Thanksgiving Update

A couple of years ago I posted my traditional Thanksgiving menu with full recipes in an easy-to-print format.

I had intended to post last year’s rendition, but never got around to it. The main difference was the turkey, which was done following a combination of Alton Brown and Thomas Keller’s methods. It was the best I’d ever done. And to top it off, I accompanied the traditional gravy with Rick Bayliss’s full Mexican molé sauce. The combination was spectacular.

The beauty of this method is that pretty much any turkey can be used. I get the cheap fresh “all natural” version, this year on sale for $1.99/lb. No need to spend $6.99 for the fancy one from the butcher, it just takes a bit of advanced planning. Can even work with a frozen bird, it will defrost as it brines.

Basically, start with brining the bird a la Alton. Use 1 Cup of Kosher salt per gallon of water. Season with brown sugar, allspice, peppercorns, bay leaves, sage, etc. Dissolve the sugar and salt in some hot water with the spices, stir until all mixed together, then dilute with cold water/ice. I use a large stock pot, which holds the turkey. Refrigerate overnight, or leave outside if its cold out and there is no room in the fridge.
The next day, remove from brine, and dry out a la Keller. Then roast as normal. Last year I had about a 12 lb bird, it fit on the upright “chicken on a throne” beercan holder, which is highly recommended and far better than lying down as it browns evenly all over. Don’t worry about basting, its a waste of time and slows down the cooking every time you open the oven. Use Convection Roast on the oven if it has the option. Otherwise rotate a couple of times as it cooks. Cook unstuffed, Alton Brown likes to add aromatics to the cavity, I prefer the “beer can”.

Alton “traditional”:

Alton “Good Eats” version:

Thomas Keller:




These Korean scallion pancakes are delicious and exotic, yet surprisingly easy and inexpensive to make at home. Makes a great appetizer cut into quarters, or a quick meal. 


  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1/3-1/2 cup cod, shrimp, or squid
  • 1/3-1/2 cup kimchi 
  • 4 scallions, cleaned, trimmed, and cut into 1″ lengths 
  • 1 tsp light miso
  • 1 TB oil

Dipping sauce 

  • 2 TB rice vinegar 
  • 2 TB soy sauce 
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp gochujan chili paste
  • 1 tsp sugar 


  1. Mix the sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Let the flavors mingle while preparing the pancake. Adjust balance of sweet/sour/salty/spicy to taste. Garnish with thin slivers of scallion and red chili if desired, with a sprinkle of sesame seeds. 
  2. Mix the flour and water with miso in a bowl.
  3. Heat oil in heavy skillet. Non-stick helps, but cast iron works well too. 
  4. If not precooked, add the seafood and half cook. 
  5. Add the scallions and kimchi, spread out evenly across bottom of pan. 
  6. Pour the batter over the filling, spreading to make an even layer and fill in the gaps. There should be just enough to keep it together. 
  7. Cook over medium heat until lightly brown, then flip and do other side. If pancake is thick, cover pan for a couple of minutes to make sure it cooks through. 
  8. Slide onto plate, cut into wedges, and serve with dipping sauce. 

Atonement Kugel

A traditional food this time of year is noodle Kugel. I will find my mother’s traditional recipe and share it. But today, that is not what I made. Mostly because I didn’t have the right ingredients. And because I couldn’t find the recipe. And ran out of time. So I consulted Joan Nathan’s holiday cookbook for inspiration, then proceded to largely ignore it. Also because I didn’t have most of the ingredients. Etc.  

Luckily what I came up with was delicious, if a bit bizarre, even by my own rather generous standards. Still, it worked for what I needed. A quick and easy yet festive and unique one dish holiday meal without meat. Would also be great as a side dish as part of a more traditional meal. 


  • One pound wide egg noodles 
  • 8 oz low fat sour cream 
  • 8 oz fat free Israeli or French feta, soaked in fresh water to reduce salt
  • Grated zest of one lemon 
  • Handful of raisins, soaked in calvados to cover
  • 2 dried figs, chopped and soaked in armagnac to cover
  • 2 egg whites 
  • 2 TB Sugar 
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon 
  • 1/2 tsp Hawaij for coffee
  • Handful Chopped pecans
  • 1 tb Butter


  1. Soak feta and fruit while bringing a large pot of water to boil and preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Boil noodles for about 7 minutes, until cooked am dente 
  3. Drain noodles, allow to cool slightly, return to pot, and mix well with other ingredients 
  4. Spray medium baking pan with non stick butter flavour cooking spray
  5. Spoon mixture into pan. 
  6. Top with crushed pecans and dot with butter
  7. Bake for 30 minutes or until crisp and golden brown
  8. Drink an atonement cocktail made with the reserved soaking alcohols (see previous post) while it bakes
  9. Serve warm or at room temperature with an Israeli pinot noir. 

Atonement Cocktail 

I made a cocktail for Yom Kippur 
Atonement Cocktail 

  • 1 jigger (1.25 oz) calvados 
  • 1 jigger sweet bourbon (eg Michters, Elijah Craig)
  • 1/2 oz old fashioned rum (150 proof)
  • Dash orange bitters
  • Juice of one small lemon
  • 1 tsp honey
  1. Stir well with ice, strain and serve up in fancy cocktail glass. 
  2. Garnish with twist of lemon peel. It should be strong, a tiny bit sweet, and quite tart.
  3.  If you don’t have anything to atone for, reduce the lemon juice. 

Roasted Ratatouille 

Another end of summer delight. Roasted Ratatouille with sausage, cabbage, and chickpeas. Makes an easy meal in a bowl. 


  • 1 eggplant 
  • 1 red bell pepper 
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 1 small head red cabbage 
  • 1 yellow tomato 
  • 1 red tomato 
  • Fresh thyme
  • Cooked chickpeas 
  • 2 andouille sausages
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed


  1. Preheat oven to 425° F
  2. Cut veggies into largish chunks, slice sausages 
  3. Add to roasting pan, drizzle generously with evoo, season with salt and pepper, stir well to coat evenly
  4. Roast for about 30 minutes, then check doneness 
  5. When almost tender, add chickpeas, return to oven for another 5-10 minutes to heat through 
  6. Scoop into bowls and serve with a nice syrah

Caprese Salad

One of the absolute best things in the universe. For best results use a late season Jersey tomato. The key is the freshness and quality of the ingredients. Simplicity elevated to perfection. 

Thinly slice a ripe yellow tomato, discard ends. 

Sprinkle with coarse fleur de sel and freshly ground black pepper. 

Drizzle with evoo. 

Put a fresh basil leaf on each slice. 

Add a slice or dollop of creamy burrata or fresh buffalo mozzarella to each piece of tomato. 

Drizzle with balsamic vinegar. 

Eat with crusty bread. 

Lamb korma

I made it last night. Was delicious. But was in a hurry and didn’t measure anything. Basic procedure is right, just adjust seasonings to taste.

First, watched this for inspiration. 

But it was too long and fussy, so skipped a bunch of steps. Started with a two pound hunk of boneless leg of lamb, cut into cubes.

Grind spices: cumin, cloves, cinnamon, black and green cardamom, coriander, kichiri, pepper, salt, red pepper. 

Add dried coconut and almonds. Grind more. 

Coat meat chunks with spice mix

Fry a chopped onion with the meat, Brown on all sides. 

In blender, mix one container Greek yogurt, 1 onion, 1 small can tomato sauce, ginger, garlic, blend into smooth paste. 

Add to meat, stir well, let simmer until meat is cooked through. Cover and cook longer for more tender, or eat as is if hungry. 

Can also do in slow cooker.

Serve with rice. 

Cantaloupe Cocktail 

Refreshing on a warm summer evening. 

In a blender, puree the following and serve in a margarita glass. 

  • 1 oz vodka
  • 1 oz Hendricks gin
  • 1/4 ripe cantaloupe, peeled and cut into chunks, chilled
  • Juice of one small lime
  • Thai basil leaves
  • Ice (about 1 cup, 8 large cubes)

Conch Fritters 

Just made the best ones yet. The trick was cooking the conch sous vide first. 


  • 2 pieces conch
  •  1 onion
  • 1-2 green chiles, seeded
  • 2 leaves culantro 
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup Matzah meal
  • 2-3 TB Flour
  • 1/2 tsp Baking powder


  1. Season conch with old bay and cook sous vide for 30 minutes at 120F
  2. Chop conch, onion, chiles and pulse in food processor
  3. Add egg and process until barely smooth
  4. Transfer to bowl, add dry ingredients and mix to blend
  5. Fry on both sides until golden brown and crisp
  6. Drain on paper towels

Mushroom-Onion Soup

I’ve never been great at making vegetable soups. But the Modernist Cuisine cookbook had an interesting technique, so I decided to try it. The base recipe was for carrot soup, but there are a dozen variations. I used what I had on hand, which was a bunch of sweet onions and a package of mushrooms.

The trick is to caramelizes the veggies in a pressure pot, then add liquid and purée until creamy. No need to add cream! I left mine relatively unseasoned, the earthiness of the dried mushrooms was more than enough. But it’s very versatile, I plan to experiment.


  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 2 large sweet onions
  • 1 package baby Bella mushrooms
  • 2-3 TB dried mushrooms
  • 2 TB butter
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • Chicken stock


  1. Peel the carrot. If large, quarter lengthwise and remove core. Otherwise just cut into large chunks, along with the onions and celery and washed mushrooms.
  2. Melt the butter in the pressure pot over medium heat, add the vegetables and stir to coat, then sprinkle in a couple of tablespoons of stock. My pressure pot tends to leak a bit, so I put in a bit more, but if yours makes a good seal you only want a little bit of liquid so the carrots and onions caramelize. 
  3. Once the pot comes to pressure, cook for 20 minutes, then cool under running water before opening. 
  4. Meanwhile, heat some broth or stock or veggie juice, reduce a bit if too mild.
  5. Add broth to cooked veggies, and purée with stick blender. Adjust consistency and seasoning to taste.
  6. Push the puréed soup through a metal strainer to catch any fibers and yield a luscious silky smooth soup. It takes an extra couple of minutes but really makes a big difference. 

It probably should have been garnished with some chives and sour cream, but was delicious just as is.