Saturday, November 19, 2011

Cranberry sauce down, pear soup, only a dozen more dishes to go

You can guess the mystery ingredient.
Before I get to Thanksgiving, here's my primal beet story: One day circa 1975 my somewhat reproachful and intimidating paternal grandmother set out a bowl of beets on her laminate dining table in Brigham City, Utah, very likely alongside a tiny roast cooked to a charcoal gray, a plate of sliced white supermarket bread, and an iceberg lettuce salad. There is zero doubt that the beets were canned.

"I don't like beets," I announced.

"Have you ever tried beets?" she asked, giving me the cold blue eye.

"No," I said nervously.

"That's very silly."

I promptly tried a beet. It was crunchy, slightly sweet, clean-tasting. It was good enough. Not great, but good enough and certainly not repulsive. She was right; I had been silly. I have eaten beets ever since. Score one point for stern authority.

Clearly, I do not exercise such stern authority over my own beet-fearing family.

The other day I said to my husband, "Haven't I been doing well using up our CSA produce?"

My husband appreciates self-congratulation almost as little as he appreciates beets. He said: "I admire your efforts, but I think a beet challenge is like an episode of Fear Factor. What can we ruin next? Grilled cheese -- with beets! Peanut butter and jelly -- with beets!"

He didn't mention, "chocolate cake -- with beets!" But Nigel Slater has a recipe for just that cake in Tender -- chocolate, eggs, grated beets -- and I baked it. I didn't tell anyone what was in it and they loved this cake. I let my husband ramble on about how it tasted like it was full of "puddin' packs."

Then I announced that it contained beets.

"Interesting," he said glumly. "I wish you hadn't told me."

And I wished I hadn't too. It's not much fun tricking people once you're past the age of 11.

Enough about beets.

It looks like it's going to be a Food52 Thanksgiving. We're hosting 18 people. Here's the menu.

seasonal cocktail (brought by my sister)
gougeres (from Dorie Greenspan's Around My French Table)
sardines rillettes (Dorie again)
creamy sausage-stuffed mushrooms (Food52)
salted almonds (Food52)
pear soup with pancetta and blue cheese (Food52)
roasted turkey
ciabatta stuffing with chorizo, mushrooms and sweet potato (Food52)
green beans
apple and cranberry relish with brandy and walnuts (adapted from Food52, which calls for pears, but I used apples. It's great, but benefits from a big pinch of salt)
mashed potatoes
spinach-jalapeno casserole (brought by my aunt, made from Laurie Colwin recipe)
kale salad (brought by my sister, made from Martha Stewart recipe)
peas (brought by my maternal grandmother; they will undoubtedly appear, topped with a limp piece of lettuce, in an old CorningWare dish with a little blue flower on it.)
Many pies, flavors tbd, but definitely chess pie and pecan pie. I've already started the mocha buttercrunch pie referred to in this fun story. I was a little upset to realize the it contains raw eggs, but by that time I'd already mixed the crust so I'll forge ahead. Don't mind eating raw eggs myself, but I'm less keen to serve them at a party.

What are you cooking? And are you as exhausted on Thanksgiving Eve as I am?


  1. Wishing I were one of the 18! Sounds delicious. We're only in charge of the carrot mousse, which is great.

  2. It does sound delicious! You menu has just the right amount of tradition with adventurousness. Hope you have a great day.

  3. Happy Thanksgiving! It sounds delicious!

  4. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! The amount of cooking you are doing is awesome, and it's great that your family is pitching in. We are having a super-tiny Thanksgiving (husband, son, me) and I am more of a cook-appreciator than a cook. So all our items, except for the sweet potato casserole, were purchased ready-made and are sitting in the fridge awaiting only a heat-up. Instead of cooking, I'll be seeing Hugo at the movie theater.

  5. Wow, that sounds yummy! I'll bring some wine.

  6. Goose -- You disagree? Stern and cool in a GOOD way.

  7. No, you have the stern and cool part right. But her eyes were not blue.

  8. They were BLUE. Oh wait, you're going to say they were gray or something like that? Blue.

  9. Jealous of all your help. I've made too much food and still didn't make all I had planned. Love and thanks on this lovely day.

  10. Just had to do Cheesey Potatoes, but was completely sucked into your book during the football game - GREAT JOB! Have been giggling and reading excerpts to everyone; my husband likes Mark.

    But I have a question re: Coffee Yoghurt - is the tablespoon of sugar mixed into a cup of coffee, then use the 1.5 tablespoons, or do you mix the tablesppon of sugar into the 1.5 tablespoon of coffee?

    Again, GREAT book - well done! Best, Ida

  11. Happy Thanksgiving! I like thanksgiving eve way better than Christmas eve, because I like cooking way better than wrapping presents.

  12. it's the morning after thanksgiving...I am going to have pie for breakfast. Hair of the dog right? Your menu looks great, can't wait to hear how everyone enjoyed it.

  13. Let me be the first survivor to comment: that was hands down the best Thanksgiving meal I have ever had -- and I am old. From the mushroom and sardine starters, through the turkey, wonderful green beans to the pie, it was all spectacularly good. Thank you.

  14. You did a great justice to that house. It has hosted many, many thanksgiving feasts. Sounded delicious!
    I hope the animals partaked. One of my cats would help himself to the turkey while we were all seated in the living room. It was good times.

  15. Hi Jennifer! I'm working on a review of your book for my blog. I have a question and can't find your email address. Will you email me? thatwife at gmail dot com. Thank you!

  16. What a fabulous menu - love the Food52 theme, and Laurie Colwin's spinach is one of my favorite dishes. All of your cooking is inspiring. We were in Wash DC at my brother's so I did a lot of helping but not much cooking this year. I'm sure your Thanksgiving was lovely!

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