Less than a week to go to Turkey Day and it’s time to hammer out the details. If your family vetoed your idea for an innovative reimagining of pumpkin pie, channel your creativity into designing a table centerpiece to set the mood. Also, consider four days ahead as a good time for a freezer exchange — frozen turkey (if you bought it that way) should come out, homemade pie crusts go in.
• Setting the Stage: While the food and the company always make Thanksgiving memorable, it doesn’t hurt to have a beautifully set table to sit around. Consider mixing flowers in with some artful edibles or even scout your backyard for inspiration. We like gourds, mini pumpkins, acorns, pine-cones and Indian corn to give the table a real fall feel. Gather everything you’ll need for the table (except the flowers), and stock up on candles for an extra-special touch.
From freezer to table »
It may look and sound like a weed, but lemon grass actually is one of the most important ingredients in Southeast Asian cooking. And it can transform the all-American foods you love.
Lemon grass is a reed-like plant that grows as a thin, firm 2-foot stalk with a small bulb at the base. It varies in color from pale yellow to very light green.
True to name, lemon grass has a pleasantly assertive lemon taste and aroma.
Lemon Grass Chicken Stir-Fry »
If ever there was a vegetable dogged by misunderstanding, fresh fennel is it.
Because while it may taste like anise and look like a bulb, it’s neither. And don’t let the grocery workers who love to label it that way tell you otherwise.
Fennel may taste like anise, and is a relative of it, but they are separate plants. And while the base of fennel is bulbous, that’s a shape, not its plant variety.
So now that we’ve cleared up what fennel isn’t, let’s focus on what it is.
Fresh fennel resembles a cross between cabbage, celery and dill. The taste is assertively (though not unpleasantly) licorice and sweet. The base of the fennel is round with tightly overlapping pale-green leaves. Sprouting out of that are long celery stalks topped with fine frilly leaves.
Fennel Egg Salad Sandwiches »
Try roasting a few pumpkins, then freezing the puree — that’s what Alton does. You can thaw it to make pie just before Thanksgiving, and the rest will store up to 6 months in the freezer.
Try making: Michele Albano’s Maple Pumpkin Pie With Pecan Streusel
Browse more of Food Network’s Thanksgiving recipes and tips.
To cut 100 calories off your Thanksgiving meal, watch out for the fried topping on green bean casseroles. This casserole wouldn’t live up to the hype if it wasn’t for the crispy French fried onions, but each quarter cup will set you back 100 calories (and most recipes call for five times that amount!). Slim down portions to a light sprinkle and try these four other ways to cut 100 calories from Healthy Eats.
When glazing your vegetables, add a touch of butter and sugar with a pinch of salt. The sugar and butter add shine to the glaze. Aromatics like herbs, ginger or citrus zest will add some zing.
Follow this guide to learn how to make your veggie side dish extraordinary, then watch our how-to video.
Browse more of Food Network’s Thanksgiving side dish recipes.
Stuffing your turkey changes the way you should cook the whole bird. You’ll want to make sure the stuffing and the turkey reach an internal temperature of 170 degrees F at the same time. Watch Alton’s complete video for more tips.
Browse more of Food Network’s Thanksgiving stuffing recipes and tips.
To create a smooth, rich gravy for Thanksgiving, gradually ladle the hot broth into the flour mixture, whisking constantly (this is key, or your gravy will be lumpy). Bring to a boil, then adjust the heat so the gravy simmers gently.
Try making: Ina Garten’s Homemade Gravy recipe
Food Network Magazine shows you how to make the perfect gravy in seven simple steps (photos).
People have been eating it for thousands of years, yet still no one can tell me why it should be peeled. So I don’t peel it, and neither should you. “It” being fresh ginger, the gnarly brown root that lives among the grocer’s Asian produce. And the flavor is so much better than dried — you must get to know it.
Most of us think of ginger as the powder in the spice cabinet and use it mostly for baking. In Asia, where ginger originated, it’s more a savory ingredient. That’s because fresh ginger packs tons of warm, pungent, peppery flavor that works so well with meats and vegetables.
Though they can be used interchangeably, the flavor of fresh ginger is more pronounced than dried, sporting heavy citrus, even acidic, notes. In Asia, fresh ginger is an essential part of numerous classic dishes, including stir-fries, soups, sauces and marinades, as well as Indian curries.
Ginger-Orange Chicken Cutlets »
Finally — a way to enjoy agave without the hangover!
That’s right: Agave nectar, the current darling of the alternative sweetener world, is made from the same plant that is used to produce tequila. And it goes down so much easier (squeeze of lime and dash of salt are optional).
But let’s start with some basics. Agave nectar (sometimes called agave syrup) is an amber liquid that resembles honey, but has a cleaner, sweeter, even fruitier flavor. Not long ago it was mostly unheard of in the U.S., existing primarily in the backwaters of the natural foods world.
In recent years, it has evolved into a booming $200 million industry. Suddenly, it’s being used in everything from ketchup and barbecue sauce to baked goods and ice cream. And don’t even get me started about the cocktail scene.
Agave-Barbecue Roasted Chicken »