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What Ya Got Cookin' (for Thanksgiving)?: Chefs Shields & Thomas & Special Guests

WYPR photo by Rob Sivak

It’s the What Ya Got Cookin'? -Thanksgiving Edition, a beloved tradition here on Middaygoing all the way back to...2016!  Tom's guests today are two of Baltimore's pre-eminent culinary masters:

John Shields is the chef and proprietor, along with John Gilligan, of Gertrude’s Restaurantat the Baltimore Museum of Art, and the author most recently, of The New Chesapeake Kitchen;

And David Thomasis the chef and co-owner with his wife Tonya of Ida B’s Table, a “modern soul food restaurant” on Holliday Street in downtown Baltimore; and he was a winning contestant on last night's (11/21) episode of the hit show, Choppedon the Food Network!

Credit WYPR photo by Rob Sivak
Rosemary Hall, son Tom, Sascha Wolhandler, in studio.

Later in the hour, a brand new segment, Midday with My Mom: Tom Hall's mother, Rosemary Hall, is in the house with our good friend, retired Baltimore restaurateur Sascha Wolhandler, and they'll share their memories of Thanksgiving dinners -- and desserts -- and the many ways that the kitchen helps bring families together.

But first, with the magical day of Thanksgiving upon us:  Maybe you haven’t quite gotten your act together yet, and you’re at the brink of despair and panic.  Or, conversely, maybe you’re completely on top of everything, and you risk making a mistake born of over-confidence.

Either way, or somewhere in between, Chefs David and John are here to talk you through any and all of it, and we’ll do what we can to help you make sure everything goes smoothly and tastes terrific tomorrow.

But most importantly, we look forward to hearing about your family’s special Thanksgiving traditions.  Your favorite recipes, your favorite memories, your favorite part of what, for many folks, is their favorite holiday of the year.

Today's conversation was streamed live on WYPR's Facebook page, and you can watch the video here.

The Thanksgiving Day marathons Tom mentioned are part of the annual Y Turkey Trot Charity 5K -- the YMCA's sponsored 3.1 mile charity runs, held at locations across Central Maryland and the Eastern Shore, to raise funds to help children and families living in poverty in your community.  Follow the link for locations, routes and times. 

Here are a few of the recipes mentioned during today's show:

Gertie’s Sauerkraut and Apples  (from Chef John Shields)

6 tablespoons butter or olive oil
4 slices bacon, cut into one half inch pieces (optional)
1 small onion, thinly sliced
3 tart apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
2 jars (2 pounds each) sauerkraut, drained
1 bottle (12 ounces) beer, allowed to go flat
1 teaspoon caraway seed
salt and black pepper to taste

In a heavy pot, melt the butter and if using bacon, render the pieces for a few minutes.  Add the onion and apples.  Saute 3 to 4 minutes.

Place sauerkraut in the pot.  Pour in the beer, caraway seed, and salt and pepper.  Toss together and bring to a boil.  Cover tightly, reduce the heat, and simmer for 45 minutes.  Alternatively, bake in an over preheated to 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Serves 8

Note:  For an uptown version of this dish I substitute 2 cups of dry champagne for the beer and add 1 teaspoon minced ginger while sautéing the onion and apples.


Poached Pears and Chocolate  (from Sascha Wolhandler)

4 Pears
2 cups Water
½ cup Sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cinnamon stick

For the Chocolate sauce:

8 oz. bittersweet chocolate chips
1 pint whipping cream
Dash of a favorite liquor (optional)


Peel and core the pears.
Heat water and sugar, cinnamon stick, and vanilla to a soft boil until the sugar dissolves.
Set peeled and cored pears into the mixture, standing upright.
Poach for 15 minutes until pears have softened, slightly.
Let cool in the liquid.

Make the chocolate sauce:
Heat the cream till almost a boil,
Take off the heat, add chips and stir till chocolate totally dissolves.
Add a dash of liquor (optional)

Assemble:  Stand pear on plate and drizzle with chocolate sauce.


Two-Ingredient Pumpkin-Spice Cake  (from Sascha Wolhandler)

1 16 ounce can of pumpkin purée
1 spice cake mix


Combine two ingredients.
Pour into greased square cake pan and bake.
Voilà! A delish little cake!

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