Thanksgiving Hack: Gluten-free cornbread and sausage-chestnut dressing

Jane Rosemarin / Heavy Table

Jane Rosemarin / Heavy Table

Our family spends Thanksgiving with a friend who has celiac disease, so we have a mostly gluten-free dinner — I do make rolls and a pie crust with wheat flour, but also gluten-free versions for Jerry. A dish we all look forward to is the gluten-free dressing, which starts with a tasty cornbread. You could use your favorite cornbread recipe for the dressing if you don’t need to avoid gluten.

While these recipes are forgiving, and you can use the most readily available ingredients, several ingredients merit mention. Likewise, for the dressings, proportions are flexible: don’t discard a handful of excess diced celery; use it. The critical part is tasting for seasoning as you cook. And stuffing the dressing into the turkey turns it into … a stuffing, of course!

gorkha-palace-horiz-bannerThis Hack is underwritten by Gorkha Palace: Using fresh & organic ingredients, Gorkha Palace brings you an eclectic range of cuisines of Nepal, India and Tibet thus offering our patrons a unique culinary experience.

Fresh, wholegrain cornmeal is sweet and flavorful and makes a difference in these — and other — recipes. I used organic cornmeal from Whole Grain Milling in Welcome, Minn., available in bulk at Lakewinds, the Wedge, and other co-ops. I also love the organic cornmeal produced by Greg Reynolds at Riverbend Farm in Delano, Minn., but it’s unavailable this year. “We had a very cool wet spring and early summer,” Reynolds wrote in an email. “The corn got planted late, and we had a frost before it matured. Consequently, no corn crop.”



Thanksgiving Hacks: The Unexpected Vegetarian

Bjorn Christianson / Heavy Table

Bjorn Christianson / Heavy Table

The surprise vegetarian guest can send the coolest cook into a tizzy, generally resulting in a plate of sides hastily assembled into an entree. But to make a veg feel welcome, one pantry staple will do the trick: vegetarian stock, broth, bouillon paste, or bouillon cubes.

Each allows for a fantastic feat: the transformation of a collection of already tasty sides into a truly special plate, all through the magic of gravy.

Bjorn Christianson / Heavy Table

Bjorn Christianson / Heavy Table

And you’re likely to find that all your guests enjoy the vegetarian gravy on its own merits. Lighter than traditional, pan-dripping gravies and more complex and savory than anything from a packet, vegetarian gravies, like their meaty friends, reflect the flavor of their primary ingredients. While using turkey drippings grants a very specific “Thanksgiving” flavor, choosing among vegetarian bases can change the tenor of your meal.

The fastest route is a can or Tetra-pak of vegetarian broth. As a go-to, I like the readily available Swanson’s, which has the bright, clear look and flavor of a balanced broth you might whip up from a traditional mirepoix mixture (equal parts carrot, onion, and celery). More complex broths, often found in the natural-foods aisle or at your local co-op, will tend toward either a stronger carrot flavor or a darker, earthier mushroom flavor.



Let Your Table Find Its Voice at Northern Clay Center

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Your table setting says a lot about you! Serving pieces not only complement your foodstuffs, they also express your sense of design and aesthetics. Let your new casserole be the conversation starter at the dinner table! Let your wine tumblers toast to good company and good health! Let your dessert plates savor the moment and the end of the feast! From salt shakers and gravy boats to after-dinner espresso mugs and dessert plates, let your table find its voice at Northern Clay Center, as you shop from over 2,000 handmade ceramic pots. With the holiday season upon us, visit our gallery in South Minneapolis and our online store to plan your dinner party (and to gift shop!) at a time and place convenient to you.

Paul Berglund (above), Executive Chef of The Bachelor Farmer (Minneapolis) visited Northern Clay Center to choose serving dishes fit for his holiday table.

I grew up in the Midwest. Thanksgiving was very traditional. I most look forward to the gravy, dinner rolls and stuffing. As you can see, I hit the starches pretty hard, with a side of turkey. Most of the dishes, I have chosen for their warm colors. Ceramic dinnerware is actually a perfect fit for fall and winter, because most of the colors you find in glazes are earth tones.

pe-pie-northern-clay

I am imagining a slice of apple pie with vanilla ice cream. Apple red with warm yellow. It’s perfect! Low Dish ($40) by Paul Eshelman.

 



Thanksgiving Hack: On the Management of Liquids

Kate NG Sommers / Febgiving.com

Kate NG Sommers / Febgiving.com

Most of what is written about big meals focuses, not unsurprisingly, on grand entrees — the turkey always gets the fanfare. Comfort-giving sides and dramatic desserts soak up most of the rest of the limelight, leaving bits and bobs behind for cocktails and appetizers.

Totally lost in the shuffle is the most prosaic stuff: the challenge of keeping dozens of guests happy by keeping them hydrated, and — later in the evening — caffeinated. You can burn precious time pouring water and brewing and rebrewing coffee while other, more critical stuff gets delayed or forgotten, or you can let your guests languish or forage haplessly for their own refills. The state of your liquids at a big meal barely merits consideration until it becomes a constant hassle.

Not surprisingly, it’s a problem that money — and not much of it — can easily solve. Once you’ve equipped your pantry appropriately, you’ll never go back to the desperate days of empty pitchers and French presses.

Step one: Get an acrylic beverage dispenser. It’s not glass, so it’s tough to break. Fill that sucker up with ice, water, and lemon slices, and your guests will be set for the meal, if not the evening.



Thanksgiving at Seward Co-op

Courtesy of Seward Co-op

Courtesy of Seward Co-op

This week and next week, the Heavy Table presents a series of “Thanksgiving Hacks,” tips and tricks focused on making your Upper Midwestern Thanksgiving as delicious (and stress-free) as humanly possible. This post is sponsored by Seward Co-op.

Thanksgiving is a particularly special holiday at Seward Co-op because of Seward’s focus on the appreciation of food and community. What better way to honor such an occasion than with the highest-quality local products?

Courtesy of Seward Co-op

Courtesy of Seward Co-op

Deli
Consider the co-op your partner in the kitchen when planning this year’s Thanksgiving feast! We have a wide variety of ready-to-eat side dishes to accompany your meal, including stuffing, house-made cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, and poultry or vegan gravy. We also offer entire pre-made meals to fit any need: a family pack, individual servings and a vegan plate. Call or stop by the deli counter to place an order by Sunday, Nov. 23, for any of these special holiday menu items. Orders can be picked up Wednesday, Nov. 26 and Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 27.

No Thanksgiving dinner is complete without the pie. In our bakery case you’ll find whole pies, all handmade from scratch. Place an order to reserve your favorites or pick one up from our grab ’n’ go cooler. Whole pies (pumpkin, vegan pumpkin and pecan) will be on sale for $2 off from Nov. 22–Dec. 2.

If cooking or traveling isn’t in your plans, we’ve got you covered. The week of Thanksgiving — Nov. 24–28 — the Seward Co-op deli will offer a traditional Thanksgiving meal at the hot food bar for $8.99/lb. The selections include all the traditional favorites, such as turkey breast slices, traditional and vegan varieties of stuffing, and gravy, green beans, cranberry relish, beets, and yams.