November 20, 2019

Dear friends,
My fellow turkey and stuffing lovers, our day of celebration approaches. I am practically quivering at the thought of cornbread and sausage stuffing. Not to mention my niece’s bacon-wrapped roast turkey and my own smoke-infused turkey hot from the grill.

Again this year, Tony will begin a week-long hunting trip the day after Thanksgiving. Again this year, I’ll have almost our entire backup turkey to myself, after spending the feast day in Columbus with family. I can’t wait.

Most of you are seasoned cooks and already know what you will prepare. Over time I have developed a menu of the best turkey, the best stuffing, the best cranberry sauce and the best sweet potatoes I’ve ever tasted. I’ve printed the recipes many times, so I won’t bore you.

But it occurs to me that you probably have your own “best of” Thanksgiving recipes that I know nothing about, and it’s killing me that I may have missed the ultimate whatever. Do you have a fabulous Thanksgiving recipe I’ve missed all these years? Please enlighten me (and quick because the holiday approaches).

Meanwhile, I do have a new Thanksgiving recipe for you. I discovered it in an old (circa 2012) Cooking Light magazine. It’s for a different kind of pie dough (with baking powder!) you make in a food processor. Then you just press the crumbly mixture into the pan. It shouldn’t be so good, but it is.

PULSE AND PRESS PIE CRUST

5.6 oz. all-purpose flour (about 1 cup plus 2 tbsp., but a scale is more accurate)
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tbsp. ice water

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine flour, salt, sugar and baking powder in a food processor. Pulse twice or until combined. combine oil and ice water in a measuring cup. With processor running, slowly add liquid through feed tube and process until dough is crumbly.

Coat a 9-inch pie plate with vegetable oil spray. Sprinkle dough into the pie plate and evenly press into the bottom and up sides. Crimp edges or leave as is for a rustic look. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, add pumpkin filling and continue according to your pumpkin pie recipe.

(Note: Although this recipe calls for briefly pre-baking the crust before adding the filling, I always briefly pre-bake any crust for a filled pie that will be baked further, in order to prevent a soggy bottom crust. For extra assurance, brush the raw crust with beaten egg white before pre-baking.

GUT CHECK
What I cooked last week:
Scrambled eggs and feta cheese on toast; sausage, white bean and kale soup; Dutch baby pancakes and eggs over easy; rotisserie chicken and Southwestern chopped salad; roast kabocha squash; spaghetti sauce with ground venison; pan-grilled strip steak finished in the oven, sliced carrots sizzled in wine and butter, dark cherries in syrup over ricotta cheese; frizzled ham and fried egg on toast with ketchup.

What I ate out:
Al pastor burrito bowl at Casa del Rio in Fairlawn; tapenade, pate, Caesar salad, cioppino and bananas foster at my friend Joan’s; ham and cheese sub from Subway; salmon roe, tamago, shrimp sashimi, ramen and Asahi beer at Sushi Katsu in Akron; half of a chocolate cupcake with cream cheese icing at my friend, James’s, birthday party; a fried dumpling, shao mai, steamed pork bun, crispy duck in a steamed pancake, a custard tart and tea at dim sum at Li Wah in Cleveland.

THE MAILBAG
From Anne K.:
Have you read Toni Tipton-Martin’s new cookbook, “Jubilee”? I am just finishing it. It is fascinating and wonderful. It is worth starting at the beginning and reading it again.

Dear Anne:
That book is on my short list. I’ll get to it soon. It is already garnering major buzz and I feel another James Beard Award for Toni is in the offing. Toni, a former food editor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, won the award for her first book, “The Jemima Code: Two Centuries of African-American Cookbooks.” The subtitle of her new book is “Recipes From Two Centuries of African-American Cooking,” which gives you an idea of the content.

Here’s how my friend, Kathleen Purvis, sums up “Jubilee” in the September issue of Garden & Gun magazine: “Lushly photographed and richly researched, Jubilee builds on Jemima Code’s foundation by highlighting more than one hundred recipes that capture the complex roots of African American cooking, from celebrations and parties to everyday family suppers.” For each recipe in the book, Tony runs the original as it was written, and her tested adaptation of it for the modern kitchen.

From Carol Button:
Jane, what’s all this stuff I’m seeing online lately about sous vide? Thanks for your info.

Dear Carol:
Sous vide is cooking food at a low, steady temperature in water. The food is sealed in plastic. You set the temperature and walk away. You can cook food in advance and reheat it to the exact temperature without overcooking, making it a boon for caterers and chefs. I wrote about it many, many years ago but didn’t think it would catch on. I was wrong.

The sous vide cooking process ensures that the food is perfectly cooked — no guessing about medium-rare or al dente. Vitamins and minerals are locked in. The process is more healthful than most other methods of cooking because it requires no added fat. The flavor and texture are said to be enhanced.

If you want to try it (I haven’t), you’ll need some sous vide equipment and the counter space to use it. The equipment varies but at its simplest includes a vacuum sealer and an immersion wand-like gizmo that is positioned in a pan of water and plugged in. The immersion gizmos are not inexpensive — generally $100 to $200. Or you could go all out and buy a sous vide “water oven” for $350 to $500.

I’m curious whether anyone reading this has used sous vide. Do you like it? Is it worth the hassle?

From Joyce D.:
The Farmer’s Rail on Cleveland-Massillon Road in Bath sells a variety of dry-aged meats. They also have a dry-aged compartment that displays their meats.

Dear Joyce:
Thanks for the info. By the way, I updated my knowledge of at-home dry aging by reading articles on the subject by the incomparable Kenji Lopez-Alt of Serious Eats. He rigorously tested various cuts and methods and points out that you cannot successfully age individual steaks (you need large primal cuts for aging), and just flopping the meat on a rack in the fridge for five days, as I did, will do absolutely nothing for the meat. Aging for 20 days or more is necessary for changes in texture and flavor.

That said, if you are willing to free up fridge space for a whole prime rib for three weeks, you can age it on a wire rack, unwrapped and open to air circulation top and bottom. The addition of a little fan will help but is not essential, he says. Keeping the fridge temp at 40 degrees is necessary. He uses a mini fridge but says your regular home fridge will work. After aging, cut away the outer crusty and/or moldy stuff before cooking and eating the meat.

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