In my race toward the big feast tomorrow, I have been so busy prepping, running errands and cooking that I have hardly had time to sit down to write. Nevertheless, I have to post something for Thanksgiving since it is a holiday that is all about cooking, eating, and being thankful the good things in life. My family is coming to us this year, and it is going to be a day of eating, drinking, and visiting. This will actually be the first Thanksgiving that I have ever hosted at my house. I think a lot of people find hosting Thanksgiving to be intimidating because it’s not just a dinner; it’s a full day’s worth of activities (along with at least a couple days of prep work). With that in mind, I’ve put together a (long) list of what I’m planning to do for tomorrow:
It is our family tradition to start the holiday off with a Bloody Mary. My dad makes his with Bloody Mary mix, a dash of Worcestershire sauce, lemon, Tabasco (or the hot-sauce of your choice), and the best darn vodka you can find. Dip the rim of the glass in celery salt, garnish with some celery and a pickled green bean.
Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake with Buttermilk Icing: To go with our boozy breakfast, I made this recipe from epicurious.com.
Vegetable Frittata: I also plan to make Martha Stewart’s amazing vegetable frittata recipe from her cookbook, Entertaining. This book is an incredible resource, and I have been making this frittata for years:
Serves 6 to 8
Preheat oven to 450 degrees
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 small cooked potatoes, sliced
1 small zucchini, sliced
1 small red pepper, sliced
6 black olives, sliced
¼ cup grated Gruyère cheese
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
6 eggs, slightly beaten
Pour the olive oil in the baking dish and arrange onion slices in the bottom. Bake for 5 minutes, while preparing the other ingredients.
Remove baking dish from oven. The onion should be slightly cooked. Arrange the potatoes, zucchini, red pepper, and olives on top of the onion. Sprinkle with cheese and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Reduce oven heat to 400°.
Pour eggs over the vegetables and cheese. Bake for approximately 20 minutes, until the eggs have puffed and the center of the omelet is set. Do not overcook. Serve in wedges.
Variations: Rather than stick to these vegetables, I often will just put in whatever is seasonal. The onions, eggs, and cheese make a great base, so you can really play around with the other things.
Around 1 p.m. we will usually switch from bloody marys to wine and do some kind of outdoor activity if the weather permits.
Depending on how things are going, I will bring out my Crostini of d’Affinois. However, I couldn’t find any figs this time of year, so I will probably end up doing the crostinis without the fruit.
I also have a vegetable platter with various cut veggies and a creamy buttermilk dipping sauce.
5 or 5:30 p.m.
Dinner! Depending on when the bird comes out, we will eat dinner around 5 or 5:30 p.m. Here is the menu:
Kabocha Soup with Fennel: from Suzanne Goin’s wonderful cookbook, Sunday Suppers at Lucques.
Kabocha Squash and Fennel Soup with Crème Fraîche
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
2 pounds Kabocha squash
2 medium bulbs fennel
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups sliced onions
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
2 chilies d àrbol
1 bay leaf
¾ cup sherry
10 cups chicken or vegetable stock or water
¼ cup crème fraîche
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Place your squash cut-side down on a cutting board, and use a sharp knife to remove the peel. Slice the squash into 1-inch-thick wedges. Cut the fennel in half lengthwise and then into ½-inch-thick wedges.
Toss the squash and fennel with the olive oil. 1 teaspoon salt, and some freshly ground black pepper. Place the vegetables flat on a baking sheet and roast about 35 minutes, until tender and slightly caramelized.
Meanwhile, toast the fennel seeds in a small pan over medium heat 2 to 3 minutes, until the seeds release their aroma and are lightly browned. Pound them coarsely in a mortar.
Heat a Dutch oven or soup pot over high heat for 2 minutes. Add the butter, and when it foams, add the onions, fennel seeds, thyme, chilies, bay leaf, 1 teaspoon salt, and a good amount of freshly ground black pepper. Reduce the heat to medium-high, and cook about 10 minutes, stirring often, until the onions are soft, translucent, and starting to color.
Add the squash and fennel, and stir to coat with the onions for a minute. Turn the heat back up to high and pour in the sherry. Let it reduce for a minute or two, and then add the stock and 1 tablespoon salt. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat, and simmer 20 minutes.
Strain the soup in a colander and set in a pot. Put a third of the solids into blender with ½ cup of the broth (you will need to puree the soup in batches).
I am newly obsessed with Kabocha this season. Normally I just use it to decorate my table, but this squash is so sweet and delicious it is really worth the time it takes to prepare it.
Turkey: What would Thanksgiving be without the main event?
This year I purchased an beautiful Heidi’s Hen from the Diestel Turkey Ranch through Wholefoods.
I did a dry salt brine the on Wednesday morning that consisted of salt, herbs, and a little lemon zest, and it is now sitting in the refrigerator ready to roast. On the big day, I will roast it un-stuffed using Tom Colicchio’s amazing Herb-butter Turkey recipe from epicurious.com.
Gravy: I make a simple gravy using turkey stock and spices. My husband’s mom makes the best gravy, so I just follow her recipe. Don’t forget to add a ton of black pepper-yum!
Sausage and Sage Stuffing: I don’t really follow a recipe for this. My only tip is that I make the croutons ahead of time.
Cranberry Sauce: I have been making cranberry sauce ever since I was very small. This year, my six-year-old is going to do take the lead – she absolutely loves this stuff.
Waldorf: Growing up, my sister would always make the waldorf. This year, I got farmer’s market apples from Barbara at Wild Rose Farms, and walnuts from Peacock Farms along with organic celery from the market. Just mix the ingredients together and add a sweet, creamy dressing.
Mashed Potatoes: I am making traditional mashed potatoes with Yukon golds, butter, whole milk, salt, pepper, and a dash of nutmeg.
Snap Peas with Shallots
Corn Bread-The girls request corn bread every year, and I am happy to oblige.
Elatis Vino Rosato (a nebbiolo based rose), non-vintage.
Verduna Pelaverga (Pelaverga is an obscure Italian grape), 2009.
Both wines are produced by Comm. G.B. Burlotto out of Verduno, Italy (Piedmont).
Assuming we still have room after all that food (and really, who doesn’t have room for a little dessert?), here is the dessert menu:
It’s our family tradition to finish off the evening with Miracle on 34th Street, and then with full bellies, it’s off to bed.
I did my flower arrangements and set the table a day in advance to make tomorrow a little less hectic. Because I have a long table, I did two low oval vases full of Boston Ivy and roses from my garden along with other flowers I picked up from the local wholesale market.
I also put candles throughout the room and another arrangement of orchids and calla lilies on a side-table.
The last thing I did today is put together a craft table for the girls. This will give them sometime to do while the “grownups” are visiting.
So, that’s the plan for tomorrow. Needless to say, we are going out to dinner tonight! Happy Thanksgiving!