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Here in the Rivera household, we’re all aflutter for Thanksgiving.  I’m not sure if it’s the time away, Tony’s cooking over an open fire, or spending the week in the Massachusetts’ countryside. While we don’t have a standard menu, my brother and his family usually come with the entire dinner in tow and its epicurean creativity is less than stimulating.  So, for the ‘traditional fare’ we’ll nibble on their reheated canned goods; however, we’ll also make a few more adventurous sides of our own which I curated from one of my more trusty cookbooks, Gatherings & Celebrations by Burt WolfWolf picture

Recipient of the first James Beard Award ever given for Best Television Food Journalism, Wolf has made television programs and written, edited and published books among his many successful pursuits. He’s produced segments for CNN, ABC, The Discovery Channel, and for Public Broadcasting in the United States. And that, Public Broadcasting, is where Gatherings & Celebrations comes in.  First published in 1996, the book is a ‘companion to Burt’s first prime-time documentary television series’ and features 20 ‘occasions for celebrations’ throughout the world.

The recipes I’m using, and which we’re hoping will turn into must haves are Stuffed Acorn Squash with Apple, Onion, & Spinach from ’Thanksgiving in Colonial Williamsburg and Glazed Brussels Sprouts with Lemon & Pepper featured in the ‘Formal Dinner in the Loire Valley’ sections of the book.   I’m including the recipes below with full credit going to the folks at Colonial Williamsburg and to, I believe, the Chateau du Nozet and the family of Baron Patrick de Ladoucette, and, of course, Burt Wolf himself for securing and publishing them.

Glazed Brussels Sprouts with Lemon and Pepper (Chateau du Nozet; again, I believe):

1 lb small brussels sprouts, out leaves and bases trimmed

1.5 teaspoons kosher salt

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons water

Pinch of sugar

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • Cut the sprouts in half, through their base and keeping leaves intact. Boil until tender, not mushy, in a pot of water (obviously, boiling water) with approximately 1 teaspoon of salt, approximately 5 minutes.
  • When ready to serve, heat the sprouts in a medium pan with the butter, lemon juice, water, sugar, remaining salt and pepper. Cook for 3 – 4 minutes, turning gently until the sprouts are lightly glazed and heated through.  Serve immediately.

Stuffed Acorn Squash with Apple, Onion, & Spinach (Colonial Williamsburg):

2 cups pearl or small boiling onions.

2 acorn squash

1 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt

1/3 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

½ teaspoon ground coriander

½ cup apple cider

½ cup water

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 golden delicious apple, peeled and diced

1 ½ pounds spinach, stems trimmed, washed and drained.

Preheat oven to 350

  • Peel onions; bring medium pot of water to boil, trim the ends of the onions, make a small X in the root end and boil for 5 minutes to loosen the skins and partially cook them; drain and set aside. When cool, press the onions out of their skins.
  • Quarter the acorn squash, scrape the seeds out. Season the flesh of the squash with ½ teaspoon of salt, 1/8 teaspoon of pepper, and the coriander.  Pour the cider and water into a roasting pan.  Place squash, cut side down, in the pan and scatter the onions around the squash.  Dot with 1 ½ tablespoons of the butter.  Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes.  Remove foil and continue to bake, basting with the juices for 30 to 40 minutes, until the onions and squash are tender.
  • When ready to service, heat the remaining butter in a skillet and saute the diced apple until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the pan juices from the squash, the spinach leaves and remining salt and pepper.  Cover over medium-high heat for 3 – 4 minutes, until the spinach is wilted and tender.
  • Arrange the squash on a platter and spoon equal portions of the spinach mixture into each section of the squash, top with the roasted onions and serve.