Cooking week

by Eszter Hargittai on November 26, 2003

For those celebrating Thanksgiving this week, I wanted to share some tried-and-true recipes. I’m an especially big fan of the pecan pie recipe. In addition to the dishes on that list, I will also make a batch of peanutbutter bars courtesy of Laura’s family (one of the Lauras who sometimes posts in the comments).

I like this holiday (even though I did not grow up with it) because it’s one of the very few that is not associated with having to get gifts for people nor does it have any religious overtones. (Don’t get me wrong, I love to surprise my friends and family with gifts, but I prefer to do it when I feel like it not when a marketing campaign tells me I should.) Of course, given that it’s a horribly hectic travel time of the year in the US, I’m sure not everybody shares my enthusiasm.



Maria 11.26.03 at 2:28 pm

Well, seeing as it’s clearly girly week for me, I have a recipe to pitch in.

This is the best comfort food I have ever, ever made. It’s from the fabulous Nigella Lawson’s ‘How to be a Domestic Goddess’.

Bread and Butter Pudding made with Pain au Chocolat

pint of cream
pint of milk combined and heated to near boiling.

1 whole egg and 5 egg yolks, beaten with tablespoon of sugar and a good squirt of vanilla essence. Whisk in the hot milk/cream, and whisk some more.

Pour it over sliced up, two day old pain au chocolat in a baking dish and leave to soak in for a few minutes. (arrange the whirly end bits on top – very pretty)

Bake at 180 celsius for about half an hour.

Serve and reassume thrown of Domestic Goddess.

It’s fabulous. Crispy and sweet on top, and moist and custardy underneath. Just what is needed on grim November evenings.

I’m thinking of trying this with sliced up croissants layered with some currants, and with nutmeg. The chocolate is well and good, but I think bread and butter pud misses something without the currants.

The Victorians really knew a few things.


Theophylact 11.26.03 at 3:13 pm

Here’s one we really like:

Cranberry Red-Pepper Relish
adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, Nov/Dec 1994

2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and finely diced
2 cups cranberries, picked through and coarsely chopped
[1 medium onion, finely chopped: optional, and we haven’t used it so far]
1/3 cup wine vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
1 habanero pepper, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon juice from grated fresh ginger

Mix all ingredients except half of one of the red bell peppers and the chopped habanero, bring to a boil and then simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture becomes thick and jam-like (15-30 minutes). Add reserved bell pepper and chopped habanero to taste. Cool and serve. Can be refrigerated for at least two weeks.


Doug 11.26.03 at 4:21 pm

Thanks for the recipe tips, Eszter! Fourth of July and Thanksgiving are the two US holidays that I unfailingly observe overseas – tomorrow night we’ll have about a dozen over for the full treatment. Hungarian squash with dill (a la June Meyer) will be one of the sides. Hope that it will be tök jó!


eszter 11.26.03 at 7:52 pm

Doug, that really made me laugh. I wonder if anyone else will if I try a mini language lesson. Tök in Hungarian means squash, means good. Tök jó means very good/great. Of course, that doesn’t really follow. I’m no etymologist, but I figure tök in this context comes from the word tökéletes, which means perfect. So tökéletes got shortened to tök, which people do not tend to equate with squash when used with words such as good, bad or stupid. However, in this context of cooking it was a somewhat confusing and really funny use of the word.

To the others, thanks for sharing those yummy-sounding recipes!


Chris Marcil 11.26.03 at 9:19 pm

Thank you. I’ll try the potatoes/yams dish.

In the interest of bibliousness allow me to add a cocktail, the Saratoga:

1 1/2 oz. rye whiskey
1 1/2 oz. brandy
1 1/2 oz. sweet vermouth
dash bitters

Shake ‘n’ serve. The color is an beautiful autumnal brown.

The bitters should be orange bitters, which are hard to find (mine are made by the wonderful Fee Bros. of Rochester, NY); Angostura works almost as well.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.


laura 11.26.03 at 10:26 pm

It turns out the peanut butter bars work just fine gluten-free. They rely little enough on flour that almost any replacement flour works fine. Although I use a mixture of brown rice, white rice, potato, potato starch, and tapioca.

I’m considering making sweet potatoes this year. Not sure whether to top them with nuts and brown sugar, or marshmellows.

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