Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thanksgiving Menu

The most menulicious holiday of all is in two weeks. Nice. I'm hosting a party of six for Thanksgiving dinner, which means I get creative control over food and decor... just how I like it. That does make me sound like Dictator Hostess, doesn't it? Mwa ha ha. You must eat what I serve you, feasting minions!! Actually, I'm really very nice. I swear. Needless to say, I started planning the menu a month ago, but I think I'm just about at the final iteration. Turkey Day can be a tricky one, menu-wise, because you have to find the right balance of creativity and traditional flavors. I'm not into bringing Asian fusion (a la miso-basted turkey) or over-the-top gluttony (a la bacon-wrapped turducken) to the table, and I require all the classics, but I like to try to refresh every dish with something special.

This year, I am shocked to note that there will be a majority vegetarian party at the, um, party. Also, it seems as though the smallest turkey available is in the 6- to 8-pound range. So, three meat-eaters at one pound of poultry each means... Leftovers, here we come! Good thing leftovers are maybe the best part of Thanksgiving.

I haven't worked up a design menu for the feast---can't decide if I want to do printed ones---so I'll just list it all out in the text here. However, for your visual satisfaction, I'll share a sneak peek of a design project I've been working on. It's one page from a pop-culture book about toast, my most favorite food of all. Look for it at the bottom of the post. Without further ado:

I use Gourmet's high heat method, which has never failed to produce the most juicy, crisp-skinned bird in less than two hours. Do it.
Hard Cider Gravy
 I am a huge gravy fan, so I'm excited to taste this one, deglazed with chicken broth and cider. Our cider is still fermenting, so I'll have to use store-bought. We'll probably buy a vegetarian mushroom gravy for the veg-heads, too. Whole Foods does a tasty one.
 One of the guests kindly volunteered to bring over a hydrolized soy protein "poultry" loaf for the vegetarians. I tried fauxfurkey once. That was enough.
Call me crazy, but I love packaged stuffing. And it is so quick to prepare! I'm going to doctor it with some beautiful chestnuts that I've been holding on to for just such an occasion. And maybe some dried cranberries, too.
Ginger Cranberry Sauce
 A friend of mine gave me this recipe, adapted from one of Ming Tsai's. Fresh ginger and oranges juice give the sauce interest without making it taste overly exotic.
Canned Cranberry Sauce  
Yup, I love that jiggly wiggly goodness. In our house, we always required it served whole, lying on a plate, can lines still visible. It's like a sweet-tart jelly sandcastle. Yum.
Brown Butter and Sage Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Hazelnuts
Brussels sprouts are easy and tasty. The brown butter adds rich nuttiness, and the hazelnuts provide textural contrast.
Creme Fraiche and Chive Mashed Potatoes with Caramelized Shallots
I don't love eating mashed potatoes, but I do like to cook them. Here the creme fraiche, chives, and shallots break up the richness of the puree with tartness, pungency, and sweetness, and they add nice color, as well.
Salad and Rolls
 Another guest will bring these. Sometimes delegation is a cook's best friend.
Maple Pecan Tart with a Crumbly Pate Sablee Crust
This year, I'm going to try pecan pie in one of my favorite tart shells, instead of a flaky pie crust. The maple syrup should add just a little bit of sophistication to a classic filling.
Molasses Pumpkin Pie
 I found this baby on Epicurious. I think it has the potential to become my go-to pumpkin pie. We shall see. I'm going to bake it in cream cheese pastry, which I prefer to the usual pate brisee (flaky pie dough). It is less temperamental, more flavorful, and ridiculously easy to make. Booyah. (Any extra dough shall become apple turnovers, methinks.)
Pear Caramel Ice Cream
Thank you David Lebovitz for never failing to have an exquisite recipe for the exact ice cream that I desire.
Sparkling Wine, Red & White Wine, Maybe Beer, Sweet Wine for Dessert


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