Once upon a time you spent hours and hours preparing a meal. You planned ahead and finished on time. The turkey was moist, your house smelled divine.
And then you couldn’t stand another second of that sage/celery smell, yet your refrigerator was still “brimming with goodness.” What to do? In my world, the day after Thanksgiving is Curry Day. Go to a different country, change up the flavor profile, and minimize your time in the kitchen. Turkey Curry with all the toppings #FTW!
This curry recipe doesn’t even pretend to be authentic, but it is tasty. Think of this as a method, or 9 steps to goodness.
- Prepare rice, white or brown, your choice.
- While the rice cooks, heat up a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large sauté pan.
- Dice an onion and gently sauté it in the oil for about 5 minutes. Mince 2 garlic cloves and a tablespoon of ginger. Add your garlic, ginger and 2 – 3 teaspoons of curry powder to the pan and sauté that for a couple of minutes on medium heat.
- Add about a cup of your leftover gravy. Pull out that extra box of chicken stock you bought and add a cup until it’s as thick or not as you want it. Add leftover turkey that you’ve pulled apart into bite size pieces. On medium heat, let this simmer for a few minutes.
- Have someone else prepare curry toppings – sliced bananas, raisins, chutney, peanuts, coconut, mango, apples
- Tell the kids to set the table
- Have your uncle pour some good craft beer for the adults
- Taste your curry and see if you want to add more curry powder, salt or pepper. Enjoy!
- To plate, rice/curry/toppings of your choice and BOOM! Dinner my friends, is served.
Tips and Notes
I will admit, this recipe is a bit loosey goosey (technical term), but at some point there are things you make off the top of your head. If you want a more structured approach, try this one: http://www.onceuponachef.com/2012/02/chicken-curry.html just modify the turkey part since you’re using leftovers and not starting with raw.
Before the family arrives…before the eggnog hangover…before your house is covered in turkey and tinsel, might I suggest reconnecting with your spouse over a nice dinner for two. It’s the only responsible thing to do. You owe it to yourself as a couple. After all, you might be in the same space through the holidays but face it, you’ll hardly talk other than the occasional “Please cut Uncle Joe off and take his keys.”
But the holiday list is long and daunting (and yet “Quiet Dinner for Two” never seems to make the list). So to make this happen, you’ve got to keep it simple. Simple, but delicious. We start with oysters. A pain in the ass for ten (all that shucking); a treat for just two. Then a really tasty cod dish which marries so well with chorizo. It’s hearty over beans, and in advance of 5,000 calorie a day eating, a relatively virtuous treat. To end, let’s head to Italy and enjoy a quick and delicious dessert….espresso over ice cream. It’s so good and so easy, and let’s face it, you need all the caffeine you can get. Pick a night between now and just after Thanksgiving. You and your partner deserve it.
Tips and Notes
It’s a week away, people. Maybe you’re ready. Maybe you’ve got your plan. Perhaps you’re already cooking.
Or maybe you’ve done nothing and are paralyzed by impending turkey doom.
If you’re in Camp Turkey Panic, let me help. Put aside your fears. You can do this. It’s just another meal, and a lot of it can be made ahead. Just click the link below and see. It’s a Thanksgiving Game Plan I created for myself years ago, and it works. It’s a great menu with updated favorites. I’ve included a shopping list (generally in order of how most grocery stores are laid out); a To Do timeline of what to prep and cook when, and recipes that are broken down by make ahead and make day of. SaveGourmet Thanksgiving Game Plan
Take a deep breath. We’ve got this covered. Any questions, email me at email@example.com.
(PS YES this omits an actual turkey recipe. I go really simple on the turkey itself and I don’t stuff mine. Roasted turkey is about weight and math. Read and do THIS. This is a classic case of keep it simple.)
Evenings are hectic. We start with the best of intentions, but then the kids are tired, everyone’s starving, the milk spills. It’s a weeknight.
Do not be discouraged. Even with a messy house and tired kids, you are still minutes away from a good tasting, healthy meal on a weeknight. Yes, you are. The answer is not McDonalds. The answer is fish. Don’t assume your kids won’t like it. On this we must remain firm – they won’t like it if it never appears in front of them. We must try. I’ve seen mine eat it and my fully formed opinion is that they want to dislike it more than they actually dislike it. How can I expect them to develop their palates if I cave at their resistance? Besides, I have a secret weapon. Soy sauce. In general, soy sauce conquers all. Tonight, we cook a healthy fish meal that is ready in minutes for tired, hungry, backpack dumping kids (thank you, Melissa Clark).
When we get home the first thing the kids do after dumping their backpacks is open the fridge. I will be ready. Raw vegetables and dip…Asian inspired dip which you (yes) made ahead. This is a tactic I regularly employ – a bowl of cold vegetables for them to pick at while I cook. They are starved and it’s a great time to work the vitamin chain. While they eat that, I will quickly steam mild tasting flounder and greens. I usually have rice cooked ahead and tonight is no exception. If you still think this won’t work, offer dessert (it’s not a bribe…it’s an incentive.). A little green tea mochi (they are cute and fun) keeps the Asian theme going and provides a great bribe incentive for kids to clean plates.
Give this a try Monday or Tuesday.
Tips and Notes
Asian Style Dip (add the liquids less than recommended – if it needs more you can always add more later)
For the mochi, check your freezer section. A little handheld ice cream fun.
One of the things I vividly remember about having a new baby is the sense that all of a sudden you are one-handed. Everything needed to be done with half the usual hand/arm resources. I am not sure why it didn’t occur to me at the time that the baby could be put down (maybe I just didn’t want to). It’s nice to hold a baby.
Yet you still need to eat. And for new mothers, this often means you need to eat A LOT. I was famished. Breastfeeding takes it out of you. This week we are preparing a care package for a friend with a new baby (or, as the case may be, babIES if twins arrived!). Fork and finger friendly foods are the way to go here. It’s also nice to provide basic items that are a godsend at 3PM or 2AM…already cut up fruits and vegetables; soup that one can drink from a mug; a vegetable pasta great hot or cold. Also, make a frittata that can keep easily in the fridge and precut it for her – what a great way to start the day after you’ve been up all night. Seriously, you need sustenance. And yes I am suggesting you cut up fruit and raw vegetables and put them in containers for your friend. TRUST me, she will be grateful. Boil some eggs while you’re at it (9 ½ minutes is perfect).
I had a lot of ideas here, so preparing this may take a bit of time…but think of your friend who just dealt with nine months of baby prep. And, if you double everything, you’ll have a stocked fridge too. Not so bad 🙂
Tips and Notes
Baby was up all night, Frittata
I need a quick lunch that I can drink…Broccoli Soup
The witching hour is coming I need a SNACK to get me THROUGH DIP
Did we make it another day? QUICK pasta dinner while the baby sleeps!
I’m not really sure how it happened, but last year our house became a landing pad for several trick or treating families. Maybe it was the open door, the surprisingly cold weather and the open bottles of bourbon. I expect this year will be no different – but THIS year I will be prepared…with more than just, you know, bourbon. After everyone is trick or treated out, the kids can watch Hotel Transylvania and count their candy. The adults can grab a slice of lasagna, a bowl of soup or a wedge of pasta pie (EPIC). Nothing particularly Halloweeny or Spooky about those, but it’s all delicious. The lasagna is a family recipe – from Kansas (yes, Kansas) with a lot of meat. The bucatini pie will have no meat – so everyone should be happy. The soup just sounded good on a cold night. And last but not least, a lot of garlic bread. At least that will keep the vampires away. Have your friends bring their favorite drinks. But open your own bourbon. Somehow Halloween doesn’t seem complete without it.
Tips and Notes
Look how cool this pasta pie is…http://food52.com/blog/14299-why-pasta-pie-is-the-make-ahead-recipe-and-leftover-you-ve-been-seeking
And this farro soup). Page down, you will find it. Make ahead. Perfect on a cold night.
This internet is FULL of garlic bread recipes… this one looks pretty delicious.
Last but not least, my family lasagna recipe. I don’t claim to be a recipe writer – so email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions! Kansas Lasagna
So you went apple picking…and now you’re feeling overrun. What on earth are you going to do with 85 apples? It seemed so fun at the time. The web is filled with ideas for apple overflow (pies, sauce, butter). But maybe you want to create a meal, or, surprise surprise, a menu out of your apples! There is a restaurant near us called Applewood that hosts theme dinners where an ingredient is highlighted throughout the meal. That is what I am doing here. Bring on the apples!
We start with a cocktail. Forget apple martinis – we are going hard cider here with The Pork Chop from Miami’s Yarbird. Next, a big bowl of a crisp salad from Eye Swoon (click, it’s gorgeous – and do not skip the basil, it makes it). Because you called 10 friends to join you, you need a huge pork shoulder like the one from Pioneer Woman roasted with apples and onions, and smartly paired with wild rice (we need more wild rice in life). To finish, you’re taking everyone to Russia with a simple and gorgeous Apple Sharlotka from The Smitten Kitchen. Happy eating!
Tips and Notes
But first, a hard apple cider cocktail…The Pork Chop
To finish, this gorgeous Apple Sharlotka
Really? You still have apples? Ok. Pickle some (http://food52.com/recipes/16743-quick-pickled-apples) and serve cold the next day with leftover pork. Chop them and mix them with breakfast sausage (more pork!) and freeze. Infuse some vodka and make this cocktail: http://www.whatkatieate.com/recipes/apple-ginger-and-cranberry-vodka-cocktail/. Mix up apple pie filling, freeze it and use in pie, a galette or over pancakes.
Still more? Jeez. Drop them in brown paper bags, create a cute drawing and give them to your dinner party friends as parting gifts (look at you the creative host).
I am lucky. I like my mothers-in-law (I have two). One recently came for a visit. She is funny, eccentric, opinionated. She raises her eyebrows a lot. She calls me “darling”. She buys me clothes that actually look good on me. She is, in short, a riot. She also is dying to go back to Paris but has no plans in sight yet. So for her visit, we thought we would do our best to take her there.
This menu starts with gougères. They are a home cook’s entertaining secret weapon. They are made ahead, baked from the freezer and wildly impressive. Next, potato leek soup but glammed up with some fried parsley…PURTY. For the main course we go old school but with a modern twist – spiced duck à l’orange. Do not freak out – if you can cook chicken you can cook duck. In fact, everyone should cook duck, it’s delicious. And last but not least, a flashback to 1970s dinner parties with creamy delicious (make ahead) chocolate mousse. Dreamy.
Tips and Notes
For the duck you will need to order a couple of items in advance – the Orange Blossom Water, maybe the Buckwheat Honey and the Ras Al Hanout. Amazon carries each of these things. You may also need to ask your butcher for the duck. Make the effort…your mother in law will appreciate it.
REQUEST: If you make one thing from this menu, I would URGE you to try the gougères. They are the killer app (ha!). Go straight for gruyere…don’t mess with inferior cheddar. I follow the linked recipe exactly, and I mix by hand. There is always a scary moment when you add the eggs and you’re SURE you’ve ruined it – just keep stirring and trust…it will come together. They are hot light steamy cheesy awesomeness. They go straight from your freezer to the oven to a plate where people will swoon and loudly proclaim your greatness. Feel like a hero.
Six years ago I was quoted in a New York Times article discussing the closing of Gourmet magazine, to which I had subscribed for 15 years. I believe that cooking with and for family/friends is an expression of love and creativity. A few weeks ago I launched Save Gourmet as a simple idea. Every week I create and share a menu. I include recipes I’ve culled from around the web and pull them together in a menu. Each week has a theme (“What to cook for your in-laws?” “Host a Back to School Open House for Friends!” “An Evening on the Deck for Two”). I include recipes and tips. This is a fun project for me about a subject near and dear to my heart. I have a lot of food ideas – here is the New York Times article that started this one.