How does a foodie, chef and compulsive homemaker narrow down what to cook for Thanksgiving dinner? I mean seriously I am almost having an anxiety attack trying to curb my propensity to over do it when we have only 5 people coming. I am actually making the majority of the food which could be seen as a good or a bad thing. Good because I have cart blanch to make anything I want (without mushrooms sad to say- the only thing that has been forbidden by the guests), and bad or potentially dangerous because I have so many ideas and have a tough time editing myself. Why edit you ask? When this is the food holiday of all holidays why not let it rip right? Well partially because I want to be conscious of how much I am spending on luxurious ingredients and but mainly because I will have house guests most of the week and I want to be able to enjoy their company and not be stressed out.
After starting this post and saving what you have just read, insanity has taken over I have pretty much decided to jump in head first without a net and make 90% of the meal myself and all from scratch. I am even contemplating making bread…um, seriously??? I have been wavering between bouts of utter panic and excitement at the prospect of actually doing this all and pretty much on my own. Now you may be sitting there thinking…”come on, really it’s only 5 people for goddsakes” and I can understand this reaction. Let me just say however that these 5 people will all be at the house for 2-5 days so we are not just talking one meal. And I have decided to brine and stuff an organic pastured 8 pound turkey breast, cater to two vegetarians (which means two kinds of gravy) and do three deserts…oh and make bread(???). I shall not forget to mention that all of the said guests are total foodies so this means the pressure is on. Actually not at all really as they would appreciate and enjoy anything I put in front of them, but I- being who I am, cannot help but get caught up in it all. Also we need to have leftovers for days so this means basically cooking for 12+. But I am NOT scared…I WILL conquer (this is the voice in my head telling me that it will be okay). On top of it I feel committed to share with my readers a tid bit about my Thanksgiving crusade. Although I have not the time for photos and to share all my recipes I will give you some of the inspirational ones that I am using as guidelines.
I have done the majority of the shopping at Whole Foods and I have started getting a organic delivery once a week from Annie’s Buying Club. This has worked out really well and is affordable. Sadly it is tough to get much variety here in Florida due to the quality of the land, humidity etc. so not much of it is local. Sometimes it is better to buy local than organic but I have recently discovered that many of the local conventional stuff here in Miami is heavily pesticided due to the prolific bug population as you can imagine. I am still not sure what the best way to go is but I am doing my best! Here is a neat article on some healthy tips for the holiday, not only for your body but for the planet as well.
So here is the loose outline of the menu. As I said I am going to give you some links to recipes that I will use for inspiration and tell you some of the twists.
Roasted garlic and eggplant dip (sorry this one came from my head)
Roasted Pepper Romesco dip (made with personally toasted pumpkin seeds)
assorted cheeses and crostini
Spiced candied nuts
Shaved Vegetable Salad (I will do a brown butter sherry vinaigrette with hazelnuts and pomegranate seeds)
Crispy Brussels Sprouts, caramelized shallots and Parmesan
Roasted Delicata Squash, maple syrup, balsamic, toasted pumpkin seeds
Mashed potatoes (to be contributed by Abby and she will not tell me the recipe!)
Amazing Stuffing, apples, cranberries, herbs (might even sneak in some mushrooms)
Cranberry Ginger Relish
Brined Turkey Breast stuffed with herbs, roasted onions and garlic
Roasted Garlic & Sage Turkey Gravy
Caramelized Onion Red Wine Veggie Gravy
Oh and of course the Bread and herbed butter
Pumpkin Coconut Pie (I’ll admit I did buy a pre-made organic whole wheat crust…sorry! But I will be roasting my own pumpkin for puree and using 1/2 cup maple syrup instead of sugar.
Dark Chocolate Pudding, vanilla whip cream (Anthony’s only request I could not say no)
Red Wine Poached Pears, pecan crumble, honey ice cream (homemade of course)
Chocolate fudge (Contributed by Abby, secret family recipe)
So you see this is no small quest and I did not even include the Roasted pumpkin coconut stew that I made for dinner on Wednesday night (recipe to come). Nor the whole wheat vegan pumpkin cranberry bread that I will be making Friday Morning. Yes I am a bit obsessed with pumpkin.
Despite the craziness of it all I am loving so much having the time and my own kitchen to cook for people that I love dearly. This is the first year that I have not had to cook in a restaurant or for clients and I get to host it at my house…deep breath. So forgive me for not posting my recipes, baby steps. But please stay tuned for some that I will post for the future.
What I do most importantly need to include however is that I am SO incredibly filled with gratitude for all that I have and for such an amazing experience we are all having. Life can be challenging and difficult a times but when you stop to breath and be thankful for the all the good and the not so good…somehow it becomes easier and you can smile in that face of anything. So remember this when in a crowded grocery store, if you burn the turkey, when your in-laws drive you nuts and when you think of people who are alone during these holidays or anytime for that matter. Keep that gratitude close at all times…Happy Thanksgiving to you all!