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Thanksgiving Table Tips, Wine and Recipes

A Time for Thanks

Thanksgiving is one of my very favorite holidays because it is a special time to spend with friends and family, there is no pressure around gift buying, and food traditions help us make memories and keep them in our hearts. Even if you are feeling pressured around cooking, stop and reflect on the meaning of this day. We all have our sorrows and concerns but let this day bring some joy to you and your family.

The recipes this month are just in time for the holiday season. This is a delectable, and different, soup to satisfy you as the days get shorter. These are great side dishes for Thanksgiving which are delicious and, most importantly, can be made ahead. We all need to have some time - savers so that we, too, can enjoy the day. I've included some simple table decorations that are colorful and will brighten your table.

So remember to make it easy on yourself as Thanksgiving approaches, get others involved, take them up on offers of help, use some short cut, like buying some pre-made, good quality side dishes or home-made desserts. Take a deep breath when you are feeling overwhelmed. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones.

- Marybeth


November Holidays
November 11

Even though Veteran's Day has passed please be sure to remember:Bake some cookies for a veteran, active or retired, whom you may know in the neighborhood, just to say that they are not forgotten. And there are some wonderful organizations where you can 'adopt' a soldier. For example, is a truly worthwhile organization.

Other holidays

15th is Clean Your Refrigerator Day (it's true)

16th is the Great American Smokeout Day

23th is Thanksgiving

25th is National Parfait Day

As usual, there is something for everyone to celebrate.


Wine Tips for Turkey Day

I have been doing a little research in order to find some wine recommendations for Thanksgiving dinner. The favorites are Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, and Riesling. (Cabernet Sauvignon can be a bit heavy with turkey, but if that is what you love, ask your local wine merchant what they would recommend for this holiday table.)

Pinot Noir, which has expanded in popularity since the movie "Sideways" came out, compliments most any flavor very well and does not overpower the food. The wine has enough fruit to stand up to the cranberry sauce, and sweet potatoes, also.

If you prefer white, a Riesling can be a fine choice. For the Riesling, the most important thing to look for on the label is "Kabinett." These are the driest Rieslings from Germany. A Sauvignon Blanc also pairs well with turkey and gravy. A sparkling wine can help to lighten the feast.

Remember that there are lots of flavors at the Thanksgiving table - from the yams to the gravy to the Jell-O mold, so you may want to consider several options for your guests. Go with what you enjoy and have another selection for your company. I always find the advice of a good wine merchant very helpful. Ask questions, test, and enjoy.


November Recipes

Soup That Satisfies

Soup always reminds us of home. No matter if your memories were of Campbell's Tomato Soup (served, of course, with a grilled cheese sandwich) or of a large pot of homemade chicken soup simmering on the stove on cold winter afternoons, soup is the ultimate in foods that comfort and nourish us. Soup does not have to be thick or creamy to satisfy - if it is filled with fresh vegetables and herbs, the aroma and taste will bring you joy from head to toe.

This is a really flavorful soup, filled with a plethora (I just love that word) of vegetables and spices. It is hard to believe this soup is so healthy - lots of tomatoes and lentils and chic peas for antioxidants and fiber. It just tastes too delicious to be this good.

Even thought there may be some exotic spices, this is not too spicy a dish. Experiment with the spices - add as much as you like. Be adventurous. Don't be afraid to use the raisins. You will be in for a taste sensation as all of these flavors and spice mix together.
Make this ahead - it gets even better after a day in the refrigerator.

Moroccan Tomato and Chick Pea Soup
Makes 8+ servings

1 can chick peas with their liquid

1 (35-oz) can whole tomatoes, coarsely chopped

? medium onion, finely chopped

1 large celery rib (including leaves), finely chopped

2 - 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

? teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

3 tablespoons fresh basil, julienned

? cup chopped fresh parsley

4- 5 cups vegetable broth or chicken broth

1 cup lentils, rinsed and soaked in hot water for 15 minutes if
the instructions on the bag say to soak them

1 cup raisins

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

Fresh ground pepper

Accompaniment: lemon wedges

Saut? onion and celery in butter in a 4-quart heavy pot over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened. Do not brown. Add turmeric, pepper, oregano and cinnamon and cook for another 2 -3 minutes.

Add tomatoes, parsley, chickpeas, lentils, broth and ? cup parsley, and half of the basil.

Cook for 1 hour until lentils and chickpeas are soft. Add more broth if too thick. Add remaining parsley and basil before serving, and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with lemon wedges.

It is even better the next day so this can be made up to 2 days in advance.

? 2006 Girlfriends In The Kitchen, all rights reserved.



If you have not had a pomegranate before, try one of these juicy and delectable fruits while they are in season.

How to Select and Store:

A most delicious fruit, a pomegranate has a thin, leathery skin, is about the size of a large orange and can range in color from red to pinky yellow. Inside are hundreds of seeds that are separated by bitter, cream-colored membranes. Each seed is tiny and surrounded by a translucent, brilliant red pulp that has a tangy sweet-tart flavor.
(There is a tale that every pomegranate has exactly 613 seeds.)

Thought to be native to Persia, the fruit is grown everywhere from Spain to California. In the United States they're available from October to almost January. When buying, choose those that are heavy for their size and have a bright, red color and blemish-free skin.
If refrigerated in a plastic bag, they will stay for up to 2 months.

To use, cut the pomegranate in half and pry out the pulp-encased seeds, removing any of the light-colored membrane (these are bitter and inedible) that may adhere. You can hit them over a bowl of water, and let the seeds fall to the bottom and the membranes float to the top. Drain the water. Just be careful - the juice is really red and can stain. Although this sounds like a bit of work, it's not and the sparkling, juicy taste of the seeds is unlike anything else.

Serving Ideas:

Pomegranates can be eaten as fruit, used as a garnish on sweet and savory dishes or pressed to extract the juice. They're rich in potassium and fiber and are brimming with vitamins A, C, E and iron.
The seeds are a brilliantly colorful addition when tossed on top of a salad of micro greens, toasted pignoli nuts, and grape tomatoes with a rich balsamic, extra virgin olive oil and honey dressing. You can also serve them on top of cantaloupe pieces, or on a fresh fruit salad. Or pop a few seeds in a pomegranate martini - yum.

They are also beautiful in centerpieces, along with pumpkins, squash and dried leaves. Try this fruit- the season is short but the rewards are tremendous.


Thanksgiving Vegetables

I wanted to add a few more recipes to this newsletter since everyone is always looking for new and interesting recipes to serve for the holidays. This is one of my all-time favorite vegetable dishes:

Brussel Sprouts with Browned Butter

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Now don't turn your nose up at the mention of Brussel Sprouts. Choose sprouts that are small, cook them quickly and saut? them in browned butter for a juicy, nutty taste that most people will love.

1 to 1 1/2 pounds Brussels Sprouts

1/4 + cup butter

Bowl of ice water

Water for boiling

Coarse salt

Freshly ground pepper

Cut the long stems from the Brussels Sprouts, and remove any blemished leaves. Cut a small X in the bottom of each sprout.

In a medium sauce pan, fill halfway with cold water and salt and bring to a boil. Add the sprouts and cook for about 4 - 5 minutes until they are slightly tender. Drain quickly and immerse in a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.

In a large heavy skillet, heat the butter over medium-high heat. You want the pan to be really hot and the butter browning. Saut? the sprouts until they are lightly browned. Remove from heat and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately

? 2006 Girlfriends In The Kitchen, all rights reserved.


Food for Thought

This is a time to share our abundance.
America's Second Harvest Network is still responding to Hurricane Relief disaster and to others in need of basic food. Please give generously to this or your local Foodbank or other charity.


Enjoy the best of the season- Marybeth

About the Author

Marybeth Gregg,owner of'Girlfriends In the Kitchen'and'Cook With Confidence Cooking Schools',has been entertaining and giving cooking advice for almost 20 years and is well-known for her great teaching nethods and has been featured in numerous newspapers. Her newest venture is teambuilding, for companies large and small, using cooking as the team event. Reach her at

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