This primer on Thanksgiving cooking and traditions brims with fresh ideas for both food preparation and table decoration. Morgan (Cooking for the Week) is the anti–Martha Stewart—none of these recipes is fussy for the sake of fussiness. They are instead guides to creating updated classics such as Gratin of Fennel and Tomato, and Acorn Squash Stuffed with Wild Rice, Cranberries, Walnuts and Hickory-Baked Tofu. In deference to the holiday, instructions for advance preparations and shortcuts are provided: for Lasagna with Sugar Pumpkin, Ricotta, and Fried Sage Leaves, for example, Morgan explains how to substitute fresh pasta or no-boil lasagna noodles. A chapter on turkey provides instructions for buying and handling the bird, as well as recipes for Barbecued Turkey and a simple Roast Turkey Breast for a Small Gathering. There are even a few vegetarian entrées, including Spaghetti Squash with Zucchini, Garlic, and Tomato Sauce. The dishes here are new, but never so adventurous that they would be inappropriate for a traditional holiday celebration. Stuffing ideas include Italian Sausage, Mushroom and Sage Stuffing, and Chestnut, Leek, and Fresh Herb Bread Pudding. Desserts play on classic Thanksgiving flavors: Chocolate Gingerbread with Sugar-Glazed Apples, and Pumpkin Cheesecake with a Gingersnap Crumb Crust. A chapter on using leftover turkey offers Turkey Potpie with a Biscuit Crust, and Turkey Enchiladas. Menus for variously sized parties and clever ideas like miniature pumpkins cut to encase votive candles round out this spot-on effort. (Nov.)
Forecast:This is an incredibly useful little book. At this modest price, it should sell briskly and prove a solid seasonal backlist item as well.