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Thanksgiving Menus 2002–2011: The Topic


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Not cooking the whole thing this year, but last year's was:

  • Aunt Bette's chopped liver and crackers

Garlic Broad Beans and other nibbles from Aju Ichiban

Green salad with a vinaigrette of xvoo, white balsamic & homemade lemon thyme vinegars

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup; Oat Rolls (both bought from places only recently reopened post-9/11)

Roast Kosher Turkey

Roast Kosher Chicken (the turkey was kind of small)

Dressing with mushrooms, fennel, and leeks

Turkey/chicken gravy

Broccoli Rabe sautéed with garlic

Sweet Potatoes mashed with coconut milk, preserved lemon-flavored ginger, and candied lemon and topped with flaked coconut

"Succotash" of pinto beans, chayote, corn, jerusalem artichokes, onions, tomatoes, and kosher smoked turkey (the year before, I used bacon and cream)

Many and varied chutneys (some bought, some homemade)

Jack and Joy's Cranberries with walnuts and maple syrup

Bought Strawberry/blackberry and Apple pies (apple was supposed to be peach/blueberry, but they delivered the wrong kind; no one minded)

Iced Almond Milk

Amaretti, Petit Beurre, and Ginger Crisp cookies (all bought)

Wine; Cider


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This year it will be whatever Delta serves on my way to Hawaii for the Alabama vs. Hawaii football game...chased by a mai tai and sushi and sake if the plane lands on time :rolleyes: !

Normally it would be: assorted amuse, oyster stew, arugula salad with candied walnuts, dried cranberries and balsamic vinaigrette, roast turkey, fried turkey, cornbread dressing or oyster-cornbread dressing, swiss chard casserole, sweet potatoes with brown sugar pecan struesel, mashed potatoes, homemade cranberry sauce, assorted roasted vegetables, corn souffle, carmelized onion souffle and pumpkin pie, apple pie with cheddar crust or caramel walnut torte....all accompanied by lots of adult beverages :biggrin: !

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All myself? Oh, no! A couple of those items were brought by guests; some were bought (Japanese nibbles, soup, rolls, pies, cookies). Most of the stuff I made really did not take that much effort except, oddly enough, the birds which I roasted plain -- kosher poultry comes replete with LOTS AND LOTS of pin-feathers :angry: (My Aunt Bette keeps kosher, hence the lack of butter and cream in the meal.)

There's actually a story behind the purchase of the soup, rolls, and pies: we live 3 long blocks to the northeast of where the WTC used to be. So our favorite local businesses were very much affected. The foods we bought came from places that had re-opened only a few weeks before the holiday. It was our way of reminding our guests that 'DOWNTOWN LIVES!"

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The coconut sweet potatoes sound very good and an excellent alternative to the pineapple & marshmallow traditional version. More exact recipe please?

I thought I posted this already, but couldn't find it. Some of the ingredients were very specialized stuff, bought at Aji Ichiban (the Japanese candy-and-junk-food store) but I'll offer substitutions. And I want to apologize: unless I'm working on a recipe for R & D, I never measure. "To taste" is the watchword. :rolleyes:

Roast sweet potatoes (I used 8 # of organic ones) until very soft and the juices caramelize on the pan. Let cool until you can peel them. Scrape up and save the juice goo.

In the food processor, very finely chop lemon-flavored preserved ginger slices (or regular candied ginger plus lemon zest) and salted candied dried lemon slices (or about 1/4 to 1/2 of a fresh or Moroccan-style preserved lemon, zest, pith, flesh and all). Mix these with the sweet potato flesh and juice goo, along with one 14-ounce can of regular or "lite" coconut milk and some sweetened flaked coconut. Salt to taste, and adjust balance with more lemon juice or sugar, as necessary. Most likely, you will NOT need more sweet, only more tart.

Put in a greased casserole, sprinkle with more sweetened flaked coconut. Reheat in oven until potatoes are hot and coconut is lightly browned.

The neat thing about this recipe is that it is totally vegan, and can be served with turkey to people who keep kosher (at least, as long as they are not SO strict that every ingredient has to be certified). And the only fat comes from the coconut milk; one of the few instances where the "lite" stuff would work.

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The bill of fare at Mom & Dad's:

Chips + dip & crudites to start

Roast turkey with Arnold bread stuffing (with celery, onions, and turkey liver added to it)

Cranberry-orange relish

Green beans almondine

As-yet-unknown sweet potato dish

Pumpkin pie

Whatever chocolate dessert I decide to either make or buy

X-factor: my cousin's contribution, which will either be dessert or wine. We are not big drinkers in my family, so if they don't bring wine it will be a non-alcoholic affair. If everyone comes, we will only have 10 people and that includes 2 small children.

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Champagne and gougeres (if I have time) to start

Molasses-cured salmon (a Jacques Pépin recipe), sliced and fanned atop a small green salad

Turkey brined, butterflied, stuffed under the skin (duxelles, ricotta, parmesan) and smoked

Roasted Yukon Golds, shallots and carrots

Broccoli rabe with garlic and red pepper (subject to change)

An apple dessert - most likely a crisp, served with vanilla ice cream

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Traditional tomato soup with traditional pesto

Traditional Roast turkey

Traditional rare prime rib

Traditional dressing (with some non-traditional rye bread added)

Traditional mashed potatoes (with roasted garlic)

Traditional gravy

Traditional green beans

Traditional corn pudding

Traditional cranberry-orange relish

Traditional homemade pickles (from my Late Grandma Varmint)

Traditional dinner rolls

Traditional pumpkin pie

Traditional apple pie

Traditional bourbon pecan pie

If I deviate much from any of these, I will be removed from the family, even though I'll make everything but the soup.

Dean McCord


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Caesar Salad



Corn Bread Stuffing with mushrooms, onions, peppers, water chestnuts, corn and whatever else may be available

Roast Capon(maybe as a backup)

Kasha & Bowties

Twice baked potatoes two ways

(a)Sour cream, onions & butter

(b)Cheddar Cheese & butter

Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Brown Sugar Pecan Topping

Creamed Corn

Mashed Yellow Turnips with Crispy Shallots, a la Union Square Cafe

Auntie Sarah's Apple Cake

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

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Turkey & Dressing (that means Cornbread, of course :biggrin: )

Giblet Gravy

Petit Peas & Mushrooms

Sweet Potatoes Baked with Bourbon and Orange

Creamed Onions with Peanuts

Waldorf Salad

Homemade Cranberry Relish Laced with Port (or Grand Marnier, depending on my mood)

Rolls & Butter

Apple Pie

Bourbon Pecan Pie

Pumpkin Pie with Molasses & Whipped Cream Topping

Pretty traditional Southern Stuff, except for Waldorf Salad and Creamed Onions.

Most Southerners seem to have Ambrosia, rather than the Waldorf Salad, but as Ambrosia is sweeter, we prefer the tartness of apples with all that other kinda sweet stuff.

As for the Creamed Onions... Well, once long ago we had a Yankee over for Thanksgiving Dinner. He requested the Creamed Onions so I prepared them. They were a hit, and have become a staple upon our holiday table.


I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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I think it was a couple of years ago that Ruth Reichl wrote about an anthropologist or sociologist or some such who could tell all sorts of things about a family by looking at Thanksgiving menus. Mine would be a pretty serious challenge, though.

We always do it at my mother's apartment and typically have 18 people. Hors d'oeuvres are chopped liver, a fruit plate, and popcorn. At the table, the first course is mozzarella and tomato salad. Then, the deluge: A big turkey, of course, and also a turkey breast because only three of us care for dark meat. There's regular old American-generic bread stuffing in the bird, and also more of the same cooked outside the bird, and also a Southern-style cornbread-and-sausage dressing (note my excellent use of the terminology there). There's a basic brown gravy and a white giblet gravy. Side dishes include mashed red potatoes with visible bits of skin, mashed sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top, creamed onions, steamed brussels sprouts, noodle kugel, stringbeans, poached pears, cranberries, banana bread, and whatever contributed dishes the guests bring despite being asked not to bring anything. Dessert is about twenty choices of ice cream, lemon squares, and assorted fruit pies (these, the guests are allowed to bring, so there are easily six or eight choices every year).

As you may have guessed, we're primarily East-European-derived Jewish. My mother's father was Italian, however, and had a very strong personal influence on the family's culinary preferences, and our friends from Venice always join us for Thanksgiving so the Italian contingent is quite powerful. My mother's . . . um . . . boyfriend is from Texas and most of the serious food people strongly support his attempts to bring the Southern stuff into the mix. Some of the stuff, though, seems to have crept into the family tradition without explanation. Like, one year there was popcorn, perhaps because there was some popcorn left over from something else and so people were snacking on it while the meal was being cooked. The next year, there were bitter complaints about the absence of popcorn. So now, we always have popcorn around before the meal.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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So what does it say about me? We go to my sister in laws. I have no idea what they serve for The Meal. We arrive at her house at 2:00 pm for appetizers; I leave at 3:00 pm to go to a post resort of on the North Shore of Lake Superior with three close college friends (I've known then all since 1975); and the family eats at 4:00 pm.

The four of us that go "up north" take turns providing car fare. Last year, I provided steak sandwiches and had Maida Heatter pecan passion bars for the car ride. We fortified with martinis, cold poached salmon, great bread, and a caesar salad when we arrived at our destination.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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I was planning to do a duck when I thought I would be cooking for two but now, at the request of my Beau's daughter and the possible addition of two more people, I will be doing four Cornish Game Hens. The meal will be preceded by chicken livers sauteed in Port and shallots. The side dishes will be garlic mashed Yukon Golds, gingered sliced carrots and sauteed spinach. There will be rolls from Make My Cake. There will be fresh cranberry sauce with ginger, apple and orange zest. The dessert will be an apple crostada with vanilla ice cream. Champagne will see us through it all.

In the past I have made regular turkeys, Thompson Turkeys and, if I were cooking for a crowd this year, I would have tried my first brined turkey(thank you egullet) but this year less seems to be more.

Edited by Shermar (log)

Kitchen Kutie

"I've had jutht about enough outta you!"--Daffy Duck

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Like many others here, I am limited to how creative I can be with my menu by family considerations. Growing up I did not know that cranberries were actually a fruit, I assumed that the only way it came was as a solid red log.

Putting together the menu I was also careful to address salt & sugar issues for my Dad. Instead of trying to be too fancy, I decided to focus on the execution and make everything from scratch. The only item that I am not making from scratch is the yeast rolls------I guess you can also include the turkey.

Waldorf salad with dried cranberries and pecans served in radicchio cups

Yeast rolls

Smoked Turkey from Greenburg with gravy

Wild mushrooms with chestnuts in a cream sauce

Smashed sweet potatoes (I think my wife would leave me if I did not top them with marshmallows and pecans)

Sage cornbread and bacon dressing

Cranberry salsa

Traditional cranberry sauce

Homemade Pecan pie

Homemade sweet potato cheesecake

Subject to change, but I might serve a 2000 Kunin Zinfandel-Danti Dusi Vineyards

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Growing up I did not know that cranberries were actually a fruit, I assumed that the only way it came was as a solid red log. 

With nice guidelines thoughtfully included for even slicing. :biggrin:

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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My sainted sister-in-law is making two meals, one to satiate the Italian side of her family, and one for the Irish side:

Stuffed mushrooms, stuffed Italian peppers, sopressata and other salamis, cheeses from Jerry's in Englewood, salad, lasagna with sausage and ground beef, plus meatballs with "gravy." Then roast turkey with bread/celery/onion stuffing, giblet gravy, Mom's Mashed Potatoes, baked sweet potatoes with brown sugar, corn and peas, cranberry sauce (from the can, of course!). Then homemade cheesecake, apple pie, pumpkin pie, and cookies. Wine, beer, Sambuca, and dry Manhattans.

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We are hosting so here goes this years menu:

Beginning with apetizers of various cheeses, olives, roasted peppers in olive oil and garlic, chicken liver spread - I will be opening a botlle of my brother-in-law's homemade wine from 1997(I believe it to be the last bottle from that year).

First course will be a bree and granny smith apple strudel with roasted walnuts(thanks to Lou Reda for the walnut suggestion) baked in a filo dough wrap...paired with a Washington state reisling...

staying pretty traditional with everything else...fresh turkey with stuffing and gravy,sweet potatos, garlic mashed potatos, corn souflet, homemade cranberry sauce - serving two wines with dinner - a 2000 Mondavi Chardonnay and Blackstone 2000 Merlot...for desert pumpkin and apple pie and a New York State port...I am full already!

Edited by RockADS21 (log)


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Mazal makes everything. She won't allow help, hired or otherwise in the kitchen. Bringing things is out. Our tradition is to invite as many of our friends who have nowhere else to go as will fit in our small apartment. This year it's 11. No family. My job is to baste the turkey, and to contribute sourdough bread for toasted cubes for one of the dressings:

Roasted Spiced Nuts

Celerie Ravi Remoulade

Roasted Squash Soup

Turkey (kosher, not brined, 18lbs.)

Apple Shallot Currant Dressing

Wild Rice Dressing

Casserole of Pureed Sweet Potatoes with Brown Sugar Crumble Topping

Galette of Sweet Potatoes and Apples

Brussel Sprouts with Chestnuts

Baby Peas

Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry Relish

Corn Sticks

Giblet Gravy

Apple Tart

Pecan Tart

Pumpkin Pie

all a la mode

Who said "There are no three star restaurants, only three star meals"?

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