My favorite part of the holiday season, next to family time and watching every Hallmark movie ever created, is the food. My mom and grandma make homemade kremas (think eggnog, but Haitian and much better) and my sisters and I eat dozens of Christmas cookies, while my dad judges us all for forcing our dogs into Christmas sweaters despite living in Miami. Not to mention, there’s lots of GBBO to be watched. (#teamnadiyaforever)
Obviously the pandemic has thrown traditional holiday plans out of whack for many people, and that’s why Lily Nguyen (our head of video) and I hatched a plan for a virtual recipe exchange as a way to bolster festive cheer around the company. And thanks to all of our incredible participants from across the G/O Media sites—Lifehacker’s Claire Lower, Kotaku’s Riley MacLeod, The Root’s Felice León, Gizmodo’s Sam Rutherford, Earther’s Dharna Noor, Jezebel’s Emily Alford, and Jalopnik’s Raphael Orlove—we found our own special way to make this socially distant holiday season more enjoyable.
Watch the video above and have a few laughs as some of your favorite journalists cook/bake some really great recipes, from latkes, to cornbread casserole, to vegan butternut squash soup. And once we’ve made you hungry, check out the full recipes suggested below.
Special thanks to the random English gentleman for providing the wonderful voiceover.
Felice’s recipe: Vegan butternut squash soup
Adapted from Richa Hingle-Garg
- 1 tsp oil
- 1/2 cup (80 g) onion
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 clove optional
- 1/2 inch (0.5 inch) ginger minced
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1/4 cup (32 g) chopped carrot loaded
- 1/4 tsp (0.25 tsp) cinnamon powder
- 1/4 tsp (0.25 tsp) garam masala or curry powder
- 1/8 tsp (0.13 tsp) turmeric powder
- 1 pinch of nutmeg
- 1.5 cups (210 g) mashed butternut squash or canned or 2 cups cubed
- 1/4 tsp (0.25 tsp) salt or to taste
- 1/2 cup (113 ml) coconut milk
- 1/2 cup (125 ml) water less or more to preferred consistency
- 1 generous dash of black pepper or cayenne or both
- 1 tsp sugar or maple syrup
- 2 Tbsp unsweetened coconut
- 2 Tbsp raw pumpkin seeds pepitas or sunflower seeds
- cashew cream or coconut milk for garnish
- In a pan, add oil and heat on medium.
- Add onion, bay leaf and clove and cook for 5 minutes or until translucent. (Cook in broth to make oil-free)
- Add in the garlic, ginger and carrots and cook for 2 minutes.
- Add in the garam masala, cinnamon, turmeric, nutmeg and mix for a few seconds.
- Add in the mashed butternut squash and salt and cook for 2 minutes.
- Add in the coconut milk, water and black pepper and cover and cook for 7 to 8 minutes.
- Taste and add sugar and spice. Take off heat. blend with an immersion blender, or cool slightly and blend in a regular blender until smooth.
- Garnish: Toast the coconut and pumpkin seeds in a pan on medium heat until the coconut is golden. Mix in a pinch of cinnamon powder and use as garnish.
- To make with cubed butternut squash: Cook the onions, bay leaf and cloves for 3 minutes. Add in the cubed butternut squash and cook for 8 to 10 minutes until golden and somewhat fork tender. Add garlic, ginger and carrots. Cook for 2 minutes. Add spices, mix in. Add the coconut milk, water, pepper and salt. Cover and cook until the squash is tender. Blend and serve.
Emily’s recipe: Louisiana cornbread dressing
- 2 boxes Jiffy cornbread mix
- 1 packet of turkey giblets (can use 6 oz chicken livers if no turkey)
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 bell pepper, chopped (use whatever color you like, but I think the orange looks festive)
- 3 tbsp chopped sage
- 2 tsp Cajun seasoning (I use Jamie Bageron’s Kickin Cajun, but Tony’s is just as nice, though as Louisianians always say, it is quite salty)
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 1 cup chicken broth
- (This step can be done in advance) Boil four cups of water in a saucepan, add giblets/livers, return to a boil and reduce heat to medium/low, cook one hour, adding liquid if necessary. When cooked and cooled, chop into small pieces
- While the giblets boil and stink, cook cornbread according to package directions, then reduce oven heat to 350 (This step can also be done in advance)
- Cook onions, peppers, and celery in a tablespoon of oil, butter, or other fat until onions are translucent (ten minutes or so)
- Crumble the cornbread into a greased 8-inch baking dish, gently add vegetables, giblets/livers, and seasonings plus salt and pepper to taste, mix in chicken broth (slowly because you may not need it all) and eggs until the entire mixture is moist but not sopping wet
- Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until top is golden brown
Raphael’s recipe: Potato latkes
- 5 medium Idaho potatoes (about half of a five-pound bag)
- 3 small onions
- 1 egg (if you’re Grandma Gus)
- A few spoonfuls flour
- Vegetable oil for frying
- Grate your potatoes into a large bowl using a box grater. I like to grate my potatoes on the largest hole. My great-grandmother would use the small holes. Small holes make a more pancake-esque consistency. Big holes make a crunchy bird’s nest. Be careful about your knuckles! You do not want red latkes. Add a good bit of salt and pepper to taste—you can taste the mix now.
- This is the trick. Potatoes are full of water. They are designed to hold water. You want to squeeze out as much water from these things as possible. Let the potato juice collect at the bottom of the bowl and let it settle. You are letting the starch from the potatoes separate from the liquid. Let it fully separate before carefully draining out the liquid but not the glue-like starch on the bottom. Mix that back in with the squeezed potatoes.
- This is critical! The starch is your glue. It’s all you need. I have seen so many haggard tricks to make latkes that fail to recognize this step. I’ve seen good, well-meaning jews put potatoes in a blender to make latkes. You don’t need to do all that. You need to drain your potatoes, reserve your starch, and mix it in.
- This is the point at which you would add a beaten egg, about one egg per two or three potatoes. If the mixture is very wet and not holding its shape as a pancake, mix in maybe a spoonful of flour to bring it together. If it’s still loose, add a bit more flour, but the more flour you add, the more fritter-like the latke will become.
- Divide your mix into small, palm-sized pancakes. You should get three latkes per potato.
- Heat enough vegetable oil in a heavy pan on medium-high heat to get most of the way up your potato pancakes. You can always deep fry these things, but you don’t need that much oil.
- Fry your latkes until they are a dark golden brown, a few minutes per side.
- Serve with sour cream and apple sauce on the side.
Sam’s recipe: Mexican street corn salad
Adapted from J. Kenji Lopez-Alt
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) vegetable oil
- 4 ears fresh corn, shucked, kernels removed (about 3 cups fresh corn kernels)
- Kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) mayonnaise
- 2 ounces (60g) feta or Cotija cheese, finely crumbled
- 1/2 cup finely sliced scallions, green parts only
- 1/2 cup (1/2 ounce) fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
- 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and stemmed, finely chopped
- 1 to 2 medium cloves garlic, pressed or minced on a Microplane grater (about 1 to 2 teaspoons)
- 1 tablespoon (15ml) fresh juice from 1 lime
- Chili powder or hot chili flakes, to taste
- Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet or wok over high heat until shimmering. Add corn kernels, season to taste with salt, toss once or twice, and cook without moving until charred on one side, about 2 minutes. Toss corn, stir, and repeat until charred on second side, about 2 minutes longer. Continue tossing and charring until corn is well charred all over, about 10 minutes total. Transfer to a large bowl.
- Add mayonnaise, cheese, scallions, cilantro, jalapeño, garlic, lime juice, and chili powder and toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and more chili powder to taste. Serve immediately.
Dharna’s recipe: Loaded asparagus
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 anchovy filets (optional)
- 1/4 cup shaved parmesan
- 1 pound asparagus with ends trimmed, sliced lengthwise if they are thick
- 2 leeks sliced in half, then thin crosswise into half moons
- 2 cloves garlic sliced thin
- Zest of one big lemon
- 2 cups walnuts
- A bunch of parsley, chopped
- Pepper, flaky Kosher salt, fresh nutmeg to grate, 1/2 tsp fresh ground fennel
- Grind fennel in a mortar and pestle
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Once hot, spread walnuts on a sheet pan and bake them for 6 mins ‘til nice and toasty then toss nuts with a good pinch of kosher salt.
- Crush up the walnuts in mortar and pestle, you want small pieces but not powder!
- Get a large pan hot, add in one tbsp of butter. when it starts to foam, crack in some pepper and grate in some nutmeg and throw in a half tsp of fennel. Let it hang out for 30 seconds to bloom the spices.
- When it smells like things are happening with the spices, throw in the asparagus and leeks and the other tbsp butter. Sauté until the asparagus is a little crisp, maybe 4 minutes.
- Add the garlic and sauté for another minute until it slightly browns. Throw in the lemon zest, sauté for another minute.
- Stir in most of the crushed walnuts, season with fresh pepper and some shaved parm.
Riley’s recipe: Honey ginger tofu and roasted squash
Adapted from Diana Henry
- 1 package extra firm tofu
- 1 2 lb winter squash (kabocha preferred)
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 1/3 cup soy sauce or tamari
- 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
- 3/4 inch fresh ginger, peeled and grated
- 8 tablespoons peanut oil, divided (or another neutral oils)
- Salt and pepper
- 6 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
- 3 teaspoons sesame seeds (optional)
- 2 scallions, trimmed and sliced on the diagonal (optional)
- Juice of 1/2 a lime (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 400F.
- Drain and press the tofu (to press tofu: wrap it in paper towels, put it on a plate, then put something heavy on top of it for about 15 minutes), then cut it into 1/2 inch slices then plank or cube
- Halve the squash, then cut it into 1/2-1/4 inch thick wedges. You want them to be the same size so they cook evenly, but the shape doesn’t matter too much and probably depends on the type of squash you’re using.
- In a small bowl, mix the honey, soy sauce, crushed red pepper, ginger, and 5 tablespoons of oil.
- Divide the squash in a single layer between two roasting pans—you can use parchment paper if you want—and spoon two-thirds of the soy sauce mixture over it. Turn the squash slices with your hands to coat. Put the tofu slices on another, smaller roasting pan and pour the rest of the soy sauce mixture over it, also turning to coat.
- Salt and pepper the squash and tofu to taste then roast in the oven for 15 minutes.
- Mix the remaining 3 tablespoons oil with the garlic. When the 15 minutes are up, turn the squash and tofu chunks over. Spoon the garlic mixture over the squash, then roast for another 10-15 minutes until the tofu gets darker and the squash is tender.
- Arrange the squash and tofu on a warmed serving plate, sprinkle the top with sesame seeds and scallions, and a squeeze of lime juice. I have never once warmed a serving plate, so basically mix it all together
Claire’s recipe: Jiffy corn casserole
- 1 box of Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix
- 1 stick of butter, melted
- 1 8 3/4 ounces can of creamed corn (or half a regular-sized can)
- 1 8 3/4 ounces can of whole kernel corn, drained (or half a regular-sized can)
- 1 cup sour cream
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 6 ounces shredded sharp cheddar
- Add the butter and both types of corn to 1 1/2 quart casserole dish, or a 12-inch cast iron pan.
- Stir it all together, then add the sour cream and eggs, and stir again.
- Add the mix, and stir yet another time, until you have a visually uniform mixture.
- Top the whole thing with shredded cheese, then pop it into a 375-degree oven until it’s set in the middle (about 30 minutes), covering with foil if the cheese browns too quickly.
- Let cool for about five minutes, cut into neat little squares, and enjoy alongside your other favorite sides.
Happy holidays from all of us at G/O Media! I want to give a special shout-out to Lily Nguyen for being such a positive and amazing boss in the midst of what was otherwise a terrible year. Here’s to a better 2021!