Chelsea Colby, MBA Class of 2015

Well, it’s already November again, and your cooking skills have somehow neglected to miraculously improve themselves in time to impress your new friends/romantic companions/family members/that one weird family friend who is always invited to Thanksgiving dinner even though he never shuts up about his pet parrot’s stress-induced Rosacea.

But fear not!  I’m better at explaining cooking tips than I am at avoiding run-on sentences, and I’m here to help.  I’ve rounded up a few of my favorite holiday dishes, each appropriate for one of life’s many weird Thanksgiving scenarios.  If you’re serving more than 5-6 people, you’ll probably want to double these recipes.

Cocktail: For when your brother’s new girlfriend won’t stop talking about the real housewives of wherever, and you need to go in a corner and have some quiet time to yourself.

Autumn in a Glass

–          1 ½ oz. Apple Brandy (it’s easy to find, I promise)
–          1 ½ oz. Rye (Redemption a well-priced favorite)
–          1 oz. Ginger Liqueur or ¼ tsp grated ginger
–          3 oz. Apple Cider
–          Orange Zest

Combine the ingredients with ice in a shaker, shake for a few seconds,  and strain into a chilled glass (you know, if you’re back at your family’s place and they actually have a non-New York freezer that can actually fit multiple glasses in it.)  Rub the piece of orange zest around the rim of the glass.

Side: For when your newly gluten-free cousin is joining this year, but there is no way in hell you’re going to let her remove all carbs from this year’s meal.

Yellow Pepper Risotto

Yellow Pepper Risotto

–          3 to 3.5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
–          1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
–          1/4 cup finely chopped onion or shallot
–          1 plump garlic clove, minced
–          1 large yellow pepper, finely diced
–          Salt to taste
–          3/4 cups arborio or carnaroli rice
–          1/4 cup dry white wine
–          A generous pinch of saffron threads (optional)
–          Freshly ground pepper to taste
–          1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, or a mixture of parsley and thyme
–          1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (1/4 cup)

1. Bring the stock to a simmer in a saucepan with a ladle nearby. Season generously with salt.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large, wide, heavy skillet or saucepan over medium heat, and add the onions or shallots. Cook gently until they begin to soften, about three minutes. Add the garlic, peppers, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Cook, stirring, until the peppers are limp and fragrant, about eight to 10 minutes. Add the rice, and stir over medium heat until the grains are separate and beginning to crackle, about three minutes.

3. Stir in the wine and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. The wine should bubble, but not too quickly — you want some of the flavor to cook into the rice and not just evaporate. When the wine has almost evaporated, stir in a ladleful or two of the simmering stock (about 1/2 cup), enough just to cover the rice. The stock should bubble slowly (adjust heat accordingly). Rub the saffron threads between your fingers, and add to the rice. Cook, stirring often, until the stock is just about absorbed. Add another ladleful or two of the stock and continue to cook in this fashion, not too fast and not too slowly, stirring often and adding more stock when the rice is almost dry. Continue for 25 minutes, until the rice is cooked through but still a little chewy. Taste and adjust seasoning.

4. When the rice is cooked through, add a generous amount of freshly ground pepper, and stir in another half cup of stock, the Parmesan and the herbs. Remove from the heat. The rice should be creamy; if it isn’t, add a little more stock. Stir once, taste and adjust seasonings, and serve.

Veg: For when you know your sister is going to Instagram, and she made you promise that she could hashtag #kale at least once

Kale Salad with Apples and Cheddar

Kale and Apple Salad

–          4 cups very finely chopped or slivered curly kale or Russian kale (about 6 ounces on the stem, or half of a 3/4-pound bunch, stemmed and washed)
–          2 tablespoons coarsely chopped toasted almonds
–          1 apple, sweet, like a Fuji, or a sweet-tart, like a Gala, cored and cut in 1/4-inch dice
–          1 ounce sharp Cheddar cheese, cut in 1/4-inch dice
–          2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
–          Salt to taste
–          1 very small garlic clove, minced
–          5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
–          2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan

1. Combine the kale, almonds, apple and Cheddar in a large bowl.

2. Whisk together the lemon juice, salt, garlic and olive oil. Add to the salad, and toss well. Sprinkle with the Parm.

Dessert: Because you’ve cooked everything else already, and you are sleeeepy.  You need something easy!

Pear Crisp

Pear Crisp

Topping:

–          1/4 cup all purpose flour
–          1/4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
–          1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
–          1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
–          1/4 cup (1/2 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
–          1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
–          1/4 cup coarsely chopped whole raw almonds
–          2 Tbsp 1/4-inch cubes crystallized ginger

Filling:

–          1/4 cup sugar
–          1 tablespoon cornstarch
–          1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
–          1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
–          2 pounds firm but ripe pears (3 to 4 large), peeled, cored, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 3 cups)

For topping:

Whisk first 4 ingredients in medium bowl. Add butter. Working quickly so butter does not soften, rub in with fingertips until moist clumps form. Stir in oats, almonds, and ginger. Chill while preparing filling.

For filling:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Whisk first 4 ingredients in large bowl. Add pears; toss. Transfer to 8 x 8 x 2-inch oval baking dish. Sprinkle topping over pear mixture.

Bake until topping is crisp and golden brown and juices are bubbling, about 50 minutes. Serve warm.

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