When I daydream about coming home for the holidays, I think of wearing slippers and cozy sweaters for days at a time, sitting in front of the fire until my eyelids begin to droop, and waking up to views of the rolling blue Berkshire hills. Mostly, however, I think of cooking. I think of dreaming up menus at the kitchen table surrounded by a small fortress of cookbooks, writing out grocery lists, and going to Guido’s Fresh Marketplace. For someone who considers writing grocery lists a hobby and who thinks about food 24/7, Guido’s is like paradise. I’ve been there over 1200 times (I did the math), but every time I come home, in summer, winter, spring or fall, shopping there still feels like a treat.
Thanksgiving us upon us, but let’s be honest, I’m nowhere near ready to roast a whole turkey. I’ve seen my mom’s technique, which involves dunking the bird in a giant, plastic-lined industrial bucket full of brine a full 3 days before the feast, and then painstakingly spreading herbed butter under every inch of the bird’s skin. If you’re like me, you find that process slightly intimidating, but nonetheless adore the flavors of the classic Thanksgiving feast.
This year, I partnered with Guido’s to create a Thanksgiving menu, Little Sister style; in other words, fun, festive, and easy! I combined trusty resources like the New York Times food section, my favorite food blogs, and a few age-old family recipes with the gorgeous bounty of Guido’s Fresh Marketplace to come up with the following menu:
Shrimp Steamed in Beer with Tartar Sauce
This might be a little outside the usual Thanksgiving agenda, but it’s a quick, easy, no-fail hors d’oeuvre for entertaining season. My family learned the recipe in Key West, where they cook the shrimp whole. The tartar sauce is my grandma’s recipe. While its roots are Floridian, the warm flavors of beer, cloves, onion and bay leaves are perfect for a late fall evening. Mazzeo’s fresh-caught Alabama shrimp can’t be beat.
For the Shrimp
1 lb. fresh caught shrimp
1 Bottle beer
1 T whole cloves
1 Bay leavef
1 Onion, roughly chopped
1 Dill pickle, roughly chopped
Combine beer, onion, cloves, bay leaf and pickle in a large pot and bring to a boil. Add shrimp, cover pan and bring to a boil again. Turn to simmer and watch carefully. They’ll be pink, firm and done very quickly!
For the Tartar Sauce
1 C mayonnaise
1 Clove garlic
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. Capers
a sprinkle of salt and a grind of pepper
About 5 leaves of parsley
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until thoroughly combined.
Roasted Fennel, Satsuma Orange, and Pomegranate Salad
from Brooklyn Supper
This salad is simple but gorgeous, the roasted saltiness of the fennel and red onion contrasted with the bright crunch of pomegranate seeds. Click here for the recipe.
Stuffing-Stuffed Acorn Squash
If you ask me, the whole point of Thanksgiving is the stuffing. Everything else is just a vehicle. Why not showcase the flavors of stuffing—crumbly cornbread, warm chestnuts, sweet sausage, and sage—by piling it into halves of velvety acorn squash? The type of squash is up to you! From local butternut to speckled Kabocha to bright orange Kuri, Guido’s selection is overflowing.
For the Squash (serves 8)
4 Acorn squash
1 T olive oil
½ tsp. coarse sea salt
Preheat oven to 425°. Halve each squash and scrape out seeds from center. Lightly oil the cut edges and center of squash. Oil the bottom of a baking dish or roasting pan, and sprinkle salt over surface. Bake squash cut side down for 25 minutes. Let cool slightly before flipping, as hot steam will escape. Set aside.
For the Stuffing
2 T butter
1 Onion, diced
¾ lb. sweet Italian sausage (Guido’s sells it freshly-made, in bulk!)
1 ½ cups Olivia’s Original Cornbread Stuffing Croutons
15 oz. Whole roasted and peeled chestnuts (After years of agonizing over roasting whole chestnuts and multiple injuries sustained from the peeling process, we now buy Guido’s Blanchard & Blanchard’s Organic Whole Roasted and Peeled Chestnuts)
1 C whole milk
2 Stalks celery
3 Sage leaves, finely chopped
Salt & Pepper to Taste
Cook the onion in butter until golden brown. Add the sausage and sage and cook, stirring constantly until meat is browned and cooked through. Add the chestnuts, cornbread, milk, salt and pepper and mix well. Cook on low heat until all ingredients are thoroughly incorporated and the cornbread has lost some of its crunch. Once stuffing is done, pile it into the cavity of each squash half and bake for 5 -10 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley to serve.
Quick-Blanched Haricot Verts
Guido’s deliciously crisp haricots verts don’t need anything other than a quick blanch in boiling water to bring out their bright, cheerful flavor.
Cranberry Orange Curd Tart
From the New York Times
I couldn’t resist the locally grown cranberries that greeted me in a tower of deep red when I walked in the door of Guido’s. But instead of cranberry sauce, why not eat them for dessert? This New York Times recipe combines everything good about tangy cranberries and orange zest with the luxurious creaminess of curd, spreading it to bake in a buttery, roasted hazelnut crust (that just so happens to be gluten free!) I was initially intimidated, but take it from me: curd is not scary at all, and this will become a new staple on your Thanksgiving table. Click here for the recipe