Name: Lisa Becherer

A Culinary Adventuress

Celebrates Thanksgiving with over twenty guests. 

1.  What is your idea of an adventure?
My idea of an adventure is spending time in my kitchen, experimenting with recipes.  One of my favorite things to do is find a new recipe, and change it to my taste. 

2.  Are there culinary adventures?
There are plenty of culinary adventures!  If you are a beginner, find a cooking magazine that teaches you how to do the recipe.  If you are more advanced, the possibilities are endless.  If you just don’t like to cook, well, trying new restaurants or a new type of food can be an adventure.  I am very lucky that my family is willing to try all kinds of different foods, different types of cooking, and different cultures.

3.  Do you find cooking for 25 guests stressful or exciting?
At first I find it very exciting to cook for that many, I start to stress on the day of the event.  Planning food for a large group of people is fun, getting the correct amount of food (I never want to run out!), is always the hardest part.

4.  What’s on your Thanksgiving menu?
We will have Turkey, dressing, not stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, rolls, wine and desserts

5.  Why do you like cooking from scratch?
I think it is healthier to cook things from scratch, less preservatives, and sometimes less fat.  Since I really enjoy baking, less fat is not always achieved.  I have been substituting applesauce for butter in breads, and no one can tell the difference.  

6.  What makes a great meal?
Great meals can be many things, during the holidays, having family over are part of a great meal.  Being surrounded by the ones you love, eating something you spent time creating is always rewarding.  Finding a great recipe, and having the whole family love it is also great.

7.   Do you have a unique Thanksgiving tradition?
I usually spend the week in my kitchen, planning and cooking.  One of my favorite recipes is homemade cranberry sauce.  Since it can be made in advance, it starts off the cooking time.  We have also changed things up and had a traditional Mexican dinner.  My mother and I have made tamales, refried beans, Spanish rice, and salsa, for Thanksgiving, just to be different.

8.  Did you cook as a child?
Cooking has always been a part of my life.  When I was in 3rd grade, I started with pancakes.  I have an older brother, who ate anything I made.  I must admit some of those pancakes were awful.  I progressed into larger recipes, as I got older, and went so far as making butter, for a class project in 5th grade.

9.  Who is your female heroine?
My mother will always be my female heroine; following her would be Julia Child, for her wonderful sense of adventure in the kitchen. 

10.  What is your favorite cookbook & why?
I have several cookbooks that are favorites, but the one I use most is Baking with Julia.  I find I turn to Julia for inspiration, when I want to try something new.  I also subscribe to Bon Appetit and Cuisine at Home.  Both magazines provide new ideas, with Cuisine at Home acting more like a teaching magazine.

11.  Is cooking an art or a craft?
I think cooking is an art and a science.  I can read a recipe, and know how it should taste.  Reproducing a dish by using your taste buds is an art form.  Understanding how flavors will work together is the science.  There also quite a bit of chemistry working in all recipes.

12.  What country has the best-tasting food?
I am partial to Mexican food, with the spice and bold flavors.  Thai food is another favorite of my family.  I usually can recreate Mexican food without a recipe, not much measuring is needed.  Thai food is more challenging, and we love chili lime flavors.

13.  How do you balance a big taste with small calories?
I am not that great at the small calorie meals.  But we like to marinate our proteins and make our own salad dressings.   Using bold flavors such as garlic, ginger, and cilantro, helps to make a boring low calorie meal something special.

14.  Have you ever had a ‘disaster’ meal?
I have had many disasters in the dinner department.  My children like to act picky, sometimes, and there are many recipes which I cannot repeat.  I have also thrown out over baked cookies, an apple pie that would not cooperate.  I have made dinners that are so spicy, you sweat eating it.  It is all part of the process of learning what works for your family, and what they won’t eat ever again.

15.  Where would you live to travel & why?
I am partial to Maui, but also like traveling to large cities.  I love large cities, because of the diverse food available.  I like going to little hole in the wall places that create authentic food.  I like to have Pho and Springrolls from a Thai restaurant for lunch, and have the option to have seafood, or another type of food for dinner.  Large cities offer the diversity of food that I really enjoy.  Seattle, San Francisco, or Portland are all fabulous places to visit for a great meal.

16.  What is your motto?
I would have to say “there is always room for dessert.”

As Thanksgiving gift – Lisa is giving us a few of her favorite Thanksgiving Recipes. 

Cranberry Sauce
1 bag fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked through
1 cup sugar
1 Tbs. Orange zest
1 cup Cabernet Sauvignon
1 Granny smith apple, diced to small pieces
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. salt

Place all ingredients in a medium sauce pan, over medium heat.  Bring to a boil, and cook until cranberries burst, smashing them as they pop.  When all the cranberries have popped, remove from the heat and cool.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Pumpkin Pie

1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
½ cup powdered sugar
½ cup (1 stick) chilled butter, cut into pieces
3 Tbs. whipping cream

¾ cup sugar
1 Tbs. packed brown sugar
1 Tbs. cornstarch
2 tsp. cinnamon
¾ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. salt
pinch of cloves
1 can solid pack pumpkin (14 ounce)
½ cup sour cream
¾ cup whipping cream
3 large eggs, beaten to blend

For crust:
Place pie plate in the freezer, before starting.  Blend first 3 ingredients in a food processor until mixture resembles coarse meal.  Add cream and process until moist clumps form.  Gather dough into a ball, flatten into a disk, wrap in plastic, chill for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Roll out dough on a floured surface to 14 inches around.  Transfer dough to frozen pie dish.  Trim overhang and make decorative edge.  Freeze for 15 minutes.

Line crust with foil, pressing firmly.  Bake until sides are set, about 10 minutes.  Remove foil.  Bake crust until pale brown, about 10 minutes more.  Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.

For filling:
Mix first 6 ingredients in a bowl until no lumps remain.  Blend in pumpkin, whipping cream, sour cream and eggs.  Pour into crust.  Bake until filling puffs at edges and center is almost set, about 55 minutes.  Cool on rack, cover and chill until cold. ( can be made 1 day ahead.)