Monday, November 15, 2010

getting past cranky

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.

6 comments:

Brian and Wesley said...

Yum! SO glad you're hosting this year! :)

Jennifer said...

I like your ideas for keeping Thanksgiving dinner interesting. And I have noticed the crankiness for the last few years. I didn't want to say anything... :)

Looks like our holiday is going to be hilarious (not so much while we're there as when I'm telling you about it later). At my brother's house for the first time! He is so excited about it, it's adorable. I'm supposed to bring dressing. Can I have the recipe for your sausage dressing?

louise said...

brightening up my thnxgvng dinner by not cooking... going to San Rafael to Anne and Daves to share Annes wonderful cooking and hospitality. Whatever it is it will be wonderful, gracious and fun. Happy Thanksgiving to all.

louise said...

Horseradish Gremolata
1 bunch Italian flat leaf parsley, cleaned from the stems
3 tablespoons capers, chopped
2 lemons, zested
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 horseradish root, peeled & grated
Sea salt

dkm said...

Lucky family who gathers around YOUR table!

I'm roasting red beets for color this year---with olive oil, garlic cloves, onions, rosemary, salt & pepper---to replace mashed white potatoes.

I tried a few last year with mixed root veggies, but they turned everything a deep rich red---even the carrots could not be recognized--- so this year I'm putting the beets on restriction---making them stay in their own pan.

Ellen said...

Deb, I LOVE your beet idea. Alas, not serving mashed potatoes could be dangerous to the cook's health around here. WIll save for another time.

Jen maybe you should bring a cake too, as an insurance policy on dessert.

And Louise, I am making your gremolata and skipping Bittman's lemons.

Thanks guys.