I’ve been more than a little cranky about Thanksgiving dinner these past few years. As much as I love to cook and eat, I’ve felt for some time that Thanksgiving is definitely not a dinner that I love: too mushy, too rich, no zip. And not colorful enough.
I know I could add southwestern flavors to shake things up: a bit of jalapeno in the cornbread dressing, some chilies here and there. But somehow this is not appealing to me. As a girl originally from Philadelphia, I like the concept of the traditional east coast Thanksgiving meal. I just haven’t been thrilled with the results of the considerable effort. I'd love to do a stuffed fish. But I'd have to make a turkey anyway, so that''s just adding work.
So, this year I am focusing on achieving some brighter flavors, and on color.
Sure, we’ll be having the succulent roasted bird and dressing made with cornbread, toasted pecans and sausage. There will be a velvety gravy and yeast rolls. But we’re also having an assortment of roasted vegetables including my garden leeks with a cider vinaigrette and maybe a pop of chopped jalapeno tossed in for fun.. And the mashed potatoes will have horseradish for pop, and the salad will be garden arugula, all peppery and fresh with a sharp mustard dressing.
I’ll ask my stepdaughter to make her fresh cranberry relish. And we’ll have a little bit of the jellied kind for the little kids and for anyone who wants it in sandwiches later. I might make Mark Bittman’s preserved lemons as a condiment along with my bourboned peaches.
I'm thinking about Martha Stewart’s awesome cranberry tart: it's pretty simple and lovely. I am definitely making chocolate pecan tart with vanilla gelato on the side for my family, they like a rich ending.
I’m considering a fresh fruit option: assorted grapes cut in half, sprinkled with lemon sugar in a stemmed glass? It could be pretty in the candlelight.
I’d love to hear how you brighten up your Thanksgiving dinner.