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Chat Leftovers: Thanksgiving Q&A

Happy Wednesday, all. A week from today, many of us will be getting ready to cook a big Thanksgiving spread. Got everything under control? If you have questions, never fear: You can join us today (and every Wednesday) at 1 for our Free Range chat, where we try to answer your food-related queries and just generally gab about what we like to cook and eat.

Meanwhile, here's a couple of Thanksgiving-related questions from last week's chat that we couldn't get to during the hour:

Every Thanksgiving, my special contribution to the occasion is champagne and a small appetizer to keep everyone content until dinner is on the table. Any recommendations on a good small bite to pair with champagne?

Really, champagne goes with just about anything. Seafood would be great; shrimp and champagne are classic buddies. For something a little more interesting than shrimp with cocktail sauce, this marinated shrimp looks good. Raw oysters would be a fine match, too. Or how about smoked salmon, as in these crostini that are meant to be paired with sparkling wine; or how about a salmon spread? In fact, any kind of pâté, such as this really delicious chicken liver version, would be ideal.

Our wine columnist, Dave McIntyre, points out that real champagne (from Champagne) is somewhat more accommodating than some of its non-French counterparts. He says, "other sparkling wines might suggest lighter flavors: prosecco with prosciutto, for example, or cava with a Spanish-themed appetizer." Something to keep in mind.

Sparkling wines also go nicely with cheese. Here's an ambitious idea: If you have access to an oven just before appetizer time, gougeres would be a tasty, festive and impressive hors d'oeuvre. Our recipe for these great little cheese puffs comes from chef Michel Richard. You can make the dough a day in advance and bake the puffs at the last minute. They're a little fussy, but worth it.

In addition to our usual Pepperidge Farm rolls, I’d like to round out the bread basket with some homemade additions: bread, muffins and/or biscuits. I’m not much of a baker, but I can go beyond Pillsbury crescent rolls. I’m thinking of adding something herb-y, and something a little sweet (but not dessert). Suggestions? Would love things that can be either made in advance (to avoid competing with oven time) or baked at the last minute while the turkey is resting.

I'm going to suggest that you drop the Pepperidge Farm rolls in favor of the delicious Sweet Potato Rolls that Joe Yonan wrote about in today's section. They are just what you want — a little sweet — and seem ideal for the holiday. The recipe explains how to make them days ahead of time, then thaw and bake just before serving.

They could be joined in your bread basket by these molasses muffins, served for decades at the famous k-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen in New Orleans.

And my personal fave is angel biscuits. These are yeast biscuits with a rugged dough that can hang out in the fridge for days, until you are ready to bake. That's an advantage when last-minute prep time is scarce. Like other kinds of biscuits, they take kindly to additions of herbs (minced rosemary, for instance, or sage or dill) or cheese or even chopped scallions. If you don't mind whipping up a biscuit dough at the last minute, consider these biscuits with pine nuts and Parmesan cheese.

Sweet potato rolls, molasses muffins and angel biscuits: That would be a bread basket to behold. Please pass the butter.

— Jane Touzalin

By Jane Touzalin  |  November 18, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Chat Leftovers  | Tags: Chat leftovers, Free Range, Jane Touzalin  
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Next: Holiday favorites: Stuffing

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