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Sidle Up to Some Sides at Turkey Time

November 15, 2007 By:
Ethel Hofman, JE Feature
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The broad-breasted turkey, roasted to golden perfection, is the symbol of our American Thanksgiving. It's a time for family and friends -- many traveling long distances -- to sit down together for the traditional holiday dinner. Besides the turkey, the table is laden with relishes, corn, sweet potatoes, vegetable dishes and the venerable pumpkin pie.

But in 1621 -- when the Pilgrims decided to show their appreciation and give thanks for the year's bountiful crop -- it's more likely that the menu featured items such as seafood, wild fowl and berries. In fact, "turkey" was the term used by Pilgrims for any kind of wild fowl.

According to Kathleen Curtin, food historian at Plimoth Plantation in Massachusetts, swans and eagles may also have appeared on their tables. Venison and seal were abundant staples. Not on the menu at all were sweet potatoes, and, although they had cranberries, they had no sugar.

There were, however, recipes for stewed pumpkin. Since no cows were aboard the Mayflower, goat milk was probably used to make cheese and various other dairy items.

The Pilgrim's original celebration took place some time between Sept. 21 and Nov. 11. About 100 or so friendly Indians who had helped the Pilgrims survive were included in the feasting. The festivities continued for three days, based on the English harvest festivals, but preparation took much longer than that.

Men hunted for food, while the women got things in order. Turkeys and wild fowl had to be plucked of their feathers, venison and seal skinned and cleaned before cooking, and wild berries were made into pies and crumbles using honey as a sweetener.

Nearly 400 years later, Thanksgiving is a far cry from the arduous tasks of preparation and cooking done by Pilgrim men and women. Kitchen appliances such as food processors, electric mixers and microwave ovens, coupled with convenience items like ready-to-cook vegetables and pastry, broths and frozen juices, save time and money. The plenitude of dairy-free products mean that dozens of side dishes may be made pareve, to go along with the turkey. These days, we are hardly deprived!

Here are a dozen easy sides to complement the big bird. Most can be made a day or two ahead of time. The margarine used is vegetable and pareve.

Zesty Cranberry Relish
(Pareve)

This no-cook, essential Thanksgiving relish is an annual favorite at our house and bears no resemblance to the bland canned variety.

1 package (12 oz.) cranberries, rinsed
1/2 seedless orange, cut in chunks
3/4 cup sugar or to taste
1 Tbsp. thawed frozen orange-juice concentrate
1 Tbsp. grated ginger root

Place the cranberries and orange in the food processor and chop coarsely.

Transfer to a bowl. Stir in the sugar, orange-juice concentrate and ginger root. Mix well.

Refrigerate until needed.

Makes about 3 cups.

Approximate nutrients per tablespoon: calories, 18; protein, 0 g; carbohydrates, 5 g; fat, 0 g; cholesterol, 0 mg; sodium, 0 mg.

Cooked Cranberry Relish
(Pareve)

1 package (12 oz.) cranberries, rinsed
1/2 cup orange juice
1 cup sugar
1 can (8 oz.) jellied cranberry sauce, cut in chunks

In a saucepan, place the cranberries, orange juice and sugar.

Bring to boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat to medium. Cook until the cranberries "pop," about 4 minutes. Remove from heat.

Add the canned cranberry sauce, mashing well with a fork to mix. Refrigerate until needed.

Makes about 31/2 cups.

Approximate nutrients per tablespoon: calories, 25; protein, 0 g; carbohydrates, 6 g; fat, 0 g; cholesterol, 0 mg; sodium, 1 mg.

Fried Rice Pilaf
(Pareve)

If doubling this recipe, use only 11/2 sticks margarine.

1 stick (4 oz.) margarine
11/2 cups long-grain brown rice
1 bag (12 oz.) frozen chopped onions
2 cups sliced mushrooms
11/4 cups vegetable stock
3/4 cup water
3 Tbsps. lite soy sauce
2 Tbsp. steak sauce
1 can (8 oz.) sliced water chestnuts, drained
salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 350°.

Melt margarine in a saucepan over medium heat. Raise the heat to high.

Add the rice; sauté 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium.

Add the onions and mushrooms. Sauté 5 minutes, or until mushrooms begin to soften.

Stir in the vegetable stock, water, soy sauce, steak sauce and water chestnuts. Transfer to a 21/2 quart casserole.

Cover and bake for 1 hour, stirring once or twice, or until the rice is tender and liquids are almost absorbed. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serves 8 to 10.

Approximate nutrients per serving: calories, 249; protein, 4 g; carbohydrates, 30 g; fat, 13 g; cholesterol, 0 mg; sodium, 439 mg.

Sweet Squash Casserole
(Pareve)

This may be prepared the night before and poured into the casserole. Just give a good stir before baking.

1 package (10 oz.) thawed frozen mashed butternut squash
1 stick (4 oz.) margarine, melted
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs, beaten
2 cups nondairy creamer
1 Tbsp. grated orange rind
1/2 tsp. orange extract
1 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°.

Spray a 11/2 quart casserole with nonstick vegetable cooking spray.

In a large bowl, mix squash, margarine, flour, sugar eggs, nondairy creamer, orange rind, orange extract and cinnamon.

Pour into the prepared casserole. Bake until set in center, for about 1 hour.

Serves 6 to 8.

Approximate nutrients per serving: calories, 351; protein, 4 g; carbohydrates, 37 g; fat, 19 g; cholesterol, 80 mg; sodium, 158 mg.

Glazed Lady Apples
(Pareve)

An appetizing way to use the little lady apples, which appear in farmer's markets in the fall.

4 Tbsps. olive oil
16 lady apples, unpeeled, cored and halved
2 Tbsps. brown sugar, packed
16 frozen pearl onions, thawed
2 Tbsps. brandy
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 Tbsps. dried currants

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the apples and sprinkle with the sugar.

Sauté over medium-high heat until apples are beginning to caramelize.

Pat the onions dry with a paper towel.

Add to the skillet and continue cooking over high heat to brown onions.

Stir in the brandy, and salt and pepper to taste.

Reduce heat, cover and cook until apples are tender, about 10 minutes.

Transfer to a serving dish.

Sprinkle the dried currants over top.

Serve hot.

Serves 6.

Approximate nutrients per serving: calories, 110; protein, 0 g; carbohydrates, 21 g; fat, 2 g; cholesterol, 0 mg; sodium, 2 mg.

Stuffed-Tomato Cornbread
(Dairy or Pareve)

4 Roma tomatoes, halved lengthwise
3/4 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
3 Tbsp. chopped black olives
1/4 cup chopped cooked broccoli
1/4 tsp. minced garlic
freshly ground pepper and salt to taste
3 Tbsps. vegetable oil, divided
1 package (8.5 ounce) corn-muffin mix
1 egg
3/4 cup milk or nondairy creamer

Preheat oven to 425°.

Spray a 9-inch pie dish with nonstick baking spray.

Scoop the seeds and pulp from the tomatoes. Reserve for other uses such as soups.

In a small bowl, combine the corn, olives, broccoli and garlic. Season with pepper and salt.

Fill the tomato cavities with this mixture. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil. Set aside

In a separate bowl, combine the corn-muffin mix with remaining 2 tablespoons oil, egg, and milk or nondairy creamer. Mixture will be slightly lumpy.

Pour into the prepared pie dish. Arrange the filled tomato halves attractively into the corn-muffin mix.

Bake until corn bread is golden-brown, about 25 minutes.

Serves 8.

Approximate nutrients per serving: calories, 213; protein, 4 g; carbohydrates, 26 g; fat, 10 g; cholesterol, 30 mg; sodium, 359 mg.

Cumin-Scented Carrots
(Pareve)

A simple carrot dish packed with flavor.

1 bag (16 oz.) baby carrots
4 Tbsps. margarine
1 Tbsp. cumin
2 tsps. curry powder
1/4 tsp. salt
3 Tbsps. fresh lemon juice
3 Tbsps. honey
1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds

Place carrots in a microwave safe dish. Pour about 1/4 cup water over. Cover with wax paper.

Microwave on high for 4 minutes, or until barely tender.

Drain and set aside.

In a separate microwave bowl, combine the margarine, cumin, curry powder, salt, lemon juice and honey.

Microwave on high for 1 minute or until margarine is melted. Stir to mix well.

Pour over the carrots and toss.

Return to microwave to heat through, 2 to 3 minutes at high.

Scatter the almonds over top and serve hot.

Serves 6 to 8.

Approximate nutrients per serving: calories, 117; protein, 3 g; carbohydrates, 15; fat, 6 g; cholesterol, 0 mg; sodium, 117 mg.

Brussels Sprouts With Maple Dressing
(Pareve)

In a hurry? Substitute frozen Brussels for fresh. Then toss hot cooked sprouts in the dressing.

4 cups small Brussels sprouts
3 Tbsps. seasoned rice vinegar
3 Tbsps. maple syrup
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1/3 cup olive oil
2 Tbsps. coarsely chopped walnuts
2 Tbsps. snipped fresh parsley or 2 tsps. dried

Trim any discolored leaves from Brussels sprouts. Make an X in the bottom of each. Place in a saucepan with about 3/4 cup boiling water. Cover and bring to boil over high heat.

Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes longer, or until tender but firm. Drain well (you can save the liquids for soups).

While sprouts are cooking, prepare the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk the vinegar, maple syrup and mustard together.

Slowly, whisk in the oil.

Stir in the walnuts.

Pour over the cooked Brussels sprouts and toss.

Garnish with parsley and serve hot.

Serves 6 to 8.

Approximate nutrients per serving: calories, 182; protein, 3 g; carbohydrates, 14 g; fat, 14 g; cholesterol, 0 mg; sodium, 227 mg.

Autumn Pasta
(Pareve)

The fruit makes for an unusual, but delicious pasta dish.

1/2 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, cut in thin slivers
2 tsps. bottled minced garlic
1/3 cup apple juice
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup dried apricots, cut in quarters
10 dried apple rings cut in slivers
8 dried figs, stems removed and cut in quarters
2 Tbsps. grated ginger root
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
3/4 lb. linguine, cooked and drained according to package directions

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

Add the slivers of garlic and sauté for 2 minutes.

Stir in the minced garlic and cook until all the garlic is beginning to brown.

Add the apple juice and wine.

Reduce and simmer partially covered for 5 minutes.

Stir in the apricots, apples, figs and ginger root.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Simmer 8 to 10 minutes longer. Pour over linguine and toss.

Serves 6 to 8.

Approximate nutrients per serving: calories, 341; protein, 5 g; carbohydrates, 49 g; fat, 15 g; cholesterol, 0 mg; sodium, 86 mg.

Cranberry Bog Pudding
(Pareve)

1 stick margarine, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 can (20 oz.) crushed pineapple, undrained
4 cups soft cubed pareve bread

Preheat oven to 350°.

Spray a 11/2 quart casserole with nonstick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, cream the margarine and sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla extract.

Add the cranberries and pineapple. Fold in the bread cubes.

Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes or until golden-brown on top.

Serves 6 to 8.

Approximate nutrients per serving: calories, 330; protein, 4 g; carbohydrates, 50 g; fat, 14 g; cholesterol, 80 mg; sodium, 201 mg.

Fast Fruit Clusters
(Pareve)

You may use dairy chocolate chips for a dairy meal. Tahini is available in supermarkets. Stir well before using as it separates.

3/4 cup pareve chocolate chips or chopped pareve chocolate
2 Tbsps. tahini
1/3 cup cracker crumbs
2/3 cup mixed raisins and cranberries or chopped mixed dried fruit
1/3 cup sunflower-seed kernels or chopped nuts

In a microwave bowl, place the chocolate chips and tahini.

Microwave on high for 30 seconds. Stir and heat for 30 seconds more, or until chocolate is soft. Stir to blend.

Add the cracker crumbs, raisins or cranberries, and sunflower-seed kernels or nuts. Mix well.

Spoon into candy paper cups.

Refrigerate to harden, about 40 minutes. Serve cold.

Makes 22 to 24 clusters.

Approximate nutrients per cluster: calories, 59; protein, 1 g; carbohydrates, 7 g; fat, 3 g; cholesterol, 0 mg; sodium, 10 mg.

Fried Bananas
(Pareve)

You may top this delicious, fairly healthy desert with a scoop of nondairy whipped topping or, for a dairy meal, a scoop of vanilla ice-cream or frozen yogurt.

4 bananas, peeled and cut in half lengthwise
2 Tbsps. lemon juice
2 Tbsps. margarine
2 Tbsps. olive oil
2 Tbsps. grated orange rind
cinnamon sugar to sprinkle

Brush the bananas with the lemon juice.

Heat the margarine and oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat. Raise heat to high.

Place the bananas in skillet cut-side down.

Fry 2 minutes or until nicely browned.

Turn and fry until browned on other side.

Place on a serving platter.

Sprinkle with the grated orange rind and cinnamon-sugar.

Serve hot.

Makes 8 pieces.

Approximate nutrients per piece: calories, 121; protein, 1 g; carbohydrates, 17 g; fat, 6 g; cholesterol, 0 mg; sodium, 34 mg.

Food Editor Ethel G. Hofman, author of the recent Mackerel at Midnight, is also a past president of the International Association of Culinary Professionals.

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