Tag Archives: thanksgiving

A Food Lover’s Guide to History: The Earl-y Sandwich

It’s the day after Thanksgiving, meaning that if you’re among the 65% of Americans who claim that eating leftovers is the best part of the holiday, then you might be thinking about (or making) the celebrated “pilgrim sandwich,” also known as the Thanksgiving Leftover Sandwich.  But I ask you to tear your eyes off the glistening cranberries, the thyme-scented mashed potatoes, and the bounty of other leftovers.  I ask you to consider the sandwich.

The venerable Earl of Sandwich

Pretty much everyone knows about John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, who was so absorbed in his gambling that he needed something he could eat without leaving his game.  But sandwiches as a form go back to the 1st Century B.C.E., when the famed rabbi Hillel the Elder started a Passover custom of sandwiching a portion of the Paschal lamb and bitter herbs between two matzohs, based on a verse in the Book of Exodus.

Later, Medieval Europeans started putting food on bread out of necessity rather than spirituality.  Much like the pie crusts of old, bread acted as dishes for Europeans in the Middle Ages.  They called their thick chunks of stale bread “trenchers” and then piled them with meats, gravies, and other sauces.  After the meal, the softened bread was either eaten or tossed to dogs or the poor.

Pictured above: actual historical peasants

So while the Earl of Sandwich didn’t invent the concept of using bread as a vehicle for other foods, he did lend it his name.  However, up until the first written record of the word “sandwich” in 1762, the stack of bread and fillings was known, hilariously, as “bread and meat” or “bread and cheese.”

Bread and Meat and Vegetables.

They made the leap across the pond, and by 1816, recipes appeared calling for fillings like fruit, shellfish, nuts, and mushrooms.  By the turn of the century, sandwiches were differentiated based on their ingredients, like the double-decker club sandwich or the BLT.

One of the most important developments in modern sandwich history came in the late 1920s. In 1928, Otto Rohwedder built a loaf-at-a-time bread slicing machine.  Later, bread slicers could wrap the loaves as well, making it possible to package and sell pre-sliced loaves of bread.

The Chillicothe Baking Company installed Rohwedder’s bread slicer and began to sell “Kleen Maid Sliced Bread” on July 7, 1928.

All this innovation culminated in 1930, when Wonder Bread started marketing their pre-sliced bread nation-wide.  Kids could safely make their own sandwiches without having to use a bread knife, and the ease of the sandwich made them a fixture in American kitchens and lunchrooms across the country.

Speaking of fixtures in American food history…

I’ll let you get back to your turkey.

Not that you need any instruction, but here’s a Martha Stewart-approved leftover sandwich recipe for inspiration:


  • Baguette 
  • Cranberry sauce 
  • Grainy mustard 
  • Sliced turkey 
  • Glazed pearl onions 


Spread one half of a piece of baguette with cranberry sauce and the other with grainy mustard.

Layer with sliced turkey and glazed pearl onions.



Last Bite

To nobody’s surprise, when I was twelve years old I announced to a room full of eighteen people that Thanksgiving was my favorite holiday. My mom winced, thinking, no doubt, of all the years worth of stress-filled days thrust upon her in that instant by my declaration. If it really was my favorite, she had to make it good. And let me tell you, it really is my favorite.

I’d like to think I’ve alleviated a bit of the stress as I’ve grown; each year I take on more and more of the cooking. This year I actually made most of the dishes: the sautéed Brussels sprouts, roasted root vegetables, roasted herb potatoes, and red cabbage and apples. The most notable dishes, however, are always made by my mom: the turkey, the cornbread dressing, and the sticky toffee pudding.

Sure, Thanksgiving wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without the turkey. But it wouldn’t be our Thanksgiving without a portion of mealy, mushroomy dressing so large it takes up a third of your plate, or the last bite of the night being a huge spoonful of ooey-gooey, melt in your mouth sticky toffee pudding so good it might have come from a stone cabin in the highlands of Scotland.

So I guess Thanksgiving is about the food, but it’s also about the tradition, and ours is quite simple. We cook like crazy. The turkey comes out, my cousin carves it, and we all sit down to eat. We raise our glasses and my dad says a “Thanks,” that gets followed by a chorus of “Cheers!” which is stifled so quickly by the sound of china that it is a wonder it ever happened at all.

Green Beans with Feta and Almonds

Happy holidays, everyone! Going into the next few months, we are all going to be attending a plethora of food-centric events featuring the most deliciously seasonal ingredients.

I was involved with one of these such events this Thanksgiving, and all attendants were to bring a dish or two that they would normally eat for the holiday if they were with their families. Now, I’ll never say no to sweet potatoes, but there’s another dish that just screams “friends and family holiday dinner” to me.


No one else in my family really cooks so much as microwaves, so I was always happy to take over Thanksgiving dinner while I lived at home. Most of it was pretty straightforward, but I always had trouble finding good vegetable sides that everyone (particularly my sister) would actually like. I eventually had the epiphany that adding bacon would obviously improve whatever I was making, so I threw together some green beans, bacon and pecans and called it a day. It was a hit with the family and all was well.


Now, since I have become a vegetarian, the whole bacon thing isn’t really an option. So I made a few modifications to the recipe to make it a bit more universal. I wanted something rich and protein-dense like bacon, and feta cheese just popped into my head. I also didn’t think that pecans would go terribly well with feta, so I swapped those out for some slivered almonds. What I ended up with was a creamy, savory and cozy side dish with a wonderful variety of textures. If you’re not a huge fan of the mushroomy part of green bean casserole, this might be a nice alternative.



1.5 lb green beans

3/4 cup slivered almonds

4-5 oz feta cheese, crumbled

olive oil or butter

salt and pepper to taste



1) Toast the almonds. Maybe look up some tutorials online; it can be very easy to burn nuts and I tell you from experience, it is heartbreaking.

2) Over medium heat, saute your green beans with salt and pepper in a few tablespoons of olive oil. If you want them nice and soft, you’ll probably need to cook them for about half an hour. If you want a bit more crunch, 10 minutes should be about enough.

3) Add the nuts and feta, and stir over low heat until the feta coats the green beans evenly. Serve hot.

Cranberry Pecan Tart

Photo Credit: Pippa Biddle

I love pie. I really love pie. I count tarts as a form of pie. One pie/tart I have never understood is pecan pie. I mean, I’d be kidding you to say that I don’t enjoy a mouth full of gooey sugar every now and then but something about pecan pie is just to much. Every Thanksgiving, when it came to choosing what desserts to make, we left out pecan pie in favor of apple pie, pumpkin pie, and chocolate cake.

A few years ago Bon Appetit published a recipe for a Cranberry Pecan Tart that seemed to be the perfect mix of sweet and tart. You see, I love all things sweet and sour and desserts are no different. Over the past 3 years this has become a staple not just for Thanksgiving dinner but also throughout the fall and winter. It is a universal crowd pleaser and is epic when served with homemade vanilla ice cream or bourbon whipped cream!

A sampling of our Thanksgiving desserts!

Continue reading Cranberry Pecan Tart

Post-Thanksgiving Chicken Noodle Soup, or Some Version of It

Although I am slowly getting more and more excited about the palatable wonders of pureed or otherwise non-solid foods, soup has not always been my go-to choice of comestibles. The only time we’d ever have it at home was upon arrival back home in France after a 12 hour-long flight from California when my grandma would have a fresh batch of her “Soupe de Mamie” ready for us to heat up. It was the perfect, warm welcome back that for me, marked the official start of summer or winter. For my parents, it enabled them to eat something delicious without having to go grocery shopping and muster the motivation to throw something together in the kitchen for the first meal back. That soup was a surprisingly delicious combination of simple farm produce (potatoes, leeks, and carrots) harvested from my grandma’s perfectly groomed vegetable garden, but as a young girl I would only be able to enjoy it with a little cube of partly-melted gruyère in each spoonful. I’m pretty sure that the only reason I’d ever ask for more was to get more cheese, because I doubt that any child would ever like the taste (or appearance) of unblended vegetables in a watery-looking soup. Whenever my mom makes that “Soupe de Mamie” now though, I promise you that I do actually love it without the cheese. But of course, a little gruyère never hurts anyone…

Besides that “Soupe de Mamie,” I only ever had my mom’s version of chicken noodle, which is actually unlike the traditional kind most are familiar with. Instead of serving vegetables and bits of chicken in broth, my mom adds angel hair noodles or rice to a clear poultry broth. Sometimes there’ll be a few pieces of chicken taken off the carcass and added to the broth. Either way, my mom wouldn’t make it when I was sick since I’d be put on a strict lemon-juice-and-no-dairy diet on those occasions. Unconventionally so, we had chicken noodle, or our chicken broth version of it, for dinner on winter days when we’d had fondue (or some other heavy dish) for lunch and wanted to eat something light but warm. Continue reading Post-Thanksgiving Chicken Noodle Soup, or Some Version of It

Home Sweet Home

My mom and I have probably been thinking about this year’s Thanksgiving dinner since the end of the summer when I began to get ready to go back to school in September. And during these past weeks especially, we’ve been narrowing down possible courses, getting ideas for unconventional versions of the Thanksgiving classics, and determining the items to appear on the final menu. My in and outboxes are full of emails about recipe finds and menu ideas, grocery lists and cooking schedules. I can literally go to my Gmail outbox and find dozens of messages with subjects that read Appetizer ideas, AMAZING Pumpkin Pie, Final Menu, or Final menu version 2. This Thanksgiving brainstorm became quite an obsession and a major excuse to procrastinate during midterms, so good thing D-day is finally here and the madness can now come to a close.

Continue reading Home Sweet Home

Dutch Apple Pie

Photo Credit: Pippa Biddle

Pippa’s back with In-Season, a great series that explores fresh produce and gives you way to create really delicious things.  

So you went apple picking a few weeks ago and have barely made a dent in the PILES of apples that you foolishly said you’d finish in a week. Say hello to the apple pie. Unlike a more traditional apple pie the dutch apple pie is known for having a pie shell bottom and then a crisp-like streusel top crust.  Important factors in a successful pie include keeping the crust from getting soggy, having firm but not crisp streusel, and not overcooking the apples. Since this pie is made in parts and then assembled it is very easy to control these factors.

Serve it up right out of the oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream but be sure to save some for the breakfast the next day! As the pie cools down the apples pull in the juices and intensify the flavor. I would go as far as to say that I actually like it better chilled the next day! That might also have something to do with the satisfaction of eating pie for breakfast. Happy Baking! Continue reading Dutch Apple Pie

Forgotten Foods: Delicata Squash

Roasted Delicata Squash Rings: photograph courtesy of www.summertomato.com

As we come upon Thanksgiving (can you believe its only 3 days away?!), I’m thinking more and more about my favorite Thanksgiving dishes. The turkey is a given (dark meat please!), as are roasted sweet potatoes, green bean casserole (my guilty pleasure), and of course, stuffing (STUFFING!!!). But I have to say, my favorite side may be simple, roasted delicata squash.

The flesh of most winter squashes, like acorn and butternut, is thick and rich in consistency. And in my opinion, if squash is not prepared properly, it can be too thick and monotonous in texture, sort of resembling baby food. But as its name suggests, delicata squash is more delicate and light in texture. Its flavor is also more delicate and lends itself well to a multitude of preparations.Finally (and this is my favorite part), delicata squashes have edible skins! The firmness of the of the skin of the delicata squash is a great contrast to the smoothness of its flesh. (Not to mention, not having to peel these guys makes life SO much easier.) And additionally, vegetable skins are a super healthy source of fiber!

I have known a lot of people who say they don’t like winter squash, usually because they say it’s too mushy and thick. But to miss out on winter squash, at this time of year, would be a tragedy! No other time of year is winter squash so abundant… and they are  so hearty, filling, sweet and delicous. They are also not too expensive! So if you are one of those people who doesn’t get too excited about the typical butternut squash, try a delicata. The more subtle, light taste and texture will probably change your mind.

My favorite way to eat delicata squash is to simply cut it in half the long way, scoop out the seeds (roast these with olive oil, salt and pepper for a delicious alternative to popcorn), and roast them in the oven with some brown sugar and butter in the cavity where the seeds once were. Once they come out of the oven, I let them sit for 10 minutes to cool, allowing the butter and brown sugar to solidify and soak into the flesh. Then, I cut all the way through the squash and eat the whole bite… skin and all. To me, this is one of the ultimate tastes of this season.

However, you can also cut delicata squash the short way, creating cute little rings. After roasting these rings in the oven, you get yummy little treats that look a lot like onion rings, but are actually a lot healthier and tastier.

So here’s a recipe for roasted delicata squash rings. These guys would pair really well with a burger and a cold beer. But maybe the burger should wait until after Turkey day…

Continue reading Forgotten Foods: Delicata Squash

Club Re-Cap: Culinary Society’s First-Ever Thanksgiving Pie Competition!

This past Tuesday, in honor of the great food holiday, the Culinary Society hosted its first ever Thanksgiving Pie Competition. Entrants from all over the Columbia and Barnard communities came out to showcase their baking skills, with pies of all different flavors. Of course, there were the classic Thanksgiving favorites, like pumpkin and apple pies, but there were also some incredible variations on the classics, like kabocha pie (a relative of pumpkin), vinegar pie (a variation on the classic Canadian “Butter Tart”) and sour cream apple pie. The complete list of entrants went as follows:

1. Dezi’s Pumpkin Pie
2. Kittyball’s Strawberry Rhubarb
3. Erica’s Fresh Pumpkin Pie
4. Procrastibaker’s Cranberry Apple
5. Bakinator’s Pumpkin Pie
6. 3.14159’s Chocolate Cream Pie
7. Suzanna’s Bavarian Cream
8. Suite Kitchen’s Fudge Pie
9. Rebecca’s Chocolate Pecan Pie
10. Nina’s Apple Pie
11. Matt’s Caramel Apple Pie
12. Treat Yo’self 2011 Kabocha Pie
13. Kelcey’s Sour Cream Apple Pie
14. Mad Foodie’s Chocolate Pecan pie
15. Sarah’s Pie Apple Pie

Unlike previous competitions with the Culinary Society, where a panel of judges voted on the best entrants, the Thanksgiving Pie Competition was judged by the general student body. Thanks to an ingenious idea from one of the Culinary Society’s e-boarders, the votes were recorded via text message, giving everyone with a cell phone a quick, efficient, and easy way to voice which pie was their favorite.
With 15 pies in the competition, and 60 eager judges waiting outside to get their tastes, it was a bit of a hectic evening. In all, it only took about 40 minutes for the tasters to completely devour the pies and vote on their favorites. I, for one, thought it was one of the fastest 40 minutes of my life!

Although I only got to taste a couple of the pies, the student body was extremely pleased with all of the pies. There was something for everyone: super-sweet pies, savory/less sweet pies, fruit based pies, custard pies, pies with toppings, pies with double crusts, pies with crumble tops… you get the idea. It was veritable feast of sweets.

The third place pie was the Procrastibaker’s Cranberry Apple pie. The combination of apples, almonds, and cranberries, topped with an apple cider reduction, proved to be a winning variation on an American classic.
The second place pie was Mad Foodie’s Chocolate Pecan pie. Serving this pie warm was a great idea, leaving the chocolate smooth and melted, in combination with the warm, toasted pecans. This pie was one of the firsts to go!
The grand champion of the evening was Rebecca’s Chocolate Pecan Pie. Made with chocolate, pecans and a healthy splash of Grand Marnier, this pie was quite a bit more complex than the classic pecan pie. The addition of the Grand Marnier added a citrusy sweetness that proved to be the winning component.

Although the Culinary Society ran out of funds to provide a prize for the competition, the winners, Rebecca and Emily, took this in stride. All they wanted was a simple “2-4-6-8, who do we appreciate?” cheer from the bakers and tasters, which was given enthusiastically.
This competition was a delicious and memorable success, which we hope to continue next year. However, with Thanksgiving around the corner, there’s no need to wait a year to enjoy these pies again! And even if you didn’t get to come to the competition yourself, we at the Culinary Society hope that you challenge some of your families’ classic pies with your own culinary ideas. Who knows, maybe you’ll stumble upon a fabulous recipe to take grand prize next year!

And if you want to try this year’s first place pie, we have also provided the recipe for Rebecca and Emily’s winning pie. Enjoy! Continue reading Club Re-Cap: Culinary Society’s First-Ever Thanksgiving Pie Competition!

Sign-up for the Culinary Society’s Pie Competition!

Technically, these are tarts... butter tarts.

Hope everyone had a delicious fall break!
Next week (Tuesday, 11/15 at 9:30 pm in the Satow Room), the Culinary Society is having our first-ever Thanksgiving Pie Competition!
What does this mean? It means lots of incredible, delectable, seasonal pies for you to eat! The Culinary Society will provide utensils, plates, milk, and a prize for the winner of the Pie Competition! And it’s all FREE!

However, we also need Pie Bakers to sign up for the competition! We’re looking of teams of 1-4 students to create delicious pies for the competition. Do you think you’ve got what it takes? We’re talking homemade crust, non-canned fillings, and if you’re daring, a sauce to top it off. Do you have a secret ingredient that makes the classic pecan pie something sublime? Is your pumpkin pie simply out-of-this-world? Then, maybe you’ve got what it takes. Pie Bakers should send an email to culinary@columbia.edu in order to participate in the competition. Included in the email should be 1) a team name and 2) the recipe for your pie.

The Culinary Society will try to pick up all necessary ingredients for each team (with the exception of alcohol such as bourbon). Participating teams should send in their information by Saturday (11/12) morning. Ingredients will be available for pick-up on Sunday (11/13) afternoon–which should give the teams plenty of time to bake.
It should be a SWEET event!