Talkin' Turkey

Side dishes to gobble up

The starring turkey sits center stage, flanked by savory regulars and backed up by a sweet finale. Let’s face it: Thanksgiving productions in the Triangle are heavy with practiced parts. So why not add a little character to this holiday feast?

Recent cookbooks feature distinctive sides that can spice up your act.

Click the turkey for our web extra recipes!


Ten: All the Foods We Love and 10 Perfect Recipes for Each

By Sheila Lukins

Published by Workman Publishing


Grilled Corn with Chipotle Butter and Parmesan Cheese

Even the freshest corn can dry out when it is grilled, so I parboil my corn and then grill it — for the flavor — for just a few minutes. The chipotle chile powder adds a smoky touch here. This is where those cute little plastic corn holders come in handy! This recipe is easily doubled.

4 ears fresh sweet corn, shucked

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder

Vegetable oil, for the grill

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat a barbecue grill to high heat.

While the grill is heating, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the ears of corn and cook for 2 minutes. Remove the corn and dry with a towel. Set aside.

Stir the butter and the chile powder together in a small bowl and set it aside.

Oil the grill grate well and spread the olive oil over the ears of corn. Arrange the corn on the grate and grill, turning the ears, until they have nice grill marks, about 3 minutes.

Transfer the ears of corn to a plate and brush the chipotle butter over them. Sprinkle on the Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

Yield: 4 servings


A Platter of Figs and Other Recipes

By David Tanis

Published by Artisan

Roasted Pepper Salad

This smoky, velvety salad has the color intensity of fall in all its glory, using the end-of-season’s sweet peppers.

12 large sweet peppers, preferably a mix of yellow, orange and red

Salt and pepper

2 garlic cloves, smashed to a paste with a little salt

1 tablespoon capers, rinsed

Red wine vinegar

Olive oil

1/2 cup Niçoise (small, purplish-black) olives

Rinsed basil leaves

Roast the peppers over an open flame, either a wood fire or on the stovetop or under the broiler. Try to get the peppers as close to the flame as possible so their skins will blacken and blister quickly. Turn the peppers frequently with a pair of tongs so they roast evenly.

Spread the peppers on a baking sheet so they can cool to room temperature. Some cooks will tell you to cover the just-roasted peppers or put them in a bag, but I believe too much steaming overcooks the flesh.

When the peppers are cool enough to handle, split them top to bottom with a large knife.

Scrape the seeds from the insides, then turn each pepper half over and scrape away the charred skin. When all the peppers are scraped, slice them into 1-inch-wide strips and put them in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper and toss well. Add the garlic, capers and a teaspoon or two of red wine vinegar.

Drizzle lightly with olive oil. Toss again. Don’t refrigerate the peppers — it’ll kill their delicate flavor. Leave the salad at room temperature until ready to serve, up to several hours.

To serve, taste and adjust the seasoning, then mound the salad on a platter. Garnish with the olives. Drizzle with a little more oil. Decorate the salad with basil leaves.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

The Art & Soul of Baking

By Cindy Mushet

Published by Andrews McMeel Publishing

Pumpkin Walnut Bread

This is the loaf you want on that gorgeous fall day when it’s too beautiful outdoors to fuss in the kitchen for long. It takes no time at all to whip this up because it is made using the muffin method, meaning you simply stir everything together by hand. The hardest part is measuring out all the spices. It freezes beautifully, so you might want to double the recipe and tuck one away for another day. Want to dress it up a bit? Add a generous layer of cream cheese frosting on top (and maybe in the middle as well) and try to resist cutting another slice.


2 cups (10 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1/3 cup (2-3/4 ounces) water

1-1/2 cups (10-1/2 ounces) sugar

1 cup (9 ounces) canned pumpkin puree

1/2 cup neutral-flavor vegetable oil (such as canola)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup (4 ounces) chopped toasted walnuts

Cream cheese frosting:

12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

3/4 stick (3 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

3 cups (9-3/4 ounces) unsifted confectioners’ sugar

1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For bread:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and position an oven rack in the center. Lightly coat the loaf pan with melted butter or high-heat canola oil spray and line it with a piece of parchment paper that extends 1 inch beyond the edge of both sides of the pan. In the large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, ginger and salt until thoroughly blended. In the medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and water. Add the sugar and blend well. Add the pumpkin puree, vegetable oil and vanilla extract and blend well.

Add the pumpkin mixture to the dry ingredients and whisk until blended and smooth. Add the walnuts and stir until they are evenly distributed. Use a spatula to scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan and level the top.

Bake for 55 to 65 minutes until the bread is firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

For cream cheese frosting:

Place the cream cheese, butter and lemon zest in the bowl of the stand mixer and blend on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. You can also use a hand mixer and a medium bowl, although you may need to beat the mixture a little longer to achieve the same results.

Scrape down the bowl with the spatula and beat again for 15 minutes.

Use a fine-mesh strainer to sift in the confectioners’ sugar and blend on low for 15 seconds, then scrape down the bowl. Add the vanilla, turn the speed to medium, and beat for 1 minute. Use immediately or refrigerate until needed.

To serve:

Generously spread 1/2 cream cheese frosting over the top. If you really like frosting, split the cake in half horizontally and spread a layer of frosting in the center as well (do this first, before you frost the top). Serve within 4 hours; otherwise, refrigerate until serving. Some people love this bread ice cold, but if you’d like to take the chill off, remove it from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving.

Yield: 1 loaf

The Old Farmer’s Everyday Cookbook Almanac

By Old Farmer’s Almanac

Published by The Old Farmer’s Almanac Books


This dish can be made with crumbled bacon or shrimp, sauteed mushrooms or leeks, and just about any kind of bread, including raisin or a mixture of white and whole wheat or rye. Prepare it a night ahead. To feed a crowd, double this recipe and prepare it in a large baking dish.


14 slices bread, crusts removed

1 cup diced cooked ham

2 cups shredded Swiss or cheddar cheese

1/3 cup finely chopped shallots

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or parsley

6 large eggs

3-1/2 cups milk

Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Cut the bread into cubes. Generously grease a 13x9-inch baking dish. Make a layer with half of the bread cubes, arranging them so that they cover the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle the ham, cheese, shallots, and basil over the bread. Cover with the remaining bread cubes.

Beat the eggs and milk together in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Slowly pour the mixture over the top bread layer, saturating it evenly. Cover and refrigerate overnight; the bread will soak up the liquid as the mixture stands.

Uncover the strata and bake for 1 hour, or until puffed and lightly browned.

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

Casserole Crazy:

Hot Stuff for Your Oven!

By Emily Farris

Published by HP Trade

Thanksgiving Kugel

Kugel (Yiddish: n. kugl or koogel or kigel, as was pronounced in Galicia/Central Europe) is any one of a wide variety of traditional baked Jewish side dishes or desserts and can be sweet or savory. It is sometimes translated as “pudding” or “casserole.” This Thanksgiving Kugel took home the best non-savory title at my Third Annual Casserole Party.


3/4 pound egg noodles

1 (8 ounce) carton small-curd cottage cheese

1 (8 ounce) carton sour cream

1/2 cup milk

1/8 cup sugar

1 stick butter, melted

Pinch of salt

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1-1/2 cups pumpkin pie filling

Raisins and dried cranberries (about 1/4 cup each)

3 eggs, beaten


1 stick cold butter

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon nutmeg

For kugel:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large pot, boil the egg noodles to just under al dente. Drain and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cottage cheese, sour cream, milk, sugar, melted butter, salt, cinnamon, pumpkin pie filling, raisins and cranberries. Add the noodles and mix until all of the noodles are coated. Pour the mixture into a greased 2-1/2- to 3-quart casserole dish. Pour the eggs over the top of the casserole.

For topping:

Carefully mix the cold butter with flour, brown sugar and nutmeg to create a crumbly mixture. Pour crumbles over the top of the casserole after the egg. Bake, covered, for half an hour and uncovered for another half hour.

Yield: 4 to 5 servings

Bon Appetit, Y’all:

Recipes and Stories From Three Generations of Southern Cooking

By Virginia Willis

Published by Ten Speed Press






Bourbon Sweet Potatoes

Only a Southerner, inheritor of the infamous Southern sweet tooth, would add massive quantities of butter and sugar to a dish and still regard it as a vegetable. Add a shot of bourbon? No problem.

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for the baking dish

4 to 6 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced about 1/2-inch thick

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup bourbon

2 tablespoons sorghum, cane or maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 550 degrees. Butter an ovenproof gratin or casserole dish. Arrange the sweet potato slices in the prepared dish and season with salt and pepper.

In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, butter, bourbon and syrup and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. As soon as the sauce is boiling, pour it over the sweet potatoes. Bake the casserole, basting and turning the potatoes occasionally, until the sweet potatoes are soft and tender, 45 to 60 minutes. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Bistros and Brasseries: Recipes and Reflections on Classic Café Cooking

By John W. Fischer and Lou Jones

Published by Lebhar-Friedman Books

Stuffed Onions

This is an old-fashioned dish that I remember from my training in the 1970s. Onions were a commonly braised vegetable then, along with celery, chicory (Belgian endive) and leeks. It was good to bring braised onions back to life through this book. I also decided to stuff the onions for a more substantial meal, although originally they would not have been stuffed.

6 medium Spanish (mild and large) onions (6 to 8 ounces each)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 garlic clove, crushed to a paste

1-3/4 cups mushrooms, roughly chopped

1-1/4 cups dry white wine

12 ounces ground pork shoulder

1 teaspoon dried sage

Nutmeg as needed

2 tablespoons chopped parsley, divided use

1 large egg

1 cup bread crumbs

Salt and pepper as needed

1 quart demi-glace (rich, brown French sauce)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Trim the root end of the onions, removing the roots but leaving the root end intact to hold it together as it braises. Peel the onions from the root up removing only the first layer of peel. This may leave some peel at the top from the second layer of the onion. Don’t worry about it – your onions should have a nice point to their tops.

Blanch the onions in boiling salted water for 5 minutes. Refresh them in cold water until they’re cooled. Cut off about 1 inch of the tops and reserve.

To prepare the onion to stuff, you must remove the inside. To do that, hold your paring knife horizontally so that you can insert the tip into the onion, piercing into it about 1/2 inch up from its base, and about 1/2 inch in from the outer edge. Cut across the onion (your cut should be parallel to your work surface) to within 1/2 inch of the other side. Be careful not to cut completely across the onion. Next, cut into the top of the onion holding the knife vertically so your knife blade can cut from the top of the onion and around the center of the onion. This cut should be about 1/4 inch in from the edge. Cut all around the onion, and down to the horizontal cut. When you have completed the circle, you can “fish” the inside of the onion out with the tip of your knife.

To prepare the stuffing, heat the butter in a medium pan and saute the garlic for 30 seconds over low heat. Add the mushrooms and continue to saute for 2 minutes or until they soften. Add the wine and reduce the liquid by half over medium heat. Remove the mix from the burner and allow it to cool.

Add the pork, sage, nutmeg, 1 tablespoon of the chopped parsley, egg and bread crumbs and mix it all well; season with salt and pepper.

Stuff the onions with the mixture until they’re full and cover them with their tops. Place them into a 2-inch deep roasting pan just big enough for the onions to fit snugly.

Bring the demi-glace to a boil and pour it over the onions. Liberally baste the onions with the demi-glace and then bake the onions uncovered for 1-1/2 hours or until they’re tender. Baste them frequently throughout the cooking.

When the onions are cooked, carefully remove them from the tray and onto a serving dish; keep them warm. Reduce the braising liquid over high heat until it coats the back of a spoon. Season the sauce with salt and pepper and spoon it over the onions. Sprinkle the onions with the remaining tablespoon of chopped parsley and serve.

Yield: 6 servings