: 1 quart
Author: Wheeler Cowperthwaite

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter More as required
  • 1/2 cup flour More as required
  • 5-6 cups water
  • Turkey giblets heart, liver, gizzard (Chicken giblets work also)
  • 6-10 pepper corns
  • 1 Turkey neck
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 onion
  • Salt to taste
  • Turkey pan drippings
  • 1-2 cups Optional: 1-2 cups white or red wine More as required for deglazing
  • 1-2 cups Optional: Chicken or beef broth
  • Optional: 1 celery stick

Instructions

  • Put the water in a medium pot on high heat and set to boil.
  • Add the turkey neck, all giblets (chicken giblets also work), bay leaves and pepper corns to the pot of water.
  • While the water comes to a boil, cut the carrot and onion into quarters and add to the pot.
  • When water boils, cover, turn heat on low and simmer for at least 1 hour but preferably for 2 and 1/2 hours or longer. The longer the simmer, the better the stock.
  • While the stock simmers, either combine the butter and flour in a small bowl or put a skillet on medium heat, put the butter in the skillet and slowly whisk in the flour. Continue to whisk until it begins to turn golden brown. Remove to a separate bowl. This is the roux.
  • When the stock is done simmering, strain the stock and return to the pot it was simmered in. Add chicken or beef stock, if using.
  • Remove the turkey neck, heart and liver from the strainer. Remove the meat from the neck and finely mince. Finely mince the heart and liver. Add back to the stock and throw the rest of the material in the strainer away.
  • Add the roux to the stock. Stir until well combined. Add wine, if desired. Put on low heat and simmer if the gravy is too thin or make and add more roux.
  • If using turkey and pan drippings: Once the turkey has been removed from the pan, add a little water or wine, depending on how much liquid is in the pan, and deglaze over a medium-high heat, scraping the browned bits from the bottom.
  • Add the pan drippings to the gravy and stir until well combined. A little more flour may be required to be added.
  • Freeze or put in the refrigerator if being made significantly ahead of the serving time.

 

HOMEMADE SAGE SAUSAGE STUFFING

The sage sausage

Ingredients

1 lb ground pork or beef or other ground meat(s)

½ teaspoon ground coriander seeds

1 teaspoon salt

1-3 teaspoons dried, rubbed sage

½ teaspoon black pepper

Directions

If drying fresh sage, put sage leaves on a cooking sheet lined with parchment paper for 1-2 hours at 150-180 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mix the meat and spices, possibly by hand, until well combined.

Refrigerate overnight or cook immediately.

Sage sausage stuffing

Ingredients

8 cups sourdough bread cubes, dime to quarter sized pieces, which is a little under a pound and

half. Rye or whole wheat also make for good stuffing)

1 lb. sage sausage

1 cup bok choy (or other vegetable of one’s choosing, such as celery)

2 chopped medium onions

1-2 cups minced parsley

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees if any of the stuffing is to be baked.

In a large skillet (12 inches), cook the sausage, separating it into quarter-sized pieces. Once it is almost done cooking, remove the sausage into a bowl.

Brown the onions and bok choy (or other vegetables as desired).

Add the sausage back into the skillet, as well as the cubed bread. Mix and continue to cook over medium-high to medium heat, until the bread begins to heat through.

Stuff the turkey with the stuffing or put the stuffing into baking dishes.

If baking the stuffing alone, bake at 350 Fahrenheit for 40 minutes with a tinfoil covering.

Remove the tinfoil covering and continue to bake for 20 minutes.