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How Cranberry Sauce Became a Staple of My Indian Thanksgiving

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My Thanksgiving bears very little resemblance to the scene you’ll find on the cover of a glossy food magazine. There’s no hulking turkey at the center of the table. No undulations of snowy mashed potatoes. No assorted vegetables studded with bacon. There is, however, always cranberry sauce.

Around the time we moved from one suburb of Dallas to another when I was nine years old, my family’s Indian vegetarian Thanksgiving tradition was born. Our new house came with a nice dining room, and my parents purchased a long extendable table with wings. This seemed like cause enough to invite our large contingent of relatives over for Thanksgiving dinner.

My mom grew up near New Delhi, so she had few preconceived notions about what Thanksgiving was supposed to look like. She prepared the kind of food she would serve at any dinner party in the fall: matar paneer, redolent with cumin, ginger, cardamom, and coriander seeds; butternut squash sabzi stewed with brown sugar, fenugreek, and tomatoes; chhole, or spiced chickpeas, cooked with cinnamon sticks and cloves until the whole pot smelled of the holidays; and puri, hot puffs of just-fried bread. Yes, my mother made—and still makes—an entire Thanksgiving feast by herself. It miraculously takes her only a few hours, she never lets anyone bring anything, and she usually cooks the whole meal wearing a white linen shirt that she has never once stained.

Indian food is often accompanied by chutney, and my mom wanted to make one that felt seasonal. She thought back to the only traditional Thanksgiving she had ever attended, where she couldn’t eat most of the dishes because they were nonvegetarian. The cranberry sauce, however, interested her. It wasn’t the jellied stuff from the can; it was homemade: sweet, sour, good on everything. Kind of like a chutney!

So at the last minute my mom dumped a bag of frozen cranberries, some white sugar, and orange zest into a saucepot, cooked it down, and put it in the freezer to thicken up quickly. Nothing fancy.

It was a revelatory addition to our spread. It cut through the richness of the chickpea stew and even tasted great simply rolled up in a puri. The elemental tang of cranberries and oranges, it turns out, pairs perfectly with Indian food.

Sometimes my mom will try to omit the cranberry sauce, saying she wants to cut down on leftovers (a curious sentiment considering that, well, this is Thanksgiving we are talking about). But no one in our family will let her.

After we realized we liked cranberry sauce, we started auditioning other Thanksgiving dishes for our table. We now have both apple and pumpkin pies for dessert instead of just shrikhand, a sweetened cardamom yogurt, and last year my cousin Isha boldly decided to bring a turkey for the non-veg contingent of the family. (It was delicious, except that none of us actually knew how to carve a turkey.)

From time to time people will suggest adding cumin or red chili powder to the cranberry sauce to “Indian-ize” it. But as far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t need any of those elements to be Indian. Every year our enormous family comes together to smush cranberry sauce into puri with a scoop of squash sabzi, then follow it up with shrikhand drizzled atop apple pie. What could be more Indian than that?



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Santé Et Nutrition

Our Smartest Thanksgiving Potluck Strategies

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A potluck-style Thanksgivings is, plain and simple, very logical: You can cross a handful of dishes off your scroll-sized list, free up kitchen (and head) space, and make your guests feel involved. Plus, your great aunt or cousin’s boyfriend might bring something delicious that you would’ve never thought to make on your own.

It can become more of a stressor than a solace, however, when one friend shows up asking to use the oven and another, stuck in traffic, is in possession of the only batch of mashed potatoes for the party. To make sure your Thanksgiving potluck works in your favor, follow this plan. They’re so helpful, in fact, they’re also rules to live by when choosing your contribution as a guest.

1. Assign within reason: A cooked turkey should move no farther than the distance between the oven and the table. Farm out salads, casseroles, and other hearty, sturdy dishes that can be carried under one arm (but might take up a lot of room in your own fridge). Cranberry sauce is the perfect candidate: It’s easy for someone to transport, it can be served chilled or at room temp, and it only gets better with time, meaning your valiant volunteer can make it days ahead.

2. Assign smart: The best assignments are good at room temp and avoid minimal “finishing touches.” Ask a guest to bring a frozen dessert or a piping-hot soup and it won’t be that way when it arrives. And unless you have burners, sheet trays, cutting boards, and oven space to spare (…who are you?!), think of dishes that can be made as far in advance as possible. And guests, don’t leave any garnish prep to the last minute: Toast nuts, mix vinaigrette, and wash and tear herbs at your own house, then transport them in separate containers if you’re worried about wilting or sogging. Leave only the final toss for game time.

3. Know your guests’ limits: Request that the perpetually late friend bring dessert, not an appetizer.

4. Divide and conquer: If you’re hosting a massive group, divvy up certain staples, like potatoes and stuffing, among several guests so that no one has to quadruple a recipe. (If you’re the competitive type, you can turn this into a taste-off. Just kidding—kind of!)

5. When in doubt, ask for an appetizer: If nothing else, something to snack on will satiate any peckish guests, buying you time to finish setting up.

6. Prepare to receive the bounty: When friends come bearing Tupperwares, make sure you’re adequately stocked up with utensils, bowls, and platters for serving. Or be clear up front that the vessels and silverware are part of the assignment, and guests need to bring their own.

7. Think beyond food: Get cooking-phobic friends and family involved by asking them to bring wine glasses, napkins, ice, or even a (really thoughtful) playlist. If all else fails, there’s always dish duty.



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Santé Et Nutrition

L’Institut Pinel revoit son plan de réorganisation

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Photo: Guillaume Levasseur Le Devoir

Québec — L’Institut Philippe-Pinel accepte de revoir son plan de réorganisation, se félicite la ministre de la Santé, Danielle McCann. La ministre est sortie de son mutisme, mercredi, après que le syndicat, le Parti québécois et Québec solidaire eurent dénoncé la décision de l’établissement d’abolir 37 postes de sociothérapeute. Elle a expliqué être intervenue dans le dossier afin d’exiger que l’institut, qui fournit des soins en santé mentale aux personnes violentes, maintienne les sociothérapeutes en poste, ou les replace ailleurs dans le réseau. Le 8 novembre, la direction avait annoncé une réorganisation des postes au sein de l’institut, supprimant 37 postes de sociothérapeute pour ajouter 37 postes d’agent d’intervention. Une décision très critiquée, notamment par le syndicat.



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Santé Et Nutrition

This Butternut Squash Tarte Tatin Is an Ingenious Fall Dessert

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On the Facebook event page for this year’s Friendsgiving, created three weeks ago by one ambitious cook in my squad, friends promised to bring macaroni and cheese…and turkey-infused vodka (a joke, I guess). But by the time the date rolled around last weekend, all that appeared at the table were a couple bottles of wine, Indian takeout menus pulled up on phones, Jenga (lol), and some very hungry people. It seemed like Friendsgiving wasn’t going to happen. Then I showed up with dessert.

It wasn’t just any dessert, but pastry genius Claire Saffitz’s butternut squash tarte tatin—her very seasonally appropriate take on the classic French concoction of caramel-shellacked apples layered atop buttery puff pastry, this time made with everyone’s fall favorite veg: butternut squash. That switch gives the whole thing a sweet-and-savory flavor and a satisfyingly tender texture that beats any sugar bomb pecan pie or unnaturally creamy pumpkin puree. It doesn’t hurt either that it’s damn pretty, with burnt-orange shingles and a top coat of shiny, glossy, vanilla-inflected caramel.

butternut squash tarte tatin process 1

Photo by Michael Graydon + Nikole Herriott, food styling by Rebecca Jurkevich, prop styling by Kalen Kaminski

Fanning out the squash is an art.

I gingerly placed my masterpiece on the table, like a proud tiger mom who drops off her piano prodigy backstage before a concert. Nonchalant. Maybe even a little smug. Conversation stopped. Jaws dropped. “OMG” punctuated a hushed room. People jumped up to grab forks and plates and started passing around slices of the glistening pinwheel tart. We dug in while we waited for takeout to be delivered. Friendsgiving was back on.

That is the power of Claire’s butternut squash tarte tatin: It can’t help but gather people around it. And it’s not hard to pull off, either—if you plan ahead. Claire calls for making your own cheater’s puff pastry, which isn’t as scary as it sounds. (Just ask associate editor Christina Chaey.) You only need time, patience—and a good rolling pin. The rest is easy.

shortcut puff pastry beauty

Yes, you CAN make your own puff pastry.

As the dough chills, thinly chop the butternut squash into half moons and roast it in the oven with lots of sugar and butter until it curls along the edges and takes on almost honeyed taste, like the best fruit leather you’ve ever had. While it cools, cook the caramel with sugar, water, lemon juice, and vanilla extract in a saucepan over medium heat, swirling the pan constantly until it turns a light golden brown. Be vigilant! It happens much faster than you think it will. Drop a few tablespoons of butter into the caramel and pour into a springform pan—in my case, a buttered pie pan worked perfectly fine—and then start fanning out the butternut squash slices, focusing all your OCD efforts on that first layer since that’s what the people will see. Roll out the chilled puff pastry over the pie pan and cut the hanging edges, then poke a few holes with a fork all over the dough and tuck in in the sides with a spoon. Into the oven it goes for the next hour or so, until the puff pastry has risen (PTL!) and comes out lightly browned.

butternut squash tarte tatin process 6

Photo by Michael Graydon + Nikole Herriott, food styling by Rebecca Jurkevich, prop styling by Kalen Kaminski

The best kind of winter cap is a pastry one.

Here’s where it gets tricky. Once the tarte tatin is cooled, you need to flip it upside-down, so the pastry is on the bottom and your artful handiwork is on top for everyone to admire. “Don’t think; just do it,” I whispered to myself in my kitchen, psyching myself up like an athlete in a melodramatic Nike commercial. I placed a plate over the pie pan and gripped the edges, then turned it over in one quick move. Other than the butternut squash juices that dribbled on the counter, the flip was a success.

I relied on that same adrenaline-fueled maneuvering once we broke out the Jenga, long after we demolished the butternut squash tarte tatin. I pulled out one particularly precarious piece, earning me some more high-fives, OMGs, and a fresh beer. I guess that’s also the power of Claire’s tarte tatin.

Get the recipe:

butternut-squash-tarte-tatin.jpg



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