Smart Talk

Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

Listen to Smart Talk live online from 9-10 a.m. weekdays and at 7 p.m. (Repeat of 9 a.m. program)

Host: Scott LaMar

Smart Talk: Chef Donna Desfor's Thanksgiving appearance

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Nov 24, 2015 10:58 AM
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What to look for on Smart Talk Tuesday, November 24, 2015:

Food, football, family, a nap, turkey, a chill in the air, newspapers bursting with holiday advertisements, which pie to eat for dessert, wine, the kids' table, the aroma of turkey in the oven and thoughts of what you and your family are thankful for and appreciate in life.  These are all images that come to mind when thinking about Thanksgiving.  Take one or two away and Thanksgiving may not be the same.  But if there is one constant with Thanksgiving, it is the food and dinner with family.  Maybe more so than any other holiday.

It's one of the reasons we always look forward to Chef Donna Marie Desfor's appearance on Smart Talk just before Thanksgiving.

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Chef Donna Desfor

If you're the kind of person who plans ahead, Chef Desfor may have an idea for something to add to the Thanksgiving menu.  For those who like to wait until the last minute, she may change the direction your Thanksgiving dinner will be going in.  Or maybe it's just a dessert or new holiday breakfast Chef Desfor will suggest.

Chef Desfor highlights The Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook during the show.

Governor Tom Wolf also stops in to talk about his Thanksgiving plans and what he is thankful for.

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Governor Tom Wolf

Tune in Tuesday's Smart Talk and be ready to call in with your own ideas or Thanksgiving traditions.


Amazing breads prepared by Chef Donna Desfor brought into WITF today.

Published in News, Smart Talk

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  • Scott LaMar img 2015-11-24 11:42

    George says...
    Our family Thanksgiving dinner would not be complete without mashed rutabaga.

    • Chef Donna img 2015-11-24 12:35

      any mashed root vegetable is a-okay by me! Sounds delish!

  • Scott LaMar img 2015-11-24 11:43

    Marty adds...
    Shagbark Hickory Syrup is a product that is a delicious alternative to maple syrup and it is also manufactured in Pennsylvania!

    BTW, crook shank pumpkin pie is made from those giant gourds that you see in farmer’s markets (sort of a beige or orange color), and they absolutely make better pumpkin pie than the traditional “jack-o-lantern” pumpkins!

  • Scott LaMar img 2015-11-24 11:44

    Rose ask...
    I am trying to upgrade my stuffing. Would roasting onions and celery in oven, or slow cooking onions in olive oil and spices on the stove to get them to caramelize work? Or do you think that fresher type oniion and celery... to saute briefly with butter is better.

    If you suggest roasting, can I cut them up very well and roast like that? At what temp?

    • Chef Donna img 2015-11-24 12:05

      Rose, each way you ask about will work! The result should be a nicely flavored bite of vegetable that blends in with the stuffing. You can also try roasting whole, peeled garlic cloves with the onions and celery. The garlic turns sweet when roasted and you can mash them so they distribute evenly in the stuffing. My only word of caution is to not chop the vegetables too small! Keep them just slightly larger than the croutons or bread cubes. Otherwise, they'll cook to quick and sweat out all their juices and you'll be left with too much liquid. The only other thing to keep in mind is to season everything -- salt and or pepper, and just a sprinkling of herbs will be delicious! Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Scott LaMar img 2015-11-24 11:44

    Syephen with some good information...
    Crookneck squash is more commonly known in Pennsylvania Dutch country as a neck pumpkin.

  • Scott LaMar img 2015-11-24 11:46

    Patti LaBelle's sweet potato pie (as sent in by Diana...
    This makes a light-textured pie, not too sweet and with a nice spice flavor, with a flaky and tender crust.
    You’ll need a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate.
    The pie crust dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Any leftover pureed sweet potatoes can be frozen for up to 6 months. The pie can be baked and refrigerated a day in advance.
    Servings: 8
    For the crust
    • 1 1/2 cups flour, plus more for the work surface
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 cup butter-flavored vegetable shortening, chilled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
    • 1/3 cup ice water
    • 1 tablespoon melted unsalted butter
    • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
    For the filling
    • Salt
    • 3 large orange-fleshed sweet potatoes (about 2 3/4 pounds), scrubbed
    • 7 tablespoons (most of 1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
    • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
    • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
    • 2 large eggs, beaten
    • 1/4 cup half-and-half
    • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
    • For the crust: Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl. Add the shortening. Use a fork or a pastry blender to cut the shortening into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs with a few pea-size bits.
    • Stirring with the fork, gradually add enough of the water until the mixture clumps together (you may need more or less water). Gather up the dough and press into a thick disk. If desired, wrap the dough in wax paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 3 days.
    • Lightly flour a work surface. Place the chilled dough on it; roll out to a round that’s 13 inches across. Fold the dough in half.
    • Transfer to the pie plate; gently unfold the dough to fit into it. Trim the dough as needed to leave a 1-inch overhang. (Bake or reserve the scraps for another use.)
    • Fold the dough under itself so the edge of the fold is flush with the edge of the pan. Flute the dough around the edge of the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate while you start the filling (and up to 1 hour).
    • For the filling: Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add a generous pinch of salt, then the sweet potatoes. Reduce the heat to medium; cook until the sweet potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife, about 30 to 45 minutes.
    • Drain the sweet potatoes, letting them fall into a colander. Run under cold water until cool enough to handle. Discard the skins; transfer the cooked sweet potatoes to a mixing bowl. Use a hand-held electric mixer to blend on medium speed until creamy and smooth. You’ll need 3 cups for the filling; scoop out the remainder and reserve for another use.
    • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
    • Uncover the pie shell; brush the interior with the melted butter. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the bottom of the pie shell. Par-bake until the crust is set and just beginning to brown, about 15 minutes. (If the pie shell puffs, do not prick it.) Let cool.
    • Meanwhile, add the melted butter and brown sugar, the granulated sugar, eggs, half-and-half, cinnamon and nutmeg to the pureed sweet potatoes. Beat on medium speed until well incorporated.
    • Pour into the par-baked pie shell, smoothing the surface. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Bake (middle rack) until a knife inserted in the center of the filling comes out clean yet the filling still jiggles a bit, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
    • Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, then cover loosely and refrigerate until ready to serve.

  • Scott LaMar img 2015-11-24 11:47

    Lynn says...
    Try adding a little (or a lot ) of Gran Marnier to your sweet potatoes!

    • Chef Donna img 2015-11-24 12:34

      THAT is a great idea. In the absence of Gran Marnier, a little orange zest or juice works equally well!

  • Scott LaMar img 2015-11-24 11:47

    Carra ask...
    I'm interested in a cranberry sangria recipe. I'm hosting a Black Friday party and was looking for a special drink to serve. I've never made a sangria or other pre-mixed drink. Any ideas?

    • Chef Donna img 2015-11-24 12:15

      Sangria -- especially this time of year -- is a great idea. We have a recipe from our WITF's archives that you can view here:
      The beaujolais nouveaus have just been released so you easily find them at the liquor store.
      For the tea that I use in the recipe, substitute any cranberry or apple based tea that you find in the tea section of your grocery store. The longer everything soaks, the more intense the flavoring becomes; that said, make sure you have fresh fruit slices or skewers to garnish your glasses. The fruit in the pitcher tends to get a bit soggy and shaggy looking!
      Best of all you can be confident in knowing that sangria easily adapts to what you have on hand, so you can just add fruit, hard spice, wine and liqueur until you find the right balance for you! Enjoy!

  • Scott LaMar img 2015-11-24 11:48

    Heather wants to know...
    What's a good dish for a holiday open house that can sit out at room temperature for a couple of hours and that all ages will enjoy?

    • Chef Donna img 2015-11-24 12:27

      So for these kinds of dishes I usually choose a pasta or rice (or other hearty grain) salad, then spike it with pre-cooked chicken tenders (store bought is fine, just chop them up; or cook them before hand then chop when thoroughly chilled). You can add all sorts of great vegetables here --roasted roots, or fresh veggies, depending on our crowd. I usually open a can of white beans (such as cannellini, or even chick peas), rinse then toss those in, too. If you coarse chop some spinach or arugula (or both) and toss that in it gives it a nice punch of color. Then, pick your favorite vinaigrette -- and oil and vinegar based is better than mayo or creamy based. Lightly drizzle and toss; the pasta, chicken, etc. will soak the flavors up, so you can always add a little more once the flavors bloom. The possibilities are endless here -- bread chunks make a nice italian style bread salad; Coarsely chopped kale instead of spinach is great with rice... you get the idea. For a final note of color and a burst of flavor, try adding pomegranate seeds, or dried cranberries or cherries -- if they're really dry you can rehydrate them in boiling water first. Enjoy!

  • Scott LaMar img 2015-11-24 11:49

    Amy ask...
    There is limited stove space where I am going for Thanksgiving. I'm considering taking a cold sweet potato salad.

    Any suggestions? Is this a bad idea?

    I am thankful for Smart Talk!

    • Chef Donna img 2015-11-24 12:20

      I think a cold sweet potato salad sounds like a fantastic idea. And, if you arrive with it cold and it goes to room temperature you probably are still fine, provided it doesn't get overly hot (keep it away from hot spots and hot dishes) for a long time. This might be a nice place to wrap in those raw Brussels sprouts leaves (or you can shred them) that we talked about on air. They'll provide a nice textural crunch against the cooked sweet potatoes. If you want to use a bacon or warm dressing, don't fret. Make your dressing as normal, the dress your potatoes when you arrive and gently toss. And, if you are really committed to taking a hot dish, you can prepare it ahead, then put it into a slow cooker with a bit of liquid to cover the bottom and heat on low. It'll stay nice and hot and you don't have to worry about oven space!

  • Scott LaMar img 2015-11-24 15:05

    Stephanie adds...
    Years ago I made a Pumpkin Lava Cake for Pumpkin Chunkin in Delaware.

    It won 2nd place that year.

  • Scott LaMar img 2015-11-24 15:09

    Johnitta's recipe...
    Good morning Scott. I shared my butternut squash recipe with you this orning and am having trouble finding a way to share the recipe. Here is a link to the recipe. . I hope I isn't out of line to send you a message directly. Happy thanksgiving and thank you for your thoughtful reporting.

  • Scott LaMar img 2015-11-25 19:37

    Here it is -- Gov. Wolf's mother's stuffing recipe: