By Diane Morgan
Photography by John A. Rizzo
Chronicle Books -- 2001
Buy it on Amazon
Though Thanksgiving may be conceptually about unity and giving thanks, the feast is often anything but -- be it from menus predominantly meat-centric or overwhelmingly vegetarian that rely upon traditional recipes or adventurous ones, to lively affairs or smaller, more austere gatherings prone to the usual family quibbles.
But with the help of this book and guide, the meal itself is at least guaranteed to go smoothly, with preparation and decoration ideas as well as recipes to suit eaters and appetites of all kinds. Catering to the variety of the holiday's staples -- the smells, the anticipation, the flavor, the feel -- this book is virtually all you need to host the most perfect, memorable Thanksgiving.
See what we tested and find out whether the book's worth buying after the jump.
Takeaway tips: This book is truly the next best thing to perusing Mom's Thanksgiving recipes and ideas for hours on end. Not sure how to roast a pumpkin? There's a guide to seasonal foods. Never trussed a turkey before? Check out the list of necessities as well as everything you need to know about roasting your first bird. Decorating on a budget? Learn how to make your own harvest centerpiece, pumpkin votives and more.
Quality of pictures: Heart-warming and appetite-piquing, the photographs capture shots of the autumnal harvest as much as festive table ideas and hearty yet artful dishes.
We tested: Lasagna with Sugar Pumpkin, Ricotta and Fried Sage Leaves; Pumpkin Cheesecake with a Gingersnap Crumb Crust
This enormously rich, satisfying lasagna may be lacking meaty protein, but is one of those priceless vegetarian dishes to be enjoyed by meat-eaters and non-meat-eaters alike. Though it may involve a significant amount of time-consuming steps, as a dish that may easily be prepared in advance and even frozen, it's well worth the time investment, with creamy layers of sautéed pumpkin, a herb-heavy béchamel and a filling lasagna base topped with savory fried sage. Its only flaw would be stealing the spotlight of the Thanksgiving turkey.
As for the pumpkin cheesecake, the dessert is absolutely divine. Simple to make, requiring a tasty and unique base of crumbled gingersnap cookies, the cake is rich, creamy and flavorful, relying on cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and vanilla as seasonings that meld together immaculately. And -- unlike the traditional pumpkin pie -- this delicatessen may be made up to a month in advance and frozen.
Worth the investment: Yes, wholeheartedly. Follow this book's inspiration for a guaranteed no-fail Thanksgiving dinner.