Thanksgiving, Help!

Did you know Thanksgiving is barely a week away? If the thought of preparing a Thanksgiving meal sends you to heading for the Turkey Talk-Line here are a couple of books to consider.

How to Cook a Turkey and All the Other Trimmings from the editors and contributors of Fine Cooking magazine has plenty of recipes from appetizers through dessert. It begins with a "How to Survive Thanksgiving" chapter and ends with suggestions andrecipes for using your leftovers.

The strength of this book is in the number of variations on a theme, and the how-to charts and illustrations. You can roast, brine, grill, butterfly or stuff your turkey and find recipes for each. Some of the recipes feel a little dated to me, like Goat Cheese, Pesto & Sun-Dried Tomato Terrine or Crudite with Creamy Roquefort Dip but other recipes like Stuffed Mushrooms with Pancetta, Shallots and Sage are a nice twist on the classics. The vegetable dishes such as Baby Spinach with Scallions & Lemons are bright and lively and there are separate chapters for pies and desserts with lots of options for both.

Thanksgiving 101 is a paperback reprint from author Rick Rodgers. Rodgers also includes a survival guide in this case called "Getting it all together". This book includes almost every variation on cooking a turkey as well, including deep frying and French boned. While there are no pictures, this book focuses on recipes used time and again in cooking classes that have been tested with countless students. I was particularly impressed with the variations on pumpkin desserts--Pumpkin-Walnut Roulade with Spiked Cream, Pumpkin Marbled Cheesecake, Pumpkin Creme Brulee, and Pumpkin Hazelnut Pie. There are also a whole array of leftover-centric recipes and timetables to help you get organized.

...and if worst comes to worst, you can always call that hotline.


Pumpkin-Walnut Roulade with Spiked Cream
Makes 8 to 10 servings

Make-Ahead: Bake and fill the roulade can be made up to 2 days ahead.

Roulade Cake
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup canned solid pack pumpkin
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup (3 ounces) finely chopped walnuts
Confectioners' sugar, for sifting

Two 3-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons minced crystallized ginger

Spiked Cream
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons dark rum or brandy, optional
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts, for garnish
2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger, for garnish

1. To make the cake, position a rack in the top third of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F. Lightly butter a 10 X 15-inch jelly roll pan. To line the bottom and sides of the pan, cut a 12 X 16-inch piece of parchment or waxed paper. At each of the four corners, cut a diagonal slash about 2 inches long. Fit the paper into the pan, folding the cut ends over each other at the slashed to form neat corners. Lightly butter and flour the paper, tapping out the excess flour.

2. In a large bowl, using a hand-held electric mixer set at high speed, beat the sugar and eggs until light in color and texture, about 3 minutes. (The mixture should form a thick ribbon that falls back on itself when the beaters are lifted about 2 inches from the bowl. It must be stiff enough to support the weight of the dry ingredients.) Stir in the pumpkin and lemon juice.

3. Sift the flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cloves onto a piece of waxed paper. With the mixer on low, gradually beat in the flour mixture, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan, being sure to reach into the corners. Sprinkle the batter with the walnuts.

4. Bake until the center of the cake springs back when lightly pressed with a finger, about 15 minutes. Sift confectioners' over the top of the cake. Place a clean kitchen towel over the cake, then top with a baking sheet. Holding the baking sheet over the cake, turn the cake upside down and invert it onto the towel on the baking sheet. Carefully peel off the paper. Place the paper back on the cake. Using the towel as an aide, roll up the cake and cool completely.

5. To make the filling, in a medium bowl, using a hand-held electric mixer at medium speed, beat the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until combined. Gradually beat in the confectioners' sugar until smooth.

6. Unroll the cake and discard the paper. Spread the filling evenly over the cake and sprinkle with the crystallized ginger. Re-roll the cake (you won't need to use the kitchen towel) and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until the filing is firm, at least 1 hour. (The cake can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.)

7. To make the spiked cream, in a chilled medium bowl, using a hand-held electric mixer set at high speed, beat the cream, confectioners' sugar, optional rum, and vanilla until stiff. Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch-wide open star tip.

8. Transfer the roll to a long serving platter. Garnish the cake with swirls of the whipped cream, and sprinkle with the walnuts and crystallized ginger. To serve, cut the cake diagonally into thick slices.

from Thanksgiving 101 © Copyright 1998, 2007 Rick Rodgers. All rights reserved.

Experienced a Thanksgiving disaster? Head over to Cooking with Amy to win one of three copies of Thanksgiving 101.