published Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Expanding our culinary traditions

As recipes for this year’s holiday recipe contest began trickling in, I grew quite excited It seems that cooks are getting more creative when it comes to their holiday tables. Look beyond the winning recipes. It was hard for the judges to make decisions in most cases.

For instance, side-dishes judge Eric Taslimi of Table 2 loved Willie Mae Plumlee’s Cranberry-Stuffed Acorn Squash as well as Juanita Weisbrich’s Mixed Green Apple salad. It was a toss-up, he said. But he had to give the winning nod to Weisbrich’s salad because of its overall simplicity, something needed this time of year when our crazy schedules may not leave a lot of time for cooking. The salad and dressing, he said, can both be made ahead. Perfect.

I think all of you can appreciate the suggestions each judge/chef had for the dishes they chose. These chefs know what they’re doing, and their tweaks could make the winning dishes even better. So give them a try, and while you’re at it, add your own little touches to make them your own. Readers begin looking for this special section well before the holidays. I’ve gotten calls from folks who will be out of town wanting me to reserve a copy for them months before the scheduled printing.

“I think it’s because of all of the new recipes,” said Nanette Hawkins, who sends her recipes in annually. “It is so interesting to see what different people cook for the holidays and what their traditions are.”

I couldn’t agree more. Happy holidays to you all, and to all some good eats.

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