Nonhostile Holiday Recipes
Cooking for People You Like on the Holidays-- A Simple Holiday Meal That Any Idiot Can Prepare
- In Which Four Chefs and One Bartender Make a Holiday Meal Entirely from Convenience Store Ingredients
- Hostile Holiday Recipes: Cooking for People You Hate on the Holidays--Nine Holiday Recipes Straight from Hell
- Nonhostile Holiday Recipes: Cooking for People You Like on the Holidays-- A Simple Holiday Meal That Any Idiot Can Prepare
- Post-Hostility Bliss: Your Guide to the Most Tolerable Christmas Night Ever
- Eatin' Out
Here we address how to cook for people you like, people for whom you have no wish to channel your hostility into sly, cynical, sick-making dishes. The recipes below are basic, delicious, tested by ace cook Sara Dickerman, and do something most of us are unfamiliar with: They offer something sincere and handmade to people we really like. It might take you some time to get your mind around that concept. Good luck. --Emily Hall
Gløgg (mulled wine)
Hot wine always seems to get you drunk faster!
Recipe for 1 quart--serves 1-2 people at the typical holiday party.
1 cup water
1/4 cup honey
2 sticks cinnamon
5 cardamom seeds
peel from one orange
1 bottle spicy red wine, like Syrah, Grenache, or Zinfandel
1 orange, sliced
In a non-aluminum pot combine the water, honey, cinnamon sticks, cloves, cardamom seeds, and orange peel and bring the mixture to a boil. Turn down the heat and let the syrup infuse for 2-3 minutes. Pour in the bottle of wine and heat through, without boiling, over a medium-high burner. To serve, put an orange slice in each glass, and over this pour the wine. You may want to add a little vodka to each cup, too.
Gougères (AKA delicious cheese puffs)
You don't need to cook anything for appetizers: People will be happy with plenty of cheese, salami, bread, and some bean dip for the herbivores. But still. These cheese puffs make nearly everyone happy, very happy. The other cool thing about them is that you can shape the raw dough, freeze it, and then pop the puffs directly in the oven when you're ready to serve them.
1/2 pound Gruyère, Comté, or aged cheddar cheese
1 cup milk
1 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper, about 1/8 teaspoon
7 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups flour
1 egg beaten with one teaspoon cold water, for glaze
Grease a baking sheet and preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Dice 2/3 of the cheese into small bits. Grate the rest.
Combine the milk, water, salt, pepper, and butter in a heavy-bottomed sauce pan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add the flour all at once. Stir together briskly with a wooden spoon, and return to a medium-low burner on the stove. Keep stirring until the dough stops sticking to the pan. If you pinch it, it shouldn't stick to your fingers at all.
Remove from the heat and, using the paddle of an electric mixer if you've got one, and a wooden spoon if you don't, add the eggs one at a time, stirring to incorporate each one before adding another. The dough will look weird here, breaking up into little globs before coming back together into a smooth, sticky mass. Stop before you add the last egg: The dough should be a little like thick mayonnaise in texture. If it's still too thick, add the last egg. Finally, stir the diced cheese into the dough.
Drop the dough by the rounded tablespoon onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving an inch around each one. Brush the top of each drop with a little of the egg glaze, then sprinkle with the grated cheese. At this point you can freeze the gougères if you want. When you are ready to bake them, go directly from freezer to oven. Bake for about 20 minutes until the gougères are puffed and brown, but still soft on the inside. Serve warm or at room temperature.
There are a lot of ways to make the perfect turkey, but don't worry too much about brining, trussing, or using cheesecloth if you're just trying to make it through the night. Choose the smallest bird you can that will feed your friends, or consider cooking two smaller ones rather than a single big one. Make sure you do have a meat thermometer, which takes away any is-it-done-yet anxiety.
1 turkey, you figure out the size
freshly ground black pepper
1 head garlic
2 carrots, peeled, cut into big chunks
2 onions, peeled, cut into big chunks
4 tablespoons butter
4-5 rosemary sprigs, optional
Rinse the bird once you get it out of the plastic, then pat it dry. Remove its neck and giblets from the body cavity. Early in the day, season the bird generously with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and prepare the bird for cooking. Flatten out 2 tablespoons of cold butter and place it under the skin of one breast. Repeat with the remaining butter. Shove a couple rosemary sprigs under the skin, too. Tuck the wing tips under the shoulder joint so they don't stick out. Tie the legs together if they're not already hooked into a plastic thingy.
Lay the vegetables on the bottom of the roasting pan. Place the turkey on top. See if you can arrange it on the pan widthwise, so you can stick the legs toward the back of the oven, where there's more heat. Cut the lemon in half and stick it up the turkey's butt, along with a few extra rosemary sprigs.
Put the turkey in the oven and cook until the leg meat reads 175 degrees (a little less if you're brave and in favor of moister meat). Baste it with cooking juices, if it makes you happy, but opening the oven too much will slow down the cooking. If the bird looks too brown at any point, cover it with aluminum foil. Let the bird rest 20 to 30 minutes before slicing. (A 10 1/2-pound bird took just under 2 hours to cook.) Note: The skimmed pan juices will add a lot of flavor to gravy, if you decide to make it.
Stuffing: Don't bother stuffing the turkey if you're new to it. It slows down the cooking and there's never enough for everyone anyway. You can just warm up the stuffing on the side.
Apricot Wild Turkey Stuffing
1 cup dried California apricots, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup golden raisins
4 tablespoons Wild Turkey or other bourbon
1 cup toasted chopped walnuts
1 medium garlic clove, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
4 medium celery ribs, chopped
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon butter
2/3 cup chicken stock
10 cups bread cubes (about one loaf country white bread, cut up)
salt and pepper to taste
Soak the apricots and raisins in the bourbon for about an hour.
Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onions and celery and cook until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for a minute more. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and add the bread crumbs, raisins, apricots, walnuts, and salt and pepper to taste. Melt the remaining butter, then add it and the chicken stock to the bread-crumb mixture. Mix well. Transfer the stuffing to an ovenproof dish and bake for 30-45 minutes at 350 degrees, until the stuffing is thoroughly heated and the top develops a nice crust. Serves about 10 people, generously.
Or if space is limited, the easiest side dish:
Roasted Squash Slices
1 delicata squash (the long pale one with green stripes)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 to 1 teaspoon kosher salt, to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Slice the squash in half lengthwise, then scoop out the seeds. Place the cut side of the squash down and slice each half into thin (1/4 inch) half-moon slices. Toss the slices with olive oil, then salt, and a grinding of fresh pepper. Lay the squash out in a single layer on a baking sheet and place in the oven. Cook for 5 minutes, shake the pan to keep the slices from sticking, then cook for 5-10 more minutes, shaking occasionally until the squash is tender and lightly browned in places.
3 small Granny Smith apples
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed in the refrigerator
1 cupcake pan or six half-cup ovenproof cups
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Peel the apples and cut them in half. Remove their seeds and stems with a spoon or a paring knife. Toss the apples with the brown sugar, flour, orange juice, and vanilla. Refrigerate until ready to bake. Roll out the puff pastry into a sheet about a 1/4 inch thick and approximately 12 by 12 inches. Cut it into six even pieces. Place each piece into the cup of a cupcake tin--it won't fill the cup exactly, and the corners will drape over the edge. Place an apple half into each pastry-lined cup and pinch the pastry edges around the apple a little bit, but leave the apple exposed. Drizzle the remaining brown sugar goo over the apples, then dot each one with some of the butter. Place the pan in the oven and bake until the puff pastry is toasty brown, about 18-20 minutes. Makes six desserts.
Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped crème fraîche.
Frozen puff pastry sheets are one of the few processed pastry products that are any good--just make sure to get the kind that's made with butter, not other fats. In any case, you can fill puff pastry with any fruit filling, including this quickie preparation. Don't forget, though, that there's no shame in ordering pies from a bakery.
Recipes by Sara Dickerman.