Food section staffers combed The Washington Post archives for treasured seasonal recipes.
Whether you've cooked 20 holiday feasts or your very first will happen next Thursday, classic recipes loom large at Thanksgiving. Make them year after year, and it's almost as though the cooks and chefs who created them have earned a place at your table.
And what a table that would be, as illustrated above. When the Food section pulled together its favorite traditional dishes for '09, we found that the collection represented significant figures of American cookery, Julia Child, James Beard and Edna Lewis among them. Then we compared notes about how we had updated their recipes. Mostly we had made subtle changes, such as employing newfangled gadgets or shortcuts. Sometimes it was just reducing fat or calories without sacrificing flavor, or using a spice that wasn't widely available three decades ago.
What fun it was to confer with the original authors when we could, or with their colleagues and other experts when we couldn't.
Now this crop of classics is ready for the next generation. Give thanks, and dig in.
Less butter, a few shortcuts and a nice glaze make Julia Child's and Jacques Pépin's Deconstructed Turkey With Corn Bread Stuffing and Gravy an approachable project.
Parbaking James Beard's Sweet Potato Rolls will free up oven space at crunch time.
Less sugar goes into Fannie Merritt Farmer's and Marion Cunningham's smooth Spiced Cranberry Jelly.
There are fewer pots and pans to wash for Nathalie Dupree's already modernized Hot Curried Dried Fruit.
Tough-skinned squash is steamed before peeling, in Marian Morash's Squash and Apple Puree.
Sheila Lukins's famous Brussels sprouts get a lower-fat makeover -- but the bacon remains.
Make-ahead prep directions are added to Alice Waters's recipe for Cabbage Salad With Apples and Walnuts.
Chef Paul Prudhomme eases up on his oil demands for Jumbled Greens.
Only the modern convenience of an immersion blender can improve upon Edna Lewis's recipe for Silken Turnip Soup.
Maida Heatter's earthy Date Pecan Pie is simplified, with mini-options.
Richer crust and a choice of refined toppings elevate John Shields's Sweet Potato Pie.
Illustration by John S. Dykes for The Washington Post