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In a foodosphere obsessed with fusion this and organic that, Chef Nicholas Nostadt is reclaiming some love for America’s heartland. At Picnic, the Ohio native’s recently opened East Village eatery, it’s all about mom’s homecooking, with a few upgrades: Nostadt spikes pulled pork sandwiches with root beer, powder-sugar-silky puppy chow with pumpkin.

But the dishes that best evoke nostalgia for home are the holiday-inspired ones. Share the whipped sweet potato casserole, infused with black pepper and topped with a crackling corn flake-sage crust, and the renaissance fair-sized turkey leg, soaked in bacon fat for six hours and slathered in house-made cherry BBQ sauce. All-domestic draft beer comes served in mason jars, but go full-fledged Americana with a can of 21st Amendment. A door-side stack of hay bales, rustic wood furniture, and Minnesota-nice service complete the cozy Midwest vibe.

For your own indoor Picnic, Chef Nostadt shares his casserole and (for a lighter meal) celery salad recipes.

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Sweet Potato Casserole

Serves 4


For the sweet potato:
4 medium-sized sweet potatoes
1 tbsp. brown sugar
3 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. maple syrup
1/2 tsp. Sriracha
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste

For the topping:
1 tbsp. corn flakes
1 tbsp. pecans
1 tsp. sage
1/2 tsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. melted butter


1.Bake sweet potatoes until tender.
2. Whip potatoes with an electric mixer with whisk attachment. Mix in the rest of the sweet potato ingredients.
3. Put all topping ingredients, except butter, into a food processor. Mix until finely ground.
4. Add the melted butter to the dry ingredients and mix until smooth.
5. Spread the topping over the whipped potatoes. Serve.

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Celery Salad


1/4 cup Cortland apple, thinly sliced
1/2 cup celery root, julienned
1/2 cup celery leaves
1/4 cup celery, chopped
1 tbsp. golden raisins
1 tbsp. shallots, sliced
1/4 cup tarragon
1/2 cup capers

For the dressing:
2 lemons, juiced
2 oz. apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp. dijon mustard
1 tbsp. mayo
1/2 shallot
1 garlic clove
1/4 cup honey
12-16 oz. blended oil


1. Combine all dressing ingredients, except blended oil, in a high-power blender.
2. Mix on high speed until garlic and shallots are pureed.
3. Turn blender on medium speed and slowly add the oil until the dressing is emulsified.
4. Toss together remaining ingredients with the dressing. Serve immediately.

Picnic, 117 Second Avenue, at 7th Street. A Thanksgiving prix fixe menu for $40 per person, will include elk sausage stuffing, turkey breast roulade, and Nostadt’s beloved “Granny’s” sticky rolls. Reservations at 212-777-3600.

By Allison Malecha

Photo Credit: Noah Fecks