Thanksgiving: Been there, done that

We’re a week ahead of all of you. Since my sister and brother were visiting last week, and the whole Goldman clan was in one time zone, we had Thanksgiving last Friday. It was a blast. But kind of weird. Needless to say, we’re all feeling a little smug this week as everyone else is running around getting ready for the holiday.

Everyone has their standard Thanksgiving dishes — some you like, some you don’t. I thought I’d share some recipes, in case you are looking for new ideas.

I asked local chefs and food experts to donate recipes and I threw in a few of mine. Maybe you can find a new family favorite here.

Most are using seasonal ingredients, with a couple of exceptions. Hope you’ll forgive me. The recipes are all listed below. Tomorrow or Wednesday I’ll post wine suggestions for Thanksgiving, along with local wine choices.

For hors d’œuvres, try the Roasted Beet Pesto with Parmesan. This gem came from Chef Karen McGinn. She serves it with a dab of goat cheese on top, which I got from Flint Hill Farm in Coopersburg.

For dinner, here’s a selection of side dishes that really takes advantage of seasonal produce. The Squash, Corn and Coconut Soup has become an instant favorite among our family and friends.

Betty Cichy, (now former) food writer for the Bucks County Courier Times and Intelligencer highly recommends the Brussels Sprouts Braised in Cream.

Macque Choux was another recent find of mine, and is a spicy, welcome change to the Thanksgiving menu.

Chef Linda Jacobs of Soup to Nut Caterers in Washington Crossing offers her Roasted Acorn Squash with Apples for a tasty side dish.

For stuffing that is “not-your-mother’s-stuffing,” try this Apple Cranberry Sage Dressing from Chef David Zukerman of Earl’s Bucks County in Lahaska.

And finally, the Cranberry Port Gelee from Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer’s second volume of Canal House Cooking will have everyone ooh-ing and ah-ing.

You’re on your own for the turkey recipes.

Beet Pesto copyright A Veggie Venture
Beet Pesto copyright A Veggie Venture

Roasted Beet Pesto with Parmesan

From Chef Karen McGinn


2 medium beets, roasted
½ cup pine nuts, toasted and cooled
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus 1 Tbsp
2 cloves garlic, peeled
¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Goat cheese


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Scrub and wash beets. Place each on a piece of aluminum foil, drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. Wrap tightly in foil. Cook for 45 minutes or until easily pierced with a knife. Let beets cool.
  2. Gently rub the skin from the beets and discard.
  3. Put the beets in a food processor with the garlic and pine nuts. Puree the mixture until smooth. Add the parmesan and puree again. Slowly add the olive oil, still pureeing. Add additional salt if needed.
  4. Serve with garlic crostini or toasted pita chips, with a dab of goat cheese on top. Can be prepared 3 days in advance.

Squash, Corn & Coconut Soup

Squash, Corn & Coconut Soup, courtesy
Photo courtesy
Adapted from, via Chef Karen McGinn
Serves 8


For soup:
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp butter
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 (2 ½-pound) butternut squash
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 ¼ cups well-stirred canned unsweetened coconut milk (10 oz.)
2 cups corn kernels (16 oz.)
Sea salt
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of curry
¼ tsp cayenne
¼ cup heavy cream

For corn relish:
4 ½ tsp fresh lime juice
Sea salt
Pinch of sugar
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups corn kernels (16 oz.)
2 Tbsp coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tbsp finely chopped shallot


Make soup:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place the halved squash on a large rimmed baking sheet and 1/2 cup of water to the sheet. Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until tender. Let cool. Remove seeds and pulp, and cut into 1 inch pieces. Set aside.
  2. In a large 4- to 5-quart heavy pot, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat. Sauté the onion, stirring occasionally, until beginning to soften and edges are browned, about 4 minutes. Add cilantro and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes. Add squash pieces and cook, stirring frequently, 3 minutes. Stir in stock, coconut milk, corn, salt, nutmeg, curry and cayenne. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until squash is very tender, about 15 minutes.
  3. Using a stick (immersion) blender, puree to your preferred consistency. Swirl in heavy cream and extra chopped cilantro. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
    NOTE: I skipped the corn relish below for our Thanksgiving meal, and just sprinkled some chopped cilantro over each bowl before serving.

Prepare corn relish while soup simmers:

  1. Whisk together lime juice, salt, and sugar in a bowl, then slowly add oil and whisk until combined.
  2. If using fresh corn, cook kernels in a saucepan of boiling salted water until just tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain in a sieve, then rinse under cold water to stop cooking. Drain well, then transfer to dressing along with cilantro and shallot and toss well to coat.
  3. If using canned corn, just add to dressing along with cilantro and shallot and toss well to coat.

Finish soup:
Divide soup among bowls and gently stir 1/4 cup corn relish into each.

Cooks’ notes:

  • Soup (without corn relish) can be made 2 days ahead and chilled, covered. Reheat before serving.
  • Corn relish can be made 1 hour ahead and kept, covered, at room temperature.

Brussels Sprouts Braised in Cream

From Betty Cichy, Bucks County Courier Times/Intelligencer
Originally from Cooks Illustrated, November 1995

From Betty: “I love Brussels sprouts, but I’d given up making them for the holidays because so many people won’t eat them. But last Thanksgiving I decided to try again. Even some guests who made funny looks when they saw me preparing the Brussels sprouts told me after dinner they loved them. The cream accentuates the sweetness of the sprouts and masks the cabbage flavor. If possible, use cream that hasn’t been ultra-pasteurized – Tanner Brothers Dairy in Richboro has it, and I’m sure some other local dairies do, too.”


1 pound Brussels sprouts, small, firm, bright green
1 cup heavy cream
½ tsp table salt
Pinch fresh ground nutmeg
Ground black pepper


  1. Rinse the Brussels sprouts, trim the stem end and remove any discolored leaves. If the sprouts are more than about 1½ inches in diameter, cut them in half through the stem end.
  2. Bring sprouts, cream, and salt to boil in 2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Lower heat, cover, and simmer (shaking pan once or twice to redistribute sprouts) until knife tip inserted into a Brussels sprout center meets no resistance, 10 to 12 minutes. Season with nutmeg and pepper and serve.

Macque Choux in pot; photo credit Lynne Goldman

Macque Choux

(pronounced Mach Shoo)

Adapted from

I made this for the first time for a potluck in September and, wow, is it wonderful. The best I can describe it is a Cajun version of creamed corn – but that’s not really fair. It is so beyond creamed corn.


1 stick butter
4 cups fresh cut corn (32 oz., or approximately 8 ears of corn)
1 can Ro-tel brand tomatoes
1 cup onion, finely chopped
½ cup bell pepper, finely chopped
1 – 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp Tabasco sauce
½ tsp Chipotle pepper, OR, one chipotle pepper in adobe sauce, minced (sold in small cans in the Hispanic section)
1 Tbsp sugar (not needed if the corn is sweet)
1 ½ tsp salt (or less, to taste)
1 ½ cups cream
3 scallions, chopped
Parsley, chopped, to taste
NOTE: You could substitute the Ro-tel tomatoes with whole or diced tomatoes but add additional pepper and Tabasco.


  1. Melt butter in a heavy 4-quart sauce pan over medium heat. Add the corn and cook for 5 minutes.
  2. Slowly add the Ro-tel tomatoes, onions, and bell peppers. Turn heat up a little more and stir well. Add the garlic, Tabasco, chipotle pepper, sugar and salt.
  3. When corn seems to be cooked (approx. 25 minutes), add the heavy cream. Cook a little longer (10-15 minutes) then add the scallions and parsley. Let set a few minutes before serving.


Macque Choux freezes very well but omit the heavy cream. Add the cream 15 mins. before serving (step #2).

Apples and squashes, MSClipArt

Roasted Acorn Squash with Apples

From Chef Linda Jacobs, Soup to Nuts Caterers


3 or 4 acorn squash (depending on size)
1 or 2 apples, sliced thin (coring and peeling is optional)
1 Tbsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp brown sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
4 Tbsp butter


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Cut squash in half and take out the seeds. Thin-slice apples. Toss cinnamon and brown sugar with apples. Place apple mixture in center hole of squash. Top with butter.
  3. Place on sheet pan and bake in oven for 45 – 60 minutes or until the squash is soft to the prick of knife (like potatoes).

Suggestion: Save the seeds and cook them at about 275°F or 300°F until dry.  Eat as nutritious snack.

Apple Cranberry Sage Dressing

From Chef David Zukerman


1 loaf French Bread, day-old, cubed
9 oz. Chicken stock
6 eggs, beaten
½ cup whole milk
2 medium Spanish onions, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, diced
4 oz. unsalted butter, cubed
4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and medium diced
9 oz. dried cranberries, chopped
2 oz. fresh sage
Freshly ground salt
Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Soak bread in the chicken stock, egg and milk until absorbed.
  2. Sauté onions in the butter until translucent. Add the apples and celery and continue cooking until the apples begin to soften (7 to 8 minutes). Remove from the heat and cool.
  3. Combine the onion, celery and apple mixture with the soaked bread. Fold in the herbs, dried cranberries and seasoning.
  4. Place dressing in baking pan and bake for 40 minutes at 375°F. Check for doneness.

Cranberry Port Gelée

Cranberry Port Gelee, photo courtesy Christopher Hirsheimer
Photo courtesy Christopher Hirsheimer
From Canal House Cooking: Volume 2 by Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer

Makes about 2 cups

Use a good port or red wine or even a Madeira if that’s what you have on hand. Cranberries have so much natural pectin that this sauce will set up even if you don’t refrigerate it.


1 cup port
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp juniper berries
10 black peppercorns
4 cups or 1 bag fresh cranberries


  1. Put the port, sugar, juniper berries and peppercorns into a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the cranberries and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the cranberries burst and are very soft, about 10 minutes more.
  2. Strain the sauce into a bowl through a fine-mesh sieve, pushing the solids through the screen with a rubber spatula. Transfer to a pretty serving bowl. Cover and refrigerate.
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  1. I made the acorn squash dish above for our Thanksgiving today. I bought the stuff only last night, and I’ve never baked a squash before. It was delicious and ridiculously easy. We baked the seeds too and snacked on them. Thanks for the recipes. I want to try that squash soup too.

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