Tis the season for meals that bring friends and family to the table to celebrate. Here are recipes from recent cookbooks featuring traditional dishes as well as nominees for the next holiday favorite.



The Modern Salad
Innovative New American and International Recipes Inspired by Burma's Iconic Tea Leaf Salad
By Elizabeth Howes
Published by Ulysses Press




Cider Smoked Salmon and Toasted Rye Salad with Pickled Onion and Thyme Cream
Years ago, I spent several weeks in London with my hilarious friend Chris as a tour guide. My favorite part of each day was when we'd tuck into a neighborhood pub for a cider. The cider, stone-ground mustard, and truffle oil marinade for the salmon is as effortless and thrilling as that unforgettable trip.


1 cup apple cider
1/4 cup stone-ground mustard
1 teaspoon white truffle oil (optional)
16 ounces wild smoked salmon
6 medium golden beets, cleaned, both ends trimmed
1 tablespoon grape seed oil
1 cup crème fraîche or Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
8 slices dense rye bread, each about 1/4-inch thick
1/4 cup, plus 1 tablespoon caraway oil, divided
1/2 cup pickled red onion
2 heads butter lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

In a medium bowl, whisk together the cider, mustard, sea salt, pepper and truffle oil, if using. Slice the salmon into about 2 x 3-inch pieces. Gently toss to combine in the marinade, cover tightly and refrigerate for 1 hour.


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the beets on a large piece of parchment paper and drizzle with the grape seed oil. Wrap the paper around the beets, folding the edges to secure them, and place on a baking sheet.


Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 35 to 45 minutes, or until a fork inserted into the middle easily pierces the beets. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool before peeling and slicing into quarters.


In a medium bowl, combine the crème fraîche or yogurt with the thyme, and season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate the thyme cream for up to 5 days.


To make the toasted rye, brush the bread on both sides with 1 tablespoon of the caraway oil, and place on a grill pan or other heavy skillet, over medium-high heat. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until grill marks form and the bread is crispy. Once cool, tear into bite-size pieces.


On a large platter or on individual plates, arrange the marinated salmon, beets, rye bread, pickled red onion and lettuce. Drizzle the lettuce and beets with the remaining 1/4 cup of caraway oil. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Serve the thyme cream on the side.


Yields 4 servings



Garam Masala Turkey Salad with Tamarind-Cranberry Agrodolce
This complex salad incorporates flavors from India and Italy and is a great use of leftover Thanksgiving turkey. Garam masala is a deeply flavorful spice mix containing cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, mace, coriander, cumin and peppercorns. Similar to a French gastrique, agrodolce is a jammy, sweet-and-sour condiment popular in Italian cuisine.


4 pounds bone-in, skin-on turkey breast
1-1/2 tablespoons, plus 1/2 teaspoon garam masala, divided
1 tablespoon grape seed oil
1/2 cup roughly chopped dried cranberries
2 tablespoons finely diced shallot
3 cups unseasoned rice vinegar
2 tablespoons tamarind paste (1/4 cup lime juice may be substituted)
2 finely diced cloves garlic
1 pinch dried chile pepper flakes
1/4 cup maple syrup (grade B)
1 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
3/4 pound feta cheese
1/2 cup finely diced scallion, plus extra for garnish
4 cups roughly chopped spinach
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Rub 1-1/2 tablespoons of the garam masala along with sea salt and pepper onto the turkey breast, distributing evenly. In a large cast-iron or other heavy skillet over medium-high heat, add the grape seed oil.


Once the oil is shimmering, place the turkey breast, skin side down, in the pan. Cook for about 4 minutes, or until golden. Turn the breast over, and transfer to the oven for another 20 to 25 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches at least 165 degrees. Allow to cool before slicing into bite-size pieces.


For the agrodolce, whisk together the cranberries, shallot, rice vinegar, tamarind paste, garlic, chile pepper flakes and maple syrup in a medium saucepan over high heat. Once boiling, season with salt and pepper, and lower to medium.


Simmer for 10 to 12 minutes, or until reduced by about half, with a slightly syrupy consistency. Add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of garam masala, and stir to combine.


Remove from the heat, and transfer to a glass jar. The agrodolce may be refrigerated for up to a week.


Toss the turkey, pine nuts, feta, scallion, spinach, olive oil and black pepper with the desired amount of agrodolce in a large bowl. Serve on individual plates and garnish with extra scallions.


Yields 4 servings


Our Table
Time-tested recipes, memorable meals
By Renee Muller
Published by Artscroll





Butternut Squash Soup
This soup is always in our rotation. We never tire of it. Thick and silky, it's forever a favorite.


2 tablespoons oil
4 onions, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 large butternut squash, peeled and diced
1 large knob celery root, peeled and diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon salt or Lawry's seasoned salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 (fifteen-ounce) can tomato sauce

In a large pot, heat the oil. Add onions and garlic; sauté until onions are softened. Add butternut squash, knob celery and carrots. Add the spices. Add water just to cover. Bring soup to a simmer; cook until butternut squash is fork tender, about 1 hour.


Blend soup until smooth, using an immersion blender. Add tomato sauce; blend again.


Taste; adjust seasoning to your liking.


Note: This soup freezes well. When defrosting, re-blend using the immersion blender to restore creaminess.


Yields 8 servings


Sweet & Tangy Spare Ribs
A friend once called me, asking for a meat recipe. "It has to be amazingly good and incredibly easy," she said. "I'm kidding," she then added, but I knew she really wasn't. And I had just the thing. Where does it say that great dishes have to be long, hard and complicated?


8 (one-inch-thick) spare ribs, nicely marbled
2-1/2 cups duck sauce
1 cup water
2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons dried onion flakes
1 tablespoon salt

Black pepper, to taste


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a baking pan, arrange ribs in one layer. In a medium bowl, combine duck sauce, water, teriyaki sauce, garlic, paprika, onion flakes, salt and pepper. Pour over ribs. Cover tightly with foil; bake for 3 hours.
Let ribs cool; then refrigerate overnight.


Preheat oven to 375 degrees (use the "roast" setting, if available). Remove congealed fat layer from the ribs. Roast, uncovered, spooning sauce over the ribs once or twice, until ribs are braised and glistening, about 20 minutes.


Note: I like to cool the ribs in the middle of the cooking process so I can remove the fat layer, but it's not a necessity. You can raise oven temperature, uncover meat, and proceed with the braising part immediately after the 3-hour slow roasting.


Yields 4 entrée or 6 appetizer servings




A Savor the South Cookbook
By Cynthia Graubart
Published by The University of North Carolina Press


Biscuit-Topped Chicken Pot Pies
I usually use a store-bought rotisserie chicken for this recipe unless I have cooked chicken on hand from another meal. The biscuit tops are delightful.


1 cup sliced carrots
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped onion
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, quartered
1 cup frozen cut pole beans, thawed
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1-1/2 cups chicken stock or broth
2 cups shredded or diced cooked chicken
1 cup self-rising flour
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Place 4 (ten-ounce) ovenproof ramekins or bowls on a rimmed baking sheet; set aside.


Place the carrots and 2 tablespoons of water in a microwave-safe glass bowl and microwave on high for 1–2 minutes, or until crisp-tender, and drain.


Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the beans and carrots, and cook for 2 minutes.


Sprinkle the all-purpose flour, salt and pepper over the vegetables. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute, or until the flour is incorporated. Gradually stir in the stock or broth and cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, for 8–10 minutes, or until the mixture is thickened and bubbly. Stir in the chicken and remove from the heat.


Stir together the self-rising flour and cream in a bowl just until flour is moistened. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Pat out and fold the dough 3–4 times and then pat it out to 1/2-inch thickness. Using a 3-inch round cutter, cut out 4 disks, reshaping the scraps once, if necessary, for the fourth biscuit. (Avoid twisting the cutter so the biscuit will rise properly.)


Divide the hot chicken mixture evenly between prepared ramekins or bowls and top each with the cut biscuit dough. Bake for 20 minutes, or until biscuits are golden brown. Serve hot.


Yields 4 servings


Honey Mustard Chicken
For years, I have served this dish to family and friends, particularly on holidays when I serve more than one meat entrée for a large crowd.


1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons whole or coarse-grain mustard
8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
Freshly ground black pepper

Cooked rice (optional)


Stir together the honey and both mustards in a small bowl. Place the chicken thighs in a large resealable plastic bag.


Pour the honey mixture over the chicken, seal the bag, turn to coat the chicken evenly, and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.


When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the thighs to a 9 x 13-inch baking dish or pan and discard the excess marinade. Season with salt and pepper. Bake for 50 minutes, or until the thickest part of a chicken reaches 175 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.


Serve over rice, if desired, along with the pan juices.


Note: Marinating the thighs a few hours or overnight is the key to infusing the fullest flavor from the honey and mustard. Consider adding 2–4 teaspoons curry powder to the marinade as a variation.


Yields 6-8 servings




Melissa's Southern Cookbook
Tried and True Family Recipes
By Melissa Sperka
Published by The Countryman Press





Black-Bottomed Peanut Butter Pie
You can find variations of peanut butter pie throughout the South. This can be made several days in advance, then topped with whipped cream, peanut butter cups and warm chocolate ganache just before serving.


2-1/4 cups crushed chocolate graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick, or 4 ounces) salted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 10-inch deep-dish pie dish with cooking spray. Set aside.


In a small mixing bowl, mix together the graham cracker crumbs, granulated sugar and butter. The mixture should hold together when pressed between two fingers. Press firmly onto the bottom and up the sides of the prepared pie dish.


Bake for 15 minutes, or until set. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.


2 (eight-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 (eight-ounce) containers frozen whipped topping, thawed

To make the filling: In a medium-size mixing bowl, cream together the cream cheese, peanut butter, powdered sugar and vanilla. Fold in half of the whipped topping by hand.


Spread the filling into the cooled pie crust. Top with the remaining whipped cream.


1 (eleven-ounce) bag mini peanut butter cups, unwrapped and cubed
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/4 cup chopped peanuts


To top: Arrange the cubed peanut butter cups on top of the whipped cream.
In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the chocolate chips and cream and melt in 20-second increments, stopping to stir each time, until completely smooth.


Drizzle the chocolate mixture over the peanut butter cups and sprinkle with the chopped peanuts. This may be done just before serving, if desired. Chill for at least 4 hours to set.


Yields 1 (ten-inch) pie



Christmas Eve Date Nut Cookies
These powdered sugar-coated date nut cookies have been a holiday family tradition for as long as I can remember. They bake crisp yet delicate on the inside, with an element of chewiness from the chopped dates tucked away inside the dough. The dates make them so appetizing and the toasted pecans give them Southern flair.


1 cup (2 sticks or 8 ounces) salted butter, at room temperature
2-1/2 cups powdered sugar, divided
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups self-rising flour
1 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.


In a medium-size mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, cream together the butter, 1/2 cup of the powdered sugar and the vanilla. Beat for 2 minutes, or until light yellow and fluffy.


Reduce the speed of the mixer and add the flour, beating just until combined.


Stir in the dates and pecans by hand. Roll into balls or logs or shape into crescents and place on the prepared cookie sheet.


Bake for 12 to 16 minutes, or until firm but not browned. Meanwhile, place the remaining 2 cups of powdered sugar in a shallow bowl. Remove the cookies from the oven, immediately roll them in powdered sugar, and place on a cooling rack to cool completely. Store tightly covered.


Yields about 2 dozen cookies