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Thanksgiving ideas

2005-11-15 02:26:11.784322+00 by Dan Lyke 10 comments

We're trying to find inspirations for Thanksgiving dinner. Alec[Wiki]'s birthday is right in that neighborhood, so we want to make Thanksgiving not be at Jeanne[Wiki]'s house, giving Alec[Wiki] a little space between his day and the holiday. Being a truly 21st century couple, we're sitting at the dining room table with our laptops emailing each other cool links, and jotting down notes as we browse cookbooks.

I want to smoke a turkey ("so, like, dude, I realized I wasn't rolling the wings tight enough..."), so we'll have to make gravy without the drippings. It seems like Mushroom Giblet Gravy might be a good place to start.

We don't remember where, it may have been San Anselmo Coffee Roasters[Wiki], but Charlene had a sweet potato and cranberry salad that would go well. Here's a sweet potato and cranberry salad.

We want to have a few of the traditional starchy dishes, but go long on veggies. Green Beans with Cranberry-Balsamic Glaze sounds like a start on that. Charlene also said something about sautéed steamed greens & pomegranite seeds, which sounds like it might be similar to the winter greens with currants & pine nuts that I love from Fields of Greens. (We just got back from a trip to Fresno, which included a visit to Charlene's parents, which resulted in a dinner of fresh chard and daikon greens and little else. Yum.)

I'm not sure that there's anything particularly special about this Southern Style Cornbread Stuffing, but we'll keep it around just in case.

For appetizers we've been thinking of drawing on some of Charlene's Armenian heritage. I'll probably end up making some flat breads on the oven tiles, and the Cheese Dip with Za`atar from Sonia Uvezian's Recipes and Remembrances from an Eastern Mediterranean Kitchen[Wiki]. Maybe a Goat Cheese Tart with Marinated Beets and Arugula.

We're playing with ideas for desserts. I love to do chocolate (see my mention of Elaine Gonzalez's The Art of Chocolate), but that's not really traditional. Rather than just have regular pies, a few weeks ago I made a full-on pastry yeast dough, like you might use for a Danish, which would have about the same amount of fat as a traditional pie crust but if pre-baked a bit could make a really incredible base for a dry apple or rhubarb filling. Here's a Sweet Potato–Ricotta Cheesecake that combines pomegranite and ginger with the traditional flavors.

As more come up I'll add 'em in the comments.

[ related topics: Books Dan's Life Food Chocolate ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2005-11-15 02:43:19.613159+00 by: Dan Lyke

Charlene really went nuts with the Delicious Living Magazine recipes. We're going to have to do a dry run this week with the Apple Cider Marinated Turkey with Fig, Pear and Balsamic Compote coupled with smoking as the turkey cooking method...

#Comment Re: made: 2005-11-15 02:48:14.21547+00 by: Dan Lyke

Appetizer: Spinach-Cilantro paté from the Millenium Restaurant cookbook.

From that same cookbook, we're planning on doing the Heirloom Tomato and White Bean Pesto Torte (hope the good tomatoes are still available by then), and the Apricot and Fennel Salad with Beet, and the Celery Root and Chestnut Soup also sounds tasty.

#Comment Re: made: 2005-11-15 03:18:47.582163+00 by: DaveP

If you can catch a rerun of last night's Iron Chef America (Flay vs. the Hot Tamales), the secret ingredient was turkey, and Bobby Flay did five different styles of turkey dinners with stuffing and cranberries for each. It'd probably be worth the hour scoping the show for ideas.

#Comment Re: made: 2005-11-20 21:03:49.225009+00 by: polly

dan, is there a "red eye" to your house from chattanooga? sounds like turkey day will be more "tasty" at your house :>

#Comment Re: made: 2005-11-21 00:34:55.124688+00 by: Dan Lyke

We're doing a dry run tonight. The smoker got run over by a visitor at 3:00PM, but everything else is coming together just fine.

More updates as time allows.

#Comment Re: made: 2005-11-21 23:30:16.802539+00 by: Dan Lyke [edit history]

Polly, we're full for Thanksgiving, but...

On the other hand, as we were prepping for this, especially as we were going through horrendous ingredients lists trying to make sure that we had enough of everything, I realized that that fantasy about running a small kitchen for an experimental fusion restaurant in some obscure but soon-to-be-discovered place should remain a fantasy [edit: originally typed "fantasty", which sounds kind of right in a pun-ish way].

I am, however, slightly motivated to see if I can find some good recipe software, as the ability to list the dishes for a menu and get a breakdown of ingredients, especially so that I don't have to say "Balsamic vinegar, I need... uh... one tablespoon plus three tablespoons plus a quarter cup plus two teaspoons plus... uhh... four... damn, now where was I?" would be good.

#Comment Re: made: 2005-11-22 13:28:20.255497+00 by: DaveP

I've thought about writing some recipe software. I really like the format used in Michael Chu's Cooking for Engineers. Look at the end of http:// www.cookingforengineers.com/article.php?id=14 for an example of his graphical recipe layout. At one point, he had claimed a patent on that, but I can't find any such thing anymore.

Two other features I would code into cooking software (but not version 1.0): 1 - shopping list - allow me to select a number of recipes and then generate a shopping list that I can print and take to the store. I can cross off things that are already in my cupboard manually. 2 - nutrition information - tell me calories and food-pyramid stuff for the entire dish, and let me divide out by how many servings it actually yields. It does me no good to know that a 4 oz serving of hotdish is N calories when I eat 10oz. When meals come out completely unbalanced, offer suggestions from other recipes to help balance the meal.

#Comment Re: made: 2005-11-22 15:27:55.376248+00 by: Dan Lyke

I've looked at the Cooking for Engineers format a bit (was turned off by some of his lack of science), but in my perfect world, what I'd like is a cue-sheet, possibly broken up among a number of kitchen folks. To me there are two difficult times in hosting. The first is "what can/needs to be done days ahead", the second is that dance at two or so hours before guests arriving. If I could have a "guests minus 35 minutes, put tortes in oven", I'd be really happy.

But scheduling is hard...

On the other features:

  1. Shopping list. Yeah, that's where I was going with my ingredients breakdown. It's far too easy to say "yeah, we got lemons", or "yeah, we got rice vinegar", and not realize just how many/much you've spoken for.
  2. The USDA Agricultural Research Service Nutrient Data Laboratory data (damn, that's a mouthful) would be a good place to start. Have to make sure the ingredients got looked up.

#Comment Re: made: 2005-11-22 15:35:52.955126+00 by: Dan Lyke

And two other wish-lists:

  1. I've got these ingredients, what can I make? Maybe with some seasonality tracking, so I don't come up with something that needs pomegranates in June.
  2. I have this much of a primary ingredient (this time of year that's "how much persimmon pulp is ripe"), scale me the recipe to that.

#Comment Re: made: 2005-11-23 00:11:04.110888+00 by: DaveP

Scheduling is very hard. I've thought about it, and one solution I've used with paper recipes is to draw a timeline down the side. I've had luck with that for things that are part of a larger meal.

I don't think I would want a program that figures out what I can make from a list of ingredients. I have too much fun playing refrigerator roulette and coming up with new recipes. But I can see where folks would want it.

Scaling recipes up and down is pretty high on my list, too. High enough that I didn't even think of mentioning it, just taking it as a given. "That's what computers do!"