In case you haven’t noticed, the newsstands are full of magazines featuring recipes to celebrate all the upcoming occasions. I like to ease into the fall, however, taking advantage of tricks and tips to make the first of the feasts — Thanksgiving — the most manageable of the holidays.
Today, let’s talk about three dishes you can make up to two days in advance, so that we can pace ourselves and look forward to, instead of dread, all the seasonal cooking to come.
Slow cooker carrots and turnips
If you are that person who panics when the potatoes, carrots, turnip and cabbage are not all cooked at
the same time, then try this stress-reliever.
This dish looks fancy, holds on the “keep warm” setting for an hour or more, and reheats perfectly. This amount feeds a crowd.
2 to 3 lbs. carrots, peeled and quartered
1 medium turnip, peeled and cut into largish bite-sized cubes
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 thumb-sized piece fresh gingerroot, peeled
1/2 tsp. each salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp. soft unsalted butter
2 tsp. lemon juice
Place carrots, turnip, sugar, mustard, ginger, salt, pepper and water in a slow cooker. Cook on medium for about 2 to 3 hours. Discard ginger and all but a spoonful of the cooking liquid and toss with butter and juice.
Sauteed cauliflower with almonds and parsley
This is my absolute favourite way to serve cauliflower, with or without the almonds and parsley. Make ahead and refrigerate in a casserole dish. Put it in the oven when you take out the roast or turkey — it should be ready to eat by the time the meat rests. When you first put it in the pan, it looks like a lot of cauliflower, but it shrinks and you will find people eat more than you expect them to. If you use salted butter, leave out the rest of the salt and season to taste at the end.
2 heads of cauliflower, leaves and big stem removed and cut into slightly-larger-than-bite-sized pieces
1/3 cup water
1/2 tsp. each salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp. each olive oil and unsalted butter
1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
Place cauliflower and water in a large frying pan or a Dutch oven. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 3 or 4 minutes — not until tender but slightly wilted. Remove cover and boil away any water that is left. Add salt, pepper, oil and butter and bring up the heat to get a good sizzle. Fry, turning occasionally, until cauliflower is golden brown on all sides — be careful not to let it scorch. Remove from pan and sprinkle almonds and parsley on top just before serving.
Ginger pumpkin cheesecake
If you’re not a pumpkin pie fan, don’t be put off. The pumpkin in this recipe is perfectly balanced by the flavourful crust and tangy cheese. For best results, this cake should be refrigerated at least overnight, so it’s a perfect stress reducer. It is also large and in the New York style, dense and rich, so it will serve a huge crowd, because no one will be able to eat more than a sliver, especially following a big dinner. I could only find 796 ml cans of pumpkin in the local stores, which translates to 28 oz., so you would use half and freeze the rest for another cheesecake. Be careful when measuring dense things like pumpkin — 8 oz. is less than 1 cup.
2 cups gingersnap crumbs (about 10 oz. cookies)
1 cup pecan pieces
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 tsp. powdered ginger
1/3 cup melted unsalted butter (no other)
4 8-oz. packages softened cream cheese
2 cups sugar
1 14-oz. can pumpkin puree (be careful not to buy pie filling)
5 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tbsp. vanilla
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. flour
1 tsp. each ground cinnamon and ginger
1/4 tsp. each ground nutmeg, allspice, cardamom, and salt
1 cup sour cream
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
Process gingersnaps in a food processor until finely ground. Measure after grinding to get the correct 2-cup measure. Add pecans, brown sugar and ginger, and process until well-ground and thoroughly mixed. This can be accomplished with a sharp knife, but it is a lot more work. Stir in butter to coat crumbs evenly. Press onto the bottom and about
2 inches up the sides of a greased
9-inch springform pan. Press a large sheet of aluminum foil around the outside of the pan and bake at 350 F for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. For the filling, beat cream cheese and sugar until creamy. In a separate bowl, whisk together pumpkin puree, eggs, vanilla and lemon juice. Stir into cream cheese-sugar mixture. Whisk together flour, spices and salt. Stir into batter, mixing until just combined. Pour into baked crust — it will be full. If the foil has torn anywhere then add another layer. Place in a large roaster and carefully pour boiling water to fill the roaster about halfway up the sides of the pan — it should not go above the foil. Bake at 350 F for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Whisk together sour cream, sugar and vanilla and spread gently over top of cake. Bake another 10 minutes.
Remove from oven and lift the cake out of the water bath. Carefully, run a sharp, narrow-bladed knife around the edge to loosen and prevent cracking. Allow to cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream or caramel ice cream topping and maybe some crisp apple slices on the side.
Cynthia Stone is a writer, editor and teacher
in St. John’s. Questions may be sent to her
c/o The Telegram, P.O. Box 86, St. John’s, NL, A1E 4N1.