parsnips (Kohlrabi) and beets can be cooked up to four
days ahead, then reheated and tossed with a citrus
aioli right before serving on Thanksgiving.
cooks embrace spontaneity by working with the best seasonal
food, personalizing recipes and employing a sense of whimsy
in the kitchen.
contrast, hosting a good party means consummate planning.
Make lists, create schedules, adhere to tasks and dot the Is
and cross the Ts. The best hosts never let the guests see
them sweat. I say we take a cue from the pros and plan,
plan, plan with this one goal: Enjoy the guests.
have but a few days before the best food holiday in this
country. If you have not already done so, write up your menu
and make a list. Then, go to the store, come home and get
cooking. Start by making some simple turkey broth for the
gravy and a bowlful of homemade cranberry sauce. Make the
pie crusts or thaw purchased crusts. Next up, prepare the
fall veggies take well to advance prep work. The bright
orange, red and yellow squashes and hearty root vegetables
can be cooked in advance and reheated just before serving.
Armed with elaborate garnishes, they’ll wow guests without
taxing the cook.
start with butternut squash — a relatively recent addition
to our holiday table due in no small part to the precut
options available at many grocery stores. The dense flesh
can be boiled in salted water or broth and then mashed with
butter and seasonings for a simple side. Or, roast cubes
doused with a sherry and maple syrup coating until
caramelized for a slightly sweet side. At the last minute,
add a shower of crumbled cheese, pomegranate seeds and
rosemary to transform the mundane into a showstopper.
likewise take well to roasting, in fact, the dry heat
renders them even sweeter. Select small specimens for the
tenderest flesh. Or, use kohlrabi if you enjoy a brighter,
juicier vegetable. Both parsnips and kohlrabi pair nicely
with beets. I like to boil beets in salted water so they
taste milder — a boon to the beet averse. Boiled beets,
drained and chilled, will keep nearly a week in the
refrigerator. Toss them with the roasted vegetables just
before serving so the colors do not bleed. I like to do a
restaurant-worthy presentation with a drizzle of citrus
aioli (garlicky mayonnaise). Another option is to toss
everything together for a creamy salad best served at room
to popular belief, mashed potatoes can be made in advance
with some precautions. Peeled, cut potatoes need to stay
covered with water to prevent discoloration. I put them in a
zippered food bag with the water and store them in the
refrigerator for up to a day. I do cook and mash them up to
a day in advance, and then reheat them in a microwave-safe
dish shortly before serving. The key to mashed potatoes:
fat. During the mash, don’t skimp on butter and do swap
out milk with cream, mascarpone, sour cream or creme fraiche.
This helps keep the potatoes light and fluffy upon
Chicago Tribune colleague and personal mentor Bill Rice
shared his creamed Brussels sprouts recipe with us, and we
make it every year without fail. Here’s our adaptation:
Very finely slice 2 pints of fresh Brussels sprouts with a
sharp knife or a food processor fitted with a fine slicing
blade (or purchase pre-shredded sprouts). Store them in a
zippered food bag for up to two days. To serve, melt 3
tablespoons unsalted butter and 2 tablespoons fruity olive
oil in a large nonstick skillet. Add the sliced Brussels
sprouts to the pan and stir well. Crush in 2 cloves fresh
garlic. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until the
sprouts are nearly tender (taste some). Season with 2 to 4
tablespoons heavy (whipping) cream, mascarpone or creme
fraiche. Season generously with salt, freshly grated nutmeg
and pepper. Serve warm.
BUTTERNUT WITH SHERRY, MAPLE AND BLUE CHEESE
cutting up butternut: 8 cups yields 2.4 pounds — you can
use precut squash.
cup olive oil
tablespoons each: dry sherry, pure maple syrup
teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
medium butternut squash, 3 1/2 pounds total, halved, seeded,
ounces (1/2 cup) blue cheese or feta cheese crumbles
1 to 2
teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves, plus
rosemary sprigs for garnish
cup pomegranate seeds
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Position the oven rack in the top
third of the oven.
oil, sherry, maple syrup, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
the butternut into 1-inch pieces. Put onto 1 large or 2
small rimmed baking sheet(s). Toss butternut with oil
mixture to coat it nicely.
Roast butternut on the top rack of the oven, stirring
several times, until fork tender, about 25 minutes. Cool.
Refrigerate covered up to 4 days.
reheat, turn broiler on. Place squash on a baking sheet.
Broil 6 inches from heat source, until squash has golden
edges, usually 2 to 4 minutes. Put squash into a deep
serving bowl. Stir in cheese and chopped rosemary. Toss to
mix. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds. Serve garnished with
PARSNIPS WITH BEETS AND CITRUS AIOLI
use store-bought cooked beets in a pinch. I like to use a
combination of red and gold beets and parsnips and kohlrabi.
medium (2 pounds total) parsnips or kohlrabi, or a
combination, trimmed, peeled
tablespoons olive oil
medium red or golden beets (2 pounds total) trimmed, peeled
small clove garlic, crushed
tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Cut parsnips or kohlrabi into
1-inch pieces. Put onto a large rimmed baking sheet; toss
with oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Roast, turning often, until
fork tender, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven. Cool on
baking sheet. Refrigerate covered up to 4 days.
Meanwhile, cut the peeled beets into 1/2-inch thick slices.
Cut the slices into 1/2-inch pieces. Put into a large
saucepan. Add cold water to just cover. Add 1/2 teaspoon
salt; heat to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to
medium-low. Simmer until fork-tender, about 20 minutes.
Drain. Refrigerate covered up to 4 days.
citrus aioli, grate about 1/2 teaspoon lemon rind and orange
rind into a small bowl. Squeeze in 1 to 2 teaspoons each of
lemon juice and orange juice. Stir in mayonnaise and garlic.
Mix well; season with salt and pepper. Refrigerated covered
up to 1 day.
serve, reheat beets and roasted parsnips separately in
microwave-safe dishes on high until hot, about 2 minutes for
each. Gently mix the vegetables on a serving platter.
Drizzle with the citrus aioli. Sprinkle with parsley and