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The Thanksgiving Low-Down
This year, when looking for some inspiration to change up my Thanksgiving menu, I dug through some wonderful new cookbooks and found some things I'm going to try. Many thanks to the chefs below for letting us share their recipes with our readers.This year, when looking for some inspiration to change up my Thanksgiving menu, I dug through some wonderful new cookbooks and found some things I'm going to try. Many thanks to the chefs below for letting us share their recipes with our readers.
For more than 25 years, Ed Behr has edited The Art of Eating, a truly intellectual and enjoyable journal on food and everything that goes with. He has travelled the world trolling for the best artisanal ingredients, meeting the most knowledgeable, but often unknown, cooks, and supplying readers with their best recipes. We are big fans of his beautifully presented magazines and now we're glad to have the compendium of recipes edited into this book. We thought the French Canard aux Cerises might make for a good alternative to turkey this year.
Don't miss George Bates' lovely, old-fashioned yet contemporary, graphic illustrations for the book!
Canard aux Cerises (Duck with Sour Cherries)
- about 2 pounds (900 gr) fresh sour cherries or 1 cup (175 gr) dried cherries
- a duck, weighing 5 to 6 pounds (about 2.5 kg)
- 1 carrot, peeled and cut in large pieces
- 1 onion, halved
- duck fat, lard, or excellent, fresh-tasting olive oil
- 1/2 bottle (375 ml) white wine
- a bundle of herbs: 1 bay leaf, several fresh parsley branches, a section of celery stalk with leaves, and several branches of thyme, tied together (if you have no fresh thyme, add a large pinch of dried to the pot)
- salt and black pepper
- 1 to 2 tablespoons sugar
1.Put the cherries, if dried, to soak in just enough hot water to cover them and set them aside. In a heavy pot just large enough to hold the duck, and having a tight-fitting lid, brown the duck, carrot, and onion slowly and well in fat over medium heat, uncovered, turning to color all sides - as long as 1 hour, with very low heat. Add the wine, scraping to dissolve the brown material on the bottom of the pot, and then enough water to almost immerse the bird. Add the herb bundle, and season lightly with salt (the sauce will later be concentrated). Cover and cook at a very low bubble, turning the duck from time to time, until the meat is thoroughly tender - at least 1 hour.
2.When the duck is done, remove it to a warm platter, and discard the carrot, onion, and herb bundle. Carefully skim the fat from the remaining juices and then strain them and return them to the pot. Drain the soaked dried cherries, if you use those, setting the fruit aside and adding the soaking water to the pot. Over high heat, reduce the combined liquids to about 3/4 cup (175 ml). Add the cherries and cook about 3 minutes for soaked dried cherries or 15 minutes or more for fresh. If they yield juice, boil for a few more minutes to thicken the sauce. Taste it, and add salt, pepper, and sugar as needed. Carve the duck at the table, ladling some cherries and sauce over each serving. If the cherries have pits, warn your eaters.
Serves: 4 to 6
- 2 pounds (1 kg) carrots, peeled and sliced
- 1 onion, sliced
- 3 cups (750 ml) water
- 2 cups (500 ml) chicken broth or stock
- salt and black pepper
- 1/2- to 3/4-inch (1- to 2-cm) cubes of 1- or 2-day-old white bread, optional
- unsalted butter, optional
- 1/2 cup (125 ml) heavy cream
- leaflets plucked from fresh chervil for garnish
Boil the carrots and onion in the water until they are soft, about 10 minutes. Drain them, reserving the cooking liquid, and purée them, using a blender, food mill, or food processor and adding a bit of the cooking liquid as necessary. Combine the purée, cooking liquid, and broth, heat to a boil, and season with salt and pepper. If you'd like to serve the soup with croûtons, make them while the soup is heating by sautéing the cubes of bread in butter, until golden on all sides. When they are done, take them from the pan and keep them hot. Add the cream to the soup, bring it to a boil, and put the soup into a heated tureen or directly into heated individual bowls. Garnish generously with chervil. If you use croûtons, pass them at the table so they keep all their crunch.
- 6 tablespoons (85 gr) unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup (65 gr) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 quart (1 lt) cold milk plus more as needed
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 ounce (30 gr) dry-cured ham, in 1 or 2 slices, optional
- 1 or 2 small onions, peeled
- 2 cloves
- salt and black pepper
- 2 1/2 pounds (1 kg) white turnips, peeled and sliced about ⅛ inch (3 mm) thick
- 1 cup (roughly 100 gr) or more white breadcrumbs
- unsalted butter
To make the béchamel:
Melt the butter in a large, thick-bottomed saucepan, stir in the flour, and cook and stir the mixture for 1 minute. Add the cold milk all at once and immediately whisk the combination smooth, covering the entire bottom of the pan. Stir continuously, switching to a wooden spatula or spoon and still covering the whole bottom, until the mixture thickens and starts to bubble. Lower the heat, and add the bay leaf, ham, and the onion stuck with the cloves. Cook at a steady low bubble for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally across the whole bottom of the pan. Place a heat diffuser beneath the pan if necessary to keep the sauce at a bare bubble and prevent sticking and browning. Remove the bay leaf, ham, onion, and cloves. Taste and season well with salt, enough to season the vegetable, too; grind in pepper and add a few gratings of nutmeg, just enough to detect. If necessary, thin the béchamel with milk to an easily pourable consistency, whisking it together—a slightly lumpy consistency will make no difference in the end.
To assemble the gratin:
Heat the oven to 350° F (175° C). Butter well a baking dish, an 8-by-12-inch (20-by-30-cm) oval or equivalent. Arrange half the turnips in one layer and pour half the béchamel over them. Arrange the rest of the turnips in an even layer and add the rest of the béchamel, so as to cover all the turnips. Bake until a knife or fork shows the turnips in the center are soft, about 1 hour. Take the dish from the oven, sprinkle breadcrumbs over the surface, and distribute over them a generous number of thin shavings of butter (more easily shaved from a cold stick). Brown the surface under the broiler, watching and taking care that the dish is far enough from the source that the crumbs don't blacken. Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish.
Jean-Georges Vongerichten is known for serving up deliciously complex and unexpected combinations at his restaurants. When Jean-Georges takes you to his home kitchen, as he does in this book, it's surprising to find how simple and uncomplicated his approach to food is. Here we present to you an ingeniously easy take on turkey by his right hand man, Daniel del Vecchio, plus a few examples of just how Jean-Georges takes a basic side dish to the next level.
Dan's Thanksgiving Turkey
Serves: 12 to 14
- 4 cups kosher salt, plus more as needed
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 whole (12- to 14-pound) turkey, giblets and neck reserved
- 4 medium yellow onions, chopped
- 4 carrots, chopped
- 4 celery stalks, chopped
- ½ bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 12 fresh thyme sprigs
- 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 head garlic, cloves separated and crushed
- 12 whole chicken wings
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- Soy sauce
- Freshly ground black pepper
1.In a large stockpot, stir together the salt, sugar, and 2 gallons water until the salt and sugar dissolve. Submerge the turkey in the brine and refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours. Remove the turkey from the brine, rinse, and pat dry. Refrigerate, uncovered, for 8 to 24 hours.
2.Arrange an oven rack in the lowest position. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
3.Put the turkey, breast side down, in the center of a large, heavy roasting pan. Stuff with a third of the onions, carrots, celery, parsley, thyme, and 1 tablespoon of the butter. Truss well.
4.Scatter the garlic, chicken wings, turkey giblets and neck, and the remaining vegetables and herbs around the bird. Pour 1 cup water over the vegetables. Melt the remaining 5 tablespoons butter and brush all over the turkey.
5.Roast for 45 minutes. Turn the turkey so that one wing side is up and baste, adding water to the pan if it is dry. Roast for 15 minutes longer, then turn the turkey so that the other wing side is up. Baste, then roast for 15 minutes longer. Turn the turkey breast side up, baste, and roast until the internal temperature of the leg registers 170°F, 30 to 40 minutes longer. Remove from the oven, tent with foil, and let rest for 20 to 30 minutes.
6.While the turkey rests, remove the turkey neck and giblets from the pan. Pick the meat from the neck and dice. Dice the giblets.
7.Tilt the turkey to pour its juices into the roasting pan, then transfer the turkey to a serving platter. Set a finemesh sieve over a measuring cup. Carefully pour all the liquid from the pan through the sieve; discard the solids. Let stand for a few minutes, then spoon off the fat from the juices, discarding the fat, or use a fat separator. Pour the pan juices back into the roasting pan. Add the neck meat and giblets to the pan. Straddle the pan between 2 burners and bring the juices to a boil. Stir 1 tablespoon water into the cornstarch, then stir into the juices. Boil until thickened slightly, about 2 minutes. Season to taste with soy sauce, salt, and pepper and then transfer to a gravy boat. Carve the turkey and serve with the gravy.
Fresh Corn Pudding Cake
- 6 to 8 large ears of corn, husks and silks removed
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 lime, cut into wedges
- Kosher salt
- Cayenne pepper
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Grate 1 ear of corn on the large holes of a box grater over a 10-inch cast iron skillet. Grate until you reach the cob, catching all of the kernels and the corn juices in the skillet. Repeat with the remaining ears until you have an even 1.-inch-thick layer of grated corn. Bake until a yellow skin develops on the surface, about 15 minutes; the top should not brown. Remove from the oven and dot the surface with the butter. When the butter has melted, squeeze the juice from 1 lime wedge on top and season with salt and cayenne. Taste and adjust seasonings and serve warm with the remaining lime wedges.
Butternut Squash with Balsamic and Chile Panko Crumbs
- 1 large butternut squash (about 2 ½ pounds)
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup panko crumbs
- 1 ½ teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
- ½ teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
- ¼ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1.Bring a large stockpot of water to a boil. Add the whole squash and cook, partially covered, until tender, about 45 minutes. (A knife will pierce the flesh very easily.) Drain, cool slightly, then remove and discard the stem and peel. Reserve the seeds, removing and discarding the strings.
2.Transfer the flesh to a large serving dish and mash with a fork into an even layer. Drizzle the vinegar and 2 tablespoons of the oil over the squash, and season with salt and pepper.
3.Heat 3 tablespoons of the squash seeds in a large skillet over medium-low heat until dry. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil and a pinch of salt and toast, tossing occasionally. When the seeds begin to pop, partially cover the pan. Continue toasting until golden brown, about 3 minutes, then transfer to a plate.
4.In the same skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat, then toss in the crumbs. When well coated, stir in the thyme, chile, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Toast, tossing occasionally, until golden brown and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese and toasted seeds. Spread the crumb mixture over the squash in an even layer and serve immediately.
In short, The Neelys know how to entertain, and they know how to do it every month of the year—soul food style. From Easter to Mother's Day to Girls' Night, to Thanksgiving, of course, they've covered it (their personal tips on entertaining included). I was especially excited by their "Memphis Fried Turkey," which you must check out if you get your hands on a copy. Here are two traditional Thanksgiving musts that the Neelys add a special twist to.
Cranberry Chipotle Relish
Makes: 3 ½ cups
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 small shallot, finely chopped
- Kosher salt
- 1 cup golden raisins
- 12 ounces fresh cranberries, rinsed
- 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 chipotle pepper packed in adobo, minced
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until it foams. Toss in the shallot, and sauté until soft, about 2 minutes. Season the shallot with a touch of salt. Stir in the raisins, cranberries, orange juice, water, sugar, and chipotle pepper, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, stirring on occasion, for 15 minutes. Let cool to room temperature, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes until ready to serve.
Maple Glazed Carrots
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 1/2 pounds carrots, peeled, halved if thick, trimmed into 1-inch pieces
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1/4 cup real maple syrup
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
1.Heat the butter and olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Once the butter foams, sauté the carrots until they are crisp-tender, about 4 or 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the broth and maple syrup into the pan. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and simmer for 10 minutes.
2.Remove cover, and continue to cook for another 6 to 8 minutes over high heat, until the carrots are tender and glazed with the syrup. Toss with the lemon juice and parsley, and serve.
Melissa Clark recently contributed to our newsletter on Pizza by teaching us how to make it at home like a true pro. She is the most thorough cook we know—providing helpful tips and tricks along each step of the way. The cookbook is arranged by month with seasonal and foolproof recipes for each. Her intros are especially entertaining—personal accounts of how she shops at the farmer's market, feeds her family, how she arrives at her recipes, including changes and tweaks, etc. See below for just two examples of what we mean when we say "thorough."
Honey Wholewheat Corn Bread
Makes: 1 (9 inch) round loaf
- 1 cup yellow cornmeal
- 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/3 cup honey
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1.Preheat the oven to 375°F.
2.In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flours, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sour cream, milk, honey, eggs, and baking soda. Gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry ones until just combined.
3.Place a 9-inch cast-iron skillet (see What Else?) over high heat until hot. Melt the butter in the skillet, swirling the pan to coat the bottom and sides with butter. Pour the butter into the batter and stir to combine. Scrape the batter into the skillet.
4.Bake until the top is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.
- Cast iron is terrific for corn bread making because it gets nice and hot, which helps the corn bread form a crisp, golden bottom crust. But if you haven't got a cast-iron skillet (and, really, they are cheap enough so you should), you can melt the butter in the microwave and use a 9-inch-square pan for baking instead.
- I set out to make a corn bread that was wholesome but light, which is what I got. But if you want to adjust the proportion of whole wheat to all-purpose flour to make the corn bread heartier, you can swap out all of the all-purpose flour.
- Chili powder, chopped fresh thyme leaves, fresh corn kernels, sliced scallions, or a handful of grated cheese would all make nice additions to this corn bread. You can stir any extras right into the batter.
Spiced Maple Pecan Pie with Star Anise
Makes: 1 (9-inch) pie
For the piecrust
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 to 5 tablespoons ice water
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
For the piecrust
- 1 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 cup Demerara or raw sugar
- 8 whole star anise
- 2 cups pecan halves
- 3 large eggs
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons dark aged rum
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Whipped crème fraîche, for serving
1.To make the crust, in a food processor, briefly pulse together the flour and salt. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture forms lima bean–size pieces (three to five 1-second pulses). Add ice water 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse until the mixture is just moist enough to hold together. Form the dough into a ball, wrap with plastic, and flatten into a disc. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before rolling out and baking (or up to a week, or freeze for up to 4 months).
2.On a lightly floured surface, roll out the piecrust to a 12-inch circle. Transfer the crust to a 9-inch pie plate. Fold over any excess dough, then crimp as decoratively as you can manage.
3.Prick the crust all over with a fork. Freeze the crust for 15 minutes or refrigerate for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cover the pie with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights (you can use pennies, rice, or dried beans for this; I use pennies). Bake for 20 minutes; remove the foil and weights and bake until pale golden, about 5 minutes more. Cool on a rack until needed.
4.To make the filling, in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the maple syrup, sugar, and star anise to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the mixture is very thick, all the sugar has dissolved, and the syrup measures 1 cup, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit for 1 hour for the anise to infuse.
5.While the syrup is infusing, toast the nuts. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Spread the pecans out on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven until they start to smell nutty, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
6.Remove the star anise from the syrup. Warm the syrup if necessary to make it pourable but not hot (you can pop it in the microwave for a few seconds if you've moved it to a measuring cup). In a medium bowl, whisk together the syrup, eggs, melted butter, rum, and salt. Fold in the pecan halves. Pour the filling into the crust and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until the pie is firm to the touch but jiggles slightly when moved, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool to room temperature before serving with whipped crème fraîche.
- If you can get Grade B maple syrup, which has a fuller, richer flavor than the usual Grade A stuff, your pie will be even more maple-y. That's what I use.
- Toasted cashews would be a really nice, buttery, soft substitute for the pecans.
- If you want to skip the star anise, go right ahead. You'll be left with a stellar, simpler, and more traditional pie with an excellent, deep maple flavor.
- Sometimes I like to drizzle melted extra-bitter (72 percent) chocolate all over the top of the pie. It helps cut the sweetness and adds chocolate, which never hurts anything.
We've been fans of the Beekman boys, Brent and Josh, since the beginning when they moved from the city to the country and started a goat farm. They are supporters of local agriculture, heirloom vegetables, high quality products, and of their town, Sharon Springs. Here they share recipes collected from their time at the farm and from the ingredients available in any given season. Their salad below, of course, has goat cheese as a prominent ingredient. One of the highlights of this book, beyond the recipes, is the gorgeous food and still life photography by Paulette Tavormina.
Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese Salad
- 6 beets (3 red, 3 golden), tops removed and reserved for another use (see Cooking Greens, page 138)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/3 cup pecans
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 3 Kirby cucumbers, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 fennel bulb, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
- 1 bunch arugula
- 4 to 6 ounces soft goat cheese, crumbled
1.Preheat the oven to 425°F. Rinse the beets and wrap in foil (if they are of a similar size, you can wrap several together). Place on a baking sheet and bake for 1 to 11/4 hours, or until the beets yield to gentle pressure. When cool enough to handle, unwrap and slip the skins off (use a paper towel or kitchen gloves so you don't stain your hands). Cut the beets in half and thinly slice.
2.Meanwhile, in a small skillet, combine the sugar, coriander, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add the pecans and cook over low heat, tossing occasionally, until the sugar has melted and is lightly caramelized (the color of a brown paper bag), about 5 minutes. Immediately transfer the nuts to a plate to stop further cooking and darkening of the sugar.
3.In a large bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, oil, and mustard. Season with salt to taste. Add the beets, cucumbers, fennel, arugula, and pecans and toss to combine. Serve with the goat cheese scattered over the top.
Sweet Potato Pie
- Basic Pie Dough (can be store bought to save time)
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup milk
- ½ cup sour cream
- 3 large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups pureed cooked sweet potatoes (from about 1-4 pounds)
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1.On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to a 12-inch round. Roll the dough around the rolling pin, and then fit it into a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate without stretching it. Press the dough into the bottom and sides of the pan. With a pair of scissors or a paring knife, trim the edges of the dough to form a 1-inch overhang. Fold the overhang over to form a high edge, and with your fingers, crimp the dough all around. Refrigerate.
2.Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt until well combined. Whisk in the milk, sour cream, whole eggs, egg yolk, and vanilla. Whisk in the mashed sweet potatoes.
3.In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Cook until the butter foams; then continue cooking until the foam subsides and the butter turns a rich brown. Immediately pour the browned butter into the sweet potato mixture and whisk until incorporated.
4.Place the pie plate on a rimmed baking sheet and pour the mixture into it. Bake for 1 hour, or until the pie is set with a slightly wobbly center. Cool on a rack. Serve at room temperature or chilled.
5.Variation: Swap in 2 cups of pureed pumpkin, butternut, or kabocha squash for the sweet potato. Add the grated zest of 1 orange to the puree along with 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom.
Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs got together about two years ago and created the home-cooking phenomenon that is Food52. Each week they hosted (and continue to host) a competition for the best recipe in any given category—"Your Best Holiday Punch," "Your Best Preserves," Your Best Turkey Stuffing," etc. Every week, hundreds of home cooks have submitted their recipes for a community vote, and after a year, or 52 weeks, the best ones turned into this book. We love the following tenets in their book:
"If you cook, your family will eat dinner together."
"If you cook, you will naturally have a more sustainable household."
"If you cook, you'll set a lifelong example for your children."
Here's an excellent idea for turkey leftovers.
Makes: 2 big bowls of soup
- 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
- 4 whole cloves
- 4 whole star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 quart homemade turkey stock (or homemade or store-bought chicken stock)
- 1 bunch scallions (green top parts only), chopped
- One 3-inch chunk of ginger, sliced and smashed with side of a knife
- 1 teaspoon light brown sugar, or more to taste
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce, or more to taste
- 1 to 2 cups kale, chopped into bite-size pieces
- 1/2 pound leftover turkey breast, shredded
- 1 bunch (about 2 ounces) cellophane or bean thread noodles (or enough flat dried rice noodles to serve 2)
- 1 ½ tablespoons chopped cilantro, for garnish (optional)
- 1 ½ tablespoons chopped scallions (white parts only), for garnish (optional)
- Sriracha hot sauce
- 1/2 lime, cut into wedges
1.Heat a cast-iron skillet or frying pan over medium heat. Add the spices and toast until fragrant, 3 to 4 minutes. Immediately spoon the spices into a bowl to avoid burning them.
2.Add the toasted spices, stock, scallions, ginger, brown sugar, and fish sauce to a large pot and bring to a boil over high heat.
3.Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 20 minutes, skimming the surface frequently.
4.Taste the broth and add more sugar or fish sauce if needed. Strain the broth and discard the solids. Add the kale and cook for 1 to 2 more minutes. Remove from heat.
5.Add the turkey and noodles. Allow to sit for a few minutes while the noodles soften.
6.Ladle the broth into 2 bowls. Divide the kale, turkey and noodles evenly between the bowls.
7.Sprinkle on the garnishes and add Sriracha to taste. Squeeze lime juice to taste before eating.
Food52 has also just come out with an uber-useful app for Holiday cooking:
Exactly what the title says—it's a great resource for recipes and the cooking tips you need at this time of year. More than anything, and beyond the many, many masterful recipes, it's a major time-saver with menu planning ideas, optimal shopping lists and an "Entertaining Handbook".