Fine Cooking (October/November 2011)
A couple months ago, we were reading about colonial-era drink recipes. (Yes, we were just doing it for fun.)
Anyway, we came across something called a "shrub," an 18th-century American drink made with sweetened fruit and vinegar (not to be confused with a "switchel," another excellently-named vinegar-infused drink from the same time period).
We were more than a little intrigued. Vinegar? In a cocktail?
When we opened the Thanksgiving issue of Fine Cooking and saw a recipe for a Cranberry-Lime Shrub, we immediately added it to our Fakesgiving menu. We wanted to offer our dinner guests something special as they arrived, something fun to sip on while we finished prepping the meal.
Our Fakesgiving + Our Favorite Holiday Dishes
A little more than a week ago, we had Thanksgiving.
Or really, we had Fakesgiving, our annual tradition with friends and family where we pack as many seats as possible into our apartment, make a bunch of new dishes from November food magazines, and see what everyone likes and dislikes. This year, there were 13 of us. Zach's mom and sister came and helped cook the day before (we literally could not have done it without them), and we made 17 new Thanksgiving dishes.
Below, you'll see the initial list of recipes we started with: more than 250 Thanksgiving recipes from 10 magazines. To be included in the index, the recipes had to be part of the magazine's Thanksgiving coverage. So this is not meant to be comprehensive -- there are many more recipes in this month's magazines. If the recipe is hyperlinked, it is available online. If not, it's not there yet.
In preparation for this year's Thanksgiving coverage, we've also created a page of Our Favorite Holiday Recipes. There, you'll find a collection of dishes from Thanksgivings, Fakesgivings and holiday dinner parties past. We'll be updating it as we introduce new content and recipes on the site.
Enjoy the index!
Posted at 10:05 AM in -- Cocktails & Beverages --, -- Desserts & Sweets --, -- Entrees -- , -- Salads -- , -- Sauces --, -- Side Dishes -- , -- Soups --, -- Vegetarian --, Bon Appétit, Cook's Country, Cook's Illustrated, Cooking Light, Everyday Food, Fine Cooking, Food & Wine, Food Network Magazine, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, The Leftovers | Permalink | Comments (14)
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Thanksgiving is coming! Thanksgiving is coming!
And we're ready. We've scoured the magazines, tested recipes, and we're eager talk turkey, recommend dishes, and answer any Thanksgiving-related questions you might have.
We're kicking off our Thanksgiving coverage by looking at the trends in this year's crop of magazines. As in previous years, we've indexed every single one of the November Thanksgiving recipes from the magazines in our rotation. We'll share that list with you on Monday. There are some really exciting (and bizarre) dishes among the more than 250 recipes.
But today we're going to talk about trends.
As we pored through this year's Thanksgiving features, some clear trends emerged. To illustrate many of the trends in this year's T-Day recipes, we created word clouds, like the one above, which illustrate how frequently certain words popped up. You can click on all the word clouds to enlarge them, so you can take a closer look.
What's the general theme for this year? Well, for a lot of our magazines, the theme seemed to be, "Thanksgiving 2011: We're Just Not That Into You." Food & Wine and Saveur seem rather light on their coverage. Even Martha Stewart Living, which we would sort of hold up as the grande dame of Thanksgiving entertaining, seemed scaled back. (We hasten to add that we're not saying that's a bad thing -- Lord knows there are plenty of great autumn recipes out there that don't involve sweet potatoes or cranberry sauce.)
But there was one magazine that blew us away this year. You guys know we tend not to single out particular magazines or issues as favorites, but this must be said: Bon Appétit BROUGHT IT this Thanksgiving. Buh-ROUGHT. IT. From its "Feast from the East" feature, which showcased marvelous ideas for an Asian-inspired Thanksgiving, to the "Down South" feature on a Louisiana Cajun Thanksgiving feast, we were enthralled. Four turkeys, a host of awesome side dishes, and drool-worthy desserts (we need that Grape-and-Apple Pie) -- the November 2011 Bon Appétit is a pleasure. Even if you're set on your Thanksgiving menu, consider picking up a copy just for fun.
As you can see from the word cloud above, the usual suspects are, well, the usual suspects. So here's a word cloud showing all the recipe words, minus "turkey," "gravy," "cranberry," "stuffing," "potatoes," "dressing" and "roasted" (a.k.a. the saddest Thanksgiving ever):
Fine Cooking (October/November 2011)
Let's face it -- a Beet Green and Bulgur Soup sounds like something you might eat on a hippie commune. We're picturing patchouli, tie-dye and conversations about the merits of firm versus silken tofu.
Well, call us hippies, because this soup is not only simple and quick to prepare, it's also unbelievably delicious.
But you've still got a little time! Meteorologically speaking, you've got 23 days. And even if you count Labor Day as the end of summer, you still have the better part of a week.
One good use of these waning days? Cook up a favorite summer dish!
We scrolled through our recipe index to round up 6 Summer Dishes that you should definitely make before fall. They're some of our all-time favorites!
Raw Corn and Zucchini Salad: This salad is simple, fresh and bursting with flavor. It's the taste of summer in a single bite!
Sweet and Spicy Fried Peach Pies: There's literally not a single word in the name of this dish that we don't love.
Pan-Roasted Corn and Okra: Just four ingredients: corn, okra, oil and salt. It doesn't get simpler, or tastier.
Best BBQ Chicken with Simple Barbecue Sauce: This is one of the most popular posts we've ever had on The Bitten Word, and for good reason. This dish is a knockout!
Basil-Blackberry Crumble: A crumble is just about the most perfect summer dessert you can find. We've made dozens of variations of this recipe over the past three years. Pick your favorite summer fruit, and get to crumblin'!
Burgers with Blue Cheese Mayonnaise and Sherry Vidalia Onions: This is probably our favorite burger we've ever made. Sweet, smoky and tangy all in one bite!
As for us, we're heading to the beach for a loooong Labor Day week with a houseful of friends. We've got sunscreen, a stack of unread magazines and a bag full of books. We'll do some cooking, and we just may have a cocktail or two.
We'll see you in a week -- it's going to be a fantastic autumn!
Fine Cooking (July/August 2011)
Just over a week ago, we got canning fever.
Tomatoes had been on u-pick at our CSA for a few weeks, and we had debated going out to pick up some for canning and making sauce. But we kept talking ourselves out of it because we were either busy or heading out of town. We still have some tomatoes left over from last summer, and we told ourselves that those would be sufficient until next year.
But the tomatoes kept appearing on the u-pick list, and we kept debating...
Finally, feeling that summer was slipping away and the tomatoes were starting to dwindle at the farm, we drove out there very, very early on a Friday morning to get ourselves a great big ol' mess'a maters.
Fine Cooking (June/July 2011)
We had so much fun with our General Tso's Challenge earlier this summer -- and got such great feedback from you guys -- that the moment we saw this Pad Thai in Fine Cooking, we knew we wanted to do another head-to-head bout.
How would our at-home Pad Thai compare with the delivery version?
We love Pad Thai. It's sort of like the spaghetti and meatballs of American Thai cuisine. It's predictable and filling, and it's pure comfort by the bowlful. And it's always familiar -- trust us, even if you've never had Pad Thai, you'll want to dive into the bowl after the first bite.
At the same time, it's never the most exciting thing on a Thai menu. Amid all those enticing, exotic dishes, it's always with a slight tinge of apologetic guilt whenever we announce to a server, "Oh, I'll just have the Pad Thai."
We love trying all kinds of Thai dishes. But Pad Thai is just always so delicious, with its tasty combination of stir-fried noodles, eggs, peanuts, lime, fish sauce and peppers and spices.
So we called up a Thai place in our neighborhood -- one we've been to a thousand times -- and placed an order. At the same moment, we started cooking our own Pad Thai at home.
Who would win on speed? Who would win on cost? What about flavor?
Ladies and gentlemen: the Pad Thai Challenge!
Fine Cooking (April/May 2011)
Though we've tackled lots of culinary challenges here on The Bitten Word, we've never successfully made fresh pasta. The few times we've done it, it has turned out fine, but it's never knocked our socks off. We want to learn to do it well, but it just requires us making the time to practice. We haven't done that yet, so making fresh pasta perpetually remains on our list of culinary beasts to slay. But this is not a story about learning that skill.
When we first saw the photo for Asparagus Ravioli with Brown Butter Sauce in Fine Cooking, our first thought was, "That looks so good but we're not sure we're up for making fresh pasta."
The good news about this recipe: You don't have to make fresh pasta. And it's awesome.
Fine Cooking (February/March 2011)
Growing up in the small-town South, our Chinese food options (at least in the 1980s and 90s) were pretty limited. The kinds of Chinese places in our hometowns were bland, strip-mall eateries with long buffets filled with steaming trays of overcooked brown noodles; limp, watery vegetables and greasy, fried egg rolls. (And because it was the South, you were just as likely to find trays of fried okra or mac 'n' cheese alongside the Beef Lo Mein and General Tso's.)
It's not that those suburban Chinese buffets were bad food. It's just that they weren't really anything special.
But our entire notion of Chinese-American cuisine got turned on its ear about four years ago, the first time we ate at Shun Lee West on New York's Upper West Side. It's not that Shun Lee is the most authentic Chinese place in New York -- it's dozens of blocks from Chinatown, and the original Shun Lee Palace only opened in 1971. But it's the first time we ever realized that Chinese food could be upscale and made well, that Chinese cuisine could highlight fresh, great-tasting ingredients. (By the way, our other life-changing Chinese food experience was House of Nan King in San Francisco. Absolutely phenomenal.)
That's a long-winded way of saying that you need to make these pork buns, and you need to make them today.