So what shall we do together in Year 9?
We don't recommend a lot of cookbooks these days. It's not that we don't love them. (We do, as our cluttered bookshelves attest!)
It's just that we haven't been reading as many of them lately. And when we do, we don't usually buy them, opting instead to sample them from the library. That way, when we do purchase a cookbook, we have a good idea it's one we'll actually use.
Recently we sat down with our first cookbook in quite a while: Ruth Reichl's My Kitchen Year. As two fans who still miss Gourmet, we found that the book brought back so many feelings -- happy and sad -- about the shuttering of Gourmet magazine, which Reichl edited from 1999 until it ceased publication in 2009.
My Kitchen Year tracks a year of cooking by Reichl following the magazine's sudden, devastating closure. We felt a great sense of loss when this happened in 2009, but we know our loss as fans was nothing compared to what Reichl and her staff were experiencing. This book takes you into Reichl's life at the time, as she mourns the loss of the magazine and then hits to the road to promote a just-released cookbook by the magazine.
Over the course of Reichl's year, we travel along with her to places across the country, but most of the time is spent in her rural home kitchen in New York's Hudson Valley, as she cooks her way through a difficult time and contemplates the future. Some food-world people we love show up (Calvin Trillin comes to Thanksgiving, bringing spiced matzo and frozen dumplings from Chinatown. #SquadGoals!). As Reichl cooks and fumes and heals, the book provides an honest and beautiful example of food's ability to comfort and heal. In sharing her year, Reichl slows the value of diving deep into something in a time of despair. In this case, it results in a true celebration of home cooking.
The recipes themselves are chatty and informative. A lot of the food is pure comfort (chocolate cake, fried chicken, carbonara) but also great meal options for entertaining (we especially enjoyed the piece on making burgers for guests). The book is punctuated by Reichl's tweets from 2009 and 2010, adding more context into what she was eating and thinking at the time. And the photography is simple and intimate.
My Kitchen Year is a beautiful book. If you loved Gourmet, we think you'll find great comfort and memories in the book. If Reichl is new to you, follow her @ruthreichl. And by all means, if you haven't already read her autobiographical trilogy -- Tender at the Bone, Comfort Me with Apples, and (our favorite) Garlic and Sapphires -- do so immediately; they're among our all-time favorite food books.
Have any of you read My Kitchen Year? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments!
Last year, we banded together with readers to make every cookie featured in the December 2014 food magazines. There were triumphs. There were disasters. There were many, many cookies.
We wanted to repeat the Holiday Cookie Challenge again this year, just as we had done it in 2014, but the entire endeavor is an incredible amount of work and our time is limited this December.
Instead, we're offering readers a last-minute opportunity to participate in....(drumroll)....The 2015 Holiday Cookie Challenge (Abridged).
Here's how it will work:
The challenging part is that this is truly a last-minute opportunity (apologies to those for whom the timing does not work out). Sign-ups start today. Cookies will be assigned on Friday, and you'll have to do your baking this coming weekend.
We hope you'll join us!
~ Zach & Clay
If you're following us on Instagram, you likely saw a few weeks ago that we were in Montreal. (We also mentioned it in this post on Glazed Sweet Potatoes with Maple Gastrique.) On the heels of Fakesgiving and Halloween, we took a trip North as a surprise (at least until the 11th hour when the airline ruined it, but alas) for Zach's birthday.
Montreal had long been on our list of weekend destinations -- neither of us had been there, and Zach had yet to set foot in Canada. We packed a lot into three nights. Here are some lessons we learned along the way.
1. Joe Beef is reason enough to visit Montreal.
Joe Beef -- the storied bistro in the city's Little Burgundy neighborhood -- is, all by itself, worth the trip to Montreal. We had a spectacular meal there, due in no small part to the phenomenal staff. We arrived for our 9:45 p.m. reservation to discover that we had accidentally booked our table for the following week. The staff was so nice about it, sending us to the bar for snacks and drinks and then getting us seated in no time. We were the ones who goofed up, yet they treated us like VIPs.
The food at Joe Beef is the stuff dreams are made of.
We started with a dish of shaved ham and cheese with mustard that was served not on bread, but on a piece of oven-roasted squash (pictured above). The combination of the savory ham on the sweet squash made us question why we haven't been eating it this way all along.
For entrees, we had two gorgeous dishes. The first was a lobster spaghetti that was incredibly rich but also worth the indulgence.
One Fakesgiving, 24 guest, 20 dishes and 20 recipe reports later, it's a wrap on this year's Thanksgiving coverage!
We're going to leave you with well wishes, a bit of advice, and some photos from our Fakesgiving party, like the one above of us laying out the food just before time to eat.
First, the well wishes: We're thankful for many things this holiday. One of those things is readers like you who choose to spend some time with us, obsessing about what to cook next and dreaming about deliciousness. Your comments and encouragement mean a lot to us. So thank you. We are grateful.
Here's our very best, last-minute advice for Thanksgiving: Take a deep breath and enjoy the moment. Yes, there are onions to dice and pies to brûlée and turkeys to spatchcock. Some of the dishes you make will be epic; others may not be so great. But who cares? It's Thanksgiving. Laugh it off. Don't apologize for your food. Take the compliments guests give you. Be proud of what you put on the table.
As for us, we're planning to spend Thanksgiving day ordering in Chinese food and watching the original Star Wars trilogy on DVD. No joke.
Much love and Thanksgiving wishes,
~ Zach and Clay
If you're looking for the recipes and topics we discussed, looked no further:
And if you liked what you heard on the segment, sign up to learn about more great recipes through The Bitten Word. It's easy and only takes a moment:
~ Clay & Zach
220 Thanksgiving Recipes from 10 Leading Food Magazines
Yesterday, we were all about the trends, sharing what's in and what's out for this year's Thanksgiving feast.
Today, it's all about the recipes. Below, we've categorized all 220 recipes from the 10 magazines we're tracking this year.
Of course, the November issues of these magazines feature many more recipes than this -- in order to make this list, the recipe had to be part of an explicit feature about Thanksgiving. (If a recipe doesn't have a hyperlink, it means it isn't yet available online.)
Explore the list and share your thoughts: What sounds amazing? What sounds too wacky for your table? What might you try for this year's feast? Let us know in the comments -- and happy cooking!
Porchetta-Style Roast Turkey Breast (Bon Appétit)
Barbecue Spice–Brined Grilled Turkey (Bon Appétit)
Glazed and Lacquered Roast Turkey (Bon Appétit)
Two-Hour Turkey with Gravy (Cook's Country)
Applewood-Smoked Turkey (Cooking Light)
Brown Sugar–Cured Turkey with Apple-Bourbon Gravy (Cooking Light)
Rosemary-Orange Roast Turkey (Cooking Light)
Citrus-Herb Roast Turkey & Gravy (Fine Cooking)
Chipotle-Butter Turkey (Food & Wine)
Citrus-and-Butter Turkey (Food & Wine)
Porchetta-Spiced Turkey with Pan Gravy (Food & Wine)
Roast Turkey with Polenta Stuffing (Food & Wine)
Soy-and-Sesame Turkey (Food & Wine)
Maple-Whiskey Turkey (Food Network)
Classic Roast Turkey (Food Network)
Lemon-Pepper Turkey with Bacon Gravy (Food Network)
Southwestern Turkey with Chipotle Gravy (Food Network)
Herbed Turkey (Martha Stewart Living)
Molasses-and-Cider-Glazed Turkey (Martha Stewart Living)
Tamarind-Glazed Roast Turkey (Saveur)
Slow Smoked and Spice-Brined Turkey (Saveur)
Dry-Brined-and-Marinated Smoked Turkey (Southern Living)
Gravy-Braised Turkey Legs with Cipolline Onions (Bon Appétit)
Classic Turkey Gravy with Thyme (Bon Appétit)
Maple-Whiskey Gravy (Food Network)
Classic Gravy (Food Network)
Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy (Cooking Light)
Make-Ahead Gravy (Southern Living)
Posted at 09:49 AM in -- Appetizers --, -- Cocktails & Beverages --, -- Desserts & Sweets --, -- Entrees -- , -- Party Food --, -- Salads -- , -- Sauces --, -- Side Dishes -- , -- Soups --, Bon Appétit, Cook's Country, Cook's Illustrated, Cooking Light, Fine Cooking, Food & Wine, Food Network Magazine, Gourmet, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Southern Living, The Leftovers | Permalink | Comments (13)
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As it turns out, we won't be launching new careers as fortune tellers...
Nearly a month ago we put out a call for readers to help us predict this year's Thanksgiving trends, and we shared some of our own predictions.
How did we do with our guesses? Not great!
But never fear: Over the past couple weeks, we've pored through stacks of magazines. We've compiled lists of recipes. And we've already cooked 20 (!) of this year's new Thanksgiving recipes, at our annual Fakesgiving dinner, where we invite a bunch of friends over for a big Thanksgiving meal in late October.
So today, just as we have for the past several years, we're kicking off our Thanksgiving coverage with a look at this year's hottest trends. These are based on the Thanksgiving recipes featured in 11 leading food magazines. Tomorrow we'll share an index of all the recipes that inspired these trends. Prepare yourself: You've got some awfully difficult menu choices ahead.
First we're going to tell you some of the main trends we noticed. Then -- as we do every year -- we've compiled word clouds showing the popularity of different ingredients in the titles of this year's recipes.
So let's get to it: What's "in" for Thanksgiving 2015?
1. Ancient Grains in Vogue
This year's food mags read like a cross between the 1835 edition of The Old Farmers' Almanac and the bulk bins at a Berkeley co-op: Ancient grains are everywhere. This isn't a huge surprise, since unusual grains have been a big restaurant trend for a few years. Still, it's noteworthy to see Thanksgiving menus sprouting rye, farro, and polenta -- and even more unusual varieties like sorghum grains, spelt and fonio.
And the treatment of these grains is unusual as well. Barley gets smoked; spelt gets fried; rye berries get pickled.
It's enough to make quinoa look quaint.
2. The Year's "It" Turkey? "Porchetta-Style"
It's a frequent Thanksgiving lamentation: Does anybody actually like turkey? This year, two different magazines came up with the same fix: Pretend it's pork!
Both Bon Appétit and Food & Wine have taken inspiration from the classic pork dish porchetta and applied it to their turkeys this year. The magazines each take very different approaches to the turkey, but are applying common flavors you find in porchetta: fennel, sage, rosemary, thyme and garlic. We've already tried out one of these porchetta birds -- and it's delicious.
3. New Orleans Inspirations
We love eating in New Orleans, so we were excited to see multiple magazines featuring Thanksgiving menus inspired by The Big Easy. (Though none of the magazines mention this explicitly, we assume the attention had to do with the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.)
We didn't grow up with Thanksgiving tables that included andouille stuffing, pickled shrimp, oyster pies, and gumbo. But we're happy to see them on the menu for this year. Laissez les turkey rouler!
4. Tilting Tropical
Next to ancient grains, the most sweeping trend we noticed this year was citrus everything.
Sure, we've seen some citrus pop up in years past, and we've cooked a couple kumquat dishes before. But this year, the bright, tart flavors of citrus fruits are all over the place -- on multiple turkeys, in salads and in side dishes.
Most notable, though, was the plethora of citrusy and tropical fruit sweets: Mango, pineapple, grapefruit, papaya and lemon all are prominent on the dessert table this year. We're definitely on board. After all, there are only so many ways to make a pumpkin pie.
5. Vinegar Sneaks In
Pucker up! If there's a sleeper ingredient this year, it's vinegar.
Personally, we love the sharp tang that vinegar brings. But it's not something we typically think of at Thanksgiving. Turns out that's a big mistake: A little vinegar can infuse a side dish -- or a salad or a turkey or a cocktail -- with a palate-cleansing zing that cuts through all the heavy, rich, starchy flavors typical of Thanksgiving.
This year's food mags have tons of dishes with a hint of vinegar -- plenty of salads with bright vinaigrette, but also vinegar in turnips and Brussels sprouts, on sweet potatoes and white potatoes.There's a squash dish with an agrodolce, a sweet-sour Italian vinegar sauce. And there's even a switchel, that vinegary cocktail we wrote about just a few weeks ago.
6. Cranberry Sauce: They're Just Not That Into You.
We were surprised to see so few recipes for cranberry sauce this year. Only five magazines published one, and most are fairly straightforward takes. In previous years, cranberry sauces have been a place where food magazines trotted out some of their craziest twists: Jalapeño! Chinese five spice! Figs! Port! The aforementioned kumquats!
This year, though, there's just not that much emphasis on cranberry sauce. Is everyone just buying their sauce in a can?
Now let's take a closer look at some trends related to specific dishes, using some word clouds. Take a look at the images and let us know what stands out to you.
Despite the lack of evidence published here this week, we have been cooking our little hearts out. Prepare for next week: We'll be serving so much Thanksgiving realness that you'll want to lick your laptop.
But until then, let's talk about books. Here are some things we've read over the past few months that we've enjoyed, plus a few things that are at the top of our reading list.
What have you been reading? And what should we read next? Here's our list:
The Martian (Andy Weir). We haven't seen the movie, but we read the book. We're not huge sci-fi readers but thought The Martian was a lot of fun.
What's next on our list:
Here are the books at the top of our reading list right now (with what we think these books are about):
My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life (Ruth Reichl): Ruth Reichl's chronicle (through recipes) of life after Gourmet.This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! (Jonathan Evison): An older woman wins a cruise; secrets are revealed (!!!).
What say you? What should we all be reading?
No, we didn't forget about the cookbook giveaway!
Last night we notified the winners (if you're listed below, check your email).
We absolutely loved hearing your Thanksgiving trend predictions! They were creative and hilarious and we can't wait to see who's right.
We've been giving it a bit of thought ourselves. Here are our three best guesses:
So ... the winners! In no particular order (oh, and we decided to name 11, not 10), here are the randomly selected commenters who will win cookbooks, along with their predictions for T-Day trends: