The hours between when your guests arrive and when the turkey hits the table might just be everyone’s favorite part of the day. Here are 20 smart ways to kick-start your meal. 1. Don’t Even Think About Skipping Breakfast How many times have you starved yourself before Thanksgiving only to find that you eat way too much when the actual feast rolls around? (Not to mention that you’re grouchier and more susceptible to those predinner cocktails.) Skip lunch if you like, but do everyone a favor and make yourself some cheesy scrambled eggs with bacon, avocado toast, or oatmeal the morning of. We promise you won’t run out of room. 2. Give Everyone a Job…Even the Kids Kitchen prep can be all yours, but don’t forget to delegate other tasks. Ask the kids to draw place cards for the table. (That way they won’t sneak pie before dinner.) Everyone helps, everyone wins. 3. Destroy Your Family Fair and Square Charades, gin rummy, touch football, Scrabble, Balderdash, soccer, kick the can, Catch Phrase (there’s an app for that!), Cards Against Humanity (or Apples to Apples if Grandma can’t handle it): There’s nothing like some good old-fashioned competitiveness to stimulate the appetite. 4. I Dip, You Dip, We All Dip Can it be a party without dip? No! But for this special meal, ranch or blue cheese ain’t going to cut it. Try our Lemony Smoked Trout Dip and serve it with our favorite crackers (see #5). Get the Recipe: Lemony Smoked Trout Dip 5. The Cracker of Crackers You know what you absolutely don’t have time to think about right now? Which of the 10,000 varieties of crackers at the store are going in your cart. Fortunately, we’ve made the choice for you: Carr’s Table Water Crackers. Delicately crispy, plain without being bland, they’re a good platform for just about anything on your hors d’oeuvres board—and aren’t compelling enough solo to risk snacking on their own (looking at you, Ritz and Triscuits). 6. The Only Time It’s Okay to Talk Politics Is Before the Meal You remember the opening Thanksgiving scene in Hannah and Her Sisters? Take it from Woody Allen: A big family meal is no place for challenging your in-law who doesn’t believe in climate change or rehashing the juicy details of your hot date last Saturday. Get all that stuff out in one-on-one conversations beforehand, and restrict the dinner-table topics to your last vacation, the weather, and how Mom’s sweet potatoes really are the best on the planet (even if they are not!). 7. Drink Like An Adult You want a drink in hand and perhaps a slight buzz, but getting blitzed before the meal is just bad form. Our Sherry-Tonic Punch is flavorful but low-octane, guaranteeing hours of easy-breezy sipping. Get the Recipe: Sherry-Tonic Punch 8. Always Have Champagne on Hand Because when all else fails, nothing says party like a bottle of bubbly. 9. Your Fridge Is Off-Limits By now your fridge looks like a round of Tetris—perfectly, precariously organized, without a millimeter of space to spare. Which is why you need to put all of your drinks in a separate fridge or a cooler filled with ice. Because if your thirsty mother-in-law spills your turkey stock looking for cold Pinot Grigio, things could get really ugly really fast. 10. Spread ’Em Can’t find your uncles? They’re over by the cheese plate. Always. So be strategic about your nosh placement. Don’t want people crowding the kitchen? Then don’t put the nuts there! Spreading out snacks in a few places both encourages movement and keeps your guests right where you want them—and not where you don’t. 11. If you have a fireplace or wood stove—or Radiant Fireplace 2 DVD—it should be going. 12. Skip the Bread (Kinda) It’s not who starts, it’s who finishes. In other words, keep your eyes on the prize—stuffing!—and don’t overload company with carbs before the main event. On this day, they are the enemy. Forgo the baguette and the pigs in blankets but do try one (okay, two) of our Seeded Buckwheat Grissini with Parmesan, a.k.a. killer breadsticks. Get the Recipe: Seeded Buckwheat Grissini 13. Make a Playroom for the Kids (and the Big Kids, Too) You can discipline the kids all day, or you can create an oasis for them, a place where they can build with Legos, watch cartoons, color, or, you know, just be kids. As for the adults, you may hate football, but someone coming over will definitely need to watch the game, so put it on someplace where the sports fans can gather. 14. Go for a Walk or Run—Just Get Outside! Not only does a little cardio exercise make you feel better about the quantity of mashed potatoes you’ll inevitably consume, but it’s the best way to connect with dear old Dad and get a breather from the crazy full-on family situation. 15. The Case for a Better Nut You could open a can of store-bought mixed nuts and the world would not come to an end. Or you could show everyone you care by making these Sweet-and-Spicy Mixed Nuts. Get the Recipe: Sweet-and-Spicy Mixed Nuts 16. Dust It Off, Then Do It Up It’s not just about the food. Set the table the night before. (Never wait until the last minute.) Wash china and wine glasses. Pull down all of the serving platters and bowls and decide what food goes where. Figure out the perfect locations for your candlesticks. It’s probably the most dressed-up your table will get all year, so really turn it out. 17. The Only Way to Crudités Eat your veggies. Not the kind you’d pack in a fourth-grader’s lunch (no baby carrots, thank you very much), but rather these Pickled Vegetable Lettuce Cups. Get the Recipe: Pickled Vegetable Lettuce Cups 18. Pick a time that you are going to sit down for dinner and stick with it! 19. Bubbles for All Give the kids something fun to drink—San Pellegrino sodas or some fruit-juice spritzers. It makes them feel special, too. 20. Cheese Boards Are for Amateurs By arranging eight nubbins of fatty dairy on a plate, you’re inviting your guests to (yeah, you guessed it) try all eight and then—oh, why not?—have another piece of that one, and that one…. You get the picture. It’s an appetite deathtrap. So serve cheese, but follow these rules. Buy one small, whole wheel of cheese (3–4 pounds should do it), because whole anything says festive. Something hard, salty, bold—the kind you nibble, not the kind you schmear. And make it American because, well, they don’t celebrate Turkey Day in Savoie. Our pick? The nutty Manchego-esque San Andreas from Bellwether Farms in California ($33 per lb.). Andrew Knowlton’s guide to holiday drinking with dignity: The post How to Pregame Thanksgiving Dinner (It’s Important!) appeared first on Bon Appétit.
Call your mom’s fridge door from the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s: Ranch dressing is back in style at restaurants across the country. Born from nostalgia and backed up with way better ingredients than you’ll find in grocery store-bought bottles, today’s ranch is so much more than an iceberg lettuce topper. Just Admit You Like It Before ranch could make a comeback, it had to overcome its bad reputation as an outdated, unhealthy and too-thick processed condiment. As far as chefs were concerned, it tasted good, but it didn’t deserve a place in a serious restaurant kitchen. But, as Todd Ginsberg of Fred’s Meat and Bread and Yalla at Krog Street Market in Atlanta, sees it, that’s the fun of it: “I think that’s kind of the key to its success. We all secretly love it.” All that’s happening now is admitting it. At Fred’s, Ginsberg ramps up the flavor on kicky garlic fries with a homemade ranch dip, and at Yalla, he makes a ranch labneh to accompany the grilled lamb kebab. The garlic fries with ranch at Fred’s Meat and Bread. Photo: Danielle Oron Nostalgia Tripping Chefs are tugging on heartstrings, and hoping that you long for instant ranch dressing packets as much as they do. “As kids, you’d get takeout pepperoni pizza and punk it with hot sauce or ranch dressing. We wanted to go where we had all guilty pleasure-been before,” Damien Repucci of Bruno Pizza in New York says of the inspiration behind the ranch-smothered pepperoni and dill pizza on the new restaurant’s menu. The idea is to take the common denominator of what everyone had in their fridge growing up and take it somewhere new. Chef Jesse Houston says that at Saltine in Jackson, Mississippi (a top 50 nominee!) that meant putting ranch front and center as a cooling dipping sauce for seriously hot Nashville-style chicken, and letting a Southern mainstay, comeback sauce, take a backseat. But it’s really that nostalgia that earns the recipe respect. “I think this particular dressing can also open up a conversation about amazingly delicious things that aren’t always respected for what they are because they’re mass produced,” says Sean Brock, comparing ranch dressing to steak sauce and Coca-Cola (a.k.a., “the most brilliant recipe ever created”). At his restaurant Husk, he makes homemade fresh buttermilk ranch and at Minero, his casual Mexican joint, he spices that recipe up, adding pasilla chiles to the mix. Wow! The pepperoni pizza! (with house made ranch dressing of course) A photo posted by Bruno (@brunopizzanyc) on Oct 10, 2015 at 10:13pm PDT Kind of a Big Dill But chefs are using the freshest ingredients to homemake ranch and take it where it’s never been before. “Now that we’re using cultured, fermented milk, we’re coming out and saying we actually love ranch,” Ginsberg says, adding that he first started making his own ranch about five years ago when he found local Georgia farms producing great buttermilks and wanted to use them for more than just brining or frying. And it was fresh dill from the Union Square Greenmarket that inspired Repucci’s at Bruno too. Brock echoes that sentiment. “What I think freaks people out about ranch dressing on the shelves is the texture,” he says. “But if you make your own buttermilk, thicken it with sour cream, and add fresh spices and herbs, it’s amazing. That’s what ranch dressing is to me.” His approach requires fresher ingredients, better ingredients—anything to make it more vibrant. That was especially necessary because Brock is totally obsessed with wedge salads, and insisted on including one on the menu at Minero. But this wasn’t a standard wedge. He took the from-scratch buttermilk ranch from Husk and added his favorite chile, the hard-to-find and expensive pasilla—”the Pappy van Winkle of the chile world”—to bring some smoke and cocoa undertones to the dish. Getting it right was important to Brock, “I make it well-known that I love things like ranch. I love their place in pop culture. That’s what makes it cool.” Everybody Loves Ranch It helps that ranch sells. Ginsberg jokes, “You could put fenugreek French fries with ranch on a menu and it would sell. Just multiply whatever you’re serving with ranch and you’re set.” Just ask Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo. At their LA restaurant Jon & Vinny’s, they included three pizza crust dipping sauces on the menu. Ranch is the most popular. To Shook, the reason is obvious: “You can put ranch on anything.” No surprise then that a ranch with Maggi, a soy sauce-like seasoning, landed on a chicken milanesa at their newly opened Trois Familia. Chicken milanesa, raw and pickled cucumbers, Maggi ranch! #amazing A photo posted by Shruti Patel (@shrut1.patel) on Oct 27, 2015 at 3:03pm PDT The thing is, says Sara Kramer, who makes a ranchy labneh at LA’s Madcapra, “There’s room enough in the serious culinary world to be playful with the kinds of ingredients we can all connect to.” It’s why Victory Sandwich Bar in Atlanta has a ranch popcorn on the menu or Liholiho Yacht Club dresses its beets, radicchio, sunflower seeds, and crispy sweet potatoes in a shiso ranch. At Dallas’ Clark Food and Wine, the Turkey Ranch Cobb plays it old school and dresses a salad with smoked turkey, crispy speck, cabbage, and more in a Housemade Buttermilk Ranch. What it comes down to, Brock says, is “People are starting to embrace American cuisine a little more and recognize the place these things have. It’s a generational thing; we grew up with it, and now it’s our time to improve upon it.” His vision for the future? Maybe creative chefs will make a bottled ranch people actually want to use at home. And this time, when we slather our salads with it, we’ll scream it from the rooftops: We’re into it. The post Ranch Revival: The Food-World’s Most Maligned Condiment Makes a Comeback appeared first on Bon Appétit.
Claire Ptak may bake for a living, but she’s anything but a sugar fanatic. In fact, the California native and owner of London’s very popular Violet Bakery makes it a point to use less sugar and refined grains in her cakes, scones, and cookies than you’d find at a typical bakery. Flipping through Ptak’s new book, which is filled with recipes like summer spelt almond cake and apricot and almond-cornmeal muffins, it’s obvious she learned her love of seasonal baking from the best—namely, Alice Waters and Chez Panisse, where Ptak worked as a pastry chef. We recently caught up with Ptak over the phone and snagged a few of her best baking tips that anyone can use. Ptak on the streets of London. Photo: Kristin Perers Think Like a Cook At many restaurants, dessert can be a disappointing finish to an otherwise thoughtful meal—a one-dimensional “sugar bomb,” as Ptak puts it. But working alongside the savory cooks at Chez Panisse taught Ptak to approach her pastries and desserts with the same consideration and restraint any chef would give to a steak or a good piece of fish. “You’re thinking about flavor all the time, adjusting it and balancing it, just like when you make a soup,” Ptak says of baking at Chez Panisse. “I really took to that. Because even with something like a chocolate chip cookie, you’re still looking for the perfect balance of sweet to salt to butteriness.” And like any chef with a thing for seasonal cooking, Ptak, who loves fruit-forward desserts, is obsessed with using beautiful fruits at the height of their ripeness in her just-sweet-enough cakes, scones, and muffins. This idea of “baking seasonally” means you’ll never find a strawberry scone at Violet in the winter, and everything is free of added food coloring (save for Grandma Ptak’s red velvet cake) because the fruits in season at the moment are what give the sweets their color. Tasting your fruit before baking is always a good move. Photo: Alex Lau Taste Everything If you’ve ever eaten a drab supermarket strawberry in the middle of February, you know it’s a sad substitute for the fragrant berries you’ll only find at the farmers’ market in early summer. That’s why Ptak recommends always tasting your ingredients before diving into a recipe. Making a plum cake? Taste the fruit before you start baking—it might be so perfectly sweet you need little more than a sprinkling of sugar on top for some crunch and sheen. Baking with buckwheat flour for the first time? Yep, give that raw flour a taste, too. “It’s going to feel odd to have a little lick of some raw flour, but you’ll really get a sense of what you’re working with, and I think that’s what people should think about doing a bit more when baking,” Ptak says. As you become more familiar with the taste of your raw ingredients before baking them, you’ll start to develop a sense of how they’ll taste in your final product. Do this enough times and you’ll eventually know when you want to scale back on the sugar or pull that cake out of the oven a few minutes earlier the next time around. In other words, you’ll become a more instinctual (and confident!) baker. As for the question of whether or not it’s kosher to try raw dough before baking, Ptak says: “The thing with raw dough is like, we all grew up eating cookie dough, didn’t we?” A sprinkle of salt—not sugar—brings out the natural sweetness of grapefruit. Photo: Marcus Nilsson Don’t Just Assume It Needs More Sugar If you ever find yourself wondering what your dessert is missing, chances are it’s actually not sugar. Salty, bitter, and sour flavors are just as critical to a balanced dessert, and Ptak will often turn to these when developing new recipes. At Violet, the bitter hot chocolate gets a pinch of salt (it cancels out the bitterness and makes the whole drink taste sweeter); the sweet oatmeal cookies get a dose of bitter candied grapefruit peel; and tart citrus juice cuts the sweetness of the icings. And in the winter, when the bakery serves grapefruit halves for breakfast, the sour fruit gets a sprinkle of salt, which brings out its natural sweetness without any added sugar (genius). Ptak says to consider ingredients like booze, coffee, chocolate (all bitters), and fruit purées (sour) as “flavor-balancing tools” that can bring tons of depth to otherwise cloying desserts. “Tweaking these elements can be so much more than just adding sweetener or salt,” she says. “Instead, you’re pulling out more of the flavor that’s actually inherent in the ingredient in the first place.” For even more sweet goodness, grab a copy of The Violet Bakery Cookbook, out now. We challenged Ptak and Tartine Bakery’s Liz Prueitt to a pie crust roll-out duel: The post London’s Hippest Baker Shares Her Tips for Making Better Baked Goods at Home appeared first on Bon Appétit.
Just when you thought, “Green bean casserole, again?”—it’s time to mix it up. Just add one of these fresh—and fuss-free—make-ahead sides to your repertoire. Butter-basted mushrooms, blistered green beans, glazed squash, and sautéed pears await: Sautéed Pears with Bacon and Mustard Dressing Pears and walnuts are delicious together; walnuts and bacon make total sense. When you combine them all, it’s magic. Blistered Green Beans with Tomato-Almond Pesto This sauce, inspired by Spanish romesco, uses cherry tomatoes, which are usually the best-tasting type in the market this time of year. Roasted Carrots and Red Onions with Fennel and Mint Toasting the seeds and nuts in oil forms the base of a complex vinaigrette for simple roasted vegetables. Herby Barley Salad with Butter-Basted Mushrooms Any chewy grain, such as wheat berries, farro, or even brown rice, can replace the barley. This cheesy broccolini gratin is a keeper, too: The post Thanksgiving Sides That Will Happily Share the Table With Green Bean Casserole appeared first on Bon Appétit.
Every November we field countless calls and e-mails about Thanksgiving quandaries. We’re here to help—starting with the No. 1 question: how to improve that (kinda boring) bird?! Start with one of these four recipes and we promise you won’t go wrong: Glazed and Lacquered Roast Turkey A little soy sauce in the glaze ensures the burnished mahogany skin that holiday memories are made of. But it’s not just for looks; this brine and buttered bird is seasoned inside and out. Gravy-Braised Turkey Legs with Cipolline Onions You know how sometimes the meat is dry and there’s not enough gravy? We fixed that by braising dark meat in a robust pan sauce. Ta-da! Porchetta-Style Roast Turkey Breast The secret to great-tasting turkey breast? Wrapping it in bacon. Behold, the “turketta.” Barbecue Spice–Brined Grilled Turkey Also known as the one-hour turkey, this spatchcocked bird (ask your butcher, or do it yourself) will free up your oven. Never spatchcocked a turkey? This is your year: The post These Thanksgiving Turkey Recipes Are Here to Help You Say No to Boring Birds appeared first on Bon Appétit.
Associate web editor Rochelle Bilow really loves breakfast. Sure, she’s a morning person by nature, but what she really digs about breakfast is that it’s an opportunity to start the day on the right foot. It’s a chance to eat something healthy, fast, and homemade. This week, she’s getting wild and crazy with her cereal. I will admit that breakfast is sometimes a source of stress for me. See, there are just so many great things I want to eat and drink, that I often become paralyzed by indecision. Tragic, I know: How can one decide between coffee or tea? Hot porridge or cold cereal? Savory or sweet? I solved all of my problems (or at least that problem) last week with a kind-of-genius, kind-of-crazy breakfast dish that I’ve quickly become obsessed with: I’m calling it the Dirty Chai Porridge. Here’s how you do it. Pour ½-¾ cup of your favorite dry, unsweetened, or very lightly sweetened cereal into a bowl. You want something healthy, hearty, and without lots of added flavor—you’ll be introducing plenty of that yourself shortly. I like Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Whole Grain cereal. Brew 2 ounces of very strong coffee using your preferred method. If you have an espresso machine, even better—pull a shot or two, then invite me over. Meanwhile, make chai in a saucepan on the stovetop. Do this either by heating ⅔ cup milk with ⅓ cup chai concentrate (avoid ones with artificial flavoring or preservatives), or simply by steeping 1 tablespoon black tea in 1 cup of milk, along with a small handful of cardamom pods, black pepper, ginger peel, and a cinnamon stick. If using the second method, strain out the solids once the tea has steeped and keep refrigerated. You can use them for a second or third infusion later on. Whatever method you choose, use a large whisk to aerate the chai-milk mixture, making it frothy and agitated. At this point, you can also add sugar, honey, or maple syrup. Most chai concentrates are already sweetened, so check the bottle or package first. Pour the milky tea over the hot cereal, using a spoon to transfer the foamy top. Immediately pour the coffee over, mix with a spoon, and dig in. The heat of the chai-coffee mixture (known in cafes as “Dirty Chai”) will soften the cereal into a porridge-like consistency, and you’ll be caffeinating as you eat. Now that’s multi-tasking at its finest. Or, Just Make a Cup of Chai The post Dirty Chai Porridge Is Practically Perfect In Every Way appeared first on Bon Appétit.
Believe it or not, Thanksgiving isn’t the only meal this month. Here’s what to cook the other 29 days: Our marinade works on short ribs (pictured), pork, or chicken. Magic Marinade Big flavor comes in small slices. In our homemade riff on Korean barbecue, we cut very thin strips of meat, whose surface area can absorb a hot-sweet-salty marinade in minutes—not hours. Then all we need are some lettuce cups and store-bought kimchi, and dinner’s practically ready. Get the Recipe: Basic Bulgogi A handful of chopped almonds creates a crunchy top crust. No Flour, No Problem Olive oil and almonds keep it moist. Eggs keep it together. Chocolate and sugar keep it delicious. Who’s missing gluten now? Get the Recipe: Gluten-Free Chocolate Tea Cake Fresh pineapple is ideal, but canned will do in a pinch. Tropic Wonder Coming soon to a kitchen near you: an escapist fantasy set under the sun, starring spicy-fruity glazed chicken. (Spoiler alert: Your opinion of pineapple could change forever.) Get the Recipe: Pan-Roasted Chicken with Pineapple-Chile Glaze Slaw (without almonds) can be made 1 day ahead. Slaw in Order Crunchy raw broccoli and brussels sprouts meet their match in a punchy triumvirate of olives, anchovies, and lemon juice. Get the Recipe: Broccoli and Brussels Sprouts Slaw Oh, you didn’t think we forgot about Thanksgiving, did you?: The post 4 Fast, Fresh, and Turkey-Free Dishes to Make in November appeared first on Bon Appétit.
These were the 10 dishes you loved the most in October. The post 10 Dishes You Loved in October appeared first on Bon Appétit.
Garlic may seem ubiquitous, but like all produce it has a season. Although you can use the scapes, or shoots, that appear in the spring, the actual garlic bulbs aren’t harvested from the ground until fall. They can be used right away, or allowed to dry and “cure” for longer storage. (Cured garlic is naturally preserved through a combination of time and air circulation, similar to the way charcuterie can be cured in the same method. Many farmers will hang rows and rows of garlic in their barns for the best airflow.) How to Buy Look for firm, hard heads with papery skin. They should be firm, without any give when pressed or squeeze. “Despite what you may think, it shouldn’t have a stinky or heavy garlic smell at all. Think of it like fish, which shouldn’t smell overtly fishy,” says Brad Leone, BA‘s test kitchen manager and garlic aficionado. Avoid heads that are sprouting (showcasing a green “germ” popping through the skin). How to Store Store garlic in a cool, dry place like a root cellar or cabinet free of clutter (you can keep it in with your onions and shallots). Never keep garlic in the fridge, unless you’ve peeled and processed it into a paste-like spread with oil, which will help it last longer. Our Best Garlic Recipes The post How to Buy, Store, and Cook with Garlic, in Season in November appeared first on Bon Appétit.
As far as we’re concerned, autumn could really be dubbed “sweet potato season.” Once these orange or garnet tubers are pulled from the ground, we start searching for excuses to put them in, well, everything. From grilled and mashed—like baba ghanoush!—to seared on a stovetop, we’re falling hard for sweet potatoes. How to Buy Poorly-stored sweet potatoes are susceptible to vermin damage, so if there are holes, gashes, or large chunks missing from the ends, pass on the ‘taters. Seek out sweet potatoes that are firm with taut skin and no eyes or pock-marks. The sizes and shapes will vary, so don’t let that deter you—unless you’ll be roasting them whole, in which case you will want them all roughy the same size, so they cook at the same rate. How to Store Keep your sweet potatoes in a root cellar or clean, dry pantry free of moisture—along with the onions, garlic, and “regular” potatoes. Don’t wash them until just before use; in fact, they keep better with a light coating of dirt. Our Best Sweet Potato Recipes The post How to Buy, Store, and Cook with Sweet Potatoes, in Season in November appeared first on Bon Appétit.