Thanksgiving Recipes from “The New York Times Essential Cookbook” That Seem Timeless

What does it mean to explore a century and a half of New York Times recipes? For Amanda Hesser, co-founder and CEO of home and kitchen company Food52, and former Times editor and food editor, that meant testing more than 1,400 dishes over six years.

“My test for whether or not I included a recipe was simple: after testing it, I was wondering, ‘Would I do this again? »», She wrote in her introduction. “And with 1,124 of the revenue, the answer was yes.”

The result was “The Essential New York Times Cookbook,” first published by WW Norton & Company in 2010. Now, 11 years later, she is revisiting the work in a new edition, losing 65 recipes and adding 120 more. , most of the last decade. .

This means that she had an inside view of the number of dishes, especially the holiday dishes, which have changed over time.

“The early Thanksgiving recipes were more traditional and… less fun,” she said via email. “Thanksgiving recipe development today is like a professional sport, with writers tweaking and perfecting their recipes months in advance. They want to come with the turkey roasting technique or pie recipe that is going to go viral.

The following recipes are a sample of several decades. Not all of them were originally posted for Thanksgiving, but they’re suitable for the holidays – and beyond.

Ms. Hesser wrote about this David Lebovitz cake for The Times in 1999. It asks for a quarter pound of fresh ginger. “Do I need to say more? Mrs. Hesser said.

Mr. Lebovitz, who was a pastry chef at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Calif., Has since had a long career as a cookbook author and blogger. But this recipe, taken from his first cookbook “Room for Dessert”, dates back relatively early in his writing career. Boldly flavored and spiced with just cinnamon, cloves, black pepper and, yes, lots of fresh ginger, it’s exemplary simplicity, coming together quickly and without a blender. The cake, like the recipe itself, ages well, its flavors melting and deepening over time.

This recipe, published in The Times in 1991, is adapted from Yves Labbé, the chef at Cheval d’Or, a restaurant in Jeffersonville, Vermont that featured French country cuisine. Mr. Labbé was known to serve this dish with a quail in a red wine sauce, and his simple instructions belied the depths of the flavor. Cooked cabbage, braised in its own juice, while the sweetness of apples and maple syrup, a Vermont staple, dampens the bitterness of the cabbage. The result has wide appeal. “Anyone could use an easy side like this at Thanksgiving,” Ms. Hesser said.

There aren’t many recipes from the 40’s and 50’s featured in “The Essential New York Times Cookbook”. It is intentional. “If you could taste some of the recipes that I made during this time, you would see that I save you from a world of suffering,” Ms. Hesser wrote in the book’s introduction.

Still, a great dip transcends time – especially one with fresh herbs, which Hesser says made this 1959 recipe by Craig Claiborne stand out among other recipes of the time. Sprinkled with capers, garlic and anchovies, the dip is quick to prepare and then put in the fridge, ready to save you time if your guests arrive early while the turkey is late.

This recipe has appeared in The Times twice: in 1992, when Mrs. Lewis, many years after writing her flagship cookbook “The Taste of Country Cooking”, was the chef at Brooklyn’s Gage & Tollner restaurant, then in 2000, adapted by then medical student Ralph Vetters. For Mr. Vetters, these sweet potatoes – with just a little more lemon added – were a family recipe, shared by her relatives and those of her husband. This is the 1992 version of Mrs. Lewis, a testament to her longevity.

“Lewis’s work was like this – so good, so familiar – that his recipes become a part of your life,” Ms. Hesser wrote in the book. It also made its way to her Thanksgiving table.

The recipes sometimes tell a much larger story about migration and place, as traditional ingredients are left out for what may be more readily available. This is the case with this dish by Yung Chow, published in The Times in 2003 with an article on the history of Sino-American families settled in the Mississippi Delta. When she couldn’t find Chinese broccoli or bok choy in her local markets, she turned to collard greens, which she sautéed with garlic and seasoned with oyster sauce.

The high heat of the wok, said Ms. Hesser, “really brings out the minerality of the cabbage, and it goes so well with the sweetness of the oyster sauce.” It’s a dish that works not only for Thanksgiving, but any time of the year.

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