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Holiday on the side

Focus on more than turkey for a traditional Thanksgiving meal

Focus on more than turkey for a traditional Thanksgiving meal

November 14, 2007|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

On Thanksgiving Day, a pound of canned corn could keep the boring side-dish blues away.

So could oysters, crabmeat, Cornish hens and sweet potato pudding, local food pros say.

When it comes to turkey day, families tend to stick to the obligatory sides - potatoes, stuffing and cranberry sauce, say local personal chefs, who are gearing up for Thanksgiving, a busy time of year.

"They like comfort food," says Brian Boots, owner of Elegance Ala Carte, a personal chef service based in Big Pool.

Thanksgiving - on Thursday, Nov. 22, this year - is one of the few opportunities time-strapped families have for fellowship, says Boots, which is why comfort food, albeit traditional, reigns supreme year after year.

"Honestly, I can't say I ever get tired of it," says Boots, who says his Thanksgiving clients often go for traditional foods "jazzed up."

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But there's always a little room for something different.

The twists can be as simple as transforming a conventional food item into something more sophisticated - like personal chef and baker Karen Bryant's Corn Souffl made from canned corn and Jiffy corn muffin mix.

Bryant owns Entrees Personal Chef Services in Charles Town. W.Va.

Bryant, 51, of Charles Town, says the souffl is a quick fix, easily adaptable at any Thanksgiving dinner table. She also has made Cornish hens stuffed with crabmeat and, for dessert, sweet potato pudding.

Scalloped oysters are a traditional Thanksgiving dish in Sally McKee's family.

The dish is made from layers of oysters, cream, butter, seasoned breadcrumbs and crushed crackers.

"It's one of the last things I make before dinner," says McKee, a personal chef and owner of The Eclectic Skillet chef service in Shepherdstown, W.Va. "It's really quick."

Sometimes, circumstance might prod a family toward trying something different.

Like a new husband and wife who are hosting their first Thanksgiving dinner. They might end up combining their own family traditions if not creating new ones all their own, Boots says.

Or there might be people in Bryant's situation.

Two elders in Bryant's family recently passed away - one of them Bryant's mother, Annie Ruth Bryant, 72, who died in September.

The elders were known for their cooking, preparing enough to feed 30 to 50 people on turkey day, Bryant says. Now, having to make some of those traditional dishes - kale and collard greens, macaroni and cheese, and candied sweet potatoes, to name a few - might rouse some painful memories.

"They just won't taste the same," says Karen Bryant.

The menu for Bryant's family Thanksgiving dinner, which will be held at her cousin's home in South Carolina this year, is still up in the air. Her cousin also experienced the loss of her mother, Bryant says.

Bryant says she's not sure whether her Corn Souffle, a dish she makes from time to time, will make an appearance in South Carolina.

But perhaps it could have a place at yours. Bryant shares the recipe with The Herald-Mail.




Corn Souffle



· 1/4 pound butter

· 1 large onion

· 1 large bell pepper

· 2 eggs, beaten

· 1 pound canned corn

· 1/2 package Jiffy corn muffin mix

· 1/2 package pancake mix

· 1/4 pound Cheddar cheese, shredded

· 1 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Saute onion and green pepper in butter.

Mix eggs, corn with juice from can, muffin mix and pancake mix in large bowl.

Stir in sauteed onion and pepper.

Set aside 1/2 cup of shredded cheese. Stir the remaining cheese into the corn mixture.

Pour into a 9-by-13-inch pan or casserole dish.

Sprinkle with remaining cheese and glob the sour cream on top.

Bake for 30 minutes.

Serves 6.

Cook's note: The pancake mix and sour cream are optional. You can also use a whole package of muffin mix.

- Courtesy of Karen Bryant, owner of Entrees Personal Chef Services in Charles Town, W.Va.

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