Free Range on Food: Last-minute Thanksgiving advice and more

Nov 23, 2016

Every Wednesday at noon, Food section staff members and guests answer your burning culinary questions.
Past Free Range on Food chats

Happy Thanksgiving Eve! 

Thanks for joining us today. We're here for two hours today to handle all your pre-TD questions, and have some top experts to help us, some of whom will join earlier and some later, while us regulars will be here for the duration! That includes Dorie "Cookie Maven" Greenspan, Michael "Kosher Soul" Twitty, Julia "Small Victories" Turshen, Emily "Bean Gravy" Horton, Cathy "Bring It!" Wheelbarrow, Carry "Spirits" Allan and Jim "Smoke Signals" Shahin. Make the questions count, and you might win a cookbook!

Before we start, let me remind everyone about our Thanksgiving Central page: This is your one-stop shop for recipe ideas, with videos, FAQs and lots of other menus to inspire you.

THANKSGIVING CENTRAL: Your essential menu planner

And for your PostPoints members, here's today's code for credit: FR8945 . Remember, you'll record and enter it into the PostPoints site under Claim My Points to earn points. The code expires at midnight, so be sure to enter the code by 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday to get credit for participating.

Let's do this!

No one I need my immediate family likes turkey and since we don't have company joining us this year, I'm not going to make one. I'm going to make all the usual sides and roast chicken. Do you have any ideas for making the chicken seem particularly Thanksgiving-ish? Thanks and happy Thanksgiving!

And to you! Sage, rosemary and thyme will Thanksgiving-ize your bird. You could mince them and work into a compound butter that you'd rub under the skin. Also, pour some unsweetened apple cider in the bottom of  the pan (with your chicken on an elevated rack) with celery, onion, more sage.

Making your mushroom puff pastry thing as a vegetarian main dish...what would you substitute for chestnuts?

Glad you're going to make this. It's a beauty! I would just use that much more pecans instead of the chestnuts, if you can't find or don't want/like them. It'll be fantastic.

RECIPE: Roasted Portobello, Mushroom and Pecan Wellington

I've had my eye on the recipe for more than a year, but I'm allergic to pecans (also walnuts and most other tree nuts). Can you suggest a good substitute? I'm wondering about pepitas but open to other ideas. Thanks!

Pepitas (pumpkin seeds) are a favorite, and yes, those would be great here. You could also just increase the amount of the chestnuts to compensate! (This is the opposite direction of the advice I gave just a little earlier -- the pecans and the chestnuts can sub for the other...)

I made the crust for this last night and I'm really unsure about proceeding. I used nyakors ginger cookies for the crust. I got it too thin on the sides and it also developed some lateral cracks as it cooled. Not huge but enough that I can see some daylight. I'm thinking I should start over. I might use Dorie Greenspan's pie dough recipe since I'm pretty comfortable with it. Would I have to par bake her crust for this recipe?

Use what you're comfortable with, for sure (I love that pie crust recipe, too.) I would definitely blind bake the crust first, for about 10 to 15 minutes, and then uncover the crust and bake for another 5 or so to get some color on it, then proceed with the recipe. 

Sorry to hear the crust didn't cooperate, though! Did you weigh the ginger cookies or measure to have 2 cups of crumbs? Is your pie plate perhaps larger than a 9-inch deep dish? If you're willing to give that crust a shot again, you could try increasing the crust ingredients by half to make sure it's not too thin. 

I just made this pie (and two others!) last night, actually -- counting down the hours until tomorrow.

Fluffy Pumpkin Buttermilk PieFluffy Pumpkin Buttermilk Pie

RECIPE: Fluffy Pumpkin Buttermilk Pie

Dorie's pie crust: 

Dorie Greenspan’s Blueberry Pie

RECIPE: Dorie Greenspan’s Blueberry Pie

I just retired my 30+year old Cuisinart. Still works, but replacement parts (except for the blade) don't fit it. My questions is: is a dough blade really necessary? I've never had one, but have had success using the regular chopping blade for pie crusts, cookie doughs, etc. So what makes the dough blade better? Thanks.

It's really not. I think I've only ever used it to make a Cook's Illustrated pizza dough, but even now the magazine says it prefers the regular blade for everything.

So I've volunteered to make the turkey for Thanksgiving. I'm looking for tips on transporting the cooked turkey from my house to the hostess' house. Do I let the bird rest a bit? Carve the turkey first? Am I over thinking this issue, and it's just as simple as throwing the bird on a platter, making sure it's totally covered, and away we go?

Key info before we proceed further: How long will it take you to travel?

Um, how do you defrost a large turkey (20 pound) the day before Thanksgiving that you forgot to take out of the freezer until this morning? Asking for a friend (of course).

Experts say: Keep it wrapped, submerge in very cold water that you change every 30 minutes. Your 20-pounder would take about 10 hours to defrost this way -- plenty of time, if you can manage the maintenance. (You can roast a frozen bird; walks you through it here. Perhaps we'll all do it that way someday.)

I have 3 full bags of cranberries I'm not going to need. What are some good, festive cranberry drinks? I'm talking cocktails or after dinner drinks.

You could do a spiced Cosmo variation (try adding a dash of pimiento bitters or allspice dram), or cook the cranberries down with some orange and sugar for a syrup to mix with gin and lemon. Or try Gina's incredible punch, if you're hosting company -- it's fantastic. 

RECIPE: On the First Day of Christmas This Punch Came to Me

Can you please recommend a spice shop either brick-and-mortar in the DC area or online please (not Penzey's). Thank you and happy Thanksgiving!

Bazaar Spices (in Shaw and Union Market) has a fantastic selection. The Spice & Tea Exchange (locations in Georgetown and Alexandria) has a lot, too. Not sure what you need, but Indian markets are great for spices, if there's one near you.

A follow-up to the 11/18 chat: Nuts to the "Nuts are always the answer to the protein question." Not for those of us who are allergic to them! I can't eat either tree nuts or true nuts (though being around them is fine--my husband atill gets to eat his peanut butter. We eat vegetarian part of the time, and I'd welcome suggestions for alternatives to nuts. Beans, chickpeas, quinoa, and tofu are fine, but they can get old after a while. What would you suggest? Too many vegetarian cookbooks feature nuts as key ingredients! I've learned a great deal from your chats. Keep up the good work, and I hope everyone will enjoy splendid Thanksgiving meals.

Of course! There are many, many other sources of protein. Yes to the beans, chickpeas, quinoa and tofu you mention. But don't forget tempeh, one of my favorites: Here's a piece I wrote in 2015 extolling their virtues, with links to some great (IMHO) recipes.

RECIPE: Dijon Mustard-Marinated Tempeh

Here's another one you might not have thought about: wild rice. Higher protein than quinoa, even! I just love it. In this recipe, obviously, just leave out the walnuts. A good sub would be pumpkin seeds -- which are also a good source of protein. I'm assuming you can eat those, and sunflower seeds?

RECIPE: Wild Rice, Pear and Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

The other thing I'd suggest is that when it comes to legumes, you explore some other ways of using them. I wrote about this several months back in my piece about pulses. There's also this question to ask yourself: Are you lentil-ing enough?

RECIPE: Tropical Green Protein Smoothies

Also, don't forget other whole grains! They might not pack the same protein as quinoa or wild rice, but mix them in here and there, and the protein will add up.

What a lifesaver! I don't need it today but am bookmarking for the future. Thanks for being with us today!

You're welcome!

I remember someone asked last week about where to find Davidson's Pasteurized Eggs since Harris Teeter wasn't carrying them anymore. In my weekly email from HT, I got a notice about them since I have purchased them before. It said "the producer of this item is temporarily suspending production of its pasteurized eggs nationwide." So sounds like a bigger issue. Thought you'd want to share. Thanks!

Interesting. We'll try to follow up.

Our thanks to you for suggesting The Fresh Market, and to Keith there for helping us find a carton of pasteurized eggs today. As usual, you, the chat, and the print Food Section are all very helpful and not to be missed!

I love a happy ending :)

Could anyone tell me where I can buy fresh whole octopus for cooking, please? Thank you!

Are you in the DC area? I'm seeing small whole octopus at more and more markets these days, including Whole Foods. It's defrosted there -- not sure it's never been frozen but I'm not sure that matters with octopus. There's whole frozen octopus at the Giant in Shaw; at Captain White's at the Maine Ave seafood market in SW; at Asian markets in the 'burbs like H Mart. 


Pescadeli in Bethesda says they can get fresh octopus for you but you'll have to special-order (and they would like that to happen after this week, since it's so busy now).

The last few years, I've gone all-out and made everything (quite literally everything except the wine!) from scratch. I love doing it, but this year, it's my husband's birthday and we're in the middle of a move, so...someone else is taking over hosting duties! Although I miss being in the middle of prepping, I am enjoying the free time. Anyway, no question from me this week, just a big "Thank you!!!" for all that you do. Wednesday is my favorite day of the workweek thanks to you all.

You're the best. Thank YOU for being a loyal reader!

ditto thanks for info.

When I was buying my turkey, I checked the sell by dates. At first, I thought the sell by date had passed already, then I noticed the date was November 2017, not 2016. I know that even frozen, there is a limit to how long you can keep meat in the freezer. Could I really buy a turkey now and keep it frozen until next Thanksgiving without a problem?

Whole turkeys freeze well for  up to 1 year. When I test recipes in the summer and early fall, I'm often using birds that have been defrosted from the previous year.


And whole turkeys tend to go on sale after this holiday/Christmas, so if you have the freezer space, you could save some $$.

I'm in charge of biscuits for thanksgiving. Can I make them today? Should I just assemble the batter/mixture and bake them fresh tomorrow or can I bake them today and just warm them up before dinner tomorrow? (Thank you so much for helping me to save some time and oven space)

I wouldn't make them today - biscuits taste/smell/feel best when they're fresh out of the oven. You could, theoretically, make the batter today, freeze it, and defrost and bake tomorrow. (The biscuits I made for the Food Section's potluck had a baking time of 12-15 minutes; making the dough took less time than that.) 

Rosemary Biscuits

RECIPE: Rosemary Biscuits

I've been trying to figure out a pumpkin pie recipe that doesn't contain eggs for my mini pie maker. Not exactly a huge culinary dilema , but fillings for mini pies must be cooked ahead of time as the pies are only in the pie maker for a short time. Any input is appreciated. Thanks!

You'd have to scale down or make two, but how about the filling from this one?

Vegan Pumpkin Pie With Coconut Cream

RECIPE: Vegan Pumpkin Pie With Coconut Cream

My T-Day host has requested Brussel sprouts. I typically roast them, but not sure if that will work. They will need to be cooked in my kitchen, transported to the dinner location, sit around for awhile, and then reheated in a microwave. Any recipe suggestions would be most appreciated.

Couple for you, because I couldn't decide:

Best Brussels Sprouts Ever

RECIPE: Best Brussels Sprouts Ever. Contains not one ounce of hyperbole.

Brussels Sprouts California Style

RECIPE: Brussels Sprouts California Style. Fresh-tasting and beautiful, with pistachios and pomegranate seeds.

Brussels Sprout Salad

RECIPE: Brussels Sprouts Salad. Another stunner. They are only briefly blanched here, then tossed with jamon (optional) apple, grapes and a sherry vinaigrette.

I'm looking forward to trying the Vegan Beans and Gravy! I have some dried beans that I grew over the summer. Because they are relatively fresh, they tend to cook in 15-20 minutes. Is that long enough to flavor a bean broth, or should I go with dried beans from the store with a longer cooking time? Thanks!

Good question, and a nice situation to be in! I have not had the fortune of using homegrown beans for this dish, but I have used bean broth from fresh-shelled beans in other dishes, and while the resulting broth is a bit lighter, the flavor is still nice and clear. Particularly because you have the flavor of the roux and the mushrooms also contributing, I would go for using your own beans. Plus you'll have the added benefit of having your own beans in the gravy, which I suspect will be tastier than beans from the store.

RECIPE: Vegan Beans and Gravy

We have gotten fresh turkeys for years but our budget has been tight and the prices on the frozen "pre-brined" turkeys were amazing. So, none of my recipes will work and after searching on line, it's hard to find anything that doesn't involve wet or dry brining. I think you folks could do better than the Butterball hotline, lol, so any suggestions?

I think this recipe would do wonders for any turkey. It's how I cooked my whole bird last year.

Pam Ginsberg’s No-Fuss Roast Turkey

RECIPE: Pam Ginsberg's No-Fuss Roast Turkey

What is the best way to freeze fresh cranberries?

They need no special handling. In a food-safe plastic bag or container -- I've been known to freeze them in their unopened bags.

Hi, for this Extremely Slow-Roasted Turkey Breast recipe, would I halve the cooking time for a 4-lb breast?

Yep. It's basically roasting this way at the rate of 1 hour per pound. BTW, a reader contacted me earlier in the week about the prospect of doing a whole bird this way. I called the recipe's author, Andy Schloss, and found out that's the way he does a 24-pound bird every year! (And that rate of 1 hour per pound still you can bet that having more than one oven at your disposal is recommended.)

My "normal" timeline is to make mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving Day just before we sit down to dinner (yes I'm a masochist). How much in advance of cooking the potatoes can I peel them and leave them in cool water, without them getting waterlogged and affecting texture? Should I leave them as whole potatoes or cubes? THANKS and Happy Holidays!

Overnight's the recommended max for peeled spuds in water, according to Idaho potato people. If you have a receptacle that is big enough to keep them whole and submerged, I wouldn't cut them (less exposure to those cells).  But you can certainly make lots of kinds of mashed potatoes in advance and reheat them successfully...I like to stash them in a heatproof bowl that can be covered tightly with foil and suspended over a pan of simmering water; you'll need to stir a few times to loosen them up, maybe. Give it a try -- less to do last-minute is the gold standard for this holiday meal!

Is it ok to rewarm a butternut squash tart made with puff pastry the day after it is made to take to a thanksgiving dinner?

Seems like that would be fine.

District Fishwife in Union Market also has it, I believe!

Yes, I meant to include them, thanks!

Wanted to thank Bonnie for the suggestion for the recipe for seven hour goat from Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough's "Goat: Meat, Milk and Cheese". It was divine! I did have a question though, the recipe did not call for any salt and pepper. I thought that was odd. Why would it not have any seasoning? I salted and peppered the leg prior to searing it, but added no salt to the basting liquid. It was not too salty. When it was done, I pressed all the roasted garlic out into the drippings and made a gravy using goat milk. It was YUM! Thanks again. I never would have found that recipe myself.

Nice! Well, I see that the authors did include S&P in a recipe they posted in an NPR interview, so good for you in trusting your cook's instincts. Maybe they meant to leave it out of the recipe in their goat cookbook...maybe not :)

Do you have any ideas to make this flavorful? I am thinking to use lentils, chestnuts and mushrooms and oats. What seasoning should I use to make it delicious?

Here's a recipe for you.

Vegetarian Meatloaf

RECIPE: Vegetarian Meatloaf

Does it really make a difference? I tried it a few years ago and it didn't seem to, but maybe I needed a better recipe? Seems like you google and get answers on both sides of the spectrum.

Depends on the turkey you start with, I think. A good fresh, locally grown bird doesn't necessarily need it. In our staff potluck taste test this year, I offered a brined and unbrined bird, and my expert colleagues preferred the brined one. I favor brines that add flavor -- brown sugar, fresh herbs, etc.

Line a laundry basket with several towels, put the roasting pan into it and cover with more towels, enough to stabilize it for travel.

And drain the pan drippings into a separate container first -- at least.

Bring a spare set of serving utensils.

YES. Just don't forget to take them with you when you leave, ahem, like some friends of mine...

I weighed the cookies but it didn't come to two cups so I had to add some. I'm not sure I have enough for a second crust. Could I take additional crumbs and pad out the sides and just bake it enough to set it without burning the original crust? Or is that just crazy talk? My husband said we should just pick out the crust and eat it like a cookie and start over with a new one.

I think your idea of adding crumbs (moistened with melted butter) would work. But your husband's idea is also a good one. :)

Hi folks, gobble gobble. Smoking a turkey this year for the first time. Have smoked many chickens, but not a big ol' turkey. Have a Weber Smokey Mountain smoker and it usually takes 2.5-3hr for a 4# chicken. Any guesses for how long a 13# turkey will take? I'm assuming it's not as easy as 3x the time for 3x the bird. Maybe ~6hrs? Thanks!

      Count on roughly 4 hours for a 13-pound turkey. Use the Minion charcoal method: create a "doughnut hole" in the middle of unlit coals around the perimeter (about 3 coals wide and 3 coals deep) pour lit coals into the hole. Add about a dozen chunks of hardwood onto the perimeter coals. The fire from the lit coals with slowly, and evenly, spread to the unlit coals and your fire will last a long time. I've found that the turkey is ready after four, sometimes five hours. But it has never taken me six. Good luck! 


Do you guys taste test all of the recipes you post? I've tried some, and the seasonings don't always come out quite can you tell when to tweak S&P or other herbs before cooking?

We do. Seasoning's a subjective thing. If you can think of a specific recipe where that was lacking maybe we can address your q better. We might be a wee bit guilty of under-salting.

The key with salt is to look for our instructions on tasting and adding more "as needed." That's where your own palate comes in!

The recipe for Becky Krystal's Pumpkin-Caramel Tart w/Roasted Hazelnuts sounded wonderful, and since she said she served it last year w/out a trial run, decided to try it. But I couldn't find hazelnuts anywhere, until a kind man at my local store told me that hazelnuts are also known as filberts. Bought three bags, but didn't realize that I should have bought shelled nuts. Tried the boiling method, etc. - realized that wasn't getting those shells off. Hope my squirrels enjoy. Now making it w/pecans.

Oh my goodness, I am so sorry! That is crazy. I don't think I've ever seen hazelnuts -- my grandfather calls them filberts! -- sold in their shells. I think pecans should be nice, too.

Pumpkin-Caramel Tart With Toasted Hazelnut Crust

RECIPE: Pumpkin-Caramel Tart With Toasted Hazelnut Crust

Good grief I need to go home I thought the post said lactating octopus. I was thinking good god what is that? :-)

LOL. Let's all take a deep breath. I know I need it. Even as I type this, a plumber who was due at my house sometime ago is beginning to snake a bathtub and drain $300 from my wallet.

Don't forget eggs! They're great for a quick addition - love them fried or soft boiled on top of roasted veggies. On the beans and lentils front, trying out more unusual varieties helps keep things interesting - Rancho Gordo is my go to source these days. I love the Ayocote Morado variety, though they're sold out right now.

Of course -- I agree on all of the above! Have preached the gospel of Rancho Gordo so many times I thought people were sick of hearing it! But obviously I'm not the only one...

I think some nice al dente brown rice would give a good texture and add the nutty flavor without the nuts. I've made it from the recipe and it was AWESOME!

Great idea! Also: wild rice would be lovely...

Any reason I should not blend the filling ingredients and refrigerate until tomorrow morning? FWIW, we like a variation on the Libby pie recipe. I bump the spices a bit and cook the filling before putting it into the hot, blind-baked crust. Just trying to get as many tasks, dishes, mixes, etc. done in advance as possible (shhh.. so I can read tomorrow and be a little lazy)

I always make the filling the day before and refrigerate it. I don't have proof of this, but I think it tastes better when it's had some chill time.

I usually let the blind-baked crust cool a little before I pour in the filling, but if you've been doing it this way, don't stop now!

Any recommendations on which food torch is best to buy?

How often will you use it? The blue canister (Bernzomatic?) with propane you can buy at hardware stores might be more firepower than you're looking for, but it can be less expensive than what's sold as a kitchen culinary torch, which typically runs on a butane cartridge. (I see Bernzomatic makes a micro butane torch, fyi.) I have an old Roburn model, and can never tell how much butane's left.

I have a new indoor deep fryer for a turkey. Should I brine the bird first? Or inject it before frying?

You can brine, but make sure the bird's patted dry as possible before you lower it into the hot oil. I've fried turkeys brined and unbrined, and the brined white meat tasted better -- marginally.


Some people like the injection method but that seems trickier to me, as it's moisture you have to watch out for. Chatters, what's your experience?

I'm hoping to get a lot of my prep work done on Wednesday, with final cooking on Thursday. I'm making your caramel apple pie that gets made on Wednesday. I'm making your gingerbread pumpkin charlotte on Wednesday as well. Can I cut the butternut squash and Brussel sprouts on Wednesday and roast on Thursday? Prep beans? Prep pearl onions for final cooking on Thursday? Thanks, I appreciate your advice!

I think your plan to prep vegetables today sounds good.

I've had a fair amount of experience buying pomegranates. But this year, I seem to have lost my touch. I look for smooth, heavy ones. I can't tell you how many pomegranates I've purchased this year that had either pink or tan, rather than red, arils. Has this been a bad year for pomegranates? I've never seen so many bad ones!

Could be that it's just a different variety of pomegranates, actually. I can't swear to it, but the last fruit I've bought that are dark red on the outside have that jewel-tone color of seeds within....Chatters, any insights? BTW, when you do get a good one, know that you can freeze the seeds for future use.

I probably watched too many Good Eats episodes because all I can think of this time of year is that stuffing is evil. But I grew up having stuffing in the bird and miss the flavor and consistency you get. So any suggestions to avoid death by stuffing - and no, I don't want to use those weird stuffing bags lol..

If your stuffing doesn't contain eggs or some other substance that needs to reach a certain safe-zone temperature to avoid pathogens, and you cook the bird to the proper temperature, I don't see any danger. Do you? If you're worried about the bird's juices, you can take the stuffing out of the bird and cook it further in a separate pan.

You should also make sure the stuffing gets to 165 degrees, too, to kill any salmonella that might be in the turkey juices that have seeped into it.

I can't wait to go to Eatsa because the cubby concept reminds me of the Horn & Hardarts Automat of my long-ago childhood, where you'd put coins in the slot by a cubby and the glass would retract and you'd take out your food. Pictures are easy to find online including here. Back to the future, huh?

I'll be interested to check it out too. It opens next Tuesday on K Street NW downtown.

ARTICLE: This fast-casual restaurant chain looks like something out of ‘The Jetsons’

Hi, Jim! I saw Michael Twitty's recipe for grilled turkey. It looks great, but I think I remember you had a slightly different method that also looks good. Am I misremembering?

       You're remembering correctly. I love the look of Michael's recipe and have used it for briskets and pork shoulders and other big meats. But, with turkey, after butterflying (or spatchcocking), I like to set up the grill for indirect heat (fire only on one side). I set the bird directly over the coals for about 10 minutes on each side, then move it over to the side without the coals, where it smokes (place about 6 hardwood chunks on the coals) the rest of the way. At the very end, I move it back over the coals. The point is to get super-crispy skin while also getting a nice smoke flavor. 

Better that than over-salting. You can add it, but you can't subtract it!


Same here! I love Good Eats, and Alton. What I've done to avoid Stuffing Salmonella is make the stuffing in the crockpot. The texture is about the same as what the "In-The-Bird" camp likes, and no worries about overdone turkey and underdone stuffing for me. Plus, one less thing to go in the oven.

I notice in the intro that everybody but Joe has a nickname. We need to work on this.

What an oversight! Yes, that's because I was writing it, I suppose. I'll take "Joe 'Roast Beast' Yonan," OK?

Is anyone boldly attempting a brand new dessert recipe for tomorrow?? Or are you sticking with the classics (Dorie, maybe your Jammers or World Peace Cookies)? Yum!

I made a pepita/walnut pie, basically following the instructions for our Bourbon Pecan Pie but subbing in a mix of walnuts (chopped) and pepitas (left whole) for the pecans. And since I needed a single pie crust for another pie, I decided to just make a full version of Dorie's pie crust from her blueberry pie and use half of it for the pepita/walnut one (rendering it no longer vegan, but thinking it'll still be good.) 

So yeah. I made a WaPoFrankenPie. 

Before I came here, I popped logs of World Peace Cookie dough in the freezer - there will be World Peace tomorrow!  And Chocolate-Pecan Pie Bars, too.

I love cookies for Thanksgiving and I'm loving pie-bar cookies - so much more slender than a big pie and so much easier to enjoy after a big feast.

If there are some desserts that are 'musts' at your table, don't forget them.  But it's great to add something new. Fun for the baker; fun for the crowd.


What is a good mingling drink to serve while guests arrive for Thanksgiving dinner? It could even be a mocktail.

How about some mulled cider?

Mulled Spices for Winter Cider

RECIPE: Mulled Spices for Winter Cider

Given that this meal is a real food marathon, I'd go for a nice aperitivo, like Campari and soda with a twist of orange, or an Americano. Another option for something lighter and sessionable would be an Adonis, which is equal parts sweet vermouth and dry sherry with a dash of orange bitters. Express an orange zest over the top. It's simple, but delicious and elegant.

Sure the tart will be great made w/pecans, but would like to try again with hazelnuts.

Oh yes, of course! I buy mine at Trader Joe's. Have also gotten them at Whole Foods. I have had a harder time trying to find them at other grocery stores.

We love fried food but know the grease is bad for us. Is an "air fryer" something we should consider, maybe even for cooking the Thanksgiving turkey? There's one on sale this week.

Hmm....I'm not sure that any significant amount of "grease" gets into the bird that you'd deep-fry. But you have to be careful, and there is the issue of dealing with all the oil afterward. We tested an oil-free fryer a few years back, see results here.

Do you have a favorite recipe for a Champagne cocktail? thanks

Personally, I'm a huge fan of the French 75 - It's also a wonderful "gin cocktail for people who don't like gin" - but Carrie wrote a marvelous column last year about how to set up a DIY Champagne Cocktail Bar for holiday parties, and there's plenty of inspiration therein.

French 75

RECIPE: French 75

I am planning on making the hollowed out pumpkin, filled with a creamy flan. Plan: rub inside of cleaned pumpkin with butter and pumpkin pie spices and roast until fork tender, fill with flan filling and bake. The flan recipe calls for it to be baked for 50-60 minute. Question, what timing suggestions do you have for the flan being in the pumpkin instead of a baking dish? What does slightly jiggly mean? Does my probe come out clean or will it still coat? I'm going to top with caramelized pecans.

This is a kind of tough one because your in-the-pumpkin flan will probably be a lot deeper than a pan-flan would be.

Slightly jiggly for custardy desserts usually means that most of the flan is set and that only a small circle jiggles in the center when you gently move the pan - in your case, the pumpkin.

A tester should come out clean.

I've never done this and have always wanted to - let me know how it goes. I think it should be delicious!

since he went veggie on us and has come up with fabulous recipes that would convert anyone.


Chatters, in case you haven't noticed, we have been joined by Ms. Dorie Greenspan and -- just now -- Julia Turshen! 

Hello! Baking two pies tonight (pecan and pumpkin) for tomorrow. Neither recipe calls for par-baking, but I've read so many articles that say par-baking makes the best pies. Any advice? Also unsure how to store them until tomorrow (note they'll also have to survive a 6 hour drive in the morning). Should I leave them on the counter? In the fridge? I'm afraid of what effect the fridge might have on the crust. Thanks a million and happy Thanksgiving!

Given the choice between blind (or par) baking or not, I always take blind baking. It really helps keep the crust's texture intact after the custard or filling goes in.

I would leave the pecan pie on the counter and refrigerate the pumpkin pie.  This has nothing to do with science, but rather with my sense that custard tastes good at room temp and refrigerated and pecan pie is a room-temp treat.

15th Street....does Pinea and the Whiskey Bar warrant a stop in mid-December?

I was really happy with the Whiskey Cellar's happy hour, to be honest. The cocktails, which I thought were on the sweet side, were $7; cans of DC Brau were $3 (along with Stella, etc.); and the red and white wines of the day, which come from Pinea's regular list are $5 a glass.

I wish I could tell you more about what it's like on a Friday night, for example, but I haven't been back yet. 

But it's my second-favorite happy hour in that area, after Joe's Stone Crab.

What sides do you make for a no carbs Thanksgiving dinner guest?

I love to have salads on the menu that can stand up to a little waiting/won't suffer much for being dressed in advance. One favorite is shredded brussels sprouts blended with chopped parsley and toasted walnuts, with a lemon-olive oil dressing (plus walnut oil if you have it).  A cabbage salad (I like the wrinkly savoy type) can be really nice too, with finely slivered radishes and carrots. I usually make a dressing with popped mustard seeds, red chile, peanut oil and lemon for that one, but of course that's a bit less traditional.

More traditional, you could try glazed carrots or brussels sprouts, or roasting cauliflower.

Absolutely, there are tons of options! Did you see this fabulous kale recipe we had in this year's collection? It's a keeper.

RECIPE: Slow-Cooked Tuscan Kale

A couple other ideas:

RECIPE: Broccolini With Buttered Pecans, Orange and Garlic

RECIPE: Tamari-Roasted Brussels Sprouts

I need to make enough crusts for 3 pies. Can I make one big batch, or is it better to make 3 smaller batches?

If you're making the crusts in a mixer, then you're fine making a triple batch - in fact, many pastry chefs feel that you get a better crust if you make the dough in quantity.

I make my dough in a food processor and find that a double batch is the max for me (even though I have a large processor).

I'm taking sangria tomorrow and the recipe calls for "quartered oranges." I assume that means unpeeled. My spidey senses say to cut them into somewhat smaller pieces. What say you? I know this isn't rocket science but I've never done anything like this before.

I like smaller pieces than quartered, and yes, definitely leave the peel on! 

My turkey is brining in the basement, roasting bag is waiting in the pantry. So you know, if it doesn't work out, I'm going to say, "Well my friend Becky highly recommended this recipe/cooking method." And then I'll say, "Maybe next year, you can host us." Truth - I'm only cooking the turkey for leftovers and eating dinner tomorrow at a Korean BBQ place, so Beck-ster, no pressure. I'm sure - worst case - my dogs will love your turkey.

Do you mean Bonnie, who wrote about the roasting bag? Good luck regardless. In my experience, dogs will eat the turkey no matter what...

ARTICLE: When roasting a Thanksgiving turkey, I’m a bag lady

What you are being charged by your plumber is fair rate. Come on now the company has to maintain liability insurance, stock parts, pay their licensed plumbers, and lease and maintain their trucks. A plumber, electrician, roofer, painter, and carpenter all have real life skills that didnt result in $100K plus of student loans. Your plumber actually provides a useful service. Something you and your fellow reporters and editors at the WP dont. You class biases are showing honey! If you object you do it yourself snaking isnt that difficult so even a Arlington dwelling journalist with a degree from G'town could do it like Cilizza.

No, "we" aren't.


I think you're reading some tone/intent in my comment that simply wasn't there.  I'm very unhappy to spend that much on something I should have maintained better myself; I'm a little unhappy he came late; but happy he fixed it today, with company imminent. (We talked turkey prep, so you can take your class bias shot and stuff a big turkey.)

I'm doing vegan Thanksgiving for four and facing my usual resistance to the whole production. I'm already planning on Gardein chicken strips, a frozen blueberry pie from Mom's and I'll make the corn spoon bread, since that's not readily available in a vegan version. I intend to see what Whole Foods Clarendon has today that might bail me out on some of the rest. Any ideas for other vegan pre-prepared foods available in Arlington or other incredibly easy things to make? I'm considering roasted sweet potatoes with by buying pre-cut from Trader Joe's for example. Bonus points for something on a vegan chocolate cream pie, though I could do that with chocolate bits and tofu. Thanks for all you do today and every day! We are very fortunate to have a veg friend at the Post.

I also would suggest not underestimating a good, simple salad.  It's not only vegan, it only helps cut all the richness of everything else on the table.  You can buy cleaned greens/shredded cabbage/etc. off the salad bar at Whole Foods to save time on prep!

Move to Seattle or Portland OR. ;-)

True that. I'm obsessed with the hazelnuts and hazelnut products from Holmquist Hazelnut Orchards, which sells at Pike Place Market in Seattle.

Found a wonderful-looking recipe on line for a "stuffing" (not intended to go inside the bird) that starts with browning a pound of sausage and then setting it aside while cooking up chopped onions, butternut squash, green apples, cranberries, and flavoring with sherry -- and adding it all to basmati rice, with stock. Can I just leave out the sausage if I want to make it a veggie dish?

I think so. You may need to compensate with a little more oil or something to account for the fat that would render out of the sausage. Maybe use some mushrooms if you want something a little "meaty."

I'm making a cauliflower with a cheese sauce. Kind of like mac and cheese but steamed cauli instead of pasta. Can anyone of it be made ahead?

Interesting. How small is the cauliflower cut? Do you bake it after steaming the cauliflower and combining with the sauce? My first reaction would be that you'd make only the sauce ahead, but wait to steam the cauliflower -- but if you bake it again, then I think you could do both, refrigerate, and then wait on the final bake.

This question is for Dorie: What are the best cookies to bake for shipping? Also, where can I purchase frozen 3 inch pie crust in aluminum pans? I've gone to many grocery store freezing and unable to find them. Hope you can help me. Tx

Bar cookies are great packers. So are sugar cookies, shortbreads, gingersnap-type cookies and everyone's favorite chocolate-chip cookies.  You're looking for a cookie that's sturdy and that will be tasty when it arrives.

A tip on packing: Pack soft cookies with soft, crunchy with crunchy and never pack spice cookies with any other kind of cookies or everything will taste like spice.

I don't know about the pie crusts, but perhaps one of the Rangers will.

Looks like you might be able to find them at a kosher market -- I see Unger's brand online. (Walmart stocked a similar product but it's now showing as "not available.") If that's not convenient, maybe you could make or buy the rolled out dough and disposable alum tart pans?

Sock it to him, Bonnie! No one's forcing you to be here, "honey." Take your bad attitude elsewhere. It's about to be Thanksgiving, for heaven's sake.

After years of every pie crust fail in the book, I finally feel comfortable with homemade crust for Thanksgiving. The only problem I had last year was some shrinkage/collapse after blind baking -- the crust fell down the sides of the pan in a few places. (I can't skip the blind baking step - this is for a lemon meringue pie, and for transportation reasons, I make the crust and lemon filling separately, then assemble and top with meringue when we arrive at our location). I'm thinking I should leave the pie weights (I use rice) in the shell until it cools, but do you have any other tips?

Are you chilling your crust before you blind bake? That helps prevent shrinking and collapse. I've never left the weights in as it cools. I think you want to uncover to let it cool better and dry out. Also wondering if maybe you just need to bake a bit longer.

Becky Krystal gave you great advice.

A couple of things: Are you chilling your dough after it's in the pan and before you bake it? As Becky said, that's really important.

Are you stretching your dough when you're fitting it into the pan.  What you stretch at fitting time, will shrink in the oven.

Leaving the pie weights in, is not a good idea. In fact, what's best is to bake the crust with the weights and then remove the paper and weights and return the crust to the oven to brown.

If these tips don't work for you, you might want to try another recipe - your techniques seem right, so it might be the recipe.

I'm trying to plan out Thanksgiving for three (really two and a half). I don't want to be eating leftovers all month, but I would like to accommodate different tastes. Any recipes for a five inch pumpkin and pecan pie?

I'm horrible in math, but I think that if you cut your regular pie recipes down by about 1/3, you should be good for a 5-inch pie.

Any math majors in the crowd?

I made those Roasted Gingery Pears from Sunday tonight and they were delicious. However, my husband makes fun of my selection of ginger recipes. Despite there being no distinct ginger flavor, I was hoping for an alternative seasoning. If it were powdered, I might sub nutmeg, etc, but since it was grated and moist, I'm not sure what else would keep the balance. Any ideas? I don't plan on saviing this just for holidays.

So glad you made the pears! And you're so right...they're great for more than just the holidays.  You can definitely leave out the ginger and add some dried ground cinnamon, a little nutmeg and/or clove, or even a bit of ground cardamom if you can find it.  Or a mix of all of those! Cinnamon you can go heavy on...the others I would suggest a light touch.  

So it sounds like I can steam the cauliflower ahead and make the cheese sauce ahead and then bake the two together before eating

Yes! I haven't seen the recipe, but if it doesn't already call for it, I'd be careful to not steam the cauliflower too much, since it's going to bake again. You'd want it BARELY tender to a skewer or fork, with a little resistance, even, I'd think.

What type of home-made dressing can pair well with quinoa and butternut squash salad?

I would highly suggest one part maple syrup, one part Dijon mustard, 2 parts apple cider vinegar, and 4 parts olive oil.  

I cut out a recipe from a newspaper so long ago that I don't remember which paper it was. Basically you shred a pound of sprouts, saute them in olive oil, stir in fresh grated gingerroot, the zest and juice from an orange, and salt and pepper to taste. The bonus is it's good warm or cold.

Sure! Sounds great.

Clean out the fridge. What was that thing way in the back?


Intrigued by this recipe for brussel sprouts with anchovies, capers and walnuts, but dont want them to be soggy from vinaigrette. Do you think I could just roast them with the vinaigrette instead of adding it later? Thanks and thank you for being here every Wednesday! I hope you each a a wonderful Thanksgiving

I would be afraid of the anchovies/capers/walnuts burning...if you're asking because you want to make them ahead, I would roast the sprouts ahead and make the vinaigrette ahead and store them separately, then rewarm the sprouts and toss with the dressing right before serving.  

A 24-pound turkey at the rate of 1 hour per pound - does that mean Andy starts roasting it a full day ahead of time? =o

You got it.

I saw a recipe for a kale salad but I don't think my in-laws would eat it raw so I thought I might saute it before mixing in with wild rice. Can I saute today or is that a no-way?

I think totally fine to sauté today and you can cook your wild rice too and then heat them up together in a skillet tomorrow with a little olive oil and/or butter and maybe some extra minced garlic, too.

You can mix the dry ingredients and cut in the shortening today and add the liquid, shape, and bake tomorrow. I do this all the time for scones. I sometimes refrigerate the dry mix (I always use butter) and sometimes not and it works fine either way.

Yes! Thanks.

Mushrooms! Thank you!

You are welcome!

Any good substitutes? I need to be cow-milk free for my pumpkin pie. I have evaporated goat milk, but I'm not sure how I might make it sweet/thick enough to work.

I've seen sweetened condensed coconut milk, but have yet to try it. Let's Do Organic and Nature's Charm are two brands.

Only if you remove the package containing the giblets etc. first ;-)

Technically, according to the method I linked to, you start roasting it with them in there -- and you extract them as soon as it's physically possible to do so.

If you want a memorable tasty chicken buy the best chicken you can find and use Roast Chicken and potatoes recipe from Bonnies's book. I will be cooking my 10 pound organic turkey that way. Those potatoes are to die for. Beat mashed, especiallylly the ones made with shortcuts.


Dorie isn't in today so I thought I would ask here - her Rose Hibiscus Shortbread Fans (from the new cookie book) calls for 1/2 c white rice flour in addition to regular flour. I believe it said it added crunch, but I don't have the book in front of me. I already have brown rice flour and I'm wondering if I can substitute that for the white? I have so many different flours already but will get the white rice flour if you say so - would love some tips for using the brown, and white flours. Thanks, and Happy Thanksgiving.

I am in! Just jumped in.

Actually, the rice flour makes the shortbread more tender rather than more crunchy.  But no! Don't go out and buy anything new. Omit the rice flour and instead of 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, use 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons. (see page 192).

I love these cookies and hope you will too. Happy T-Day.

Is there a rule of thumb on roughly how many 4-1/2" tarts one gets from the recipe for a 9" tart?

In my experience, so many fewer than you think. Four, if you reroll, three if you don't. Try to form the dough into a cube, not a disk, and roll it out into a square for the best yield.

Hi Rangers! After a double batch of Tiny Tim Cranberry Tarts, I still have about a cup of of fresh cranberries left. My hostess already has cranberry sauce covered, so do I: 1)freeze the leftovers for smoothies? 2) figure out a seasonal cocktail? 3) Something really cool I'd have never thought of without your guidance? Thank you for sharing your expertise with us every week. Happy Thanksgiving!

Try coating the raw cranberries in beaten egg white, then rolling them in sugar. Freeze on parchment, keeping them separated. Use them to garnish holiday beverages or sprinkle on ice cream.

Just tell me how to reheat everything so I can get everything to the table hot and not have a sink full of dishes, which was the whole point of precooking everything in the first place please.

Serve things in whatever you cooked them in (roasting dishes, pots, skillets, etc.). That way you can reheat and serve and not have dirty cooking vessels in the sink while you're dirtying serving, everything will look/feel more rustic/homey, and who doesn't love that?

I hear he is going to revoke the citizenship of every vegan and vegetarian and deport them by Feb 1 2017. This will make America great again. Bought to by this country's ranchers. Eat meat!

America will be great again when trolls disappear. Just sayin'.

Can the USDA, or the CDC, give us any actual statistics on illness caused by turkey stuffing? Because I really don't understand how the hysteria regarding turkey stuffing got started, but it's been around for 30 years or so now. I'd like some hard reporting, please.

I'll try to track that down via FSIS.

Has anyone used the oil-less fryer (infrared) for their turkey before? Did you get a flavorful turkey?

Never! Sounds like a sauna?

Yep, here are results of that test we did a few years back. I don't remember that particular mode of cooking had a direct effect on  the flavor of the bird....

I would love to know what everyone's favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal is, please! For me, I love Mom's good ol' simple mashed potatoes. I wish I could say turkey, but I only take a small piece of turkey because it feels obligatory, haha. Perhaps I'm alone in that, but I do love turkey sandwich leftovers. Thank you and Happy T-day!!

Oh, man, one thing? Not possible, haha. I am partial to dessert, especially the chocolate peanut butter pie that is my husband's family's tradition. I also have a soft spot for the sweet potato casserole and cranberry sauce mold that my mom has made and I now make, too.

Potatoes. This year -- actually, even as I type -- I'm making the Mashed Potatoes With Manchego and Olive Oil. Yum.


Besides, well, gravy... I have lots of love for my mom's sweet potato casserole, and cornbread dressing.

The dark meat. Give me all the dark meat.

     I'm gonna cheat and say a single bite of dark meat turkey with some dressing and gravy. But if  I didn't cheat and chose just one item, my mom's bread dressing.

I really love good fact, I already made mine so tomorrow will be really easy! And I'm with favorite dish is a Thanksgiving sandwich on Friday....

Stuffing or dressing or whatever you like to call it. Crisp and moist, lots of herby flavors and textures. The one I put together this morning is an unusual mashup, and vegetarian. It will make a good post-holiday hash, I bet.

Of course, I adore the desserts, but I'd be unhappy if there weren't homemade chunky cranberry sauce on the table. I've got a real thing for cranberries - I buy bags and bags of them as soon as I see them in the market and freeze them so that I can make galettes, cake fillings, cookies, pies and more cranberry sauce throughout the year.

Cornbread Dressing.  I had homemade turkey maple sausage, and if I make it for the more pork inclined I use regular old country sausage!  It's not as meaty as you think!

Controversial call but I've decided to try America's Test Kitchen's recipe for braised turkey. There is no way I'm going to do a wet brine. My fridge and energy level won't permit it. I might consider a dry brine if you think it would be worth it. If so, how? Really, I'd like to skip the whole brining step unless it's going to make a big difference.

I do a dry brine on my bird....for a 12 pound bird, I use about 2 tablespoons of salt that I add minced thyme, garlic, and sage too and then rub all over and inside of the bird.  Then I wrap it up and let it sit ovenright in the fridge and then take it out and let it sit out at room temp for at least 2 hours before it goes in the oven.  Not too much work and I think definitely worth it.  Wet brine is a mess, skip it!

Hi! Any suggestions for a holiday punch to serve before dinner tomorrow? I'm fond of "holiday" Moscow Mule variations, but would prefer something in a larger batch that guests can help themselves to. Preferably a recipe that doesn't require more obscure/difficult to find spirits (yay for last minute planning!)

One of the most festive and delicious punches for the holidays - a favorite at parties I've thrown with friends - is David Wondrich's Fish House Punch, which, if you believe the creation myth, was originally prepared for a holiday party in the mid-19th century. Only spirits you need are dark rum, cognac and peach brandy.

RECIPE: Fish House Punch (via Esquire)

I wanted to share What's Gaby Cooking on her Facebook. Gaby has lots of recipe videos and Thanksgiving hints and tips and ideas and while I love listening to NPR's Speldid Table while I'm cooking on Thanksgiving, What's Gaby Cooking is a great resource for before Thanksgiving. She is very responsive to questions.

Love her!

Can I save (freeze) a superfluity of parsley stems to use in a future veg stock? I know broccoli, asparagus, etc. don't work well in such stock. Is there an upper limit to how much parsley I could use without getting a weird flavor?

Parsley, as well as celery leaves and carrot trimmings and mushroom stems will freeze well enough to go into the stock pot. I'm sure it would be possible to have a parsley-forward vegetable stock, but I think it would have to be a lot of parsley?! 

I can't speak to freezing, but I've used as much as a small bunch of parsley in a small batch of stock (6-8 cups of water-ish) without it creating a dominating flavor.

I don't think you'd have to worry too much about parsley. And for those who aren't already on the bandwagon, here's the Scrappy Stock recipe.

I like a finely shredded radicchio with caramelized pecans, crumbled gorgonzola, and dried cranberries. I make a honey mustard and keep separate until right before serving. It can definitely stand a ride in the car or a night in the fridge. It is great with rich food.

I like the sound of this! Plus the colors are beautiful. Thanks for the idea!

On a similar note, my 'All-Red Salad' is really easy and very can even dress it the night before! Shredded radicchio, sliced radishes, pomegranate seeds with a red wine vinaigrette.

RECIPE: All-Red Radicchio, Radish + Pomegranate Salad

Can I make these ahead? It seems like they would be good at room temp and be pretty easy to transport as well. Pears are now on my grocery list!

Yes for sure! They are excellent at room temp and also reheat well if you want to serve them warm (just in a 300 oven or if you're out of oven space, a gas grill set on low with the cover on).  

I was wondering if using mini puff pastry can substitute for pumpkin pie crust. Thought about using these instead of making crust for tomorrow's meal. Thanks.

I haven't used these, but I think they should be fine. If you've got the time, you might blind-bake them just a bit before you put in the filling - I think they'll hold up better if you do.

Hi, Dorie! I have your latest cookbook and have made the classic sables, the WPCs, and the jammers. All three of the ones we've had so far were real home runs. Can you name one or two more favorites from the book I should try next? We're going to Thanksgiving dinner at my cousin's house, so I'll be able to bake all day tomorrow and then share the love! Thanks for your advice!

I'm so glad you're enjoying my new book - thank you!

If you haven't already made pies for tomorrow, why not try one of the pie-bar cookies?  There are Sweet Potato Pie Bars (great with marshmallows on top); Chocolate-Pecan Pie Cookie Bars (I'm making those); Crumb-Topped Apple Bars (think apple pie but skinny); and Thanksgiving Bars (I'm also making these) with a double chocolate crust, cranberry jam and raspberries.

They're really surprising. Oh and delicious.

Have a great T-giving!

Also,  everyone who we've recommended them to has raved about the famous World Peace Cookies.

Dorie...what time should we come over?? :) 

Hi, looking to take a walk on a wilder side and make a green been dish with indian or thai curry spin. Something with sweet potatoes and pineapple and coconut milk and a spicy flavor. Looked for recipes online but haven't had much luck.

I would sauté some minced garlic and fresh ginger in coconut oil, then add red curry paste and coconut milk and then add diced sweet potatoes and let them cook for about 10 minutes and then add string beans (that way the string beans don't overcook).  Would be delicious with toasted shredded coconut and fresh cilantro on top.  

Mustard seed would be a nice touch. And maybe cut the green beans into very short (1/4-inch) lengths? Indian-style....

I can't have any milk protein (no milk, cream, yogurt, ice cream, butter, etc) as my 10 wk old breast fed baby has an allergy. I'd still like to try a home made pie crust and came across recipes using both coconut oil and vegetable shortening instead of butter. Suggestions for which may be best to try or any other ideas? Any way to replicate a crumble top without butter- our traditional bourbon pumpkin pecan pie depends upon it! Happy Thanksgiving

I have successfully made pie crust with just shortening...very flaky, if lacking in butter flavor, but still quite good! I haven't tried with coconut oil...perhaps try half shortening, half coconut oil (and I would add the coconut oil at room temp or cold and not melted).  For crumb topping...I bet melted coconut oil would sub well for butter and add a nice nutty flavor...not as complicated as pie crust because you don't have to worry about flakiness.  Good luck!

I second Julia's answer. There are many people who prefer to use shortening or lard instead of butter for pie crusts.  And, as Julia said, you'll get a very flaky crust if you use shortening.

Thanksgiving and turkey go better with a little help from Wild Turkey! And I am not talking the Turkey that gobbles. Remember the good ole days when there was on only Wild Turkey Black label and Wild Turkey Green Label.

Drunken turkey is always fun.

My store is going to cut a fresh local turkey in half for me. I've done this before when we weren't going to another's, but it's been a few years and I can't remember what temperature and for how long. Suggestions?

That's not something I've ever done before! I found this online. Looks like a typical high heat to start, reduce to 350-degrees kinda method, just with a shorter roasting time.

To the whole crew at WaPo Food!

You're welcome!!

Hi! I have Type 1 Diabetes, so I have to eat very low carb for my health. That means no sweet potato pie or anything topped with marshmallows, sadly. Do you have any ideas for low-carb side dishes that don't have added sugar of any kind? Thanks!

Oh I have a few ideas! How about halves of roasted acorn squash filled with melted butter and cinnamon...same appeal as sweet potato casserole, but way lower in carbs.  And easy!

Also, creamed spinach...or you can substitute another green like kale or swiss and satisfying and traditional, very low in carbs.  Or roasted cauliflower topped with toasted almonds and brown butter.

Thank you all so much for answering my question about your favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal. It's so much fun to hear what you each individually prefer. And hilarious that most didn't choose turkey, although Kara and sort of Jim did. We always worry so much about cooking the darn thing and it's not even the favorite food. :)

*quietly backs away with all the dark meat* 

I impulse bought some raw, organic, culinary cocoa butter recently. I'm not sure what to do with it, but I'd like to make chocolates. Any recipes or ideas? What about in savory foods? It's in cubes, and appears to have a similar melting point to chocolate.

I'm so glad that you said culinary cocoa butter. Being African American I have only known one use for cocoa butter and well, it was more for the burns from baking the turkey than things to go with it.  :) 

You can fry or saute with it, I've read.

Good afternoon, I tend to do dairy substitutions with soy milk, but recently my mother has asked me to switch to almond milk, for a lower hormone level. I don't like the nutty flavor that almond leaves behind. I'm making mash potatoes and am looking for something to add for the creaminess. Happy Turkey Day everyone.

I would whip them with mashed roasted garlic and lots of olive and smooth but totally dairy free and no need to worry about almond milk aftertaste. 

My mom, who was known for her pie crusts, always used Crisco. Just be sure to salt sufficiently and they will be flaky with wonderful flavor. My grandmother always used bacon grease and hers were excellent, too, but I've never been able to duplicate the flakiness with bacon grease.

Yep, lard is far better for the flakiness quotient.

When you said you prefer smaller pieces of orange is it because you eat the fruit or do smaller pieces somehow make the sangria taste stronger? I'm asking because the recipe said to strain out all the fruit before serving.

Hmm. Carrie has left the "building," but yes, if the fruit is cut smaller more of its flavor will go into the sangria -- although with enough time, the bigger pieces will impart plenty of flavor, too. (I'm actually not a fan of straining out the fruit, cause I LOVE EATING THE PIECES OF FRUIT IN SANGRIA.)

Hello Folks your dedication to us chatters are reasons to give thanks and I wish you all will have a wonderful Thanksgiving experience.

Oh, we appreciate that very much! Thanks for joining us today!

Each year we travel cross country for the holidays to visit scattered family members, and I like to make treats for them. But it's hard to find recipes for treats that are compact, travel well and keep for a week. So I make spiced nuts each year. Do you have any other ideas?

I like to make caramels for exactly that reason - they keep well and travel easily. These Brown Butter Sorghum Caramels are wonderful. 

Nuts and caramels both sound so good.  You could also do small bags of homemade granola.

Could you share your favorite cranberry recipe, please? I don't have any experience in using them, but your response about cranberries makes me want to!

I have bunches of faves, but for starters, take a look at the quick cranberry sauce that's a 'side' recipe to my Next-Day Turkey Cranberry and Sriracha Strata.  It's a very basic cranberry sauce recipe that you can play with.  You can add small pieces of orange or dried fruit (snipped dried apricots are nice); you can add some Grand Marnier at the end; and/or you can stir in chunks of apples or pears.  It's an easy base to riff on.

Dorie Greenspan's Next Day Turkey-and-Cranberry Sriracha Strata

RECIPE: Dorie Greenspan's Next Day Turkey-and-Cranberry Sriracha Strata

Let me also add a plug for Dorie's Cranberry Crackle Tart. It is beautiful AND delicious.

I love Thanksgiving meals, but I love the leftovers even more. Do you have any creative ways to reimagine traditional Thanksgiving foods the next day-- beyond turkey sandwiches, etc.? Thank you :)

Even though I am having Thanksgiving at a friend's house, I am so excited about Dorie's turkey strata recipe that I'm making a turkey at home.

I am a HUGE fan of leftover stuffing crisped in a skillet and topped with a fried or poached egg for breakfast.  I look forward to it all year.  I even wrote a 'Bread & Sausage Hash' recipe in my cookbook Small Victories so I could have it year round.  Also shred the leftover turkey and toss with sliced cucumbers, shredded carrots, and cilantro and dress with a fish sauce vinaigrette....totally different and delicious and a light follow-up to that hearty breakfast!  :)

I got going early this morning to beat the rush. Store #1 was out of sage so went to store #2. On the way home I realized I had done my math wrong when I added package sizes and needed more spinach. So stop at store #3. Got home and found there wasn't as much celery as I thought so trip back to store #3. I'm just hoping I'm not making last minute runs tomorrow!

Isn't that the worst?  Hope you got an apple cider donut somewhere along the route to tide you over...

Actually, I was considering straining out the fruit per the recipe but I was going to save it and it eat later. Ha.

That's what I'm talking about.

I've been drooling over -- errrr, reading -- your new book, and I have a few questions based on what I've read so far. I noticed at least one recipe calls for beaten eggs to be added to the batter, and then the batter is mixed for quite a while after that point. Is it really necessary to beat the eggs first? Secondly, when you call for a cookie log to be a certain diameter, or cookies to be cut out with a certain size cutter, is there any flexibility there, or will the cookie bake differently if I don't have the same dimensions? Finally, you mentioned that raw eggs can "burn" the sugar. I've heard that before, but I haven't really been able to figure what that means. Can you explain? Finally, thanks to all of you for these chats. Dorie, I look forward to continuing reading -- and baking from -- your book and hope you will be around for more questions in the future!

Thank you, thank you, I'm thrilled that you're liking my new book.  

These are a bunch of questions and I'll answer them as best as I can here.  However, I do a chat, Just Ask Dorie, every other Wednesday from 1 to 2, so you can always chime in there.

I'm not sure what recipe calls for the beaten eggs, but I usually beat the eggs ahead of time if I'm adding the eggs gradually. 

If you change the diameter of a log of dough or if you cut a cookie a size that differs from the directions, you might have to adjust the baking time.

When a baker says that sugar 'burns' eggs (actually, it's the yolks that 'burn'), it means that if the sugar is left in contact with the yolks, the yolks will form a film - that's the burn.

Happy Baking!

Not sure if the poster was asking about making the pies in a tin or not, but the puff pastry would great in the form of hand pies or pop tarts! Top with a glaze of maple syrup + powdered sugar and I bet everyone will love the unique creation. Easy for people to take to go if they're too full too.

Thanks for chiming in!

The only thing I'm sure about regarding pomegranates is that they're best when the skins have cracked. The nicer they look on the outside, the worse on the inside.

Well if that isn't some kind of life lesson I don't know what is.  Also, the heavier, the juicer...

That's really true--wow... I thought I was just imagining things..

It actually has a lower melting point than chocolate and it should also be tempered at a lower point than milk or dark chocolate if you want to make chocolates that won't melt upon touching. It's a fat like anything else, so maybe make a sauce infused with lemon and cream?

I picked up a one-pound package at the Pequot Museum in CT and can find almost no recipes for it. How much of it can I sub into a basic savory biscuit recipe, or do you have any other suggestions?

I've never used wild rice flour, although I'm no intrigued.

Here's a link to a response to a similar question from another chat.  Let us know what you do with it - I'm curious.

ARTICLE: Can I use this in my Thanksgiving biscuits?

Hi! Any ideas for a fun vegan dessert? I have an extra bottle of extra dry (since I am vegan) champagne that would be an exciting and intriguing ingredient if that helps give you any ideas!

I love fruit compote. Dashes of vanilla, cayenne, make it really exciting and not just another fruit salady-type thing.  Champagne soaked fruit would be amazing!

Okay, WaPo peeps, I'm making the Tiny Tim Cranberry Tarts, but the cranberries are ginormous, meaning that there is no way to even fit three of them into the mini-muffin tin. Some of them are so large that I'm not even sure I can fit more than one in. Cut them in half? Reduce number of cranberries?

Yeah, I would either reduce so they fit and cut in half as needed.  

I purchased frozen roll out pie crust (I know, I know) for two pies I'm making. Both of my pie plates are a bit larger than 9 inches, but the box states the crusts are for 9 inch pies (and the recipes are for 9 inch pies, but say to make a larger crust for crimping). HELP!! What to do? I did buy 4 crusts and only need there any way to roll it out to make it a little bigger? Or possibly combine two crusts?

Another math problem!

Does the crust get to the rim of your pie plate? Do you think that you could fit it into the pan, forget about the crimping and use just enough filling to come level with the edge of the crust?

I think you could defrost and combine 2 pie crusts and then roll the dough out to fit it into your larger pan.  (I know, at that point you could be making your own crust :)  If you do this, make sure to chill the dough once you get into the pan.

Take that third pie crust and, if you have little cookie cutters (or a steady hand and a little creativity), cut leaves or stars or other shapes to edge the pie after filling it. This will extend the 9-inch crust to the size of your pan. 

They were a hit last year and I'm bringing them back by special request. Can I make them on a sheet tray instead of a pie plate? Any alterations to the recipe necessary?

I love these! The reason you bake them on a pie plate is so they grow together and then become pull-apart. The edges where they touch are super soft and fluffy, with no "crust." So you could do them in a sheet pan, but I'd suggest expanding the recipe so you have enough to get them to touch! (And if you had a pan with higher sides, that's even better.)

RECIPE: Sweet Potato Rolls

Why cinnamon raisin bread? I'm curious... :)

You can use any bread you'd like, but I wanted the spice and sweetness of the cinnamon raisin bread.  It's a nice counterbalance to the sriracha, the greens and the tartness of the cranberries.

Michael, what is a Jewish dish for thanksgiving to serve that is simple enough to make that Jewish guests would enjoy?

Caramel Rugelach


Kugel--any kind of apple kugel--mix up your apples!  

Fun fact--we call Turkey turkey because the English thought turkey came from Turkey, in Hebrew, its called Hodu which means India!


Mashed potato kugel :) 

Hodu?! Michael Twitty, that's facinating

If a recipe (breakfast casserol) calls for frozen potatotes, and I want to use regular (fresh) potatoes, should I plan to microwave or otherwise par cook the potatoes?

Without seeing the recipe, I would say yes for sure...nothing worse than an undercooked potato...well, some things are worse...

A chatter said they had extra-dry champagne because they are vegan. What's the critical difference? Yeast is involved regardless, right? And I thought a different yeast was a common vegan flavor/additive in any case.

maybe a dry sense of humor?!

I'm cooking a whole turkey tomorrow and would like some advice on keeping the breast meat moist. I've seen so many recipes that call for different things -- foiling the bird, foiling just the breast, cooking it upside down... but then other recipes are completely contradictory and say no foil. I've found some recipes that suggest starting the bird unfoiled at a higher temperature for the first 40 minutes or so, then lowering the oven temp and foiling just the breast for the remainder. Any suggestions on the best method? I'm royally confused. Thanks!

There are so many ways!

But here's one that's been tested many many many times -- and I did it on my own and can vouch for it. 

ARTICLE: When roasting a Thanksgiving turkey, I’m a bag lady

Or if you don't have time to brine, I'd go this route (which I did last year and again, can vouch):

RECIPE: Pam Ginsberg’s No-Fuss Roast Turkey


We're not pie crust people but who doesn't love a streussel topping? I'm assuming this is one dessert that can be baked ahead? Any things to do to make the concoction come out really well? Somehow the idea of baking cranberries and apples together makes me worry for a sour, gloopy outcome

Apples and cranberries are great together and the cranberries help 'gel' the apple juice. One suggestion: go heavier on the apples than on the cranberries.

My sad story: Aldis had 48-hole mini muffin tins on sale for $8.99 so I bought one and went happily home only to find that it didn't fit in my oven. I feel so stupid. My husband is a car guy with equipment and he said he'd saw the pan in half for me. Not by tomorrow but sometime. The best laid plans ...

Well, you've tented us with foil and allowed us to rest for 10 minutes, so you know what that means -- we're done!

Thanks for the great q's, and thanks very much to our special guests -- such experts today! -- for helping us answer them!

And now for our giveaway books! 

The chatter who asked Dorie which are the best cookies to bake for shipping will get a SIGNED copy of her new book, "Dorie's Cookies"! And the one who asked about Julia about her pears will get a SIGNED copy of her new book, "Small Victories"!

Send your mailing info to, and she'll get you your books. In the meantime, happy cooking, eating and reading -- and HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

In This Chat
Joe Yonan
Joe Yonan is the Food and Dining editor of The Post and the author of "Eat Your Vegetables: Bold Recipes for the Single Cook." He writes the Weeknight Vegetarian column.
Bonnie Benwick
Bonnie S. Benwick is Deputy Food Editor and recipe editor at The Post. Cook with her each week at Dinner in Minutes.
Carrie Allan
M. Carrie Allan is The Post's Spirits columnist.
Cathy Barrow
Cathy Barrow's first cookbook is "Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Practical Pantry: Recipes and Techniques for Year-Round Preserving" (W.W. Norton). She blogs at
Becky Krystal
Becky Krystal is a staff food writer.
Jim Shahin
Jim Shahin writes the monthly Smoke Signals column on barbecue.
Kara Elder
Kara Elder is the Food section editorial aide.
Fritz Hahn
Fritz Hahn has covered bars, drinks and nightlife for the Washington Post Weekend Section since 2003.
Michael Twitty
Historical cook and food scholar Michael Twitty writes the Afroculinaria blog and is the author of "The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African-American Culinary History in the Old South," which we be published in 2017.
Julia Turshen
Julia Turshen is the author of "Small Victories," (Chronicle Books, 2016). She wrote this week's article on cooking the Thanksgiving meal for a range of diets.
Emily Horton
Emily Horton is a freelance writer based in Seattle.
Dorie Greenspan
Dorie Greenspan is the award-winning author of 12 cookbooks, the most recent of which is "Dorie's Cookies." Read more on her website,, and follow her on Twitter: @doriegreenspan.
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