As I debarked the plane in Chicago this past Tuesday, my mother surprised me: "So I thought you can drop your things at home, create a menu for Thursday, and we can go shopping?"
"What? You haven't done anything yet?"
"No, I thought you could help out this year."
What she really meant was, "Oh, I thought I would enslave you to do pretty close to everything this year."
To answer Mr. Shinn, I think having a large feast for Thanksgiving is okay. Yes, you cannot eat everything, you will be bloated for days, have leftovers for weeks to come, but it is nice when everyone brings an item to share (no one did this in my family this year, instead they brought wine) you will also have all your favorites present. After all, it is the traditional vision of Thanksgiving many of us hold historically correct, no? Besides, the variety would be a spectacle in and of itself. But I will say, a small feast can also be a delicious one.
My family awaits the leftovers to make our Latvian Pancakes and turkey soup from the carcass (and whatever meat cannot be picked clean). My high school friends (who mostly live in Chicago) await the leftovers at my house for a tasting of what was missed-- even when they are "stuffed" from their meals and "cannot fit another bite in," somehow most of them manage to make room for what lies in my family's fridge.
This year, my mother reversed roles. While she checked my proceedings to "make sure they are not poisonous," prepared the turkey and two-day gravy (which she claims to be the most essential part of the meal), I cooked the remaining choice items for my aunts and cousins who would soon arrive. Without further ado...
The Thanksgiving Menu
** cheese platter with olives and fruit
** salad (much like the previous post of the "Play on the Mediterranean Classic"
** butternut squash soup
** mashed sweet potatoes
** garlic mashed potatoes (leaving some of the red skin on for color)
** steamed asparagus in a black truffle vinaigrette
** oyster stuffing (not very heavy, no fishy taste, pure decadence)
** (two-day) mushroom gravy (from www.cuisineathome.com, December 2004)
** turkey stuffed with orange, lemon and an herb bouquet
** cranberry macadamia white chocolate chip cookies
** pumpkin cheesecake
** A good, inexpensive, Washington Reisling
If any recipes not posted are desired... please call out.
Tuesday: Make cranberry-macadamia-white-chocolate chip cookies
Wednesday: Make butternut squash soup, pumpkin cheesecake, and gravy. Pre-cut and mix all salad items (except for the avocado)
Thursday: Prepare stuffing and bake before putting turkey in the oven. Stuff turkey and put in the oven. Put cheese out 1 hour before guests arrive (cheese should be served at room temperature). Cut avocado and add to salad before ready to serve. 45 min before eating start potatoes. Prepare vinaigrette for asparagus. 5 minutes before eating, lightly steam asparagus. Dessert is already complete.