Savory Ginger Pumpkin Mash, A Bit of Pilgrim Pride

Pumpkin, stewed (2) There are basically three approaches to devising a Thanksgiving menu.

In the first, the foods are typical of New England where the first thanksgiving was celebrated some 250 years before it became a national holiday with a capital “T” in the mid-19th century.

In the second, families follow local and regional traditions. Or, if they are first- and second- generation immigrant families without a familiarity of traditional American Thanksgiving foods, they add avocado salad, curry or lasagna to the menu.

In the third, which no one I know uses other than the historically re-created village denizens of Plimouth Plantation in Massachusetts, cooks attempt the authentic 1621 menu.

The hardest part of the last approach is that no actual menu exists. We are left with just some cursory description from two sources supplemented with comparative studies of what we know American Indians and Englishmen ate in the 17th century. READ MORE

This Year, Try a Corn Dish from the First Thanksgiving

Nasaump (2) Although there is no menu of the first harvest celebration that is usually called the first Thanksgiving, there are some sound ideas of what foods, if not precise preparations, were on the table.

Between 1620 and 1621 Edward Winslow, who arrived on the Mayflower and was a leader of the English settlement at Plimouth, wrote with William Bradford “Mourt’s Relation,” the full title of which was “A Relation or Journal of the Beginning and Proceedings of the English Plantation Settled at Plimouth in New England.” Winslow wrote that “our Indian corn, even the coarsest, maketh as pleasant a meal as rice.”

The Thanksgiving celebration included at least 90 of the local Wampanoag, who we also know brought a good deal of the food and taught the settlers about growing crops. It is a safe bet that one of the foods made from “Indian corn” might have been nasaump, a kind of grits that used the type of multicolored flint corn the Wampanoag grew. READ MORE

Middle Eastern Meze Bring Many Cultures to the Table

Qara bi'l-Tahina (Arab Levant) (2)

In the Middle East food is shared and one place it is shared is on the meze table. Meze are small samplings of prepared dishes that make a meal. They are not appetizers, nor tapas, nor hors d’oeuvres but are actually more philosophically related to … [Continue reading]

Three Dinners in One from a New England Classic

Boiled Dinner 1 (Zester) (1)

Careful thought can ease your workload considerably, if that’s how you think of cooking, by squeezing three dinners from one initial cooking. It’s a novel way of viewing leftovers in that you’re not using them so much as you are making leftovers to … [Continue reading]

Pumpkin and Pasta? Now That’s Italian!

Pumpkin Pappardelle with Pumpkin and Poppy Seed (4)

Pumpkin is an ideal bland food with a distinctive taste. That’s a good thing because it means you have to do something to the pumpkin to make it palatable and delicious. Typically, pumpkin pie is a solution, but nowadays it’s going into all kinds of … [Continue reading]

Sicily’s Eggplant Ceviche for Summer

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The end of summer offers the cook a wealth of sparkling fruits and vegetables for culinary transformation. One of my favorite dishes this time of year is a Sicilian preparation called mulinciana a schibecci, or eggplant ceviche. I don’t make this … [Continue reading]

Chile Blast Off Spaghetti

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Every once in a while I'm eating alone and I'm not testing recipes and I consider going out for a pizza or something similar.  Then I am suddenly overcome with the desire to eat something very specific--a craving-- that I simply must satisfy that … [Continue reading]

Want Authentic Clam Chowder? Can’t Go Wrong with Cape Cod.

Clam chowder

Of all the foods I get defensive about, clam chowder is high on the list. There are certain preparations that are so iconic, established and regionally rooted that I think it’s nonsense to say “oh, there are many interpretations.” In fact, I … [Continue reading]

It’s Real Fettuccine Alfredo. It Never Used Cream.

Fettuccine Alfredo (Lazio) (3)

The rise and fall of fettuccine Alfredo is a story of a simple dish taken from its home and embellished with flourishes before sliding into culinary familiarity, dullness and bastardization. Although it has its roots in Roman cuisine, it is … [Continue reading]

Pork Belly Roasted with Honey Balsamic Glaze Makes A Delicious Appetizer

Pork Belly, honey-balsamic roast (3)

Pork belly as it is sold by butchers and supermarkets includes the skin, fat layer, and some thin muscle streaks from the sides and belly of the hog. Belly is not stomach, but literally the belly. It’s most common use is as bacon. Bacon is the smoked … [Continue reading]

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