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Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

Kabocha squash can be used in this recipe, though I prefer butternut squash, as it is easier to peel. Opt for a squash with a long neck for a greater yield of solid pieces. The bottom is mostly seeds and can be discarded, as there is not much flesh left after the seeds are removed.
Serves 8

2 tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 large green apple, peeled, cored and diced
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
5 cups peeled, diced butternut squash
6 cups chicken stock, plus more as needed
Salt and pepper

Heat the butter or olive oil in a large saucepan over moderate heat. Add the onion and apple and cook for about 10 minutes. Stir in the spices, cook for 1 minute, and then add the diced squash and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until the squash is very tender. Puree the solids with some of the liquids in the container of a blender. Transfer to a bowl. Add enough additional stock to yield a medium-thick texture. Season with salt and pepper and adjust the sweet spices. Refrigerate uncovered until cold, then cover. The soup can be made a day or so ahead.

To serve, add additional stock to thin the soup, if needed, and bring the soup up to almost scalding. Ladle into bowls and top with a dollop of nutmeg-flavored whipped cream and/or thin slices of apple.

Roast Turkey

1 turkey, about 14 pounds
1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Wipe the turkey with a damp cloth and rub the inside cavity with a cut lemon, then with salt, pepper and garlic. Rub the outside of the bird with a mix of equal amounts of salt, pepper, and paprika. Place breast side down on a rack in a roasting pan. Tent loosely with foil. Roast 18 to 20 minutes per pound. Uncover the turkey and turn breast side up for the last 45 minutes to brown the breast. You may baste the bird from time to time, but that is not essential. A 14-pound turkey takes about 4 1/2 hours.

Remove the turkey from the oven. Let rest for 15 minutes or longer before carving.

Giblet Gravy

Turkey neck and giblets
Water or chicken stock
2 onions, sliced
2 carrots, sliced
1 or 2 celery stalks
1 sprig thyme
1 garlic clove, peeled
2 tablespoons flour
Salt and pepper
Pinch of allspice
Kitchen Bouquet (optional)

In a large saucepan simmer the neck and giblets (but not the liver) along with the onions, carrots, celery, thyme, and garlic. Cover with water or chicken stock. Cook for an hour or longer, adding additional water or chicken stock as needed to keep covered. Remove and discard the neck and the sprig of thyme. Remove the giblets and chop finely. Reserve the giblet stock.

Place the cooked vegetables in a blender and purée.

Remove 3 tablespoons of drippings from the turkey roasting pan. Heat in a saucepan. Add flour and 1 cup reserved giblet stock. Stir in the vegetable purée and add enough stock to make a pourable sauce. Add the chopped giblets. Season with salt, pepper, and allspice. You may add Kitchen Bouquet for color if the drippings were not dark enough.

Chestnuts, Chanterelles, and Pearl Onions
8 to 10 servings

1 pound chestnuts (at least 3 per person)
2 to 3 cups chicken stock, as needed
1 pound pearl onions or cipollini (2 to 3 per person)
2 pounds chanterelles or brown Cremini mushrooms
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
Salt and pepper

Cut a cross in each chestnut. Put the chestnuts in a saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Simmer about 10 minutes. While the chestnuts are hot, remove the outer skin and thin inner brown peel. (This is a painful and painstaking task but worth every minute of hot-fingered torture. See if you can talk someone into helping you, as the chestnuts must be hot for the inner skin to come off.) Try to keep the chestnuts whole, if possible.

If the chestnuts are not cooked all the way through, simmer them in chicken stock to cover for 8 to 10 minutes. When the chestnuts are done, the insides will be the same color as the outer parts. Undercooked parts will be darker. This will be easy to see if one of the chestnuts breaks. If all of the chestnuts are whole, sacrifice one and cut it in half to check. Set the cooked chestnuts aside.

Trim the roots of the onions carefully without cutting across the ends. Cut a cross on the bottom of each onion to prevent it from telescoping while cooking. Cover the onions with water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until firm but tender. Drain and remove the peels. Set aside.

Wipe the mushrooms clean with a mushroom brush or damp paper towel. Cut in thick slices or, if small, leave whole. Set aside.

Melt half the butter in a large sauté pan and quickly sauté half the mushrooms over high heat. Repeat with remaining butter and mushrooms.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the cooked chestnuts, onions, and mushrooms in a large casserole. Toss with thyme. Add a little chicken broth if the mixture seems dry. Season with salt and pepper. Bake 15 minutes until hot all the way through. Serve at once.

Brussels Sprouts with Garlic and Parmesan
Serves 8

3 pounds Brussels sprouts
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons olive oil
12 large cloves garlic, finely minced
1 1/2 to 2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese

Trim the ends off the Brussels sprouts and cut them in half lengthwise.

Warm the butter and oil in one or two sauté pans, large enough to hold all the Brussels sprouts in one layer. Add the garlic and cook over low heat for 3 minutes. Do not let it color. Add the Brussels sprouts, stir well to coat with butter and oil, and add the vegetable stock. Cover the pan. Steam until the Brussels sprouts are crisp tender, stirring occasionally, 5 to 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and top them with a generous sprinkling of grated Parmesan. Serve at once.

Variation: Brussels sports can also be tossed in olive oil and roasted on a sheet pan in a 450-degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes, shaking them a few times or turning them for even cooking. When they are golden brown and crisp, toss them in garlic butter and top with cheese. No broth needed.

Celery Root and Potato Purée
Serves 8 to 10

8 large baking potatoes
3 large celery roots
3 to 4 cups chicken stock
4 to 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 to 2 cups cream
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Bake the potatoes for 1 hour, until very tender. Cut the potatoes in half, remove the pulp, and pass it through a ricer or food mill.

While the potatoes are baking, trim the leaves and roots off the celery root and peel. Dice and simmer the celery root in chicken stock to cover until very tender. Purée in a food processor or pass through a food mill.

Combine the potato and celery root purées in a large heavy saucepan over moderate heat. Stir in butter and cream as needed until a smooth but not soupy texture is achieved. Season with salt and pepper and a little nutmeg.

Cranberry Chutney
Makes about 3 pints

2 cups water
3 cups sugar
2 oranges, seeded, diced, and puréed in a blender
2 walnut-sized pieces of peeled fresh ginger, cut in thin slivers
4 cups cranberries
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
Pinch of salt
1 cup raisins

Place the water and sugar in a deep saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the orange purée and ginger and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the cranberries, cinnamon, and cloves and a pinch of salt and simmer until almost thick. Stir in the raisins and cook until big bubbles appear. Pour into a serving bowl. Refrigerate and then bring to room temperature for serving.

Persimmon Pudding
This dessert entails some advance planning to allow the Hachiya persimmons to ripen until they are soft. This can take days or a week, depending on how firm they were when you bought them. Putting them in a bowl with a ripe apple and covering them with a paper bag will speed up the softening.

We serve this traditional holiday dessert at our Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. It is a variation on the English plum pudding. I used to serve it with the traditional English hard sauce (butter, confectioner’s sugar, and brandy), but that was too rich. Today I serve it with lightly whipped cream or vanilla or eggnog-flavored ice cream. The pudding can be made days ahead of time, refrigerated, and then reheated just before dinner. To reheat, steam the pudding in a pot on the stovetop or in the oven in a water bath for about 20 minutes, until it is warm and easy to unmold.
Serves 10 to 12

1 tablespoon butter, melted, or more as needed
2 1/2 cups flour, sifted
3/4 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon or Chinese five-spice powder
5 tablespoons brandy
1 tablespoon vanilla
I tablespoon lemon juice
2 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 pound plus 4 tablespoons butter, melted
4 cups persimmon purée from about 8 ripe Hachiyas
5 teaspoons baking soda, dissolved in 5 tablespoons hot water
5 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup raisins and/or currants
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Brush 1 large pudding mold with melted butter. If you do not have a pudding mold, you may use a large Bundt pan or deep cake pan.

To bake the pudding, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Choose a pan large enough to accommodate the pudding mold. To steam the pudding, set a rack in a stockpot that is wider than your mold.

Sift the flour with the salt and cinnamon. Combine the brandy, vanilla, and lemon juice in a measuring cup.

In a large mixing bowl, add the sugar to the butter and combine with the paddle attachment. Add the persimmon purée, the baking soda mixed with water, and the brandy mixture. Add the eggs and mix well.

Fold the flour mixture into the batter. Fold in the raisins and walnuts and combine well, but do not overbeat.

Pour the batter into the buttered pudding mold and close the cover. If using a cake pan, cover with a double thickness of foil.

To steam the pudding on the stovetop, set the pudding inside the stockpot and pour in enough boiling water to go halfway up the sides of the mold. Bring the water to a simmer and cover the pot.

To bake the pudding, set the pudding in the pan and fill the pan with hot water.

Cook the pudding for 2 1/2 hours, until firm. Replenish the water as necessary.

Serve warm.