The Turkey Tango: What Wine Is Best to Serve on Thanksgiving?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

With Thanksgiving only a day away, you’re probably finalizing your menu and are picking up the last few items for your meal. Among the items on your list may be picking up beverages for your guests. So the question is what wines pair with a meal with so many different complex tastes?

This can get particularly tricky if you’re entertaining a large group that may have a variety of preferences and tastes. While the answers to this debate range far and wide, but there are a couple points that most winos seem to be in agreement on – keep it simple and offer a variety of options if you’re expecting a crowd.

From spicy pumpkin pie to rich, creamy mashed potatoes and tart cranberries, leave the meal’s bold flavors to the food that you’re serving. By sticking to a non-oaky wine that’s light-bodied and well-balanced, you’ll avoid picking a wine that could clash or compete. Keeping it on the lighter side is also helpful since guests will likely be enjoying large portions and won’t want a heavy wine contributing to their after-meal fullness.

Some wine experts say that Thanksgiving may be the most complex
meal to make wine selections for.
Photo Source:

If you’re expecting a group, plan to offer some red and white choices. For the white, steer clear of oaky, rich Chardonnays and opt for a smooth Sauvignon Blanc or a Riesling if you’d like something a bit sweeter. Cava or champagne can also be a great option I’d highly recommend because it will almost always complement the food you’re serving and it’s a nice light alternative that people often overlook. If red if your preference, a fruity Pinot Noir, a light Zinfadel or a Beaujolais come highly recommended along with Chianti and some blends of Cabernet Sauvignon, although be of varieties that are oaky or have too high of an alcohol content.

Or, if your guests prefer beer with their Thanksgiving feast, try amber ale, a lager like Oktoberfest or brown or golden ale with traditional turkey. Spiced ale or a winter lager are also great pairs with pumpkin pie!

Above all, let the number of guests, budget and preferences guide your picks and enjoy the holiday with friends and family!

Tastes of Turkey Day

Sunday, November 22, 2009

If your family is anything like mine, Thanksgiving is a holiday that we look forward to 364 days of the year. It’s a time for feasting on family favorites and carrying out yearly traditions while also making new ones. For my family, we enjoy sipping on mimosas and watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade together while the savory smells of roasting turkey, sage and stuffing cause our stomachs to rumble in anticipation. I am the appointed turkey stuffer of the household and am looking forward to trying a new stuffing this year.

Adapted by The Charlotte Observer based on a recipe from The Silver Palate Cookbook, an almost legendary mantra of gourmet cooking for my family, this year’s stuffing is called Cornbread-Sausage Dressing With Apples. A mix of three types of bread, tart apple, onion, sausage, pecans and spices, this recipe yields 10 to 12 servings or enough to stuff a 20-pound turkey.

Egg and chicken broth will give this stuffing a moist, rich flavor.
Photo Source: Charlotte Observer

As for the turkey, the meal’s main attraction, the possibilities for infusing flavor are endless from basting to brining and grilling or deep-frying for those seeking a twist on a traditional bird.

Think of brining as a style of marinating -- soak your turkey for 12 to 24 hours before roasting to lock in flavor. Try out Spice Hunter’s Turkey Brine, a mix of sea salt, brown sugar, dried cranberries and apples, orange zest, black peppercorns, thyme, rosemary and age. Order online or find at your local specialty grocer.

Make your meal all-American by grilling your turkey this Thanksgiving. Pre-soak it in a brine or prepare a rub to add some extra taste to your turkey. Check out these grilling tips and recipes by Saveur for more information.

Tired of the same type of Thanksgiving turkey? Give in to the grill.
Photo Source: Saveur

For a fast-track turkey taking only 45 minutes to cook a 12-pound bird, try deep-frying. Add some Cajun seasoning for some extra spice if your Turkey Day guests won’t mind the extra oomph.

Check out some more fun Thanksgiving Day recipes that will make your guests’ mouths water:

This pieced apart pie is the combination of crumbly pecan and coconut oatmeal, spiced pumpkin custard and tastes of caramel and cinnamon.

Try this new taken on pumpkin pie for a pretty, portion perfect dessert.
Photo Source: Bonbini

Sweet Potato Souffle
Can’t pick between marshmallows or pecans? Why not use both in this tasty Sweet Potato Souffle.

Baked Mashed Potato Cake
Make your mashed potatoes more of a gratin with this Italian recipe for Baked Mashed Potato Cake.

Bread crumbs, provolone and bits of salami gives this
potato dish great gratin-like flavor.
Photo Source: Cheese and Pears

Cranberry Upside-Down Cake
Try this moist and tart cranberry cake as a sweet beginning or ending to Thanksgiving celebrations.

This sweet dish is festive in flavor and in color.
Photo Source: My Recipes

Best Holiday Baking Tools

Saturday, November 7, 2009

With holiday and family gatherings just around the corner, baking for big groups may be on the horizon for you. Check out these four fun and festive kitchen tools that will help you wow your guests.

These cute individual-sized pie molds come in pretty fall shapes of apples and pumpkins. Just arrange refrigerated pie crust in the mold, add the filling of your choice and voila – you’ve got a festive and fancy looking sweet treat. Each set comes with two for less than 10 dollars. Tip: try freezing the molds for 20 to 30 minutes before using for best results.

These beautiful apple and pumpkin-shaped "pocket pies" are
sweet and easy-to-make treats.
Photo Source: Williams-Sonoma

Cooking breakfast for a large group? This Williams-Sonoma waffled pancake pan makes it easy for you to cook up to seven pancakes at once so that you can get a hungry group fed quickly. For mess-free measuring, invest in a “pancake pen” batter bottle.

Make breakfast for a big group with these
waffled pancake pan.
Photo Source: Williams-Sonoma

These colorful fall pie cutters are cute accessories to dress up any pumpkin pie with fun shapes like leaves and acorns. Add a few cut pieces of pie dough for a special touch or go all out for a fun leaf-topped creation.

These little leaf and acorn-shaped pie crust cutters
can add a personalized touch to a tasty pumpkin pie.
Photo Source: Williams-Sonoma

This acorn cakelet pan is perfect for baking fun festive fall bite-sized acorn-shaped breads or cakes. If you’re partial to pumpkins instead, check out the pumpkin patch pan, which also offers perfect presentation of fall baked goodies.

Create acorn cakelets made of cornbread, muffin mix
or any other bread or cake mix you desire.
Photo Source: Williams-Sonoma

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