Taking Sides on Thanksgiving


Each year, I am tempted to tweak the menu a bit. But why tamper with success?

“Don’t try anything new,” my daughter says as she sees me perusing November issues of cooking magazines. “Your Thanksgiving food is the best.” She claims holiday re­cipes in magazines are too fancy, too full of exotic ingredients.

She much prefers the recipes culled from my youth, a time when ingredients were easy to understand and obtain. At age 38, she waxes poetic about my cranberry relish and the melted marshmallows on my whipped sweet potatoes.
“My memories of Thanksgiving are wrapped up in the foods you make year after year,” she says. “They’re the epitome of pure comfort.”
Each year, I am tempted to tweak the menu a bit. But why tamper with success?
Whipped Sweet ­Potatoes and Melted Marshmallows
(Pareve or Dairy)
4 large sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and cut into 8 large chunks
1⁄2 tsp. granulated salt
nonstick vegetable spray for greasing
3 Tbsps. unsalted margarine or unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
4 tsps. maple syrup, preferably Grade A Amber
1⁄4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 bag of marshmallows
Place sweet potatoes in a large pot and immerse them in cold water. Add the salt. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Boil potatoes until they are soft when pierced with a fork, about 30 minutes. Drain in a colander.
Meanwhile coat a 1 and 1⁄2- to 2- quart souffle dish or deep casserole with nonstick spray.
Fit a food processor with a metal blade. Into the food pro­cessor’s bowl, place half of the margarine or butter, and half of the sweet potatoes, maple syrup and cinnamon.
Whip until the potatoes are pureed. Transfer them into the coated souffle dish.
Repeat with remaining half of the sweet potatoes, butter, syrup and cinnamon. There should be at least 11⁄2 inches from the surface of the sweet potato mixture to the top of the souffle dish to accommodate the marshmallows, which swell when heated. The recipe can be made to this point three days in advance, if covered and refrigerated.
When ready to continue, bring sweet potato mixture to room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 350˚. Place souffle dish in the oven and bake until the sweet potatoes are hot.
Using oven mitts, remove souffle dish from oven. Cover the surface of the sweet potatoes with marshmallows, being careful not to touch the hot souffle dish.
Crowd marshmallows end to end so there’s no way to squeeze in another one. Return casserole to oven and bake until marsh­mallows swell and turn golden brown, about 5 to 10 minutes. Serve immediately.
Serves 6 to 8.
Cranberry Relish
1 large apple
1 bag (12 oz.) of fresh cranberries
1⁄2 cup raisins
2 cups sugar
1 can (8 oz.) of crushed pineapple, undrained
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
Peel and core the apple. Dice coarsely. Reserve.
Rinse the cranberries in a colander under cold water. Move them to a medium-large pot. Pour in enough water so cranberries are barely covered. Simmer on a medium-high flame, until cranberries begin to split, about 5 minutes.
Add the apple, raisins, sugar and pineapple (including juice in can) to the pot. Cover and bring to a fast simmer on a medium-high flame. Stir every couple of minutes.
Turn down the flame if relish is boiling quickly to avoid a spillover and/or scorch­ing. Simmer until mixture turns thick and syrupy, about 12 to 15 minutes.
Remove pot from the flame. Stir in pecans. Cool to room temperature. Recipe can be made up to three days in advance if refrigerated and covered.
Store relish in glass jars or other sealed, non-reactive containers. Serve at room temperature.
Makes 1 quart.


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