Many cooks today don't want to be glued to the kitchen for weeks getting a Thanksgiving spread ready. That's why ``cooperative holiday feasts'' are a good alternative. This co-op venture is not a potluck supper where the menu just ``happens,'' and you sometimes end up with six tossed salads. The co-op dinner takes planning ``plus'' -- with exact recipes and quantities assigned to the participants.
The cook at the host house puts the guest list together. This step takes special thought, because you want families and friends who mix well. For good measure, you might want to invite several ``loners'' who have nowhere to go. Be sure to assign them a dish to bring; this is part of the fun.
Participating cooks can meet to decide on the menu. It's best to stay somewhat traditional. And if there are turnip-haters amid the crowd, steer away from these vegetables. Stick to foods the guests like.
The following menu works well for a Thanksgiving co-op meal. The turkey with stuffing and gravy, and in this case the soup and sorbet, should be made in the host's kitchen, leaving salad, bread, vegetables, casseroles, and desserts for the others. Quick Clam and Tomato Bisque 1 tablespoon butter 1/2 cup chopped celery 1 sprig fresh parsley 1/2 bay leaf 1/2 small onion, chopped 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg 2 cups canned clam broth 2 cups condensed tomato soup 2 cups cream Salt and pepper
In butter, saut'e celery, parsley, bay leaf, onion, and nutmeg for 2 minutes. Add clam broth, tomato soup, and cream. Heat but do not boil. Put through a sieve, reheat, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serves 6 as first course. Turkey With Fruited Stuffing 1 2 1/2-pound frozen boneless turkey roast 1 cup chopped celery 1/2 cup butter or margarine 1 cup pitted dried prunes, chopped 1/2 cup water* 1/2 teaspoon ground sage 1 8-ounce package corn bread stuffing mix 1 cup orange juice 1/4 cup water 1 tablespoon cornstarch 1 tablespoon soy sauce
Cook turkey roast according to package directions. In large saucepan cook celery in butter until tender. Stir in prunes, 1/2 cup water, and sage. Add stuffing mix. Toss to coat. Turn mixture into 12-by-7 1/2-by-2-inch baking pan.
Cut turkey roast into 10 slices. Arrange atop stuffing mixture. Bake, covered, at 350 degrees F. for 30 to 35 minutes.
Meanwhile, in saucepan slowly stir orange juice and 1/4 cup water into cornstarch. Stir in soy sauce. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Pour orange sauce over turkey. (*Increase water to 3/4 cup if moister stuffing is desired.) Scalloped Oysters 2/3 cup butter or margarine 2 cups finely crushed saltines 1 1/2 pints shucked medium-size oysters 1/2 cup half-and-half 3/4 teaspoon salt 1/8 teaspoon pepper 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In 1-quart saucepan over low heat, melt butter and stir in saltines until well mixed. In 10-by-6-inch baking dish, arrange half of saltine mixture. Top with undrained oysters.
In small bowl, mix half-and-half, salt, pepper, and Worcestershire and pour over oysters. Sprinkle top with parsley, then with remaining saltine mixture. Bake 20 to 25 minutes until lightly browned and bubbly. Serves 6. Sweet Potato Ring 3 pounds sweet potatoes 3 egg yolks, well beaten 2 tablespoons melted butter 1 teaspoon salt 1 cup milk 3 egg whites, well beaten Walnut halves Brown sugar
Peel, boil, and mash sweet potatoes. Blend in egg yolks, melted butter, salt, and milk. Fold in egg whites.
Butter a ring mold well. Place walnut halves around it. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Cover with sweet potato mixture. Bake in a 350-degree F. oven 45 minutes. Turn upside down on platter. Let stand 5 minutes. Remove pan. Fill center with buttered peas, if desired. Serves 6. Holiday Baked Onions 12 small onions 1 tablespoon butter or margarine 1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup 1/4 cup chopped nuts 1/3 cup grated cheese 1/3 cup dry bread crumbs
Cover onions with water and cook until tender. Drain and place in a greased 1-quart casserole. Dot with butter. Mix mushroom soup with nuts and place on top of onions. Top with grated cheese and dry bread crumbs. Bake in a 350-degree F. oven for 30 minutes.
Mixed Vegetable Relish is a nice change from the holiday molded fruit mixtures. It can be made ahead, and its piquancy complements chicken or turkey. Mixed Vegetable Relish 1/2 medium cauliflower, broken into florets 2 carrots, cut in 2-inch strips 2 celery stalks, cut in 1-inch chunks 1 small green pepper, cut in strips 3/4 cup vinegar 1/2 cup salad oil 1 tablespoon sugar 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon basil 1/4 teaspoon tarragon 6 peppercorns 1 bay leaf 1 cup pitted ripe olives
In large skillet over medium heat, in 1/4 cup water, heat all ingredients except olives to boiling, stirring occasionally.
Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer 3 to 5 minutes until vegetables are crisp-tender. Add olives. Cover and chill at least 1 hour. To serve, drain vegetables well. Remove peppercorns and bay leaf. Serves 6. Squash Muffins 1 egg 1/4 cup sugar 1/2 cup milk 1/2 cup cooked mashed squash 1 3/4 cups flour 2 teaspoons cream of tartar 1 teaspoon soda 1/2 teaspoon salt 4 tablespoons melted shortening or oil
Beat egg and sugar together. Add milk and squash. Sift flour. Measure and sift with dry ingredients. Combine with beaten egg mixture. Do not beat. Add shortening. Turn into greased muffin tins. Bake at 375 degrees F. for about 20 minutes. Makes 12 muffins. Cranberry Sorbet 1 cup water 1/2 cup sugar 1 16-ounce can cranberry sauce Juice of 1 lemon
In saucepan combine water and sugar and bring to a boil. Let boil a few minutes, then chill. Mix syrup with cranberry sauce, pur'eed until smooth. Add juice of 1 lemon. Freeze in refrigerator. When almost frozen, remove and blend in food processor or blender until smooth. Freeze again and repeat blending. Freeze once more to improve texture. Eggnog Pie With Raspberry Sauce 1 9-inch piecrust shell 1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin 1/4 cup cold water 2 cups prepared eggnog 1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring 1 cup chilled whipping cream Nutmeg Raspberry Sauce (below)
Bake pie shell. Stir gelatin into cold water. Heat 1 cup eggnog to boiling, stirring constantly. Stir gelatin mixture into eggnog until dissolved. Stir remaining eggnog and flavoring into gelatin mixture.
Refrigerate until mixture mounds slightly. Beat cream in chilled bowl until stiff. Fold 1 cup whipped cream into eggnog mixture. Pour into pie shell. Cover. Refrigerate at least 8 hours. Spoon remaining whipped cream into 6 mounds around edge of pie. Sprinkle with nutmeg. Serve with Raspberry Sauce. Raspberry Sauce 2 10-ounce packages frozen raspberries, thawed 1/2 cup sugar 2 tablespoons cornstarch
Press raspberries through sieve. Mix sugar and cornstarch. Stir into raspberries in a saucepan. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute. Cool. Mulled Harvest Punch 1 46-ounce-can pink grapefruit juice 4 cups cranberry juice cocktail 1 cup water 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed 1/8 teaspoon salt 2 teaspoons whole cloves 2 sticks cinnamon, broken in pieces
Combine first five ingredients in large saucepan. Place cloves and cinnamon pieces in small square of cheesecloth, tie, and add to saucepan. Place spice packet in saucepan. Heat to boiling and simmer 15 to 20 minutes. Makes 14 servings.